Extending an olive branch to NBA fans

NBA MVP breakdown, Part I

Rockin’ and chalkin’ with The Links

Before passing along his recommended reading, the Sports Guy offers his thoughts on the Kansas-Memphis title game. Story

Before we hit The Links, let me give you four thoughts about Monday night’s Kansas-Memphis game:

1. In my Chris Webber column two weeks ago, I mentioned the 1986 World Series and the concept of Microcosm Losses, when a team blows a championship because its fatal flaw ends up rearing its ugly head at the worst possible time. Sure, the fans of that team can look back and say, “We blew that game; we should have won it,” but a fatal flaw is fatal for a reason. With the ’86 Sox, it was an unreliable bullpen. With Webber’s 2002 Kings, it was their lack of a dominant player. With Memphis, it was lousy free-throw shooting. So you can’t really be surprised that free throws killed the Tigers in the end — in any close game, it was destined to happen.

If you were ranking this game in the Levels of Losing 2.0, it was a combination Guillotine Game (the potential for poor foul shooting hanging over the last two minutes like a black cloud) and a Stomach Punch Game (the Mario Chalmers shot). It’s going to be interesting to see if the Memphis-Kansas game is eventually remembered as a traumatic loss or a fantastic comeback victory. My guess is that, as time passes, we’ll end up remembering the Kansas comeback and Chalmers’ miracle 3-pointer, the same way everyone remembers Keith Smart’s game-winning shot and nobody remembers the confused Syracuse players allowing four seconds to tick off the clock before they finally called timeout.

2. I don’t know how many more times a team can give up a game-tying 3-pointer with less than seven seconds to play before it becomes a mandatory strategy for everyone to foul. Over the years, I think I’ve written about this 20 times. It’s completely inane. My theory is every NBA and college coach knows it’s completely inane, but they’re under orders from David Stern and the NCAA higher-ups not to foul in those situations so there will be infinitely more exciting finishes. That’s the only possible explanation.

(By the way, my buddy Sal argues Memphis was the only team that shouldn’t have fouled in that situation because it would have stopped the game, and the Tigers would have had to hit free throws on the other end. My counter-argument: Let’s say they foul Chalmers with six seconds left before he launches the 3, and he makes both. They inbound the ball and Kansas fouls them with something like 4.9 seconds left on the clock. Even if they only make one of two, Kansas still has to go the length of the floor and get off a good shot in less than five seconds. Would you rather roll the dice with that scenario — as well as the potential wrinkles that either Chalmers missed one of his free throws or Memphis made both — or would you rather not foul and allow a game-tying 3-pointer? I think it’s a no-brainer: Foul before they shoot the 3.)

3. I watched the title game in a crowded sports bar and couldn’t hear the announcers. For that reason alone, it might have been my favorite title game since Arizona-Kentucky 10 years ago, another OT game that I watched in a bar (Sully’s in Charlestown) and couldn’t hear the announcers.

4. Worst debate coming out of the game: Will Bill Self stay at Kansas or “sell out” and jump to Oklahoma State to become the highest-paid college coach? There’s nothing funnier than when sports columnists and radio hosts — for the most part, a group of people who will appear on any conceivable show no matter how terrible it is, as long as they’re getting paid at least $50, and by the way, if you want them to spend three months ghostwriting someone’s forgettable biography, they’re available for that, too — complain someone else is selling out. Give it a rest. I guarantee that if you offered any sports media member three times as much money to work somewhere else, 99.99999999 percent of the time, they’d take it. They would. So please, shut the hell up and spare us the “selling out” stories.

All right, on to The Links …

BEST LINK OF THE WEEK
This is a strong statement, but “Canada on Strike” might have been my favorite “South Park” episode ever. It’s a masterpiece. I just picture Patric Verrone watching this show with a tight smile that eventually becomes more frozen than Priscilla Presley’s face.

BEST READ OF THE WEEK
From Craig in New York: Based on The Links, I assume you either subscribe to NY Magazine or read it online every week, but this piece just blew me away. The most thorough treatment of the failure of the Isiah Thomas-led Knicks I’ve seen. This makes Chad Ford’s treatment of Isiah’s moves seem cursory. Anyway, Donnie Walsh might not be the savior, but he did fulfill one of the two requests all Knicks fans have — he will have us under the cap in the summer of 2010. If he promises to hold on to David Lee, we’re all set. We’re not asking for much.

