Hornets Hype

In a basement. In our pajamas.

Archive for July, 2010

I have decided to go on blogging hiatus for the next several months. This might end up turning into semi-permanently. I honestly don’t know. I’ll re-evaluate after the season starts. What you can expect:

  • No posts from me on this site until at least November 1st, although it might be more like December 1st because November is National Novel Writing Month and I will be participating in that for the 4th year
  • Less commenting and involvement elsewhere
  • Less of me on Twitter (look, this one is more of a guideline than a rule…)

This is not a huge loss, considering I haven’t been posting much anyway. But I just don’t want the feeling hanging over my head that I should post, when X news happens or X rumor comes out. This past month and a half, I feel like I’ve known too much. And it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t interesting. And yet I followed it with this weird sense of almost-guilt, of not wanting to miss something. I found myself arguing because of how much I like arguing, rather than because I actually cared. I didn’t even feel evil glee when everyone else decided LeBron was the douche I’d thought he was for years. I just felt bored and somewhat dirty. See, because it starts, “I want to know about the Hornets.” But then it balloons into, “I want to know what everyone else is saying about the Hornets. I want to know about players on other teams. I want to know what everyone is saying about players on other teams. I want to know what everyone is saying about what everyone is saying about the NBA and I want to have an opinion on it.” But you know what? I…. don’t.

What Will Leitch wrote after the LeBron “Decision” special aired really spoke to me. It’s been in my head ever since, and the more I thought about it, the bigger it grew.

We cheer because sports is, ultimately, harmless. And we trust that they will at least pretend. We trust that they will recognize the ultimate ludicrousness of this whole enterprise, that these are grown men wearing tank tops, throwing a ball up and around, running on wood, that this all exists because we allow it to exist, that the illusion must be maintained…

That trust felt broken tonight.

…[N]ever has it been laid more bare, and never did it feel so empty. It felt like a break, the moment when the tide crested, when we looked at the games, and their players, and ourselves, and wondered: Why in the world are we watching these awful people?

This is tricky, because I love social media, and this great, sprawling NBA blogosphere of ours, but I do think it’s responsible for the cracks in the illusion. The more I know, and the faster I know it, I’ve realized… the less I need to know. I can’t deny the information overload is making me sick of basketball. Why can’t I wake up and read in the paper that Jeff Bower has been fired or Chris Paul has been dealt? Why can’t I just go to games because I have season tickets and take the offseason, you know, off? Like average people. On Friday night, I looked at the last 48 hours of my life and realized I’d spent it on Twitter, writing sarcastic stuff, and in comment threads. What some of you may not know is that, in addition to basketball, I write fiction. I’m trying to finish my first novel right now. Over that 48 hours I put exactly zero words into this project I really cared about. And what had really happened, in basketball, that was worth the squandering of those precious words and that time?

Nothing. A transaction was not made. A solid, tangible, indisputably factual event had not occurred. A game had not been played. I had spent 48 hours of my life talking and writing and thinking about… nothing.

If The Thing With the Rumors happens, I will miss out on the chance to write one of the biggest, most epic posts of my blogging career. I am aware of this. I am aware that the Hornets are having an eventful offseason. I am aware there are people who have come to care about my opinions. My awareness of this made me consider and reconsider this hiatus a couple of times. So, if The Thing happens, just know that the post I would have written (Is there even a tense for this situation? “I might would having written”?) would have been great.

Despite this post, this has a lot less to do with basketball than it does with other parts of my life. (“It’s not you, NBA, it’s me! Only, it’s sorta you too!”) I am in the middle of a big writing project, and having my head in 2 places (one of which is a big drag) is not working for me. I was on the phone with my mom last week, and she said, “You know, all your non-fiction is great. Why don’t you just concentrate on writing that and getting paid for it or published?” This is a good question. It is probably the question. I said to myself, “Self, even IF you got paid by someone to blog and got media access to all the games and were a basketball journalist…  but never wrote a book, would you be happy with that?” I wish I could tell you I had to think long and hard about it, but I didn’t: I already knew the answer.

What it comes down to is I love basketball, and I love the Hornets. But I just want this more.

Thank you all so much for reading and following. I cannot count the number of great people I’ve met through blogging. I never meant for this thing to be anything. It was just a domain I spontaneously bought when I was excited after a game, and I had to get that excitement out somehow. That’s what the “Hype” in Hornets Hype means: it means getting hyped up, getting really into it. It means the rush I get from being inside New Orleans Arena. There’s nothing like it. And that’s something I never felt guilty about spending words on.

But I would like to be able to just go to basketball games again, as a fan, without feeling the need to talk about or care about every little thing. And that’s not where I am right now. Right now I feel like there are only so many words inside of me per day, and I owe it to myself to spend them in a way that is more meaningful to me.

I hope you will all appreciate the vast amount of self-restraint it took for me to not make a “I have to do what’s best for my family” or “I have taken my talents to _____” joke during this post.

Basketball. Uncomplicated.

Lots of people are talking about players’ rights versus owners’ rights, basketball being a business, winning is everything, and it all breaking down into an almost mechanical equation of loyalists of all varieties, arguing three sides to every story.  Lebron this, Amare this, Chris Paul that.  Kevin Durant.  But there is something more to it, something primal, that on a base level, each of us implicitly realizes, no matter how many manufactured storylines are put forth by Stern, the Media, or the so-called reality television shows which are even now infesting this sport.  It’s greatness.  It’s that thing that makes one individual greater than the sum or so many before him that have tried and failed; it’s that which allows one to put his teammates on his shoulders and carry or push them through or over every obstacle to victory.  It’s an intangible quality precious few possess.

