Category Archives: Basketball

The Yips

Parallel parking is easy when practiced in front of your house with cones and trash cans. It does, however, become infinitely more difficult when attempted in front of a swanky restaurant in between a BMW 7-Series and a Maserati with outdoor diners picking apart your every mistake. Soon, passerby begin to gravitate just to watch you take the wrong angle and start over for the umpteenth time. Put enough pressure on yourself while allowing the situation power over you, and you’ll fail more at parallel parking than Meadow Soprano.

Meadow can't park...

If you’re the type who’ll park three blocks away and pay $10 to avoid parallel parking in front of everyone, then you may have a case of the yips.

The yips are dangerous. Powerful enough to end careers and contagious enough to shun those afflicted, the yips are that little anxiety monster that grows and grows and eventually takes over in pressure situations.

In the athletic arena, it could look like Chuck Knoblauch launching short throws from second base into the stands, or Jean Van de Velde scattering golf shots all over the last hole to lose the British Open, or Mark Wohlers unable to find the strikezone, or LeBron James disappearing in the fourth quarter in the NBA Finals, or any Florida State kicker when trying beat the University of Miami. Those are just a few examples but the list is miles long of athletes who can do their task without trouble when no one is watching only to fail miserably when the lights burn brightest.

Some call it ‘white line’ syndrome. Step on the playing surface between the white lines of the football field, basketball court, baseball field, or parking space and the athlete can begin to over-think the most mundane of tasks. Short field goals become tricky, free throws are impossible, throwing strikes are out of the question, and parallel parking is calamitous.

Yours truly even yipped a stop sign some years ago. You know, those big, red octagonal warnings that have stop written across? I had a date in the passenger’s seat and my mind was preoccupied and sure enough, whoop-whoop! The policeman lectured me on paying more attention (no ticket!) and did understand that the sign was behind a large banyan tree. But had I been driving alone I certainly would have been locked in on the stop sign. The circumstances of my date and trying to think about saying all the right things led me to completely yip a stop sign!

Fortunately, no one was hurt and I have since learned from that experience. I have yet to miss a stop sign since! The yips can drive those afflicted one of two ways: Learn from them and improve, or, succumb to them and wash out.

When Rory McIlroy yipped away the Master’s many thought he would struggle in future similar situations. But he learned from the experience and won the very next major tournament convincingly. The aforementioned Van de Velde never came close to winning another major tournament ever again.

From champion to wading in muck: The Yips

So fear not. You may have badly screwed up that last date when you spilled all that wine on his smartphone and white Brooks Brothers shirt. Now you know you have to concentrate a little more when pouring wine. But don’t avoid that same situation; that would be succumbing to the yips. And don’t avoid parallel parking either. Find a teensy-weensy spot during happy hour between a Bentley and a Mercedes and yell “Take notes!” as you put on a show one-timing the parking job and saying “You’re welcome,” to the group ready to pounce on your smallest mistake.

No one really knows how to defeat the yips, but apprehension certainly isn’t the cure. Might as well be aggressive…

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Filed under Baseball, Basketball, Dating, Football, Golf, Yips

Miami Heat fall victim to the curse of the ensemble cast

Perhaps the only headline capable of distracting the masses from Weiner’s weiner this past week was the demise of LeBron James and the Miami Heat (one man displaying too much of his marbles; the other still trying to find his…) Even the basketball clueless could not escape the endless coverage of the Miami Heat this season and even the most novice of fans would predict that two of the best three players in the world along with another top-10 talent coupled with two more highly sought after veterans would lead to an inevitable championship.

So like, what the hell happened???

Simply put, the Miami Heat came up short much like He’s Just Not That Into You and Valentine’s Day; two movies riddled with stars that had critics finding new ways to slam a movie and boyfriends checking their cell phones throughout the mediocre chick-flick dross.

Don’t believe me? Roeper of Ebert and Roeper said, “More than a dozen familiar faces are wasted in this trite, groan-inducing mediocrity,” in regard to Valentine’s Day. Time Magazine said, “He’s Just Not That Into You is like reliving your 20’s, without any of the fun.” And it’s not just those critics; both movies came up ‘rotten’ according to Rottentomatoes.com.

He’s Just Not That Into You featuring Scarlett Johansson, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, Justin Long, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Drew Barrymore, and Kris Kristofferson andValentine’s Day featuring Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, and Taylor Swift are doomed to fail for having too many leading actors (or actors who think they’re leading material) in the same movie.