(Follow-up note from Simmons: Stick with this piece because it gets better as it goes on, especially during the part where the writer stumbles across Houston’s scouting report of the Knicks before a Knicks-Rockets game. That part killed me.)

CRAZIEST CLIP OF THE WEEK
Here’s my suggestion for the Celtics during the playoffs: Considering Gino is approaching a six-year run as the team’s human victory cigar, I think he needs some help. Well, what about Tommy Seebach’s performance in the “Apache” video? You’re telling me this wouldn’t bring the house down? I love Gino, but Tommy Seebach blows him away in every department. I defy you to watch this entire clip without giggling at least 170 times.

CRAZIEST LINK OF THE WEEK
Everyone knows about the FIA president allegedly being involved in a Nazi sex orgy by now, but just in case you were on vacation or something, here it is. The only way that one’s getting topped is if there’s a Nazi sex orgy involving a sports figure and four German shepherds.

CRAZIEST LINK OF THE WEEK IF THERE HADN’T BEEN A BREAKING STORY ABOUT A NAZI SEX ORGY
From Rob K. in NYC: “This is one of the weirdest articles I have ever read. Felix Dennis, the publisher of Maxim [magazine], discusses, among other things, how he killed a man, his infatuation with hookers, and his crack and sex addiction.”

CRAZIEST NEW YORK KNICKS STORY OF THE WEEK
From Barry A. in Burlington, Mass.: “Enjoy the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola detailing the Soviet-era media policy of the MSG company that oversees the Knicks and Rangers, using direct quotes from the internal media policy. Just incredible stuff originating from the mind of a thoroughly paranoid James Dolan.”

YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK
At long last, the Jimmy Snuka-Don Muraco steel-cage match has finally made it to YouTube! You can’t possibly overstate how exciting Snuka’s leap off the top of the cage was in 1983. You really can’t. It was like seeing the first alley-oop or something.

MOST REPREHENSIBLE STORY OF THE WEEK
Did you see Malik Sealy’s drunk-driving killer was arrested on suspicion of his second DUI since Sealy’s death? How was this scumbag driving a car again in the first place? Why can’t we make a law that any drunk driver who kills someone gets life in prison without parole if they ever get another DUI?

THIS WEEK’S LINK THAT MADE ME FEEL REALLY OLD
More details of the “90210” remake are seeping out, including the revelation that Hannah Zuckerman-Vazquez is going to be one of the characters. Well, that led me to look up Gabrielle Carteris’ career on IMDB.com. Do you realize she’s 47 years old? Good God! Maybe she could play Hannah’s grandmother.

FAVORITE STORY OF THE WEEK
Let’s hope Season 3 of “Friday Night Lights” ends up being better than Season 3 of “The White Shadow.” In fact, Season 3 of the “White Shadow” should be required viewing for the “FNL” writers before they start cranking out scripts. Make sure you don’t give us the next Wardell Stone, fellas.

THIS WEEK’S EVIDENCE THAT PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL IS DYING IN MILWAUKEE
I think it’s dead because we couldn’t find one this week. Although we do have some good news from Mike D. in Maryland: “I’m trying to spread the love and your dream to become the next Bucks GM. Tell your readers to help spread the word with this snazzy T-shirt!

PIECES I ENJOYED FROM THE PAST TWO WEEKS
Joe Queenan tries to determine the worst movie ever made (funny column and I agreed with his choice) … Bill James writes about when a college basketball lead is safe (note: Billy Packer should have read this before he declared the Kansas-UNC game over with 27 minutes remaining) … the St. Petersburg Times calls the Women’s Final Four a “national epicenter for gay women” (I thought that was Showtime?) … a final column from a retiring sports editor in Huntsville, Ala. … the Miami Herald with a scathing anti-Shaq feature that makes you wonder if he didn’t completely tank his Miami situation … Bob Ryan remembers Mitch Kupchak’s playing days (and the obvious Tyler Hansbrough connections) … LA Weekly’s unflattering feature on Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

PIECE I ENJOYED HATING OVER THE PAST TWO WEEKS
The New York Times becomes the latest major publication to write a Worldwide Wes feature and pretend there’s some element of mystery as to how he makes such a lavish living. Hey, here’s an idea for next week’s Times feature: How does Santa Claus get to every kid’s house in one night?

