Archive for January, 2011

NBA REVIEW – WEEK 14

January 30, 2011

 PHOTOS OF THE WEEK

Verve Sol Patrol member Nick Corrales scores a basket using himself during a timeout in the third period of the Suns-Bobcats game Thursday.

Heat Dwyane Wade takes a jumpshot as Knicks Wilson Chandler tries to defend during the first quarter.

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade shoots over Knick Wilson Chandler during the first quarter of Thursday night’s game at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks went on to upset the Heat 93-88.

Kevin Garnett’s “Beat LA” shoe with the all-time record between the two teams (Boston has the edge) that he was scheduled to wear in Sunday’s game against the Lakers.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Because he’s old as hell!” – Celtics coach Doc Rivers explaining why center Shaquille O’Neal is always listed as day to day. O’Neal is the league’s oldest player at 38.

THEY SAID IT

“He tried to get a little bit too freaky on it.” – Laker center Andrew Bynum on why teammate Shannon Brown missed a breakaway dunk in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s win at home over the Jazz.

“I guess people talk about the sophomore jinx for a reason.” – Sacramento Kings coach Paul Westphal who was never one to believe in a sophomore slump before this season – all three of the NBA’s rookie of the year finalists from a season ago (Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings) have slipped into that often-predictable pitfall in year two – forced him to think otherwise.

“I would like to see him [Carmelo Anthony] happy. If that’s staying in Denver or being in New York or (New) Jersey, I want to see him happy. I like to see what happens and when it happens I can make a comment about it. The No. 1 thing is he’s happy. It doesn’t matter where he’s at.” – Miami Heat forward LeBron James said of the Nuggets forward before Thursday night’s 93-88 Knicks win at the Garden.

“You’re going to play the style we want you to play, not the style that you want to play.” – Hornets swingman Trevor Ariza talking about the team’s defense during a recent 10-game winning streak.

“He should be an All-Star. It’s a joke for people not to consider him an All-Star. He should be. He has what, 30 straight double-doubles? What more do you want from a power forward? What more do you want from him?” – The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, on Clippers rookie Blake Griffin’s All-Star worthiness.

“On a personal level, Phil may be retiring after this season. Only he knows what he’s going to do next and whether he’s going to stay in LA. If he does stay in LA with nothing to do, he’ll drive me insane. He knows that this is my career, so I’m not going anywhere.” – Lakers executive Jeannie Buss talking about Phil Jackson’s pending retirement and how it could affect their personal relationship.

“Only when I go to the bank.” – Michigan State basketball head coach Tom Izzo when asked by radio talk show host Dan Patrick if he regretted turning down the Cleveland Cavaliers job offer last summer.

Why you should never, ever give Tracy Morgan a “hot” microphone on live TV. Tracy Morgan on TNT’s Pre-Game Show and one writer’s opinion Blame for Tracy Morgan’s Sarah Palin comment falls on TNT for putting comedian on NBA pregame show about what happened when TNT did.

AROUND THE ASSOCIATION

Despite lots of mileage, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen remain highly productive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do these three have in common? They’ve all managed to put off “The Change.” Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash: Defying the longevity odds

Tyson Chandler

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tyson Chandler has been one of the biggest surprises of the season so far, fortifying the middle for the Mavericks. The Point Forward » Posts A few other unofficial midseason awards «

 WHAT MAKES A MVP?

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The Point Forward » Posts How NOT to build a case for MVP candidates «

Kwame Brown Is Helping Michael Jordan’s Bobcats  

Colangelo move to NYC unlikely

Danny Ainge was intent on keeping Ray Allen, Paul Pierce  

NBA sophomores are dealing with second-year setbacks  

Nuggets’ travels lead ’Melo back home  

Richard Hamilton-John Kuester feud takes turn for worse  

Grizzlies’ O.J. Mayo suspended 10 games for testing positive  

Nets’ New Arena Is Finally Taking Shape in Brooklyn  

Hornets earning more fans with re-emergence, winning streak  

Spurs use balance to climb to top  

Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan have won more than 70 percent of their games in their 13-plus seasons together.

“I don’t care who you are and how many rings you’ve helped win, the next time you drink all my red wine at dinner without asking, I’m trading your future Hall of Fame a** to the Cavaliers! Capiche?”

Knicks rock Garden like ages ago  

Charles Barkley doesn’t believe Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system will win Knicks an NBA championship

Clippers Becoming Relevant in Los Angeles  

Inside the NBA: A look at the NBA coast to coast  

Mark Heisler on the NBA: Shaquille O’Neal looks good in green, which isn’t good news for Lakers  

Shaquille O'Neal

Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal plugs his ears as the crowd chants his name during a game against the Raptors in Toronto.

Hoops, family led way out for for Warriors’ Ellis – NYPOST.com

End of the road for Phil .

LA Lakers’ Jeanie Buss Doesn’t Play By The Rules  

CHUCK’S CHALK TALK

I must admit that prior to reading ‘Melo: Stay in Denver for now – NYPOST.com by Marc Berman of the New York Post, I was convinced that Carmelo Anthony would still try to force a trade to the Knicks this season so he can sign the three-year $65 million extension that’s been on the table since last summer. But, what Berman writes here makes far more sense if  Anthony, as he and others in his camp have been insisting, is about winning a title.

Well, you had to know that this was coming sooner or later The next Carmelo: Deron Williams after what happened last summer.

It’s one thing to get players to come to Phoenix or San Antonio, but for the Cavaliers to even have a shot at getting and keeping the caliber of players a team needs to even compete for a title Cavaliers need lost season to rebuild after LeBron James, they’ll have to overpay like the Nationals did to sign Jayson Werth. The difference is baseball doesn’t have a salary cap but the NBA does.

Are you more surprised by the fact that Amar’e Stoudemire is the first Knick since Patrick Ewing in 1997 (Ewing didn’t play due to injury) to be selected as a starter for the All-Star Game or that the last white American All-Star starter was during the Clinton administration? Can you name him and the year (without Googling)? Answer below.

Speaking of the All-Star Game, since so many coaches act like they’d rather spend the weekend doing anything but working, why not give them the time off and have the leading vote-getter in each conference be player-coach for the game?

If you’re like me, I often wonder about the guys on the end of the bench. The guys who never play but are necessary to fill out an NBA roster. Here’s a nice story about one such player Hilton Armstrong is the invisible man for Washington Wizards that I found interesting.

The saddest thing about this story The Heat bail out Tim Hardaway and his mansion is that Tim Hardaway is no different than over 75% of the players in the NBA once their high-earning days are over. One of the things that most impressed me about the late Wilt Chamberlain was that the house in Bel Air, CA that he built for $1.2 million and moved into in early 1972, was the same house he died in 26 years after he retired from the NBA in 1973. And here’s what Wilt got for his $1.2 million:

Wilt Chamberlain’s Ursa Major Estate

Since being traded to the Heat after the 2003-04 season, Shaquille O’Neal has played for Miami (2004-08), Phoenix (2008-09), Cleveland (2009-10) and now Boston. I ask you, has any other future Hall of Famer has a more nomadic, pathetic and undignified end to his career?

BLAKE GRIFFIN SHOT OF THE WEEK AWARD (tie)

Lamar Odom with the rainbow runner  

Video: Earl Boykins’ shot goes around, and around, and… 

LeBron’s Electrifying Alley-Oop Against Knicks  

Phoenix Suns Entertainer Goes Through Hoop on Dunk Attempt 

THE WEEK AHEAD

Frankly, the week ahead is all about the Lakers who play the Celtics at home today (Sunday) then have home games on Tuesday and Thursday against the Rockets and Spurs respectively before heading out on a season-long 13-day, 7-game road trip that starts in New Orleans and ends in Cleveland with stops in Memphis, Boston, NYC (back-to-back games), Orlando and Charlotte (another set of back-to-back games) before breaking for All-Star Weekend. 

RANKINGS, WE’VE GOT RANKINGS! (my comments in italics)

By Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times

January 29, 2011

Record and statistics through Friday (last week’s rank)

1. Celtics 35-11 (1): Back in L.A. already? You guys forget something? Just make sure they don’t try to leave Shaq behind on their way out of town.

2. Spurs 39-7 (2): If they finish 24-12, Lakers must go 31-4 to beat them. And if everyone in America loses their mind at the same time in 2012, Haley Barbour will be the 45th POTUS.

3. Lakers 33-14 (4): Unhappily, after ripping them, Jerry West took rest of week off. Even God rested on the seventh day.

4. Heat 32-14 (3): LeBron James shoots 7 of 24 as everyone flips out in loss in N.Y. The only thing more shallow than the Heat’s depth chart is Sarah Palin’s intelligence pool.

5. Bulls 32-14 (6): If Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer ever play together, might never lose. And if LaToya Jackson had talent…

6. Hornets 31-16 (8): You’re unbelievable: Hornets allow 87 per game in 10-0 run. Who knew Monty Williams was this good of a coach?

7. Magic 30-17 (5): Jameer Nelson shot 50 percent as All-Star in 2009, at mere mortal 45 now. Paging Gilbert Arenas circa 2007!

8. Thunder 30-16 (9): Still make what they have go a long way, just not as far as last season. It’s not easy when you can’t sneak up on teams anymore.

9. Mavericks 30-15 (7): Dirk Nowitzki still hurting? Rebound average since return is 4.9. Hard to rebound when you’re constantly shooting fade-away J’s.

10. Hawks 30-17 (10): Rookie Larry Drew in one of more under-appreciated coaching jobs. No joke.

11. Jazz 28-19 (11): Happily this isn’t season it takes 50 victories for playoffs: Just went 0-6. Time for Jazz owner to emulate Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams and fire Jerry Sloan after this season.

12. Nuggets 28-18 (12): Just went 4-0, if only vs. teams with a combined 54-111 record. Only 26 more shopping days to move ‘Melo.

13. Trail Blazers 25-22 (13): Part of ensemble cast no longer, LaMarcus Aldridge at 25-10 this month. So?

14. Knicks 24-22 (15): Bagged elephant, even if Heat thought it was summer league game. See #12 above and change the word shopping to buying.

15. Grizzlies 23-24 (16): Closing in on .500 hard way: Came from 21 down to upend 76ers. This would have never happened if Doug Collins were still Philly’s coach…oh, he is? My bad.

16. Suns 21-24 (14): Bagged elephant, even if it was old Celtics playing back-to-back. New slogan in the Valley of the Sun: “A win is a win is a win!”

17. Rockets 22-26 (17): Just think if Spurs had kept him: Luis Scola averaging career-high 19. San Antonio – the United Nations of the NBA.

18. 76ers 20-26 (21): Doug Collins kept away from sharp objects after blowing 21-point lead. Cue the sad music.

19. Bobcats 20-25 (20): Fooled another one: Bobcats hoping Kwame Brown is their answer at center. That’s as absurd as putting your presidential hopes in the hands of a MILF-quality, first-term governor of Alaska with the foreign policy experience of being able to see Russia from her state and nobody in their right mind would dare do that.

20. Bucks 18-26 (23): Happily, just have to catch Bobcats. Brandon Jennings’ return will help. Maybe, maybe not. Scott “Killer Eyes” Skiles has to hope that Jennings returns with his game intact.

21. Warriors 19-27 (18): Meet most improved: Dorell Wright averaging 17 since Dec. 1. Is he Orville or Wilbur’s great-grandson?

22. Pistons 17-30 (25): Won in Orlando, blew seven-point fourth-quarter lead in Miami. Sounds like a night in Vegas.

23. Clippers 16-28 (19): If you didn’t notice before Eric Gordon left, depth isn’t a strength. Oh, Clipper Nation noticed.

