Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Outside the Aviary: "Who Is He (And What Is He To You)?"

Lost in the din and glamor of the beginning of football's seasons, the playoff chases in baseball and the general loss of words we have for the lack of summer in NYC this year is an amazing feat: the greatest player in basketball history paying homage to his primogenitor.

Lost in the amazing 80s-early 90s run in the NBA is the man who brought the game above the rim. A forgotten name amongst the greats of the game; a name that gets props from some of the 50 greatest names in basketball history, including Charles Barkley, but can't get his name in a headline on ESPN. David Thompson began the principles of swagger. He wasn't allowed to dunk in college-- he of the 44" vert-- so he would literally play above the rim by placing the ball over it. He was an unstoppable force that helped stop an unstoppable force when N.C. State beat UCLA in the 1974 NCAA tournament during an undefeated championship run. He was a number one pick in TWO leagues and chose against the NBA-- against it.

Lost in the 70s and early 80s, since his career didn't amount to the greatness it should have, Michael Jordan is putting David Thompson on a stage of the elite when he had hall-of-fame teammates, coaches, and an alma mater full of greatness. Jordan has made his point: this is about basketball and nothing more-- not friendship, nepotism, heroism or a belief that he owes something to anyone other than his inspiration. This is a chance to show why Michael Jordan became Michael Jordan. No lore of his high-school failure or recanting of the old days in college or even talk from an old battle partner on the greatness of the man. Nope, this is going to be basketball, pure and simple, from one man who knew what it was like to be the most explosive man on a court at any given time to another.

Lost in the surprise: Jordan lifting the curtain to reveal his respect for Thompson's game probably surprised many people. It did me at first. But doesn't it make perfect sense? After all, for all the shoe jockeying, movie making and commercialization, isn't the intention of Jordan to promote basketball first? And North Carolina basketball at that? (See: Gerald Henderson, Brandon Wright, Sean May, Raymond Felton.) Thompson was from Shelby, North Carolina and played in Raleigh. He was North Carolina basketball's first shining example during and after the ABA-NBA merger. He was one of the first real above the rim players to rep the ACC during the Dr. J years. Or, to sum it all up, there's this:

Thompson rocks his NC State credentials on his chest and Mike just awes over the legend of one of his heroes.

Found: a legend before the legend. They are the culmination of North Carolina basketball through Everett Case and Dean Smith and Coach K and the rest: the ultimate prize of presenting the greatest baller in history lies in the hands of a man whose legend goes unremembered. ESPN and both herald Jordan's hero as an "ex-NC State star." Not a basketball hall-of-famer, not David Thompson, not even former great. Just an ex-NC baller. For Jordan, that's perfect. Here's hoping people listen to the speech and listen well. The beginnings and culmination of the modern era of basketball are to be witnessed to the land via North Carolina pride.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Alone and Drinking: A Long, Leisurely Liveblog of 2 Games You Couldn't Give a Fuck About

It's the night before Labor Day and people are partying, but I've got tons of booze, a laptop, and two games on the tube: my alma mater, Colorado State, taking on the hated Buffaloes of Colorado in the EPIC Rocky Mtn. Showdown, and later the Padres take on the Dodgers in the "Best vs. Worst West-Coast Throw-In Bullshit on the Deuce" game on ESPN2.

I'm going to drink heavily and type some shit in here.

7:05 - Ralphie comes out in one of the more tired traditions in collegiate sports. It's only interesting because buffalo are likely to be extinct soon. Way to go, frontiersmen.

7:12 - CSU gets the ball to start. Our QB is named Grant Stucker. That sounds like an asshole's name. He better not play like an asshole. First play from scrimmage is a dump-off for a first down. All right, then.

7:15 - I should also mention that our running back is white and wears #7. Only at CSU. But after a long bomb (that should've been a TD if Stucker didn't underthrow it), the Great White Hope scores. Ok, then.

7:23 - A few sips into beer #2 and the Rammies force a 3-and-out. I don't want to get optimistic or anything, but this is a good start.

7:35 - Just realized former CU QB Joel Klatt is one of the guys in the booth. I'd make a joke here, but he's got a job. I don't. Advantage: Shitty Quarterback.