Tried-and-true Hollywood formula is: Male lead + Female lead + Male support + Female support + and Ed Harris (anytime you include and Ed Harris, the movie will improve) = Potential passable entertainment. Mess with that formula, and you have actors fighting for screen time or mailing in performances for the paycheck. There’s only so many minutes in a movie and so many cameras.

This is a lot like what happened this year with the Heat. Typical NBA formula is: Star player A + Star player B + Three useful starters + Three more useful bench players = Potential playoff team. The Heat tried to make it work with Superstar player + Superstar player + One good player + Whatever is left we can afford regardless if they have any talent at all (Mike Bibby).

There have been successful ensemble cast movies in the past such as A Time to Kill with Matt McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt, Ashley Judd, Donald Sutherland and Kiefer Sutherland. McConaughey deftly played his part as the star and Bullock, Jackson, Spacey and Judd (who have all been #1’s) supported him in every scene and never tried to do too much. Oliver Platt worked his typical role as the ‘glue’ to perfection. He was funny when he had to be and he was always adding to the scene; never taking away.

The actors all sacrificed a little screen time but it was for the greater good of a terrific movie. And they all trusted Joel Schumacher, the director, who had completed some fairly impressive movies up until that point. That is what the Heat have to do.

Wade is the McConaughey; he has to star in every scene and show up every night.

LeBron is Spacey; capable of outperforming McConaughey with movies such as Se7en or American Beauty but consistently turning in performances such as 21 and Pay it Forward.

Maybe the Heat can celebrate for real next year?

Bosh is Sam Jackson; maybe he’s Pulp Fiction and maybe he’s Jumper. We don’t know, but like with Jackson, we’ll appreciate his passion and the occasional “Yes, they deserved to die and I hope they burn in hellllll”--like intensity.

Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller need to play like Platt and Judd. Both have the ability to be a #1 but we’ve seen the wrestling movie Ready to Rumble and it wasn’t good (sorry Platt, I enjoyed it when I was 15). Everyone in this paragraph (Haslem, Miller, Platt, and Judd) are better served being the glue to hold the whole messy contraption together.

Lastly, the Heat need to find some ‘Sutherlands.’ Donald was funny and endearing; Kiefer was intense and psychotic. The Heat need a veteran to keep everyone loose and that’s where Donald comes in. The Heat had fewer smiles than championships this year (0). They also need a stone-cold killer like Kiefer; someone who’s crazy enough to fight an entire team and drain three’s like an assassin (just without the white-supremacist hatred…)

Put that together and the Heat go from Valentine’s Day flop to A Time to Kill classic. Now if only we could fast-forward to next year’s ending with a parade on Biscayne Boulevard…

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Filed under Bad Movies, Basketball, Miami Heat

Inflated Numbers

Here are some truths about guys:

Guys really, really, really like the song “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It does something to our brains. It makes us drive faster and do goofy air-guitar solos in the middle of Best Buy regardless of who’s watching.

Guys will cry, no, bawl whenever they watch Brian’s Song. The movie is based on the story of Brian Piccolo, the undersized fullback who blocked for Gale Sayers on the Chicago Bears. Piccolo contracted cancer mid-season and eventually died. I would review the movie, but I don’t feel like turning into a blubbering mess.

Guys also tend to inflate their “number.” Ask them how many girls they have been with, and you will get a number with less credibility than OJ Simpson. For a more realistic number, take his number, and divide it by three.

Sports work the same way. The Colorado Rockies baseball team usually scores more runs than anybody else because the altitude makes baseballs travel farther.

The Denver Nuggets basketball team has a ridiculously good home record because the visiting teams can’t breathe due to the thin mountain air.

The Texas Tech Red Raiders college football team (in the Mike Leach days) usually had the quarterback who threw for the most touchdowns and yards. However, that team threw on virtually every play.

The casual observer would be convinced that home runs hit by Rockies’ sluggers, the games won by the Nuggets at home, and the statistics amassed by Red Raider quarterbacks are legitimate.

However, those same Rockies struggle to hit homers on the road at sea level, the Nuggets barely win on the road, and Texas Tech quarterbacks rarely get drafted into the NFL.

Their numbers are inflated much like how the typical guy inflates the total number of his conquests.

Statistics, whether it’s with sports or love, need to be accepted with a certain air of skepticism. Homers hit with steroids or Grammy’s won with auto-tune can certainly have their legitimacy questioned.

But the argument of Clemens’ steroid-fueled wins versus Perry’s spitball-aided victories makes sports fun to talk about.