Greatness is never given to you.  It must be earned.  You cannot be born into it without sacrifice, dedication, and effort.  It cannot be handed to you on a silver platter.  It must be uniquely yours, a what-some-would-call destiny forged through your sweat and tears: a combination of what is possible and what you will to be.  Today, though, too many people, be they athletes, celebrities, or the well-to-do, have a sense of entitlement, like yesteryear’s aristocracy, that they were born special so they should have it all with little or no effort.  Lebron James is the prototype of this societal model: before he had played a single game in the NBA he was called “King James.”  Yet what’s to say then that he wouldn’t have been the Darko, the DeShawn Stevenson, or even Jermaine O’Neal?  Who knew for sure that that 18-year-old would be a two-time MVP?  Then?  No one.  Nevertheless, it was all given to him from day one, marketed to him, signed, sealed, and delivered to him.  Even now, or at least up until “The Decision,”  he still is  (was) treated like aristocracy despite his anti-climatic disappointments the last two years.  Having the best regular season record in the League only to flame out in the Playoffs?  Let’s let the blame fall where it belongs: on the man who doesn’t have the heart of a champion.

So untouchable was James, before Wojnarowski roasted him, he was lionized despite his obvious faults.  Look at ESPN’s free agency picture for him (above).  The basketball falls behind his head like a too-low saint’s halo.  Which intern broke through his or her boss’ blinders, and was like, dude, you have to lower the rock, people will think we’re trying to make him into Jesus.  Who?  “King James,” the “Chosen One”?  What?  I know, hard to imagine elevating him with near-religious overtones.  Fortunately, not everyone has fallen under his monumental shadow.  There are those, who have always seen he just doesn’t have It.  But is Chris Paul one of them?

Each and every time Lebron has had a chance to be a champion, he’s faltered.  Every time he needed to show heart, he shrank from it.  If it isn’t part of his billion-dollar plan, he’s not invested.  And now, when there’s no one left to blame, when his team has generously spent well beyond the luxury tax, given him every free agent and trade they could, and even fired his coach and GM, Lebron finally realized it was all on him.  So he ran.  I’m not criticizing him for being a “new generation” player, or as someone one who wants to play with friends rather than see all others as the enemy, as someone in the modern free agency era exercising his contractual rights, or even as an force swinging the balance of power relations between players and owners and striking a hit against The Man; I simply submit that he looked greatness in the eye and blinked first.  Not only that, he turned away, and walked the other way, head down.

The greatest among us, those who we should put forth as examples of what humanity can achieve don’t run from the hardest of obstacles: they smash through them.  History is replete with such individuals, but being what this is, I’ll stay focused on basketball.  Michael Jordan didn’t win a championship until his seventh year, as the media incessantlyreminded us for the first two rounds of the Playoffs last year, the (surprise!) seventh year of Lebron’s faux-reign.  MJ didn’t run.  He worked harder.  He made it happen, he pushed himself to levels that maybe no other basketball player has reached.  A few years later, Kobe Bryant had the good life with Shaq, and then it was all torn apart; egos got involved, Kobe made some questionable personal choices, struggled through both bad seasons and legal battles.  Sure, he made trade demands, chided his team for not improving, and so maybe had some help in being forced to stay along for the ride, but in so doing so, proved all his critics wrong, defying all those who said he couldn’t play unselfishly, that he couldn’t play injured, couldn’t win without Shaq, or beat the Celtics.  He overcame all that and now stands on the cusp of his sixth ring.  Or Paul Pierce.  He could never get over the edge with then-pal Antoine Walker, suffered several miserable years, was badly injured, and even, at one point, was stabbed eleven fucking times.  Did Pierce quit, give up, or run?  That’s not who he is.  Pierce stayed in Boston and waited for his team to improve.  Then, when the moment came, he seized it.  People can talk about KG and Shuttleworth all they want, but anyone who watched those games three years ago knew that it was Pierce who had the soul of the winner, that it was Pierce who put them all on his shoulders and made them champions: highlighted penultimately by his epic Game 7 mortal combat finish with Lebron in the Eastern Conference Finals.  With all three of these players, Jordan, Kobe, and Pierce, you can tell that they have It.  That Something that makes them great.  Lebron, for all his talent, doesn’t.

So where does that leave Chris Paul?

That’s the question isn’t it?  When healthy, there’s no dispute, other than from a few disgruntled Jazz fans, that CP3 is the best lead guard in the League.  Most would probably mark him down as a top-five NBA player.  But is he just one more injury away from being Tracy McGrady?  Is he a half-season of quitting away from being Vince Carter?  Or is he more like Kobe, the man who withstood the challenges to his primacy from those two players, and who pulled up those around him to win two straight championships?

Some people say Chris is a punk, who’s mean, and plays dirty.  Well, although few people other than Jeff Van Gundy said it at the time, it’s now generally acknowledged that Jordan was the same.  There’s a fine line between dirty and using all your tricks to get every advantage.  Ask Bruce Bowen about that.  I think, like Mike, Chris toes that line and is such an uber-competitor that he will resort to anything to get the W.  It’s what sets him apart.