24. Pacers 17-26 (22): 4-12 run ends worry about breaking up team that could make playoffs. Oh yeah, like the playoffs were ever more than a dream in the Hoosier state.

25. Kings 11-33 (28): Lord of Flies cast stuns Lakers. Who knew they play basketball too? Paul Westphal so stunned, he poured Gatorade on himself in the locker room after the game.

26. Nets 14-33 (27): Relief rally: Knowing they’re here, actually playing, went 3-1. And Carmelo Anthony still doesn’t want to play for them.

27. Wizards 13-32 (24): Andray Blatche baffled at booing. Try taking your 6-11, 260 around the hoop. Hell, or anywhere near the paint.

28. Raptors 13-34 (26): GM Bryan Colangelo, hostage in Chris Bosh dilemma, now shaky as ownership shifts. Colangelo sprucing up his resume as we speak.

29. Timberwolves 10-36 (29): Something bad must have happened since Feb. 6: 12-65 since. I’ll you what happened: THEY’RE AWFUL!

30. Cavaliers 8-34 (30): Must have worn themselves out hating James: 1-27 since playing him. Seriously, you’d think a NBA could f**k around and accidentally win more than one stinking game since December 2nd. 

Answer: John Stockton in 1997

RANDOM THOUGHTS – 01/28/11

January 29, 2011

PERSON OF THE WEEK

State Of The Union Transcript 2011

“As the Congressional ushers prepare for the Benevolent Offering and I throw open the doors to the country, I’m asking the choir to sing my favorite new song, ‘We Offer America To You’.”

LOON OF THE WEEK

Michele Bachmann

Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN)

“Hell if I know why anyone with the IQ of a neutered Cocker Spaniel pays any attention to anything I have to say. I mean, I’m crazier than a bunch of bats in a burlap sack. Or Sarah Palin on her best day.”

RANDOM THOUGHTS

I know many will have a knee-jerk reaction to seeing the names Obama and Reagan in the same sentence but, I urge you to read this article The Role Model: What Obama Sees in Reagan  BEFORE making any judgments. 

The beauty of Sarah Palin’s increasingly narcissistically fueled arrogance Palin Responds To Obama’s State Of The Union Speech: ‘A Lot Of WTF Moments’ (VIDEO) is that she just doesn’t seem to understand or even care that the more she talks, the dumber she seems to everyone except her faithful and adoring base. It’s statements like this one that serve to strengthen my belief that she will not run for the presidency in 2012, if ever.

TRYING TO RECAPTURE A MOMENT IN HISTORY?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the inaugural Politico Playbook Breakfast in Washington DC on Tuesday that he is URGING Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) to take the presidential plunge: “He’s a very sharp, capable individual. … He’s a good speaker [and has] good leadership qualities which I see on display every week in the Senate. I’m a big John Thune fan.” Thune would be the only senator running – and if Rep. Mike Pence decides to run for Indiana governor instead, Thune would be the only member of Congress challenging Obama. Anyone who knows how Barak Obama came to make his decision to run for the presidency, is familiar with the story how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid strongly urged him to run for the presidency in his first (and only) term. ‘Game Change’: Harry Reid Was Chief Encourager Of Obama’s Presidential Run

Based on the fact that the GOP is going to have a struggle attracting any African-American or Hispanic voters in 2012, they are looking at a scenario of needing to attract every possible white voter if they hope to win the WH over President Obama.

In an interview with FOX News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday, we may have gotten a look at likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s main message when he said,  “I don’t know who else going to get in the race but I do believe that it would be helpful if at least one of the people who’s running in the Republican field had extensive experience in the private sector, in small business, in big business, working with the economy. Because frankly, not just solving the near term problems of unemployment, people not getting checks, is going to require someone with that experience, but also long term.” Whenever I read things like this from people like Romney or say, a Meg Whitman when she ran and lost the race to be California’s governor, I can’t help but wonder if they’ve ever contacted the WH in Romney’s case or Jerry Brown’s staff in Whitman’s case and said, “Look, I know I didn’t win but I’ve been very successful in creating businesses and jobs and I think I have some ideas that can help the country/state. Can we talk?”

Speaking of Mitt Romney, this article A big warning sign for Mitt Romney  clearly points out the problems facing him if he, as most pundits expect him to, run for the GOP nomination again.

HUBRIS, THY NAME IS SHARRON ANGLE

 Sharron Angle comes to Iowa, doesn’t rule out presidential bid Really Sharron? Being rejected by the state of Nevada wasn’t enough for you? Now you want to be rejected by an entire country? Perhaps you should team up with the equally delusional Rick “I’m Mullin Over A Run For The Presidency” Santorum who only lost his last election by the largest margin of defeat for an incumbent Senator since 1980 (Santorum was defeated in Pennsylvania 59% to 41% in the 2006 U.S. Senate election by Democratic candidate Bob Casey, Jr).

Clarence Thomas must think the American public is stupid – Justice Thomas said that in his annual financial disclosure statements over the last six years, the employment of his wife, Virginia Thomas, was “inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions” Thomas Says He Erred on Disclosure Forms – if he wants us to believe that it took six years for someone with he and his wife’s resources to realize that they weren’t filing out the forms correctly.

Why doesn’t Toyota just get it over once and for all and just go ahead and recall every vehicle they’ve made in the last ten years instead of doing it a few models at a time every few months or so New Toyota Recall: 1.7 Million Vehicles Worldwide to Fix Fuel Problems?

She must have some really, really good “P” They’re still together! Photos of former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and his South American girlfriend because he threw away his marriage and a very promising political career for it/her.

I agree 1000% with Robert Bianco who wrote in Tuesday’s USA Today: BET continues its shockingly successful revival of CW castoff The Game (10 ET/PT) as Melanie hosts a charity event. You can argue the merits of this African-American-centered sitcom, but considering the record-setting audience for its debut, one thing seems certain: A lot of viewers out there feel they’re not being served by broadcast networks; it might make economic sense for those networks to start serving them.

When I see the new Ford Flex spot with the “housewives”, all I can think is, I guess Ford couldn’t find any housewives of ‘color’ when they were casting the ad.

I think Oprah exploited a family situation for ratings. Why not just issue a statement and leave it at that? Why put your mother on blast in public like that? I lost some respect for Oprah this week on a personal level. By the way, since Oprah and Patricia had never met before all of this happened, how could they be “re-united”?

I think that based on the fact that the evening network news broadcast is a dying institution and that much like the morning shows – Today, GMA and The Early Show – the pecking order in terms of viewers is pretty much etched in stone – NBC, ABC, CBS – this Zucker-Katie Redux: Buzz has ex-NBC big ‘perk’olating a Couric talker makes a lot of sense. Plus, Couric’s just too damn perky and fun to be stuck just doing news anymore.

Will Smith’s daughter to star in ‘Annie’ remake  I can’t wait until Tom Cruise’s daughter is old enough to destroy a classic film too! Speaking of the world’s shortest action star…

At what point does Katie Holmes wake up and realize that ever since she “married” Tom Cruise, her once-promising career has gone downhill ‘Sons Of No One’ Starring Katie Holmes And Al Pacino Bombs At Sundance faster than Katt Williams’ after he challenged Steve Harvey a few years ago?

WHAT TERRY McMILLAN ORIGINALLY SAID ABOUT JADEN AND WILLOW SMITH:

“The Smith children already act like child stars. There’s an arrogance in their demeanor and behavior. I find it incredibly sad. It feels like the Smith children are being pimped and exploited. Or, they’re already hungry for fame. What about 4th grade?

“A lot of A-list movie stars shielded their children from the Hollywood-world until they were old enough to decide. Look at those who didn’t. Look at Lindsay. Phoenix. To name but a few. They miss out on childhood. It’s more important than fame.

“These kids don’t already know what they “love”. Total bullshit. They’re not prodigies. They think Hollywood is real.

“Why don’t they do a remake of The Little Rascals and call it a day? Or, come up with an original film with some ethnic pride. Come on.

WHAT TERRY McMILLAN SAID AFTER CATCHING MUCH HELL OVER HER ORIGINAL COMMENTS:

“I apologize for using the word[s] pimp and exploit in referring to the Smith children. It was insensitive and wrong of me.”

WHAT TERRY McMILLAN PROBABLY REALLY WANTED TO SAY:

“I’m sorry I used the words pimp and exploit in referring to the Smith children. I meant to say they’re being ‘whored out’ at the expense of their childhood.”

Which occurs first: Charlie Sheen dies in the company of a porn star/hooker or one of the “Housewives” kills someone during a reunion show? My money, you know, if betting were legal, would be on Charlie Sheen. Even after he gets out of rehab.

I don’t know if Jay Cutler of the Bears was really too injured to return to last Sunday’s NFC title game – only he and the Chicago team doctors can really answer that – but, it sure seems like a few of his NFL peers don’t believe he was Cutler’s NFL contemporaries go after him on Twitter and this had to be the first “players-on-player” attack in the relatively new Twitter age. 

jay-cutler.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  “I’m playing like crap, we’re losing. How do I get out of this? I’ve got it! I’ll fake a knee injury! Yeah, that’s the ticket. Who will question that?”

“We play enough games. We have a system that works. Why add [games]?”- Steelers chairman emeritus Dan Rooney, now the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, to a small group of reporters in Pittsburgh Friday, commenting on his opposition to the NFL discussing increasing the number of regular-season games from 16 to 18.  I’m not at all surprised by Rooney’s contrarian role in this. After all, he’s the only NFL owner who publicly supported and campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008.                                                                                                                  

I assume he means well and Lord knows, he and his nine children by seven different women, including THREE 4-year olds who aren’t related otherwise, need his paychecks to continue flowing but, I’m guessing that the NFLPA has better spokesmen in their union than Antonio “Babymaker” Cromartie. And if they don’t, God help them.

I wish more NFL analysts were as outspoken as Troy Aikman, Cris Collinsworth, Warren Sapp and Phil Simms are.

This may turn out to be a great deal Angels trade for Vernon Wells  when it’s all said and done, but right now, it’s hard to see how tying up this much money in over-30 outfielders (the team is still paying Gary Matthews Jr) will help them win a World Series. That said, the Angels did more with this one move to excite their fan base than anything the Dodgers did this off-season.

Brian Cashman may walk away from Yankees I’ll believe when I see it and maybe not even then. You don’t leave the NEW YORK YANKEES to go run the Kansas City Royals or Pittsburgh Pirates. You just don’t. On the other hand, with the Marlins getting a new stadium soon and an owner who has some money to spend…Nah, not even that is anywhere close to being the GM of the most famous professional sports team in America.

Manny “Being Manny” Ramirez to the Rays, managed by team-first guy Joe Maddon? I give that a month, two at the most.

Tiger Woods needs to do what Ben Roethlisberger has done to regain his standing after a scandal – shut up unless talking about his game, be nice to the media and fans and most important of all: win.

Only someone as secure in his manhood as Jack LaLanne apparently was, could have gone on national television in the 1950s wearing a one-piece jumpsuit with stirrups and what appeared to be ballet shoes.

PARTING THOUGHT

Let’s say the economy continues to improve, things get better in Iraq and Afghanistan, the GOP’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act fails, and the president’s poll numbers continue to rise. Add in the contrast between Obama’s State of the Union address – inherently upbeat, optimistic, and future-oriented and the official Republican response from Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan – Ryan was left warning that our best days may be behind us and that Americans are being lulled into “lives of complacency and dependency” – and one has to wonder which Republican besides Mitt Romney will want to risk running against him in 2012. And that might have more to with ’12 being Romney’s last realistic opportunity in that he’s been out of elected office for four years now and will be 65 years old in 2012.

Two years is a long time in the real world and it’s practically an eon in political terms. Who would have predicted at this same time four years ago that a junior Senator with an exotic sounding name from Illinois would not only win the nomination of his party, but defeat the biggest name in that party’s recent history? Maybe lightning will strike twice but this time, it hits on the other side of the aisle.

However, when one takes the time to look at some of the possible Republican candidates – Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Jon Huntsman (how he would run against the man who he’s served as ambassador to China since 2009 would be one of the more compelling storylines of the primary season), Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, and John Thune – it’s hard to see how absent a complete economic meltdown, a spike in combat in either Iraq or Afghanistan or both and an unforeseen situation or scandal that Barack Obama simply can’t handle, any of them stand a realistic chance of defeating a popular incumbent president with history on his side.

Barack Obama, of course, is hardly a shoo-in for 2012. But the weeks since November 2nd have offered vivid reminders of how he could well become one as the 2012 campaign process unfolds. Add in the fact that the Tea Party and extreme right of the GOP will have to be catered to by anyone hoping to win the party’s nomination which in turn, will be an albatross around their neck in a national election Senate Tea Party Caucus holds first meeting without some who had embraced banner and that could be the underlying reason why leading Republicans seem a lot less eager to jump in to a presidential race than they were the last time a Democratic president suffered a midterm “shellacking.”

As I see it, the only real hope the GOP as of retaking the White House and Senate, and even holding on to the House two years from now, is for Barack Obama’s administration to be a complete and utter failure across the board. And I don’t think that’s something that even his most ardent opponents want for America.

I might be wrong but God help us if I am.

JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric helps IAC honcho Barry Diller push his Maserati out of the snow in New York City’s Central Park on Thursday morning.

RIP Gladys Horton of The Marvelettes.

 

STATE OF THE UNION REVIEW

January 26, 2011

 “OPTIMISM (DEMOCRATS) VS “GLOOMINESS” (THE GOP)

Congress Sotu

L-R Representatives Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY), Charles Rangel (D-NY)

President Barack Obama – “We do big things.”

Representative Paul Ryan – “Speaking candidly, as one citizen to another: We still have time… but not much time. If we continue down our current path, we know what our future will be.”

BEST OF THE SPEECH

“Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist.  But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal.  We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown.  You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors.  If you worked hard, chances are you’d have a job for life, with a decent paycheck and good benefits and the occasional promotion.  Maybe you’d even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company.

That world has changed.  And for many, the change has been painful.  I’ve seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts on once busy Main Streets. I’ve heard it in the frustrations of Americans who’ve seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear -– proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.

They’re right.  The rules have changed.  In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business.  Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100.  Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an Internet connection. This is about as close as the President or any national elected official has come to saying: “Folks, the truth of the matter is that most of the jobs lost under Bill Clinton, George Bush and the early days of my administration are gone and they’re not coming back.”

Already, we are seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard.

Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert’s words, “We reinvented ourselves.”

“Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and careers in today’s fast-changing economy, we are also revitalizing America’s community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old.  And she told me she’s earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, “I hope it tells them to never give up.” I can identify with Kathy – minus the children of course – because as many of you know, I returned to school last February to earn a degree in Healthcare Management and I’m on track to receive my AA in June 2012.

“Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.

What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition.  I’m not willing to tell James Howard, a brain cancer patient from Texas, that his treatment might not be covered. I’m not willing to tell Jim Houser, a small business owner from Oregon, that he has to go back to paying $5,000 more to cover his employees.  As we speak, this law is making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving uninsured students a chance to stay on their parents’ coverage. So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and move forward.”

“To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations.  And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”

“And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.

It’s not a matter of punishing their success. It’s about promoting America’s success.”

“Let me take this one step further. We shouldn’t just give our people a government that’s more affordable. We should give them a government that’s more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past.

We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black and white TV.  There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

“Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families.  Let us serve them as well as they have served us – by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation.

Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love.  And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”

“We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything’s possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.”

“That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working class kid from Scranton can stand behind me.  That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father’s Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.”

“From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That’s how we win the future.

We are a nation that says, “I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company. I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree. I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try. I’m not sure how we’ll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we’ll get there. I know we will.”

We do big things.

The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it is because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.”

RANDOM THOUGHTS

I’ve been a supporter of Barack Obama long before he became a candidate for the presidency in February 2007 so, I’m never, ever surprised by his intellect, poise, grace and ability to say not what the nation or his opponents want him to say, but what the nation needs to hear at the given time. Over and over again, ever since he gave his now legendary keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Obama has stood head and shoulders above everyone in the political world. And last night, at a pivotal moment in his administration and the country’s history, he did so again.

What I am surprised and mystified by is that the party that has practically sanctified Ronald Reagan, as relentlessly optimistic as anyone to sit in the Oval Office in the last 50 years, has become a party of such gloom and doom. I can’t imagine anyone who came away feeling hopeful about the future after watching Paul Ryan’s sour face and body language during the GOP’s official response to the president’s speech last night. I half expected the camera to pull back and reveal that Ryan was sitting in the coffin showroom of a funeral home. I know his job was to offer a stark contrast to the president but, what’s the point of trying to scare America into accepting your positions.

And last but not least, I’m tired of hearing the GOP say “The president must come around to our way of thinking.” It’s the other way around and I hope President Obama and the Democrats work from that point of view for the next two years.

“Now what?”

NBA REVIEW – WEEK 13

January 23, 2011

 PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol

Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin drives on Lakers forward Pau Gasol during the Clippers upset win over the defending champions.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK – NON-NBA DIVISION

T1_0118_davissullytall.jpg

Oakland Raiders managing general partner Al “Cryptkeeper” Davis at a press conference on Tuesday.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I can guarantee you he will only ever be a Clipper. If [Oklahoma City Thunder general manager] Sam Presti arrived on Kevin Durant‘s doorstep at midnight on July 1st with an extension, understand that Blake Griffin lives two blocks away from me in Manhattan Beach so it’s going to be a much shorter commute for me….When it comes time for him to be a free agent, we won’t be losing. We’re not losing now. We’re 10 out of 14 now with our All-Star center [Chris Kaman] sitting around in a suit. The future looks pretty good. The only question will be, in two or three years with Blake, is how much more we’ll be winning.” Los Angeles Clippers general manager Neil Olshey trying to counter recent talk that rookie sensation Blake Griffin will someday become a Laker.

THEY SAID IT

“He just ran through us. We didn’t put up much of a fight. He punked us.” – Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on Clippers rookie forward Blake Griffin’s performance in Sunday’s loss to the city’s “other” team.

“I personally don’t think they can get by Boston. I think Boston is too good a team.” – Lakers coach Phil Jackson to Max Kellerman Wednesday on 710 ESPN that he respected the individual talents of Heat superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but he didn’t think Miami could overtake the Boston Celtics in the playoffs.

“I wish he’d wear a helmet.” – Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler on rookie sensation Blake Griffin’s ‘fearless, devil-may-care’ style of play.

THEY SAID IT – NON-NBA DIVISION

“I am not going to sit down, I’m not going to shut up.”- Sarah Palin during an interview on Monday with Sean Hannity on Fox News.

[She needs to] “be more careful and think through what she’s saying and how she’s saying it.” – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaking on ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday about Sarah Palin’s string of recent statements. Gingrich also said that Palin “has become more controversial” and “needs to slow down.” Palin’s problem is that she has thought through what she’s saying and how she’s saying it.

[Joe] “Lieberman has reached a point in his public career where every single thing he does, including talking about his grandparents, is irritating.” – New York Times columnist Gail Collins on Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) announcing that he won’t run for reelection in 2012.

“The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want to vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will.” – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement Wednesday after the House vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“It is not the bill that I would have drafted. But it is the law of the land and it is the platform,the fundamental platform, upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based.” – Former Senate Republican leader Bill Frist told his GOP compadres this week as they set about trying to dismantle the national healthcare reform law during an appearance last week at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.  

“The fact that he comes from a different party I think is a strength, not a weakness, because it indicates the degree to which both he and I believe that partisanship ends at the water’s edge … So I couldn’t be happier with the Ambassador’s service. And I’m sure he will be very successful in whatever endeavors he chooses in the future. (Laughter.) And I’m sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary. (Laughter.)” – President Obama, at a press conference, on suggestions by his ambassador to China, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, that he might seek the GOP presidential nomination.

“There’s got to be an easier way to get a standing ovation.” – Actor Michael Douglas, who’s recovering from throat cancer, responding to the audience’s reaction when he came onstage to present an award at the Golden Globes on Sunday night.

“Aside from the fact that it’s been unusually mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I’d say the vibe of the show is pretty good.” – Actor Robert Downey Jr after Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais introduced him with references to Betty Ford and correctional facilities.

“Special day. This probably was my best performance. The stage, the importance of the game. It was a pretty good night.”- Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, after going 31 of 36 (.861), the most efficient playoff game for a quarterback in club history.

“It’s incredible. If we said words back when I was playing, we’d have to stand up in front of the team and take about a one-minute berating from the coach. Now, it’s coming from the coaches.”- CBS NFL analyst Phil Simms, on the volume coming from teams critical of other teams in football these days.

SAY WHAT?

“They’re trying to get ‘medical medics’ out to the accident scene right now.” – KNBC4LA reporter Elita Loresca during a Monday morning traffic report. I guess that’s instead of  those pesky, get-in-the-way ‘non-medical medics’.

“I approached this as a big year for me. I have to do whatever it takes for Braylon Edwards to succeed, for Braylon Edwards to be wanted by somebody, for Braylon Edwards to stay a Jet.” – New York Jets receiver Braylon Edwards talking about Braylon Edwards’ 2010 season.

THE “CHILE, PLEASE” AWARD GOES TO

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, for drawing a Shakespearean parallel and claiming that he felt like Caesar, with new Chairman Reince Priebus, Steele’s former colleague and confidant, playing the part of Brutus on his ouster from the RNC. (“I know exactly how Caesar felt. It is what it is.” ) and

Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani who told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow on Thursday that the door was “absolutely” open to another shot at the White House in 2012. (“I will take a look at 2012. It’s really a question of, can I play a useful role? Would I have a chance of getting the nomination?” Giuliani said. “Those are things that I’ll have to evaluate as the year goes along.”)

