When You Draft Like The Pros

27 10 2009

… You’ll most likely get burned.

I’ve been a part of this fantasy basketball league since 2003. It’s a good, competitive league.

I had been looking forward to the fantasy draft like a young, wide-eyed, obese boy sitting in his kitchen on the eve of Thanksgiving.

I had been crowned the champion for the last two years and am eager to threepeat, complete with a postseason parade down Michigan Avenue here in Chicago.

The parade would be met by warm Chicago weather and a crisp acknowledgement that dreams are possible: fantasy champions can threepeat.

But today, with Blake Griffin’s fractured left patella, it all came crumbling down.

For whatever reason — because I’m a dumbass — I strayed from my usual, objective strategy of drafting boring players with great statlines and sprinkling the team with young role players on the cusp of increased rotation minutes.

Here’s a breakdown of my fantasy team…

Reliable Major Players: Carmelo Anthony, Tony Parker
These are guys that I can hang my hat on. I know both will score but not much else.

Oft-Injured Almost All-Stars: TJ Ford, Al Jefferson
These guys may make me look like a genius or a complete idiot. They’re both up for big years — if they can stay healthy.

Productive Role Players: Rodney Stuckey, Jeff Foster
If Foster gets 20 minutes, he’ll get you 10 boards. If Stuckey gets minutes, he’ll get you some scoring and a handful of assists and steals. If Stuckey starts, he could be up for a breakthrough season. Those are all big “ifs.”

Young Guys On The Verge: Marreese Speights, Brandon Rush, Amir Johnson
These guys have impressed when they’ve played, especially Speights.  But can they edge out teammates to win jobs on the rotation?

Rookie Phenoms or Bust? Griffin, Terrence Williams
There’s been a lot of preseason hype on both players. Can they produce?

Why Did I Pick You, Again? Kwame Brown
Oh yeah, because you’ll start and get me 2 points and 7 boards a game.

All this to say, when you draft on potential, you’re going to get burned one way or another.


NOlympics? Yes!

2 10 2009

Chicago lost its Olympic bid for the 2016 Summer Games. I, for one, am relieved. Excerpt from an excellent piece at the East Coast Bias:

To prepare Chicago, Mayor Daley would have needed to remove a number of poor communities from the south side, relocating them outside of the county, or far west within the city. There would have been cost overruns, as previously stated, cutbacks on services for current residents, the creation of structures at a high cost (in a time of fluctuating value) that will NOT be used after the Olympic event. It’s the kind of production that loves a blowhard that promises big things and scrambles to deliver. It’s the kind of production that would be better served by a more lax news media, easily-manipulated fiscal policy, and disenfranchised/ easy to move residents.

I would also add that although Mayor Daley guaranteed that no city tax money would fund the infrastructure changes or any other Olympic expense, in an effort to step to the plate, the Chicago City Council voted unanimously to cover any financial shortfalls were it to win the Olympic bid.

The City Council had already promised $500 million to the cause, not to mention the other $50 million used just to prepare for the bid.

I realize that most Chicago residents don’t know where the “poor people near UIC, the United Center or McCormick Place” went.  They just know that it’s nice and clean now and they go on their merry way.  It doesn’t really cross their minds that there are people hurting in this city.

I would love to see this zeal for an Olympic Games diverted to fixing the problems of this city.  Put it towards Chicago Public Schools, perhaps?

Damon Weaver With Dwyane Wade

30 09 2009

Damon Weaver’s interviews are great. Check this one out with Flash.

Launch the Revolution

21 09 2009

“Hers was the generation that would launch the revolution, but which for the moment was turning blue for the want for air. The generation reaching consciousness in a society that lacked any. The generation that despite the consensus that declared change impossible hankered for change all the same.”

— Junot Diaz, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”

Old Enough?

14 09 2009

Etan Thomas and Dave Zirin discuss the NBA’s current age limit.


My mother’s position is that our people had to fight so long for the right to be educated and now young people are not valuing that struggle and are essentially throwing their education to chase a dream that has been dangled in front of their faces like the horse with the carrot. I can’t disagree with her point and we go back and forth on this topic. Now, I stayed in school for four years. Had a wonderful experience at Syracuse University. Got my degree in business management, met my wife, grew as a person and it prepared me for life. But that’s my case. Is it fair to force someone who wants to take a different path to attend college?

Check out the entire piece; it’s quite good.

Michael Beasley’s Illness and Judgment

30 08 2009

Heat forward Michael Beasley’s recent admittance into a substance-abuse program allows us to examine our judgments against those with illnesses and how that intersects with sports coverage.

When Beasley checked into the Houston-based rehab program, the public reaction was uniformly negative. The internet comments on the story ranged from aggressive lamentations on how “the NBA is all a waste of talent,” to dismissive statements like “Beasley is just another Eddie Griffin,” to the eloquent “what an idiot” and more of the same.

The lack of empathy didn’t surprise me; after my time on these internets, I have come to expect routine bile from internet commentors.