So whatever number you end up being told, just know there are a variety of different circumstances needing to be taken into account whether it’s homers, touchdowns, or sexual encounters…

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Filed under Baseball, Basketball, College Football, Football, Numbers

The Project

Webster’s Dictionary defines a project as “an extensive undertaking requiring concerted effort.” That’s why no one likes 8th grade science (the projects) and why it is so difficult to change that boyfriend you describe as a work-in-progress.

Let’s face it. You ladies enjoy undertaking a project to change your guy for the better (in your opinion). Maybe he drinks, watches too much sports, plays too much golf, hangs out with his friends, never reveals what he’s really thinking, etc. You know, all the behaviors that make males so very male.

The point is you see a guy you like and after getting to know him, you realize he is about 83% of the perfect man. The remaining 17% is all you. You will convince him that golf on Sundays is boring and that Pottery Barn is far more entertaining. You will convince him that The Bachelor is more engrossing than the Rose Bowl. And you will convince him that his friends are all drunken morons (probably true). His potential at 100% of the perfect guy helps you to live with the rough edges until he eventually succumbs and you win.

The same idea takes place every year in pro sports. This year, Michael Vick, John Smoltz and Allen Iverson are all projects teams are willing to shell out millions with the hope that they become great once again. In the meantime, they will have to live with the interceptions, homers, and turnovers that all resemble a toilet seat left up for the umpteenth time or a forgotten dinner engagement with your mother.

Vick, now more famous for his dog fighting, was once the most electric quarterback of all time. He was a lethal combination of arm strength and foot speed much like the dual threat that is the one and only Cher. But after spending more than a year in prison, Vick probably lost some of that physical ability. By signing him, the Eagles are taking a risk because he may never come close to his once dominant self, but if he does, Philadelphia just added a potent threat capable of taking any team to the playoffs.

Smoltz and Iverson are similar because their best days are behind them. Smoltz was just released from the Red Sox after getting beaten like Rihanna (too soon?). But now the Cardinals are gambling that the 42 year-old can regain his form in time for the playoffs. And he has by winning his first start for St. Louis.

Many consider Iverson the greatest little-guy of all time in the NBA. But the last few seasons have proven that his bad attitude and me-first persona outweigh his ability. So much so, Iverson cannot find a team to play for and the NBA season is only about two months away. The team that does sign him will be taking a major risk because Iverson makes the locker room about as harmonious as a Flava of Love house.

So take heart when your guy forgets your birthday or when his eyes wander to another woman. You can always dump him and you won’t owe him a blessed thing. But when the Raiders signed a project in the form of DeAngelo Hall last year to a seven year/$70 million deal with $24.5 million guaranteed, the team was on the hook for big money when (surprise, surprise) Hall played terribly, sulked, and was eventually cut from the team.

Sports (and dating) reveal there is a fine line between potential and pipe dream…

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Filed under Allen Iverson, Baseball, Basketball, Football, Projects

Looking for an athlete?

By now, you should be a little more knowledgeable when it comes to the world of sports. Maybe you don’t know the difference between a 3, 5, and 8-second violation, but you are no longer clueless like Alicia Silverstone. Maybe you are feeling saucy and want to date an athlete.

But which sport?

Well, football players can be a little violent, the lineman can be obese, all are prone to concussions, and the average NFL player’s lifespan is significantly shorter than someone who doesn’t smack their head against some other big guy’s head repeatedly at a dangerous rate of speed for a living. The average player’s salary is $830,000 per year, which is nice, but you can do better.

Pro baseball players earn boatloads of money (average salary is $1.15 million), but they have their weaknesses too. The season is 162 games long,  so they are never around, chances are pretty good they took steroids at some point in their careers (steroids cause a man’s testicles to shrivel up), and they have a gross habit of spitting saliva, sunflower seeds, or tobacco or a rarely seen, but captivating combination of all three.

The average basketball player earns $2.75 million per year so things are looking good there. But the behavior patterns of some of the elite players can be a bit unsettling. For instance, Allen Iverson chased his naked wife down a street out of love, Wilt Chamberlain boasted about having sex with 10,000 women, and Shawn Kemp has more kids depending on him than Santa Claus. Plus, I am 6’4″ and I am dwarfed next to pro basketball players.

Hockey guys make $1.15 million per year and are really normal. They aren’t tall. They aren’t short. They are just normal dudes missing a lot of teeth. Anyway…

So while the major American sports may not tickle your fancy, try looking at a sport that travels more than 200 miles per hour in the most exotic locales on earth. Yep, Formula One racing is where you will find Mr. Right.