MY TEN NON-NBA THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK

  1. When former VP Dick Cheney told NBC’s Jamie Gangel in an interview on Tuesday’s Today Show that his battery powered heart pump makes it “awkward to walk around”, all I could think was how awkward it must be to walk around for so many seriously wounded soldiers, many of them amputees, that his policies sent off to fight to needless wars. By the way, when this “patriot” had a chance to fight in Viet Nam, he took not one, not two, but FIVE deferments.
  2. One of the more interesting things of the 112th Congress will be watching House Speaker John Boehner and his lieutenant (in title only), Majority Leader Eric Cantor, as ambitious as Boehner is tanned, pretend to be friendly colleagues.
  3. Wouldn’t it have made sense for the GOP to have a healthcare plan of their own for people to read before voting to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act?
  4. The media can continue covering Sarah Palin if they want, but should stop acting as if she’s the most important conservative politician in America; she isn’t. They should stop acting as if she has anything relevant to add to the national conversation; she clearly doesn’t. They should stop pretending that she has a plausible path to the presidency in 2012; she doesn’t. They should stop suggesting that she’s the front-runner for the Republican nomination; she isn’t and in fact, probably won’t run. Sarah Palin wasn’t going to run and risk devaluing her “brand” with a possible primary loss BEFORE Tucson and as her words and actions since then have shown, she’s no more qualified and capable of running an extended campaign now than she was in 2008. Mitt Romney will have to overcome being a Mormon and “Romneycare”, Haley “Boss Hogg Jr” Barbour and Newt Gingrich have about as much chance of being elected president as Lindsey Lohan has of winning a best actress Oscar – none; Rick Santorum may be the only person walking the planet known as Earth who thinks he can win anything outside of his own house, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence and John Thune are all “personality challenged”, so that leaves a currently nationally unknown Tim Pawlenty as the likely GOP nominee to run against President Obama. BUT, there’s one more person out there lurking in the shadows and his name is Eric Cantor.
  5. It’s going to be interesting to see what Mitch McConnell and the GOP’s move to repeal The Affordable Healthcare Act in the Senate will be considering it’s Majority Leader Harry Reid and not McConnell who sets the agenda.
  6. Just as there was not real way to “replace” Johnny Carson, there is no way one “replaces” Regis Philbin, who on Tuesday, surprised everyone with his announcement that this will be his last season on “Live With Regis and Kelly.”
  7. When you’ve had as much success as Bill Bellichick has had in New England, it’s very difficult for all parties to realize when it’s time to make a change. But, after Sunday’s loss to the Jets, at home no less, this might be the time. However, I don’t expect either Bellichick or Patriots owner Bob Kraft to make any changes right now. But mark my words, the Patriots’ Super Bowl days are over.
  8. Have we seen the last of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in championship games? And, is it smart for the Colts to as owner Jim Irsay has vowed to do and make Manning the game’s highest-paid player at this age – 35 when (if) the 2011 season starts – and point in his career – just finished his 13th season – and tie up that much money (an estimated $20 million per season) in one player?
  9. Now we know why the Packers weren’t afraid to trade Brett Favre in 2008 and turn the offense over to Aaron Rodgers.
  10. Sarah Palin is Ann Coulter without the warmth.

STORY OF THE WEEK

NBA Midseason Report: Grading all 30 teams

Spurs, Hornets, Bulls get high marks in NBA midseason grades

AROUND THE ASSOCIATION

Lakers’ little brother, Los Angeles Clippers, grows up a little

The Clippers stood up to the Lakers on Sunday, and if they stick to the script, there will be more to celebrate in their future.

Blake Griffin

Nets end talks with Nuggets, rebooting speculation on Carmelo Anthony’s future  

No ’Melo, just more drama for Nets

Carmelo Anthony says LeBron James handled Cleveland exit poorly Like his attempted exit from Denver is going so smoothly.

Griffin’s highlight act draws retaliation

The Clippers have vowed to take action against opponents who have been taking cheap shots at rookie Blake Griffin. 

Rose standing tall among NBA elite  

NBA spells out hurdles for potential Sacramento Kings move  

Charles Barkley says Lakers have come back to pack

Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom (7) wait as referees review playback of an altercation in the final minute of Sunday’s game against the Clippers. (Gus Ruelas / Associated Press / January 16, 2011)

Blake Griffin scores 48 in Clippers’ 114-107 victory over Pacers

Blake Griffin

Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin shoots over Indiana Pacer

Jeff Foster en route to scoring a career-high 47 points in LA’s

114-107 victory on Martin Luther King Jr Day at Staples Center.

Hakeem Olajuwon has tutored likes of Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant

DeAndre Jordan has become anchor of Clippers’ defense

Breaking down Blake Griffin’s numbers is quite revealing  

Mikhail Prokhorov gives fellow NBA owners someone to emulate  

Carmelo Anthony drama reminds Lakers’ Kobe Bryant about his trade demand in 2007   

Carmelo Anthony, MVP watch among NBA second-half storylines

nba-storylines.jpg

(Clockwise from top left) Boston’s age, LeBron’s MVP defense, Carmelo’s home and L.A.’s drive are a few of the NBA’s most intriguing plots.

Kobe Bryant: Players No Longer Control Their Own Destiny  Bryant makes some very valid points here.

Lakers face a tougher road this season  

New Jersey Nets owner finally threw in the towel on deal to land Carmelo Anthony  

Lakers FYI: Phil Jackson agrees with Jeanie Buss’ remarks on NBA contraction  

Bill Simmons: 2011 NBA All-Star Game breakdown  

CHUCK’S CHALK TALK

For the first time in, well, forever, a Lakers/Clippers game that actually meant something to both squads. Both teams went into last Sunday afternoon’s game playing well – the defending back-to-back champions had won seven straight and their down the hall neighbors had won 8 of 12 since a mid-December players-only meeting in Detroit – and on the Wednesday before facing the Lakers, the Clippers did something the Lakers couldn’t do on Christmas Day: beat the Heat at Staples Center.

He may be the Rookie of the Year. He may win the Slam Dunk contest during All-Star Weekend. He may end up in the “real” All-Star Game. Hell, he may even lead the Clippers to the promised land of the playoffs. And, even if he does all of those things, the most important and impressive thing Blake Griffin will accomplish this season is that he’s somehow made Baron Davis care about basketball again.

If Lamar Odom doesn’t make the All-Star team this year, he never will.

I love the fact that the NBA “honors” Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday by having many of its teams playing games (tongue planted firmly in cheek) on MLK Day. I’m pretty sure that Dr King would like seeing so many African-American young men working in today’s economy.

Let’s say Steve Ballmer of Microsoft calls David Stern and says, “Hey there Herr Commissioner and quasi-owner of the New Orleans Hornets, if we help build a new state-of-the-art arena in Seattle, can we have the Hornets at a discount price?” Think Stern wouldn’t fire up the association’s NetJet and head for the Emerald City in less time than it took the Thunder to extend Kevin Duran over the summer?

Attention people of Oklahoma City, lend me your ears. I know you’ve got this thought in the back of your mind that native son Blake Griffin will come back home when he becomes a free agent in a few years but, there’s a better chance of Haley Barbour becoming a spokesperson for Jenny Craig than Griffin leaving LA to play in the OKC if only for one reason: it’s going to be 80 degrees here today. “Bee Gee” may or may not be a lifelong Clipper – only time will tell  – but you can believe this, if he leaves them down the line, it will either be a short walk down the hallway in the lower level of Staples Center or it will be somewhere like NYC or Miami. But it won’t be the OKC.

“A chain is as strong as its weakest link.” That’s an old saying that commissioner David Stern and union head Billy Hunter and the players really need to keep in mind when they sit down in LA during the upcoming All-Star break to discuss a new CBA. There are too many terrible teams – Cleveland has lost 15 in a row, Minnesota is struggling again, just to name a few – playing in front of far too many empty seats (the economy is only a part of it) in too many arenas (Sacramento, Toronto, New Jersey, Memphis) to ignore. If things continue along these lines, the NBA is going to become more like major league baseball where very few teams have a legitimate chance of winning when the season starts than the NFL where with just a few smart draft choices and free agent signings, a team can go from “Worst To First” in just one season.

David Stern never, ever says anything just to be saying it so any talk whatsoever about “contraction” must be taken seriously by the players association.

Nothing against him, but this Kobe Bryant to become first athlete cemented at Grauman’s makes absolutely no sense at all to me.

Is Joe Smith still on the Lakers? Alive?

BLAKE GRIFFIN DUNK OF THE WEEK

Please join me in a moment of silence…Thank you. I knew this day was coming but I just didn’t think it would happen before the All-Star break. Brace yourself kiddies: there is no “Blake Griffin Dunk Of The Week” to show you this week. It’s not that he didn’t dunk this past week; he did on several occasions. However, none of them lived up to the high standards “Bee Gee” has set thus far in his rookie season so, instead of posting a clip just to be posting one, we’ll just have to do without this week. You married fellas will understand.

THE WEEK AHEAD by Mark Heisler

BOSTON AT PHOENIX
The Celtics take on the resurgent Suns as part of a West Coast trip.

Friday at 7:30 p.m. PST. TV: ESPN.

This is the NBA’s Calm-Before-the-Storm Week. There is one game Sunday as most of the league knocks off to let the NFL’s final four play down to two, since most of America would stay home to watch football on TV anyway. 

With the NFL playoffs dark next week, ABC — which is really ESPN’s lightly used over-the-air platform — comes out from under its rock to resume national NBA telecasts with the Celtics at Staples Center to play the Lakers next Sunday.

The Celtics start their trip at Portland on Thursday, then take on the intrepid Suns, who had won five in a row through Friday after being given up for dead again, the next night. At the Celtics’ august age and even with the Suns in a diminished state, they’re not a team you want to see on the second night of a back-to-back situation.

RANKINGS, WE’VE GOT RANKINGS! (my comments in italics)

Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times

January 22, 2011

RANKINGS, COMMENTS THROUGH SATURDAY

HELLO, RIVERWALK

1. SAN ANTONIO (37-7) Spurs’ magic number over Lakers is just 33. (3) While everyone’s attention was on Miami and LA last summer, “Pop” and R.C. Buford quietly rebuilt the Spurs and now it’s just a matter of keeping everyone, especially the “Alamo Alliance” of Duncan, Ginobli and Parker, healthy and rested for the playoffs.

2. BOSTON (33-10) Rivers has to be revived after hearing that Phil Jackson praised Celtics. (2) Trust me, Glenn “Doc” Rivers isn’t falling for the Zen Master’s “okey-doke”.

3. MIAMI (31-13) Trying to pick up pieces since Clippers, injuries hit. (1) No depth, no real “big” = no rings in South Beach this year.

4. LAKERS (32-13) Things have been worse — like the seasons they hated one another. (4) And you know what – I miss the drama! Oh for a NBA “Hard Knocks” back in those days.

POISED FOR MOVE, IN WHATEVER DIRECTION

5. ORLANDO (29-15) Good thing Howard is bionic since his backup is, uh, no one. (5) And “No One” is on a 10-day contract.

6. CHICAGO (30-14) Doing this before Noah, Boozer play together settles MVP leader. (8) As in “D-Rose”.

7. NEW ORLEANS (29-16) Monty Williams’ Energizer bunnies off again, win eight in row. (11) Most schizophrenic team since…the Clippers this year.

8. DALLAS (28-15) Reports that they won’t be a problem for Lakers were exaggerated. (10) Oh, they’re a problem alright. When you’ve got Tyson Chandler in the middle and can bring Shawn Marion and Jason Terry off the bench, you’ve got a team. By the way, just how old is Jason Kidd? 40? 50? 60?

9. OKLAHOMA CITY (28-15) There’s a reason you’re open: Durant’s mates make 23% of threes. (6) Have to bring in at least one more big-time player before they are a serious contender.

10. ATLANTA (29-16) Good thing Horford doesn’t sit out much — scored 59 without him. (9) Time for Jermaine Dupri to write a new team song for the strip clubs.

11. UTAH (27-17) 4-0 on last East trip with miracle rallies, 0-4 on this one. (7) If Jerry Sloan were still alive…Oh he is? My bad.

YOU STILL HERE?

12. DENVER (24-18) Just got more time to win back Anthony’s heart — oh, never mind. (12) SIXTY-FIVE MILLION reasons for ‘Melo to come to his senses before the trade deadline next month.

13. PORTLAND (24-20) Best haunted young team around: lost Camby, won four in row. (14) Marketing slogan should be “Come see the Blazers, who knows what will happen!”

14. NEW YORK (22-21) Oops: went 0-6, lost three vs. losing teams, two of those at home. (13) Charles Dolan this close to offering La La her own cable channel to get ‘Melo to MSG.

15. PHOENIX (20-22) They’re back? With Magic leftovers, Suns went 5-0, averaging 115. (21) Who says Alvin Gentry can’t coach? I mean, besides the Clippers and Pistons.

16. MEMPHIS (21-23) Marc Gasol, who has sore ankle, scores 20 for first time since Dec. 3. (15) Was that in a NBA game or at Dave & Buster’s?

