Archive for July, 2009
This trade is what the phrase “mixed feelings” was made for.
So the Hornets are trading Tyson Chandler. Again. And it looks like it’s going to go through this time. To tell you the truth, I’m relieved. Yes, I wanted us to keep TC. I wanted to see him get healthy and prove he could still be the player he was at his best. He was one of my favorite Hornets. But… I know I would personally find it hard to give 100% to a team that you knew tried to give you away. I want Tyson on our team. But I also want him to get a fresh start. And I don’t want “are we going to trade him or not?” hanging over our heads until February.
To hear about the nightmare OKC trade, in which the team tried to swap an elite defensive center (say what you will about the season he had this year, and about his offense, but the numbers say this is a fact) for two scrubs who couldn’t get off the bench on the worst team in the NBA, and then to listen to all the other trade rumors — scrub, scrub, guy who’s going to retire and be bought out, scrub– this summer… and then the name Emeka Okafor comes up. How is that not a relief? It’s the first name mentioned with Tyson Chandler that belongs to a player of the same caliber– actually, a slightly better caliber.
Okafor is a 14/10 career guy. He’s the same age as Tyson but he has less wear and tear on him due to playing three years of a college schedule as opposed to being in the NBA since age 18. His deal is longer, but it’s backloaded, which means the team gets savings of about $2 million a year for the next two years. I’m guessing they’re banking on the fact that their cap issues only matter for the next two years anyway, since Peja and Mo Pete come off the books and we go under in 2011 whatever happens. If you accept as a premise the fact that the Hornets’ front office was going to trade Chandler, then this is one of the best possible outcomes. So it’s hard to be upset.
At the same time, I feel kind of guilty about not being upset. I mean, they had to go and trade my favorite player for another one who’s actually good and who I actually like. Who’s undisputedly the best out of all the names that have come up. I will miss Tyson Chandler. All the great things I said about him in the post I wrote when he was traded to OKC are still true. I will miss the Crescent City Connection. I will miss his humor. I will miss how he could fire up the arena. I’ll still wear his jersey and remember how much fun it all was, that magical year when I was just getting into basketball, and he was my favorite player on the team.
But you don’t look back. You look ahead, and what’s ahead looks pretty good too. And then you realize the reason you’re not upset is because this is something you accepted a long time ago.
Logical argument is apparently a lost art in today’s culture. Chris Paul, in Vegas to watch the Hornets’ Summer League team, was asked about Tyson Chandler, and how that trade might indicate that even someone like him could be traded. His response: “In this league, anything can happen,” Paul told Pro Basketball News. “I can be dealt. It’s possible. It’s possible.” Courtesy of the Times Picayune. Notice the gap in the quote? Who knows what was said in there. Nonetheless, the resulting headlines in the national media were:
- Paul says trade ‘possible.’ – Pro Basketball News
- TRADES: CP3 thinks he could be traded. – ESPN Insider
- Chris Paul thinks he could be traded. – Dimemag.com
Some headlines might be better, if one scours the net? Right? Okay. Let’s take a look around. The Times Picayune read: “New Orleans Hornets president Hugh Weber says there’s no way Chris Paul will be traded.” Of course that headline was belied by the additional inclusion of: “the [Hornets] are desperate to dump salaries to avoid having to pay the tax penalty next summer. Due to its financial limitations, New Orleans is the only team in the Southwest Division that has yet to acquire a player through free agency or by a trade to improve its roster this offseason,” and then included the above CP quote, attributing it to Pro Basketball News. This was followed by the quotes from the Hornets organization that led to its headline, and then absolutely no comment on either. Way to analyze all the facts before you.
Sports Illustrated got close too. Their headline? “Hornets Will Not Trade Chris Paul.” Good right? Well, not if immediately followed by this: “Chris Paul told a reporter there’s chance he soon could be traded,” the article then quotes the purported financial/trade situation of the team from the TP (see the above), and then simply added that the Hornets say they won’t trade him, without bothering to include the quotes from any of the Hornets people. And again, no analysis of the information.
