Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Announcer guy says dumb thing


Sorry for the hiatus, buddies.  I'll get back to my once a week substantive posting soon.  Maybe even tomorrow!  Maybe!  Probably not.  Maybe Sunday night.  Anyways, I mean, how could I not?  Good news, everyone--Simmons has got this NFL gambling thing FIGURED OUT.  That shit is now LOCKED DOWN FOLKS, as he explained in a column from early in the month that's so riddled with stupidity that it might cause you to unlearn how to read as you're trying to it.

I'm extremely excited to break down that column, and in fact, it's better that I'll be doing it three-plus weeks into the NFL season.  We can look at Bill's ATS picks so far and see just how well his new system is working.  Odds are that he will be 1) not actually following his system, because there is no system, because the 17 rules contain so many internal contradictions that they only way to adhere to them would be to put money on both sides of every game, and 2) doing horribly, because he's been doing horribly at this for the past however many years.

ANYHOO, tonight, while not writing the Simmons post I was just talking about writing, I was watching some baseball.  The Royals TV guys were talking about tonight's exciting FSN Kansas City fan poll sponsored by Sprint, Ford, Pepsi, Coors, and whatever it is that fat Missourians eat.  The topic was strong outfield arms--who had the strongest one during the last fifty years?  There were four options: Jesse Barfield, Vlad Guerrero, Roberto Clemente and Raul Mondesi.  It's a goddamn crime that Larry Walker wasn't an option, but anyways, Vladdy Daddy actually beat out Bobby C.  I have no idea what the right answer is (it's Larry Walker), but this caused the announcers to talk about how awesome all of the four guys were.  Then one of them says:

Guerrero threw the ball like he swung the bat.  Wild.  Big cuts.  On the fly.  Never wanted to hit a cutoff man.

With a bat?  Jesus, I hope not.  That will get you suspended for sure.

Look, I get that this is nitpicky, but this is also a segment that the talky talk TV guys (whose only job is to talky talk for like 3 hours a day, 162 days a year) basically had time to rehearse.  It's not like the guy flubbed his analysis during the middle of unpredictable and exciting game action, like, I don't know, this guy.  There was a pitching change going on.  The poll results were displayed.  The options had probably been displayed a couple innings earlier, encouraging dumb fans who want SMS spam to TEXT IN WITH THEIR VOTES!  They had a few seconds to talk about how Guerrero won, but the other guys were great too.  And then this dude wanders off down a tangent and ends up sounding like a jackass.

OK, I'm nitpicking.  I felt bad because I hadn't posted in a while.  I'll start that Simmons bullshit tomorrow or this weekend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Baseball Tidbits Because Why Not

Apparently, even though the NFL has started, baseball is still being played. That provided FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal with some dumb things to say. Here are two good (bad) clips:

Regarding Braves' GM Frank Wren's contract-awarding decisions:

The [B.J.] Upton deal was baffling — rival executives and even players were critical of it from the start, saying that Upton had accomplished little to warrant such an investment. Uggla, though, was on a Hall of Fame track when the Braves acquired him from the Marlins. Few anticipated that he would fall so hard, so quickly.

*&@%^* the heck? Did anyone actually think Dan Uggla was on a HOF track? I guess the larger point that KR is trying to make here - that Uggla's decline came more precipitously than many would have expected, is somewhat relevant. But if I were KR, I might note that Uggla's last season with the Marlins was unusually good compared to the four seasons before it - easily viewed as an outlier. That might be a fair claim to make if you're critiquing the Braves' decision to sign him. But Dan Uggla, Hall of Famer? You gotta be kidding me.

Regarding Drew Smyly's success with Tampa Bay after being traded from the Rays:

Smyly, 25, clearly is benefiting from the Rays’ advanced approached to analytics. Upon joining the team, club officials informed him that they had detected some of his lesser-known strengths by studying the numbers.

Good old Tampa Bay and their nifty computers! They're good at computing things.

The Rays told Smyly to elevate his fastball more — sort of a counter-intuitive move for a pitcher — and they also emphasized that while he was successful getting to two strikes against right-handed hitters, he needed to find better ways to finish those hitters off.

The first point is useful advice and kudos for the analytics, but the second point seems useless. Analytics guy: "Hey Drew, when you've got two strikes against righties, throw better pitches".
Drew: "What was wrong with the pitches I was throwing? Any idea what kinds of pitches were successful or unsuccesful here?"
Analytics guy: "You gotta find better ways!"
Quality reporting here, Ken.

Obviously, the biggest key for Smyly is executing pitches, but he said the Rays’ suggestions made a big difference in his approach. Makes you wonder why the Tigers didn’t pick up on the same things

Hard-hitting analysis from Ken Rosenthal, ladies and gentlemen. Maybe the Rays think the biggest key for Smyly is using his fastball differently or changing his two-strike approach, but Ken Rosenthal knows that the biggest key for Smyly is executing pitches. Tune in next week, where Ken Rosenthal explains that the biggest key for David Price is getting outs.

I'm surprised he didn't go all Joe Morgan and say that the biggest key for Smyly is concistency.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

FMTMQR: NFL returns // I'm sick of it already // Fuck Gregg Easterbrook


It's time for the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE OF FOOTBALL TEAMS to resume play.  Thus, I will resume torturing myself by trying to get through Easterbrook's columns without descending into a fitful rage of all caps internet yelling.  This column is particularly fun (read: goddamn infuriating) because of his continued misunderstanding as to whether people want to read haikus when they're looking for sports analysis.  He thinks they do, but little does he know, haikus are enjoyed only by serious poetry academics, 4th graders learning poetry and cleft-assholed writers.

America's original all-haiku NFL season predictions! 

I hate this article already!

This is the 15th year, the crystal anniversary -- Bristol, I'd like a dilithium crystal, please. 

Would a swift kick in the cunt work instead?

Below find a haiku, with predicted record, for each of the NFL's 32 teams. Allowing you casually to say to friends and romantic interests, "Hey, I was reading poetry today."

And if they sincerely respond with "That's very interesting," then fuck you and fuck them.

First, one of those serious topics that comes before fun. 

WHY ARE THE JEWS MAKING SO MANY VIOLENT MOVIES?  It's a new season, so I get to break that reference out again.  And hell, I might break it out in every TMQR.  Who's going to stop me?

There's progress at the intersection of sports and society -- especially, of football and society. In just the past five years, a bleak picture has improved. 

Uh... barely?  Negligibly?

So -- is victory won?

No?

• Emphasis on reducing deliberate helmet-to-helmet contact at all levels of football -- pro, college, high school and youth.

The NFL insists that rule changes aimed in this direction have nothing to do with concussion prevention, because football does not cause concussions, and even if it did, it would be the fault of the players who agreed to play the sport, not of the NFL or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.

• Emphasis at all levels on teaching heads-up tackling form, something many coaches didn't even know about not long ago.

Yeah fucking right.  Coaches used to tell kids that leading with the head was perfectly acceptable--in fact, it was preferred, because it's easier to not see where you're going when you're trying to spear a guy in the sternum!

• Reduced contact time in practice -- more concussions happen in practice than in games -- in the NFL and NCAA. The defending champion Seahawks were just zinged by the league for not adhering to the less-contact rule.

I'm real sure these rules will be taken very seriously, especially at the NCAA level, where the average coach falls somewhere between "Ted Bundy" and "Timothy McVeigh" on the sociopath scale.

• The Ed O'Bannon and Power Five decisions, which may lead either to less inequity in the financial situations of big-college athletes or to the collapse of the NCAA. Either would be preferable to the current arrangement.

I'm happy about the O'Bannon decision (haven't read Power Five yet), but I am pretty sure that for fans of the sport of football, the collapse of the NCAA is not preferable to the current system, no matter how much said system eats butthole.

• ESPN put its weight and brand behind adding graduation rates to the ranking of college teams.

The latest sensation that's sweeping the nation!  ESPN Grade (that's really what it's called), the sports world's newest ranking system that is definitely going to change the way fans look at top 25 football programs!

Most important because of the large numbers involved at the prep level -- never forget most serious football is played in high school, and it's played by people who, legally, are children -- are two huge reforms:

I'll bet you thought most football was played by 57 year olds, but you're wrong.  Only Gregggggg has the intellectual capacity to understand that a time-consuming and athletically demanding sport is mostly played by the section of society with the most free time and spare energy.

• State laws requiring youth and high school coaches to get training in diagnosing and managing concussions have gone from unknown to almost universal. Rules regarding summer two-a-days heat acclimation have gone from rare to common. In 2011, on the same August day two prep football players died in Georgia of heat stroke. Then, Georgia had no meaningful rules about heat and hydration. Now, Georgia follows the National Athletic Trainers' Association guidelines. Many states do, and soon most or all will.

I don't want to shit on anyone's safety parade, but let's call a spade a spade: these rules change due to liability worries on the part of school districts and schools, not because they're good ideas from a safety perspective.  High school football is slowly but surely becoming big business, especially in states like Georgia, and you can be sure that the only thing that will stop schools from DOIN' FOOTBAWL PRACTICE THE WAY MY PAPPY DID AND THE WAY HIS PAPPY DID BEFORE HIM is a lawsuit.  Just sayin'.

• States are beginning to restrict high school football contact time. California, the most populous state, just enacted a law that soon will limit full contact in practice to three hours a week during the summer and season and prohibit offseason contact. Texas, ground zero of prep football culture, already limits full contact to 90 minutes a week.

OK, fine, I'll can the cynicism regarding serious topics and get back to the dumb stuff.  Right after this.

These are movements in the right direction. 

True.

Your columnist has been pounding the table about athletic reform for years, and many times expressed cynicism regarding whether there would ever be positive change.  Now there has been. 

PRAISE BE UNTO YOU, KING EASTERBROOK.  IT IS YOU WHO HAVE FOISTED THIS CHANGE UPON THE FOOTBALL WORLD.

