Friday, November 18, 2005

The Brawl

In the midst of writing my 90210 review (which I can't seem to figure out how to write), I realized that tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of The Brawl, or as some people like to call it, "The Malice at the Palace." I'd like to revisit this historic event.

First of all, I remember stumbling back to my room that Friday night insanely drunk and seeing that headline on Yes, when I go back to my room, I check For what reason, I don't know. Anyway, I was so shocked that I slightly sobered up. I then tried to get ESPNMotion to show the fight, and I couldn't really see anything with blurred vision and a bad feed. So I went to sleep. I made sure to watch TV all day the next day, and what I saw was ridiculous. Here were my initial questions:

What in the name of Dennis Rodman was Ron Artest thinking lying on the scoring table? Wasn't he asking for some fans to berate him? What was that fan thinking when he tossed the beer? Why did Artest have to charge up there? Did he really think he'd find the culprit? Had Stephen Jackson been waiting to fight the fans because he was all about punching people? Who was the genius who threw the chair? What were those two Piston fans doing on the floor? Weren't they asking for it? What was said that provoked Jermaine O'Neal to do a sliding punch? Finally, why did I get drunk instead of watching the game live?

Well, most of those questions were not answered except we found out that a relative of Ben Wallace threw the chair. That guy is so stupid, but watching the replay makes it pretty funny. Here's what the brawl boiled down to in my eyes:

Artest was acting like an asshole, Grade A asshole. That fan, who replays show punching Artest in the head while Artest is being restrained should have gotten his ass kicked for being a moron. The fan who Artest initially attacked deserved to the beating he received because he was dumb enough to start yelling at a crazed Artest who was running up the stands looking for someone to pummel.

Here's where my controversial opinion comes in. The fans who walked onto the floor deserved to get the shit beat out of them. Once you walk on that floor, you can check your rights at the door because that's the players' haven, and they will fight you if they feel threatened on that court. It's their right. They are told all the time to feel safe playing in front of 20,000 hostile fans, but the fact of the matter is, when those fans become as hostile as they were, players can do whatever they want to fans who go looking for trouble on the floor. Ron Artest used his defensive instincts and went after those two dudes on the floor. However, Jermaine O'Neal's sliding punch is questionable.

I could go into a whole discussion about race, but I don't want to talk about that here. So here is my one racial thought: White people and black people make each other feel uncomfortable. It's unfortunate, but it's a fact of life, and when big black men violently charge into a crowd of white people, it's much worse than if it were white people attacking white people. And that's why this thing ballooned the way it did. I'm not blaming the brawl on black people, but I will put the blame on Ron Artest's shoulders for acting the way he did. He had two chances to prevent this from happening, to not lie on the scorer's table and to not charge the crowd. But he did both, and he got what he deserved.

Friday, November 04, 2005

2005-2006: The Year of The Mavs?

Before I begin this preview, I apologize for not putting this out before the season started. I had a test on Tuesday, and then I got my sleeping thrown out of whack. But I'm ready to roll with this thing. Just to let you know, this preview has been in the works for a couple weeks, if only in my mind, and the past two games have not changed my opinion on what I think about the team.

Without further ado, I give my preview. I'll start with players, and I'll go in numerical order:

#1-Rawle Marshall: I'll be honest with this guy, the only thing I know about him is that he played for Oakland University in college and lead them to a win in the play-in game before being pancaked by North Carolina. I saw him play in the preseason, but I don't remember a thing. Good Luck, Rawle. I hope you do well playing in Fort Worth.

#2-Keith Van Horn: He is everything that fans hate in an NBA player. He's white, lanky, seems to be in the wrong place, and he always plays out of position. On top of it all, he's getting paid something like 15 million dollars this year. Having said that I Love Keith Van Horn on the Mavericks. He gives so much to the team by just being there. He is a poor man's Dirk, which means that the Mavs only lose half a step when Dirk is resting, rather than the full step lost if we still had Raef LaFrentz or any of the guys brought in to back up Dirk. Do you remember how upset people were when we lost Van Horn in the playoffs last season and how excited everyone was to have him back? He fills his role well, and I predict he'll do the same this year. Plus there's a big bonus with Van Horn, and it starts with his contract. He comes off the books this year as the following person becomes a free agent and will be locked up here for a long time...