7:37 - On 3rd-and-15, CSU tips the pass and picks it off, and gets a facemask on the return, not to mention a horsecollar that was declined. You know what that deserves? PBR CHUG. I'm going to time it: O/U is 27 seconds.

7:39 - 25.77 seconds. I win! The prize is a bottle of White Horse scotch my friend Hannah got me for getting ceremoniously fired. Thanks, Hannah. Boo, says my liver.

7:43 - As Dion Morton goes in motion, the snap hits him, bounces right up to him, and he races to the sideline to get a first on 2nd-and-1. A good sign? I hope so. A sign of a QB not knowing what the fuck's going on? Definitely.

7:49 - Long pass over the middle, Stucker hits a diving John Mosure (honky RB) for a score. 14-0, Rams. CSU wraps the first quarter up, fittingly, with a good wrap-up on an open-field tackle. We may not have athletes, but we usually tackle well. We're the Patriots of college football, except we don't win. And our fans aren't douchemops.

7:59 - Stucker hits a long completion inside the 10, and at the tail end of the play the "Flag" graphic goes up on the screen under the score ... only the color guys don't acknowledge it and explain it, they just talk about the play. HEY ASSHOLES, WHAT THE FUCK WAS THE FLAG FOR? It appears to be taunting on CSU at the end of the play, but they don't say. Fucking amateurs.

8:03 - Speaking of amateurs, it's Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips on ESPN2 for SD-LA. Has anyone in the history of sports broadcasting been unluckier than Jon Miller? It's like instead of Costello, Abbott got stuck with Dane Cook and Carlos Mencia.

8:06 - Picture-in-picture is one of the greatest things ever. Aside from owning 2 big-ass TVs. And blowjobs. Can't forget blowjobs.

8:09 - My man Tony Gwynn Jr. went from a potential top-5 leadoff guy to hitting 8th on possibly the worst offense in the majors, in a span of about 3 months. That's not ... that's not good. Oh, and the Buffs have to punt again. Cue the Nelson laugh.

8:13 - Re: 8:06 - add "leftover shrimp lo mein" to that list. Oh, and O-dog boots little Davey Eckstein's grounder. San Diego - we score runs only if you fuck up!

8:15 - Adrian Gonzalez doubles to right-center. Two RISP, one out. Vegas odds are 10/1 the Pads don't score here. Oh, and the Rams' best receiver just dropped a perfect long bomb that hit him right on the hands.

8:17 - Well, shit. Grounder to Furcal at short, he goes home, and Lil' Ecky makes a nice slide. The Pads lead! The Pads lead!

8:26 - The Buffs convert a 4th-and-5, minutes after a bad pick by Stucker. I mean, Cody Hawkins is the coach's kid. That's lame, right? Right? The drive ends with a 55-yard FG that would've been good from at least 60. 17-3, CSU.

8:37 - With 10 seconds left in the half, the Rams line up to try a 45-yarder. All the extra points have been low, so I'm not optimistic. And ... it's absolutely drop-dead perfect. 20-3 CSU. With one second left, and with all 3 timeouts, the Buffs kneel. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

8:50 - I just got rebuked on a potential phone conversation by my boy Berg, whose argument via text is apparently "cell phones don't work in Minnesota." YOU'RE FULL OF SHIT, YOU BIG BLONDE FUCK. I hope Brett Favre fucks up the Vikings worse than McDaniels screwed the pooch with the Broncos.

8:55 - Kevin Kouzmanoff is up with the bases juiced and nobody out. And he ... singles up the middle! My man Kouz ain't the best hot corner man with the bat (although he's been a STUD with the leather), but he could be a shit-load worse. 3-0 Pads going into the bottom of the 3rd.

9:05 - Hawkins completes a deep pass over the middle inside the 10. The good feelings of the first half are gone as Colorado scores on the next play, one minute into the first drive of the 2nd half. 20-10 CSU. Uh-oh.

9:12 - CSU goes 3-and-out. Well, that was fun while it lasted. Am I inherently negative? Of course. It's got me this far.

9:17 - CU's Darrell Scott makes a one-handed grab on a floater screen and gets a first. Is that the first-half equivalent of CSU's snap-hits-the-guy-in-motion? Probably. Meanwhile, a Russell Martin single drives in Manny to cut the Dodgers' deficit to 3-1. Oh, it was a check-swing single. Good to know. I HATE THE DODGERS.