Chris Paul does it all.  He can score, he can control the ball, he can appropriate it from the careless, and he can distribute the rock with an uncanny floor vision: an inversion of the NBA-expected dominant big man.  Most importantly, though, he’s always seemed to have It.  When Lebron has the ball in the last minute of games, I see a man who believes he is entitled to hit the game winner.  When I see Kobe do the same, I see death in his eyes: a man who wants to win more than he wants to score.  There’s a crucial difference between the two.  I see an intense look in Chris’ eyes at the ends of games.  Anyone who watched the first home game against the Nuggets last year got it; months after one of the worst Playoff drubbings every, Chris took over and had his revenge.  The man just would not be stopped.  It’s that Something that lets him take over games and his made him a star.  That edge earned him the nickname The Baby Faced Assassin.  Or, as the Chinese call him, Small Cannon.  Either way, the man is magic and will bring unparalleled talent no matter where he plays.  Which brings us full circle.

Personally, I hope the place he finds his greatness is New Orleans.  I hope that like Jordan, Kobe, and Pierce, Chris Paul decides to find his legacy within and not waste that efficacy by acquiescing to the myth that greatness can be found in aggregate desire.  Is staying in Nola what Chris wants, though?  Does he have the fortitude to lead his team to greatness?  Is that what is written in his soul, or does he just want to play which a bunch of sure things and duke it out with other sure things, the city that he saved be damned?  It’s what the Greeks would call an examination of Character.

One of the most moving moments in sports history is watching the high school game that Chris Paul dedicated to his grandfather.  You can find a video of it if you look.  It’ll send chills throughout you, even here in New Orleans in July.  In tribute to his 61-year-old grandfather who had just been murdered, an emotional Chris swore he’d score 61 points in a high school game.  That day, his will was supreme, and the words “obstacles” and “you cannot” held no meaning.  When CP finally hit the last shot to reach that sublime 61, he fell to the floor in ecstatic relief, which, in itself, is a cathartic experience, even vicariously; but, then, to watch Chris go to the free throw line and intentionally miss his shots?  It wasn’t about a scoring record or what college he’d get to play for the next year.  It wasn’t about him.  It was about a grandfather who had been his heart and soul.  That, I have always believed, is the day the world learned Chris Paul’s character.

So what, Chris, do you think your grandfather would say about your association with LRMR?  It’s not hard to see what they are.  That them, Leon Rose, and Worldwide Wes are all trying to tell you what to do to be a “better” investment, a better “character.”  But is that who you are?  A follower?  What happened to being the Savior of New Orleans?  Wasn’t that good enough?  Whatever you do, it should be you telling them how it is.  We’ve seen your character.  We know you can be great.  But you have to actualize that greatness, and not self-abnegate it.  With it, you can lead the Hornets to a championship.  Without it, you’ll just be that guy who scored a lot of points, made a lot of money, and disappointed a lot of people.

Your choice.

These are Evil Trade Destinations. Do not leave me sad notes saying I’m mean. Evil is mean.

Charlotte Bobcats – They play the Miami Heat on a regular basis. “Oh, hey friends! Isn’t it awesome to have us all together here tonight?…… Oh……… WTF…. Why you gotta beat me down like that? I thought we were all friends?”

LA Clippers – He and Baron Davis can fight it out for the starting point guard spot. And for bragging rights over whose “Exit Strategy” from New Orleans went better.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Kahn (rubbing hands together with a maniacal grin): “Excellent. This will be the prime piece in my ultimate point guard collection. I will keep it on the top shelf, with my Darko bobblehead and the Chris Webber fingernail clipping I am saving for the voodoo doll.”

Indiana Pacers – All the mediocrity and small-town feel of New Orleans, but cold!

Golden State Warriors – Nellie: “WHO MADE THIS TRADE? This will never work. What do you mean I have three starters who are not 6-8 power forwards? Everyone knows you are supposed to have at least four 6-8 power forwards running the floor at. all. times! Who’s my GM? Who are all these midget guards? Where am I?”

Disclaimer: This has all been tongue-in-cheek. It is a joke. Hornets Hype does not in any way, shape, or form endorse the trading of Chris Paul. If anyone has an Evil Trade Destination they’d like to add, by all means drop it in the comments!

Well, for better or for worse, the Jeff Bower era is over in New Orleans.  It’s 2010, do you know where your general manager is?  No doubt Bower was a conservative force, but a prudent one too.  He brought in Tyson Chandler for almost nothing.  When it was obvious Tyson was hurt, he remedied a potential mistake in giving him back away, by getting Okafor for him.  People bitch, but Tyson played 51 games last year; Okafor 82.  Bower also made sure to lock down Chris Paul through at least 2012.  Oh, and he drafted those Collison and Thornton Kids, First and Second All-Rookie Team picks.  Plus, Quincy Pondexter and Craig Brackins looked pretty good this year in Vegas.

Was Bower a good coach?  Did he want to coach for longer than most of last season?  I thought so.  But it seemed Chris wanted it to go another way.  Regardless, him firing Byron was a tough call that had to be made.  Anyone watching our first 9 games knew that everyone but Chris had quit on Byron.  So let’s hope Bower getting the boot as coach or as GM had nothing to do with Chris.  Not because I care if CP feels that way, but because I don’t want my team giving into him.