17. CLIPPERS (16-26) Davis averaging 16 points, 7 assists, shooting 47% this month. (24) Lazarus Part Deux.

18. GOLDEN STATE (19-23) Having good season. Too bad new owner Lacob doesn’t know it. (18) Who?

19. HOUSTON (20-25) Offer to take Anthony as rental shows Rockets are willing to start over. (16) What do they have to lose?

EAST PLAYOFF RACE/CELTICS, HEAT APPETIZERS

20. PHILADELPHIA (18-25) With Iguodala closest thing to closer, keep losing close ones. (17) Yawn.

21. INDIANA (16-23) Playoffs or not, Coach O’Brien, GM Morway reportedly are goners. (19) What I want to know is why does Larry Bird not get more blame, or any, from the national press for this mess.

22. CHARLOTTE (17-25) Get hint? Jackson, known for funks, shooting 35% this month. (22) Stephen “Guns” Jackson has mentally left the building and if management has any sense, he’ll leave town soon too.

23. MILWAUKEE (16-25) Their team, at last: Delfino finally back, Jennings on the way. (20) So?

24. WASHINGTON (13-29) Backcourt of future: Young averaging 23, shooting 50% this month. (29) Trade was smart move. Now they have to keep making them.

25. DETROIT (16-28) The guys on way out hate it there, but Pistons still compete. (23) Is Joe Dumars one of those on the way out too?

CLEANUP DETAIL FOLLOWING PARADE

26. TORONTO (13-31) Kids DeRozan, Davis, Amir Johnson look promising … as they go 0-6. (25) I can remember when Sarah Palin looked “promising” and look how that’s turned out.

27. NEW JERSEY (12-32) You mean this is all we’re going to have all season? (26) “Da!” (That’s yes in Russian)

28. SACRAMENTO (9-32) Veteran Udrih pulls Lord of Flies cast together, more or less. (27) Less.

29. MINNESOTA (10-33) 2 forwards average 20, center’s OK, decent point — what’s problem? (28) It’s Minnesota!

30. CLEVELAND (8-35) Lost 26 of 27. If only draft had a — forgive the expression — LeBron. (30) If Byron Scott had any hair, he’d be tearing it out.

JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT

Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson in 1984.

...

 

GET KEEPING BETTER GABBY!

NBA REVIEW – WEEK 12

January 16, 2011

 

 From Wednesday night’s service in Tucson, Arizona

 NBA PHOTOS OF THE WEEK

Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin soars for a two-handed jam against the visiting Sacramento Kings.

Seal and Heidi Klum and family courtside at Staples Center

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK – NON-NBA DIVISION

President and Mrs Obama after Monday’s “National Moment of Silence”

After speech, Obama feels good

Barack and Michelle Obama board Air Force One to return to Washington, D.C. Wednesday night.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are—how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths, about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

People tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.” – Pima County (Tucson, Arizona) Sheriff Clarence Dupnik speaking in the aftermath of last Saturday’s shooting outside a Safeway grocery store that killed a federal judge, a 9 year-old girl and four others, and wounded 14 others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).

THEY SAID IT

“Crazy. Karma is a b****. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!” – Le Bron James writing on his Twitter feed (with some grammatical errors) as his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, were being routed 112-57 by the Lakers Tuesday night.

“None. You forget who you’re talking to.” – Lakers guard Kobe Bryant when asked if he felt sympathy for the Cavaliers.

Boston’s Shaquille O’Neal, after Indiana’s Roy Hibbert scored 17 points against the Celtics: “Blake Griffin is the truth. All these other guys, I’m not impressed.”

Sam Smith of Bulls.com, on the fearsome reputation of Memphis’ Tony Allen, who punched out teammate O.J. Mayo: “Rarely have NBA players supposedly had hits placed on them from gangs as Allen did a few years back over a fight in Chicago.”

THEY SAID IT – NON-NBA DIVISION

“After you get settled [in your new job], I would love to talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation. I am one of only 12 Dems left in a GOP district (the only woman) and think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down.” – Representative Gabrielle Giffords in an e-mail last Friday night to a Republican friend in Kentucky discussing how to “promote centrism and moderation”. 

“I’m hoping that people would reflect on some of the language that they use and realize that honorable people can disagree, but I’m not optimistic. We don’t reflect on much of anything in this society.” – John Weaver, a Republican advisor to former presidential nominee John McCain.

“I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that.” – FOX News CEO Roger Ailes saying Monday that he has told his network to “tone it down” in the wake of the shooting in Arizona.

“We ask blessings on the spirit of this nation. Help us move from this dark place to a place of sunshine, hope. Bless these, God, your servants who serve this nation. Keep them safe.” – Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Emanuel Cleaver (D- MO), who had everyone bow their heads, as he began to pray when members of Congress and staff went to the East Front of the Capitol for a moment of silence on Monday.

“Too many dismiss these extreme eruptions as crass commercial calculations. Saturday taught us that we have to hold bad political actors accountable. It is a shared responsibility. Those with the loudest megaphones have to understand the audience and the actions they risk provoking. Those on the listening end have to know that in America, philosophical differences and personal violence can never overlap.”  –   MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host  Joe Scarborough in Politico on Tuesday.

“I think that the president’s message is going to prevail. In fact I think Sarah Palin may be looking at the end of her political ride. I think she may be at the end of her ride right now. If Sarah Palin would have said ‘you know what, I probably have been responsible for overblown rhetoric and I’m going to watch myself,’ that would be different. But she is completely unrepentant. And the enormity of this tragedy, I think, put a very, very clear damper on her prospects. And her reaction even dampers her political ride more.” – Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) appearing on the Bill Press Show on Thursday.

“I think there are plenty of people that can render opinions on that. I’m not going to do that. And I’m happy to talk about what the president said last night.” – White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declining on Thursday to talk about Sarah Palin’s comments on the Tucson shooting, in which she charged pundits with “blood libel.”

“You have to look at it and see what are they like when they’re tested, what are they like when they’re not scripted, what are they like when they’re pushed. And I would contend to you that if Governor Palin never does any of those things she’ll never be president, because people in America won’t countenance that. They just won’t.” – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will “never be president” if she avoids unscripted, spontaneous interactions with reporters and the public in a Thursday interview with the New York Times. Christie is 1000% but, based on what we’ve seen since August 29, 2008, Palin can’t really handle any “unscripted” moments that aren’t orchestrated by the friendly folks at FOX News and she can barely handle anything that she hasn’t been programmed for.

“As one of the three ‘slobberers’­…I find it interestin­g that only the ruling class wants a president who is smart articulate and oratorical in delivering a funeral oration. It’s an odd and rather condescend­ing view of what the rest of America is looking for in their president.­” – Conservative commentator and author Charles Krauthammer on Thursday after Rush Limbaugh slammed FOX News panelists Brit Hume, Charles Krauthammer and Chris Wallace for their positive comments – “They were slobbering over it for the predictable reasons. It was smart, it was articulate, it was oratorical. It was, it was all the things the educated, ruling class wants their members to be and sound like.” – on the night of the president’s Tucson speech.

“Our political discourse should be more civil than it currently is, and we all, myself included, bear some responsibility for it not being so.” – Senator John S. McCain (R-AZ) in a Op Ed piece published in today’s Washington Post.

“Sarah Palin is now the female Ann Coulter.” – Radio talk show host Randi Rhodes.

“This is going to be about me raising my level against Bill Belichick. I recognize he’s the best, but I’m just trying to be the best on Sunday. I plan on being the best coach on Sunday. I recognize that my level has to come up and he’s going to get my best shot. He’s going to get everything I have on Sunday. If he slips at all, we’re going to beat him.” – NY Jets coach Rex Ryan on Monday about what it’s going to take to win Sunday’s playoff game against the New England Patriots.

“How important is the sun to life on Earth?” – Former Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti, on Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s importance to the Ducks’ high-flying football program.

SAY WHAT?

“If every person in the world was like Sarah Palin, there probably wouldn’t even be need for government because no one would be in danger of any kind. If every person were like Sarah Palin, this world would be a peaceful, beautiful world to live in.” –  Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) in a phone conversation with POLITICO on Tuesday. 

YA THINK?

“It’s very clear the party wants to do something a little different, and hopefully a little bit better.” – Former RNC Michael Steele, who left the organization $22 million in debt, in his concession statement Friday.

THE “CHILE, PLEASE” AWARD GOES TO

Lohan chats with Spike Lee before the start of the Knicks/Lakers game.

Lohan: “Excuse me Mr Black Film Director, but I need an acting job in the worst way and I was just wondering, if maybe I could be in your next ‘Mama Deary’ movie. Pleasseeee.” Lee: “I think you’ve confused me with Tyler Perry.” Lohan: “Ooops, my bad. (giggle) With clothes on, all you n-words look the same to me. What about ‘Big Mama’s House 4’?” By the way, does anyone know why Spike, at the age of 53, still insists on dressing like he’s the Knicks’ team mascot?

MY TEN NON-NBA THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK

1. I don’t care what her supporters both in and out of the media say, I don’t care what she says or does from this point forward; Sarah Palin’s presidential hopes, whatever they may have realistically been before the tragic events of last Saturday, are O.V.E.R. Palin can’t be president. She’s a divider, not a uniter, and she can’t even pretend to be anything else. Most Americans won’t forget that while Gabby Giffords and other shooting victims were still hospitalized and families were preparing to funeralize their loved ones, Palin was tending to her perceived psychic wounds via her video statement. I’m waiting for the one sane adult in the GOP, assuming that there is one, to stand up and say, without any caveat, that Sarah Palin is bad for this country and we’d all be better off if she’d just go away and raise her family on the many millions she’s made since she left office.

2. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that outside the circle of hard-core “Palinites”, Barbara Walters is one of the very few feeling sorry for Sarah Palin Barbara Walters Defends Sarah Palin, Says She Is ‘Feeling Bad’ For Her and not the victims of last Saturday’s senseless shootings in Tucson.

3. It’s just my opinion but, changing “N-word Jim” to “Slave Jim” in Huckleberry Finn is actually a demotion. Think about: at least “N-word Jim” was free; “Slave Jim” now belongs to someone.

4. When you’re getting thrown out of the AVN Awards – the Oscars of the porn industry – Andy Dick, you might want to take a long, honest look at your life.

5. If I were Tony Sparano, Dolphins recommit to Tony Sparano after brief flirtation with Jim Harbaugh, I’d feel like my woman met me at the airport after I returned from a business trip and told me, “While you were gone, I tried to find myself a new man and frankly, I thought I’d found him. But, at the last minute, things didn’t work out so now, I’m going to stay with you.”

6. I must confess that when I first saw this headline, Celebrity Love Bytes: Sherri Shepherd & Vivica Fox Engaged, I got excited at the idea of Sherri and Vivica getting together ala Ellen and Portia. Alas, they’re each engaged to a guy. Oh well, maybe Rhianna and Nicki Minaji will pan out as a couple. Allegedly.

7. If an aging action-star dwarf and his by comparison, Amazonian-like Stepford wife boycott the Oscars even though neither one of them is up for an award Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes may boycott Oscars over Anne Hathaway’s parody, will anyone give a damn?

8. It appears, to this writer, that Charlie Sheen has decided to kill himself Is the Party Over? Charlie Sheen & CBS Ready to Collide via alcohol and hookers. And maybe not in that order.

9. I wonder what the folks over at the CW network who canceled The Game are thinking now Big Ratings Win for BETs ‘The Game,’ Premiere Episode Draws 7.7 Million Viewers. This is the second highest rated show in BET history, behind only the 2009 BET Awards which aired three days after the death of Michael Jackson.