Now -- America's original all-haiku NFL season predictions.
AFC East

Brady's last hurrah?
Modeling career beckons.
The New England Pats.
Forecast finish: 11-5

A smoking wreckage
of Jeff Ireland era.
Miami Dolphins.
Forecast finish: 6-10

"I am the greatest!"
Ali boast seems mild to Jets.
The Jersey/B Jets.
Forecast finish: 6-10

Foolish Club loses
Ralph Wilson, last of his time.
The Buffalo Bills.
Forecast finish: 5-11

Is there any good reason to pay this man to write this garbage?  Any reason at all?  Do his pageviews justify whatever ESPN pays him?  Is he bringing a core demographic to their site that otherwise wouldn't click there?  This guy is a fucking intellectual pissant.  I hope he regularly shits his pants when he's nowhere near a bathroom.  What a fucking waste of letters this is.

Department Of Redundancy Department: Ferrari's new $1.6 million, 950-horsepower supercar is named LaFerrari. Calling it "the LaFerrari" would become "the The Ferrari." Oprah has an endorsement deal for chai tea. Perhaps the tea should be branded Oprah Winfrey's Oprah Chai Tea Powered by Oprah Winfrey. "Chai" in Eurasian languages simply means tea. So "chai tea" is "tea with tea."

And what's the deal with airplane food?

Public Subsidies For Private Profit: New York state taxpayers just invested $90 million in upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium, mainly to increase Bills team revenue by making the concession areas more appealing. Reader Jim Medwid of Alden, New York, attended a recent Bills preseason game and reports: "The concourses are now wider, but all drinking fountains have been removed from the stadium, which prohibits bringing in any kind of bottle, even clear-sided water bottles." So taxpayers paid $90 million for renovations that force Bills ticket holders to buy $5 water bottles from the concession stands, and guess who keeps the profit.

Frank Stallone!  No, but seriously, fuck NFL owners in their fucking eye sockets.  Sometimes I think they pay Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones to be huge assholes in very public ways, so the rest of them can also be huge assholes without attracting the negative attention they deserve.

NFC East

Warp speed does not help
if the shields (defense) no good.
The Philly Eagles.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Volunteers from the
audience playing OL.
Jersey/A Giants.
Forecast finish: 9-7

Start fast, then brace for
annual December swoon.
The Dallas Cowboys
Forecast finish: 8-8

NEVER says Dan of
name change. CERTAIN say we all.
Washington R*dsk*s.
Forecast finish: 5-11


Normally I would remove this kind of garbage from my posts, but I'm leaving all 32 of these in.  Bask in their worthlessness.  Revel in their uncleverness.  For fucking Christ's sake, he shoehorns the team name into the last five syllable line for each of them, meaning he's only actually writing two thirds of a haiku for each team.  I hate him and I hate that I'm even bothering to analyze this crap.

New York Times Corrections On Fast Forward: During the past six months, the Paper of Record, according to its corrections page:

[List of like 25 things the NYT corrected that are kind of weird and in some cases probably didn't warrant a correction, which is the kind of thing that is interesting to people who enjoy the smell of their own farts.  But I left this one:]

• Corrected a correction;

HAHAHAHA OH WOW.  YOU TRULY ARE THE CAT'S MEOW, NYT CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT.  PAPER OF RECORD?  MORE LIKE PAPER OF REPEATED MISTAKES!

AFC North

Took Lombardi, then
missed playoffs. Win some, lose some.
Bal'amer Ravens.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Oh-for-the-playoffs:
Marvin Lewis can't shake curse.
The Cincy Bengals.
Forecast finish: 8-8

Graying defense, no
run game. Still -- watch out for them.
The Pittsburgh Steelers.
Forecast finish: 8-8

Johnny, LBJ,
GOP: Cleveland does rock.
The Browns (2.0).
Forecast finish: 7-9


The Steelers one is just fucking terrible.  The Browns one is somehow worse.  I'd rather watch six hours of CBS's pregame show than think about these.

Another NFL Abuse Of Taxpayers Continues: The FCC has begun its review of the proposed AT&T-DirecTV merger. Your columnist thinks this creates an opportunity for either the FCC or the Justice Department to end the arrangement in which only subscribers of DirecTV can purchase NFL Sunday Ticket.

I'm with him on this, and his points are pretty fair and reasonable, but I had to leave this in:

DirecTV is a great service if you can get it, but millions cannot -- clear line of sight to the sky above Texas is required. Trees? Live in an urban apartment building? Fuhgedabout DirecTV. 

Why in fuck's name are you doing an Italian mobster bit in the middle of explaining why the DirecTV/Sunday Ticket partnership is bad for consumers?

NFC North

Bears: high-scoring team
with no defense. Yes, the Bears.
The Chicago Bears.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Pack, Favre reach peace deal.
Brett: Give pointers to Putin.
The Green Bay Packers.
Forecast finish: 9-7

AAU football:
Superstars but poor results.
The Detroit Lions.
Forecast finish: 6-10

Breathe sigh of relief:
Broncs now more S. Bowl losses.
Minnesota Vikes.
Forecast finish: 4-12


I am slowly developing Stockholm Syndrome.  I kind of like the Bears one.  I'll admit it.  I kind of like that.  They had a bad offense and a good defense for so long!  Now it's reversed!  The world is a funny place.  Here, someone hand me that bottle of pills so I can knock myself unconscious.

Bad Isn't Good Enough; The 76ers Hope To Be Horrible: Two weeks ago, TMQ declared the Philadelphia 76ers have become "Zen masters" of the NBA art of getting rid of players in order to lose deliberately. I noted that in the past 12 months they'd traded away their three best performers, mostly for benchwarmers with expiring contracts, then used not one, not two, not three, but four choices in the June 2014 draft on gents who are either injured or have existing contracts with European teams. Drafting them ensured more losing!

Please don't try to understand or write about other sports!  You're bad enough when it comes to football!  Thanks!

Unified Field Theory of Creep: 

Yep, he's still going back to that well.

AFC South

Hardly seems as though
Peyton departed, does it?
Indy Lucky Charms.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Fisher shown the door
after 16: downhill since.
Tennessee Titans.
Forecast finish: 7-9

Kirk, Spock both yelled KHANNNNNNNNNNNNNN!
How long 'til Jax fans yell same?
Jacksonville Jaguars.
Forecast finish: 6-10

Texans last season,
Three Mile Island: two meltdowns.
The Houston Texans.
Forecast finish: 6-10


The Lucky Charms!  A terrible new nickname!  Has he been using this all these years, and I just failed to notice?  And look at the Texans one--don't tell me he's retiring "Moo Cows."  THAT'S GOLD, JERRY!  GOLD!  Their mascot looks like a cow, so he calls them the cows, plus adds the sound cows make.  Why isn't he editor in chief of Harper's yet?

Harvard's endowment is sufficient that every undergraduate could attend free, but instead university insiders live in luxury while alums are dunned for more donations, a topic this column will return to later this autumn with my annual endowment-abuse item.

Honestly the only part of any of his columns I actively enjoy.  Big private universities with huge endowments that beg and beg and beg their alums relentlessly are fucking awful.  

Hedge funds are consistently effective at one thing -- enriching their own top management. Bernard Madoff ran a hedge fund. 

Haha, look, I hate big time Wall Street investment bankers and fund managers as much as the next working stiff, but those two sentences next to each other are pretty fucking ludicrous.  You might as well say "Governments are terrible.  Pol Pot ran a government."

NFC South

Gave Seahawks better
playoff game than Broncos did.
New Orleans Saints.
Forecast finish: 12-4

League's only team with
a Director of Mascots.
Carolina Cats.
Forecast finish: 12-4

Bad-sport Schiano
replaced by nice guy Lovie.
Tampa Buccaneers.
Forecast finish: 6-10

NFC title
game seems very long ago.
Atlanta Falcons.
Forecast finish: 6-10

Look, Greg Schiano is a gaping asshole, but we don't need to keep talking about him, do we?  I think he has successfully eliminated himself from the NFL head coaching pool (non-Raiders division) for life.  The BROWNS wouldn't hire him this offseason.  The fucking Browns.  Let's let him fade into obscurity, shall we?

AFC West

Scoreboard was spinning
'til met the Bluish Men Group.
The Denver Broncos.
Forecast finish: 11-5

Made it to nine-oh;
do not talk about the rest.
Kansas City Chiefs.
Forecast finish: 10-6

Dude, let's hit the beach.
Whoa, we have a game today?
San Diego Bolts.
Forecast finish: 9-7

Soon may have no home.
Then San Antonio bound?
The Oakland Raiders.
Forecast finish: 3-13


The Chargers one is probably as bad as these could possibly get.  Right?  Jesus, Mary and fucking Joseph, I hope so.

Exhaust On The Car Pages: This column has noted that newspapers long have had a touchy relationship with auto reviewing. Auto dealers are major advertisers, so reviewers tend to praise all marques. Reviewers tend to extol maximum horsepower, regardless of cost, environmental impact or the relationship between horsepower and road rage -- after all, they don't fuel or insure the cars they test-drive. The terrific 2002 book "High and Mighty" by Keith Bradsher detailed the ways in which automakers all but bribe newspaper reviewers.

Dude, it's 2014, not 1987.  Fuel economy has been a large concern for like 99% of car buyers for more than a decade now.  This is not exactly a timely news item.  You think newspaper car columnists were busy talking about 0 to 60 times and number of cupholders in the middle of post-mortgage crisis recession five years ago?  Get fucking real.  The exception would be, of course, publications aimed at readers who want to buy super high end high performance cars with bad gas mileage, and who have lots of money, and don't care about fuel economy, and make up a small portion of the population, and are mostly assholes who aren't worth complaining about.

[Three paragraphs of complaining deleted]

Of course the New York Times has wealthy readers who want news about products for the 1 percent: the paper touts expensive fashion and high-end restaurants, too. 

He figured it out!  

But a designer cocktail dress or $300 meal don't have public-policy implications. 

First of all, they kind of do.  Second of all, good fucking luck getting a publication that caters to wealthy readers to try to tell the wealthy readers to stop enjoying the kinds of things wealthy people enjoy.  Let me know how that works out.