Sure, I recognize CP is the greatest player the Hornets have ever seen.  But a team can’t just give a player everything he wants and expect him to respect it.  Look at the Cavaliers.  On the flip side, did the Lakers acquiesce to Kobe’s one-time trade demand, or his call to trade Bynum?  No, instead they told him to suit up and went and got Gasol.  Now, three more championships later, the Lakers’ GM, Mitch Kupchak, looks brilliant.

So the Hornets went out and got a Coach, one CP supposedly lobbied for over Bower’s choice of Tom Thibodeau.  Now they have a young GM from the Spurs organization, a team we keep hearing that Nola has modeled itself after.  So let’s hope those moves were made for the right reasons, because I’m already sick of the Era of the Lebrons.  In this modern era, it seems like too often it is all about what can be done easily, cheaply, fastly.  Spare no adverb.  Market big teams, play up their stars and start rumors of all small market stars jumping ship; easy revenue.  Can’t build a team of your own through trades and draft, just sign all the best players to the same team.  Why earn anything when you can be given it?  Why become a champion when you’re already King?

Unfortunately, the last question is what worries me most.  CP has joined forces with LRMR, Lebron’s management company, ditching his long-time agency, Octagon.  Not one person I’ve spoken to via any medium in existence has thought this a good move.  LRMR has only embarrassed themselves and Lebron this summer.  I’ve yet to hear from anyone that they were competent or have any idea what they are doing.  They are hangers-on of Lebron who are blowing through his money long enough to bamboozle, coerce, and sexually harass their way up the American corporate ladder.  I have my sources too, and none report anything good out of this camp.  Then, there are the media credentials snuffed by Lebron’s camp for bad press, and the dunk videos suppressed.  Are these are today’s role models for young kids?  Be friends with someone who is rich and act like you’re in a rap video.  But let’s berate those nerds who actually paid attention in class or had the audacity to go to college, or gasp, graduate school.  Those are the *gasp* “academic elite.”  Yeah, let’s put down people that work on their brains as much as NBAers work on their bodies and game.  Too bad we don’t respect those people as much as professional athletes.

Anywho, CBS is reporting Chris Paul has played his last game as a Hornet.  So say “people close to him.”  Close how?  His mother?  His cousin?  His mailman?  The guy he met at Barnes & Noble?  It says he wants to go to the Magic, Lakers, or Knicks.  Unsurprisingly, the article also mentions LRMR as a reason he will “fight his way out of New Orleans.”  Weird, yesterday’s Times Picayune, said that Chris was “likes the current changes under way.”  This only highlights how much the CBS article is pure speculation, which, of course, is all the media is anymore.  Gone are the days of objective journalism.  Whether you’re FoxNews, MSNBC, CNN, whatever, you’re more likely to hear about Paris Hilton than genocide in Somalia.  You’re also not as likely to hear the pros or cons of President Obama’s policies as much as one channel will tell you he’s a Nazi-Socialist guarded by liberal elites, while the other will tell you he’s a brilliant consensus-bringer that has majority support and is hampered by feet-dragging bottom-feeders.  It’s like the world’s controlled by some evil genius who controls all information in a plot to make us all dumber.  All I want is CP back on the court doing his thing.  Is that so much?  I mean, can we leave the gossip alone and talk about how he’s preparing, how is injury recovery is coming, what strategy he’s talked over with Coach Williams?  Let me know.

If you don’t know, New Orleans is an extremely loyal town, but we’re also extremely protective.  We know what we have, we love what we have, and we protect it against all who would take it away from us or disparage it.  We love our cultural icons, whether Huey Long, Louis Armstrong, or Marie Laveau.  Take now the Saints’ Drew Brees?  He’s a permanent hero.  A Super Bowl Champion.  Brees and Co. are also useful in the NBA context, proving the glaring lie that most media outlets have espoused this summer: Chris Paul must leave because New Orleans can’t support a world champion.  Um, February?  Saints?  Super Bowl?  Ring a bell?  I’m finding it harder to be a gentleman.  In fairness, though, Brees came here after being rejected by his former team.  He had his chip.  Chris’ has always been being picked after other guards, being told he was too small.  He used those things to push him.  But does he need to feel the love from some other team too?  I hope not.  Look at the greats before you, CP: Russell, Magic, Bird, Jordan, Kobe, Pierce.  All their legacies are defined by playing for a single team.  Learn from them, not Lebron.

I say show us something, Chris.  Prove to us you can win anywhere.  Jason Kidd’s been to two Finals.  Nash has been to the Conference Finals three times.  They both have you.  Prove you’re the best floor leader in the League.  Show us you’re the best on the floor, show us you have the desire to win because it’s inside you, and that you don’t need to find it in some symbiotic celebrity collage.  Michael didn’t need Magic.  Magic didn’t need Bird.  And you don’t need whoever.  You have David West.  You have Peja.  You have Marcus Buckets.  No, they’re not Wade, Bosh, or Lebron.  But Michael had Pippen and Grant; Rodman and Kukoc.  Magic had Worthy and Scott.  This team, if it stays healthy, can compete.  The world has forgotten, but David West carried this team at times, as did Peja; but when injuries piled up, the results were mediocre.  But with a healthy Chris Paul et al., the Hornets can contend.  We just need CP3 to be out there giving it his all, instead of worrying about getting out of his contract.  So, Chris, leave LRMR at the door and show us your heart.  Or did choosing LRMR show us precisely that?  I hope not.