10. With his big mouth, Rex Ryan has done the impossible: he’s turned me into a Bill Belichick fan this week. Go Patriots!

Bonus Thought – I love getting information from the Internet as much as the next person but, I must admit to a visceral thrill each morning when I step outside to pick up my copy of the Los Angeles Times. There’s just something about holding a newspaper, book and magazine in my hands that never gets old. Thank you Nancy Jane Freeman (mother), D.S. and Eula Mae Cunningham (maternal grandparents) and Janice Frazier Scott (big sister) for instilling a love of reading in me at an early age.

Bonus Bonus Thought – Silly me. I thought the film “Black Swan” was a documentary about the life of Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steeler receiver Lynn Swann. Oh well.

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Nancy Lieberman: A new ‘next game’ for Hall of Fame basketball player Nancy Lieberman   

Nancy Lieberman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach Nancy Lieberman watches her Texas Legends play the Austin Toros in a Development League game. The Legends defeated the Toros 135-112. (Brendan Sullivan / The Dallas Morning News / November 30, 2010)

Clippers halt the red-hot Heat, 111-105  

Blake Griffin

Clippers forward Blake Griffin dunks over Miami guard Mario Chalmers during the Clippers’ 111-105 victory Wednesday.

Carmelo, LeBron rivalry could finally take hold with trade  

Two of the top talents in the 2003 draft, Carmelo and LeBron may finally end up in the same conference.

Remember Tyson Chandler the teen phenom?

AROUND THE ASSOCIATION

Mark Heisler on the NBA: Suddenly the Knicks are relevant again

 Spike Lee, Norm Nixon

 

 

 

 

 

Spike: “I don’t know Norm, I think the one on the right has the nicest ass.”

Norm: “That’s my daughter.”

Spike: ‘Ummm. Hmmm.”

Norm: “Gotcha! I don’t know who she is. You right; that is a nice ass. But don’t tell Debbie I said that.” 

The Point Forward » Posts Court Vision: The latest around the league

Maloof open to relocating Kings

The Kings won’t be playing in Arco Arena much longer, a fact that has more to do with naming rights than relocation, though the latter is not out of the question. Responding to a column in Monday’s Orange County Register Are NBA’s Kings Anaheim-bound? suggesting that the Maloofs are entertaining offers to relocate the franchise to Anaheim because of the region’s inability to provide a modern entertainment complex to house the Kings, co-owner Joe Maloof said: “We are looking at all options to ensure the long term viability of this franchise. We’re looking at all our options. Of course you’re going to look at your options! We’re businessmen. We’ve been at this for 10 years without any (arena) success.”

Memphis vs. Charlotte – Recap – 10, 2011 The Bobcats defeated the Grizzlies 96-82 in front of maybe 1,000 fans due to a vicious ice storm in the Charlotte area on Monday.

Chuck Person improves Lakers’ defensive scheme

Funny, but I just don’t remember “The Rifleman” making any All-Defense teams when he was playing in the league.

Miami’s LeBron James gets a rise out of opposing crowds  

Clippers: Clippers-Heat is simply a sit-and-enjoy-it affair  

Clippers show what could be in beating the Heat  

Miami Heat’s success follows Dwyane Wade’s turnaround

Bill Simmons: Solving the Carmelo Anthony situation  

Heat’s success lacks depth  

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade notice inconsistencies in Clippers’ performance

Lakers vs Clippers: Clippers have made a noticeable turnaround

Mark Heisler on the NBA: Where will Carmelo Anthony land?  

Fatigue getting to Knicks star  

Nets’ pitch to ‘Melo needs serving of Russian dressing  

NBA: Coast to coast  

CHUCK’S CHALK TALK

This may seem like a trivial thing to some readers Cavaliers change travel plans to avoid sharing hotel with Miami Heat but, it’s probably a smart move. Say, they were all at the same hotel and for whatever reason, an “incident” occurred. The FIRST thing the media would be saying is, “Why were these two teams staying at the same hotel? Why didn’t someone in management move one of the teams to another hotel?”

Rumors around the league are that if Carmelo Anthony is unavailable to them, the Knicks’ Plan B this summer is to address their starting center position, with Memphis restricted free-agent center Marc Gasol high on their wish list.

Another rumor that, depending on who’s talking is either very real or a bigger dream than Tyler Perry winning a Best Actress Oscar for portraying “Madea”, has Rasheed Wallace returning to the Celtics some time after the All-Star break Stephen A. Smith says Rasheed Wallace will return to Celtics.

I won’t lie and say I saw exactly this coming Lakers lower boom on Cavaliers, 112-57 once Bron Bron took his “talents to South Beach”, but even Ray Charles in his current condition could see things were going to be bad in C-Town this season. One of the things I hope the NBA and its players discuss during the current CBA negotiations is how to shore up some of the weaker franchises from a competitive standpoint. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the league’s weak links are this close to turning this league into major league baseball where only a very few teams have a legitimate chance to win. Compare that to what’s going on in the NFL where the Seattle Seahawks have a very real chance of ending up in the Super Bowl next month.

Damn, Damn, Damn! How the hell can the Lakers look themselves in the mirror after allowing the Miami Heat to come into their house and punk them on Christmas Day and then seeing how the Clippers beat the same Heat team Wednesday night at Staples Center?

Speaking of the Heat, Le Bron James is starting to become the NBA’s Sarah Palin in that he’ll say, do or tweet something – “Crazy. Karma is a b****.. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything” when the Cavaliers are getting destroyed by the Lakers – but just as soon as he gets criticized for it, he backs off – “It was just how I was feeling at the time. It wasn’t even a comment from me, it was something somebody sent me and I sent it out, so…”. C’mon Bron Bron, man up. As Mark Jackson says, “You’re better than that.” Or should be.

My heart goes out to Portland’s, the latest victim of the dreaded “Blazers’ Curse” Portland Trail Blazers G Brandon Roy to have surgery on both knees  
 

BLAKE GRIFFIN DUNK OF THE WEEK

Blake Griffin, Mario Chalmers Argue: Clippers Star Stares Down Opponent After Huge Dunk

THE WEEK AHEAD by Mark Heisler

LAKERS AT DALLAS: Wednesday at 6 p.m. TV: ESPN

Oklahoma City is at the Lakers and Orlando at Boston on Monday, but we’ll go with Wednesday’s matchup of the West’s No. 2-3 teams, at least in the standings. The Mavericks have long yearned to rumble with the Lakers, as when owner Mark Cuban portrayed Shaquille O’Neal as Fat Albert on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, the Mavericks were only there at the end in the three seasons between Shaq and Pau Gasol. These aren’t those Mavericks, going 24-6 with Tyson Chandler, or weren’t before going 2-7 with Dirk Nowitzki out. Once four games up on the Lakers in the battle for home court in the playoffs, the Mavericks are now 2 1/2 behind. The Lakers have their own issues but are 9-1 since their last big test in Texas, which they failed spectacularly in San Antonio.

RANKINGS, WE’VE GOT RANKINGS! (my comments in italics)

Mark Heisler – Tribune Newspapers

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Despite three straight losses, two of which came without LeBron James, Miami holds off Boston for top spot.

RANKINGS, COMMENTS THROUGH SATURDAY, LAST WEEK’S RANKING

NOT YET FINAL FOUR

1. MIAMI (30-12) Looked about to start league of their own when LeBron left. (1) Three losses in a row without King James shows that just like the Mavs without Dirk, there’s very little depth on most teams.

2. BOSTON (30-9) Thank heaven for Clippers, who beat Heat, wounded LeBron. (2) Still my pick in the East because of their size upfront and that’s even before the return of Kendrick “Mushmouth” Perkins.

3. SAN ANTONIO (34-6) Lakers just went 9-1… and gained one game on them. (3) “Coach Pop” pacing the Spurs better than ever before.

4. LAKERS (30-11) They’ll never be young again, but they’re still really tall. (6) Yes but will miss Matt Barnes’ “intangibles” which include a real mean streak and “likes to fight” mentality that Bill Walton’s son just doesn’t posses.

POISED FOR MOVE, IN WHATEVER DIRECTION

5. ORLANDO (26-14) 9-0 run ends with loss in New Orleans, and Oklahoma City. (4) Still needs another “Big” to help Howard upfront.

6. OKLAHOMA CITY (27-13) Outrebounded 55 opponents last season, only 20 so far. (7) Growing pains continue.

7. UTAH (27-13) Whatever they miss, still grind it out: Jazz has won 25 of 35. (10) And yet, they’ll never, ever win a ring in the SLC.

8. CHICAGO (27-13) How good is Rose? Now it’s Chris Paul, Deron Williams and him. (8) I’d put Rose at the top of that list.

9. ATLANTA (26-15) Crawford, who knows he’s gone, averages 23 off bench in 7-1 run. (9) Which Crawford is this?

10. DALLAS (26-13) Nice having you back: Out for nine games, Dirk ejected in return. (5) No Dirk=No real chance at a ring. And even with him, they still will have to get past the Lakers and Spurs in the West which will not be easy.

11. NEW ORLEANS (25-16) Like Utah, but smaller: Started 11-1, lost 13 of 20, 7-2 since. (13) There’s a Ron Jeremy joke that I could make here but I won’t.

WILL TRADE DEADLINE EVER GET HERE?

12. DENVER (23-16) It’s too late to panic. (12) And yet, it’s still not too late for ‘Melo to change his mind.

13. NEW YORK (22-17) Someone revive Spike: After going 19-6, lost at home to Kings. (11) I refuse to believe this just as the “birthers” refuse to believe that President Obama was born in America.

14. PORTLAND (21-20) Roy hopes to return next month…or April…after knee scopes. (14) Or ever.

15. MEMPHIS (19-21) In salary drive, free agent Randolph averages 25 in 5-2 run. (15) If you added Zach to the Knicks or Magic…

16. HOUSTON (18-23) 6-6 Hayes starts at center with 6-0 (as if) Brooks, 6-0 (ditto) Lowry. (16) If Aaron Brooks is 6’, Kim Kardashian is talented.

17. PHILADELPHIA (16-23) No longer Iggy’s team but Jrue’s, averaging 22 over last four. (17) has Doug Collins pulled out his hair yet?

18. GOLDEN STATE (16-23) Keith Smart, rated longshot to stay, giving it his all. (18) So did George Custer and we know how that turned out for him.

19. INDIANA (16-21) Going small without Hibbert … oops, he’s back … oops … (20) Yawn.

20. MILWAUKEE (14-23) With their injuries, grit only gets you so far: Lost 10 of 14. (19) Double yawn.

21. PHOENIX (17-21) Things have been worse as they go 3-1. OK, not much worse. (22) Think things are bad now? Wait until Steve Nash departs the Valley of the Sun before the trading deadline next month.

KYRIE IRVING DERBY?

22. CHARLOTTE (15-23) In virtual tie for No. 8, 6-4 with Silas, looking to dump Wallace. (23) Why? 23. DETROIT (14-26) Veterans want out: Prince calls Rip’s DNP-CD: ‘Bufoonery.’ (25) The Joe Dumars Era is coming to a very ugly end.

24. CLIPPERS (13-25) Baron’s comeback shows what (no) faith in someone can do. (21) “Clipper Darryl” so happy these days, rumor has him wearing adult Depends to games so he doesn’t risk missing a Blake Griffin dunk.

I know it will never happen but, let’s say you did fold the following teams and dispersed the best players throughout the league with those teams having the worst record having first shot? Think that wouldn’t make for a better, more competitive league?

