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Where Shenanigans Happen: A Special NBA Playoffs Voreblog Readers Forum (or, “If You Think ‘Maverick’ Won’t Bring Up Baron Davis’s Dunk Over Andrei Kirilenko In Game Three of the 2007 Warriors/Jazz Series, I Have A Bridge In Brooklyn To Sell You”)

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Given the somewhat disastrous Golden Readers Readers Forum we attempted earlier this week (though we would be remiss not to acknowledge our new favorite Golden Reader, “Nonni,” who bravely chimed in), we (and by “we” we mean “Ben”) would like to atone with what we (Ben) will call The Voreblog Readers Forum 10.5. Subject: The NBA Playoffs. Topic: What you love about the NBA Playoffs. Could be your favorite game. Or the image of Dikembe Mutombo, now seared into your brain, lying on the court and crying/howling after Denver upset Seattle in 1994. Or O.J.’s freeway chase during the 1993 Finals. Or KG screaming “Anything is possible!” after you watched the Celts win it all at the Cicaks. Or the 63-year-old Joe Smith putting up 19 points and 10 boards to help Cleveland go up 3-0 on Detroit last night. Or running back from evening vespers on Sunday, June 14, 1998, at Summer’s Best Two Weeks, where there was no television to watch Game Six of the Finals between the Jazz and Bulls, although you had spent hours in your bunk finding just the right frequency on your walkman (contraband) to get a faint, crackly feed of NBC’s audio, so that when you threw on your headphones to see if the game was still going and the first words you heard out of Bob Costas’s mouth were, “When you lose by so close a margin, it’ll be a long summer of ‘what if?’ for the Utah Jazz,” you just broke inside, went numb, thought to yourself, “Why could I have at least been there when Stockton’s final shot didn’t go in”?

Or, you know, some other memory that just happens to cross your mind or whatever.

Other possible topics for discussion: the awfulness of playoff broadcasters; fixed NBA playoff games (2002 Lakers/Kings Game 6; 2006 Heat/Mavs, Games 3-6); favorite segments of Ahmad Rashad and Willow Storm’s “Inside Stuff” (the correct answer here being “Jam Session”); whether or not Tim Duncan has a soul; most annoying bench players on championship-winning teams (see Madsen, Mark; Scalabrine, Brian; Simpkins, Dickey); Bruce Bowen being the devil incarnate; and the weird green patches of hair you see above Hubie Brown’s ears when he’s not looking straight at the camera, which is all the time.

We can expect Scott Guldin, Brad Daniel and “Maverick” to turn out, but who else will join the festivities? Comment now!

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89 thoughts on “Where Shenanigans Happen: A Special NBA Playoffs Voreblog Readers Forum (or, “If You Think ‘Maverick’ Won’t Bring Up Baron Davis’s Dunk Over Andrei Kirilenko In Game Three of the 2007 Warriors/Jazz Series, I Have A Bridge In Brooklyn To Sell You”)

  1. It’s hard to say which playoff run (or non-run) from Jazz past is most analogous to 2009’s dismal showing. You could go back to 1986, when Utah (8 seed) lost to Dallas (1 seed) 3 games to 1. It was Stockton’s second year in the league and Malone was just a rookie. But that was a young, scrappy squad, making only the third of 20 consecutive playoff appearances. Jump ahead sixteen years to 2002: Utah was the 8th seed again, losing to Sacramento 3 games to 1. But those games were at least close — Utah never lost by more than six points. That was a team that wasn’t going to be an easy out. This year’s squad, however, has simply rolled over dead. That would put them closer to the 2003 Jazz, the last time Stockton and Malone played together (or Stockton played, period). The Kings that year were much like the Lakers this year: vastly more talented than Utah, hungry for a title, and clear favorites to win the West. That Jazz squad lost games 1 and 2 on the road, won a close game 3 at home, then lost game 4 by 17 and limped out quietly in game 5, 111-91. Malone scored just 14 on 5-for-17 shooting while Stockton contributed a meek 8 points, 7 assists. But Arco fans gave them a standing ovation when they came out together halfway through the 4th period. That series was more bittersweet than anything else. This series has just been sad.

  2. The year the one team that should have made it almost made it to the playoffs was a let down. Then the next year when that same team actually made it to the playoffs and barely pulled through the playoffs to come from behind and actually win the title in a debated foul in the final 5 seconds of the game – memories.