Bower built this team.  He built it to win.  That’s why @snavetrebor calls him Bower Robotnik; he’s an evil genius, planning on worldwide domination.  Y’all reading this post can look at the pictures above and tell me if they are one and the same.  But my real question is whether this Hornets team be Bower’s legacy, or that of the Lebrons?  That is, will this team built to win now disintegrate in the wake of a selfish star demanding a trade?  CBS thinks so.  But I’ll believe it when I see it.  As for now, it’s all conjecture and madness.  Come fall, I think Chris Paul will remind the world why he should have gotten an MVP award before Lebron.  I think he’ll show the world what 50+ wins looks like.  And he’ll do it in a Hornets uniform.  Book it.

So let me sum up:

I'll be over here with my four friends, trying to process this.

I'll be over here with my four friends, trying to process this.

Jeff Bower has been fired. The Hornets are in the middle of free agency and haven’t signed anyone but Aaron Gray. They were already dealing with a million and two rumors of George Shinn’s sketchiness, and now they’re dealing with more because they may have backed out of Luther Head’s contract for no good reason and his agent is pitching a fit. Oh, plus the rumors that Chris Paul wants nothing to do with this mess. Let us not forget the Tom Thibodeau drama. And the rumors that the sale of the team to Gary Chouest has been held up for … why? Who even knows what the deal is? The last time there was a public statement was back in May when the local New Orleans public was told the deal was done.

Whether you liked Bower or not (I’m personally ambivalent), having him here was infinitely better than having no one. Who’s making the basketball decisions around here? The Assistant GM is– Oh. That’s right. We don’t have one. The guy in charge is George Shinn’s brother-in-law, who was a food service executive before joining the Hornets in 2005 (leaving aside for the moment the fact that he thinks Chris Paul rumors are started by people like me who “live in basements, in their pajamas” and never the perfectly legitimate New York media who are soooo responsible simply because they have a desk in an office).

Oh hey, maybe the VP is a basketball guy? Ha. Maybe he’s George Shinn’s son who has only a high school diploma, but according to his bio in the media guide “relies on his 20 years of experience in basketball to provide insight about basketball-related decisions” and “has been closely involved with the Hornets organization since its inception in 1987.” That sounds like a lot of experience. Huh. Maybe I am wrong. Except I’m not. Y’all, Chad Shinn is 30. His biography actually, no joke, IS COUNTING THE VAST EXPERIENCE HE GLEANED AS A 10-YEAR-OLD AMONG HIS QUALIFICATIONS. But hey, we do have, like, two scouts though. Let’s give a Hornets Hype shout out to our two scouts! What uuuuuupp Basketball Operations Department! Keep on fighting the good fight there. Yeah.

I mean, have I missed anything here? Can we get some basketball people up in here?

Dear god, I’m surrounded by idiots. Get me six martinis. I’ll be over there, with my fingers in my ears till October. I… can’t… hear… you.

  • So Darren Collison is leaving Vegas? Too bad. Thornton looked like he was forcing a lot of shots without him to penetrate last night. Our team will probably beast on everyone a little less than expected.
  • Quincy Pondexter is quite the multi-tasker, isn’t he? Nice shot, nice aggressiveness, nice muscle, nice energy. He’s put together two straight nice games. Julian Wright should be worried. Right now this kid looks more deserving of his minutes.
  • CON: Brackins pulled down zero rebounds last night. But he did eventually dunk, toward the end of last night’s game. I was so excited to see him in the post I thought I was hallucinating.
  • PRO: Monty Williams, on Brackins’ game: “Playing that many minutes without a rebound is not something that we will put up with.” BWAHA! I like this guy already.
  • Kevin McHale thinks that David West doesn’t have a post game. No wonder Kevin McHale is no longer coaching…
  • Did anyone see Nellie at Friday night’s game? He looked totally drunk or stoned or both.
  • Lawrence Frank is now my new favorite thing on NBA TV. After the game, he insinuated with an entirely straight face that Nellie was drunk, so I know it wasn’t just me who thought that. How’d I miss this guy? He’s much more suited to being on my TV than being with the Nets anyway.
  • I like this Kyle Hines kid. He plays like he’s much bigger than 6-6. Think the Hornets will give him a camp invite? (Don’t know where he would play… he’s a 4. But he’s way undersized. And we already have all these undersized power forwards. But it doesn’t hurt to ask him to camp.)
  • Hornets signed Aaron Gray. Guess that means they don’t need the Dude With the Aaron Gray Hair (Sonderleiter). They already have the real one.
  • I think the people who harp on Thornton’s defense are just parroting stuff Byron Scott used to say and not really watching him. He is both fiesty and fast, plus he crashes the boards with abandon down there among the tall trees. I think 5 out of his 6 rebounds last night were on the defensive end. He’s not as long as some other guys, but he works hard.
  • In fact he outrebounded everyone on the team… this says more about them than about him, however.
  • I did think Lil Buckets was lazy on O last night, however. Every time he tried to involve others, they dropped the ball or something. Lazy or frustrated, couldn’t tell. He took a bazillion poor fadeaway jumpers. Still shot 7-14 though, which is 50% so it can’t be as bad as I remember it being. But those two missed FTs probably lost the game for the Hornets.
  • David Thorpe: “One of my lasting memories of this week will be Marcus Thornton ferociously attacking the rim the way a tiger  goes after a deer. He makes an angry face and blows to the hole.  If he was 6’6, he’d be an all-star.  As it is, he’s a terrific NBA player.” This should be on Thornton’s bulletin board.
  • That Wheeler guy has brown hair on the sides with a yellow stripe on top. @LSUHornet17 described it best when he said, “It’s like a mohawk made purely out of hair dye.” Haha.
  • Hornets had a late lead in both games and somehow managed to lose anyway. #rookiecloserfail
  • I think we need a Summer League Drinking Game. Therefore, when Brackins finally gets a rebound on Tuesday night, let’s all do a shot! If he gets two, do another one! … Don’t worry, you won’t get that shitcanned. Trust me. (If you’re reading this, rook: prove me wrong! Get us all drunk! Do it!)