#5-Josh Howard: Last year's playoffs defined Josh Howard to me. He showed such attitude, such fortitude, such competitiveness. That was such a Bill Walton sentence. But seriously, I will never forget in the Phoenix series there was a tie up underneath the basket, the ball was win mid-air, and after the ref blew the whistle, Josh punched the ball, which flew across the court. He then got in someone's face and received a technical foul. I went nuts. That's the attitude that the Mavericks were missing before he came. No backing down and becoming proactive. And the best part about Howard's attitude is that he's not a goon; he contributes, a lot. We'll see more of the same from Josh Howard, may be a little more scoring, but he brings it every night, and that's all I care about.

#6-Marquis Daniels: Ironic how they're next to each other, huh? Actually, I don't agree with people who say that Marquis and Josh are the same player. Marquis is a better ball handler and Josh is a better rebounder. Combined, they are Michael Finley in his prime. Sorry I had to bring his name up. Marquis is my favorite Maverick to see because he looks like he's always high. In fact, he is my wallpaper, and the pictures are hilarious. One of them is black and white where he tries to look like a model, one is him shooting a jumpshot out of a splash of water, and at the bottom it says SMOOTH. It should say STAY HEALTHY because if he does, he will round the Mavericks out so well. He can play defense just as well as offense, which is huge for the new defensive-oriented Mavericks.

#7-Disagna Diop: When I was in New York, my Uncle gave us tickets to go see the Mavs play the Knicks in the preseason. Of course, the Mavericks put in their back-ups for a lot of the game, and Diop was one of them. I remember when he was drafted out of high school, and I remember how frustrated the Cavs were with him. Even my buddy, Brett, who does not know a great deal about basketball, noticed how bad Diop was. How lost he looked, how out of position he always he was. We spent the entire game ripping on him because he looked like an idiot out there. Then he hit the game-winning tip-in shot at the buzzer, and we were unimpressed. Then I found out he had 5 blocks that game. Still unimpressed. Here's the thing, when a player drops rebounds like he's a Seahawks receiver catching footballs it's not a good thing. Especially when it's a center. Disagna will be great if he blocks 5 shots a game. He'll be awesome if he sucker punches Ginobili. Since neither will happen, I just hope he doesn't blow a game.

#10-Darrell Armstrong: I think he is like the Avery Johnson of the Mavericks from a couple years ago. Rarely used point guard who can provide a spark, but most of all, a veteran presence who can keep the players in line. I was really glad that we kept him on.

#13-Doug Christie: I still shudder thinking that he's on my favorite team. I feel torn with him. I have never had a player who I hated so much play for my favorite team. It is bizarre seeing him out there because I see his face and I think "Dickhead" then I see the jersey and I think "Go Mavs." He can be great for this team if he sticks to his role. No scoring needed. Just shut down Parker or Ginobili or McGrady or whoever else is thrown at us. He is great at frustrating opponents, I know this because I'm just a fan, and I wanted to strangle him all the time. Plus he fought Rick Fox once, which could have lead to a Vanessa Williams/Mrs. Christie fight, which should be on pay-per-view.

#24-Pavel Podkolzine: He's out for 4 months. Not much to say except if we didn't trade for him, then we could have drafted Wayne Simien! Argh. Oh well. I guess it's the Mavericks' right of passage to have freakishly tall guy on the team. And since Shawn Bradley is gone, Pavel will do.

#25-Erick Dampier: I always wanted Damp on the team, ever since we lost to San Antonio in the playoffs in 2001. So last year we got him, and everyone hated him. They expected him to be like Shaq (probably because he said he was second in the league behind Shaq). But you cannot get upset with an athlete because he's not performing to his expectations. We all know he's not second behind Shaq in terms of true centers, but get upset with him if he does things like take jumpshots, which he thankfully hasn't done yet. He provides a presence down low, and he may be overpaid, but Supply of centers is low and Demand is high, so prices will be inflated. That's simple economics. I go to college.

#28-DJ Mbenga: This is one of those guys Donnie Nelson found in the middle of nowhere and claims he's the next big thing in the league. Doubtful, Donnie. If he were good, more people than just you would have found him. If this were a movie, say The Air Up There, I'd believe you, but you're not Kevin Bacon, and DJ Mbenga will never be a starting center.