  3. I don’t care about basketball (except for the blind loyalty I will have for the Cavs next year), but I do know I hate Bruce Bowen. He makes the roster for my team of most detestable athletes ever:

    Bruce Bowen (Forward)
    Kobe Bryant (Shooting Guard)
    Sasha Vujacic (Vagina)
    Brett Favre (douchebag)
    Nic Cage (worst actor ever)

    This is just off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ll think of more later.

  4. Scott Hastings had a shoe cam?

    My brother just texted to say that the Blazers/Rockets officiating is so awful that he’s turning off the TV. And it’s still just the second period.

    No doubt Darth Stern wants L.A./Houston over L.A./Portland. It’s a shame.

  5. Can you just repost my comment from the playoff game I went with my coworker/friend. She asked me if I was dating, then I deflected the question, then she told me she was dating my office nemesis. FML.

    I have not spoken a personal word to her since Nov. of 2007.

    Last Friday, I had the misfortune of leaving the office the same time as those two. She asked me an innocent question, something about how I was doing in poker. I said, “Are we going to do this right now?”, put on my sunglasses, plugged in my headphones and got into the elevator with them. They then proceeded to walk about 10 blocks in the same direction as me. I did not utter a single word to them. FML.

    Wait – was this supposed to be about basketball?

  6. Or what about when Karl Malone scared the crap out of Vanessa Bryant with some of his stalkerish, creepy comments? Was that in the playoffs when he was “hunting little Mexican girls.” Cuz that was pretty amazing too!

  7. [from Feb. 10]

    I don’t have the heart to rub salt into your wounds, Coach. With their dreadful play this season, whenever I see the Warriors stumble their way into another 120-112 loss I reminsced and yearn for yesteryears.

    I remember attending Game 3 of the 1st round in 2007 with a coworker with which I was smitten at the time (understood my sense of humor, cute, liked basketball, oh also huge rack) and the high fives, the thunderous crowd, and the terrible pink tequila drinks we consumed at a horrendous Mexican/Chinese restaraunt in celebration. One day, she head-faked the crap out me by asking, “So what’s up with you and [this other girl]?” I hemmed. I hawed. Deflecting the question like Hakeem rejecting Robinson 95 Conference Finals, I optimistically interpreted that innocent query as a sign of interest. A few days later, I broke up with the other girl that I was indeed hooking up with.

    Like a Ray Allen rainbow trey, she dropped the bomb on me that she was dating my office nemesis the next time we hung out. I haven’t spoken a personal word to her since. This is 1 year and 4 months ago. Oh, and she sits 8 ft from me in my office.

  8. Oh you mean the dunk where B-Dizzle came off a handoff, dribbled hard left, cradled it, jumped 73 inches, threw it down on AK’s crewcut, and I peed my pants a little. That dunk? Or some other one?

  9. Sorry Ben, you know I never meant to hurt you. I only cause you pain because I love you so much.* Or maybe I am just projecting my frustration because of unrequited love. Hey, maybe that should be the next Forum question – you favorite song, book, movie, or memory about unrequited love. I can tell you the story of my brief and expensive infatuation with my favorite local “adult performance artist.” I think her name was Destiny.

    * I am pretty sure this is what OJ and Chris Brown told Nicole and Rihanna respectively.

  10. This might be going in a rather seedy direction.

    How can Houston possibly win a playoff series with a roster that includes Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes and Von Wafer?

    C’mon, Brandon. You can do this.

  11. well, my favorite memory is being in the united center for game 2 of the 97 finals and watching the Bulls destroy the Jazz. Michael Jordan was one assist away from a triple-double that game.

    but Jordan playing through the flu was pretty incredible, too. and i really like the entire 93 finals series against the Suns because it’s so fun to get charles barkley worked up.

    my most painful memory is when Reggie Miller scored at the buzzer in game 6 of the 98 eastern conference finals to force a game 7. i hate reggie miller. although it sucked when the bulls lost game 5 in 98, too, because that was my birthday.

    i could list so many other great michael jordan moments, but i’m pretty sure nobody else wants to read about them…

  12. Anyone else want to pile on here? Jeez.

    Allison, trust me. Scott Guldin could listen to your favorite Jordan moments til the cows come home.

    Although I won’t begrudge anyone a fond playoff memory at a game she actually attended.

  13. Is this “Allison Barney” for real? And does “she” know that I’m happily married? Get behind me, Satan.

    Allison, as I’ve pointed out in the Voreblog comments before, that Reggie Miller make only came about because of a two-handed shove to MJ’s chest. And when it went in, no discernible reaction from coach Larry Bird. Just weird.

    And as I’m sure you recall, MJ didn’t get that last assist to complete his triple-double because Pip blew a wide-open layup in the closing minutes.

    One of my favorite playoff memories was being at the United Center for Game 2 of the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals. Before the game they awarded Jordan his fifth and final MVP award, and then the Bulls came back from an 18-point deficit to defeat the Magic. I have grown to like Shaq over the years (I think it has to do with his feud with Kobe. Anybody who dislikes Mamba is OK with me), but at the time I hated him with white hot fury. I even made a sign that said “Shaq can’t SPELL MVP.” Good times.

    Rivaling that was the time I was sitting in my recliner on Saturday, April 25, 2009 and my wife said, “When do the Bulls play next?” “Tomorrow.” “You should go.”

    When your wife tells you to go to a playoff game, you listen.

    So I texted my buddy who quickly secured us tickets. I then drove to Chicago, arriving at 3:30 am, slept three hours at the O’Hare Marriott, went for an authentic Mexican breakfast with my good friend Sandy (who can’t resist dropping F-bombs on my Facebook page) and then met up with my buddy at the Billy Goat. The game itself was easily the best I’ve ever seen in person. Not having access to real-time stats, it felt like Ray Allen was 25-25 from 3-point land, and I was in total despair staring at the long drive home after a deflating loss. But the Bulls pulled it out. Incredible.

    I should say that as slow and uncoordinated as Brad Miller seems on TV, he is about two hundred times worse in person. My buddy and I were joking that he woke up five minutes before the game and then had a carton of cigarettes and a Hot Pocket. But wouldn’t you know it, he (and his Celtic counterpart, Scalabrine) hit some huge shots. By the end I was yelling “I LOVE BRAD MILLER!” There was a nice symmetry there for me, since when I lived in Chicago, it coincided with the Tim Floyd era and literally some of the worst basketball that has ever been played. Miller was on those craptastic teams, so it was nice that he and I could be together to witness better times.

    And…um…Derrick Rose? He’s good.

    We celebrated the improbable win by having burgers at Billy Goat. I met Sam Sianis, the proprietor whose family purportedly started the Cubs Billy Goat curse. Since I don’t believe in that hokum, we hit it off. Then I drove home, arriving at 4 am today.

    Thought you guys should know. I love the playoffs.

  14. Three cheers for women who like sports! And for wives who may not care but tell their husbands to go to NBA Playoff games!

    Glad you got to see a classic, buddy.

    (Did you ask Aaron Gray if you could be in his posse?)

  15. I don’t really like basketball at all, so can my favorite memory be when Dikembe Mutombo came into the office for a meeting and I realized that I didn’t have to get up to go see him, he was peering over my cube wall? Dude’s tall.

    But in the spirit of sports, I’d like to share my favorite sports memory of this year, which of course was when the Steelers won the Superbowl. I know how many Steelers fans follow the voreblog and will agree with me on this one.

  16. I AM real and I am also a girl.

    I DO recall the Reggie Miller shove, although I really thought he shoved Ron Harper, not MJ. But i may be mistaken.

    And that Pippen missed lay-up was SO painful! Even though they destroyed the Jazz that game.

    I’m super jealous of your playoff game this year, but happy to hear a true Bulls fan got to experience the game.

    I’ve never been to the Billy Goat, but maybe i’ll go on my trip in May. how are the burgers?

  17. I like the burgers at Billy Goat, but it’s really more about the ambiance than the food. The original one under Michigan Avenue was where Mike Royko and his colleagues would go after work. The one on Madison (near the UC) has become a kind of Mecca for sports fans. Can’t go wrong either way.

  18. Boohoo! Scottie Pippen missed a lay-up and poor MJ didn’t get a triple double! Meanwhile, I had my heart ripped out and spent that summer drinking whiskey and listening to acid jazz.

  19. Oh, sorry Ben. That was just two Bulls fans talking shop. I sorta forgot that you were listening. Yes, that was inconsiderate of us. Would it make you feel any better to visualize when Chris Morris did his Shark-Jets snapping thingy after making crucial 3s during the Finals? ‘Cause that was…you know…cool. Right?

  20. No no no, I don’t want to intrude on a pleasant conversation between Bulls fans. If you two get going on the Cubs, be sure to invite Matthew Leathers into the conversation.