On Our Hero Chris Paul, a final word:

We’ve all seen the various media reports and various goings-on of the past couple of weeks. Man, I want to think the best of Chris Paul. I want to continue to see him and Drew Brees as New Orleans’ heroes. I want him to play here for a long time, and I want to make trades this year to get some great players alongside him. But… it is really hard for me to feel the same way about a player if he has one foot out the door. Maybe we’re into “It’s not you, it’s me” territory. Maybe that’s my mental block. I don’t have a problem with putting pressure on our front office… they’ve been pretty conservative, although to be fair, at the moment the salary cap won’t really allow them to be anything but.

NOLA isn’t a place that’s going to take kindly to you, though, if you’re gonna flirt with other cities for two years. I’m also a bit disappointed that CP didn’t choose to distance himself from the shitstorm of a backlash that’s hitting LeBron and his crew right now. I still don’t think we should trade him under any circumstances, as long as there’s a chance to win with him. And I don’t believe he will pull a Baron Davis and pretend to be hurt, or any of that nonsense. As I said, I really, really want to think the best of this guy who’s been so great to New Orleans up to this point. But do I have the same unwavering faith in him that I had a month ago? No. It’s like how you can sometimes sense a breakup coming, so you start picking fights and distancing yourself before it happens. I hope Chris Paul has the ability to step away from his friendship from LeBron James, just for a moment, objectively, and see how some of his friend’s behavior in the last two years was inappropriate and inconsiderate. Not the person, the behavior. They’re not the same thing. (Or are they? Are we who we say we are, or are we our choices? Something to think about.)

Anyway, I hope he continues to be the upstanding person and representative for New Orleans we have known him to be. I would never want to lose that Chris Paul.

Having one of those right now.

Paul joins LeBron’s marketing “company” (oh fine, I may have been, um, editorializing a bit there with the quotes)

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating this: it’s epically bad for New Orleans. This is the beginning of a dark spiral of bullshit, betrayal, hype, empty drama, diva behavior, leaks, “anonymous sources in Chris Paul’s camp”, and rumors that leads nowhere good. I’m not trying to be Cassandra here, but… start preparing yourselves.

More later, I guess. I’m too disappointed right now.

There are two reasons I’m excited about Summer League. The first is it doesn’t involve things not restricted to but including anonymous sources, league sources, World Wide Wes, trade rumors, free agency, Chris Paul hating New Orleans, or LeBron. What a dull week. Seriously. You’re fooling yourselves if you think greatness is made in business transactions. Greatness is made on the court. Which brings us to the second reason: Marcus Buckets Thornton and Darren Collison! Do you realize most of the other top rookies (Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry) from last year aren’t playing? Therefore we can expect Lil Buckets, Lil Dimes & Co. to put a world of beatdown and beastliness on all the other teams in Vegas.

This year, probably thanks to having two of the top 5 rookies in the league, the Hornets are going to be televised on NBA TV for four out of their five Vegas games. This is, apparently, some sort of record for us and also means I’ll be able to watch on a screen big enough to actually see the numbers on the uniforms, rather than in an itty bitty low-res window on my computer. Yay?

The Hornets summer league roster is generally underwhelming besides Our Favorite Rookie Heroes, but you should note that Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter are going to be added to the roster July 8th. I’m sure they’re already there with the rest of the team, or headed there, but the team isn’t allowed to officially talk about it because trades and signings don’t become official till then. Here’s a mini-preview of who the Baby Buzz will be up against. I broke it down into 3 categories: Actual People You’ve Heard Of, Draft Picks, and Former Rookies Who Are Too Cool For School Unlike Our Rookies Who Will Feast Upon Your Team’s Flesh in Your Absence Ha Ha Suckersss.

Friday, July 9, vs. Golden State, 7 p.m. (9 p.m. Central), NBA TV

Actual People You’ve Heard Of: Reggie Williams (that kid from the D-League who destroyed us in one of the most infuriatingly stupid Don Nelson-esque comebacks of all time last season), Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright. Draft Pick: Ekpe Udoh. Not On the Roster: Stephen Curry.

Sunday, July 11, vs. Miami, 7 p.m. (9 p.m. Central), NBA TV

Actual People You’ve Heard Of: Jon Scheyer (that kid from Duke who makes really douchey faces), Michael Beasley (I’ve seen like 2 sites saying he’s on the roster and 2 saying he’s not, so I have no idea). Draft Pick: Dexter Pittman, Jarvis Varnado, Da’Sean Butler (all 2nd round). Not On the Roster: Mario Chalmers. Fun fact: Chalmers and Beasley are actually the ONLY two players currently on the Heat roster. I am not making this up. Have fun with that, guys.

