Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Grizzlies Are Rebounding

Thanks to a horrendous start to the season, the Grizzlies are still below 500 and 3 and a half games out of the playoffs. (It has to be asked: Where would the Grizzlies be if Heisley hadn't taken a dump on team chemistry by signing AI? Yes, I defended the move at the time.) However, despite their early troubles, there's something different about this team.

One noticeable change is that I don't get texts immediately after every Grizzlies victory from all my friends. (Okay, it's just my parents, and they don't know how to text, so they call me.) You know something's changed when victory is so common that it no longer needs to be celebrated via text message. This is especially important for west coast Grizzlies fans like me who watch most games on 2 hour DVR delay. As you may not be aware, games are not as fun when you read "win #5!!! :)" on your phone with 8 minutes left in the third quarter.

Another key change is that days and even weeks go by without open ridicule of the Grizzlies and their plight. In fact, even when the Grizzlies lose, post game comments have taken a different tone.

After a 5 point win over the Grizzlies on Dec 14, Boston forward Paul Pierce said, “That’s one tough team.They’re dangerous. I see them with four potential All-Stars.

Last season, when the Celtics beat the Grizzlies by 4, Pierce responded: "Everybody knew we're playing Detroit on Saturday night, but we had to take care of Memphis. We're preparing for something bigger than the regular season. It's got to be every night."

Added Celtics Coach Doc Rivers after last season's victory: "Probably our worst focus of the year. Could be because of tomorrow night. We might have been looking forward to it. I don't know."

You see the difference? Last year, the defending champions beat us despite playing the worst game of their season. This year, they squeaked by on a lucky last second bounce and three-pointer. And more importantly, they noticed a difference.

This picture hurts my head, but it shows Warrick at the Fleet Center. For all I know it was taken during last year's loss. That's a lie. I see this was taken in 2008.

Last week, when the Grizzlies played the Indiana Pacers, over a thousand residents of Poplar Bluff, MO, hometown to Indiana rookie Tyler Hansbrough, bought tickets to see their hero's Fedex Forum debut. For those of you keeping track, that's nearly 10% of Poplar Bluff's population. Normally, this would be a great opportunity for jokes about the Grizzlies' attendance as compared with the population of Poplar Bluff. But there was one problem: The Grizzlies won the game, and Poplar Bluff High School subsequently retired Zach Randolph's jersey in its rafters.

These stories make watching the Grizzlies games fun. There's nothing I like more than hearing that citizens' of Poplar Bluff have had the hopes crushed by the Grizzlies. If the team keeps it up, people outside of Poplar Bluffs might also attend the games.

Main St, Poplar Bluff, MO, USA

And you know what else is both different and fun to watch? Rebounding.

Until this season, rebounding, which is 50% effort, 30% skill, and 20% size (I made that up.), has been one of the Grizzlies' weaknesses. Now, Zach Randolph, a 6'9 forward who can't dunk and isn't on the All Star Ballot, holds this season's record for rebounds in a game.

Nothing is more enjoyable than watching the Grizzlies get an offensive rebound with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter while the opposition is mounting a comeback. Ranked in order from "fists in the air and shouting" to "nodding silently", my favorite Grizzlies rebounders are Randolph, Thabeet, Gasol, and Gay. You might say, "David, that's the entire Grizzlies front-court", and my response would be "Yyyyyyyeeeeeesssss". That's the whole point. For the first time, the rebounding is a team strength, and the Grizzlies are fun to watch.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Movie Review: The Blind Side

I have a rule: Don't see Sandra Bullock movies.

However, during one fateful Clippers-Grizzlies game, (the infamous "Haddadi-Borat" game, not the infamous "Blow a 20 Point Lead in the Fourth" game) NBA League Pass opted to show me the Clippers' broadcast over the Grizzlies'. When the Clippers announcers weren't offending Iranians, I learned that The Blind Side featured Grizzlies commentator, Sean Tuohy, whose family adopted NFL offensive tackle Michael Oher when he was a homeless high schooler.

Clippers Analyst Michael Smith during a November Broadcast: "You're sure it's not Borat's older brother?...If they ever make a movie about Haddadi, I'm going to get Sacha Baron Cohen to play the part."

At that point, I made a decision I would later regret to break my Sandra Bullock rule.

The movie may not be as bad as a typical Sandra Bullock movie, but it's also not as good as Oher's story deserves. The writing is cheesy (For example, the Democrat / Republican jokes), and the situations feel contrived (For example, Sean Jr teaching plays to Oher with condiments or Leigh Anne Tuohy instructing Oher during Football practice).

The Blind Side relies too much on cheap laughs and doesn't authentically convey either Oher's or the Tuohys' transformations (and it's not funny or moving enough to go the sentimental family comedy route. Both my girlfriend and my barber Jay said it was no Remember the Titans, and that's saying something.).

We do learn that when Tuohy is not adopting football stars or calling some of the worst basketball games in NBA history, he's operating about 80 fast food franchises. When Sean Tuohy Jr's explains why the family eats Taco Bell for free, Oher responds "Is that why he [Grizzlies Commentator Sean Tuohy Sr] never seems to work?"

Doesn't work? Apparently, Oher hasn't heard Tuohy transform a 20 point Grizzlies loss into Shakespearean poetry.

Once I realized the movie sucked, I resigned to hoping for references to Tuohy's night job, of which there were none. (Let me warn you: Don't attend The Blind Side hoping to play a drinking game where you drink every time there's a reference to the Grizzlies. You're better off watching Grizzlies games and drinking every time someone mentions The Blind Side.)

I also found it curious that no mention was made of Tuohy's struggle to stop Taco Bell employees from raiding the franchises' reserves of Star Wars Episode 1 memorobilia in the late 90s, but I guess they're saving that for the prequel.

This was a deadly combination for Tuohy in 1999.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Shane Battier Workout Video

Remember when Shane Battier played for the Grizzlies and it seemed like he was the hardest-working player and the only player that maximized his talent? Well, I caught up with Battier (AKA I filmed him without his knowledge) during his pregame routine before a game against the Warriors in Oakland. It turns out Battier has the most methodical workout (of the players I saw, including T-Mac, whose workout consists of shooting threes from the top of the key).

Here's Battier Shooting the Shane Battier Memorial Baseline Jumper:

I tried to get Shane Battier to sign page 45 of The Book of Basketball, but I didn't catch him before he returned to the locker room. Also, I was told by security that players would not sign a "hard" object like a book. Apparently, books pose an injury threat NBA players. The security guard did not see the comedy in this.

Here's Battier practicing his elbow jumper:

Here's Battier practicing his left-handed jump hook. See if you can spot Luis Scola:

And here's T-Mac, a few months before the Rockets trade him and/or banish him from the team:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Paging the Kemmons Wilson Family

I've proposed a few trades recently. (Who wouldn't prefer Monta Ellis over Rudy Gay right now?) But our best chance at turning around 9 straight seasons of failure (unless you count 0-12 in the playoffs as success) is changing the owner. We need a new owner who meets the following criteria:

  • Worth a billion or more
  • Ties to Memphis
  • Passionate about basketball
  • Is able to absord significant financial losses
  • Is willing to let basketball execs make basketball decisions (within reason)
Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who qualifies personally, and the list of Memphis billionaires is short.

However, one name on the list jumps out at me: Kemmons Wilson.

I only met met Wilson once, when I was about 12, and I don't know any of his surviving sons or much about them.

Bob Wilson could play with his Cesnas while someone with basketball experience manages his basketball team.

However I do know these facts:

1. Kemmons Wilson left his sons assets worth about a billion dollars.

2. Spence, Bob, and Kemmons Jr. are all active members of Memphis area organizations, and married to locals. (Spence barely qualifies with a wife from Jackson, TN.)

3. Kemmons Wilson once owned a professional basketball in Memphis with Isaac Hayes when his sons were in their 30s.

4. Wilson Hotel Corporation already manages the most successful part of the Grizzlies, St. Jude's Memphis Grizzlies House.

St. Jude's Memphis Grizzlies House is associated with the Grizzlies and managed by the Wilson Family Business. Is that combo a fomula for success?

Are those three facts enough to guarantee that a marriage between the Wilsons and the Grizzlies would be successful or even that the Wilsons are interested? No.

Would Heisley listen if the Wilsons made an offer? Definitely.

Are Grizzlies fans desperate enough to stop the Wilsons in the street and beg them to buy the team? I hope so.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am Thankful We Drafted Thabeet

At least I was for about 15 seconds last Monday. Then I remembered Tyreke scored 28 on us, and none of our players could guard him. That's when I stabbed myself in the left eye with a fork.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Agent Zero Trade Proposal

Before you say #1 "David, the Grizzlies have won 4 of their last 5. We should be celebrating instead of proposing trades." or #2 "Your Arenas trade proposal is idiotic fantasy and doesn't make sense for either team." -- Hear me out.

#1 Talk to me about how good the Grizzlies are when they're at .500. Until then, I'll continue to propose outlandish trades for my own amusement. So there.

#2. Here's why the trade makes sense (in my fantasy world).

For the Washington Wizards...

As Michael Heisley once said, "We can lose with or without Arenas."

The Wizards were supposed to bounce back from a disappointing 2008-2009 season with Arenas returning from injury this year. So far, they're one of the worst teams in the league, and $24 million over the salary cap.

