Friday, June 29, 2007

Al Thornton is a Clipper

With the 14th pick in the 2007 NBA draft, the Los Angeles Clippers selected Al Thornton.

To be honest, I thought Thornton was going to the 76'ers. Instead he is headed out west. Unfortunately, the Clippers have their small forward and shooting guard positions locked up. According to ESPN, the Clippers already have small forwards Quentin Ross and Corey Maggette and shooting guard Cuttino Mobley. So as disappointed as I am to say, I don't see Al Thornton starting much, if at all.

Despite the potential logjam, at least one Clipper fan thinks getting Thornton was not a bad idea. According to the highly respected Clips Nation: "There may be a bit of a crunch on the wing, finding enough minutes for Maggette, Mobley, Ross and Thornton, but that's not a bad problem to have." Perhaps Thornton will be one of those NBA "high-energy guys" off the bench and provide the Clippers "instant offense".

Conspiracy theory: Maybe the Clippers drafted Al Thornton to satisfy ESPN's Bill Simmons. Simmons has been a fan of Thornton since he wrote about Thornton's 45 point game against Miami in March. Maybe the thought in Clipper Land was that by drafting Al Thornton perhaps they can convince the famous ESPN scribe to re-up his season tickets. Obviously it would look quite bad if a national writer of Simmons' stature constantly put down the organization because of something as small as a price increase. Why not appease him by drafting a favorite of his?

(By the way, if this is true, please shoot me.)


With Thornton on the Clippers, now 50% of the Seminoles in the NBA play for the Los Angeles Clippers and all play in the NBA's Western Conference. We can now add Thornton to the exclusive list that includes Alexander Johnson (Grizzles), Von Wafer (Nuggets), and Thornton's new Clipper teammate, FSU legend Sam Cassell.

The bottom line, I guess, is that I'll be buying a Clippers "Thornton" jersey sometime in the near future. Go Al.



Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Meeting Al Thornton and other Seminole miscellanea

A few weeks ago, Henry Abbott of ESPN's TrueHoop asked his readers if they had ever met any of the prospective NBA players vying for a spot in tomorrow night's NBA Draft. Henry posted many of the submissions earlier this week. Unfortunately, because I missed reading TrueHoop the day Henry asked for submissions, I was unable to send him my story. Therefore, I've decided to write about the day I met Al Thornton here.

Sometime during the Spring of 2004, I had the pleasure of chatting with Al Thornton. Thornton had just begun his career at FSU and I was beginning my first semester of grad school. As a fan of Seminole basketball, I had gone to quite a few games and could pretty easily identify many of our higher profile players such as Tim Pickett or 6'10 Alexander Johnson. One day however, as I was waiting for the campus shuttle to take me to class, I saw someone who I thought I recognized from the previous night's game.

After awkwardly asking if he was indeed Al Thornton, Al and I talked hoops as we waited for the shuttle bus. I remember congratulating him on his recent games and asking him why he chose FSU. He told me his deciding factor was Coach Leonard Hamilton's honesty and openness. Then I asked him where else he considered and he told me Louisville, Cincinnati, and (if I remember right) Kentucky. We talked hoops for a few more minutes before the bus came, and even though our conversation ended, needless to say, I was impressed. Although there wasn't much to the Al Thornton basketball legend then, his willingness to small talk made me a fan. You hear too often about student-athletes who think they are better than their fellow students because of their athletic status, but Al Thornton wasn't one of them, at least to me.

By this time tomorrow night, Al Thornton will have been drafted by an NBA team. Many pundits have him being selected 12th by the Philadelphia 76'ers. Although I'd really like to see him in a Knicks uniform for my own personal fan reasons, whatever team he lands on, I'm glad he's made it.

For more on Al Thornton, check out this Boston Globe article.

For more on the few Seminoles who have been drafted by NBA teams, check out Orlando Sentinel writer Emily Badger's list of recent FSU basketball standouts. According to Badger, Thornton has a chance of being the highest former Seminole draft pick since George McCloud was picked seventh in 1989.

Before I go, here is a stat that I am having trouble believing: According to the Official FSU basketball homepage,

With Al Thornton's selection in the 2007 NBA Draft, Florida State will become one of only two schools in the ACC with at least one selection in each of the last four NBA Drafts. Tim Pickett (44th overall, 2nd round by New Orleans), Von Wafer (39th overall, 2nd Round by Los Angeles), Alexander Johnson (43rd Overall, 2nd Round by Indiana) were all drafted in the last three seasons. Florida State and Duke are the only two ACC schools to have had at least one player chosen in each of the last four NBA Drafts.

Not North Carolina, Maryland, or NC State? Only FSU and Duke? Wow.

Tragedies Beyond the Squared Circle

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, suicide was the eleventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2004, accounting for 32,439 deaths. On average, 10.9 people out of 100,000 commit suicide.

For professional wrestlers, however, the rate of tragedy is much higher. The recent events surrounding Chris Benoit and possibly "Sensational" Sherri Martel have once again put the personal lives and early deaths of wrestlers in the national spotlight. In total, 96 wrestlers under the age of 65 have passed away since 1985. Granted, this list includes "freaks of nature" such as Andre the Giant and Little Beaver, whose bodies may not have lasted long whether they wrestled or pursued more "normal" lives. Unfortunately the Andres and the Little Beavers are far too small of the total. Whatever the reason, although there are thousands of wrestlers in hundreds of federations across America who go about their careers without incident, the profession of wrestling, at least at its highest levels, seems to attract personal disaster.

In 1999, director Barry Blaustein released Beyond the Mat, an inside look at the reality behind professional wrestling. Unlike any wrestling documentary before it, Beyond the Mat wasn't just about bodyslams and headlocks, it was about the highs, the lows, the pains, and the pleasures of life in the wrestling industry. Among the many personalities covered by Blaustein was Terry Funk. Funk, a hardcore wrestling legend, has wrestled since 1965 on nearly every continent, in every size venue, and in nearly every type of match, including those with barbwire ropes and pyrotechnics. At the end of the film, the 55-year old Funk was still seen putting his body on the line, despite his doctors advising him to the contrary. Seemingly unable to walk away, Terry Funk is still active.

As depressing as the story of Terry Funk may be, perhaps the biggest fall from grace depicted in Beyond the Mat was that of former WWF Superstar Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Roberts, once one of the most famous names in professional wrestling, let substance abuse get the better of him after leaving the WWF, succumbing to the evils of drugs and alcohol. With the pinnacle of his career drifting further behind him, Roberts became a physical and emotional mess, reportedly even smoking crack in a hotel room before a scheduled meeting with his daughter.

Although currently 52 years old, Jake Roberts is still wrestling. In an event earlier this year in the small town of Bushnell, Florida, Jake headlined against a local independent wrestler. Still the crowd favorite, many of the 200 or so people in attendance chanted Roberts' name and waited patiently for his autograph, despite his physical frailty and his almost incoherent post-match speech concerning those who have done him wrong in his career. Whether he was under the influence during his soliloquy or just felt the strong need to air his grievances to the people of Bushnell could be definitely be argued. As one of the many in the crowd, I was sad to see yet another chapter in the tale of a former hero of the squared circle.

But why, you may wonder, was I in Bushnell, watching this one-time legend in a two-bit town?

Because that night my brother was on the undercard.

As much as I brag about having a brother in professional wrestling, there are times it scares the hell out of me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Soon-To-Be Greatest Movie of Summer 2007

I know this is not sports-related, and honestly, I don't care.

Every so often a movie is released that defines a generation. Movies that speak to us as a people, move us to action, movies that change the world we live in. Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Star Wars, Taxi Driver, 12 Angry Men, Cool Hand Luke. With "Who Shot Mamba?" now indefinitely delayed, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you the next great movie of 2007, and possibly the soon-to-be best film in cinematic history:


According to the movie's web site,

"April, Courtney and Monica are three beautiful, intelligent, and tough college freshmen. They are finishing their first semester at Los Lomas Malas community college, the armpit of community colleges. They must do well on finals to gain entrance to an Ivy League University, cheer at the big game and rescue their Sensei, who has been kidnapped by the mob, all by midnight so they can compete in the all-city strip off with the hopes of winning college money. All the while, dodging nosy cops, keeping their parents at bay, dealing with a perverted coach and smiling, talking or fighting their way through a slew of odd characters."

Let's see, that's hot (intelligent!) girls, ninjas, and a "strip-off". Is anything missing? (Well, besides a chimp in a pimp suit, but that will probably be in Ninja Cheerleaders 2.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Going to Atlanta. Visiting the ladies. Need something to wear.

So I'm headed to Atlanta this weekend. Figured I might swing by some adult establishments.
Maybe even increase the precipitation. But I have to know ...

Correct attire?
or
Too dangerous?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Thoughts on "Hank Aaron and the Home Run that Changed America"

In anticipation of Barry Bonds eventually eclipsing Hank Aaron's all-time home run record, I recently read Tom Stanton's "Hank Aaron and the Home Run that Changed America". Having watched most of Bonds' career, but not being alive to see Aaron's, I wanted to be able to compare the two quests, and come to my own conclusion as to whether Bonds' surly behavior is just "Bonds being Bonds" or a defensive reaction to the pressures he faces as he nears one of baseball's most hallowed records. I also wanted to learn about the pressure Aaron felt as he approached the Babe. Would he have acted as Bonds does today?

Below are several notes I took and some elaboration on certain segments of the book. Note some of the interesting parallels.

Page 68 - Stanton describes the negative correspondence Hank Aaron received as he neared Ruth's record. Among the interesting reactions Stanton uses is a Jim Murray quote from the Los Angeles Times. Murray, in an attempt to add humor to the situation, wrote that he wouldn't write a nasty letter to Hank Aaron - instead, he is saving his letter for a "kid hitting stones with a barrel stave somewhere in Mississippi or Alabama or Texas or California" who will "one day hit 750 home runs and topple" Hank Aaron.

Although I doubt he ever used a barrel stave to hit a stone, in 1974, nine-year old Barry Bonds did in fact live in California. It is doubtful that Bonds will receive his letter from Murray however, as the esteemed LA Times columnist passed away in 1998.

Page 102 - As was the times, there was quite a bit of racial tension in Aaron's pursuit of Ruth. Through this adversity, Stanton often compares Aaron to his idol, Jackie Robinson. On page 102, Stanton quotes Aaron summarizing the additional pressure race had on his athletic achievement. "I think every black person is prepared to deal with pressure because they are born under adversity, and they live under pressure every day of their lives," Aaron said. "They know damn well that they've got to go out and do better than the average person in order to keep their job."

In February 2005, Bonds said something very similar. In addressing his own pursuit of the Babe, Bonds said, "I'm black. Blacks, we go through a little more. ... I'm not a racist though, but I live in the real world. I'm fine with that." Either Bonds purposefully channeled Aaron as to deflect any steroid-related pressure (which I find very unlikely) or without a doubt race is still a factor. Perhaps Bonds too is receiving racist hate mail. Imagine that, a black man receiving racist hate mail for breaking a record held by another black man. I wonder if any reporters have bothered asking Bonds about his mail, or are they so enamored with their steroid witch hunt?

Page 122 - Stanton writes in depth about then-Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and his willful absence as Hammerin' Hank became the second player in baseball history to hit 700 home runs. Although Kuhn tried to play the incident off, he did attend when Aaron tied Ruth's record.

In my opinion, Bud Selig should "man-up" and honor Bonds for his achievements. Let history and the law judge Bonds when they get around to it. Events like this happen once in a lifetime. Selig shouldn't become more of a story than he already is in the Bonds saga. As Kuhn is quoted as saying, "I want to lead the baseball celebration when (Aaron) hits 714 and 715". Selig should say the same about Bonds' 756th.

Page 142 - According to Stanton, Aaron's 708th home run ball was sold immediately after it was hit for a whopping total of $70. Compare that to the millions Bonds' home run balls fetch on the market. Inflation is out of control.

Page 145 - On September 17th, 1973, 1,362 fans attended Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to watch Hank Aaron as he neared Ruth. Stanton describes the outrage from much of the sports media at Atlanta fans for "not caring enough" to see Aaron's chase for the record.

If you took every home run ball hit by Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth and handed one of each to each of the 1,362 fans, you would still have over 100 baseballs left over. That's pathetic. And I honestly thought the general malaise of Atlanta fans was due to the 90's Braves making the playoffs on an almost routine basis.

Page 194 - In discussing Bowie Kuhn's 1974 early-season edict that Aaron must play away games and cannot be held on the bench until the Braves returned to Atlanta, Stanton mentions the input of Dick Young, a famous (nee infamous) New York Daily News columnist. During the Aaron-Young feud, Young sided with Kuhn, stating the Braves were destroying the integrity of the game by not playing their star outfielder on the road.

Personally, I never read a column of Dick Young. He was before my time. That said however, he is probably my least favorite sports columnist of all-time. First, as mentioned, was his opinion on the Hank Aaron-Bowie Kuhn feud, and his blatant support of Kuhn, then, in 1977, Young was responsible for the darkest day in Mets' history - the day they traded Tom Seaver. I don't care if in the 70s Young also ghostwrote every Cheech and Chong movie and penned the lyrics to Led Zeppelin's entire catalog, in my opinion, he was a schmuck.

In conclusion, as I stated in the introduction, I really enjoyed "Hank Aaron and the Home Run that Changed America". Highly recommended.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Takin' a Trip Down Internet Lane: Interviews, Charlie Ward Update, Sterger on Stokke, Random Player Pages, etc.

Now I don't know how many people read only this site, but if you do I want to tell you there are a lot of good writers and a lot of other good sites out there. Not that I am discouraging you from visiting here, but in an attempt to open up your mind I've performed the laborious task of searching for quality reading entertainment, some serious, some funny, some merely informative. Consider it my gift to you. Be forewarned, I'll be making appearances on some other sites in the near future.

First, if you are not reading The Starting Five's ongoing take on the Michael Vick dogfighting witch hunt, you are seriously doing yourself a disservice. (The Starting Five)

If there can be such thing as a "thinking man's blogger" in the sports blogosphere, it is MCBias from Moderately Cerebral Bias. This week he brings us an interview with Kristine from the blog This Suit is Not Black. Pretty interesting New Englander she is. (Moderately Cerebral Bias)

The Serious Tip favorite Charlie Ward has decided to step away from the ranks of professional basketball. With the dismissal of Jeff Van Gundy from the Houston Rockets a few weeks ago, Ward has found a new home as a coach with Westbury Christian, a high school just outside of Houston. Personally, I think it is just a matter of time before he joins Leonard Hamilton's staff at Florida State. (Thomasville Times Enterprise)

Billy Donovan "Waffle" Night: June 20th at Fort Myers - Yes, others have reported on this as well, but if I can get off of work, I WILL be there. Time to work on my haggling skills. (WFTV.com, MLB Fanhouse)

Wondering who the best alumni are who played for any of the remaining schools in the College World Series? Let One More Dying Quail enlighten you. (One More Dying Quail)

This is one of the craziest things I have seen in a while. These guys hop, flip, and jump all over the place for no apparent reason. (Sports Gone South)

Two great posts by StopMikeLupica: his take on the new Gary Sheffield Bio and how some things never change and a must-read on the finances of Major League Baseball Charities and Contributions. (StopMikeLupica)

Jenn Sterger, famous Internet celebrity extraordinaire, opines on the Allison Stokke Internet phenomenon (halfway down article). (Officially ... Jenn)

(My personal opinion: Although comparable, Jenn Sterger marketed herself and took advantage of an opportunity. The only thing "accidental" was the camera shot and Musberger's comments. Jenn displayed her assets in public willingly (yes, I know something spilt on her shirt before the game or something like that and therefore she had to go in a bikini top ). However, notice she never backed away or hid from the camera? Allison Stokke didn't have that choice.)

I've mentioned this guy before, but now because he is moving on to bigger and better things, White Dade is closing up shop over at his blog. Now where am I to get advice for dealing with the fairer sex? (White Dade)

International news link of the week: has Keyser Soze been working for Al Qaeda since January? (brainsnap)

Here is something for you to enjoy: a Nuclear Weapons Effect Calculator. Want to know what the radius of destruction would be if a nuke landed on your favorite city? Check it out. (Federation of American Scientists)

And finally, I've come across a few early Internet fansites dedicated to miscellaneous baseball players. Check these out, some of them are borderline obsessive.

Cliff Floyd

Robin Ventura

Todd Zeile

Kevin Brown

Scott Erickson

Kevin Elster

Steve Avery

Albert Belle

Charlie Hough

Will Clark

Have a good weekend. I'll be around. Hit me up on the e-mail if you want.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dear Shaq, Should I Not Eat Taco Bell and Drink Pepsi While Watching You Help Kids Lose Weight?

During the first two games of the NBA Finals viewers have been inundated with commercials for Shaquille O'Neal's new upcoming reality program, Shaq's Big Challenge. According to the advertisements, the premise of the show has the NBA superstar helping six kids lose weight and get in shape. Of course, with childhood obesity one of America's biggest health problems, there is nothing wrong with someone taking a stand and helping some kids live healthier lives. Kudos to Shaq for taking the initiative.

However, given Shaq's advertising history since his rise to prominence as an NBA superstar, it is easy to see some level of hypocrisy in his attempt to make kids healthy. Before 2004, Shaq appeared in several commercials for food and drink products that in no way, shape, or form could ever be considered healthy. Many of these commercials even included kids. In one of his first major ads way back in 1993, for example, Shaq pitched the new 1 liter bottle of Pepsi. During this ad, several kids sat in awe as their Pepsi bottles were mysteriously drained by Shaq Diesel and his unquenchable thirst. In a second ad, Shaq shares a Pepsi six-pack with a group of kids after a sweaty game of basketball.

In 1997 Shaq followed the Pepsi campaign with commercials for Taco Bell, even putting aside his basketball differences with former NBA Finals adversary Hakeem Olajuwon to sell tacos. During his stay at Taco Bell, Shaq also pitched the oh-so-good-for-you "Four-Alarm Taco". My guess is the "Four-Alarm" wasn't the healthiest thing on the menu.

In 2001, Shaq worked with the Nestle Crunch corporation to once and for all determine the correct pronunciation of the word "caramel". This ad campaign had Shaq involved again with the youth of America. As a special to Nestle, Shaq also put his name on the "Nestle Crunch Shaq Size Bar", a 9.25 Pound Candy Bar. A nine and a quarter pound candy bar! You could feed several starving villages in Africa with a 9.25 pound candy bar.

Ol' Shaq followed up his cooperation with Nestle by joining Burger King the following year in order to get the word out about the Shaq Pack Value Meal. This delicious, mouth-watering, tasty conglomeration of products contained "a Grilled Sourdough Bacon
Cheeseburger, fries with a cheese dipping sauce and an ice-cold soft drink
". Everything a healthy American needs. At least there were no kids involved in the Burger King ads.

After once again teaming up with Nestle Crunch in 2004, I believe Shaquille O'Neal had an epiphany. Since the Nestle ads of '04, he has not appeared in any more "junk food" advertisements. As a matter of fact, he has gone the opposite route, pitching vitamin-enhanced Mighty Milk and associating himself with 24 Hour Fitness Sports Clubs.

Now, I have been a Shaq fan for a long time and consider him one of, if not the best center to ever play the game. In my opinion, people can say all they want about there never being another Michael Jordan, but I think Shaquille O'Neal is more of a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. So I write this not to bury Shaq, just to point out a blatant hypocrisy.

Here is a quote from Shaq that, in light of his previous advertising, probably should not have been said:

"When I was a kid, we didn't have access to so many computer and video games. We were more active (physical activity was everything for me). In addition, we didn't have jumbo meals, the super-sized sandwiches or the amount of candy and chips that are available today."

Notice how many of the products Shaq speaks out against he himself pushed on kids? Again, much credit to Shaq for helping to put kids on the path for healthy lives, but isn't this like former High Times "Stoner of the Year" Snoop Dogg teaching the youth of America the dangers of smoking weed?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Re-examining the 2006 NBA Draft 2nd Round Underclassmen

Every year several college underclassmen declare for the NBA draft. Some are drafted; some are forced to make an NBA team through try-outs and pre-season camps. In 2006, 30 underclassmen were drafted. Some, such as Adam Morrison and Rudy Gay, were among the top selected, drafted third and eighth, respectively. Others had to wait much longer to hear their names called.

In 2006, eight underclassmen were drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft. Two of these former underclassmen, Daniel Gibson of the Cavaliers and Paul Millsap of the Jazz, attained both team and individual success during the 2007 Playoffs. Some were not as fortunate or prepared to contribute and were assigned the NBA developmental league or a European league to hone their skills.

But what if these eight underclassmen had stayed in school? Would they have improved their draft potential and perhaps made themselves first round picks in an already stacked 2007 draft? Or did they leave when the time was right? Now I am far from a draft expert, and I invite your comments, but here is my attempt at speculating who, if anyone, made the wise choice to declare early and should have stayed in school.

Starting with the highest drafted:

PJ Tucker - SF/SG, Texas, Jr. - drafted #35 by the Toronto Raptors

2006-07 Stats (NBA only): 17 games, 1.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg, .2 apg

Pre-draft analysis: From Scout.com: Is he more than “an undersized power forward”? If he doesn’t convince at least one NBA team’s decision makers before June 28, he might still be waiting to hear his name called by the middle of the second round.

Conclusion: This is a tough one. Although Scout.com calls him a PF, his position listing has him at the same positions as Kevin Durant. So did he leave at the right time, even if his numbers in the NBA weren't that good? Could he have been pushed aside by the freshman phenom? As good as Durant was, he would have hurt Tucker's numbers in an all-too-crucial senior year.

Daniel Gibson - PG, Texas, Soph - drafted #42 by the Cleveland Cavaliers

2006-07 Stats: 60 games, 4.6ppg, 1.2 apg, 1.5 rpg

Pre-draft analysis: From Scouts.com: Going into the season, Gibson was projected as a probable lottery selection. Now, after his well-documented early-season struggles as the Longhorns’ playmaker led Coach Rick Barnes to move him off the ball, he’s going to have to sizzle in individual workouts (he turned down the opportunity to play in the Pre-Draft Camp) to land in the first round.

Conclusion: Another Texas underclassman. Although still not an NBA-ready point guard, the draft couldn't have been better for Gibson. Playing with LeBron James, Gibson doesn't have to worry about running the floor. Had he stayed, however, he might have gotten more experience at the point as he would have been feeding the ball to Kevin Durant. So unlike Tucker, Durant might have helped Gibson. But then he wouldn't have ended up alongside LeBron.

Alexander Johnson - PF, Florida State, Jr - drafted #45 by the Indiana Pacers (eventually traded to the Memphis Grizzles)

2006-07 Stats: 59 games, 4.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, .3 apg

Pre-draft analysis: From Scout.com: Johnson has created more of a buzz about his NBA potential during workouts than he did while having a pretty solid junior season for the Seminoles. There is talk that he could land late in the first round but he will still need a lot of polish (D League?) before he’s ready to bump heads with the power-forward elite of the NBA.

Conclusion: I'll admit, being an FSU alumnus myself, I am a bit of a homer when it comes to Johnson. That said, his progress is one of the reasons I decided to write this post. With all the talk that the Grizzles might look at former Florida Gator Al Horford as their big man of the future, I had to wonder, what about AJ?

Admittedly, Johnson's offensive game needed work. His athleticism saved him quite often at Florida State, and at 6'9 he can't get away with as much at the NBA level. Another year at Florida State would probably have helped. Playing alongside Al Thornton, Johnson might have been one of the better big men in the nation, and even a possible mid-first round pick. Would he have been as good as a senior as Horford was as a junior? Maybe, maybe not. My guess: Johnson would have been a top 15-20 pick, depending on team need.

Paul Millsap - PF, Louisiana Tech, Jr. - drafted #47 by the Utah Jazz

2006-07 Stats: - 82 games, 6.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, .8 apg

Pre-draft analysis: From Scout.com: He led the nation in rebounding three consecutive seasons but he didn’t overwhelm the Pre-Draft Camp competition under the backboards. Like another player from the Western Athletic Conference, Nick Fazekas, he would have been wise to retain the ability to return for his senior season.

Conclusion: Millsap had one of the better years of any of the second round draft picks, playing in every game for the Utah Jazz. Could he have stayed in school for his senior year? Perhaps. But with the plethora of big men available in the 2007 Draft, who's to say Millsap wouldn't have fallen into the second round yet again?

Leon Powe - PF, California, Soph - drafted #49 by the Denver Nuggets (traded to the Boston Celtics)

2006-07 Stats: 63 games, 4.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, .2 apg

Pre-Draft Analysis: From Scouts.com: He was easily the dominant low-post presence in the Pac 10 last season. But he will have to make the transition on the NBA level as an undersized power forward.

Conclusion: Like Millsap, Powe is a small power forward. Again, considering the amount of quality forwards in the 2007 Draft, it is difficult to see how Powe could have been more than a 2007 late first round pick. Save to say, he might have lucked out by going to Boston in '06 and getting playing time in his rookie year.

Guillermo Diaz - SG, Miami (FL), Jr - drafted #52 by the LA Clippers

2006-07 Stats: Unavailable. Played in Czech Professional League and Greek Professional League.

Pre-Draft Analysis: From Scout.com: Diaz is among the more spectacular players in the draft, with the ability to soar over the biggest defenders for lay-ups or dunks. His jump shot is effective, if streaky, and his first step is quick enough for him to blow by all but the best defenders. He’s a long way from becoming a point guard, though. His professional prospects would have been better a year from now after a senior season at Miami.

Conclusion: Although Diaz's rights are still held by the Clippers and he is promised an invite at the 2007 Rookie Camp, Diaz has spent the last year travelling through Europe trying to improve his game. Vastly undersized for a shooting guard, the 6'2 Diaz needs to become a point guard in order to be successful at the NBA level. It is doubtful Miami would have quickened Diaz's development into a PG. Therefore, the sooner he left the program and entered professional basketball, the better, despite his long ways to go.

JR Pinnock - SG, George Washington, Jr - drafted #58 by the Dallas Mavericks (traded to the LA Lakers)

2006-07 Stats: 6 games, 1.8 ppg, 2 rpg, 1.3 apg

Pre-Draft Analysis: From Yahoo.com: Pinnock looks like he was hewn out of granite. He is a rock, with a muscular upper body and strong but nimble legs. He's an able one-on-one player who uses both his size and his athletic quickness to get by his man. Late in his final college season, the junior Pinnock started mixing in more jump shots with his drives, which is OK considering he had success from the perimeter. In the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Orlando, he was one of only a few players to consistently nail 3-pointers.

Conclusion: Although Pinnock is a great athlete, I am not sure why he left early. He was clearly not ready for NBA-level competition. However, he did average 11 ppg in the D-League. Still only 23 years old, perhaps Pinnock will eventually earn his way onto an NBA roster.

Will Blalock - PG, Iowa State, Jr - drafted #60 by the Detroit Pistons

2006-07 Stats: 14 games, 1.8 ppg, 1.2 apg, 1.1 rpg

Pre-draft analysis: From Scout.com: Blalock is one of the many players who would have been better served by playing another season of college basketball (he’s signed with an agent) with the likelihood of landing in the first round being much greater a year from now. He’s among the best penetrating-guards in the draft.

Conclusion: With the lack of senior point guards in this year's draft, I think Blalock might have made a better case for himself had he stayed in school.


So what have I concluded? Honestly, not much. Some (Johnson, Pinnock, Blalock) would probably have been better off staying in school for their senior year. Some (Tucker, Powe, Diaz) made a wise choice leaving early, and some (Gibson, Millsap) found relative early success in the NBA. When to leave college and pursue the professional ranks will never be an exact science. Leaving school early is a tough decision for even the greatest college players. For those underclassmen who by chance or ability fall into the second round of the NBA Draft, the road ahead can be either one of opportunity, success, and a dash of luck; or it could be a career of disappointment, unrealized potential, and far too many "what ifs".

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Hate Stuart Scott? Try Jim Cantore.

In all honesty, I do not understand many sports fans' disdain of ESPN anchor Stuart Scott. Scott, who has been with ESPN since 1993, is often criticized for his on-air persona, with sports bloggers even going as far as to insult his appearance, question his marital fidelity, or wish him dead.

Personally, I have no problem with Stuart Scott. In my opinion, Scott is no different from any other TV anchor, be they Dan Rather, Katie Couric, Tom Brokaw, or even the great Walter Cronkite. Scott is a face on a national news broadcast whose job is to relay events and inform the viewer of a genre of current happenings. Same as the 2 a.m. talking head on CNN, whoever that may be.

Whereas I don't see a reason to hate Stuart Scott, the TV personality I cannot abide and I am surprised does not generate more animosity is Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel. Sure, Stuart Scott may discuss your favorite team and infer their possible fallibilities, but when Jim Cantore discusses or, worse yet, visits your town, your town might not be a town for much longer. According to The Weather Channel.com, "whether it's 'thunder snow', an ice storm, tornado chasing or a category 5 hurricane, there is no place Jim would rather be than right in the 'eye of the storm.'" Cantore is the Nostradamus of Natural Disasters, The Sole Horseman of Weather Apocolypses. Rumor has it he causes storms to hit where he is just so he can be on TV.

Say what you will about Stuart Scott, but my disdain will forever lie with Jim Cantore. You better not set foot anywhere near my town this hurricane season, you hear me, Cantore?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Flip the Script Friday: The Not So Missing Links

Welcome to another "Flip the Script Friday". Although The Serious Tip has been primarily a sports-related blog since its inception, on any given Friday I "flip the script" and blog about whatever I so desire. Today I am going to give you a series of links to check out - some are sports-related, but all are meant to get your Friday off to a good start. Enjoy.

First, a list I would love to have been on: The NewsBios 30 Most Influential Business Writers Under 30. Probably doesn't help that I haven't written about business matters since college. (NewsBios)

If you are headed to the beach this weekend, don't forget your handy-dandy Field Guide to the North American Bikini (with pictures!). (The Bachelor Guy)

Some people worry about what shoes to wear, what to eat for dinner, you know, things we at least have a modicum of control over. These guys worry about a giant asteroid hitting Earth. And they seriously want to effect Congressional legislature. (The B612 Foundation)

With all the talk of that pole vaulter girl, it came to my attention that the girl with Guiness Record for Longest Tongue, Annika Irmler, should be about 19 by now. More recent pictures would be highly appreciated. (BBC News)

If you ever wanted to see a guy in a gorilla suit squirt a milky substance from an 18 inch fake phallus, this is your site. If you are like me, you wonder where do people come up with this stuff, and who the hell joins? (Warning: Totally NSFW) (Gorilla Gras.com)

Here is a blog called The Art of Drink: as you can guess, it is all about alcohol. Nice. (The Art of Drink)

Sex, booze, and now Rock 'n' Roll: Raise your hand if you knew Poison lead singer Bret Michaels is going to be on his own "Flavor of Love"-type reality show on VH1 this summer? This may be the most un-rock thing since Vince Neil did the chicken dance. (VH1.com)

Buck Rampage of the Cobra Brigade calls out Baseball Fans. Stand tall on the steroid issue or you too might be a poser. (The Cobra Brigade)

The guys over at Thunder Matt's Saloon remind you to vote for their namesake in this year's MLB all-star balloting. (Thunder Matt's Saloon)

And finally, a big Happy Birthday to The Serious Tip's favorite indy wrestler: Bryan Manson. (Florida Extreme Wrestling)