Tuesday, July 13, vs. Portland, 7 p.m. (9 p.m. Central), NBA TV

Actual People You’ve Heard Of: Dante Cunningham, Jeff Pendergraph. Draft Pick: Luke Babbit, Armon Johnson. Not on the Roster: Monty Williams will not be coaching. ‘Cause he don’t work there no more.

Friday, July 16, vs. Washington, 5 p.m. (7 p.m. Central), NBA TV

Actual People You’ve Heard Of: Sun Yue, JaVale McGee, Jon Scheyer (shut up, no he’s not, he’s playing for Miami. Update your shit, Wizards internet. Haha). Draft Pick: John Wall. El Numero Uno gets a nice challenge here going up against DC. Not on the Roster: I don’t even know who’s on the Wizards anymore.

Saturday, July 17, vs. Toronto, 3:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. Central)

Actual People You’ve Heard Of: Bobby Brown (BOBBY!!!), Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozan, Joey Dorsey. Draft Pick: Ed Davis, Solomon Alabi. Not on the Roster: I think all the Raptors young players are here. Lots of vets could equal a challenge for our squad. This game is the only one not on NBA TV, but never fear, I shall post the address of the illegal feed when I find it.

Let the countdown begin!

Media for Dummies

By on July 3, 2010

There’s a lot of buzz as free agency begins about this trade or that signing or this or that rumor.  There’s also a lot of criticism of jumping-the-gun-scoops foiled by second-thinking, changes of heart, misinformation, and, well, just flat-out wrong reports.  So here at the Hype, we’re going to help y’all wade through it.  Writers, by their nature, are good with words.  Readers, by nature, read too fast and, as a result, often miss certain nuances.  Also, for those of you with too little time, sometimes scanning the headlines is the way you roll.  One problem with that is the editor often writes the headline, not the author; in either case, the by-line can be confusing.  Seeing as how we’re a Hornets blog, let’s use some New Orleans examples.

July 2, 2010, headline on page D-1 of the Times Picayune: “I Want to Win Now.”  Subtitle: “Once again, Chris Paul reiterates his desire for the Hornets to step up their efforts to build a contender in New Orleans.”  Implication: improve now or trade me.  In fact, the connecting headline on D-4 is: “Trade rumors continue to swirl.”  Lesson #1: context.  When did CP3 say these things?  What were the questions?  In this instance, the key comment comes on the 3rd paragraph of column 2 on D-4, “I love everything about the city, but at the end of the day, I want to win.  I don’t want to win years from now.  I want to win many, many championships here, but I just want to make sure we are committed to winning.”  Funny how the headline “CP3 Wants to Win Many Championships in Nola” wasn’t used.  Simple.  That’s not the story this reporter/editor/news outlet wanted to sell you.  The problem by crafting a story is that it gets carried to other outlets, and like a game of telephone, suddenly, it’s all about CP wanting to get traded, which, if you didn’t know better, you would never know is nothing remotely connected to reality.

Readers also need to beware ellipses and brackets.  This allows an author to omit or ostensibly change words to provide clarification.  It can also allow the author to push their own agenda by selectively picking and choosing what to include in their article.  Check out how the above quote from CP3 could have been printed: “At the end of the day, I want to win…are [we] committed to winning”?  Now, I stretched the bracket a bit, but this makes a point.  Is he worried that New Orleans is committed to winning, or wanting to win many championships here?”  Depends upon how you quote him.  Also, watch out for really short quotes.  Movie ads like to do this.  “Fantastic” says so and so.  Well, what if the full quote was “fantastic special effects, but horrible acting, and no plot whatsoever.”  Did that critic really mean the movie was “fantastic”?  Hardly.

Consider this video from WDSU’s @FletcherMackel over at http://www.wdsu.com/video/24122619/index.html.  Is the first question asked live or dubbed back in?  It’s unclear.  As for many of Chris’ other answers, you can’t hear the questions, or they are edited out.  By the way, the part about CP3 welcoming any of the League’s talented free agents to New Orleans with open arms?  That quote didn’t make the Times Pic (although several of these other quotes did, so its reporters were obviously there at the same time as Mackel).  Instead, the Times Pic ends with a quote from CP’s dad about his son just wanting to win.  My point is that if you don’t know the question, how can you contextualize the answer?  Theoretically, if Mackel could have asked CP3 the following question: “If a small asteroid hit New Orleans and totally wiped it out, would you demand a trade?”  CP laughs, and answers: “Yes.”  Next day’s headline: “CP considers demanding trade.”  A lie?  No.  Misleading?  Yes.  The context wasn’t made clear.  And no media-folks, if the asteroid question is buried in the second last sentence of the article, on the back page, you don’t win any kudos.  You’re still trying to fool people and your integrity is suspect.

Now, back to the Times Pic, and considering all the above, the second Hornets’ article on D-1 is entitled: “Paul, N.O. still not on same page is alarming.”  Wow.  So Chris wants to win.  Stop the presses.  But did I miss the article where the Hornets’ management said they didn’t want to win?  (Actually the other article on D-1 cited Shinn’s statement that Nola is “committed to building a winner around Paul, but, of course, as continued on page D-4.)  Listen folks, there is this thing called the salary cap, all right?  New Orleans, like many talented teams, cannot bring in a max contract player, or even close (they can’t offer more than the mid-level exception, about $5.6 mil).  But this doesn’t mean that the brass aren’t looking to see who is available once the big names ink, or that they’re not thinking of trades to be made.  But, listen, these trades aren’t going to happen until the free agency mess happens, okay?  And of all people, Bower is not about to give away what’s in his head.  Any way, back to the article.  This piece of shit was written by notorious curmudgeon John Deshazier, and opens by saying that Paul’s comments reiterated his claim last week that he was “open to a trade” if the Hornets couldn’t move into the ranks of the NBA’s elite teams.  Where to start?  Nothing in any article or video that I have seen from CP’s golf tournament (where these interviews were conducted) referenced an interest in being traded.  To the contrary, CP said he wanted to win here.  Fact check, Deshazier.  I guess this is a good time to start discussing language use.  Line return.