Dumping Arenas for Memphis scrubs saves them ~$3 million this season when you factor in the luxury tax. Plus, ~$38 million would come off their books next June, and another ~$24 million the following June. Plus, they wouldn't be on the hook for Arenas' 5 year max contract.

With Arenas playing 15 games in the past two seasons, you can't tell me the Wizards aren't listening...

Too bad Wes Unseld isn't still GM. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if that would be good or bad in this scenario.

For the Memphis Grizzlies...

Here is the case against Agent Zero:
  • The last thing the Grizzlies need is another shoot first, pass last player in their starting 5.
  • The last thing the Grizzlies need is another shoot first, pass last player as their point guard.
  • Did I mention he played 15 games in the past 2 seasons?
  • Arenas turns the ball over a lot and rarely gets assists.
  • Arenas is locked into the type of contract that Heisley avoids like John Gosselin avoids his wife.
I've almost talked myself out of this, but before I do, consider this:
  1. The Grizzlies have admitted they can't attract big name free agents (for more than 3 games anyway).
  2. The Grizzlies are building via the draft, but are terrible are evaluating draft prospects (see 2009 and 2007).
  3. Therefore, if the Grizzlies want to get a quality player, they need to take a chance on a down-on-his-luck-player with All-NBA pedigree and a team desperate / stupid enough to make it happen.
  4. Gilbert Arenas fits that bill.
  5. He's also a slight upgrade over Mike Conley at point guard.
So there it is. There's my outlandish trade proposal for the Thanksgiving holiday. If not Monta, then Agent Zero. Please comment below and let me know how I'm out of my mind.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Some Good News

Normally I don't write about individual games. But with all the recent negativity, I want to highlight what was easily the best game of the season.

More than in any other game I've watched, the Grizzlies played like a team rather than a group of individuals. It showed on defense where this season's worst offenders, Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo, were focused on staying in front of their men and everyone made an effort to contest shots.

And it showed on offense, where the team:

1. Ran offensive plays. (I almost forgot what it was like to see an offensive play.)
2. Made a concerted effort to feed Gasol and Randolph. (Multiple times on some possessions)
3. Minimized one-on-one play (Gay and Mayo stood out in their efforts to avoid this.)

I have never seen Gay focus like this and let the game come to him. I hate to use that cliche, but that's really what he did. In the first half he focused on defense, and he didn't force his offense.

Other positive notes include:

1. Marcus Williams looked comfortable at the point. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a butt injury soon.
2. Sam Young and DeMarre Carroll minimized mistakes and focused on their rolls.
3. Even Hasheem Thabeet looked like he knew what he was doing.
4. Marc Gasol is making a case for team MVP. Does he have what it takes to be the vocal leader the Grizzlies need?

We shouldn't blow one game out of proportion. There's still reason for concern:

1. Mike Conley
2. Too many unforced errors
3. They were playing against a lottery team with two injured starters and an injured 6th man.

In a season that's already become one of the Grizzlies' most embarrassing, this was an early highlight.

Updated Ellis Trade

With Stephen Jackson traded, Kelenna Azubuike out for the season, and rumors that Monta may want out, I have adjusted my proposed trade.

The key of the trade is that the Warriors move into rebuilding mode by getting $12 million off the books within two seasons. Second, the Warriors, in desperate need of bodies, can turn one player into multiple players. Third, the Grizzlies can sweeten the deal with money and a first round draft pick this year (or two). Fourth, the Warriors might be crazy enough to do it. Fifth, the Grizzlies can interchange several other players if the Warriors aren't satisfied with these. Sixth, the Grizzlies would never do it because it means they take on money long term.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yo Tinsley

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekend Trade

Only in the land of the Grizz are trade proposals that ship the team's leading scorer out of town a pleasant distraction 9 games into the season.

Here's my weekend trade proposal. Though it will never happen (because it requires the Grizzlies to take on long term money), it was accepted by ESPN's trade machine. So there's that.

Otherwise, I think we can use draft picks and cash to negotiate.

Cleveland gets Stephen Jackson, the disgruntled veteran, and Steven Hunter, a body off the bench to replace Ilgauskas. Cleveland probably has to give up draft picks and cash but gambles on Jackson providing enough defense and shooting on the wing to get past Orlando and Boston.

Golden State gives up the best players in the trade, but...
1. They get rid of the disgruntled Jackson.
2. They part with Monta Ellis, who hates the coach and the organization and is locked into a 5 year deal.
3. They get Ilgauskas' expiring deal.
4. They get Conley and Gay, who are cheap and may benefit from a change in scenery and a new system. It's not like the Warriors are big on defense.
5. They get long term savings.
6. Jaric is included to make the numbers work. He excels in this role. He would probably end up being Coach Nelson's favorite player.

Memphis acquires Monta Ellis, a young veteran with all star potential and local ties, and Kelenna Azubuike, a veteran small forward to temporarily fill in for the loss of Gay. (My first trade didn't include Azubuke or Jaric, but then I realized we wouldn't have any small forwards on the team or even anyone to trade later. Plus, I wanted to write "Kelenna" on the blog.)

I have advocated for acquiring Ellis before. Pairing Ellis with Mayo would make for an exciting back court. If we're ready to give up on Conley (and I think we are), then we have to do this.

How does this affect the Grizzlies' season?

How does it affect the upcoming (just-around-the-corner) draft?

Would AI come off the bench behind someone who is actually good?

These are the questions we have to ask. Discuss.

Monday, November 09, 2009

God Chose Personal Leave

Remember when god chose Memphis as the city where Allen Iverson would play for the home team? (In case you forgot, it was 2 months ago on September 9th at 7:06 AM.)

Now god has sent Allen Iverson away from the team without allowing him to play one game in Memphis, and Iverson is in danger of threatening Kwame Brown's lock on Most Embarrassing Stint as a Grizzly.

Iverson is seen here praying to the big agent in the sky.

Of course, as was true of Brown's stint with the Grizzlies, (and almost everything about the Memphis Grizzlies) Iverson's shitshow is more about the ineptitude of the Memphis Grizzlies than the immaturity of the 34 year old guard.

First, it's despicable that the Grizzlies didn't address their expectations about Iverson's role directly with him before they signed him. He had a history of getting pissed off when asked to come off the bench, and the Grizzlies leadership had to know he might come off the bench.

Second, common sense would dictate that the coach may want to have 1:1 conversations with his players. Based on what Iverson and Coach Lionel Hollins have said in the media, it appears this possibility has escaped Hollins.

Do you like it when your manager addresses issues about your role and performance with the entire world instead of in a 1:1 meeting? No, you don't like it.

Iverson is pictured here flipping the bird at Lionel Hollins.

The worst part of all: The Grizzlies are a steaming pile of shit with or without Iverson. Three of the starters, OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, and Mike Conley, are playing so poorly on defense, that none of them deserves to start.

Unfortunately, as anyone with eyeballs and a functioning brain knew 4 months ago, the bench is so terrible that, without Iverson, there's no one one to consider replacing them.

Here's a video of the controversial starting lineup in Oakland.

Of course, this is par for the course with the Memphis Grizzlies. Instead of maximizing their potential and winning games against less talented teams, the Grizzlies are arguing over whether the fifth best player on the team should start over the sixth best player.

The lord works in mysterious ways.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bill Simmons and Me

I met Bill Simmons at Borders in San Francisco on November 5.

He took my photo on his Blackberry, we chatted about how Jerry West almost died when the Grizzlies lost the Lebron sweepstakes, and he signed page 188 of my copy of The Book of Basketball.

Here's me as Allen Iverson, Ben as Rudy Gay, and Simmons as The Sports Guy:

Later, Lakers fan Evan (wearing a Memphis Gasol jersey) had Simmons sign "I heart Kobe". Don't worry, Simmons wrote "don't" between "I" and "heart".

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The 2009-2010 Memphis Grizzlies

They lost one of the 2 games I get to see in person this year badly to a terrible team and looked terrible doing it. By terrible, I mean unforced turnovers. Like passing the ball out of bounds or to the opposing team.

Grizzlies vs Warriors Tonight

I will be leaving for the Oakland shortly to see the Grizzlies take on the Bay Area Warriors.

I have just bet $22 dollars to win $20 if the Grizzlies lose by fewer than 6 points (or win).

Grizzlies, whatever you do, please cover the spread.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Bill Simmons in SF on Thursday

On Thursday, I will meet my favorite Sports writer, Bill Simmons, columnist from my least favorite Sports News Organization, ESPN.

He'll sign my copy of his book, The Book of Basketball, at Borders sometime after 7 pm.

As a result, I am proposing 2 opportunities for Bay Area Grizzlies fans.

1. For Bay Area Grizzlies Fans: Hot off the Grizzlies' victory over the Warriors on Iranian Appreciation Night (also known as Wednesday), let's show Simmons the force of Bay Area Grizzlies fans. If you're in the Bay Area, please show up at 6:30 to Borders wearing Beale Street Blue.

2. Grizzlies Fans Outside of the Bay Area: Simmons has offered to write any one sentence I request in the book. Please add your suggestion to the comments below, and I will choose the best suggestion to be written in my book.