THE SPRINGSTEEN LINK OF THE WEEK
From Joe in State College, Pa.: “This rendition of ‘Prove It All Night’ might be one of the greatest single concert performances ever.”

THE LARRY LEGEND LINK OF THE WEEK
Did it get any better and cheesier than the 1987 Converse “Weapon” commercial? “You already know what it did for me … I walked away with the MVP.”

THIS WEEK’S LINK TO REMIND US CLAY BENNETT IS MURDERING THE NBA IN SEATTLE AND DAVID STERN IS LETTING IT HAPPEN
From Ryan in West Hollywood, Calif.: “Have you seen this atrocity? The Sonics, to honor their fans, are not having a night, but a Fan Appreciation Month! Seriously?! I can’t even wrap comprehension around this farce. They’re going to celebrate us, then give us a collective shiv to the stomach when they take our team away. But first … FREE PRIZES! This — along with Clay-Schultz-Olympia — makes me want to vomit. My heart’s broken. (And, NO, i absolutely WILL NOT root for the Blazers. Ever. I’d rather be an NBA widow, crying into my Detlef jersey, listening to ‘Not in Our House’ by Sir Mix-a-lot and ‘SuperSonics’ by the Presidents of the United States of America on a loop.)”

THIS WEEK’S IRRESISTIBLE REQUEST TO PIMP SOMEONE’S BLOG OR WEB SITE
Everybody was pretty resistable this week. Sorry.

SG-RELATED CONTROVERSY OF THE WEEK
The Mount Dadmore and Mommore (from last week’s April Fool’s mailbag) generated a ton of e-mails, angry responses, provocative opinions and award-winning e-mails. Here were the consensus choices for characters other than the ones I mentioned:

Mount Dadmore: Sandy Cohen, Al Bundy, Andy Griffith, Mr. Drummond, the dad from “Silver Spoons,” Danny Tanner.

Mount Mommore: Roseanne, Mrs. Cunningham, Maggie Seaver, Mrs. Arnold, Laura Petrie, Loralei Gilmore, Shirley Partridge.

Mount Cartoondadmore: Homer Simpson, Fred Flintstone, Peter Griffin, George Jetson.

The more I’m thinking about it, Roseanne has to be on Mount Mommore. That was the first sitcom with a mom as the star of the show. Also, Mrs. Cunningham from “Happy Days” has to be on Mount Mommore because she was the quintessential ’50s mom, and it’s easy to forget how wildly popular that show was in the mid-’70s. So I’m bumping Carol Brady and (as much as if kills me) Elyse Keaton, and sticking Mrs. C and Roseanne on there with Florida Evans and June Cleaver. The other intriguing candidate was Laura Petrie from the “Dick Van Dyke” show — she was before my time, but everyone over the age of 45 still has a massive crush on her to this day. You could make the case she’s the Thomas Jefferson of Mount Mommore. As for Mount Dadmore, I’m sticking with Mike Brady, Cliff Huxtable and Jim Walsh, but bumping Ward Cleaver for Andy Griffith. The more I’m thinking about it, only one parent per show should be represented on Mount Mommore and Mount Dadmore (so June Cleaver bumps Ward).

By the way, the following e-mail singlehandedly knocked Carol Brady off Mount Rushmore for me, courtesy of Craig D. in Farmington, Conn.: “Carol Brady came into the Brady equation with three kids at staggered ages and a busted ’70s marriage. Coke? Infidelity? You can connect the dots. Toss in that she had that SLAVE Alice living in the laundry room, in a uniform, doing all the actual “mom” work. I’m not buying it. June Cleaver was a great mom. No strings attached. Aside from sophomoric Beaver jokes, she was aces. I vote for June over Carol eight days a week.”