Chris Paul, himself, nauseated by the explosion of articles about his “imminent trade,” used Twitter to tell the world: “Jus for the record too…I’M NOT GOIN ANYWHERE!!! No clue what Chris Thomasson was talkin about, but I didn’t say any of what he was sayin.” So there it is, the truth. No matter what was said in a hypothet, this was and is the truth. CP knows it. The Hornets basketball organization knows it. And any serious basketball fan or journalists, should damn well know it. Why would the Hornets trade CP? He’s a once in a generation talent.
Instead of letting it go at that, Pro Basketball News decided to follow up with “Paul Feeling the Pressure.” Where, Thomasson argued the whole conversation was taped, and that this was what Paul really said. Allegedly his editors listened to the tape and backed him up. Okay, but what was the context? What were the words before, after, and in between? The reason Paul doesn’t remember it, in my opinion, is because he was talking in general, how the NBA is, how no one’s safe (remember to even qualify for a no-trade clause, the player must have at least eight years of service time and four with the same team, and must then bargain for one in their contract; to my knowledge, only Kobe has one). As Hornets team President, Hugh Weber, said: “I think [Chris] was talking about the nature of the business and the fact that the question was asked the way it was.” Funny how Thomasson didn’t address that point. Just become some crafty reporter backs a star player into an awkward answer doesn’t mean his integrity is in place. To the contrary, manipulating an honest person into giving a random quote that you intend on using as an inflammatory headline proves just the opposite.
Case in point: in supporing Thomasson, notorious Chris Paul-hater, Brett Pollakoff, posted the following article on NBA Fanhouse: “Chris Paul Caught Lying on Twitter?”, in which beyond supporting his fellow “journalist,” Pollakoff called CP a jerk for pretending not to have said what he said, and naive for not understanding the media business. Right. Why would Chris think that his opinion on a throwaway hypothet would be a headline? How naive. Or maybe it’s indicative of a larger problem; funny how the media always paints it as a player being too foolish to keep his mouth shut rather than the artificial frame of discouse constructed by a willing media agent who cares more about his name in the byline and his next paycheck than even the smallest smigden of self-respect, or dare I say it, the Truth.
So how did we go from having a completely hypothetical, sure, anyone can be traded, argument to “he soon could be traded”? Simple. The almighty dollar. Today’s it’s all about the scoop. First in time, first in line. To get paid, that is. Alternatively, create a crazy enough headline and just maybe enough people will jump to your site to bump your ad revenue. What, CP is getting traded (to who)? What, CP is a jerk (what he’d do)? Either way, it’s about money. Should Freedom of the Press even apply to these people?
There was a time when “journalists” researched their sources. They got corroboration. Apparently, today, it doesn’t matter. So they have a tape and tore the quote out of context, guess that makes it okay. Besides, no one trusts the internet anyway. So what’s one more stretched truth? Moreover, who really wants truth in an age when bickering people thrown into awkward situations with suggested responses is “entertainment?” Reality television is the new gladiatorial games, and like then, the masses now eat it up. It had occurred to me that sports was the purest form of entertainment left, an honorable exercise where persons are forced to play by the same set of rules and compete, their individual and/or aggregate excellence determining the winner totally removed from any political, personal, religious, or other frame of bias. Only the media keeps ruining it.
The Truth Is Out There. Only no one’s looking for it. Although, apparently, no one misses it. Maybe we should all be to blame. We all bury our heads in the sand and accept headlines as truth when all they are is a collection of words carefully crafted by someone with an agenda. As for me? I’ll keep thinking for myself. Chris Paul is going nowhere. He’s our savior; not just for the Hornets, but for all of New Orleans. His importance is uncomparable to any other in sports right now. As we’ve said here over and over, his performance on the floor isn’t just MVP like, it’s historic. As ticktock6 shared with you all, we just went to the Basketball Hall of Fame. No Chris Paul there yet. But someday he will be. And while I hope it’s in a Hornets jersey, I can’t say that for sure. Anything’s possible.
So maybe tomorrow’s blogosphere will have headlines of “Even Hornets’ bloggers unsure Chris Paul to remain in New Orleans.” But as for me, I believe he’ll be here for a long time . It’s what Chris said, it’s what the GM said, it’s what the team president said. And it’s what I say. Make up your own mind.
Addendum 07/20/09 by Ticktock6:
It took me forever to locate this post, which I remember reading back in June, because I originally thought a Celtics blog had done it. Turns out it was a Mavs blog, but it’s a fantastic account and critique of how one basketball “news” outlet put out a Rajon Rondo trade story, lifting out-of-context quotes made in 2007 out of an article and implying that they were recent. The story was then picked up by SI, ESPN, and other major news outlets and reported as fact. This was done without double checking the first story or attempting to put context to the original quotes which they then passed on to the public. And so a whole story about how all the Celtics hate Rondo was manufactured out of nothing and perpetuated all over the internet. Rondo’s agent was pissed, and rightly so. I wanted to post this link as another example of what we’re talking about and to emphasize that we’re not against this because it’s Chris Paul– we’re against bullshit like this in general.
There are two unalienable truths in the world of Hornets Hype: 1) James Posey is amazing, and 2) Tracy McGrady sucks. Rare indeed is the gossip item in which we get the two in practically the same paragraph.
Spotted at TAO Nightclub, James Posey of the New Orleans Hornets. The NBA pro was with twelve guys and girls celebrating a friend’s birthday. Tequila was a favorite at the table and the basketball player even bought a bottle of champagne for a group of girls on the dance floor.
Also seen at TAO with friends was Houston Rocket Tracy McGrady. The shooting guard was extremely friendly to all and stuck to water throughout the night.
I guess not everyone is epic enough to have champagne and bacon for breakfast… And no, the fact that he was allegedly nice did not succeed in distracting us from our hate. By nature this blog cannot bring itself to trust someone who goes clubbing in Vegas without drinking…
I’m not sure I even knew where the Basketball Hall of Fame was until this weekend. (For all of you who are similarly oblivious, it’s in Springfield, MA.) But here we were driving down the Mass Pike on our way to a wedding, and we see a sign on the side of the highway that says “Basketball Hall of Fame.” We’re like, really? Here? Why? And then we thought, well, of course we have to go. It was the randomest of things. But I thought I’d share some of the pictures we took. Most of them are of weird stuff. Because I like weird stuff.
First of all, if you mean to go to the Basketball Hall of Fame, you cannot miss it. It’s right off the exit, for one thing, and for another, it’s the place with the giant basketball on top of a big white tower (see left). Oh, P.S.– at any time feel free to click on the pics to biggify them; I had to shrink them to thumbnails just to get them all into the post. Your $16 will get you a ticket with the names and pictures of the current year’s inductee class on it. This year, that’s Michael Jordan, David Robinson, C. Vivian Stringer, Jerry Sloan, and John Stockton, but none of their stuff is there yet because they don’t get inducted until September 10th. There was, however, construction tape roping off a section on the 2nd floor where they were ripping some walls out, and a sign informing us that this is where the MJ exhibit is going to be.
The Hall of Fame is set up around a three level dome. You walk in, they put you on an elevator, which whisks you up to the third floor. The third floor is where all the Hall of Famers are. Their pictures are on the walls (see left), and below them are boxes containing basketball artifacts, the HOFers’ biographies, some videos, and a neat historical timeline matching the history of basketball to other events that were going on in the world. Basically, you start in the 1800s and walk around the circle. On the second floor are specific exhibits– they have one for great high school teams and another for great college teams, one dedicated to pro dynasties, one for broadcasters (that one’s interactive, which is cool for the kids), one for coaches, as well as random jerseys and shoes and stuff from popular players. And on the first floor is a basketball court, so at any time you can wander over to the railing and look down and see all the kids playing (right).