New Cognomen: Reader Damon Spear of Seattle argues, "If you're going to use Jersey/A, Jersey/B and City of Tampa, you should call Colin Kaepernick's team the Santa Clara 49ers." Mr. Data, make it so!

I'm going to fucking cry.  I'm going to fucking cry.

NFC West

Second-best for two
straight years. This year may be best?
Santa Clara team.
Forecast finish: 12-4

West Coast offense steps
back, West Coast defense steps up.
Seattle Seahawks.
Forecast finish: 11-5

Won 10, went home: League
needs seeded playoff format.
The AZ Cardinals.
Forecast finish: 9-7

Chose Bradford over
Griffin: Regrets begin now.
The St. Louis Rams.
Forecast finish: 4-12


Solid analysis on the Rams one.  The decision was definitely that simple: either Bradford, or Griffin.  That's all it came down to.  And to be sure, while Bradford's career is now completely off track. Griffin has zero injury issues and at this point is guaranteed to be much better than Bradford will be if and when Bradford's body stops falling apart.

Sports Economics Watch: Two weeks ago TMQ noted that Tony Romo and Andy Dalton, a combined 1-6 in the postseason, have richer contracts than Tom Brady, whose 18 playoff victories are the most ever. 

Record in seven preseason games (during which the guys named probably played a combined total of like 100 snaps) vs. number of playoff wins, 80% of which were accumulated before Barack Obama was elected.  That's some gooooood analyzin' right there.  How about you just say that Romo is getting old and getting terrible, and Dalton is young and will probably never be better than mediocre, and Brady, even though he's old, is better than both of them?  Would that maybe be a better way to illustrate this TRAVESTY that is pro athlete pay not perfectly tracking to players' relative levels of skill?

Next Week: During the preseason, Tuesday Morning Quarterback uses "vanilla" items designed to confuse scouts from other sports columns. Starting next week as the football artificial universe resumes, TMQ will come at readers from all directions with obscure references, recondite analogies and unorthodox fact packages. I'll employ an up-tempo format in which each new item begins before the previous one ends.

And I'll be right here the whole way, pointing out what a dipshit you are.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I'm sorry I've said many times that Bill knows the NBA, I was completely wrong (part 4 of 4 OH MY GOD IT'S FINALLY DONE)


We're on the homestretch.  We're gonna make it.  Keep that head down and power through.  Next time, I'll cover whatever article I'm going after in less than two months.  By the way, anyone have any requests/recommendations?  Leave them in the comments.

So where were we?  Ah, yes, FACTS.  Indisputable FACTS about Carmelo's career, such as "He looked cooler with the cornrows" and "He is the 47th best player of all time."

9. Carmelo is averaging 25.3 points for his entire career. Only 13 players averaged at least 25 points, and only 10 have a higher average than Melo: Jordan (30.1), Wilt (30.1), LeBron (27.5), Durant (27.4), Elgin (27.4), West (27.0), Iverson (26.7), Pettit (26.4), Oscar (25.7) and Kobe (25.5). Yes, that’s a list with six Hall of Famers and four future Hall of Famers.

He is a great scorer, no doubt about it, although he was buoyed somewhat by playing on a lot of high-flying fast-breaking Denver teams.  Then again, he has kept his scoring up on some shitty Knicks teams.  While being unable to get them to the playoffs in a terrible division in a terrible conference.  Still, he is a great scorer.  He's a virtual lock to be a HOFer one day, and I'm fine with that.  What I'm not fine with is Bill's insistence that this clown could ever be the best player on a championship team.

10. He averaged 20 points or more for each of his first 11 seasons. Only 11 other players accomplished that: Jordan, Wilt, Kareem, LeBron, Shaq, Hakeem, Ewing, Iverson, Pettit, Barry and Erving. Nine Hall of Famers, three future Hall of Famers.

Yep.  He's a great scorer.  Perhaps even elite.  ONE OF THE MOST DYNAMIC SCORERS IN THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION.  A FACTOR FORWARD.  Joe Flacco : QBs :: Carmelo : scorers.

11. He’s one of 10 players to score 62 points or more in an NBA game.

OK, how many different ways are you going to say he's a great scorer?  We fucking get it.  Also, nice cutoff at 62 there, so as to not include Agent Zero and Tom Chambers (both of whom have scored 60 but not 62).  Since July 2nd, 2006...

12. If you’re thinking about him historically, he’s never getting to the Bird-LeBron-Barry level for small forwards. All three were true superstars. But he’s right up there with anyone else. Check out the first 11 seasons of five superb small forwards: Dominique Wilkins, Adrian Dantley, Melo, Paul Pierce and Bernard King.

Hey, glad you brought this up!  You know what Melo has in common with all those guys?  You couldn't win a championship with any of them as your best player.

[Big list of stats showing how Melo is basically in the neighborhood with all those guys, both in the regular season and in the playoffs]

You couldn’t have pulled a 2011 Mavs with ’Nique (the most exciting of the group), 

Made it out of the first round three times in his career, and never further.

Pierce (the most durable and the best two-way player) 

In seven seasons before teaming up with KG and Allen, missed the playoffs three times, was bounced in the first round twice, the second round once, and made one conference finals while playing alongside Antoine Walker.  Actually a pretty good track record, when compared against the rest of these guys.

or Dantley (the most unconventional); 

Had a pretty terrible record of reaching/winning in the playoffs throughout his career, with the exception of his two full seasons in Detroit, when the Pistons lost in the conference finals in seven and then the NBA Finals in seven.  But of course, those were Isiah Thomas's teams, so the "as your best player" argument clearly does not apply.

none of those three was quite overpowering enough, even if each could have been an overqualified second banana on a title team. (And in 2008, Pierce was.) 

They needed seven games in each of the first three rounds and six in the Finals.  I know Bill loves Pierce more than he loves anything in the world besides Larry Bird and Tom Brady, but I wouldn't exactly call Pierce "overqualified" to be the second best player on that team.  If he even was the second best player on that team.

Bernard doubled as the most frightening non-Jordan scorer I’ve ever seen in my life —

Bill has been singing the praises of King for years, always using him as his main Carmelo comparison (which is not unfair or anything--it's just a little old at this point).  Ever wondered why he keeps honing in on King?  If so, you haven't been reading Simmons for very long.  Here it is:

he took the 1984 Celts to a Game 7 by himself, for God’s sake.

Yes, that's right.  King had a great series against the LEGENDARY BASKETBALL RED SAWX.  That's it.  That's why Bill's casual readers who don't really care about the NBA still know about this great-but-not-legendary guy from the 80s who was felled by an untimely injury and traded three times.  If that series never happens, if King has the same career but never crosses paths with the Celtics in the playoffs, Bill writes a quick couple of paragraphs about him in The Book of Basketball as a "Level 1 guy," somewhere in the top 80 all time or so, and that's the extent of Bill's analysis.  Instead he's ranked in the 50s and he SHOWED INCREDIBLE FORTITUDE IN BOWING BEFORE LARRY LEGEND AND HIS TEAM OF DEMIGODS.

My team threw Kevin McHale (the NBA’s best defender at the time) and Cedric Maxwell at him, with Bird helping and Robert Parish protecting the rim, and it just didn’t matter. 1984 Playoff Bernard ascended into that Bird-Elgin-Barry group, then remained there until he blew out his knee 10 months later.

I can see Bill reading that after writing it, and trying to figure out how to use it as an excuse to bring up Len Bias.

Carmelo? He’s 92 percent as frightening as 1984 Playoff Bernard was. 

EXACTLY 92 PERCENT

He’s just playing in a more difficult league — better scouting, better game planning, better defenses, better athletes, better everything.

This line of argument is usually pretty dumb when applied to any professional sport, with the exception of cases when we're talking about pre- and post- racial integration.  It assumes that Carmelo himself would be exactly the same player he is now if he played in the days of worse scouting, game planning, defenses, athletes, everything, rather than being dragged down with his competition due to the different environment of the day.  Also, there are more teams now, which dilutes the overall talent across the league.

In 1984, Carmelo would have been single-teamed by the likes of Dantley and Kelly Tripucka and Mark Aguirre, night after night after night, and would have torched absolutely everybody. He would have averaged 34 per game like Bernard did during the 1984-85 season. 

I doubt it.

By the way, this is coming from someone who REVERED Bernard.

WE GOT IT, THANKS.

13. Just for fun, the best two-year regular-season runs for Bernard, ‘Nique Wilkins, Dirk and Carmelo:

• King (1984-85): 29.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, 55-07-78%, 23.8 PER, 35.8 mpg, 31.5 usage
• ’Nique (1986-87): 29.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 47-25-82%, 23.4 PER, 38.3 mpg, 32.6 usage
• Dirk (2006-07): 25.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 49-41-90%, 27.8 PER, 37.2 mpg, 29.5 usage
• Melo (2013-14): 28.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.9 apg, 45-39-84%, 24.6 PER, 37.9 mpg, 33.9 usage

That's a good little list supporting the idea that you can win a title with Dirk as your best player, but not with King, Wilkins or Melo as your best player.  Thanks Bill.

14. You realize that Carmelo is better right now than he’s ever been, right?

• Years 1-2: 20.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 43-30-79%, 17.2 PER, 35.7 mpg, 28.8 usage, .094 WS/48
• Years 3-9: 25.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 46-33-81%, 21.4 PER, 36.3 mpg, 32.0 usage, .140 WS/48
• Years 10-11: 28.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 45-39-84%, 24.6 PER, 37.9 mpg, 33.9 usage, .177 WS/48

No argument with that.  But he's still not getting you a title without a teammate who's better than he is.

As his offensive workload has increased, he’s figured out how to become even MORE efficient by expanding his shooting range to 25 feet … only he’s never stopped getting to the free throw line, either.

• Years 1-2 (attempts): 14.8 2s (44.9%), 2.4 3s (29.9%) and 7.0 FT’s (78.7%)
• Years 3-9 (attempts): 17.3 2s (48.5%), 2.6 3s (32.9%) and 8.0 FT’s (81.1%)
• Years 10-11 (attempts): 16.0 2s (47.2%), 5.8 3s (39.1%) and 7.3 FT’s (84.0%)

I'm turning into a broken record here, but I'm still feeling great about my overall argument, which is nice.