NBA LINK OF THE WEEK
I loved this Boston Herald story on Kedrick Brown if only for the Chris Wallace quotes. So let’s see, we could have kept rolling Denver’s pick until it landed in the top five (which is did two years later), but instead we used it at No. 11 to draft a juco player because Wallace got a “tip” from a college coach? A tip? What is this, the 1950s???????? When you couple Wallace’s disastrous performance in Boston with his unequivocal stinkbomb in Memphis this season, he might be the worst GM of the past 10 years other than Isiah Thomas and Scott Layden. Which reminds me, a reader named Alex P. in Worcester, Mass., makes an excellent point: “I was just going through a recent batch of your Weekly Links and saw the trade archive Web site, then went to 1998 to see how Rick Pitino screwed over our Celtics and saw this: ‘Heat — Traded 1997 second-round pick (No. 55 — Ben Pepper), and agreed to release director of player personnel Chris Wallace from his contract to the Celtics for 1997 second-round pick (No. 30 — Mark Sanford) on 5/27/97.’ We actually traded for Chris Wallace so he could screw up our team?!?!?!?!? This has to be up there as one of the worst Rick Pitino moves.”

THE YOUTUBE REQUESTS OF THE WEEK
We have three this week! I couldn’t choose between them. Anyway:

1. From Jackson W. in Riverside, Calif.: “Dec. 26, 1989. I was 6 years old and spending the night watching my dad’s favorite player, Larry Bird, play against the mighty Clips at the lovely L.A. Sports Arena. It came down to the very end and Bird was at the foul line with just seconds or fractions of a second left and his team down by one (I believe). The Clippers called a TO to ice Bird, allowing enough time for the Clippers to have staff members proceed to the baseline, behind the Celtics’ goal and unroll lifesize posters of swimsuit models. Anyway, Bird comes out of the TO (there might not have been a TO … I was 6 … need this video to refresh my mind) and receives the ball from the referee. He looks around, then spins the ball out in front of him in order to free his hands. As the basketball is in front of him he motions his hands in an upward motion as if the crowd was being too quiet. He wanted all the distraction he could get and he waited for it and then promptly sank both free throws to win the game!! I can’t express how amazing this was in words but it definitely changed the way I would play basketball. I need to see this! I know there has to be a ‘SportsCenter’ clip or something out there?!?!?!”

2. From Adam in Yeongju, Kenya: “Sundays here are typically spent surfing though YouTube videos — but I couldn’t find a highlight reel of Jim Ross saying Jim Ross things. I thought there would have been at least a dozen videos with him yelling , ‘Good God, that’s xxxx’s music!’ If anyone can help, it’s you. Thank you.”

3. From Brian G. in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.: “Can someone please find and post the Joe Horn interview where he denies having slept with Willie Roaf’s wife? ‘Joe Horn did NOT have sex with Wille Roaf’s wife! Willie Roaf’s wife is not pregnant with Joe Horn’s baby!’ Classic!”

FUNNIEST POLITICAL STORY OF THE WEEK
Barack Obama bowled a 37 last week. Where’s Dante from “Clerks” when we need him? Thirty-seven???? Thirty-seven??????

BREAKING HOLLYWOOD STORIES OF THE WEEK
1. Why does everyone think HBO is going down the tubes? I mean, it just signed Robert Wuhl to another development deal for a one-camera sitcom! Things are looking up!

2. Brody Jenner is talking about a “Hills” spinoff with MTV, teaching all of us a valuable lesson in the process: If you have a friend of a friend with a reality show, and you want your own reality show, it’s a really good idea to ask out the friend of a friend.

HANK STEINBRENNER LINK OF THE WEEK
I’m assuming Hank never found out about this eBay auction. They should have it again and alert him somehow.

THIS WEEK’S LINK FOR MY BUDDY HOUSE
There’s a great blog that I’m not allowed to link to for obvious reasons … but let’s say there’s a working porn actor who blogs his day-to-day life and also gives college basketball picks. Is that something you’d be interested in? He’s like Rod Benson crossed with T.T. Boy crossed with Danny Sheridan. That’s all I can say.

BOSTON LINK OF THE WEEK
So long to Bob Lobe, one of the last great local TV sports anchors and someone who meant an inordinate amount to everyone growing up in Boston in the ’80s.