#31-Jason Terry: As hard as this is for me to say, the Mavericks cannot win a title with this Jason Terry as the point guard. I love the guy. He's a great player, but he's a hybrid point guard and shooting guard. He's no good without the ball, but in order to be a championship caliber team, you need distribution. I have faith that he can become more of a passer, but Avery Johnson wants him to be a scorer. He is a scorer, but how many scoring point guards have won NBA titles? Regardless of what I just said, I understand what the Mavericks are trying to do with him. They're trying to keep the same team together to create chemistry. It makes perfect sense for now, but there's someone else waiting in the wings who is developing his own thing...

#33-Josh Powell: Not him! He'll be in Fort Worth all year. See ya in the big leagues soon.

#34-Devin Harris: This is the guy who will lead the Mavericks to an NBA title one year. And it will be glorious. In 5 years, he will be one of the top 5 point guards in the league with Shaun Livingston, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and whoever else can squeeze in there. My Mavericks' love rests in Devin Harris's ability, but there is one thing he has to do: Slow Down! He looks like he tries to do too much out there when all he really has to do is drive and pass. He has great ball handling skills, and he is a smart player. But becoming a successful point guard in this league is a long process; good thing Harris is progressing nicely.

#41-Dirk Nowitzki: My Dad's favorite athlete growing up was Joe Namath. If I have kids, I will tell him that I had two. Reggie Miller and Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk exemplifies everything I Love in a basketball player, he shoots the three, he's passionate, he's tall for his position, and he has a sense of humor. And only recently did that passion become fire. He was ridiculous in last year's playoffs. He got his team fired up, and make no mistake, it is his team now that Finley is gone. Dirk is hands down my favorite athlete in all of sports. Yes, even over guys like Michael Vick, Willis McGahee, Dwyane Wade, Lebron, and even Jerry Porter (Kinda random to throw him in there, but I gotta give him some love). My point about Dirk is that I have an opportunity to watch a player who I have always wanted to see. What makes it even better is that he is on my team in my hometown. So my biased prediction is that he'll put up MVP-caliber numbers, and if the Mavs win over 60 games, he could actually win the award.

#42-Jerry Stackhouse: Going into last season, I did not want Stack on the team at all. I thought we traded him so we could stockpile pieces to trade for Shaq. That obviously did not happen, but I was pleasantly surprised with him during the season. It wasn't until the playoffs that I began to appreciate his play, though. Against Houston, he couldn't miss from 3-point range! He played some great defense and not once complained about coming off the bench. I found out during that season that before the Mavs pulled the trigger on the trade, they made him agree to become a 6th man. He didn't flinch before hopping on a plane to Dallas. This guy is hungry for a ring and is willing to do what he has to do.

After reading about each player, I'm gonna tell you what I predict we'll see from the combined play of these guys:

  • Dirk and Josh Howard will emerge as the two best players on the court and create a lethal combination of finesse and grittiness.
  • Devin Harris will get some crunch time minutes to distribute the ball to our best clutch shooter, Jason Terry
  • Avery Johnson will bench a player, possibly Dirk, for playing shitty defense
  • Doug Christie will constantly give love signals to his wife
  • Josh Howard will get into at least 3 tussles during the season and will be ejected from a game leading to a post where I applaud him
  • Erick Dampier will actually shut down Shaq
  • Disagna Diop will suck in at least one game where we desperately need him
  • Doug Christie's wife will murder 4 or 5 attractive Maverick fans when Doug is looking at them in the stands

Overall prediction: Dirk will win MVP after we win around 60 games but still get 4th in the conference. We'll end up playing a tough Houston team in the first round despite the fact it's a matchup of 2 vs. 3. After a 7 game win against Houston, we'll take San Antonio to 7 games. The Maverick fan in me says we'll beat them in 7, then take on either Phoenix in the conference finals and beat them in 7 only to beat the Heat in 7. That's right, four 7 game series for the Mavericks to take home the title. Wishful thinking and contradicting to a lot of things I've said in this preview, but do you think I'd write a preview and say that the Mavs won't win?

Good luck, boys. Do Dallas Proud