/Larry B pushes glasses further up on nose while blogging in parents' basement

And you know what else? Carmelo never received enough credit for playing efficiently as a hybrid small forward/stretch 4, especially last season, when he was saddled with the NBA’s worst starting point guard (Felton, a complete zero on both ends); J.R. Smith’s abominable start (first 29 games: 11.3 PPG, 35% FG); Chandler’s lousy-for-him season (he quietly mailed in more games than anybody); the washed-up trifecta of Amar’e, K-Mart and Metta World Peace; some unforgettably awful coaching from Mike Woodson; and nothing from Andrea Bargnani other than this hysterical YouTube clip.

I'll agree that he deserved more credit last year than finishing outside the top 10 in MVP voting.  I won't agree with Bill's implication, or the implication of some of you commenters (with whom I must respectfully disagree) that he's some kind of underrated player overall at this point.  I don't care how bad the Knicks were last year--the whole Eastern conference outside of Indiana and Miami was an orphanage fire.  A Wizards team that won 29 games in 2012-2013 did nothing but add Marcin Gortat and suddenly won 44 and became a conference semifinalist.  A Hawks team that won 38 games and gave 70+ starts and 30+ MPG to both Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll made the fucking playoffs.  I don't care if Carmelo was playing with nothing but D-League teammates.  If he was really as good an overall player as Bill/the commenters are making him out to be, the Knicks would have made the playoffs.

That pathetic Knicks team didn’t employ a single creator who could get Melo wide-open jumpers off slash-and-kick drives.

The Nuggets employed creators who could do that for nearly his entire career in Denver.  Didn't make much of a difference in terms of overall results.

They couldn’t get him any fast-break points because nobody on the team could run a freaking fast break. So what’s left? Just a slew of possessions, one after the other, with everyone standing around waiting for Carmelo to do something. They were like the pickup team from hell, only Carmelo couldn’t just throw the game and hop on someone else’s team.

They were pretty bad.  But the only meaningful difference in personnel between this team and the one that won 54 games in 2012-2013 was the departure of old-as-shit Jason Kidd.  At what point does their 17 game falloff start to become the fault of the best player on the team?  "Just a slew of possessions, one after the other, with everyone standing around waiting for Carmelo to do something."  Hmmm.  Which came first, the teammates standing around doing nothing, or the shoot-first ballstopper holding the ball for extended periods of time and not even thinking about creating any offense other than that which ends with him taking a shot?  Smith, Andrea Bargnani and Stoudemire are pretty crappy, but they at least all are guys who can still score at a respectable rate.  Maybe, just maybe, the fact that this team was terrible in part comes back to the guy with the 30% usage rate, no?

Everyone bitched about his “ball-stopping” — 

I sure did!

something of which he’s definitely been guilty, from time to time, over the past few years — 

He's been guilty of it most of the time he's been in the NBA, except when Chauncey Billups grabbed him by the ear during timeouts and made him stop for subsequent short periods of time.

but when your coach is in a basketball coma and your entire offense has degenerated into “throw the ball to Melo and he’ll have to create a shot,” what do you expect? 

Mike Woodson is a doofus.  Doesn't change my argument or my chicken/egg argument.  Still feeling good about all of this.

Every opponent went into every Knicks game saying, “As long as we don’t let Carmelo kill us, we’re winning tonight.” And he still threw up 28 a night and played the most efficient basketball of his career. That’s a fact. It just wasn’t that much fun to watch.

He was a great, great scorer.  He wasn't a good enough player to drag his below average team to 38 wins.

15. Melo is the same person as Olympic Melo — the devastating shooter who shows up every two years for international competition and makes open 3 after open 3 like he’s playing a pop-a-shot game. I love Olympic Melo. So do you.

Sure.  No argument here.

If you think of him like a Hall of Fame wide receiver — 

Which you never should, because that's fucking dumb--

say, Larry Fitzgerald — 

OMG HE'S EXACTLY RIGHT!  HE'S ALSO JUST LIKE MICHAEL FASSBENDER!  I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT BEFORE BUT BILL IS 1000% RIGHT

Carmelo’s career makes more sense. Fitz tossed up monster stats with Kurt Warner throwing to him. Once the likes of John Skelton and Kevin Kolb started passing through his life, he wasn’t throwing up monster stats anymore. But nobody ever stopped believing Fitz was great. We made excuses for him that weren’t even excuses.

In case you needed further proof that Bill knows exactly jack diddley fuckall about sports, there you go.

Poor Fitz. We need to find him a QB. What a shame. What a waste of a great talent. He’s losing his prime and he’s never gonna get it back.

Small forward : wide receiver :: monster truck : hula hoop

Why didn’t we ever feel sorry for Carmelo? It’s simple — he placed himself in this situation. 

I'm not sure people didn't feel sorry for him last year.  Still, to the extent they didn't, at least Bill is right about this.

He could have waited until the summer of 2011, opted out of his first Nuggets extension and signed with New York as a free agent. Instead, his agents forced a midseason trade that kept his previous contract in place (more money, more leverage). 

Well, he and his agents were also too dumb to play happy in Denver for the whole 2010-2011 season and then get out when the getting was good.  He pouted through that season and wasn't able to properly lie to the media about the situation (something any superstar athlete should be able to do), which turned into a feedback loop of pouting and unhappiness and caused the Nuggets to ship him out before he could opt out.  It's his agents' "fault," but it's his too, for not playing the situation correctly.

Here’s what that extra money effectively cost them (and Carmelo): Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, their 2014 first-round pick (turned out to be 11th overall), and a first-round pick swap in 2016. Four super-tradable assets … out the window.

Yep, the Nuggets won that trade.  At least I don't have to be bitter about that while I'm busy being bitter about Carmelo generally.

A few other players were involved, including Felton and Timofey Mozgov (sent to Denver) 

Perhaps not a great asset at the time, but has turned into a very decent player.

and Billups (sent to New York). 

That was the sad part.  Leave it to Carmelo to ruin the end of the Denver professional career of the only notable NBA player to ever either grow up in Denver or play his college ball at Colorado.  Thanks, Melo.

And that’s where this deal gets darker. After the 2011 lockout ended, the Knicks used their amnesty on Billups solely to create cap room to sign Tyson Chandler. When Amar’e degenerated into The Artist Formerly Known As Amar’e two seasons ago, they didn’t have an amnesty left to snuff out his remaining $40 million. Whoops. Unable to improve their roster last summer, they stumbled into the comically bad Bargnani trade. This summer, they couldn’t sign any impact players.

All of this is true.  And as Bill already said, Carmelo is a proximate cause of it, with his inability to wait until the summer of 2011 to get to NYC.  At least LaLa was probably happy about the timing of the move.

All in all, that was a catastrophic trade considering Denver didn’t have any leverage whatsoever. 

Smiley emoticon

And it happened because Carmelo wanted more money — the same choice he made last weekend, again, and the same choice you and I would probably make too. 

Perhaps--there's no way of knowing how I would respond to the chance at winning a title while making a gajillion dollars versus being on a shit team while making a gajillion dollars plus fifteen percent more.  But the least he could do is not say dumb horseshit like "I'm all about championships" or whatever that dumb sound bite he gave back in June was.  What a dolt.

Carmelo inadvertently created the narrative that threatens to defines him. 

Oh no, his actions were quite deliberate.  Let's not think of him as a victim here.

There’s a good chance he will play his entire career, then retire, without ever finding the right team. Unless the Knicks miraculously strike oil next summer, his own version of the 2011 Mavericks can’t happen. 

It already did, in 2009, and he couldn't get past a very good Lakers team.  Dirk got past a Heat team that was almost certainly better than that Lakers team.  QED.

His prime will come and go, and that will be that.

It's more or less on his way out--he's 30.  UNLESS HE GOES TO GERMANY AND SPENDS SOME TIME WITH THE SAME STEROID PEDDLERS KOBE PAID TO GIVE HIM ROBOT LEGS.

There was an alternate universe here — Chicago, for less money, for a chance to become Olympic Melo for nine months per year. He would have been flanked by Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic, Kirk Hinrich and a top-five coach (Tom Thibodeau). He would have found his 2011 Mavs. 

Sort of, except that he wouldn't have been the 2011 Dirk on that team, because Rose would be the best player (or so we would have thought when Melo signed; obviously that is in doubt now) and Noah has suddenly turned into a force of nature, like Chandler was for the 2011 Mavs, but way better.

He would have played on a 60-win team, been the crunch-time guy on a title favorite, reminded everyone how terrific he was over and over again. Thirty years from now, long after he has retired and hopefully spent his more than $300 million nest egg wisely, Carmelo will be sitting on the porch of one of his nine houses, nursing a drink, staring out at an ocean and thinking about the unknown. Should he have picked Chicago? How much money is enough money? What’s the price of peace? What would it have been worth to know — to really, truly know? Was he good enough? Could he have gotten there? Did he have it in him?

Hopefully Bill does the same thing, and spends four seconds thinking about it before coming to the conclusion that he was really just one lucky son of a bitch with great timing and an appreciation for low culture that most of America's college students and stupid middle managers share with him.

Instead, he’ll have to settle for people like me: the ones maintaining that he WAS good enough, only it’s an opinion and not a fact. 

Noooo!  Don't give up the "my opinions are actually facts" fight!  It's all you've got!

In A Bronx Tale, 

Finally, the reference to a twenty year old movie you've all been waiting for.

Sonny famously tells Calogero that “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” Well, what happens if you didn’t waste your talent, but it kind of got wasted anyway? Welcome to Carmelo Anthony’s world. What if, what if, what if.

What if Bill didn't shoehorn movie quotes into his verbose, shitty writing?  What if?  Oh that's right.  It would still be verbose and shitty.  What an asshole.

We made it!  High five your computer screen!  Yeah!  Teamwork!

Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm sorry I've said many times that Bill knows the NBA, I was completely wrong (part 3)


I blacked out for a minute there.  What happened?  Did I miss anything?  Better get back to it, because this is one of Bill's worst articles since Grantland started.

So could Carmelo morph into 2011 Dirk if you gave him the right situation? We don’t know because he’s never been in the right situation

Emphasis Bill's.  Holy shit, this man has the logical powers of a goldfish.  Having done an absolutely piss poor job of convincing anyone with a brain that the 2011 Mavericks had a way better supporting cast than the 2009 Nuggets, and conveniently ignoring Melo's many many playoff failures, he is doubling down.  Why wouldn't he?  He gets six emails a day from people in Wisconsin who want him to GM their team!

Why do you think his agents frantically tried to shoehorn him into Chicago’s cap these last few weeks? 

Because people in New York are starting to realize he's a ball stopping shoot first do nothing else later volume scorer, and you're not going to sniff a championship while he's your best player?

The money couldn’t work unless the Knicks agreed to a sign-and-trade with Carlos Boozer’s expiring deal (no thanks!) and some future picks (thanks anyway!). As a last gasp, they used the Lakers as negotiating leverage (you better sign-and-trade Melo to Chicago or you’ll lose him for nothing!), only Jackson smartly sniffed it out. That left Carmelo with three choices:

THREE AND ONLY THREE CHOICES.  IF YOU THINK THERE WERE TWO OR FOUR YOU PROBABLY KEEP PLAYING BLACKJACK WHEN THE TABLE IS HOT AND THEN THE STUPID PIT BOSS CALLS IN A SCARY ASIAN DEALER.

Choice No. 1: Grab $122 million over five years from New York, play with another inferior team, miss the Finals for his 12th straight season, 

Excellent framing there--Bill may be auditioning to be Melo's agent/spokesman.  Miss the Finals for the 12th straight season?  Oh, that's a given.  The real question is if he'll miss the second round for the tenth time in twelve seasons, or if he'll miss the playoffs in a pathetically terrible conference for the second straight season?

and pin the rest of his prime — which he’s never getting back, by the way — 

Wait, you're telling me there's no way to reverse the aging process?  How smugly witty of you.  

on Jackson’s promise that “We’ll Have Gobs of Cap Space in the Summer of 2015!!!”

Which they will.  And they probably won't be able to spend it on anyone better than Rajon Rondo or Al Jefferson.  But still.

Choice No. 2: Grab $97 million over four years from the Lakers, become the new face of the second-greatest NBA franchise ever, 

FACK YOU LAWS ANGELUS!  WE AHHHHHH BETTAH!  THIS IS AN IMPORTANT DEBATE IF YOU ARE 9 YEARS OLD AND LIKE ONE OF THESE TEAMS, OR NAMED BILL SIMMONS!  6 FOR 24!

move to Southern California, dabble in the whole Hollywood thing (yes, his wife is an actress), 

"Actress."  Not the most robust resume.

pick his own head coach, convince Pau Gasol to re-sign there, 

ANTHONY WOULD HAVE MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!  KOBE WASN'T ABLE TO DO IT, BUT GASOL DEFINITELY WOULD HAVE WANTED TO STAY AND PLAY FOR A TEAM FEATURING TWO BALL STOPPING SHOOT FIRST GUYS INSTEAD OF JUST ONE!

hope Kobe spent the summer training with Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong and A-Rod, 

Nice setup here.  If Kobe is bad in 2014-15, HAW HAW FACK YOU KOBE.  If he's good, AWBVIOUSLY STAHHHHROIDS!  BOOOOO!

hope they can flip Nash’s expiring contract into one more asset, make some noise next spring and hope the Kevins join him in 2015 and 2016. That’s a lot of hoping, by the way.

Just like the Knicks are doing a lot of hoping that they can build a championship team around Melo.

Choice No. 3: Sign a four-year deal in Chicago for less money (starting around $14-15 million), become the crunch-time guy for an absolutely loaded Bulls team, and answer every question anyone ever asked about him.

Except for the one about whether he can win a title on his own, which is still asked by dunces like Bill Simmons.  However, I do agree with what Bill is about to say--it would have been fun to have Melo go to Chicago, have Rose get hurt again, then watch the Bulls limp to the 8th seed as Melo scores 27 a game on 25 FG attempts.

I wanted him to sign with Chicago for less money — a wildly unrealistic outcome that was never going to happen. 


Even typing the sentence “For God’s sake, Carmelo, you’ve made over $135 million in salary already, not counting endorsements and whatever this next deal pays you, so it’s not like you’re a candidate for Broke II — 

Awesome reference!  If you're a fucking loser who thinks bad movies are good!

why wasn’t it worth giving up some dough to play for the right team???” looks dumb and naive. I don’t blame him for grabbing the money. He can always force a trade if he’s not happy, right?

Oh, indeed he can.  Indeed he can.  He can do it if his wife is unhappy too.

At the same time, I wanted to know once and for all. I wanted to know how good Carmelo Anthony is. Because, right now, I believe the following things:
1. He’s one of the best natural scorers I’ve ever seen.

And Bill has seen every natural scorer who's ever played for the Celtics!

2. He’s one of the NBA’s eight or nine best players and has been for some time.

LeBron Durant Davis Aldridge Dirk Westbrook Cousins Noah Griffin Curry.  Nope.

3. He could win you a title on his version of the 2011 Mavs.

Good try.

Again, those are just opinions. But what am I about to present to you? All facts.

You only have to wait until fact #1 to find something that's not a fact.

1. His best team ever was the 2009 Nuggets. (Covered above.)

Perhaps true, but I like that this college-educated man does not know what a fact is.  Anyways, I'll stop splitting hairs on this since most of the rest of these are also not actual facts.  What's important is that the 2009 Nuggets minus Melo are more or less equal to the 2011 Mavs without Dirk, and meanwhile, let's not forget that the 2010 Nuggets were essentially the same team as the 2009 Nuggets, and that 2010 version didn't get out of the first round.

2. His best teammates ever: Chauncey Billups (post-Detroit version), Allen Iverson (post-Philly version), Andre Miller, Marcus Camby, Amar’e Stoudemire (post-Phoenix version, right as his knees were going), Tyson Chandler (post-Dallas version), Kenyon Martin (post-Nets version), Nene (never an All-Star — not once) and the one and only J.R. Smith.

Love the recognition for Camby here (assuming these are in order), who was always underrated.  Anyways, this is true, so good for Bill.  Doesn't change Melo's career long string of playoff failures, or his inexcusable failure to get the Knicks into the playoffs last season.

3. He never played with anyone who made an All-NBA team except for Billups (third team, 2009), Chandler (third team, 2012) and Amar’e (second team, 2011).

Hey look!  A fact fact!

4. He had only four teammates make an All-Star Game: Iverson (2007, 2008), Billups (2009, 2010), Amar’e (2011) and Chandler (2013).

Wow!

5. He had five head coaches in 11 years: Jeff Bzdelik (never coached again), Michael Cooper (became a WNBA coach), George Karl (coached 1,887 games, only won two Finals games), 

HAHAHAHAHAHA.  Go fuck yourself, you fucking asshole.  

Mike D’Antoni (sadly, he coached again) and Mike Woodson (now a career assistant). Meanwhile, Dirk had three coaches in 15 years: Don Nelson (Hall of Famer), Avery Johnson (made a Finals and also won 67 games in a season) 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Yes, that was all Avery!  Definitely not him inheriting a loaded team at just the right time!  That's why he's currently very very available to any NBA team that wants to hire him.

and Rick Carlisle (future Hall of Famer).

If Carlisle is a HOFer, so is Karl.  We covered this already.  But let me reiterate, just to be crystal clear: for saying George Karl "coached 1,887 games, only won two Finals games," he can go die in a fire.

6. Dirk has spent his entire career with the same owner — the lovable and influential Mark Cuban, who didn’t always make the right moves, but built a state-of-the-art organization and spent as much money as anyone. Carmelo spent seven years in Denver enduring multiple front-office power struggles, 

Source?  Citation?  Where is one of those cheeky little Grantland footnotes when you really need one?  The reason there isn't one here (I usually delete them, btw, but I didn't do that here) is because this is patently false.  But don't let facts get in the way of your narrative, asshole.  Full speed ahead.

then had multiple Knicks GMs in four years (not counting CAA’s brief takeover last season). Oh, and he had James Dolan calling the shots.

And he had the chance to get away from Dolan... and didn't take it.  

(The real irony here: Carmelo had only one truly competent front-office mind in 11 years. Who was it? Masai Ujiri … who traded Carmelo to New York in 2011 once Carmelo made it clear he was signing there anyway. Carmelo = not blameless. By any means.)

That's not irony.  Ujiri trading him to New York and him now playing in New York because he wanted to be traded there so he could play there is... pretty unironic.

7. He suffered bad luck two different times — when an already loaded Pistons team unbelievably picked Darko over him in 2003, 

Yeah, had he played on that 2003-2004 Pistons team that knocked off the Lakers in the Finals, the question would finally have been answered: can you win an NBA title if Carmelo Anthony is your 8th man, playing 12 minutes a game?

Yes.

Yes you can.

and when his agent didn’t follow LeBron’s and Wade’s lead by putting a three-year out into Melo’s first contract extension (with Denver). 

That's because Melo signed his extension almost a week before LeBron and Wade did, you fucking fuckhole.  Try doing some fucking research you horsefucker.

In the summer of 2010, Melo could have stolen Bosh’s spot in Miami or jumped to the up-and-coming Bulls, only he couldn’t get out of his deal for another year. Those were his two best chances to find a true contender. 0-for-2.

One inconsequential to the current argument, the other never actually existed.

8. Here’s how much Carmelo’s teams have relied on him since 2003 — right now, he owns the fifth-highest career usage rate ever (31.7 percent), 

Chicken/egg--yes, his teams have relied on him, and yes, he's a ball stopper who loves to take long twos and other ill-advised shots.

trailing only Jordan (33.2 percent), Wade (31.9 percent), Iverson (31.8 percent) and Kobe (31.8 percent). In the playoffs, he has the fourth-highest career usage rate ever (32.6 percent), trailing only Jordan (35.6 percent), Iverson 34.3 percent and T-Mac (33.5 percent). 

