Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Owners, Save Our Sonics

Before NBA All Star Weekend, Save Our Sonics sent the following letter to the seven NBA team owners who comprise the Board of Governors (BOG), which will vote in April on whether to allow the OKC relocation. Owners from the Miami Heat, L.A. Lakers, Golden St. Warriors, New Jersey Nets, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs received copies of the letter (attached and pasted in full below this release).

Save Our Sonics released the following statement on Monday, February 25:

"We hope the Board of Governors, media and members of the national sports community read the attached information and carefully consider the ramifications of a potential SuperSonics move to Oklahoma City. The upcoming court case set for June is too important to hold a vote on this matter presently because the current ownership group will likely be forced to honor the last two years of its lease agreement with Key Arena. The BOG should vote "No" on the Sonics relocation or postpone a vote until the pending court case is resolved.

"In light of recent disheartening comments by Commissioner David Stern, the BOG is faced with an extremely important decision that not only affects millions of Seattle area residents, but stands to significantly change both the NBA and the entire professional sports landscape. Members of the Sonics ownership group must work with Seattle's city leadership to come forth with a reasonable plan for the future sustainability of Seattle Center, Key Arena and the Sonics."

Please direct any media inquiries to the contacts at the end of the letter, Adam Brown, Steven Pyeatt and Brian Robinson of Save Our Sonics.

To NBA team owners and vested interests:

Outlined herein are the five most compelling reasons why voting "Yes" on the Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City is the wrong decision for an NBA team owner. Please consider the following information and endorse a "No" vote on relocation this April.

The Sonics have represented the city of Seattle through the best of times − including a 1979 World Championship and success throughout the 1990s culminating in a 1996 Finals appearance − and also through the worst of times, which came under the last two ownership groups led by Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz and Oklahoma City mogul Clayton Bennett, respectively. As you are surely aware, Schultz sold the Sonics to Bennett's Oklahoma-based ownership group in July 2006. After only one year of attempting to secure a brand new, $500 million, state- of-the-art arena in the region, Bennett officially filed for relocation to Oklahoma City on November 1, 2007.

As an NBA team owner, you have a responsibility to make decisions that will ultimately lead to a thriving league for years to come. Unlike other leagues, the NBA's owners are closely connected through revenue streams that allow profitable markets to share the wealth. As primary decision makers in the league, your votes in this matter will have critical impact on the future economic growth of the NBA.

Fans have supported this organization for 41 years. It will be a devastating blow to both the city of Seattle and the entire NBA if we lose this prominent market for the following reasons:

1. Fan Support Determines a Sports League's Profits

Seattle has been one of the NBA's most celebrated markets since its inaugural year in 1967. By allowing this move, David Stern is disrespecting one of his most loyal fan bases and disregarding 41 years of local support for the league, opting instead to mortgage the future financial sustainability of the NBA in order to please his friend, Clay Bennett.

NBA fans in Seattle will obviously be crushed by the move, but the impact will ripple into other markets across the nation. Fans will wonder: If this can happen in an historic NBA market like Seattle, couldn't it happen to my favorite team as well?

Hoops fans across the nation will sense a widening disconnect from team ownership and become apathetic about supporting a league that could show such contempt for fans. This move would signify the beginning of the end for a fan's league. The NBA may not recover from such a massive public relations disaster, as the league has recently struggled to reconnect to fans the way it did in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

2. Seattle is the Gateway to the Surging Asian Market

One of the highest rated NBA games this season was between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Houston Rockets - or the matchup of Chinese superstars Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian. Commissioner Stern opened the revenue floodgates by pouring NBA marketing dollars into China, and the country responded with record interest in the league. In December 2007, more than 200 million Chinese tuned in to watch the battle of its homeland stars, as 16 of 19 Chinese television stations carried the live broadcast in mainland China. [1]

Seattle is a leading center of Asian culture in the United States, with more than 507,000 Asian citizens (14.4% of the population)[2] contributing to the area's booming business, engineering and technology industries. Why would the league choose to uproot one of its primary gateways to the blossoming Asian market?

Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners established the international sports business model by marketing its Japanese star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to national and international success, but the potential revenue ceiling in China is significantly higher if the NBA takes advantage of its cornerstone Asian market in Seattle.

The league certainly won't gain any international revenue from having a team in Oklahoma City.

3. Seattle is a Superior Market to Oklahoma City

The following statistics demonstrate the advanced revenue potential of the Seattle market compared with the Oklahoma City market:

o Greater Seattle: 3,524,000
o Greater OKC: 1,240,967

Median Family Income:[4]
o Seattle: $70,133
o OKC: $48,162

Seattle is consistently named as one of the best cities in America, and Forbes recently ranked it fourth among the Fastest Growing Cities in America,[5] with a 22.7% projected GMP growth by 2012. To abandon this market would be akin to moving the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers to smaller cities. The league simply wouldn't be the same, and David Stern has already stated that Seattle will not get another team if the Sonics move under Bennett.[6]

Journalists across the nation published their disapproval of losing the Seattle market, repeatedly coming to the conclusion that "there is no conceivable way the NBA would benefit from having the Sonics move from the nation's 14th-largest market to the 45th. [7]"

4. Fans in Seattle Deserve a Chance to Keep Their Team

Clay Bennett and his Oklahoma City-based ownership group purchased the Sonics with the full intention of moving the team to Oklahoma City, as stated publicly by minority owner Aubrey McLendon.[8] This contradicts numerous public statements made by Bennett stating his desire to find a solution to keep the team in Seattle.

""[Clay Bennett and I] didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle, we hoped to come here [to Oklahoma City]," McLendon told the Oklahoma City Journal Record in August 2007. "We know it's a little more difficult financially here in Oklahoma City, but we think it's great for the community and if we could break even we'd be thrilled."

The NBA and its team owners should not settle for "just breaking even." Commissioner Stern fined McLendon $250,000 for these comments, but even more telling are the other dealings of this ownership group since purchasing the Sonics.

While asking for $400 million from taxpayers to build an exclusive, world-class arena in Renton − a Seattle area suburb located 12 miles south of the city and its season ticketholder base − the Bennett ownership group repeatedly touted the economic and community benefits of having an NBA team in the region.

Bennett's group even conducted its own economic feasibility study to convince legislators to vote for its last-minute arena proposal.[9]

Unfortunately, the proposal did not receive a vote after Bennett refused to provide key financial details deemed necessary by the legislature. Unlike Blazers and Seahawks owner Paul Allen, Bennett's plan did not include any stated investment from the team itself, leaving a huge gap in the feasibility of the proposal. Bennett then filed for relocation with the NBA, attempting to void the final two years of the team's lease at Seattle Center's Key Arena, which runs through 2010.

The city of Seattle filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Bennett in order to hold him to the Key Arena lease, and Bennett's group contradicted itself yet again in court, stating: "There will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle."[10] Which is it, Clay?

The NBA should not look kindly upon one of its owners stating that its teams have no benefit to local communities.

While the Sonics current home, Key Arena, is the league's smallest venue, the city has expressed interest in re-working the terms of the lease and expanding the building to become a world-class venue. The city built Key Arena for $104 million in 1994 with 80% taxpayer-appropriated funds, following guidelines specifically approved by the NBA and team officials in the Ackerley ownership group, which said "[Key Arena] is going to be as good as any building in the NBA." And it was - for a few years, while the team perennially finished at the top of the Western Conference in front of sold out home crowds. [11]

It is simply unfortunate timing that other cities began building huge, more advanced arenas such as Chicago's United Center and Denver's Pepsi Center shortly thereafter, putting Key Arena behind the curve almost immediately after its construction. These and other new world-class arenas, however, were built using private funds or as a partnership between ownership and the city - something Bennett has declined to approach.

Despite the city's numerous attempts to reach out to Sonics ownership and broker a deal that works to keep the Sonics in Seattle, Bennett refused to even meet with Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels regarding any plan besides his own.

Adding insult to injury, Bennett & Co. decimated the Sonics chances to be successful on the court by trading its two All-Star players, fan favorites Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. These moves effectively ensured the team would be terrible, driving local fans out of the arena, intentionally minimizing revenues to facilitate relocation and making a mockery of the team. In 2007, Bennett's group fired Sonics legends Lenny Wilkins, Jack Sikma and Detlef Schrempf from their positions with the team, further distancing the current organization from anything that could be considered part of the Sonics celebrated past.

"They didn't give it a chance," former Sonic and current Celtic Ray Allen told the Chicago Tribune. "You need good veterans around to be successful. But it was a decision they made." [12]

On the same day the Sonics miraculously drew the second pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and the rights to prodigal forward Kevin Durant, Bennett was in Kansas City exploring arena options to move the team. He has no respect for the city of Seattle and its thousands of loyal Sonics fans.