If I don't get any good suggestions, I will simply ask Simmons to list the pages that reference the Memphis Grizzlies since he erroneously omitted that from his index.

Other than that, I plan to ask the Sports Guy to predict whether the Grizzlies will win the NBA Championship one year after Chris Wallace leaves the organization.

I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pole, Pole, Hasheem Thabeet

I'll bet you haven't been to Makongo Secondary School on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Either East Africa is out of your way or you were discouraged when you found AK-47s at the entrance.

Well, Makongo is where Hasheem Thabeet began his journey to beat Ricky Rubio in the 2009 draft, and luckily for us, Nathan Stormzand toured the campus on September 10.

On his tour, Stormzand learned that Hasheem Thabeet wanted to quit basketball 30 minutes into his first practice.

The coach at Makongo (now deceased) told Thabeet "pole, pole" which translates literally to "slowly, slowly" and is also an idiom that means "You're 7'3."

Here's the hoop where Thabeet first quit playing basketball.

When Stormzand arrived at Makongo, he was greeted by armed guards with AK-47s protecting Makongo's stockpile of future second string centers.

Like anyone in this situation, Stormzand announced that he was reporting for one of the top Memphis Grizzlies fan blogs and was quickly introduced to Makongo's Headmaster (Mr. Silus M.), PE Teacher (Mr. Kapanda), and Athletic Director (Mr. Bogoyu).

This is one of five photos that Stormzand was not required to delete. Please do not use it to sabotage the school.

Surprisingly, the school officials were happy to talk at length about Tanzania's most famous Twitterer.

They told Stormzand that Thabeet transferred to Makongo because of it's academic reputation. However, when Thabeet arrived, he was already taller than any other student or teacher. As a result, Makongo, whose Alumni play basketball, soccer, and volleyball professionally around the world, quickly researched sports where height is an advantage.

This is what "Cooler than Memphis" looks like.

Though Makongo's team was never great while Thabeet played, Thabeet steadily improved, according to the Athletic director, and by the end of his time at Makonga, Thabeet was asked to play for a regional team in Kenya.

A few years later, UConn posters hang on the walls of the Headmaster's office.

Makongo staff consistently allowed Stormzand to keep pictures of this hoop.

As Stormzand left Makongo, the school officials asked Stormzand to sign the guest book and to please send basketballs when he returned to the US.

As Stormzand signed his name, he saw Thabeet's signature from a visit three weeks earlier. As part of Thabeet's campaign for Unintentional Comedy All-NBA First Team, Thabeet listed Springfield, MA as his home.

You can see that the rough surface of the court slowed the development of Thabeet's ball-handling skills.

Nathan Stormzand would like to thank the entire staff of Makongo for being far too forthcoming, a shady yet entrepreneurial taxi driver named Idi for conveying him safely around Dar, and ketchup-sized packages of Konyagi for inspiriation.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Abdul-Jabbar + Barkley

First, the Grizzlies hire Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as a big man coach. Then, they hire Charles Barkley as General Manager.

I must be in heaven.

Ok, so neither is true, but can't a Grizzlies' blogger dream?

Abdul-Jabbar is one of the 5 best centers, may be a top five player, and has a track record of success as a big man coach.

Abdul-Jabbar was the Sully Sullenberger of 1980.

Barkley is my favorite all-time player, and would definitely improve Chris Vernon's weekly segment with Chris Wallace. Plus, I am in with his Grandmother.

He could definitely coach some of the Grizzlies on how to commit humiliating and criminal public acts while maintaining a positive reputation. Who else can drive under the influence of alcohol, commit adultery, and still be considered a serious candidate for state governor?

Charles Barkley. My Hero.

Couldn't the Grizzlies, widely considered to be the laughingstock of the NBA, learn something from the NBA's all time greatest public relations mogul?

As an added bonus, Barkley and AI have a long standing feud. Barkley for GM is out only option.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Bench

“We got off to a good start, we played well, we were focused, and our defense was good,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “We moved the basketball and we started subbing and we didn’t get the same play from our bench.”

This is a quote that Hollins will be able to use in 60+ games this season.

On a related note, sometimes I feel like I am too negative about the Grizzlies.

Then I read John Hollinger's player profiles or ESPN's 'expert' predictions or SI's Scouting Report.

That's when I realize my views are aligned with the the 'experts'. They hate almost every player on our team and every move we make.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Anticipation of the Grizzlies' Upcoming Season as Compared with that of Star Wars, Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith

As the Grizzlies embark on another journey to the lottery next week, I am reminded of another important time in my life: the release of Star Wars, Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.

When The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, there was excitement. Fans lined up in anticipation. But after ten or eleven viewings, a disturbing feeling that this movie might not be good began to set in.