Now, to have a good time at the Basketball Hall of Fame, I am going to posit that you have to be something of a nerd. In particular, a history nerd. And you have to be willing to read a lot. Which is why I’m sure, for instance, we probably got more out of the third floor than the group of high school ballers who were wandering through at the same time as us. If you want to see people you’ve heard of, you might as well skip the first two thirds of the top floor, because they’re not going to be there. Remember, most people you’ve heard of aren’t in the Hall. Even Jordan’s not yet. So, non-history buffs beware– you might want to proceed downstairs and do the silly stuff like sticking your foot in Shaq’s shoeprint (left). But you would be missing out.
Anyhow, basketball was invented in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith. He was Canadian! I bet you didn’t know that. So you enjoy your basketball heritage, Raps fans. The first game was played at the YMCA at what is now the location of Springfield College, hence the random location of the HOF. But it was quickly picked up by colleges who wanted a way to keep their athletes in shape between football and baseball seasons. Women’s basketball was started only a year later in 1892 by Senda Berenson Abbott (left), who was a gymnastics instructor at nearby Smith College. Yet– go figure– she didn’t get into the HOF until 1985! Yay for sexism, right? She was appropriately the first woman inducted, and there have been lots more since. Of course, I took her picture.
The old stuff in the HOF is hilarious. Here’s an early Knicks uniform on the right. It’s made out of sweater and has a belt! They used to also wear knee pads. They didn’t even have sneakers until 1917, when the Converse Chuck Taylor’s were invented (yup, they’ve got one on display). I got a huge kick out of the gear from the early 20th century. Also the totally random factoids. Like: Did you know the basket used to have to be opened by the ref after a team scored, to let the ball out? It wasn’t until 1906 that it dawned on someone to leave the bottom of the basket open. (There wasn’t a lot of scoring in early basketball.) And they had to invent the backboard because games were often played in crazy places like opera houses and there would be people reaching down over the wall from their seats to interfere with baskets? And they had to move the basket a few feet out from the wall because players used to try to run up the wall to lay the ball in? (I don’t know, doesn’t this seem like kind of a cool thing to put back in the game? Just for an exhibition at the All Star Game or something? With the athleticism of the players these days? I totally wanna see this!)
One of the cooler things in the early days of basketball was barnstorming. There were several organized leagues– it was more like in Europe than anything else we have in the U.S. But some teams, like the New York Renaissance, the first all-black team, and the Harlem Globetrotters, weren’t allowed in a league, so they would barnstorm– which was basically getting on a train or a bus and traveling around challenging whatever teams would play you. There was even a women’s team called the Red Heads (they all had red hair) who barnstormed and won something like 80% of their games against men’s teams. Because of the travel, basketball pretty much stuck to the eastern part of the U.S. for many years. We also learned that, in addition to the Boston Celtics (speaking of which, there’s one of Red Auerbach’s cigars, left), there was also a New York Celtics. You always think the players today are huge compared to 50 years ago, but I don’t know. Some of those guys in the 1920’s pictures clearly worked out. Dudes had pretty big arms, even if they weren’t as tall.
After awhile, we worked our way around the circle to the guys I’ve heard of. One of the things I liked were the commemorative balls. They’re all painted and written on with the names and dates of the accomplishments, and some of them are really old. This one on the right isn’t– it’s the ball from when the 1995-96 Bulls hit their 70th win. Then there was the quirky stuff. They’ve got Red Auerbach’s cigar– imagine anyone lighting up on the bench these days, even after the game was won. It would never happen. They’ve got Pistol Pete Maravich’s socks. Yep, his socks. I guess he used to wear tall floppy socks. And there is an actual pair of them in a glass case (see left). Pistol Pete is one of the jerseys retired in New Orleans Arena, even though he never played for the New Orleans Hornets (you know, I was just thinking, if we’re gonna do that, it seems like we’d also retire Larry Brown, who played for New Orleans’ ABA team, the Bucs, doesn’t it? But which jerseys are appropriate to retire where is another topic for another day). And he was, as far as I could tell, the first Louisiana guy in the HOF.