It is now abundantly clear that Bennett only wanted to rob Sonics fans from the start, with no regard for the team's history and 41 years of support. A great NBA owner builds ties with the community; he doesn't sever them and then pour salt on the wounds.

When Mark Cuban purchased the struggling Dallas Mavericks in 2000, he invested heavily in the team and the city, building the franchise into a dominant force and a pillar of the community. Other NBA owners have also made sizable investments in their host communities, strategically developing political and business relationships to help secure public funding for arenas. Prior to filing for relocation, Bennett spent only a few months actively attempting to secure a local arena. During this period, he failed to evaluate the political landscape or engage the fan base, refusing to hold a single meeting with the Seattle mayor's office to discuss options within the Seattle city limits. Bennett never employed a local advertising agency, and he never took reasonable steps to convey a hopeful message to the general public and fans. The Sonics have not made even a pretense of looking for local options since May of 2007.

As business partners, it is appropriate for NBA owners to expect a somewhat equitable effort on the part of all parties. Owners in markets such as New Jersey, Sacramento and Orlando worked hard in recent attempts to secure venues, but Sonics ownership is attempting to shortcut the process and put its own interests above that of the league as a whole by engaging in a high publicized legal battle to void the final years of its lease. As part of this process, the Bennett ownership group has risked the goodwill of the fans and publicly stated that NBA teams bring no value to this community.

A legitimate local ownership group would be willing to work with the city and find a constructive solution to keep the Sonics in Seattle.

5. The New Orleans Hornets are Struggling to Survive

In the wake of the tragedy Hurricane Katrina inflicted upon the city of New Orleans, the Hornets were transplanted to Oklahoma City, where fans embraced the team for two seasons. As New Orleans rebuilds, the Hornets moved back to play at New Orleans Arena at the start of the 2007-08 season.

(Save Our Sonics would never want to deny New Orleans fans their team or encourage a Hornets move to save our own team. We do, however, see the need to present the following facts so NBA interests can make the most informed decision possible on this matter.)

At the time this letter was pressed, the Hornets held a record of 33-15, good for second best in the tough Western Conference. Yet the team is second to last in the league in attendance, drawing a meager 12,453 fans per game on average,[13] a number that is further inflated by free tickets given away within a business model that relies heavily on subsidies. This is a young, exciting team with an MVP candidate in Chris Paul, but the city cannot seem to rally behind them as it has for the NFL's Saints before and after Katrina.

The Hornets recently signed a lease that allows them to relocate after the 2009-2010 season if they fail to reach an average attendance benchmark of 14,735 through that portion of the contract.[14] At this rate, there is no doubt that attendance will be lower than this figure, and the Hornets will be looking for a new home in 2010, conveniently also when the Sonics lease at Key Arena officially expires.

The Sonics, by contrast, are the third worst team in the NBA at 13-36, yet they are only fifth-worst in attendance figures, averaging 13,476 fans despite widespread doubt that the team will even play in Seattle past 2008. This Sonics team, without its two recognizable All-Stars − and with out-of-town ownership insulting the community while publicly facilitating the OKC move ¬− still outdraws the Memphis Grizzlies, Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Hornets on a nightly basis. More importantly, Key Arena is filled to 79.3% capacity each night versus 65.8% in New Orleans − this figure also puts the Sonics ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats (74.7%), Minnesota Timberwolves (77.8%), and New Jersey Nets (76.1%) in attendance.

Make no mistake about it: Seattle is a basketball city and Washington is a basketball state, with such NBA stars as Brandon Roy, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Marvin Williams, Martell Webster, Luke Ridnour, Spencer Hawes, John Stockton, Detlef Schrempf, Michael Dickerson, Aaron Brooks and Doug Christie having grown up in the area. By voting to allow Seattle's longest running professional team to move, owners are denying themselves a city full of talent and potential billions in financial support. This is the city that set NBA attendance records by drawing more than 39,000 fans to a 1979 game in the Kingdome.[15] This is the city that rocked for the Sonics throughout the 1990s, as teams led by Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp dominated for much of the decade.

Recent NBA team moves and expansions to smaller markets have unequivocally failed financially (Vancouver to Memphis, Charlotte to New Orleans). If Oklahoma City has truly earned an NBA franchise, however, it makes sense to either grant it an expansion team (SOS's preferred solution) or move the Hornets, only since the latter is likely to move and already won the adoration of OKC fans.

The battle for the Sonics is still in U.S. District Court, which set a date of June 16, 2008 to hear the case - right in the middle of the NBA Finals. In light of recent scandals (Tim Donaghy and Malice at the Palace), the NBA cannot afford this bitter fight causing another public relations disaster, which would only soil its credibility and evoke outrage from disrespected fans around the nation. The NBA is a business, but this business can only be run with the full trust and support of its paying customers - the fans.

Please carefully consider the above arguments when casting your vote on the Seattle SuperSonics relocation issue. The facts are clear: Seattle has earned its team through decades of loyal support, and fans deserve more than Bennett has given them. If the involved parties swallow their pride and sit down at the negotiation table, a reasonable agreement to keep the team in Seattle can surely be reached. Key Arena is a beautiful venue for fans to watch basketball, and an efficient remodel can implement the proper revenue streams for ownership to profit financially in this top quality market.

Feel free to contact our organization with any questions on this matter. Vote "No" on a Sonics to Oklahoma City move this April. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincere regards,

Adam Brown - Brian Robinson - Steven Pyeatt
Media Advisor Co-Founder Co-Founder
(206) 919.3778 (206) 349.6447 (206) 276.6708

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ow, Yao

The Houston Rockets were the hottest team in the NBA, on a 12-game winning streak, on pace to make some noise in the amazingly competitive Western Conference while making my preseason predictions look good.

Then news breaks that Yao Ming has broken his foot again and is out for the season.

Monday, February 25, 2008

America's Unfaithful Faithful

Leave it to Time Magazine to come up with a catchy title. also covered the same story here.

Amongst the notable tidbits:

More than one-quarter of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another religion or no religion at all, the survey found. Factoring in moves from one stream or denomination of Protestantism to another, the number rises to 44 percent.

One in four adults ages 18 to 29 claim no affiliation with a religious institution.

The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey estimates the United States is 78 percent Christian and about to lose its status as a majority Protestant nation, at 51 percent and slipping.

Not surprisingly, the "nondenominational" churches are seeing the sharpest increases.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Quotable Shaq


Seattle's Sam Presti was the most active general manager before the NBA's trade deadline, shipping away Kurt Thomas, Wally Szczerbiak, and Delonte West. The key to the Sonics trades were not the players they recieved in return, but rather the fact that they will be at least $26 million under the projected salary cap in 2009 and armed with six first-round picks and seven second-round choices in the next three drafts, as well as two trade exceptions totaling $5.1 million. This allows the Sonics to draft a series of players, some of which have to pan out, and throw some money at free agents in the offseason. They will probably parlay some of those picks and exemptions into acquiring a proven player or higher draft pick. While the arena situation in Seattle looks dire, at least it appears management knows what it is doing in regards to positioning themselves to build a good roster soon.

The Spurs received Kurt Thomas, who will be key in defending the tough big men in the west, keeping Duncan fresh. The Cavaliers received Ben Wallace and Delonte West, providing Lebron some help which may be enough for them to play with the Pistons and Celtics in the East. I am not a big fan of the Kidd deal, because Dallas gave up Devon Harris, a good young point guard who has a longer future than the aging Kidd, and DeSagna Diop, a much needed big man in the growing West. This season has seen all the western contenders bulk up with big centers and power forwards. While the rest of the conference got bigger and better, the Mavs went smaller, trading away a big body needed to bang with the likes of Shaq, Stoudemire, Boozer, Yao, Camby, Gasol, Bynum, Duncan.

The past ten days have been the craziest the NBA has ever seen in terms of big names being traded, all loading up for playoff runs for what has to be the most wide open race with the greatest number of legitimate championship contenders ever. Now the fun begins.


War and politics are two different things. That is why every now and then it is good to read something like this. Written by a soldier in the event of his death in Iraq, this will force you to count your blessings today.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Just Another Guy

For most guys, today is a day they dread, either in fear of disappointing or, well, disappointment. You are not going to understand why I post this on Valentine's Day until you get to the final punchline. The following is written by ESPN's Bill Simmons, hanging out at a previous NBA All-Star weekend:

Best Random Celebrity Moment Ever

So I'm leaving Jam Session on Saturday afternoon when Sully gives me the "Come to the Four Seasons, we're hanging out in the hotel bar drinking Bloody Marys" phone call. Well, I can't turn down that offer. Not ever. Within 10 minutes, I'm sitting right there with them. And we're hanging out and talking hoops, debating whether to stay for a second drink, when none other than Charles Oakley saunters into the bar with three lady friends, eventually settling at the table right next to us. As soon as Oakley orders a round of shots for his table, as well as a martini for himself, we decide to order a second round of drinks for ourselves. I mean, where else can you drink 5 feet away from the real-life Shaft?