A similar disappointment followed the excitement prior to previous Grizzlies seasons.

Many analysts predict Thabeet's career, much like Jar Jar's, will end soon after it begins.

When Attack of the Clones was released 3 years after Phantom Menace, my excitement was mitigated by a nagging feeling that Star Wars prequels might actually suck. Nevertheless, I hoped that replacing Jake Lloyd with Hayden Christensen would save the series.

Today, that premise seems as laughable as our hopes that Marc Iavaroni would save the Grizzlies.

Iavaroni's love for Padme was his undoing.

After 1 and 2, we knew 3 would suck, but there were still certain events we had to see. We had to see Obiwan Kenobi fight Anakin Skywalker. We had to see the transformation of Anakin into Darth Vader. And we wanted to see Darth Vader kick Jedi ass across the galaxy.

By now, we had a large enough sample to know that George Lucas was going to fuck it up. We just didn't know the extent or exactly how.

For example, we didn't know he was going to make all the villains look like pussies, limit Darth Vader's screen time to 5 minutes, destroy 30 year old plot lines, and undermine his own efforts to transform a 900 year old muppet and a 7 foot tall, bipedal dog into serious characters.

Similarly, even though we know the Grizzlies will suck, there are certain events with have to see this season. We have to see how AI and Z-bo will fit in. We have to check in on the development of Mayo and Gay. We need to assess how skinny Marc Gasol compares with thick Gasol, and we need to learn if Thabeet is a bust.

As with episode 3, we don't know exactly how it's going to play out. This team is unlike any to wear a Grizz uniform before.

However, we do know that the guy in charge is likely to screw it up.

Just as George Lucas showed his hand when Jar Jar first uttered: "Ooh mooey mooey I love you!", so did Heisley reveal the Grizzlies' fate when he traded Pau Gasol for money.

Which elderly, rich man has done more to ruin his respective franchise?

There is one difference between Revenge of the Sith and the upcoming Grizzlies season. When the credits rolled at the end of the Sith, we knew it was over.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

An Open Letter to Ron Artest

This is an open call to The Real Ron Artest.

To the Ron Artest that Laker fans are hatin on. The Artest that hangs out with Hamed Haddadi. The Artest that doesn't kiss ass. The Ron Artest that curses out Laker fans and makes them apologize.

You listening? Good. Let me be the first to say that we, as a Grizzlies fanbase, have faith in you.

There's a reason I'm writing this letter to you. You could single-handedly blow up the Laker Championship team. Talent-wise, this is one of the most gifted teams in Laker History, which puts them in the running for the most talented all-time.

Translation: We need you to kill the flavor in this chili so that the Lakers fall somewhere in the low 20s or high teens in next year's draft. We need this because the Grizzlies own the 2010 draft pick of the LA Lakers (top 6 protected).

There are hundreds of fans and dedicated followers that are holding their breath on your performance. In return, all past transgressions will be forgotten, and you will be warmly welcomed into the arms of the NBA legends.

Which is something I believe all three of us can agree on.

PS If you could somehow involve JR Smith, that would help as we also own the Nuggets draft pick (lottery protected).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Memphis Grizzlies, Season 9

Season 9 of the Memphis Grizzlies kicks off Tuesday, and my excitement is peaking.

Like every year, I'm extremely excited to see the Grizzlies in action. Like every year, I will probably be terribly disappointed by Christmas.


1. The Grizzlies have made significant upgrades at the power forward, 6th man, and Head Coach positions.

I worked out a quick formula to show this:

Arthur + Warrick + Iavaroni < AI + Z-Bo + Hollins
To provide some more color, here are a few things more successful than Iavaroni as Head Coach:
  • The Sextortion of David Lettermen
  • The 2009 Detroit Lions
  • The Jay Leno Show
  • Jon & Kate's Marriage
2. The Grizzlies didn't lose any significant pieces.

3. Several members of the core group have demonstrated a commitment to improving.

4. Few teams made significant upgrades.

With the exception of the Spurs, Blazers, and Clippers, which Western teams improved? Did the Nuggets, Mavs, Rockets, Hornets improve? How about the Thunder or Jazz?

The Warriors biggest offseason acquisition was locker room discord. The Wolves traded their only two shooting guards for "** - Unsigned Draft Pick". And the Suns promoted Eric Dampier to second-worst starting center in the West.


Curt is probably going to call me some obscene names in the comments section below for writing this, but I hope he remembers this list in December.

1. No one who observes basketball professionally thinks the Grizzlies will be good.

2. Early indications suggest that the Grizzlies are struggling to play together.

3. Iverson's expectations aren't aligned with reality.

Let's just say Iverson is prone to frustration when things don't go well. He thinks the Grizzlies are competing for a championship.