Oh, and small shorts! Let me tell you, there is a plethora of small shorts. The Hall of Fame is like an ode to the small short. There’s Bill Russell’s small shorts. And Wilt Chamberlain’s small shorts. I took pictures of several pairs of small shorts, but I will only grace you with one. These are Dave Cowens’ small shorts from the 1979-80 season. Now, it may be hard to get the proper perspective in this picture, but I am telling you, I own shorts the same size as these shorts. Am I a six foot nine man? Am I? I ask you. Amazing. The small shorts just slayed me. If you are a fan of small shorts, you should definitely check out the Basketball Hall of Fame. (Interestingly enough, the shorts started out long in the early days of basketball, got short, and then got long again. The era of the small short was fleeting yet legendary.)
One of the weirdest things about the HOF is that all of today’s great coaches… are already there! You need to be retired at least five years to be eligible if you’re a player, but coaches need to have been retired for five years or to have coached for 25 years. So Phil Jackson and Pat Riley and Larry Brown and Jerry Sloan… these guys are already in, even though their careers are still going. On the left was one of my favorite things– that’s Pat Riley’s pre-game speech to the Miami Heat the night they won the championship in 2006. His handwriting’s kind of hard to read, but I just found it amazingly cool to see all written out. What he thought was important, what he underlined, the quotes he picked. So did he deliver it like it was on the paper? Or just use it as a reference? I guess we have to ask James Posey.
On the second floor there are interactive displays where you can measure your wingspan (70″, and mine was longer than mW’s despite him being taller than me), see if you can palm a basketball (uh, the baby sized one), figure out your vertical leap (only like a foot, but I was wearing flip flops and hungover), and do other silly stuff like that. On the right, we can see that I am shorter than Manute Bol …. but! Taller than Muggsy Bogues. There are also more jerseys, sneakers, and team histories. There was also a small case full of Paul Pierce stuff (I suspect there is rather more Celtics stuff in the HOF than other teams because of its location less than 2 hours outside Boston). Which included– I shit you not, why did I not photograph this?– a bottle of Minute Maid lemonade. Like, seriously. Jerseys from Kansas and Boston, sneakers and some memorabilia… and a lemonade. I couldn’t decide if someone left it in there by accident or Paul Pierce just really, really loves lemonade. Someone needs to tell me the significance of the lemonade!
Finally, I am going to wrap up with a comment–and a plea– to the Denver Nuggets. I was not aware of these jerseys. I do not know how, because they are clearly one of the awesomest things in the history of the word awesome. Well, that oversight has been corrected, and I know about them now. And thus I must beg– bring back the rainbow unis, Nuggets! How many teams in the league have stupid light blue now? It’s overplayed. Not to mention three of them (Nuggets, Jazz, and Thunder) are similarly located in the middle of the U.S., so it’s not like you are helping people tell you apart there. No one has this. No one. Look at the rainbow on the legs of the warmups! This is a great uni. Bring it back, Nuggets. And then we can have idiotic conversations like this:
Chaunce: … WTF? You didn’t say anything.
Melo: Oh, just cause I’m wearing this jersey. No homo.
Make it happen, Nuggets. You know you want to.
By mW on July 16, 2009
ESPN True Hoop, good stuff. ESPN headline: “Buzz Kill: Hornets thriftiness costing team?”, not so much. For those of you that may not know, True Hoop likes to aggregate various media sources and present them all for the reader in one place. What spurred this headline? John DeShazier, who wrote in the Times Picayune:
The silence has been deafening, the inactivity telling. All we can figure is that the Hornets didn’t seriously intend to add any meaningful pieces in free agency, that their declaring a willingness to pay the luxury tax if it meant putting together a championship-caliber team was hollow. The franchise seems to have done everything in its power to make sure it doesn’t add payroll this summer. … If the Hornets can’t or won’t do what they have to do to catch the Lakers and to beat the Nuggets, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Jazz and Mavericks, then they shouldn’t sell bluster, knowing full well that fans and players are going to call them on it. The lack of activity wouldn’t be so glaring if the Hornets hadn’t gone out of their way to sell the theory that they’d move boldly, swiftly and effectively to plug their holes. Instead, the teams that really were interested in getting stronger let their wallets do the talking. They roared; the Hornets haven’t yet even mustered a whisper. Their silence if deafening, and their inactivity is telling.”