25. TORONTO (13-27) Bad sign: Lost eight of last 10 at home, two to Pistons. (24)

26. NEW JERSEY (10-30) There’s a place for them too, or most of them … Denver. (26)

27. SACRAMENTO (9-29) Cousins shows he’s worth trouble, or close, at 18-8 this month.(28)

28. MINNESOTA (10-31) Long way down to find best young forward tandem, Love-Beasley. (29)

29. WASHINGTON (11-27) Resounding thud: Wall averaging 15 this month, shooting 37%. (27)

30. CLEVELAND (8-32) Lost 22 of 23, last three by 55-22-28. (30) 

JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT!

Brothers from different mothers?

                     

Stay classy Sarah Palin.

MY LETTER TO NANCY PELOSI

January 14, 2011

If you want to cut and paste and send this letter, or one of your own, go to http://www.democraticleader.gov, click on “Contact Us” and use the email form that pops up.

Dear Leader Pelosi, I’m asking you to go before the House of Representatives before the upcoming motion to repeal the Healthcare Law that was passed less than two years ago and challenge any member who votes to repeal the healthcare law to immediately withdraw from the federal plan and go out into the marketplace and buy comparable insurance for themselves and their families out of their own pockets.

Please call for each member of the House who plans on voting for repeal to stand in the well of the House, look into the C-Span cameras, and explain to their “employers”, the people they were sent to Washington to represent and fight for, why they don’t feel they should have the same access to quality healthcare at a reasonable price that members of Congress enjoy.

Finally, please point out the blatant and callous hypocrisy of such a heartless vote while one of their own, Gabrielle Giffords, lays in a Tucson, Arizona hospital receiving the best possible treatment (and rehab care in the future) all because she has great insurance. Thank you.

Charles L. Freeman

A WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN TUCSON

January 13, 2011

For the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone, is surprised by anything they heard and saw last night. By now, I would think that everyone with the sense God gave a seedless grape would have been able to predict everything that happened last night.

Anyone who thought President Obama wasn’t going to be thoughtful, respectful, introspective, and inspiring either hasn’t been paying attention these last 6 & 1/2 years since the 2004 Democratic Convention or just doesn’t like him and refuses to acknowledge his obvious character traits and overall goodness.

The “talking heads” on all of the networks, radio talk shows, etc are playing their well-established roles and are simply “staying in their lanes.” This is how they make their money.

A big part of the problem that led to last Saturday’s tragic events is the fact that on both sides of the aisle, people have made up their minds about politicians and the issues and nothing is going to change their minds.

Think about this; is there anything Sarah Palin can do or say that at this point would change your mind about her qualifications for being president? Speaking for myself, I can say without any doubt whatsoever, no she can’t. Well, if I feel that way about her, why should I be surprised about those who stridently oppose President Obama?

People are who they are and once we know their behavioral pattern, to be surprised by anything they say or do is to ignore what we know about them. Would I have liked for Palin to take a different tack in her statement yesterday? Sure I would. But I knew she wouldn’t; she’s not capable of doing so. Should John Boehner have skipped last night’s fundraiser in DC and been there in Tucson to show true bipartianship? Yes he should have been but I’m not surprised he wasn’t and I don’t know why anyone else would be. He is who he is.

For America to change the tone and direction of the political discourse, people have to be truly willing to open their minds and be able to look at the problems we face without adhering to strict labels – Democrats, Republicans, liberal, conservative, etc – and to leaders and positions who have the courage and willingness to do the right thing and not the party or safe thing.

And that goes for each and every one of us too.

AN OPEN LETTER TO SARAH PALIN

January 12, 2011

Dear Mrs Palin:

I’m not one of your supporters by any stretch of the imaginatio­n but, even I don’t think you are directly responsibl­e for what happened in Tucson on Saturday.

However, it would have been somewhat refreshing and a bit uplifting to hear you say something along the lines of, “While I never meant for anyone to think that I advocate the literal taking up of arms to achieve what our side may have failed to do at the ballot box, I now see where some of the things I’ve said in the past and some of the graphics posted on my websites could lead some to think that. I hope everyone on all sides of the political spectrum will join me in pledging to be more thoughtful and discerning in the future about the tone and content of our political discourse.”

Of course, that would require taking responsibility for your words and actions and as we’ve clearly seen since August 29, 2008, that’s just not how you roll. You never make mistakes; the meanies in the “Lamestrea­m Media” and on the left misconstru­e at best and lie about at worst, everything you say, do or mean.

Now that your already fragile presidential hopes have been finally put to rest, please do America a really big favor: take your newly-earned millions and retreat to Lake Wasilla and let intelligent, reasonable and reality-based people handle things from this day forth.

Thank you and God bless.

Charles L. Freeman

“A TURNING POINT IN AMERICAN POLITICS”

January 11, 2011

Just as anyone fifty-five and older has the dates November 22, 1963 and April 4, 1968 seared into their memory forever, January 8, 2011 will become a touchstone in the future. For on that date, extreme political rhetoric and a lunatic armed with a legally obtained firearm, combined to bring death to a Safeway grocery store parking lot in Tucson, Arizona.

For several years now, but particularly since John McCain plucked Sarah Palin out of relative obscurity and made her his running mate in 2008, the political discourse on the right has been filled with vitriol, hatred and naked racism. The far right-wing of the Republican Party has been hijacked by the so-called Tea Party and fueled by the reckless and irresponsible rantings of Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and many others. They’ve allowed fools such as “Birther Queen” Orly Taitz to push their racially-charged theories attacking President Obama’s birthplace and qualifications for the office virtually unchallenged. Elected officials such as new House Speaker John Boehner have refused to do what Aretha Franklin said in her hit song, Rock Steady; “let’s call this song exactly what it is”: out-and-out hatred. In fact, they’ve added fuel to the fire with some rhetoric of their own – who can forget Boehner’s red-faced, angry rant on the House floor the night of the healthcare vote last March.

But, everything changed on a Saturday morning in suburban Tucson. A moderate Democratic congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, elected to her third term in November, was holding one of her regular constituent events, Congress on the Corner, when for reasons still unknown to us, an angry, young white man, Jared Lee Loughner, decided to take it upon himself to inflict horror and death on a group of Americans citizens whose only crime that day was to engage in a basic act of democracy – they were taking time out of their Saturday to meet and question their duly elected representative.

Now, many of you may ask why I pointed out that the accused shooter is a young white man. Well, I have a very good reason for doing so: the so-called Tea Party movement, the strident and vitriolic opposition to President Obama and his policies and agenda, and the never-ending rants of right-wing pundits and radio talk show hosts all have an underlying tone of racism. The “angry Americans” who claim that they want to “take our country back!” are in fact, a small, yet loud and potentially violent bunch of angry white Americans who see themselves falling behind in an ever-changing nation and world. And for the life of me, I don’t understand why the mainstream media is so reluctant, if not afraid, to point this out.

The shootings that happened in Tucson are the direct result of the rantings and ravings of Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and especially, the self-proclaimed “Mama Grizzlie” herself, Sarah Palin, who included Gabrielle Giffords in her infamous “Targeted Districts” – complete with crosshairs – map (the map was quickly removed from Palin’s Facebook page and website after the shootings were reported). They all have blood on their money-grubbing, racist hands whether they or they supporters want to admit it. They, not Barack Hussein Obama and the people they oppose, are the anti-Americans among us and now we must all rise up, as a nation based on democratic principles and tolerance for those who are different from us, and “refudiate” their dangerous nonsense once and for all.

Maybe, just maybe, this will be the incident that wakes up the remaining “adults” in the GOP and gets them to loudly denounce Palin and her foolishness that led directly or indirectly to Saturday’s shootings. If they do so, there’s a chance that our nation can once again begin to discuss our political differences in a manner that allows us to disagree, but not be disagreeable. But, if they choose to parse their words again and refuse to loudly and clearly speak out against the rhetoric and actions that have brought us to this point in time, they will forever abdicate their right to be taken seriously and don’t deserve our respect or consideration.

NBA REVIEW – WEEK 11

January 9, 2011

The Flyer’s prayers and sympathies go out to the victims and families of Saturday’s senseless shootings in Tucson, Arizona.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Lakers are outworked and outhustled in 104-85 loss to the Grizzlies

Lakers Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher on the bench during the 4th quarter of Sunday’s blow-out loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK – NON-NBA DIVISION

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) congratulates the new Speaker, John Boehner (R-OH), as he accepts the gavel on Wednesday.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“When you’ve been around Phil for as many years as I have, we all understand that he likes coaching publicly. I think it’s important for the new guys to understand that – Ron [Artest], Pau [Gasol], guys that kind of have issues with that. That’s how he coaches. … Just let him do his job and go about your business.” – Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on Monday responding to coach Phil Jackson’s comments in the press.

THEY SAID IT

“I’ll just say they came out tonight and got outworked by a team that played [Saturday] night, lost in Utah, had to fly back in here for a ballgame. I think we took for granted the fact that we’ve been beaten in Memphis and everybody thought we were going to come out here and play better and no one took responsibility on themselves to play better.” – Laker coach Phil Jackson after Sunday’s home loss to the Grizzlies.

“I love that Jeanie Buss’ boy-toy had something to say about us. I don’t know if it was his thought or Jeanie’s thought, but it’s nice to know that she lets him speak in public about other teams.” – Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in response to Lakers coach Phil Jackson offering his opinion about the impact of Caron Butler’s season-ending knee injury.

“I love it. I consider myself an old man. I’m a boy toy? That’s terrific.” – Phil Jackson

“I asked them if they wouldn’t mind maybe playing a little bit better [against Boston] tomorrow. They said they’d think about it. We’ll see what happens.” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after his team’s stunning loss to the Knicks Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. They lost in Boston too.

“I’ve worked so hard to keep everything positive. It’s hard to comment on something right now until I speak to Coach. I’ve tried not to be part of any conflict or anything negative, I’ve tried to avoid any confrontation. To have this happen now is not good.” – Lakers forward Ron Artest before Tuesday Night’s game against the Pistons responding to the report of a recent verbal altercation between he and head coach Phil Jackson.

“The one thing that’s better with Turk was he was out of shape for all the years he was here and now he’s like 8% body fat, which is the lowest since he’s been alive.” – Magic center Dwight Howard, on Hedo Turkoglu, starring in Orlando after leaving for pratfalls in Toronto and Phoenix.

From Saturday’s LA Times Sports Section (Letters to the Editor)

This was always going to be the final result of choosing the unknown (Artest) over the known (Trevor Ariza). I’ve always contended that because Ariza and Andrew Bynum had the same agent and the Lakers were still mad about being forced into giving Bynum his big contract before they really wanted to, they cut ties with Ariza and rolled the dice with Artest. Here’s hoping they wrote some protection into the contract, because there’s absolutely no way this marriage goes full-term.

Charles L. Freeman
Baldwin Hills

THEY SAID IT – NON-NBA DIVISION

“The Tea Party was born because of the economy. The economy is probably the worst it’s ever been except for maybe the Great Depression. The Tea Party will disappear as soon as the economy gets better. And the economy’s getting better all the time.” – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in response to a question from “Meet The Press” moderator David Gregory touching on the tough fight he waged to defeat Tea Party-backed contender Sharron Angle in the 2010 midterm election season.

“How about THIS? For the first time since June, President Obama’s [Gallup] approval rating is back over 50 percent. How frustrating is that for him? For 23 months, the guy is busting his butt, trying to keep campaign promises, and his approval rating goes through the floor. Then he says, ‘Screw it,’ goes to Hawaii for 10 days, plays golf – he’s popular again! What happened?” – Tonight Show host Jay Leno.

SAY WHAT?

New Republican House Speaker John Boehner says he doesn’t question President Barack Obama’s place of birth but it’s not within his purview to tell others what to think.  

“The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That’s good enough for me,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told NBC ‘s Brian Williams in an interview that aired Thursday night on NBC Nightly News.