Twenty minutes later? MJ shows up with two friends and stops the room cold. (That's right, two brushes with MJ in 36 hours.) At first, it seems like he's just saying hello, but then we realize he's sitting down. Eventually, they move him into the inside booth, then block him with chairs on both sides so nobody can bother him. (I like to call this the Chair Armada, since it's the exact same strategy that guys use in strip joints when they don't want to be continually approached by below-average strippers trying to pull the "Maybe if I sit right on his lap, he'll feel bad for me and get a lap dance" routine. The Chair Armada never fails.) When Oakley ordered more drinks, we ended up ordering food and drinks for our table. For all we knew, we were staying all afternoon.

(And we did: Our bar bill ended up being like $400. Back to the story.)

Things kept rolling along. People kept walking over to say hello to MJ, pay tribute to him, kiss his ring ... it's almost like he's the real-life Michael Corleone (with Oakley as his Luca Brasi). At one point, his longtime agent David Falk sat about 30 feet away, waiting for an invite, finally giving up and coming over to say hello. (Falk asked MJ, "How late did you stay out last night?" followed by MJ casually saying "7:30," as we nodded admiringly.) And the drinks kept coming and coming and, occasionally, Oakley would get up and saunter around just to stretch his legs and look cool as I made comments like, "I wish you could rent Oak for parties." At one point, he was thinking about ordering food, stood up, looked over at all of us eating, noticed Rich's cheeseburger, asked if it was a cheeseburger, asked if it was good, kept glancing at it, kept glancing at it ... and I swear, we were all waiting for Oak to say the words, "Oak wants your cheeseburger, and he wants it now." But he didn't. He ended up ordering one himself. Too bad.

Well, two hours pass. Everyone finishes eating. The cigars come out. And I'm sitting there saying, "There's no way that the cards aren't coming out soon. It's impossible. MJ has never sat this long in one place without the cards coming out."

While we were waiting for that moment, just to make a strange afternoon stranger, I walked over to Elgin Baylor's table and talked about the Clips with him for 10 minutes (we're getting along these days -- that's a whole other story). And when I returned, the cards emerged, just as I predicted -- they started playing a game called "Bid Wist," a form of spades that's popular among NBA players, with Oakley and MJ teaming up against two of their friends. We got to see MJ's legendary competitive streak in action. He was trash-talking nonstop, snickering sarcastically, cackling with every good card, badgering his opponents to the point that I actually thought one of them would start crying. This wasn't Corporate MJ, the one you and I know. This was Urban MJ, the one that comes out for the black Super Bowl. We never get to see this one.

And I'm sitting there dying. For one thing, I love cards and have a gambling problem. Also, what would be a greater story than Sully and me getting winners against Oak and MJ? Sure, there wasn't a chance in hell, but it was fun to imagine. Meanwhile, the day kept getting stranger and stranger. Around 6, Shaquille O'Neal showed up with his posse, wearing a four-piece suit that caused MJ to joke, "I'm glad you're living up to the responsibility of the dress code." A little bit later, Bucks assistant Lester Conner showed up wearing a red sweatshirt with a giant Jordan logo on it .... when do you run into someone when you're randomly wearing their clothes? And MJ kept getting louder and louder, and he and Oakley were cleaning up, and we're all watching them while pretending not to watch, and then suddenly ...

MJ's wife shows up.


Everyone makes room for her. She sneaks in and sits down right next to him. And poor MJ looks like somebody who took a no-hitter into the ninth, then gave up a triple off the left-field wall. The trash-talking stops. He slumps in his seat like a little kid. The cigar goes out. No more hangin' with the boys. Time to be a husband again. Watching the whole thing unfold, I lean over to Sully just to say, "Look at that, he's just like us."

And he was. Just your average guy getting derailed by his wife. For once in my life, I didn't want to be like Mike.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Wow, how times have changed...

The following is from a 1950's home economics textbook intended for high school girls, teaching them how to prepare for married life:

  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

  • Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.

  • During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

  • Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

  • Be happy to see him.