I wanted to respond by posting on ESPN, something I rarely do, but wasn’t sure if I had an account there, so here’s my retort that would have been posted there:
John DeShazier is one of the least-credible and exaggerated sportswriters in New Orleans. The fact is, the Hornets as of today, have significantly higher payrolls than the teams he mentions: Denver, San Antonio, Portland, Utah, and Dallas, as well as Cleveland and Orlando. Only Boston and LAL seem to be outspending the Hornets. New Orleans simply is standing by the team they’ve put together, which wasn’t healthy last year, and is putting trust in their draft picks. Considering they like to have 14 guys on the roster, they only have one more slot to fill. To suggest inactivity is always a negative is foolish. They easily could have hosted a firesale this summer. To their credit, they’ve realized the mistake made with Chandler last year and are trying to keep a winner together. It makes me sad that this joker somehow makes an ESPN headline. New Orleans is not “penny-pinching” by any stretch of the imagination.
Feel free to double check my numbers on HoopsHype.com. I mark New Orleans at $78M, with others at: Denver $72M, San Antonio $76M, Portland $48M, Utah $73M, Dallas $69M, Cleveland $77M, and Orlando $77M (with Boston at $79M and LAL at $84M). The fact that the national media spreads its usual ignorance by using a local sportswriter defies all reason and only perpetuates the complex feeling of persecution that New Orleanians often endure. Maybe we should stop blaming the national media if the TP writers have no clue. Or maybe the TP should hire a fucking basketball person and the rest of the country should wake up. This isn’t some kind of transcendantal realization, it’s a few minutes of research.
That’s all right. No problem. They can all suck it when Chris Paul is eating everyone’s souls next year and the media flip-flops more than Bill Clinton on Monica Lewinsky. This team gets it now. They know their time is now. They want vengeance. And CP, the Grief Merchant, will deliver it.
According to the Associated Press, the NBA Salary Cap has been set at $58.68 million, about $1 million less than last year’s Cap. The NBA Luxury Tax also dropped, by about $2 million, to $69.92 million. The midlevel exception has been set at $5.85 million. The new Cap and Tax went into effect at 12:01 a.m. today, allowing the real free agency period to begin. Will the real Jeff Bower please stand up?
As of today, the Hornets are committed to 11 players, for $77,575,998. Yikes. Expect them to sign three more, and if both draftees, they come cheap, and whoever else (Marks?), cheap too. But that’s still a $1 tax per dollar over the limit, which means Georgie is paying $8 mil out of pocket, plus loses out on certain revenue sharing. As of today.
He is. It’s the real him. We’ve got confirmation. So now that’s four Hornets on Twitter.
Butler and Wright seem (from their Twitter feeds) to have been in New Orleans a lot this summer, and Chris Paul was here for Essence. And of course you should be following @hornetsdotcom for all the latest official updates.
I missed this post from Minnesota T-Wolves blog Canis Hoopus when it came out a couple days after the draft, but I’m going to link to it anyway because it’s a great rant. It’s about the national media’s treatment of the Ricky Rubio circus, particularly the rampant use of “unnamed sources” and cliches about Minnesota and the organization.
What does this have to do with the Hornets? Well, you know we’re interested in critiquing the failings of the mainstream media on this blog. But all his points are particularly relevant to one of our favorite causes– taking writers/sports personalities to task (sarcastically) for their sloppy research on New Orleans and the franchise’s situation here. Amazingly, I read an article even last week that stated the Hornets might be forced to trade Tyson Chandler because they can’t put butts in the seats (despite factual evidence that pops up at the top of a simple Google search — which anyone could have performed in 30 seconds– stating that the Hornets were actually 8th out of 30 teams in percentage of butts in seats this season).
So, it’s interesting to read about other maligned small-market franchises’ struggle with the same crap.