And nearly a .350 winning percentage!

On the other hand, he has played with only two 20-point scorers (Iverson in 2007 and 2008, Amar’e in 2011) and three guys who averaged more than 15 points (Billups in 2009 and 2010, Amar’e in 2012, and J.R. in 2013). I mean, didn’t someone have to shoot?

You know nothing about basketball.  Fucking... nothing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I'm sorry I've said many times that Bill knows the NBA, I was completely wrong (part 2)


Warning: shit gets heavy somewhere near the end of this post.  Usually I enjoy picking apart Simmons, like "ha ha this guy is dumb, I'm having fun with this, tee hee."  Near the end of this post I got legitimately annoyed.  I think it comes through in the writing (I'm adding this intro after I finished the rest of it).  Enjoy!

Unfortunately, we need to compare Carmelo to a better player to prove that point.

That's a great indication that you won't be able to make that point.  This is like saying "I know where there's a million dollars in buried treasure.  Unfortunately, I need to go grab a million dollars and bury it before we go dig up that treasure."
The 2011 Mavericks won the title

Indeed they did.  Let's see how.

with a veteran team 

Average age of the eight guys who played the most minutes was 31, a bit upwardly skewed by 37 year old Jason Kidd.

built around a spectacular coach (Rick Carlisle), 

Definitely a good coach--career .588 winning percentage in the regular season, and .509 in the postseason.

an elite rim protector (Tyson Chandler), 

He definitely is, although he doesn't bring much offense.

an elite perimeter defender (Shawn Marion), 

Sure.

an elite heat-check guy (Jason Terry), 

Idiotic terminology, and overstate's Terry's abilities--I'm not saying he's never hit a series of big shots, because he certainly did against the Heat in the 2011 Finals, but his career 3FG% is just just .379 and his career 2FG% is just .484.  (In 2010-2011, those numbers were .362 and .493 respectively.)  Anyways, Terry is a great 7th man, but not really a great 6th man.  Yes, I know he won the 6th man of the year award in 2008-2009, but he was playing 34 minutes a game.  NAWT A TRUE 6TH MAN.  HE IS THE CHANNING TATUM OF 6TH MEN.

quality 3-point shooting (39.4 percent and 184 made 3s in 21 playoff games), 

Agree, that is quality, although any playoff run is such a small sample as to be negligibly useful in judging whether the team was actually a good shooting team, or just happened to get hot at the right time.  The Mavs shot 36.5% during the 2010-2011 season.

savvy team defense 

Hooray for stupid bullshit (not even really anecdotal bullshit--this is somehow less useful than that would be) that can't be disproven!

and one historically good scorer with crunch-time chops (Dirk Nowitzki). 

Indeed.  

If you believe Carmelo can lead a championship team, you’re leaning heavily on that 2011 Mavs playbook — you’d need all the elements we just covered, and you’d need Carmelo to unleash a damned good Dirk impression.

Yes, except for the fact that Dirk is better than Carmelo.

Only one problem: Dirk was better than Carmelo is.

Great, so there goes your whole point.  This has been productive.

Dirk is one of the 20 best basketball players of all time by any calculation. He’s the best foreign player ever not named Hakeem. Of the 10 best forwards ever, he’s behind Bird, LeBron and Duncan, right there with Doc, Elgin and Pettit, and ahead of Malone, Barkley and Rick Barry.  He won an MVP and a Finals MVP. He made four first-team All-NBA’s and five second-team All-NBA’s. He won 50-plus games for 11 straight years, topped 60 wins three times, made two Finals, beat LeBron and Wade in the Finals, and won a Game 7 in San Antonio during Duncan’s prime.

I'm not going to be so Simmonsy as to claim I know exactly where Carmelo stands among everyone all time, but suffice it to say that his resume does not stack up to Dirk's.  He's never finished higher than 3rd in MVP voting (in 2012-2013, mostly because he led the league in scoring) and has only been in the top 10 twice.  He hasn't won a Finals MVP, because, as we've discussed, he's only ever come remotely close to sniffing the Finals once in his eleven year career.  He's never been first team All NBA and has been second team just twice.  His teams have won 50 games just four times and have never topped 54 wins.  Basketballreference has something called the "Elo Player Rater," which, fuck if I really know how it works, but it appears to be a crowd-sourced set of rankings.  They currently have Dirk as the 3rd best active player and 22nd best all time.  Melo is younger, so he's had less time to cement a legacy, but he's just 16th best active and 67th best overall.  This "let's build a case for Melo as a guy who can win a Finals without other superstar help on the fact that Dirk did the same" attempt is falling to pieces.

And it’s not like he had a ton of help. In 15 years, he played with only four All-Stars: Jason Kidd (2010), Josh Howard (2007), Steve Nash (2002 and 2003) and Michael Finley (2000 and 2001). Amazing but true: Dirk never played with a Hall of Famer in that Hall of Famer’s prime.

Roughly the same for Melo, certainly the same on the HOFer in his prime front.  Dirk got Kidd and Nash, but Melo got two years with Iverson (even if that experiment didn't really work out).  Melo also has played with several Michael Finley/Josh Howard type players, including Billups, Marcus Camby, NeNe, and Ty Lawson.

During Dirk’s decade-long peak (2002 through 2011), he averaged 24.5 points and 8.8 rebounds and came damned close to creating the 10-Year 50-40-90 Club (48% FG, 39% 3FG, 89% FT). 

Melo can't come close to touching those shooting numbers--for his eleven year career, he's at 45-35-81.

His career PER (23.48) ranks 19th all time, just behind Doc (23.58) and Bird (23.5) and just ahead of Kobe (23.36). 

Melo's career PER is 21.17, 42nd all time, sandwiched between Alonzo Mourning and Clyde Drexler.

And he was an absolutely phenomenal playoff performer: 25.6 PPG (12th all time), 24.2 PER (12th), 22.6 win shares (16th), stellar 46-37-89% splits in 135 games, and a couple of epic multigame hot streaks in 2006 and 2011. 

I described Melo's playoff mediocrity last post, but let's add in here that his career playoff PER is 19.94, 44th overall.

Along with Pettit, Hakeem and Elgin, he’s one of four players in the shot-clock era who averaged 25 and 10 in the playoffs. 

Melo has averaged 26 and 7, but he's need to shoot a shitload to get those 26.

And he’s an underrated leader, 

Lol Melo

a famously fantastic locker-room guy, 

Lol Melo

an insanely hard worker and someone who, by all accounts, everyone loved playing with at every point of his career.

I've never heard anything to the contrary about Melo, but I've never really heard anything similar either.

That’s why I dislike comparing Carmelo and Dirk. 

You should, because Melo isn't Dirk, and on the scale of superstars, he's not even close.

But I keep coming back to these two playoff lines:

2011 Dirk (21 games): 27.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 49-46-94%, 8.9 FTA, 25.2 PER
2009 Melo (16 games): 27.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.1 apg, 45-36-83%, 9.0 FTA, 24.3 PER


It’s not THAT far off, right? 

And this, ladies and germs, is all the proof you need that Bill Simmons's writing method is pretty much "Come up with idea (usually one that adheres to my already existing beliefs about the subject matter in question), write column, ignore evidence that contradicts idea, find shreds of evidence that kind of sort of make idea look non-horrible, pimp them with idiotic rhetorical questions, profit."  Seriously, we've just run down how much better (especially in the playoffs) Dirk is than Melo.  And then, in an effort to get this train wreck back on the tracks, he throws out Melo's best playoff performance (both in terms of how far his team went, and in PER), runs it up against Dirk's performance during the Mavs' title run (which is not Dirk's best playoff performance; that came in 2010 (28.4 PER in 10 games) or if you want a larger set of games, 2006 (26.8 in 23 games), and then moves on.  Fucking unbelievable, this guy.  What a fucking chode.

The 2009 Nuggets were Carmelo’s best team; they fell to Kobe’s Lakers in Round 3 with a poor man’s version of the 2011 Mavs. 

And this is where it gets pretty fucking good.  Yes, yes please.  Let's do a rundown of the 2008-2009 Nuggets (54-28) against the 2010-2011 Mavericks (57-25).  Let's look at all those items he listed at the beginning of this post and see how they stack up.

George Karl wasn’t Carlisle. 

Oh, the George Karl with a longer track record than Carlisle, a better regular season winning percentage, and a slightly worse playoff winning percentage?  Carlisle is "spectacular" but a guy with 1100+ career wins, who's never coached anyone better than young Gary Payton, young Ray Allen or young Carmelo doesn't stack up?  Cool.

Nene and Kenyon Martin couldn’t protect the rim like Chandler. 

This is very true, but what they brought in offense probably makes up for what they didn't have in terms of rim protection.

They didn’t have a perimeter defender anywhere close to Marion’s caliber. 

First of all, this isn't true, as Dahntay Jones is a different kind of perimeter defender but probably on balance about as good as Marion.  Second of all, the defense (both individual defense, and the ability to coordinate team defense) brought by Billups to that 2009 Nuggets team puts what 37 year old Jason Kidd was doing on the defensive end for the 2011 Mavericks to shame.

They couldn’t shoot 3s nearly as well (only 31 percent for that Lakers series). 

Good try, doofus.  Enough with your shitspeck-sized samples.  The 2008-2009 Nuggets were a better regular season 3FG% team than the 2010-2011 Mavericks (roughly 36% to 34%) and even with that shitty performance against the Lakers, shot 38.3% for the playoffs.  The Mavs shot 39.4% during their title run.  This is 100% wrong.  The Nuggets were a BETTER 3FG% team than the Mavs.  

They relied way too heavily on J.R. Smith, who imploded against Kobe and got outscored 204 points to 76 points. 

OK, for this one, I have no counterargument, other than to say Smith was the Nuggets' version of Terry, just not as good.  He averaged 14/3/3 while shooting 44%; Terry went for 17/2/3 while shooting 48%.  And yes, Kobe went off against the Nuggets.  He's Kobe.  