This might not go well.

4. Star Power.

None of these players, or anyone close to that level, plays for the Grizzlies. The best hope for success is Gay or Mayo's emergence as Alpha. More than anything else the Grizzlies need an Alpha (not named AI).

5. Depth. Curt, Hamed Haddadi does not count as depth.

6. Passing, Rebounding, Defense.

These are the fundamentals of basketball, and none of the Grizzlies have demonstrated these as a strength.

As you can see from the above chart, I am excited for this season. There's nothing I want more than for the Grizzlies to win.

But if you asked me to pick a number, it would be 30, and that's about what I picked this time last year.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Inside Grandma Barkley's House

Next week, the Grizzlies open training camp about four hours southeast of Memphis in Birmingham, Alabama.

About 20 minutes from Bill Battle Coliseum, the Grizzlies' training camp facilities, sits a town called Leeds.

It was in Leeds, where a young Phoenix Suns fan (At least I wasn't a Lakers fan.) learned some very important life lessons from Johnnie Mae Edwards (also known as Charles Barkley's Grandmother) that the Grizzlies should consider next week.

Lesson #1: Rebounding is important. Here, I am pictured with Ms. Edwards holding Barkley's 1986-87 Rebounding Title.

Lesson #2. Team work is key to success. In this photo op, I present a "Get Well" poster from teammates to a recovering Barkley.

Lesson #3: In order to succeed, you have to dress for success.

The Grizzlies should be sure to stop by Ms. Edwards house when they hold training camp a few miles away next week.

(Here's a hint: Look for Charles Barkley Ave. There's only one house with "CB" molded into a wrought-iron fence.)

It's here, where Barkley's mother and Grandmother taught Barkley that hard work and exceptional rebounding skills can lead to greatness. For a team that was last in the league in rebounds per game, these are important lessons.

Here's hoping that central Alabama will be as instructive for the Grizzlies as it was for me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Worst Case Scenario

Ok, let's say the Iverson experiment doesn't work out.

He corrupts the youngsters, jacks up 40 shots a game, and shoots 20%.

Even if he's that bad, isn't there a team out there that would roll the dice on a trade in January? Maybe that team didn't have the cap space to make a play this summer?

Maybe there's a team whose season didn't go quite as expected? Maybe there's a team that wouldn't mind trading a young player with a multi-year contract for Iverson's expiring contract?

Maybe there's a team that wouldn't mind extra cash this summer? Or using Iverson to cash in on a few extra ticket sales?

Even if Iverson doesn't work out, (and I think there's a chance he will work out) the Grizzlies can turn his expiring contract into some basketball value.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where is Marc Gasol?

In case you were wondering where Marc Gasol was, I have found him. He didn't make it to Allen Iverson's press conference because he is playing for Spain at the Eurobasket Championships.

To see him in action, check out the 20 second mark of this video. He is sporting a nice haircut, which is good because he should look presentable for what might be his last chance to shoot a basketball in 2009.

At the Euro games, Gasol is averaging 6.6 points and 6.6 rebound in 19 minutes per game, whatever that means.

I wonder how he's feeling about the fact that the Grizzlies drafted someone who plays his position at #2 instead of his Spanish teammate. I'm sure any concern will be alleviated when the Grizzlies win a championship.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Iverson Declining with Age?

Now that Iverson is a Grizzly, it's worth taking another look's August analysis of the impact of Iverson's age on his performance.

According to Basketball-Reference, Iverson's stats suggest:
  1. His defense has improved with time.
  2. Despite his decline in his ability, he's still an average NBA player.
Given that the Grizzlies defense was terrible without Iverson (especially at the guard position) and most Grizzlies performed well below the league average, these findings are good news.

Check out the full article here:

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Why So Much Hate?

The response to the Grizzlies decision to add Allen Iverson has been negative. The most significant arguments are:

1. Iverson won't generate on-court success next season.
2. Acquiring Iverson comes at the expense of acquiring better players.
3. Iverson may impede the development of young Grizzlies.

While I think these arguments have merit, I don't think the conclusion that signing Iverson is a mistake is as clear as the media's reaction implies.


For simplicity's sake, let's say there are three reasonable possibilities:
1. Win 20-30 games.
2. Win 30-40 games.
3. Win 40-50 games.

Using a John Hollinger algorithm, we could assign a probability for each outcome, and then assess how the addition of Iverson impacts that outcome.

The "pre-Iverson" consensus was that #1 is the most likely outcome. So how does Iverson impact that probability? Probably not by much. I'm guessing that #1 is still the most likely scenario.

Is #1 more likely with Iverson than without? Does adding Iverson make #2 or #3 more likely?

