Actually, forget consternation. Jazz fans booed like schoolchildren at the team’s draft party at Energy Solutions Arena that night.
But after watching Hayward during summer league in Orlando, coach Jerry Sloan made an auspicious comparison to the SALT LAKE DESERET NEWS - via SaltCityHoops.com:
Coach Jerry Sloan had high praise for Gordon Hayward (ninth pick) after watching him in Orlando. “He’s not a mistake-free player. This is a game of mistakes. He’ll make a mistake here or there. But he just plays. He just plays basketball. We had another guy here years ago who did the same thing, and he ended up being a pretty good player — John Stockton. I don’t mean to put that kind of pressure on [Hayward], but he plays.”
Comparing any first year player to Stockton is absurd, but at the very least Sloan is already at least half right. Read more…
If you went to bed early or had other things to do besides watch the Denver-Utah game on ESPN last night, you made the wrong decision. One, because the NBA is awesome and this is its strongest iteration since about, oh, 1996; and two, because you missed Carmelo Anthony’s enormous dunk over Paul Millsap, who is legit in his own right. Or was. RIP Millsap’s cred, you will be missed.
(Melo, my man.)
The play was an effective dagger into Utah’s heart for the night; the Nuggets had begun to pull away in the second half, but Utah was still hang-ging around, hang-ging around, down 8 halfway through the fourth quarter. Millsap had just corralled a defensive rebound and sent a lazy pass up the court to a waiting Deron Williams. Bad decision, sir, as Anthony was waiting for the pass. Anthony picked it off, took one dribble, and utterly posterized Millsap, who compounded his earlier bad decision by standing in the crease. Video? Of course there’s video, after the break.
Today, though, it’s British people trying to call a basketball game. Emphasis on “trying.” Apparently, the BBC just trotted out Mark Pougatch and Colin Murray, two reporters without much of a clue about what happens in basketball games, and let them work their way through it. It’s delightful, and the sort of thing that only British people (see: the film careers of Hugh Grant and Jude Law) can get away with without looking completely stupid. Video is after the break.
Quick: who’s #4 on the Utah Jazz’s all-time list of most games played? It goes John Stockton, Kark Malone, Mark Eaton, and… well, you probably already read the headline and figured it out. It’s one of the largest, slowest players in NBA history: the one, the only Greg Ostertag!
We bring him up not because we merely like celebrating the dinosaurs of the league - though we do enjoy that - but because the Ostertag Era may not be over just yet. Despite not having played in years (and not having been especially productive while actually playing), Ostertag’s got his eyes on a comeback, right in his native land of Texas.
Okay, when we heard that the Utah Jazz were going to get into a common gym-related activity that everybody can participate in for charity, naturally, we thought it’d be Jazzercise. Yes, because of the team name, but also because we could totally see Kyle Korver doing this (it’s basketball-themed and everything!).
(Is it too late to go with the “Utah Purple Cobras” for next season?)
No no, though, it’s dodgeball, as the team held a “Dodge Barrage” event for charity this weekend. The two principal characters in the charity are Korver and Deron Williams, and they promoted it with some admittedly awesome work on YouTube. Video is below.
If MLB and Fox executives are wondering why no one watches the All-Star Game anymore, here’s Exhibit A: the winning run for the AL in their 4-3 victory over the NL was driven in by an eighth-inning sacrifice fly from Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, a name that resonates with a thud among all but the most die-hard baseball fans. And the person he scored was the Tigers’ Curtis Granderson, who can be politely called “slightly more well-known than Adam Jones.”
To put it mildly, if the All-Star Game was a weekly series, it would be on the verge of cancellation by now. Especially after TV critics would have inevitably slammed it for its lack of imagination and formulaic structure. Yes, we get it - the AL is always going to win. Can’t we just have a twist on that every once in a while? (And not the shoddy “Who’s Going to Pitch?” cliffhanger that Bud Selig and company cooked up a few years ago.)
After 13 years of not seeing the National League win, it’s not surprising that people just aren’t that interested anymore. But there was an attempt to spice things up this year by bringing in a big-game star for a special guest appearance: President Barack Obama. After warming up with Albert Pujols in the batting cages before the game, Obama took the mound and delivered a pitch that was about as effective as his pitch for the bank bailout.
I’ll leave it to WIDE WHITE to give a breakdown of Obama’s pitch as it relates to his policies, but suffice it to say that it was neither great nor awful. He should just be thankful that Pujols was there to make a great pick to keep the ball from hitting the dirt. (And that was Pujols’ best play of the night, since he went 0-for-3 before the hometown crowd.)