Their bench consisted of Dahntay Jones, Linas Kleiza, Chris Andersen and Anthony Carter, or, as it’s better known, the Pu Pu Platter Deluxe. 

OH GOD ANOTHER PU PU PLATTER JOKE.  NEVER GETS OLD.  Their bench also included JR Smith, who you'd think Bill wouldn't be able to completely forget about in the span of one sentence, but here we are.  Meanwhile, beyond Terry, the 2011 Mavericks playoff bench featured Jose Barea, "the corpse of" (LOLOLOL!!!!) Peja Stojakovic, and Brendan Haywood, which is pretty fucking pu pu platterish itself.  But why let facts get in the way of a narrative.  Full speed ahead!!!

And Melo’s best teammate, Chauncey Billups, played two great rounds before turning into a human icicle against the Lakers (39.7% FG, 33.3% 3FG).

Meanwhile, Melo shot 48% overall and 45% (!) from three during the first two rounds of the playoffs, then turned into a human icicle against the Lakers (40.8% FG, 25% 3FG).  You know, you'd think that if you were trying to figure out why the 2009 Nuggets didn't get past the Lakers, you'd want to see how their best player played in that series.  But I guess since we started with the thesis that Melo got let down by his teammates, we don't have time to do that.  Too bad.

Again, in all caps … THAT’S THE MOST TALENTED PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM THAT CARMELO ANTHONY EVER PLAYED ON.

GOOD JOB PUTTING YOUR COMPLETELY UNINFORMED OPINION IN ALL CAPS, TO MAKE IT THAT MUCH DUMBER!  BLOW IT OUT YOUR ASS!  BLOW IT OUT YOUR ASS!  YOU FUCKING NIMROD!  YOU ARE TRULY A GODDAMN IDIOT!

More later.

Monday, July 28, 2014

I'm sorry I've said many times that Bill knows the NBA, I was completely wrong (part 1)


Here's Bill's ode to Carmelo Anthony, penned shortly after Melo re-upped with the Knicks. Full disclosure: I am a Nuggets fan, and definitely hold a small grudge against Carmelo for the way he demanded the trade that sent him out of town. (I say small grudge, because three years later, the anger I initially felt is heavily tempered by the fact that the Nuggets probably won that trade.  At the very least it's quasi-semi-even-ish.)  Anyways, in case you didn't know it, Bill is a big Carmelo fan.  I'm not sure why--maybe he saw Darko and Melo walking down a hallway a few months before the 2003 draft, decided Darko was a sure bust and Melo was a sure 25,000+ point scorer, and is still riding high on that prediction.  If you have a brain, you can look at what Melo has accomplished in the NBA: tons of points, not enough anything else (although to his credit, his assist and rebounding percentages have improved ever so slightly in New York; he's also maintained his true shooting percentage despite an increased usage rate), and probably most importantly, a terrible playoff record.  You can then conclude that Melo is a good player who isn't capable of winning a championship without help from some other stars.  Bill, unsurprisingly, does not take this route.

I'm not trying to spout lava-hot taeks along the lines of WINNING IS ALL THAT MATTERS IN THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION JUST ASK MIKEL JORDAN QED.  But moreso than in the NFL, NHL or MLB, a star player needs to prove his worth by doing well in the postseason.  It's up to him to carry his team, because he can carry it, in a way that no other major sport athlete can.  Quarterbacks and goalies CAN have huge impacts, but those don't measure up to the impact an NBA star SHOULD have on nearly every playoff series in which they participate.  Sure, a goalie can steal a couple game or even a series; but no goalie, not even the best of the best, is going to be able to do that year in and year out for the entire playoff stretch.  Same for QBs.  But an NBA superstar who is capable of leading a team to a championship should almost always be "on" in the playoffs.

So how has Melo been in April and May, eleven years into his career?  Well, before looking at that, let's at least give him credit for having BEEN to the playoffs ten of eleven possible times.  And the Knicks missing the party this past season is hardly Melo's fault, after he put up 10.7 win shares and 27/8/3 while shooting 45%/40%/85%.  But that's pretty much where the compliments can stop.  Melo has gotten his teams out of the first round just twice in his ten playoff appearances--to the conference finals on a stacked Denver team in 2009, and to the second round in 2013 on a not particularly stacked Knicks team.  That's not a WINNING WINNER in my book.

Eight out of ten times, it's been one series and done for Melo's teams--and sometimes with him playing like garbage.  Most of his career averages are roughly equivalent in the regular season and in the playoffs, except for one very important one: his FG% drops from 45.5 to 41.7, and his TS% drops from 54.7 to 51.1.  Other stars--both current stars and retired stars he's often compared to, like Bernard King and Alex English--don't have this problem.  As for the good performance/bad performance divide, he was an absolute mess in the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2011 playoffs.  Three of those were tough matchups (top seeded Timberwolves in 2004 while he was a rookie, eventual champ Spurs in 2005, and eventual conference champ Lakers in 2008), but you'd think he would have shown up for ONE of those series, rather than average 19 points while shooting well under 40% and winning just a single game in all three series combined.  Two more of those bad performances came against less tough matchups (the mediocre 2006 Clippers and aging 2011 Celtics) and he couldn't hit the ocean from the beach against either, shooting 33% and 38% respectively.  Put a different way, in ten career playoff appearances, a guy who is a sure thing to finish his career in the league's all time top 25 in points, and has a good shot at the top 10, has shown up and played well during the playoffs in just half of his career appearances.  In just those five good performances, he has won three total series (two in 2009, one in 2013) and has guided his teams to a 20-24 record.  In the GOOD performances.  In the bad performances, his teams are a combined 2-20.

I think that's more than enough prologue.  I wanted to lay that out there because I'll be referencing those numbers throughout this series of posts.  If you tl;dr'ed over those last three paragraphs, which is fine (you short attention span having cretin), all you need to know is this: Melo is an awesome scorer, but he has a shitty playoff record that does not befit his reputation as a star, and Bill thinks you can win a title if Melo is your best player, which is fucking idiotic. No, really, he thinks that.  Here:

This wasn’t one of our happier years at the “You Can Absolutely Win a Title If Carmelo Anthony Is Your Best Player” Fan Club headquarters. 

Like I said.  With just two exceptions (the 2004 Pistons and the 2011 Mavericks), in order to win a title in the past 20ish (actually 23) years, you've needed to have one of these guys on your team: Jordan, Olajuwon, Duncan, Kobe, Shaq, KG, LeBron.  If you didn't have one of those guys, your title chances were sparse.  They've been hogging all the titles since before the internet existed.  Look at the names who aren't on that list--Malone, Stockton, Ewing, Durant.  But at least each of those I just named have played for a title.  Melo hasn't even done that.  And somehow you "absolutely" can win a title with him as your best player?  Particularly now that he's on the wrong side of 30?  Go fuck yourself.

Our man missed the 2014 playoffs in the rancid Eastern Conference, 

All it took to make the playoffs in the east last season was going 38-44.  In a division where the other four teams besides the Knicks were a combined 76 games below .500, the Knicks couldn't pull that off.

then received a rude comeuppance from his new Knicks boss, Phil Jackson, who lobbied him publicly to stick around at a discount price. 

What does Phil Jackson know about putting together a winning team?  Obviously giving Melo a max extension and continuing to surround him with mediocre teammates is the fast track to titletown.

The Bulls couldn’t carve out enough cap space for him. 

Slash didn't want to.

The Lakers couldn’t offer a good enough supporting cast. 

Fortunately he'll still have Andrea Bargnani and Iman Shumpert around next year!

The Rockets never gained momentum, for whatever reason. 

Because they already have James Harden filling the "scores a lot, not great at anything else, you probably don't want him to be your best player" role, and filling it better than Anthony does in New York.

Carmelo ended up re-signing for $122 million for five years, pretending that was the plan all along … even though it wasn’t.

Based on the circumstances that brought him to NYC, i.e., he demanded a trade there because his wife told him to demand a trade there, I wouldn't be too surprised if that was the plan all along.

You know what really shocked me? Hearing Knicks fans and Lakers fans wonder whether it was a smart idea to splurge on Carmelo at all. Where are you REALLY going if he’s your best player?, they kept asking. 

The answer is in those three paragraphs at the top of the post.  You're going to the second round, if you're really lucky and everything comes together, and otherwise you're going to the golf course.

Take my friend Lewis, a lifelong Southern California guy, one of those complicated superfans who’s nutty enough to grow a beard for the entire NHL playoffs, only he’s rational enough to freak out over Kobe’s cap-crippling two-year extension, but he’s also irrational enough to still believe the Lakers could eventually sign Kevin Love AND Kevin Durant. You can always count on him for a rationally irrational reaction, if that makes sense.

It doesn't, because you're a god-fucking-awful writer who learned from another mostly god-fucking-awful writer (Klosterman) that it's useful to readers to describe people/things with contradicting terms and then just say "if that makes sense" and move on.  Sounds to me like Lewis is a non-complicated fan.  He likes his teams and is optimistic about them, but also acknowledges when they do stupid stuff.

When news broke two weekends ago that the Lakers had become serious Carmelo contenders, I couldn’t wait for Lewis’s reaction. 

We're all just as fascinated by your friends as you are, definitely.

After all, he reacted to last March’s Marian Gaborik trade as if his Kings had just acquired Gretzky again — I figured Carmelo would rank highly on the Gaborik Reaction Scale. 

Turns out, Lewis isn't a fucking dunce.

Instead, here’s the email exchange we had.

FASCINATING.

Me: Are u officially in Carmelo mode?
Lewis: God no. Hope he goes to the Knicks.

Isn't this what you want from your sportswriters, everyone?  Word for word transcriptions of completely unremarkable emails containing no original or entertaining ideas about stuff happening in the world of sports?

Wait a second … my rationally irrational Lakers buddy didn’t want Carmelo?

SURE LOOKS THAT WAY.  Holy shit, this is horrendous and we're not even halfway through my first post about it, which will probably be one of four or five by the time I'm done.

