Posts Tagged ‘NBA’

The Washington Wizards: Setting New Standards for Ineptitude

November 28, 2012 Leave a comment

(Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

For a town with such exciting young athletes as Robert Griffin III , Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, it is only fitting, I suppose, that it would also be saddled with one of the historically worst teams in all of sport- the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association.

The Wizards host the Portland Trailblazers this evening, expected to lose their 13th straight game of the season- still looking for their first victory. They are the last team in the league left looking for a win. In fact, no other team has less than three.

The record we are shooting for here is 18 consecutive losses to start a season, last accomplished by the New Jersey Nets. Fans of Awful can appreciate the incredible depths of mediocrity and failure that we are so fortunate to behold here in the nation’s capital. These are the 1961 New York Mets. This is potentially historic stuff.

How bad is it?

Over at ESPN, they’re now referring to the Wizards as the Washington Generals, the team that was the perpetual doormat for the Harlem Globetrotters. Except, of course, they were designed to be bad- the Generals were supposed to be bad. The Wizards still try. They’ve lost a pair of overtime games in excruciating fashion recently.

The market for Wizards tickets says it all. If you check on Stub Hub right now for tickets to Wednesday night’s game against Portland, mezzanine level seats start at one dollar.
Several dozen more are available at $1.44, $1.69, $1.75, $1.90. Consider, for a moment, that the price for one imported beer at the Verizon Center is $8.50. Yes, you could buy SIX Wizards game tickets for the price of ONE beer.

It’s so bad that a frustrated Verizon Center employee tried to get several fans to take off the paper bags they were wearing over their heads- only to be told by his supervisors that it’s perfectly allowable as long as there’s nothing untoward written on the bags themselves. So the fans promptly placed the bags over their heads again.

It is too painful to go into the history of the team but, in a nutshell, it involves star players bringing guns into the locker room and getting season-long suspensions, lowlight reels of players going back on defense unaware their team has just gone on offense, players going for shots and accidently running into each other, players throwing the ball off the backboard, making selfish dunks and then celebrating- when they were more than 20 points behind.

There have been historically laughable trades and draft selections; just too many to bother to go into much detail on.

For hope, the Wizards can turn to the very New Jersey Nets team that set the standard for opening season futility. They are now the Brooklyn Nets. They are fighting for first place in their division against the New York Knicks and selling out their arena every night they play.

But for now, historic futility should be every Wizards fan’s fondest hope. Otherwise, failure to achieve historic failure would be wholly unacceptable and an unspeakably horrible form of failure, worse even than historic failure.

Imagine they lose 17 straight and then with glorious infamy staring them in the face, they accidently win a game and end up with the 2nd worst start in history. How truly demoralizing that would be.

Jeremy Lin and the Excesses of the Media

February 19, 2012 1 comment

Look, the kid is amazing.  He’s not perfect; he commits a lot of turnovers.  But he did step up when given the opportunity and he is a tremendous inspiration to many, many people of all backgrounds, but especially to Asian-Americans, for whom he has become a real hero.

It’s the media and its excesses that go way beyond the pale.

This corny obsession with the “Lin” and other puns turned offensive this week.  ESPN had to apologize for a headline on their web site for mobile devices overnight when they actually used the phrase “A Chink in the Armor,” describing his propensity for turnovers.  It got taken down after about 45 minutes but the damage was done.  The very same phrase was used in a televised discussion earlier this week on ESPN and used yet again by the same network in a non-Lin context during the recent summer Olympics in Beijing.

Fox Sports columnist, Jason Whitlock, has apologized for an offensive tweet he sent out last week.  The New York Post got into hot water for an “Amasian” headline they ran the day after he beat Toronto with a last-second three-pointer.

Note to Jeremy Lin- keep doing what you’re doing.  Two good weeks of play does not make you a hall-of-famer but your story does mean a lot to many people who’ve spent their lives getting overlooked and dismissed, sometimes for no other reason than their cultural background or the way they look.

Note to the media- your Lin puns and your occasionally racist undertones are not funny.  They don’t make you hip or amusing.  It’s this lock-step hype that somehow manages to make even an inspirational story like Jeremy Lin, tiresome and annoying.

What’s missing- as usual in this 24/7 media culture of ours- is a sense of good taste, perspective and proportion.

Assorted Thoughts on Steve Jobs & Professional Basketball

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

NBA: Rich Guys vs Rich Guys

I’m in mourning today after hearing the news that the first two weeks of the National Basketball Association have been cancelled due to an impasse in contract negotiations. Crushed beyond belief. Why can’t millionaires all just get along?

No, seriously. You could have cancelled the first two weeks of every NBA season since the dawn of time and no one would have noticed. I would argue that, really, there are very few people in this country who care all that much about the NBA, except in April, but not usually until the final round of the playoffs.

But what is charming about the current labor dispute is the picture of grown men fighting selfishly over how many hundreds of millions of dollars to split among themselves. At this time, with the economic calamity that has befallen so many people, it is the perfect message for your sport to be sending to America: We Are Clueless About Your Pain.

Steve Jobs Contrarians

I have noticed that one of the most predictable trends in the world of blogging is the 2nd day contrarian viewpoint. This is the opinion that is forged by people way smarter and more clever than you and I who decide the initial consensus on any given story is too quaint or trite or too predictable, whether it’s valid or not.

Gawker recently posted an article on the “dark side” of Steve Jobs. He was mean. He once told someone at Apple their work was crap. He fired a project manager. Shocked, I tell you, I’m completely shocked. Why, he must’ve been the first successful media mogul in history to have been an SOB. Hey, I worked for Ted Turner. A visionary. A hilarious man. A great businessman. Check, check and check. Nice? Not so much.

And Andrew Sullivan published a reader letter today that says the notion that Steve Jobs changed the world is a ridiculous exaggeration. All he did was repackage existing technology and charge outrageous prices for it.

Let me give you just one example of his genius and how he changed at least the music world. Do you remember life before the I-Pod? Yes, others had digital media players but they were crap. Here’s what life was before the I-pod; CD’s. The genius was not just the simplicity of the device but the development of the business model that connected it to countless amounts of content: I-Tunes. By charging 99 cents a song, he singlehandedly saved the music business, even as the industry complained that selling songs for a buck was bad business. To the contrary, it saved the music industry from pirates who were giving the stuff away for free and artists were once again able to receive royalties for their work.

And by the way, I bought my I-Phone precisely because it was so integrated with I-Tunes and my song list and everything else you can get from videos to podcasts. So as the I-Pods become obsolete, the appetite for the technology is now transferred to smart phones.

We don’t even have to go into Jobs’ development of the first computers designed for use in the home. Or the first personal computers to connect with this thing called the World Wide Web. No, he didn’t invent the mouse, but he did make the graphical computer interface the world standard.

So Steve Jobs was no saint. He did not reinvent the world, just portions of it. He had a temper and he was single-minded and intense and ignored his kids and family for years and he said nasty things to his workers when they didn’t execute his vision properly and he wasn’t generous with his philanthropic giving. And blah, blah, blah.

I, for one, did not nominate him for sainthood last week. I just thought he had a hell of an impact on the world and certainly as much as famous innovators before him like Thomas Edison.

And he lived and urged others to live life as if every day was their last. Find me the contrarian point of view on that one. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere.