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/ March 28, 2004

The All-Unsightly Team

Some NBA games are difficult to watch. Sometimes, it's because it's a sloppy, slow-paced game being played by undeveloped players, and sometimes, it's because one or more of these guys are on the court.

I present to you the first annual NBA All-Unsightly Team. I'm usually not one to focus on someone's physical appearance, but I feel like it's OK in this case because there's no one in the NBA, these guys included, who's going to have any trouble finding some groupie love to make them feel better about their unpleasant grills.

(Editor's note: I had nothing to do with this.)

The starting line-up:

G - Sam Cassell. There's no way around it. Sam is an ugly man, and I know there's a bouncer at a strip club somewhere that agrees with me. Is it possible that he averages 20 points a game because the guy guarding him is always playing with his eyes closed?

G - Reggie Miller. It's amazing that Reggie runs the floor as well as he does, because those ears aren't doing him any aerodynamic favors.

F - Jerome Williams. He's nicknamed the Junkyard Dog, and I don't know why PETA hasn't launched a full protest. That's quite an insult the junkyard-protecing canines of the world. He looks like he's spent some time in the prison dentist's chair.

F - Tyrone Hill. His head comes to a perfect point on top. Thankfully, no one will notice because the rest of his face looks like it's been at the bottom of the ocean for five months.

C - Vitaly Potapenko - With the mouthpiece out, he's ugly. With it in, he looks like the love child of Arvydas Sabonis and a German Shepherd.

Reserves:

Scottie Pippen. The sixth man. The NBA will be a far prettier place when Scottie retires. Eddy Curry. Compared to his face, his game is beautiful.

Calvin Booth. He has a head that's shaped like a thigh. It's not natural.

Maciej Lampe - His inclusion here is similar to Nick Collison being on the Olympic team. He's ugly enough to hold his own right now, but the promise of future ugliness is astounding.

Stephon Marbury. 6'2", 205. Cut the forehead in half, and he's 5'8", 160.

Dirk Nowitzki. Hässlich wie die Sünde.

Jahidi White. Close your eyes. Try to envision the last man in the world you'd want to share a prison cell with. That's Jahidi White.

Greg Ostertag. The crew cut makes him look like a chubby, borderline-literate, southern cop.

The Lake Show is On

They took down the Kings. They shut down the Wolves. In both victories, they left no doubt. The Lakers were the Lakers, and there was nothing the other team could do about it.

I'll be honest with you. I've enjoyed keeping the Lakers in the bottom half of the Mighty 10, but the reason it did make me smile so much was because I knew those purple and gold man-whores would be back at the top eventually.

With the two huge W's, everyone's going to be all up on the Lakers jock this week, and rightfully so, I guess. They've been impressive. But a lot of these same people were writing the Lakers obituary not too long ago, and the NBA just doesn't work like that.

It's a long season. Teams warm up, teams cool off. No team is ever going to have 82 nights in a season without a few bad ones. It's all about who can pull it together when it counts, and in a roundabout way, I suppose what I'm saying is that the Mighty 10 is pretty much worthless. It might be a nice little barometer of who's playing well at the time, but ultimately, neither an impressive win streak in December or a good ranking in the Mighty 10 means a damn thing. I hate to dispirit my readers like that, but that's just the way things go sometimes.

What does matter is talent, experience, leadership, motivation, health, and the ability to pull these things together when it counts. If you didn't think the Lakers had a shot to turn the switch at the right time, you're a fool. We're talking about four hall of famers, each with a ton of postseason experience, one of whom may be retiring, and one who may have more motivation to keep winning and keep playing than any player has ever had.

Kobe is the straw that stirs the drink, and as long as he's healthy and available, he's not going to let the Lakers lose. I've got a feeling that we're about to see a dominating playoff-long performance from Kobe that will rival anything we've ever seen in professional sports. It's just a hunch, really, but I wouldn't advise betting against him or the Lakers.

Sharing is Caring

With the possible exception of Kobe, Sam Dalembert's had more to deal with this NBA season than anyone else, and he's still turned it into a breakout year. He deserves a lot of credit for that, and he deserves a lot of credit for some of his off-the-court work, too.

Sammy D. got the NBA, the Sixers players, coaches, and charities together to make a donation to the American Red Cross that will help get medical care to the people of Haiti.

That's awesome. That's outstanding. I'm glad Sam and his teammates took this action, and while I hate to be a cynical ass, here's my problem with it:

Their donation was $15,000.

$15,000? There are guys on the Sixers who have watches that cost more than $15,000. The NBA and the Sixers organization got together, and all they could come up with was 15 large? Come on now. Kyle Korver probably spends that much a year on hair care.

If Glenn Robinson and Derrick Coleman decided it was fair to be paid what they were worth, they'd both give their entire salaries. Allen Iverson could auction off 1/8th of his throwback jerseys and raise 15 grand.

Said Dalembert of the situation in Haiti, "If somebody goes to the hospital, they can't get aid and they die because they didn't have the money to get cured. It's kind of sad. Little kids don't deserve that. A 10-year-old kid can just walk down the street and get shot. They go to the hospital and, because there's no money, they don't get [care]. They don't deserve that."

You can decide for yourself if this is a related story, but on Wednesday night, the Sixers gave the first 5,000 kids in the door an egg-shaped Allen Iverson doll. How sweet of them.

The Mighty 10:

1. Indiana. Best record in the NBA, and very few teams are talking about them. I get the feeling the Pacers like it that way.

2. LA Lakers. There are only two teams ahead of them in the Western Conference standings, and they just bitchslapped them both.

3. San Antonio. Quietly going about their business. If defense still wins championships, they're as good a bet as anyone else.

4. Detroit. Lost two in a row, but I didn't get a chance to give them props for their 8-game win steak, either. Their defense could make any finals matchup interesting.

5. Memphis. If Jerry Sloan gets the Jazz into the playoffs, does Hubie still get coach of the year? Co-winners would be a necessity.

6. Sacramento. "I'm just not a big fan of people who talk like they've done something, and they haven't done anything." - Rick Fox on the Kings. And I'd agree.

7. Minnesota. Have won only five of their last ten. If the playoffs started now, they'd have the Rockets, who are they are 1-2 against this year. Are they still a lock to get out of the first round?

8. Miami. Seven in a row, and nine of their last 10. Stan Van Gundy's gotta be a coach of the year candidate, too.

9. Dallas. Have almost become an afterthought in the West, but are still capable of giving a team fits in the playoffs.

10. Houston. Not a serious title contender (until next year), but would anyone be looking forward to having to deal with Yao in the first round?

The Mailbag

Sadly, there will be no mailbag this week. We had a one-week hiatus (my apologies... blame the NCAA tournament), and all the mailbag questions I've gotten are now a bit dated. But with your help, the mailbag will return in full force next week. Help me out.


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