However, I did have a surprising epiphany when I thought about Beasley: people don’t care about someone who has committed a transgression. Even if the “transgression” is substance abuse and doesn’t affect society as a whole.

I suppose NBA ticket holders can be upset that there’s a possibility that he could miss some games. These ticket holders wouldn’t be able to see Beasley play basketball. But how utilitarian is that of them? A person has a drug-abuse problem and they’re upset because they dropped $50 and now, there’s a possibility that they’ll only be able to watch Dwyane Wade.

Although no one knows the details surrounding Beasley’s situation, everyone is up in arms about it. From what I know, if Michael Beasley the Basketball Player is abusing drugs, how does that affect me? Besides a peripheral transgression of a law on substance abuse — depending on the substance — what is it about Michael Beasley that makes people sick to their stomach?

Aside from a Dwyane Wade tweet, I haven’t heard any words of support for Beasley’s struggle nor have I heard any acknowledgement of the maturity it takes to check oneself into rehab.

Michael Beasley the Person is barely 20 years old. By all accounts, the substance-abuse program had been scheduled for weeks.  Multiple sources say that Beasley has been in Houston working out for the past two weeks, attending counseling sessions and undergoing clinical treatment to address stress and substance-abuse issues.

I know that most drugs are taboo in our society so when someone tries to address a drug-related problem, it’s met with cynicism and disgust. But I think we need to recognize that rehab programs shouldn’t be denigrated in the fall-out of our government’s “war on drugs.” I’m not a recreational drug user but I recognize that the stigma associated with government-approved vices (tobacco, alcohol, etc.) are very different from the stigma associated with non-approved vices.

The supposed deviancy of non-approved vices gives the public free reign to pass judgment when it really shouldn’t. Michael Beasley’s situation is a sad, private matter. Would it be different if he was on a nicotine patch or attended AA seminars?

Regardless, Beasley is a young person with a personal problem and shouldn’t be subjected to all of this maliciousness. With 24/7 sports news coverage, it’s important for us to take a hard look at ourselves, how we respond to athletes’ situations and what it is we derive from professionals sports in general.

Basketball Shape

23 08 2009

After busting my ass on my bike for the last several months, I can finally say that I’m on the very, very low end of “being in shape.” Although for me, being in basketball shape is a lot different than being able to bike 50 miles at a decent pace.

Basketball shape is just a lot harder for me to keep up. It’s partly because my pockets of free time don’t coincide with the times kids go out and ball. You can’t really simulate the physical and mental demands of full-speed 5-on-5 when you’re by yourself, no matter how hard you try.

The other reason is because I’m old man. The shape of high schoolers and pre-freshmen-15 college kids never ceases to amaze me.

I remember playing real adults when I was in high school and they would always make side comments about how it’s not fair that I’m in good shape. I hated that stuff but I never really thought about what it would be like to, you know, be old.

I biked past a local run and I jumped in with some of the aforementioned high school and early college kids.

Don’t worry, I still look like I’m 14 so except for some trash talk where I yelled, “your shooting percentage is lower than the interest on my Bank of America CD!,” I kept my mouth shut and pretty much fit right in.

I held my own during the first game. I’ve lost a step in the past two years but my midrange game has, surprisingly, held up. The kid guarding me bit every time I pump-faked so whenever I got the ball, I was able to get him in the air for a lay-up or to feed a cutting teammate.

My defense held up pretty well also. As old and pretentious as this sounds: I played the angles surprisingly well for being so rusty. It was definitely because the guys in the game just weren’t mature basketball-wise. They seemed to save their energy spurts trying to get open for a pass or whenever they had the ball. There wasn’t too much offensive movement away from the ball which, I guess, may be the personality of this specific youngish run.

The second game was a different story. I got owned pretty hard.

Because I would change my speed during play and didn’t feel the need to sprint constantly, my teammates figured I was slow. I also picked up a few blocks simply because I had my hands up in the paint. So for the second game, they put me on one of the bigger guys on the opposing team.

I like playing D and I have always claimed that if I had another foot, I would have been a DI mid-major Rony Seikaly. So I happily took my assignment.

The problem was that this guy had way too much game for me. The dude was around 6’4″ and could stroke it from anywhere on the court. I hadn’t played anyone with that much range from deep since Travis Diener’s cousin (who, supposedly, played on the scout team at Marquette for a year).

This dude figured that he didn’t have to put too much effort in against me so he started to post me up. He had one post move: he would back me up and fadeaway off his right shoulder.

Eventually, one of my teammates wanted a shot at mini-Travis Diener so I switched off him but I was just dead at that point. All other nine guys on the court had no trouble sprinting back and forth but I was huffing and puffing like medical marijuana was smoking from the black top.

Needless to say, we lost and got kicked off the court. I had to get on my bike in shame and ride home with my old ass self. Well, at least I can go home and drink a nice, cold beer. Take that, youngsters.