Pressed by Williams on what he would say to members of his party who have expressed doubts about Obama’s citizenry, Boehner replied: “Brian, when you come to the Congress of the United States, there are 435 of us. We’re nothing more than a slice of America. People come, regardless of party labels, they come with all kinds of beliefs and ideas. It’s the melting pot of America. It’s not up to me to tell them what to think.”

THE “CHILE, PLEASE” AWARD GOES TO (tie)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hall of Famer and current Knicks radio analyst Walt “Clyde” Frazier for wearing this “jacket” at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday and Oprah Winfrey for saying, “I see myself as a messenger for a message that is greater than myself and my message is you can, you can, you can” during a recent press appearance to promote her new OWN cable network. Both Mr Frazier and Ms Winfrey suffered from delusions of grandeur and pomposity this week. 

STORIES OF THE WEEK – The Redemption of Ted Williams

Cavaliers offer job to homeless man with ‘golden voice’  

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Before

Ted Williams on the Today show

After

Blake Griffin: The Clippers’ slam-dunk rising star  

Blake Griffin, Brad Miller

Clippers forward Blake Griffin rises above Rockets center Brad Miller for a dunk in the first half of a game last month at Staples Center.

AROUND THE ASSOCIATION

Mark Heisler on the NBA: Even Kobe Bryant is having trouble motivating Lakers  

Kobe Bryant

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Heisler on the NBA: Lakers’ problems go deeper than any so-called ‘dysfunction’   

Portland’s Brandon Roy problem  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “What did I do to deserve the ‘Portland Plague’?”

Gary Neal of the Spurs Excels by Being a Mystery  

LeBron James wants you to meet the “Heatles” “King James” still doesn’t get it: you can’t give yourself nicknames! That’s why no one refers to Kobe Bryant as “Black Mamba”.

San Antonio vs. New York – Recap – 04, 2011 I guarantee you NO ONE saw the Knicks getting this good this fast even with Stoudemire. Now, if they could just stop Isiah Thomas from talking about his time with the team Isiah Thomas makes crazy proclamations about his Knicks draft record | I am a GM, they can forget all the harm he did to one of the league’s flagship franchises.

Clippers show promise in win over Nuggets

Nets remain optimistic of landing ’Melo  

Agent pushing Hamilton into ‘Melo deal  

Stoudemire, D’Antoni return to Phoenix in style as Knicks roll  

End is in sight for Nuggets, Carmelo Anthony  

‘Melo deal would revamp Nets

Reality show is ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity for Lamar Odom  

Khloe Kardashian, Lamar Odom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do I get the feeling that this has the possibility of being a television train wreck of epic proportions? BTW, how does an NBA champion, who plays for the LAKERS,  end up with the Kardashian sister who looks like she was put together in Grandpa Munster’s basement ‘la-bo-ra-tory’? Hell, Kris Humphries doesn’t even start for the Nets and he’s “dating” Kim!

CHUCK’S CHALK TALK

I’ve been told by someone in the know that Phil Jackson needs to understand that dealing with Ron Artest, a volatile person who struggles daily with real emotional problems, is different than dealing with Dennis Rodman who was more of a harmless goofball who just wanted to be noticed.

You would think that everyone in the NBA learned a lesson from the Gilbert Arenas fiasco last year, but I guess someone has to get either seriously injured NBA Brawl Erupts on Team Plane — Card Game Goes Terribly Wrong or God forbid, killed, before teams do the smart/right thing and ban gambling on team property (practice facilities) and flights.

Well, at least one has – Grizzlies ban gambling on flights after recent altercation.

If Herr Commissioner Stern can invoke a “Dress Code” and “Zero Tolerance” policy on whining about calls and non-calls, why can’t he ban gambling on all team premises and flights? Hell, I’ll even write it up for he and Stu Jackson, “VP of Crap David Stern Doesn’t Want To Deal With”, to review.

There’s no way the Hornets can end up staying in New Orleans Hornets might have to leave New Orleans even though the players would hate losing one of their favorite party cities in the league.

It’s beginning to look like Amar’e Stoudemire was the one who made Steve Nash an All-Star and not the other way around.

BLAKE GRIFFIN DUNK OF THE WEEK

Video: A Blake Griffin alley-oop to start the year right  

MY TEN NON-NBA THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK

  1. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger should be tarred and feathered for commuting the sentence of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez’ son, Esteban, who was convicted of second-degree manslaughter pursuant to a guilty plea in the fatal stabbing of 22-year-old college student Luis Santos in San Diego in October 2008 after being refused entrance to a fraternity party. Nunez’ sentence was cut from 16 years to 7.
  2. If John Boehner was a real leader and “patriot”, he would publicly and loudly tell the 12 members of his party to drop their so-called “birther” crap in the House and get on with the business of helping America and Americans.
  3. I, for one, will miss Robert Gibbs’ daily sparring, excuse me, briefings with the WH press corps.
  4. I would LOVE to see Donna Brazille as the new WH press secretary.
  5. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that if the numbers were in their favor, Gearing Up For Health-Care Repeal Effort, Republicans Push To Delegitimize CBO Analysis, the GOP would be trumpeting the CBO to the high heavens.
  6. Not that it will make Detroit Lions fans feel any better or different about his tenure as the team’s GM, I’m sure they appreciated hearing Matt Millen say, “I Stunk at Being GM.”
  7. There’s nothing about the Green Hornet trailer that makes me want to see this movie even a little bit. In fact, I’d rather sit through a Tyler Perry film festival, seated between Sarah Palin and Haley “Boss Hogg Jr” Barbour with Tom De Lay in front of and Ann Coulter behind me.
  8. Did the Jackson Five know everything that Joe did as their manager? No they didn’t and frankly, they didn’t need to. I say that to say that maybe Cam Newton really didn’t know that his father was out there shopping him to SEC colleges last year.
  9. There is no way Terrelle Pryor ever suits up for Ohio State again.
  10. I’m so glad that The Good Wife returns this week.

THE WEEK AHEAD by Mark Heisler

MIAMI AT CHICAGO
Saturday at 5 p.m.
TV: NBA TV

In a welcome development, the attention the Heat gets now is for stuff that happens on the court, as opposed to conspiracy theories and dumb TV specials. This will be the fifth game of a five-game trip that began with Friday’s win in Milwaukee and will take them to the West Coast and back with the big question being whether anyone can beat them on the way.

They’re 20-1 since starting 9-8 when Coach Erik Spoelstra seemed to be dangling, including their Christmas rout of the Lakers. They’ll play in Portland on Sunday, at the Clippers on Wednesday and at Denver in a TNT game Thursday before meeting the up-and-coming-but-not-there-yet Bulls.

With Joakim Noah out until February, the Bulls have been up and down recently but will, at least, be excited for this one. 

RANKINGS, WE’VE GOT RANKINGS! (my comments in italics)

Mark Heisler – Tribune Newspapers

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Record and statistics through Friday’s games

1. Heat 29-9 (2): All together, “We never lost faith in you!” 20-1 since 9-8 start. Still not big enough in the frontcourt to beat Boston or Orlando in a 7-game series.

2. Celtics 28-7 (3): Home-court advantage they worry about isn’t vs. Lakers any more. Hello San Antonio in the spring.

3. Spurs 30-6 (1): Lost in New York, Boston, had to come from 15 down vs. Pacers. No need to worry; “Pop” knows how to pace the Spurs.

4. Magic 24-12 (5): Just went 8-0 with new guys even if they’re not all new. Hedo LOVES central Florida.

5. Mavericks 26-9 (4): Lost 3 of 5 without Dirk Nowitzki then Caron Butler left, for season. Let’s see how Mark Cuban reacts now.

6. Lakers 26-11 (6): So greatest-Laker-team-ever talk in November was premature? About as premature as “Oscar buzz” for any film directed by Tyler Perry.

7. Thunder 24-13 (7): Started 5-4, won 14 of 18 but have leveled off since. It’s not easy when you can’t sneak up on teams anymore.

8. Jazz 24-13 (8): At 16 points, 8.6 rebounds, he’s not Al Jefferson of old. Yes, but in his defense, it’s colder in the SLC.

9. Bulls 23-12 (9): Circus trip was better; 13-2 before losses in New Jersey and Philadelphia. And now Carlos Boozer’s acting like “Carlos Boozer” again.

10. Hawks 24-14 (13): Sore elbow and all, Joe Johnson gets 29-29-28 as they go 3-0. Larry Drew considering hurting rest of team’s elbows.

11. Knicks 21-14 (14): 121-96 victory in Phoenix settles question of who made out in this deal. Steve Nash THIS close to walking off into the desert, never to be seen again.

12. Hornets 21-16 (15): Deal hurting everyone: Trevor Ariza’s 17-7-6 shows Lakers what they miss. I hate to say “I told you so”, but…”I told you so.”

13. Nuggets 20-15 (10): In denial: Asked for Blake Griffin, now spurning all offers for Carmelo Anthony. Even Donald T. Sterling isn’t that stupid. I think. I hope. I pray. Oh hell, Griffin’s a future “former Clipper” and Clipper Nation knows it.

14. Trail Blazers 20-17 (11): Vintage Nate McMillan: After all lickings, they’re still ticking. I knew a girl like that once.

15. Grizzlies 17-19 (16): Not doing badly for team with Zach Randolph, O.J. Mayo on way out. People in Memphis just getting over “Elvis Birth Week”; will get back to ignoring the Grizz soon.

16. Rockets 16-20 (12): Supplanted by Kyle Lowry and hurt again, Aaron Brooks available. Kyle who?

17. 76ers 15-21 (19): No. 8 in East, winning 12 of 20 without Andre Iguodala in last six. AI2 needs to get healthy again and soon.

18. Warriors 15-21 (22): Here’s to Keith Smart: They’re 6-3 since dropping to 9-18. Is this Maxwell Smart’s secret “love-child”?

19. Pacers 14-19 (17): Roy Hibbert averaged 16 in November, 11 last month, benched this month. Is D-League next?

20. Bucks 13-21 (20): Brandon Jennings hopes to return soon, as do Bucks, 3-6 without him. Yawn.

21. Clippers 11-24 (21): Breakout: DeAndre Jordan blocks 19 shots in three games. And some of them were actually the other team’s.

22. Suns 14-20 (18): Worse: When Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash reunite next season, may be as teammates. Knicks would be stupid to trade for or sign Nash as Raymond Felton doing just fine in the role of Stoudemire’s assist man.

23. Bobcats 12-21 (23): Letting them play doesn’t work with Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson out. Rumor has Michael Jordan actually attending a home game this month.

24. Raptors 12-24 (24): Breakout: DeMar DeRozan averaged 16 last month, just put up 37-27-18. And that’s in Canadian points!

25. Pistons 11-24 (25): Trailing embalming fluid, Tracy McGrady takes over at point guard. This would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

26. Nets 10-26 (26): Now he warms up? Sasha Vujacic averaging 11, 41 percent on 3s as a Net. No pressure to be good on a bad team.

27. Wizards 9-25 (27): One young guy getting it: Nick Young averaged 18 last month. One young guy – Nick Young; I get it!

28. Kings 8-25 (30): 3-2 as Tyreke Evans makes belated debut. Oh, he was there all along? Why does it seem as if the Maloof brothers have disappeared from the face of the earth?

29. Timberwolves 9-29 (29): With last season’s 2-29 finish, they’ve lost 57 of 68. Well, Kurt Rambis said he wanted to be a head coach in the worst way and it surely can’t get any worse than this.

30. Cavaliers 8-28 (28): Could be while for title Dan Gilbert promised: 1-19 since 7-9 start. Oops, I was wrong. 

JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT!

John Boehner