Chris Paul “open to being traded.”  Open to?  Does he “want” to be traded?  Is he “looking” to be traded?  “Demanding” a trade?  No, no, and no.  Look, any contextual analysis will tell you that Chris was asked if Nola was not a winner, and wasn’t looking like a winner in the next two years, would he be open to a trade?  His answer: yes.  So every reporter blows up the things with the boxes and wires and electricity connected and puts in the binary codes to spit to the world: “CP Open to Trade.”  All of this ignores the fact that this quote was prefaced by Chris saying: “My first choice is to be in New Orleans.”  Why wasn’t that the headline?  No.  Instead, for days, ESPN headlines were in the sidebar, speaking of a “frustrated” CP3.  But again, has he asked for out, or just asked for help?  Big difference.  And would even Nola fans want him to be content with losing or missing the Playoffs?  Of course not.  But instead of being cast as one of the Paul Pierce or Kobe Bryant types, who will build their teams into champions, the implication is that he’ll be a Tracy McGrady or Vince Carter type, and just pout and “want to win” while not really meaning it.  Why?  Because media types get the subliminal jealousy most people have of those that are more successful than them, and are always looking to tear others down.  But the media only gets half the rib for that; too many readers live for it.  The worst is when anyone with a pen who falls into the latter category claims to be someone in the former.  Case in point.
Some sites, like Fanhouse, have gone so far as to report: “Chris Paul Trade Rumors Could Be the Next Talk of the Town.” Excepts: “team on the decline…bleak organizational outlook…'[Paul’s frustration] is very real, very real’ said a source close to Paul.”  Okay.  First of all, they put their own spin on his “frustration” by prefacing the quote by saying the team is headed downhill with no future.  First of all, it’s called health.  People forget how many games our starters have missed over the last two years.  No NBA team with CP3-West-Peja healthy will miss the playoffs.  Take that to the bank.  Second, note how “Paul’s frustration” is in brackets.  Was “frustration” the thing being discussed explicitly, or was it inferred by the author?  Was it even Paul’s “frustration” or someone in his crew talking about him?  We’ll never know. Third, “said a source close to Paul.”  Fuck the media and their sources, man.  Seriously.  I get it, kind of.  But what does that mean?  His girlfriend, his trainer, his chef, the team waterboy?  It could be any of them.  Just watch how such “sources” are described; it’s telling.  No doubt, some are legit, but, really, take it with a grain of salt.  Then, continuing the article’s theme of gloom and doom, the piece continues: “and his general Manager (Jeff Bower) is now reportedly hoping for an exit of his own to New Jersey.”  This assertion is linked to a Nola.com article.  Go ahead and read it.  The exact phrase from the cited piece is: “Bower, who is under consideration for the New Jersey Nets’ general manager job, was out of town Friday.”  That’s it.  How the hell did Fanhouse get to Bower is “hoping for an exit” from that?  Because it has a pre-written story, an agenda, that it wants to sell.  Moreover, look closely at the next words: “an exit of his own.”  The final words again imply that Bower’s escape is in addition to CP hoping for an escape.  Ridiculous, and unsubstantiated.

Listen, these CP3 rumors started because teams told reporters they were calling Bower about Chris Paul trades.  Really?  Duh.  BREAKING NEWS: every team wants CP3.  Give me a break.  And then, Bower, always playing his cards close to his vest, simply said he was “having a dialogue with other teams concerning ‘all of our players.'”  Wow.  So your job, as GM, is to make and take these calls, and you in fact did you job, which probably involved telling teams like New Jersey that if they gave up Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, and four first round picks, you’d think about it, and then (unsurprisingly) not getting a call back.  Of course Bower makes and takes those calls.  That’s his job.  So why are surprised that he “had a dialogue” with other teams about Chris Paul?  What does having a dialogue mean?  It could have meant, “hey, we’ll swap Harris for Paul.”  [Pause]  “Fuck off.”  [Click]  You know?

So, please, people, watch the words.  Anything like “might”, “probably”, “considering”, “talked about”, mean just about nothing.  Nothing.  Writers hide behind these words.  Writers craft their own stories around these words, rather than writing about the story there is.  But in today’s quasi-celebrity world where just being yourself, just having your job, isn’t good enough; no, everyone needs to be famous.  Like certain owners.  Like certain refs.  People that can’t just keep the spotlight where it belongs: on the game and the players that bring it to us. The media, more and more, is guilty of this.  They are no longer content to report the news.  They want to be the news.  They want to see their name under the big, juicy headline: “Chris Paul Demands Trade.”  But Chris isn’t saying that, and they can’t stretch things that far.  Which is why the national media frenzied over this story last week before free agency begin and, now, only the Nola media is running with the new quotes.  They were just bored, so they invented a story.  Readers, beware.  They’re trying to sell you on their story.  Their answers.

Find your own truths.