This year, the Rockets became one of my favorite teams in the NBA because they signed Brent Barry, got Ron Artest and, of course, had Dikembe Mutombo.
When the Sixers first traded Theo Ratliff for Dikembe Mutombo in 2001, I was devastated, angry and upset. Not because I had any problems with Dikembe, in fact, quite the contrary, after all, his pure joy when his 8th-seeded Nuggets toppled Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton and the top-seeded Sonics was just an awesome sight, but I was/am a HUGE Theo Ratliff fan. But it turns out, the trade was brilliant, as Mutombo helped lead the Sixers to the NBA Finals with his incredible defense and tremendous rebounding, and the big guy really grew on me. He really, truly did.
Dikembe Mutombo is the best defensive center I've ever seen play, and by all accounts, he is the nicest, funniest guy in the NBA. And he truly has his priorities straight, helping out his impoverished homeland and doing good deeds all over the place. Sure, I remember in 2002 when every time he touched the ball in the Sixers-Celtics first-round playoff series the entire Wachovia Center let out a collective, "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" because of his clunky hands and awkward offense, but I also remember a warrior and a great teammate. I'm going to miss Dikembe and all his hilarious antics, Cookie Monster voice and incredible defense. All the best to you, Dikembe. Now on to the links …
-Go to TrueHoop and read everything, especially the awesome coverage of Dikembe's retirement here.
-Praise Jeebus, Navorro Bowman only got a slap on the wrist.
Yeah, Rubin, that rose is nice and all, but you got any weed?
Now please, Navorro, no more smokey smokey, OK? Wait till you get to the NFL for that.
-Chauncey Billups and the Nuggets are doing work, son:
Back in the day, somewhere around 7th, 8th, 9th grade, my friends and I used to have these ongoing jokes about Vinny Testaverde, Yancey Thigpen and yes, Chauncey Billups where we'd make these weird hand motions when referencing them for no apparent reason. I'm not sure why we did it, why it involved those three guys or exactly how it started, but we were pretty committed to it. Clearly, my friends and I were weird kids.
-Jeremy Tyler, considered the best high school big man in the country, is leaving HIGH SCHOOL early to play professionally overseas.
Some of the details:
Tyler told the Times that he's making the move because he's too focused on getting better at basketball to spend time hitting the books, adding that "people look to college for more off-the-court stuff versus being in the gym and getting better."
The 17-year-old Tyler left San Diego High School before finishing his junior year, but he says he'll try to get his diploma by taking classes online. He also says he's ready to spend two years in Spain before returning in June of 2011 for the NBA draft.
Tyler told the Times of his European excursion, "It will help me get better and grow up."
First Brandon Jennings, now Tyler. This, my friends, is awesome. I certainly don't want a lot of players to go overseas, preventing me from watching the future players of the NBA before they get there, but leaving high school, and the books, behind to get paid, that's freakin great. I wish I could have done something like that. School is for fools kids. I would know, I graduated from college in just four short years and now get paid dick to work for the man. When I grow up, I want to be just like Jeremy Tyler.
-A first-round exit is not good enough, and neither is the status quo:
Fans focus on results and look for reasons for those results. The easy targets when a hockey team disappoints are the goaltender and the head coach.
Marty Biron has played well in this series. He has not won a game by himself, as Fleury did Tuesday or as Biron did a couple of times in last year's playoffs. But it would be a stretch to blame Biron, a soon-to-be free agent, for what has happened in this series.
Stevens is a tougher call. The Flyers were stunningly flat in Game 1. That is the players' fault, but responsibility for a performance like that tends to fall on the coach. And then there is the simple truth that coaches are not exactly permanent fixtures in the NHL.
Look at the Penguins. They won their series against the Flyers last year, advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, and then replaced their head coach in the middle of this season. It is an unforgiving business, but there's little reason to believe changing coaches would accomplish anything.
The Flyers are a good team, but the results say they are not as good as Pittsburgh. That was true last spring, and it appears to be just as true this spring.
-Domo rightly questions Maurice Evans' decision to enter the draft.
Sometime late Saturday afternoon or early evening, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will walk to the podium at Radio City Music Hall and announce that a Penn State defensive end has been selected in the first round of the draft.
Eight months ago, most people figured that defensive end would be Maurice Evans. He was coming off an outstanding sophomore season in which he registered 12 1/2 sacks and 21 1/2 tackles for losses and forced five fumbles. He was All-Big Ten. The world was his oyster.
Then, last September, everything went to hell. Police were called to a noisy party at a State College apartment shared by Evans and teammate Abe Koroma. The cops found marijuana in the bedrooms of both players.
It's perfectly understandable why Maybin decided to pass on his final year of eligibility and declare for the draft. Evans' decision to do the same, though, is a little bit more mystifying.
His position coach - Lions defensive-line coach Larry Johnson - basically told Evans that he should stay in school for 1 more year. He advised him to return to Happy Valley, put up the kind of numbers he put up as a sophomore, and improve his draft stock.
Basically, if Evans' marijuana incident wasn't proof enough of how stupid he is, his decision to go pro certainly drove that point home. The guy is an idiot, and it pains me to write that because Mo Evans is one of my favorite players from Penn State. He was an absolute beast in 2007, and if he came back this year, he'd be the best player on the defensive line and with a bounceback season like 2007, he would have vaulted to the upper half of the draft. Now he's going to be a late-round pick with no guarantees. What a moron.
-The Yankees, despite a bevy of empty seats down low, are already planning to raise ticket prices next year. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
-MJD takes Sports Illustrated to task for it's "apology" to B.J. Raji.
-I hate Ohio State, but this old hit is too awesome not to post:
-Stephen Curry is going pro.
-Shanoff's take on Jeremy Tyler. Very well said.
-Scottie Reynolds is declaring for the draft, but he won't hire an agent.
That's a good idea, because, uh, Scottie is not ready for the NBA at all. He should come back to Villanova, work on his consistency and try to turn himself into a first-round draft pick, because he sure as shit isn't a first-rounder this year.
-Breaking down Pedro Feliz's hot start at the dish.
-Honestly, no need to cover those up:
For the record, if you haven't been watching the NHL playoffs beyond just the Flyers-Penguins series, you're missing out. Typically this time of year I spend much more time watching the NBA playoffs, but this year, I've been watching more hockey than ever, and it's awesome. Last night's Chicago-Calgary game was incredible, and the end of the Rangers-Caps game was epic. Watching Alex Ovechkin is one of the most incredible things in the world, even when his team loses. His goal last night was sick:
He shoots the puck so hard that it's nearly impossible to even see. And the most impressive thing is how deadly accurate he is. The guy barely ever misses the net. Makes me even more disgusted with how many times the Flyers do miss the cage. But Ovechkin, even in all his dominate glory in the third period, couldn't best Henrik Lundqvist, who was incredible.
Anyway, the Flyers will try to stave off elimination in Pittsburgh tonight. This has the potential to be the worse thing ever. The Pens are up 3-1, the Rangers are up 3-1, the Devils are tied 2-2, and Boston already swept. If the Devils win, and with the Rangers and Pens all but wrapping things up, the remaining teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs would go like this: Pittsburgh, New York, Boston and New Jersey. There is nothing that could possibly be worse than that. I mean, I'd be forced to root for a team from Boston to represent the East, and God knows I don't want to do that. It would be a lot easier if the Flyers decided to just do the impossible and win three straight already.