The game MVP was Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford, not so much for what he did at the plate but for his actions in the field, most notably his catch that robbed Brad Hawpe of what would have been a go-ahead home run in the seventh. And the NL can’t blame the loss on the AL being fired up because of Ichiro Suzuki’s notoriously profanity-laden pregame pep talks - President Obama’s visit to the clubhouses took up so much time that he didn’t get to give one.
Speaking of Ichiro, he took some time out of his schedule on Monday to visit the grave of George Sisler, whose record for hits in a season he broke in 2004. It was a nice touch, except for the fact that instead of bringing flowers or a wreath, Ichiro just swore at Sisler’s grave for 15 minutes straight until being escorted away by cemetary workers. Oh well, I guess it’s the thought that counts.
While MLB was playing a game that no one really cares about, the NBA is knee-deep in something arguably more exciting and definitely more important: free-agency. The main story right now is what will happen to Lamar Odom, and the saga took another turn last night as the Lakers have pulled their three-year deal worth $9 million off the table. The reason? Owner Jerry Buss is upset that Odom’s people haven’t responded to the offer while continuing to negotiate with the Mavericks and Heat.
But there’s another free-agency drama going on that is a little more below the radar screen, but just as fascinating. The Portland Trailblazers have made a four-year, $32 million offer sheet to promising young Utah forward Paul Millsap, who is a restricted free agent. That means that the Jazz have until the end of the week to match the offer and keep Millsap on the team.
The problem is that Millsap’s offer from the Trailblazers includes an immediate cash payout of $10.3 million, which Utah would also have to do if they match the offer sheet. And apparently, the cash isn’t flowing through the streets of Salt Lake as readily as Mormon children, since the Jazz ownership would likely have to take out a short-term bank loan to get the deal approved. (Portland doesn’t have that problem, since $10.6 million is vending machine money to billionaire owner Paul Allen.)
Not only does this make me question the solvency of the Utah ownership group, but it also makes me wonder how the whole loan process would go down. Would they have to wait in line at the bank before getting seated at one of those tables out in the lobby. What would they have to put up as collateral - Jerry Sloan? It simply boggles the mind.
Other sports news:
It turns out that with 22 points, WNBA star Diana Taurasioutscored her blood alcohol level the night she was arrested for a DUI - barely, as the AP reports that she’s been charged with an “Extreme DUI” after her blood alcohol level was shown to be 0.17 percent - twice the legal limit in Arizona.
Speaking of the WNBA, they announced their All-Star Game starters yesterday. No word on if Michelle Obama will be there for the traditional “First Fundamentally Sound Screen” of the game, or if they’ll get “stuck” with Hillary Clinton.
One thing you might not have seen at the All-Star Game (other than the National League hitting the ball) was a lot of black players. The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER floats one reason why: the lack of strong black male role models in the inner cities makes it tough to find coaches for organized games.
With all the talk about Tiger Woods taking on Turnberry this week, there’s one thing that should be noted: Padraig Harrington is going after his third freakin’ straight British Open title. USA TODAY says it might be difficult since he’s completely changed his swing from last year.
The World Series of Poker Main Event is down to the final three tables, and poker celebrity/Norman Chad man crush Phil Ivey is still very much in the hunt, standing at fourth place with more than 11 million chips. Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari is also alive as they play down to the final table tomorrow.
Anthony Randolph notched his name in Las Vegas NBA Summer League history by tying the single-game scoring record by putting up 42 in the Warriors’ victory over the Bulls. Something tells me you won’t find any pictures of him posing with a basketball with “42″ written on it.
While sports talk radio is struggling elsewhere, it seems to be alive and well in Boston, where legendary rock station WBCN in being pulled off the air and replaced by the city’s third all-sports station.
This was one hell of a starting weekend for the NBA playoffs. We mentioned it before, yes, but we can’t shut up about it because it’s something that ought not be shut up about: Derrick Rose’s highly testicular 36-point performance at the Boston Garden was one of the most remarkable playoff performances in the last, let’s say, decade. He made tough shot after tough shot while being defended by one of the premier point defenders, Rajon Rondo, and hit every single free throw, including two to swing a one-point lead to the Bulls with time running out in regulation.
Then there’s the shredding that the Lakers delivered to the Jazz at the Staples Center. Sure, the final score was somewhat close, but the Jazz were never in serious contention after the first quarter; the Lakers are too deep and too talented to drop a game at home in this series. And speaking of depth, how dangerous is the Lake Show with not only its regular cast of characters, but a 95% healthy Andrew Bynum, a motivated Lamar Odom, and a productive Trevor Ariza? That’s such a bad sign for the rest of the league; you could conceivably take Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol off that team and still win a series against most teams. Got to think Derek Fisher’s total implosion can’t help, though. You know the Lakers are drafting a point guard who can play right away in the draft.
As for the rest of the league, we had the Lakers’ dominance as mentioned above, and then the only other top 3 seed who looked capable of going deep in the playoffs was Cleveland, who just toyed with the Pistons, 102-84. Lebron James … what can you say? 38 points, 8 boards, 7 dimes, and this absurd shot one step in from half-court:
How many players can take a shot like that and know it’s good from the moment it leaves their fingers? Look at him running at it. He knows. He’s Neo. He’s stopping the bullets and throwing them back at people. He sees those green numbers. He can fly.
Yes, we should mention the Nuggets’ 29-point win too, but having watched that game, we’re still not sold at all. Sure, if Chauncey Billups goes 8-9 from behind the arc in any other games from here on out, they’re probably going to win. But the final score, in this case, doesn’t reflect the competitiveness of the game; New Orleans was within seven points late in the third before collapsing. Denver’s still not a good 2 seed, and Chauncey’s avalanche seems like far more of an anomaly than J.R. Smith’s brickfest; he went 0-7 from downtown. Not sold, man.
And so that’s it. There’s nobody who, right now, looks like they can challenge the Lakers or Cavaliers. That’s not to say there won’t be exciting basketball, of course - witness Chicago-Boston or the Philly-Orlando game iced by Andre Iguodala - but those are sideshows, the undercard to the impending main event. The best part, then, is that even with the ultimate matchup worth writing in ink, we still have no idea who wins that series. The Lakers are deep, but Lebron is Lebron.
Is there a decent segue between anything Lebron does and the word “Gay”? No? Yeah, that sounds right. Anyway, golf has a fresh round of locker room jokes at the ready after Brian Gay set Harbour Town on fire, breaking Loren Roberts‘ scoring record and shooting -20 at the Verizon Heritage, including seven under in the final round. Well played, Brian Gay. Tyson Homosexual is impressed.
(Resisting temptation for any reference to his wardrobe…)
And what’s the deal with the “Gay” surname? Like, yeah, it’s only been a big deal for the last two generations or so, whereas the name’s been around for a lot longer, and yeah, being gay isn’t in and of itself a problem. But it’s still got to be utter hell for a child; can’t people just change their kids’ names to “Gray” until they turn 18, and then it’s a judgment call when the kid becomes an adult? Nobody likes to be the butt of gay jokes, after all. Haha, I said “butt.” Let’s just move on.
The college football world mourns the loss of Heisman winner Doc Blanchard, half of Army’s famed “Mr. Inside, Mr. Outside” duo with Glenn Davis. He was eaten by wolves at the senseless age of 84.
That’ll be good ebough for a one-game suspension for Milan Lucic; you can’t just hit dudes in the head in hockey, man! Except for their famous bare-knuckle sideshows that happen in every single game. Aside from that, we mean.
Don’t look now, but the Royals’ Zack Greinke is on a streak of 34 straight scoreless innings, meaning he’s just 25 away from tying Orel Hershiser’s record. We know what you’re thinking, and no, “Greinke” doesn’t rhyme with “stinky.” Grow up.
On the other side of pitching competence, there have been 25 home runs in Yankee Stadium in the first five games; that’s about 2.5 times as many as last season. Is it the new park? Lighter balls? How about “nobody on that entire team can pitch worth a crap”? I win!
Those would be the famous USC Song Girls, caputred in bikini form by - who else - BUSTED COVERAGE. It’s where you can read about sports, but masturbate at the same time!
But back to the Yankees, once you’ve cleaned up. You got some on your hand there. Okay, good. Anyway, the Yankees don’t really have much choice what to do with Chien-Ming Wang. He’s got a 34.50 ERA, but he’s not injured and he can’t be sent to AAA. But, on the plus side, manager Joe Girardican throw him out of an airplane into the ocean. It’s in the collective bargaining agreement; read it.
And finally, here’s a hockey player using two sticks. How is this not legal?