    Chris Morris is a tool.

  21. Do you remember that, though? The snapping?

    I didn’t just make that up, did I? I would check the tape but 1) our VCR broke, and 2) our tapes were damaged by flooding in the basement. Where’s the George Michael sports machine when you need it?

    Back to the topic of playoffs, yesterday I got caught up in the moment and joined in when everyone was chanting “Boston sucks!” even though I generally find the Boston metro area appealing, with its history, Dunkin Donuts and salty inhabitants. Is that wrong?

    I did not, for the sake of decency, join the “Bullsh*t” chant. I actually thought Brad Miller should have been ejected and believing at the time (it turns out, incorrectly) that his leaving would have been a nice boost for the Bulls chances.

    Ben, where do you come down on chants like these? Are they grotesque examples of mob behavior, or the finest in competitive camaraderie?

  22. You did not make that up. I recall his snapping all too well. What do you think Jerry Sloan thought the first time he saw Morris do that?

    I bet I know. The same thing he thought when Larry Miller told him he was signing Morris even though Morris had, as a Net, refused to tie his own shoe in practice. That thought being: “I would give anything to run over this guy with my John Deere.”

    I Von Wafer on derisive home crowd chants. I’ve seen all too many lead to street riots and senseless tragedy. But so long as they don’t end in violence — man, are they fun!

    I did not appreciate my mom chanting “Oh-ver-rate-ted!” (clap clap clapclapclap) as I walked across the stage to accept my high school diploma, however.

  23. Some discussion topics for this evening: Why does Lamar Odom turn into an All-Star every time he suits up against Utah? If you owned the Jazz, would you make a max bid for Boozer or let him walk and lock up Paul Millsap? Also: Is Denver really that good? New Orleans is just getting destroyed. And: Does anyone want to loan us season 2 of “Battlestar Galactica”?

  24. I would definitely let Boozer walk IF he chooses to opt out, but the way the league is going I think he’d be crazy to walk away from that kind of money. He’s been so flaky this season and it seems like he’s definitely on the downward slope of his career.

    I really don’t know what to make of the Nuggets. All I can really think of is George Karl throwing popcorn on the ground of the comedy club where I used to work, then asking my coworker if her breasts were real. THAT’s the mind behind this team. I think tonight’s blowout has more to do with the Hornets, actually. They just had a really crappy year. It happens. Chandler was hurt. Peja is ancient. Byron Scott has a creepy ‘stache.

    Bears beat beets.

  25. I still have in my carrier bag (or “man purse,” as one of my former colleagues derisively calls it) a free Columbus monthly from last fall with George Karl on the cover. The sole reason I picked it up was to send it to you for your amusement. Which I have not done. So every day when I see his goofy face on that magazine in my carrier bag, I think to myself, “Why am I carrying George Karl around with me wherever I go?”

    This is a metaphor, Scott.

  26. I think clinging to the hope that Ronnie Price brings is the basketball equivalent of convincing yourself “she’s not that fat” at last call.

  27. He’s got them within six! They were down 20 at the end of the third period! Sign Ronnie Price to a multi-year deal at $20 mil per season — stat!

  28. They’ll need to call David Caruso and CSI before they will call a foul on the Lakers in the last 2 minutes.

  29. What do you think Price, Mamba and Fisher were jawing about there at the end?

    And do you think Sloan tried to get out of there early so he wouldn’t miss the opera?

  30. I think Price was one of the only guys for the Jazz who didn’t want his season to be over last night. Other than that, I think they were probably exchanging addresses for Christmas cards this year.

    Can’t help but think that Boozer riding the bench for the final eight minutes doesn’t bode well for his future in Utah.

  31. I just threw up all over the floor.

    I don’t want him back. Like you said, he’s approaching the downside of his career. He’s always injured. He doesn’t sound like he’s a very good teammate. And Millsap’s hungry and capable.

    I think they need to lock up Memo though. Then maybe see if Cleveland wants to trade LeBron James for Kyle Korver or something.

  32. There is nothing I enjoy more than a good Voreblog Readers Forum, but because the topic is basketball I have absolutely nothing to contribute. I played co-ed basketball in 3rd grade and sucked. I didn’t score a basket the whole year. I remember my dad and the coach having this conversation at after the last game.

    Dad: Thanks for coaching Andy this year. I think he had a lot of fun (this was not true).
    Coach: Yeah, it was great having him. (Tries desperately to think of something nice to say about me). There were a few times when I thought he was going to make a basket.
    Dad: Maybe next year.