  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

  • Don't greet him with complaints and problems.

  • Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

  • A good wife always knows her place.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Leno Monologue

Those who thought the writers’ strike would bring down Leno misunderstood the power of his limitations:

One night, Bill Maher called Leno “virtually the only person I know … who could write an entire monologue by himself”—which sounded ridiculously overblown at the time, but on further reflection might actually be true.

By all accounts, Leno works on monologues obsessively—seven days a week, in the middle of the night, in comedy clubs, and on his days off. More than any other comic, he has devoted his life to that opening blitz of rapid-fire topical groaners. It’s his signature achievement. The Leno monologue is always impressively long and covers lots of ground. On a recent night, before he sat down at his desk, he told jokes about 24 different subjects, from botany to Britney to the production of Japanese electricity. Letterman covered only five.

Pundits who thought the strike would cripple Leno misunderstood something fundamental about his art: His act is already essentially crippled. Real stand-up comedy is famously time-intensive; it converts months of solid work into minutes of material, and its tiniest successes depend on superhumanly precise calibrations of tone, pace, and gesture—a discipline antithetical to the relentless, workaday schedule of a talk show. A monologue is, by definition, wounded comedy. We should assess late-night hosts, then, not by their rare bursts of excellence but by how they cope with mediocrity. Leno and Letterman both, at this point, deal mainly in terrible jokes. The question for viewers is what attitude—what existential garnish—do you want on top of them?

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I found myself at a UC Irvine - USC college volleyball game on Friday night. For a sport very few of us have truly appreciate, I have to say it was quite entertaining.

UCI raised their national championship banner before the match, in a ceremony featuring the mayor and chacellor making speeches. In what I found to be a very classless act, Trojan head coach Bill Ferguson went over to the refs and said, "we want to play" motioning for them to rush the ceremony. While I understand that his players, were getting antsy standing around doing nothing after stetching and warming up for the past two hours, that is not something he should have done. Sure, the ceremony was of little interest to a visiting team. But coming from a school with such a rich tradition and appreciation of championship level sports, you would think the opposing team would show some respect for the home team's celebration of what they rightfully earned.

By the way, UC Irvine went on to sweep USC, 3-0.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Berkeley protesting Marines

  • One side: "The Marine Corps is here to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, which does guarantee the freedom of speech...In terms of the situation in Berkeley, the City Council and the protesters are exercising their right to do so."
  • In retaliation, a group of Republican lawmakers have introduced the Semper Fi Act of 2008 -- named after the Marine motto -- to rescind more than $2 million of funds for Berkeley and transfer it to the Marine Corps.
    "Like most Americans, I really get disturbed when taxpayer money goes to institutions which proceed to take votes, make policy or make statements that really denigrate the military," said Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

shq to phx

The Miami Heat have traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns for Shaun Marion and Marcus Banks. As always, the commentary on this is endless so I will avoid adding to it. Of course, no one knows for sure how well this trade will work out, but I am leaning towards Scoop Jackson's side.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday

Enough about the presidential primaries, yesterday was all about the NBA. Pau Gasol made an impressive debut in his new Laker uniform, dropping 24 and 12 in New Jersey. Random thoughts on the suddenly relevant Lakers:
  • This is a championship contending team. Enough said. Every now and then Stu Lantz will actually say something I do not already know, and last night he pointed out how the Lakers had four starters scoring in double figures in their 15 point win, and Kobe Bryant was not even one of them.
  • Pau showed off his post skills very well, but more impressively showed his passing skills. He connected with Radmanovic, Kobe, and Walton several times, amazing considering it was only their first game together.
  • Of course, getting Andrew Bynum back will only make the Lakers more dangerous. The twin towers are going to be a force inside, but look for Gasol to play more high post and Bynum more low post. I also think Phil should start and finish the games with them together, but not so much thoughout the game. That is, rest one seven footer while always keeping the other one in the game.
  • On offense, having the twin towers drawing so much attention is going to open up so many opportunities for the perimeter players: Kobe of course, but more specifically shooters and slashers Jordan Farmar, Vladimir Radmanovic, Derek Fisher, Trevor Ariza, Luke Walton and company.
  • On defense, having the twin towers is going to limit what opposing offenses can do. We have already seen how effective Bynum was alone; imagine having two seven footers anchoring the basket. Gone are the days of the Tony Parkers, Steve Nashs, Chris Pauls, Deron Williams, penetrating to the hoop for easy baskets. They may still drive in the paint, but will have to deal with two towers contesting their shots.
  • The biggest winner in the trade: Lamar Odom. LO gets to play more of the small forward position when the twin towers are in together, which is a matchup nightmare for many opposing teams. He is relieved of the pressure of being the Lakers second best player. With the emergence of Bynum and acquisition of Gasol, he becomes the Lakers fourth option. Lamar Odom was consistently given space last night, and took advantage attacking the rim and getting to the line 13 times. He had 14, 15, and 5 only on four field goal attempts. That is efficiency folks.
  • Is Kobe a genius or an idiot?
  • He may be a genius, because after all the trade demand hoopla and parking lot video nonsense, at the end of the day, he got what he wanted: the acquisition of an all-star. Kobe now has Gasol and Bynum thanks to Kupchak and Buss. Management listened to his whining and delivered. Now it is on him to win a playoff series.
  • He may be an idiot. Remember, Kobe wanted Bynum to be traded. Then he wanted to be traded away. Then Bynum emerged as a 20/10 stud and Kobe is on one of the league's top teams, on a roster he wanted no part of just a few short months ago.
  • Pau needs a haircut and a shave. That caveman look may get by in Tennessee, but this is Hollywood, baby. Just ask Radmanovic and Vujacic.