9:22 - After a review, a CU catch and helmet-to-helmet hit by the CSU safety causes a fumble that is awarded to the Rams. Do I care? Fuck no. Give us the ball. We need a break. These games are always in Folsom Field in Boulder or at Invesco, the neutral site in Denver. This shit is never at Hughes. Either way, we suddenly have no offense, and Stucker looks like a guy named Grant Stucker. Shit.

9:27 - Note to self: stop picking at your healing blister wound on your index finger with a pair of nail clippers while you're drunk. Things won't end well there, chief. Next note to self: refresh your scotch on the rocks.

9:28 - Gonzo goes yard to left. He's one of the top 3 opposite-field power hitters in baseball, bar fucking none. Goddamn that man can play the fucking game. 4-1 Padres, top 5.

9:31 - On 4th-and-1 on their own side of the field, the Buffs gets stuffed on a run to the left. If the Rams don't get at least a field goal on the ensuing drive, we will lose. I have no doubts about that. Also, a CU linebacker's name is Beatty. I wonder if he's seen Ishtar. Or Bulworth.

9:35 - On 4th-and-1, Stucker barely gets across on a QB sneak. Why not call a bootleg, or a play-action on that shit? GROW A PAIR, DAMMIT. And as soon as I type that, Stucker has not one but TWO guys WIDE FUCKING OPEN and hits the man in black between them both. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh. Me no rikey this game now. Time to get scotch.

9:41 - There's not much better than seeing "Shawne Merriman arrested" on your ESPN scrawl. Fuck that guy. Let's hope the lights don't go out in jail, bitch.

9:45 - On the first play of the 4th quarter, Stucker holds on a late blitz and takes the sack. Luckily the Rams have great punt coverage, and the Buffs start inside their own 10. Still ... GODDAMMIT. Absolutely NO fucking offense in this second half.

9:47 - I haven't had a cigarette in 6 1/2 months, but holy shit does one sound good right now.

9:52 - After talking about how the Padres have a chance to play spoiler in the last 3 weeks, Joe Morgan says "Well the Dodgers have the best record..." and I change the channel. I imagine that sentence ending with "in the NL West," as the other two guys in the booth think of something to say that's not "You're a fucking idiot, chocolate midget." And after converting on 3rd-and-short deep in their own end, the Buffs get called for illegal motion, and fail on 3rd-and-long. Good field position, CSU. PUT IT AWAY FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK.

9:56 - Mark Sanchez is on the CU sidelines, resplendent in black CU gear. He's apparently a very good friend of the Buffs' Scotty McKnight, who got his bell rung earlier when he fumbled. Get ready, Jets fans.

10:00 - I wish I had some weed. Holy fuck.

10:03 - 3rd-and-goal, the Rams try to run and can't punch it in. HAVE SOME FAITH WITH THE ASSHOLE QB. For fuck's sake. The kicker shanks it just inside the left upright. 23-10, CSU, less than 10 minutes to go. They should've punched that shit in. I AM NOT IMPRESSED.

10:07 - Is there anything worse than peeing on yourself? I was just busting a freestyle-Rush-type solo and looked down to notice I had somehow dripped a few drops onto my green Starter basketball shorts. I mean, other than shitting yourself, pissing on yourself is the birds.

10:09 - I'm officially drunj.

10:11 - After a dead-ball foul, the Buffs convert on 3rd-and-15, CU's first third-down conversion of the night. I mean, what the shit. BRING THE THUNDER, KERR.

10:17 - The Rams get their fourth sack of the night on 3rd-and-long. For a team that had a college-worst - and, for the record, there's about 120 schools playing in FBS - a COLLEGE-WORST 9 sacks last season, that's a good thing to hear.

10:21 - The Buffs get a great punt return with about 4 minutes to play, but it's called back for an illegal block. A few minutes later the Buffs convert on 4th-and-1, and they get a sizable gain on the next play. If they get in the end zone they're going to onside kick and I don't like that.

10:25 - In one fell swoop, there's a deep pass interference on the Rams and a two-run base hit by the Dodgers, cutting the Pads' lead to 4-3. Everything is crashing down. CRASHING DOWN AND I'M DRUNJ!!!