    I was clearly a star in the making. I also remember playing basketball in the driveway with my brother when we were younger. I was older and faster so I kept using a basketball version of the poco de gato, where I would throw the ball past him on one side and run around to the other. He got sick of me doing that so one time when I tried it he whipped it out and peed on the ball as I threw it by. Just amazing timing and accuracy.

    Basketball sucks.

  33. You and Wally are really going to hit it off next year.

    We appreciate your participation in the Readers Forum even when the topic doesn’t hit close to home. But given your gift of free verse and your love of Bruce Bowen, we thought maybe you’d want to share some of those love poems you wrote. Or those limericks you wrote about Sasha Vujacic. You know, the ones about him living in Nantucket.

  34. Scott, sorry again for the tough loss last night. If you’re able to talk about it, we’re here to listen.

    Does Phil Jackson’s old credo — championship teams always sweep the first round — still apply in a best-of-7 format? Last year was certainly an exception (the 7-game Boston/Atlanta series). But if it does still apply, this is yet another reason to fear Cleveland.

  35. Sorry, Allison. I should’ve extended my apologies to you as well.

    In Miller’s defense, waiting eight minutes to shoot a free throw is like a football coach using three timeouts to ice the other team’s kicker. He also needed stitches for his mouth.

    Why didn’t any of his teammates come help him up when he got knocked down though? Or celebrate that he was going to the line?

  36. It was just a weird play all the way around. I honestly think most of the players thought the game was over. Stitches or not, flagrant or not, that’s not TYPICALLY a call they make at the end of the game.

    The really strange thing is that it felt like deja vu. When I was in Chicago for Game 4, Miller had a similar wide-open path down the middle of the lane. He was fouled then, too. I couldn’t believe then, and can’t now, how SLOW that dude is. It feels like any other player would have jammed that home in a fourth of the time.

    I’ve been wondering about the degree of difficulty on those free throws. Hostile environment, bloody mouth, near concussion, game (maybe series) on the line. Who do you think makes those freebies? (“Anyone but Brad Miller” is an acceptable answer, by the way.)

    Tough loss. Derrick Rose has been exceptional during the series, but he had some crucial mental errors last night. Just killer turnovers.

    AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR VINNY TO DOUBLE PAUL PIERCE? This might be the story of the game for me. With Allen on the bench, I think you have to live with anyone else on the Celtics beating you. Rondo took a potential game-winner at the end of the first overtime of Game 4 and bricked it badly. The fact that Pierce got three different chances to make crucial shots in a one-on-one situation boggles my mind. Del Harris? Bernie Bickerstaff? Where were you guys on that one?

    That’s all for now.

  37. Brad Miller should not have been taking those shots. Yes, he is an 80% ft shooter, but he was seeing tweetie birds at that moment. I love my boy, Rondo, he went to my high school and my college, but that was a flagrant foul. Give the Bulls two shots (taken by Gordon) and the ball. End of story. GD, Celtics.

  38. I was kicked out of a high school basketball game for playing swords with asparagus pee.

    Sorry you had to revisit those painful memories, Scott, but thank you for the commentary. Miller drove the lane the way I run away from those death dogs from “Willow” in my nightmares. I hear them tearing through the woods behind me salivating at the thought of eating my flesh, but it’s like I’m running through molasses.

  39. Can’t even think of what to say…screen saver going fast…P’s being a real B…bleached hair…dog shit…grass…summer…white people…Chicago…hot dogs…”don’t ever put that much cheese on there again”…”nobody drinks from my whiskey glass and then effs me over”…apple pie…Dashboard Confessional…this day will never end…Daniel LaRusso is a pansy…I wonder what would happen if I pooped in my bosses chair…”I can build a flying motorcycle, I did the calculations”…I didn’t think Leathers was Matthew Leathers real last name…I bet that couch smells awful…I bet Christopher Carraba and Daniel LaRusso would be friends…ovaries…indigo children…stupid parents…I have special powers like the X-Men…I think my brain just broke…

  40. I guess I was a bit hard on Brad Miller. That’s what happens when I watch a game at a bar while mostly playing trivia.

    I expect great things to happen in the next game.

  41. I don’t think you were hard on BM, unless you are “Stream of Consciousness,” in which case you were hard on all of us.

    The great thing about the playoffs is that there’s always another game. Until there isn’t.