The top driver in the world earned $51 million last year while the tenth best driver made $4.5 million. Wealth? Check.

If you are looking for an exotic flair, none of the drivers are American. In fact, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, France, Spain, Poland, and Finland are the countries represented among the drivers. Not to mention, the drivers are all very smart. They have to understand wind resistance, fuel capacities, tire degradation, and other complex car physics. Let’s just say they are a bit brighter than the average ballplayer who never went to college.

And you like to travel right? Well, New York and San Francisco are pretty cool, but the Formula One races only take place in the coolest cities on earth. The schedule includes Australia, Malaysia, China, Bahrain, Spain, Turkey, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Belgium, Singapore, Japan, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, and the crown jewel of the circuit, Monaco. You should be able to do some hardcore shopping in these places when you are not mingling with royalty or the uber wealthy.

Formula One money is ridiculous. It makes horseracing money look like a pittance even with the $1,000 mint julep drinks served at the Kentucky Derby. For example, Ferrari spent nearly $250 million on its racing team in 1999 and even the worst team that year spent $50 million. The elite teams today spend staggering sums of money.

Still not convinced? Ashley Judd married Dario Franchitti, a Scottish Indy Car driver. Ashley Judd never makes bad decisions, unless when it comes to choosing scripts in which case she makes awful decisions. Don’t judge her by Twisted or Eye of the Beholder. She’s having a ball watching Franchitti win races.

Which makes me long for a female Formula One driver. They are all male so my ticket to travel the world and live the aristocratic European life will have to wait. And no, Danica Patrick. I am not interested in your Indy Car races. Sorry, I have standards…

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danica

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Filed under Auto Racing, Baseball, Basketball, Danica Patrick, Football

Basketball: The Pick and Roll

At a casual glance, basketball is a simple game consisting of putting the ball through the hoop more often than the other team. To accomplish this, however, basketball is a horribly complex game rife with intricate plays, formations and strategies to maximize opportunities to score. While a team’s playbook may resemble an unreadable prescription written by a hyperactive doctor, one easy play stands out from all the rest because it is ridiculously effective and easy to implement: the pick and roll.

To illustrate, picture yourself at a crowded club. You are with some friends having a good time when the prototypical creep (slightly too old for the establishment, clothes noticeably too tight, using dance moves from yesteryear, smells of far too much cheap cologne, perhaps sunglasses at night, and the general aura of scumbag) makes his way toward you and offers to buy you a drink. You tell him that you already have a drink, you are not thirsty, you are training to become a nun and have given up alcohol; basically anything to ward off this disaster waiting to happen.

However, he was not born with the wherewithal to pickup on subtlety, so he continues to try and win your affections with more drink offers, dance offers, and other offers that may not be printable. Now he is bordering on harassment, so you call your girlfriends over to initiate the perfect pick and roll. Yes, that’s right. You have run a pick and roll before, you just never realized it until now.

Girlfriend A (we’ll call her Madison) and Girlfriend B (Samantha) make their way toward you. You walk away from the creep and he tries to follow. Madison and Samantha quickly position themselves between you and the creep, effectively blocking his path. Now you bolt in a different direction, using the crowd to your advantage and you escape out the exit, making your way to another club with names such as Destruction, Catacomb, or Hellish.

On the basketball court, the pick and roll works like this: Player A (You) has the ball and is being guarded by Player X (The Creep). Player A’s teammate, Player B (Samantha), runs over and basically stands to one side of Player X (called a “pick”) blocking his ability to effectively guard Player A. Player A then dribbles toward the basket. Player B “rolls” away and stands open, ready to receive the ball. Player A has the option to continue toward the basket to try and score, or pass to Player B letting him try to score. The play takes between 3-5 seconds, and when done correctly, is a potent weapon for any basketball team. Teams can run this play every time without it losing effectiveness. Karl Malone and John Stockton, both former members of the Utah Jazz, put together Hall of Fame caliber careers by implementing the pick and roll for 18 years together.

Stockton and Malone resembled the perfect chemistry of Thelma and Louise. Only, Stockton and Malone wouldn’t have died in the end. They would have figured out a way to escape and would still be at large, sipping mimosas at some posh villa in the south of France.

That’s the power of the pick and roll. It can allow you score at will on the basketball court, aid your escape from a perverted creep at a crowded club, and help you run-off to the south of France to drink mimosas, rather than having to drive off of a cliff to a fiery death.

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Filed under Basketball, Dating