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Random Shizzle: New Year’s Eve Edition

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Published: December 31, 2008

I was poking around various NBA stories and had some rants and thoughts I wanted to share.  Hopefully they are somewhat interesting.

  • Despite much early-season fluff about how the Eastern Conference has closed the gap, I’m not buying the argument.  Don’t give me a number about how the Eastern Conference teams have won ten more head-to-head matchups.  Big deal.  The East is once again likely to have two teams in the playoffs with a losing Regular Season record.  In the West, it’s likely that the ninth best team will be sitting at home with more wins than any but four teams in the East.  And as to which Conference I’d rather have a team in?  It seems much easier to handle a conference with 4 great teams and 11 flawed teams than a conference with 9 very good teams and 6 badly flawed teams.  And the playoffs?  A top four seed in the East will get a team like Milwaukee, Miami, Chicago, Toronto or Detroit in the first round.  The Hornets are looking at someone like Houston, Pheonix, Dallas, San Antonio or Utah.  Which list would you like to pick from?
  • Despite the Hornet’s struggles, they still have the second least number of losses in the Western Conference.  Sure, the Hornets have played anywhere from 3-5 less games than most teams in the Conference too, but for them to lose their status as the second least losingest(Yay, made up words) team in the West they’d have to go 1-3 over their next four.

  • That said, unfortunately, going 1-3 over their next four is a possibility.  The Hornets get back to back away games against Portland and Denver, have two days off, and then get back to back away games against Utah and the Lakers.  All of those teams have been playing as well or better than the Hornets so far this season.  It’ll be rough.
  • I’m with Hornetshype.  The LeBron Hype Machine irritates the hell out of me.  However, it’s not even the prevalence of the advertisements and the incessent bombardment of images produced by Nike, the NBA, and even ESPN that gets under my skin.  It’s the casual arrogance of the entire campaign.  When MJ was big, they pushed “I want to be like Mike”, a marketing campaigned designed to encourage people to try to be like him.(and buy his shoes, of course)  With LeBron, they aren’t interested in that.  The want us to witness his greatness.  Observe his untouchable basketball skill.  There was an NBATV special about LeBron where they professed to “give pointers about how to be as successful as LeBron” but the whole show they essentially laugh about the idea that someone could actually do it. We aren’t allowed to dream to be like him, we are only allowed to bask in his reflected glory.  Screw that.
  • I wanted to indulge in one What If? from the last NBA draft.  There were a lot of reports that the Hornets had promised Mario Chalmers that they were going to take him should he be available when they were picking in the first round, but then further reports surfaced with Chalmers going in the low teens.  It wasn’t long after that the Hornets sold their pick.  In the end, Chalmers went in the second round.  He’s currently starting in Miami, averaging 10 points, 4.6 assists, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers a game, while hitting 38% of his threes and 43% overall from the field.  That is an excellent rookie point guard.  A shame.
  • I really don’t like the Chris Paul Right Guard commercials.  They aren’t particularly funny, and they clash badly with what I think Paul is trying to project as a person off the court.
  • I’ve pretty much given up on the Analysis presented at NBA.com.  They continue to insist on using raw scoring numbers to evaluate players and teams.  The last straw came in an article listing James Posey as the third best free agent pick up this off-season.(behind Ron Artest and his 37% shooting, no less) When they argued (for probably the tenth time this season) that the Hornets have the 2nd best defense in the league because other teams only score 93 points against them, I was done.  C’mon, know your own sport and stop completely ignoring pace, efficiencies, and the fact that Hornets games are really slow and most teams don’t get a lot of shots against them.  Being a bit of a stat-geek one of the top things I’d have the NBA do would be to take a page from Baseball and completely overhaul their stat-collection system to improve defensive analysis(deflections, forced misses, etc) and the contributions made by non-scorers including things like hockey assists and screens. People like their numbers and having more records to discuss and analyze is always a good thing.
  • Last night in Portland, there was a big furor caused when the trailblazers had a posession with six players on the floor, and the refs didn’t catch it, allowed the resulting basket to stand, and called a Technical Foul against Portland, essentially giving them 2 points and rewarding the Celtics a chance to earn a “bonus” point at the line in compensation. No doubt it was an ugly decision, especially since the Celtics had to start intentionally fouling in the fourth when they were only down one in what ended up being a four point game.
  • However, even after that story, I still want to say something about referees and the job they do.  I really, really try not to say anything about officiating when I write my recaps.  Sometimes, like that Lakers game, I let my frustration bubble over and I’ll have a bullet mentioning it, but in general, I feel that officiating does actually go both ways over the course of a season, and that there is rarely such egregiously bad officiating that it decides a game.  However, as more Blogs crop up, and more video evidence becomes readily available to the public, Referee-trashing has become more and more prevalent and shrill.  I don’t think we’re far away from sites purely devoted to how a team was screwed by poor calls, especially since youtube is already playing host to a number of those types of videos.  Honestly, that makes me a bit sad, because that sort of attention is just not going to help the NBA or the game.  I just hope it never gets as bad as this: I knew a guy from Italy who once told me that there is a weekly program that airs during the Soccer season that is purely devoted to evaluating referees and pointing out their bad calls.  The show is an hour long and basically insinuates that various referees’s are in the pay of this or that team.  Ugh.

I think that’s enough.  I’m talking about freaking referees.  Happy New Year!  We play again Friday.

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