STRANGEST HOLLYWOOD STORY OF THE WEEK
Jack Klugman wants his millions in “Quincy” residuals, and he wants them right now! I love the concept of “Quincy” losing money since it has been off the air — how is that even possible? Not even James Dolan could pull that off. And since the subject is “Quincy,” here’s my imitation of the last line right before they headed to the first commercial of every “Quincy” episode: “It wasn’t suicide, Sam, it was murder!!!!!!!” Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week.

Follow-up note: I defy you to find a weirder opening credit sequence for a TV show than the one “Quincy” had — it’s a detective show about a coroner, only the music makes it sound like he’s a bartender in the Caribbean, and then there are some slapstick sequences (like all the cops fainting) and everything ends with Quincy making time with some babe on a boat. He’s a coroner! That might have been the goofiest show from that era that actually made it. Also, I love that there were no other stars from the show. It was like Jack Klugman knew back then, “They’re gonna screw me on residuals 25 years from now. I can’t have any other stars on this show!”

THE UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY LINK OF THE WEEK
From Joshua in Salem, Ore.: “I was looking through your YouTube playlists and noticed an omission of significant proportions. If you could do a search for ‘Unintentional Comedy’ in an online dictionary, the entry would just be the outtakes from this Orson Welles commercial.”

TWO-HOUR SIMMONS RADIO APPEARANCE OF THE WEEK
I did a two-hour run on Dave Dameshek’s show in Los Angeles last week: Here’s Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

THE CAREER ACHIEVEMENT LINK OF THE WEEK

Whooooooooooooooo! I thoroughly enjoyed the Ric Flair era. After the Nature Boy lost a “Loser Must Retire” loss at WrestleMania to Shawn Michaels, the following night’s Monday Night Raw ended with an emotional Flair tribute that’s must-see viewing for anyone who ever loved wrestling in the ’80s or ’90s. Here’s Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. I’ll openly admit it is a little dusty in the Sports Guy Mansion during the last two parts. And if that’s not enough of a hook for you, you have to check out Greg “The Hammer” Valentine with an extra 200 pounds on him. I think he ate Pedro Morales.

CLARIFICATIONS & FOLLOW-UPS FROM THINGS WRITTEN IN THE PAST TWO WEEKS
1. Adam in Chicago: “Can we immediately add Clete Thomas to the starting lineup of the Reggie Cleveland All-Stars? Better yet, can we rename the team the Clete Thomas All-Stars?”

2. Jeff in New Brunswick, N.J.: “You mentioned that a Tupac & Biggie documentary would be the greatest ever. Well, it just happens that there already is a documentary, and it is really good. Here’s a link.”

3. Sean W. in Philly: “In your April Fool’s mailbag, you talked about the need for a sports combination of ‘PTI’ and ‘Celebrity Deathmatch’ with computer animations and everything at the end to decide the fate. Well, Animal Planet already does this witty ‘Animal Face-Off,’ where the show sets up matchups like ‘Tiger vs. Bear’ and conducts a bunch of experiments measuring force of swing, biting power, etc. Then the data is used to conduct the computer simulation at the end. You can easily do this by bringing the guys in, or using tape to be like, ‘Look in the power in that swing! That’s the equivalent of a punch from a champion middleweight!’ and use both collected data and extrapolated data to set up the fight ‘in the wild.'”

4. JoJo in Frederickburg, Va.: “Here’s a blog written last week that echoes the sentiments of all of us longtime die-hard Warriors fans who were drowned out by The Wave in that Mavs-Warriors game you mentioned.”

GRAMMATICAL CORRECTION OF THE WEEK
From Heather in Wood-Ridge, N.J.: “You’ve referred to yourself and several of your readers as sports widows. But you and your male readers would actually be ‘widowers.’ Only females are widows. For pointing out things like this, I am single, not a widow.”

SNOTTY CORRECTION OF THE WEEK
From Alex in Chicago: “Hate to point out the error, but Alfred Slote’s ‘Jake’ is still widely available — through local libraries. Here’s the link to L.A.’s public library catalog (they have two copies, one is checked out, the other’s on the shelf). It’s understandable to link books through Amazon, but how about giving public library’s some props? Especially before claiming books are not available? (Yes, I’m a librarian venting a pet peeve about journalists.)”