Me: You don’t mean that.
Lewis: It’s a bandaid on a broken arm. It locks them up with no flexibility for two years until Kobe goes.

Why is Lewis friends with Bill?  He's too smart for that.

He didn’t want Carmelo Anthony??? On the Lakers???

MORE REPEATED PUNCTUATION PLEASE!  I LIKE MY SPORTSWRITING TO LOOK LIKE IT WAS DRAFTED BY A 12 YEAR OLD GIRL!!!!!!!

I surfed a few Lakers blogs and message boards and found similar ambivalence. Some fans wanted him, others didn’t understand the point. Many felt like the rationally irrational Lewis — they wanted the Lakers to land a top-five lottery pick (if it’s lower than that, it goes to Phoenix), wipe Nash’s expiring contract off their cap, then make a run at the Kevins (Love in 2015, Durant in 2016). 

They'd rather take that very sensible path, than sign a guy who hasn't won shit in his career, plays the same kind of game Kobe does, and is on the wrong side of 30?  Those lunatics!

That’s a smart plan, except (a) they could easily stink and STILL lose that 2015 lottery pick, 

Definitely a reason not to tank.  Like Bill always says: you never want to tank in the NBA, you always want to be mediocre.  Definitely don't do what you can to win the lottery, because it's way too risky to try that.

(b) Love will probably get traded this season (and might like his new team), 

I "love" (lol!) the spin here.  Love is a free agent after this season, which is why Laker fans are hoping their team can sign him.  Bill's counterargument: 1) Love will probably get traded this season, which has nearly fuck-all to do with his impending offseason, and 2) assuming he does get traded, which isn't a certainty, he might want to sign an extension with his new team.  GAME, SET, MATCH.  NICE TRY, DUMMIES.  YOUR PLAN HAS BEEN POTENTIALLY MAYBE RUINED.

(c) nobody knows what Durant wants to do, 

Somehow dumber than the Love analysis.

and (d) nobody knows if the post–Dr. Buss Lakers are still a destination franchise.

Yeah, who would want to go play for the Lakers anymore?  Now that they've moved to Fargo, forfeited all their championships and history, and are owned by a mill worker who is forced to pay them their salaries in grain rather than dollars, let's face facts: it's over for that so-called "franchise."

What a fucking diptard.

And it’s not like the Lakers are loaded with assets; they have Julius Randle, the promise of future cap space, the allure of Los Angeles and that’s about it. 

MAY NOT EVEN BE A DESTINATION FRANCHISE ANYMORE.

They’re owned by Jimmy Boy Buss. They owe Kobe $23.5 million this season and $25 million next season — nearly 40 percent of their cap — without even knowing if he can play at a high level anymore. 

Say he can't.  What's the consequence to a 2015 free agent?  You spend one season on a team that features an HOFer in his final season, and then you free up some cap room to go after more good players in the summer of 2016.  What a frightening prospect.  Clearly, signing 30 year old Carmelo is a much better idea.

The best asset on that side of Staples Center is probably Ramona Shelburne’s reporting for ESPN.com; she’s better than anyone on their actual team. The Lakers may have switched bodies with the Clippers two years ago and we just haven’t realized it yet.

Seems unlikely.

Knowing that, how could any Lakers fan not want one of the best scoring forwards in NBA history? 

For all the fifty reasons we've been over so far?

Why weren’t Knicks fans freaking out that they might lose their franchise player for nothing? 

Because they've watched him do a whole lot of scoring and a whole lot of nothing else in three seasons, including going 7-14 in the playoffs in the much weaker of the two conferences?

Why were so many Bulls fans (and I know three of them) 

I DON'T HATE THE BULLS!  I HAVE THREE BULLS FAN FRIENDS!

saying things like “I’d love to get Melo, but I hate the thought of giving up Taj [Gibson] for him”?

Because Gibson is 3/4ths the player Melo is for 1/3rd the price, and the Bulls already added a scorer in Paul Gasol?

How did Carmelo Anthony, only 30 years old and still in his prime, 

We don't need to split hairs here, but at best, I would argue that he's "very late" in his prime.

become the NBA’s most underappreciated and misunderstood player?

Probably by being an incomplete player who has won three playoff series in eleven years.

The problems start here: Carmelo Anthony is definitely better than your typical All-Star, but he’s not quite a superstar. You know what that makes him? 

What direction do you think Bill is going to take this?  If you had to guess, what kind of analogy is he going to construct?

An almost-but-not-quite-superstar. He’s not Leo DiCaprio or Will Smith — he can’t open a movie by himself. He’s more like Seth Rogen or Channing Tatum — he can open the right movie by himself. There’s a big difference.

Please stop banging your head on your keyboard/tablet.  I'm just as embarrassed for Bill as you are, but we need to finish this.

Here’s something I wrote on July 8, 2010, the day that LeBron took his talents to South Beach.

I need my NBA superstar to sell tickets, generate interest locally and nationally, single-handedly guarantee an average supporting cast 45-50 wins, and potentially be the best player on a Finals team if the other pieces are in place, which means only LeBron, Wade, Howard, Durant and Kobe qualify. There’s a level just a shade below (the Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstar) with Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Roy, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. (Note: I think Derrick Rose gets there next season.) Then you have elite guys like Bosh, Pau Gasol and Amar’e Stoudemire who need good teammates to help them thrive … and if they don’t have them, you’re heading to the lottery. You know what we call these people? All-Stars.

Sorry, Portland fans — I made a mistake not telling you to take a deep breath before you read that paragraph. My bad. 

Oh man, the guy who was their team's best player back then ended up getting hurt and retiring!  I bet that was really hard for them to read about!

But exactly four years later, those levels look like this.

Superstars: LeBron, Durant.

Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstars: Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Paul George.

Watch out: super hot Paul George taeks can be read here.  REALLY, HE'S MORE LIKE JEREMY RENNER THAN CHANNING TATUM.  I'M SURE WE CAN AGREE ON THAT.

All-Stars: Stephen Curry, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh, Derrick Rose (if healthy), Rajon Rondo (if healthy), Kobe Bryant (???).

A few semi-stunned notes about that revised list. 

Quasi-mystified!

First, two true superstars 

Are those like True Yankees?

is the NBA’s lowest number since 1979, the season before Bird and Magic showed up. 

That bullshit list, and Bill's serious analysis of the bullshit list that he just bullshitted out, is even more bullshitty than bullshit.  Anyone who dares repeat this analysis in conversation with you ("Hey, did you know the NBA only has two True Superstars right now, its lowest number since 1979?") should be immediately kicked in the balls.

Second, Anthony Davis is our only superstar in waiting right now … well, unless you feel like bending the rules and counting Joel Embiid If He Stays Healthy or my illegitimate Australian son, Ben Simmons (a frighteningly gifted high schooler who looks likeBenji Wilson 2.0).

You like Anthony Davis.  We get it.  I hope you (the readers this time, not Bill) realize that if Davis continues to get better and becomes an All Star for years to come, which seems pretty likely at this point, Bill is going to talk about how he knew Davis would be good in every fucking column for the next decade?  So fun.  I'm really looking forward to it.  Only a basketball savant like Bill could tell that a five star recruit, turned NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player, turned #1 overall draft pick would be a star.  Good for Bill.  Someone give him a condescending pat on the head for me.

Third, we’re in the middle of an under-30 talent boom that’s as loaded as any run since the early ’90s, and yet we dipped from 11 superstars and almost-but-not-quite-superstars in 2010 to 10 of those guys in 2014.

PRETTY CRAZY.  LET'S GET A ROUNDTABLE WITH COUSIN SAL, MALCOLM GLADWELL AND ZACH LOWE GOING AND MAYBE WE CAN FIGURE OUT WHY THIS DEFINITELY EXISTING AND NOT AT ALL RIDICULOUS, POINTLESS AND MADE UP TREND IS HAPPENING.

Six dropped out and five jumped in, not including Rose, who briefly careered into the superstar group in 2011 and 2012. 

NO ONE DENIES THIS!

(You also could have talked me into putting Curry, Harden and Aldridge on the Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstar list after enough drinks.) 

But only then!  Unless you pump him full of Mike's Hard Lemonade, Bill's analysis of the True Superstar tiers remains solid and unimpeachable.

I didn’t expect that much turnover. 

Neither did anyone, because no one gives a flying donkey cunt about your list.

Four years doesn’t seem like that long of a time, right?

In the context of writing this blog and watching bad sportswriting stay bad sportswriting, let me assure you: it feels like fucking eons.

And fourth, Carmelo’s 2014 level was a tougher call than everyone else’s combined. After all, he’s made one conference finals and zero Finals. He’s never won more than 54 regular-season games or made an All-NBA first team, although he did finish third in 2013’s MVP voting (no small feat). 

ESPECIALLY FOR A NON-TRUE SUPERSTAR!

He’s made only seven All-Star teams in 11 years (two fewer than Chris Bosh). Most damning, Carmelo has lost nearly twice as many playoff games as he has won: 23 wins, 44 losses. 

It's 22 wins, 44 losses.  Really not that hard to check the "GP" column on basketballreference.com and see whether your numbers add up.

You can’t even use the whole “Look, Carmelo can drag any mediocre team to 44 wins and the playoffs!” argument anymore — not after last season.

Exactly.  Although he was very awesome last year, it wasn't even enough to MAKE the playoffs in a putrid division in a putrid conference--and you think that with the right team, that includes no one who's better than him, you're winning a title?  Keep fucking dreaming.

So what’s left? Can’t we downgrade him to All-Star and be done with it? Isn’t 11 years enough time to know — to truly, unequivocally know — whether it’s with television shows, music groups, girlfriends, quarterbacks or basketball players?

The first two: who the fuck knows, and why are we talking about them?  The third: I certainly hope so.  The fourth: eh, probably, although there is Kurt Warner.  The fifth: fucking DEFINITELY.

For me, it keeps coming back to one question: Can you win the NBA championship if Carmelo Anthony is your best player?

The short answer: Yes.

You can.

One sentence paragraphs.

No one does them quite like Bill Plaschke.

Who is a fucking moron.

Like Bill.

More later.