10:29 - Sanchez bee-yotch McKnight grabs a semi-fade in the end zone. 23-17 CSU, onside kick to come. A weird onside kick ensues, but the Rams recover. They've got 1:55 left to kill and run this shit out. I am not holding my breath. And out of the blue, on the first play, Leonard Mason busts a long run down to the 2. Since the Buffs have no more timeouts, that seals it. The Rams will kneel and sew it up. FUCK AND YES. YOUR FOLSOM CURSE IS NO MORE, YOU PARTYING TRUSTAFARIAN SHITHEADS. BOW TO THE SUPERIOR GREEN AND GOLD.

10:40 - Clare just got home, and she's messing around with her new iPhone. Now, we all know people with iPhones. A good number of you have them, and if you don't, you've grabbed your friends' just to fuck around with it. So, basically, it's like a new pet. I'm super stoked to have it around, and I want it to myself. Is that creepy? Probably. But I don't care.

10:43 - I'm sorry, but "The Informant!" looks awesome.

10:46 - Re: 10:25 - I'm an idiot. Apparently the PIP isn't as cool as I thought. The Padres still lead 4-1, and the Dodgers never scored 2 to make it 4-3. It's still 4-1 Padres. Could CSU and the Padres win on the same night? GOD BLESS BOOZE.

10:50 - Gwynn Jr. races into the gap in right-center to take away a hit from Juan Pierre. If there's one thing Jr. didn't inherit from his old man, it's the ability to ingest turkeys telepathically.

10:53 - Re: 10:46 presumptually re: 10:25 - Shit. Andre Ethier strokes one into the LF corner to score 2, and NOW it's 4-3 Padres. Well, you can't get both ends of a doubleheader. At least not when you have no job, and you're drinking shitty scotch at 11 pm on a Sunday. There are rules, you know.

11:04 - Heath Bell comes in to close it out for the Padres. The ESPN guys in the booth are praising his nutsack, which means it probably won't end well. Clare is going through the ringtones on the iPhone. There are MANY good choices. God damn you, AT&T.

11:10 - Bell throws a slider on 2-0 to Jim Thome. He needs a double play ball here. He also needs to cut down on the bacon, you fat fuck. Thome hits a routine fly ball to left, 2 out. Ethier coming up, tying run on first. Ethier is the walk-off king. He's got curly hair, like a Jew. If we all know anything, it's that Jews never succeed. LET'S GO HEATH! LET'S GO HEATH! LET'S GO HEATH! You all should know I'm German.

11:15 - Ethier flies out to left, and even though the Padres don't sweep the series they take 2 of 3 of the set. And on FUCKING CUE, Joe Morgan praises the Dodgers for "showing a lot of character by winning the last 2 games in Colorado ... and let's see what happens." HOLY FUCKING BALLS. THE WORST TEAM IN THE NL WEST JUST WON 2 OF 3 IN THE HOME OF THE BEST TEAM IN NL WEST.

Ways in which Joe Morgan should die:
  • Sharks eat his testicles, and replace them with grenades
  • Michael Lewis writes his death in a Stephen King-style post-apocalyptic-ish story, and Billy Beane carries it out, with a hockey stick and a Duane Reade basket full of razor blades
  • Jon Miller electrocutes him in the booth via Burrito Supreme
  • Derek Jeter beats him over the head with a bat, and glove, and cleats, and the lifeless corpse of a 13-year-old cancer patient from Mott Haven whose only goal in life was to meet Joe Morgan and Derek Jeter
  • Pete Rose shows up and just says "Jesus Tap-dancing Christ you're pathetic." Then he signs his autograph on Morgan's forehead in arsenic ink, which slowly seeps into Morgan's skull and slowly convinces him that he once hosted the Ed Sullivan show, which drives him to insatiable craziness since he looks to his right and sees Steve Phillips
  • Steve Phillips beats the fuck out of him with a microphone and a ham sandwich
11:39 - Holy shit. Ok, CSU won 23-17 (I had a CSU T-shirt on). The Padres beat the Dodgers 4-3 (I had one of my many Padres hats on backwards). I can only assume that both of my teams that were involved in games tonight won because I was wearing their shit. And I can totally live with that. Because that's how I roll, you motherfucking monkey fuckingmothers.