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE READERS
1. From Jeff in Chicago: “Go to the sex offender registry Web site and look up “Michael Tyson” in Nevada. Absolutely frightening.

2. Nam in Los Angeles: “Here’s a blog post that Kareem writes about himself explaining why he was so mad when he played.”

3. From Balkman in Milwaukee: “Evidently, some kids got ticked at the high school administration for suspending student-athletes after seeing pictures of them drinking out of red plastic cups. Some kid got the idea to throw a root beer kegger, hand out some fliers and see what would happen: You need to know these things.”


4. From Andy P. in Dallas: “Channing Frye’s blog is awesome. Between him, B-Roy (Go Huskies!) and Greg Oden, could there be three guys more antithetical to the Jail Blazers?”

5. From Tapo in San Diego: “Since I know you check out the L.A. Times daily, I thought you might have missed [its] best writer, Dan Neil. The guy won a Pulitzer for reviewing cars. Cars?? Yes, he’s that good and his latest review of the new Porsche GT2 was the most intelligent and fun read I can ever remember for a car. I was in tears at the end. No lie.”

6. From Jerry in Evansville, Ind.: “Thanks for the idea of humiliating a buddy by making him wear a Doug Christie jersey at his bachelor party! My buddy and I did this for our friend. When we got home we just had to submit it to Straight Cash Homey.”

7. From Carter in Hollywood, Calif.: “Michael Vick is a prison quarterback? I smell a ‘Longest Yard’ showdown with the guards on the horizon!”

8. From Mike P. in State College, Pa.: “Here’s a link to an article in our (Penn State) student-run newspaper about PSU basketball player Stanley Pringle. It is the most absurd thing I have ever read. ‘Nittany Lion basketball player Stanley Pringle told police he was touching his penis but was not masturbating in the Pattee Library stacks last Thursday.’ And that is just the first line, it gets significantly better.”

YOUTUBE FINDS FROM THE READERS
1. From Craig B. of Edmonton: “Check out this Blair Witch-style video of a 5-year-old girl singing the national anthem before the start of an Oilers game last week. It’s strange how the combination of hockey, a $7.75 beer and a little girl belting the anthem can give 17,000 people tears in their eyes and goosebumps like she did. Being there live, it was something really cool to experience.”

2. From Matt in Washington: “One of the greatest ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’ arguments of all time can be found here, as Dog claims the Yankees don’t need a new stadium and Mike disagrees. Among the highlights: Mike claiming there are never lines at a new ballpark, Dog claiming ‘No one goes to the ballpark to sit in seats,’ Mike claiming he only goes to the press box for the bathroom, and Mike going certifiably insane when people claim Ruth and Mantle played in the current Yankee Stadium.

3. From Brian in Kingston, R.I.: “Has there ever been a commercial that better summed up the feeling of a complete fan base as the NBA’s KG commercial? I think not.”

4. From Greg H. in Roxbury, N.J.: “The opening to Game 6 of the Suns-Bulls NBA Finals in 1993 is, in my opinion, the best opening ever to a sporting event. Costas is flawless and even when they send it down to Marv and Fratello, they do a great job of setting up the game. I don’t think we see intros like this anymore, the nostalgia of the NBA on NBC also probably has something to do with it. What is the best intro to a sporting event?”

5. From Alex B. in Boston: “I was raiding my parents VHS tapes the other night, only to find Super Bowl XXI, Giants vs. Broncos. The hidden gem? Neil Diamond doing the national anthem. Of course, I put it straight to YouTube. Enjoy!”

6. From Brian S. in Mansfield, Texas: “Have you seen this clip of Gus Johnson singing along to ABBA? It is another in the long line of infamous Gus Johnson moments!”

7. From Mike in Evanston, Ill.: “Happy 10th anniversary to you and all of the readers of the greatest goalie fight of all-time, Roy vs. Osgood.”

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. For every Simmons column, as well as podcasts, videos, favorite links and more, check out the revamped Sports Guy’s World.

Bill Simmons is the founding editor of Grantland and the author of the New York Times no. 1 best seller The Book of Basketball. For every Simmons column and podcast, click here.

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