  42. Har har, Scott said “BM.”

    As much as I love the NBA Playoffs, here’s what I also hate about them: The league reviews Dwight Howard’s elbow and concludes, rightfully so, that he deserves a one game suspension. Certainly that decision is made easier because if Orlando loses without Howard it will still have Game 7 to atone, and no one will second guess the suspension.

    Then there’s the complete garbage from Stu Jackson, whose tortured apologetic for Rondo’s non-flagrant foul can be read (if you can stomach it) here. Spare us the pious bs, Stu. Calling it a flagrant — which it was, because there was no play on the ball whatsoever (even Bill Simmons will admit this) — meant Chicago could have filed a protest, which of course can’t happen in David Stern’s NBA. It probably doesn’t happen in any other sport either, and I’m not saying I’d want to see that outcome. I can’t imagine anybody would. It’s just the hypocrisy of the NBA’s officiating and enforcement has been so intolerable for so long that you just wish Stern would come out and say it: “We’re penalizing Howard for an elbow that had no impact on the outcome of a game but we can’t penalize Rondo because that did have an impact on the outcome of a game. And that would make us look bad. Which we can’t have. Ahem. Hey, look over there! A bear!” (runs away)

  43. This isn’t related to the NBA playoffs, but I just wanted to let everyone know I’m in class right now. The professor is talking, but all I can hear is word salad.

  44. Can we switch this over to baseball real quick?

    The Chicago Cubs make me want to eat Andrew Cashmere’s word salad. That is, if one assumes word salad is topped with BM’s and asparagus pee.

  45. I KNOW!! The cubs are killing me. Between injuries and the bullpen all I can do is shake my head. And I’m still super mad that DeRosa’s gone.

  46. Don’t get me started. I made my first trip to Wrigley since 1988 this past August. Hand selected myself a Mark DeRosa t-shirt and everything. Three months later, he was gone. I feel like I’m a jinx, want to know why? This past February, I made a trip to Chicago, replaced my DeRosa shirt with a Carlos Marmol. Since then, he’s lost out on the closer job, hurt himself, and yesterday he gave up 4 runs in 1/3 of an inning, walking four people in the process. He faced 5 batters…..and only threw 5 strikes. Total. There isn’t a single person in that bullpen I trust. As for the starters? None look like 15 game winners. Kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me.

  47. Buying jerseys is tough. I firmly believe you shouldn’t buy the jersey of a current player because they might get traded and then you’ll look like a schmuck when you wear it. To be safe you need to buy the jersey of a retired legend from your favorite team. Or so I thought. Last year I wanted a Reds jersey and debated between Barry Larkin and Tom Browning. I finally decided on Tom Browning (threw a perfect game, sat on a rooftop next to Wrigley in uniform during a game). I was really excited about it until he was jailed during spring training for being $100,000 behind on his child support. Now I have a jersey I can’t wear. Thanks, Tom Effing Browning.

  48. I’m glad we brought up the subject of jerseys. Does anyone want to buy my authentic Dick Bavetta ref’s uniform? I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought it. I’d be willing to accept somewhere in the range of 5 to 15 cents for it or — if that seems unreasonable — a wheelbarrow of dog crap.

  49. Cubs fans, brethren. It’s going to be OK. Find a mirror and say those words aloud as you look deep into your own eyes.

    Yes, Hendry’s offseason moves were as inscrutable as they were indefensible. Yes, the bench is as thin as Joakim Noah’s mustache. Yes, Milton Bradley is a douche. But everything is going to work out. I truly believe this.

    Last season, when the Cubs were the toast of the National League with their gaudy 97 victories, everyone was gunning for them in the postseason. When they were swept from October for the second year in a row, I talked to my longtime friend, and we were discussing what it would take for the Cubs to break through finally. One of his ideas was that the Cubs would have to fly under the radar and surprise people, the way the Cardinals did in 2006 by winning the Series after having a laughable 83 regular season victories (note: not so laughable if you happen to like, say, the Pirates).

    I take heart in the fact that the Cubs are .500 even though Aaron Miles and Micah Hoffpauir (?!) have been starting. The starting pitching has actually been quite good. And when other teams begin to make panic trades because of the crappy economy, the Cubs are going to be in a strong position to buy and sell the pieces they need to make the playoffs. Again. I mean, think about that for a second. Prior to last season, it had been one hundred years since the Cubs had made the playoffs two years in a row. That means we’ve witnessed things that entire generations of Cubs fans have croaked without seeing.