Monday, February 04, 2008


Best Super Bowl Ever.

The once undefeated New England Patriots were stunned by the New York Giants in a thrilling game that was only decided in the final minute of a crazy fourth quarter that featured three lead changes, erasing any doubt to the fact that cheaters never prosper.

The commentary and analysis on this game and its fallout are endless, so I will avoid repeating the same stuff you can get elsewhere and just try to point out a few quirky things:
  • Cheaters never prosper. The Patriots cheating and still losing is like if you cheat on your huge midterm exam, ace it, but then fail the final exam at the end of the term and consequently fail the class. The Patriots cheated, aced the regular season, but then ultimately failed their final exam, in the Super Bowl.

  • Peyton Manning was shown quite a few times during FOX's telecast, sitting alone in the corner of a suite. Where was the rest of the Manning family?

  • The curse of the hot girlfriend. Jessica Simpson shows up, Tony Romo plays poorly and loses. Giselle shows up, Tom Brady plays poorly and loses.

  • A buddy of mine brilliantly compared these 2006 Patriots choking to the 2004 Lakers. Those Lakers also were crowned in the offseason after signing Gary Payton and Karl Malone, and also stormed through the regular season and playoffs. After they defeated the Spurs thanks to Derek Fisher's infamous 0.4 shot, everyone thought it was a given that they would win the Finals. Instead, the Detroit Pistons stunned the Lakers, who with four future hall of famers players had to be one of the most disappointing NBA teams of all time.

  • I do not understand how Randy Moss can score 23 touchdowns during the regular season, and only ONE during the entire playoffs. Moss was burning double and triple coverage all year long, so whatever head coach Tom Coughlin and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo came up with worked brilliantly, and they will be rewarded.

  • This game further proves that the regular season practically means nothing, and that sports is all about confidence and momentum. Whoever gots hot and rolling when it counts ends up being champions.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Spygate Tapes

In amidst of all the Super Bowl hype this weekend, have you noticed it seems that everyone has forgotten that the almighty Patriots were caught cheating this season?

The tapes turned into the NFL were mysteriously destroyed, and while there was plenty of controversy at the time, watching ESPN and reading sports columns all day I rarely hear or see any mentions about the fact that the Patriots cheated. When Spygate is mentioned, it is simply done so to emphasize how Bill Bilichick and the Patriots used it as motivation.

As the Patriots solidify their status as the best team in the history of football on Super Sunday, Congress is stepping in to challenge the NFL's destruction of the tapes that proved the Patriots were cheaters. Because the tapes were destroyed, we do not know how much those tapes helped the Patriots gain an advantage over their opposition. That is, we do not know the extent of the cheating. But we do know that the NFL did not want anyone to know. Hmm.

Now, I am glad to see someone remember Spygate and challenge it. But Congress? I thought we have a war going on, the threat of terrorism, chaos in the Middle East, an economy in recession, a devaluing dollar, a rapidly growing trade deficit, severe lack of healthcare and social security, housing and energy crises, and a tight presidential race that could be decided by something shady again. Kudos to Congress for finding the time to challenge some long gone football tapes.