You can reasonably argue that #1 is slightly more likely now, but you can't argue that the Grizzlies will be significantly worse or that Iverson increases the likelihood of #1 by a large percentage. The Grizzlies are too bad already.

You could also argue that adding Iverson to the mix raises the ceiling if by some miracle this strange mix of talent clicks.


There's no question that acquiring Iverson means the Grizzlies won't (or didn't) acquire other available players like Ramon Sessions or David Lee. However, there's no guarantee that the Grizzlies could acquire such players. Those players may have no interest in playing for Memphis.

Additionally, most players discussed wouldn't have a significantly greater impact than Iverson. Ramon Sessions' incremental value over Iverson doesn't justify the ridicule of the Grizzlies for pursuing Iverson over Sessions.

Sessions and other players of this year's free agent class aren't sure bets and have additional costs that Iverson doesn't have.

That said, I'm on-board with the argument that pursuing Iverson (and Randolph) in favor of pursuing a star like Amare Stoudemire is a mistake. The Grizzlies biggest failure has been the inability to acquire a first tier star during his prime.


If OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay are fragile enough that Iverson could derail their development or drive them away, then you have to wonder if Mayo or Gay would ever lead the Grizzlies to success.

On the other hand, if Mike Conley can't play with Kyle Lowry backing him up, is Iverson really the problem? If Conley can develop into an significant player, he can do so playing with Allen Iverson. If he's not an impact player, then what have we lost?

I think its fair to criticize the Grizzlies. They are a terrible team until they prove otherwise. But I don't think the acquisition of Iverson is as obviously bad as most people seem to think it is.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

God Chose Memphis

Allen Iverson announced via Twitter: "God Chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career. I met with Mr. Heinsley, Chris Wallace and my next head coach Lionel Hollins"

Moments later, I announced that I was now following @alleniverson.

Unfortunately, even bigger news is getting lost in the Iverson announcement. Hasheem Thabeet also announced: 9/9/9 9:9:9am i was in the weight room!!

Monday, September 07, 2009

My Dreamseat

There's no better way to observe the Grizzlies annual trip to the lottery than from the comfort of ESPN's 'Dreamseat'.

This might be enough to convince me to move to a place large enough to carve out a 'Man Town' that would warrant such a throne.

At a price of $1,000 plus $305 shipping, is it possible that I would own the only Grizzlies Dreamseat ever? Are there 5 households with Grizzlies Dreamseats? 10 households?$1,500 seems like a small price to pay for exclusivity.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Grizzlies are Mad Men

I was watching episode 3 of season 3 of Mad Men the other night, and I couldn't help but notice the similarities between the ad folks at Sterling-Cooper and our modern day Memphis Grizzlies.

I can't help but wonder if Matthew Weiner had our boys in blue in mind when he penned the series.

OJ Mayo is Donald Draper.

Draper is the only hope Sterling-Cooper has for success. He's got the most talent at the agency. Despite his skills, Draper is fighting an uphill battle with Sterling, Cooper, and Pryce running the show.

Chris Wallace is Roger Sterling.

Sterling knows the company line and how to spin. When American Airlines chooses a rival ad firm, Sterling will look on the bright side.

Lionel Hollins is Betty Draper

When Betty's not making Don sleep on the couch, she's searching for her own identity. Don can survive without her, but can she survive without Don?

Zach Randolph is Pete Campbell

Pete Campbell does one thing really well. He smooth talks clients. Unfortunately, no one really likes him because it seems like he's only interested in his own career. On top of that, his personal life is starting to interfere with his performance at work.

Allen Iverson is Duck Phillips

Duck isn't a partner at Sterling-Cooper, but his reputation precedes him. Unfortunately, he's also an alcoholic that could go off the deep end at any time. This will not end well.

Michael Heisley is Lane Pryce

Pryce is an exec from the the London-based company that acquired Sterling-Cooper. He doesn't quite understand this side of the pond, but that doesn't stop him from running the show. If Pryce didn't insert himself, it would be too easy, right?

Rudy Gay is Peggy Olsen

Peggy is a late bloomer. It's clear she has the tools to succeed, but can she put it together? She's operating in a man's world so hers is an uphill battle.

Marc Gasol is Joan Holloway

Holloway's physique is intimidating and she isn't afraid to take advantage of her body. She's resourceful and can do a little bit of everything reasonably well.

Hasheem Thabeet is Jane Sterling
Young and ambitious Jane Sterling sweeps Roger Sterling off his feet by doing one thing really well. Now they're married, and everyone thinks Roger should have stayed with his first wife...

Hamed Haddadi is Salvatore Romano

Salvatore is a closet gay man living in a straight man's world. Will the rest of the office accept him for who he is, or is he a stranger in his own company?