    So it’s going to be OK. I think the Cardinals will come back to earth soon enough (Carpenter’s continued troubles with injuries helps us there), and the Cubs will be battling for first again before you can say “Hector Villenueva.”

    As for the NBA, Stu Jackson is a joke, and David Stern wields his power so ham-handedly that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. If only Charles Oakley could come out of retirement for just one night to knock Rondo on his butt and let him know exactly what time it is. THAT would be nice.

  50. BEN!

    Speaking of dog crap, I can’t believe I didn’t tell you — when we were in Ohio recently, dining at the Gambier Deli, guess who came in and sat at the adjoining table? DOUG ZIPP! Also, I’m quite certain but can’t be positive that he dropped an F-bomb (in front of my toddler).

    Still got it!

  51. I am flummoxed that you did not call me immediately regarding this Doug Zipp sighting, but all is forgiven. Did his dogs take a dump on the counter? Or perhaps in one of the beer coolers? Sweet joy, I would’ve given anything to witness that.

  52. 41? Yikes. Since I still get absolutely free texting until my severance runs out, you should not at all feel bad about saying, “Hey Scott. Stop texting me. This costs money and I don’t care about your childish bathroom humor.”

    That BM really came through, though.

  53. The double standards here are astounding — but again, as you say, not a bit surprising. Who really believed there was even the slightest chance Rondo would be suspended? Besides the Tooth Fairy?

  54. Eddie Effin’ House.

    Second round predictions: Cavs over Hawks in 5. I’m stickin’ with the Magic over Celts (in 6). Lakers over Houston in 5. Denver over Dallas in 5. I think this is going to be a crummy round.

    New forum topic: Would you rather watch a Rockets playoff game or watch paint dry for three hours?

  55. I have no idea what team to cheer for at this point. Dallas, maybe? Yikes. This is bad.

    After the Cs – Bulls series, I think I might want the Lakers to win just so Phil can untie Red. Yes, I’m bitter.

  56. I’ve read that last paragraph about eight times and I still can’t wrap my mind around it. Scott Guldin? Pulling for the Lakers?

    I need to go lie down.

    The only team left that I can pull for is Cleveland. Let’s list the likability deficiencies of everyone else, from least likely to win the Finals to most:

    7) Atlanta. They’re done. Put a fork in them. Plus they have Al Horford.

    6) Dallas. The only other team I might consider rallying for, given the wrongs perpetrated on them by David Stern and his officiating hit crew in the 2006 Finals. Plus I’ve always had a soft spot for Dirk. But they look done too.

    5) Houston. They have Ron Artest and terrible haircuts. But they aren’t beating L.A. in seven games. After Monday, it could at least be interesting though. By that I mean the series, not watching the Rockets play basketball. Fun fact from Monday’s Game One: The Lakers are 2-7 in playoff games when Kobe takes more than 30 shots. Yikes.

    4) Boston. I never realized just how much I liked KG until he got injured, because Boston without him is almost as much fun to root against as L.A. I really like Ray Allen. I mostly like Paul Pierce. But everyone else on the team — and I do mean everyone else — blows. Kendrick Perkins and Big Baby are tools. Rajon Rondo is a punk and, I suspect, a Cylon. If you’re coming off the bench for Boston, you either 1) have the physical build of Will Ferrell and should not be playing basketball (Brian Scalabrine), 2) are named Eddie Effin’ House (Eddie House), 3) play like a deer in the headlights (Tony Allen), 4) have a haircut that should put you on the Rockets (Mikki Moore), or 5) are nutburgers (Stephon Marbury).

    3) Denver. I don’t know anyone who likes Denver. I can think of two immediate reasons: George Karl is their coach and everyone besides Chauncey Billups is a punk. Seriously, Kenyon Martin, Nene, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and the Birdman all on the same team?

    2) Orlando. I could get behind the Magic because I like Dwight Howard and saying Hedo Turkoglu’s name. Negatives: J.J. Redick and Rafer Alston are both in the starting line-up. And Stan Van Gundy is the coach.

    1) Los Angeles. I can’t see anyone but L.A. coming out of the West. We’re going to be treated to endless Kobe vs. LeBron stories. And no matter how bitter you may still remain after the Bulls/C’s series, Scott, you will not find it in your virtuous, compassionate heart to root for Sasha Vujacic, Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant. You’re just too good for that.

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