By Bill Simmons
POSTED 2:50 p.m., JULY 29
Wrapping up some loose ends from the past two weeks ...
Thanks to everyone who took the time to suggest games for my NBA TV Weekend at the end of August (scroll down for details). Just to make it clear, if you've seen already seen your suggestion on ESPN Classic or NBA TV, we're not including it in the 50-hour weekend of games. So that rules out some of the old standbys -- MJ's Flu Game, the 'Nique-Bird shootout, Isiah's 25-point quarter in Game 6 against the Lakers, and so on. You don't need to keep suggesting these. I want to concentrate on games that haven't been shown yet -- like Game 5 of the '84 Finals, Game 6 of the Sixers-Celts Finals in '81, or Game 3 of the Sonics-Warriors series in '92.
The 'Nique-Bird shootout will not make the cut.
I especially liked one suggestion so far, from Steve S. in Texas:
"I assume you know the story of Game 5 of the Mavs-Sonics series in '84. Because the Mavs weren't expected to make the playoffs, the geniuses at Reunion Arena scheduled a World Championship Tennis match for that night. So they moved Game 5 to SMU's arena, which held about 8,000 fewer people. This has turned into one of those events in Dallas lore where apparently 50,000 people were able to cram into an 11,000-seat stadium because so many claim to have been there. On top of the playoff-game-in-an-old-timey-college-arena aspect, there was also a last-second incident involving Tom Chambers having a ball bounced off his chest and the clock not starting, resulting in a 14-minute delay that required the teams to return to the court form the locker room. Here is a 20th-year anniversary update that the Dallas Morning News ran earlier this year (registration required)."
Now THAT is what I'm talking about. A few people actually e-mailed about that game -- apparently, the Mavs came back from six down in the final minute, then prevailed by one in OT. Final score? 105-104. Now that's a classic. Plus, not only were Mark Aguirre, Dale Ellis, Jack Sikma, Tom Chambers, Rolando Blackman and the great Gus Williams prominently involved, but there was a startling collection of awkward white guys on hand -- including Pat Cummings (13 PPG that year!), Kurt Nimphius, Danny Vranes, Steve Hawes and Bill Garnett (taken fourth in the 1982 Draft behind Worthy, Cummings and 'Nique -- which has to be the biggest dropoff in talent in the history of mankind. I'm getting giddy just writing about this.
Anyway, if you want to send in a suggestion, just e-mail us at email@example.com. And just for the record, I haven't found an appropriate game involving the '83 Sixers yet; so if you're from Philly and you can think of one, let me know. (The '83 Finals was one-sided that spring because the Lakers were banged up.)
Speaking of NBA TV, they showed a crazy game on Wednesday: The '96 Dream Team taking on a College All-Star team that took a 17-point lead in the second half before self-destructing. I'm not making this up. This would have been like USA-USSR all over again, only if absolutely no one gave a crap. More importantly, what about Shea Seals and Anthony Parker starting for a college all-star team over Paul Pierce? Did that really happen? I almost fell off my treadmill watching this thing. You could also see the seeds of greatness being planted here with Tim Duncan, who held his own against Shaq, Hakeem and Robinson. And I forgot how good Brevin Knight was in college, as well as how much I liked Toby Bailey back in the day. (He's on my Miles Simon/Bo Kimble All-Star Team for "College guys whose pro potential I totally misjudged.") Very entertaining game.
That reminds me, I'm writing a column about this year's Dream Team at some point in the next two weeks, but I wanted to mention one thing: In the words of Johnnie Cochran, it's going to be verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting to see who grabs those other two crunch-time spots with Duncan, LeBron and Iverson. I'm assuming everything will shake out in practice this week (the first tune-up games start happening this weekend). Does Dwyane Wade grab the 2-spot and push LeBron to the 3? Does 'Melo or Richard Jefferson step up and allow LeBron to play the 2? I love this stuff; I can't believe more NBA fans aren't talking about it. And by the way, this feels like the perfect vehicle for Iverson to get his act together, captaining an Olympic team that desperately needs him.
(Here's my ideal crunch-time five: Duncan, Odom, LeBron, Wade and Iverson. Now that's a fun group of players to watch -- unselfish, athletic, five guys who know how to play. I would TiVo every game if the team revolved around those five guys, with 'Melo, Stoudamire, Jefferson and Okafor coming off the bench. Although I'd feel about 10 times more comfortable about winning the gold if KG was involved.)
My favorite e-mail of the summer so far, courtesy of Nicholas Kell in Indianapolis:
"Carlos Boozer for 68 million dollars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will now peel the skin off my body."
(I like that one . . . gives me a little more flexibility when I get tired of "I will now light myself on fire.")
Did you see any clips of Barack Obama's inspiring speech at the Democratic Convention on Tuesday night? Finally, a politician who can be reasonably compared to Cyrus from "The Warriors." This is fantastic. He should have walked out on stage surrounded by the remaining members of the Gramercy Riffs.
Speaking of "The Warriors," in case you weren't certain that Shaq belonged high up on the Vengeance Scale after the Miami trade, check out David Aldridge's column from yesterday. I particularly loved this quote:
"I was down here the other day working out with the kid from Vanderbilt we got (second-round pick Matt Freije), and I told him, 'I'm gonna come across the block, and if I get doubled, I'm gonna pass the ball to you and you're gonna have a wide-open jumper, or Udonis Haslem is gonna come down the lane and he's gonna get a dunk, and you're all gonna get big contracts.' He said, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Just look at the history. Travis Knight. Horace Grant. A.C. Green.' He said, 'Shaq, you're one of the coolest guys I've met.' "
On that same note, we received hundreds and hundreds of "omissions" on the Vengeance Scale from readers. Some of my favorite suggestions:
Vegas reader Ken Langston: "How can you not mention Beecher and Schillinger on "OZ"? After Schillinger made Beecher his punk, Beecher got his revenge in numerous ways, including sitting on him and dropping a deuce down his throat. They killed each other's children. Schillinger had all of Beecher's appendages broken. I think that qualifies as vengeance, don't you?
(Yes. That relationship was at least a 9.3. Honestly, I blocked them out of my mind.)
Texas reader Kevin R.: "Where does Gwen Stefani rank on the Vengeance scale? I was expecting to see her at a 10.0, and was disappointed that she failed to make the cut. Here's a recap -- teenage girl joins her brother's band. Falls in love with the bass player. Dates the bass player through high school. Gets dumped by the bass player. Gets very angry and writes a multi-platinum album of songs about the breakup, and what a jerk the bass player was. Bass player spends the rest of his life touring behind ex-girlfriend, who's now a huge star. Bass player's primary accomplishment in life is providing musical accompaniment to lyrics about what a jerk he is."
Ice Cube -- a major omission from the Vengeance Scale.
Toronto reader Greg R: "How could you have 'Hit 'Em Up' and not ''No Vaseline'? Cube gets gentrificated out of NWA and then releases his debut album -- within a year, NWA breaks up. Not only does it have 'Pick Up The Pieces' for a backdrop but listening to Cube verbally destroy his ex-boys by calling them sellouts, new Kunta Kintes, and the puppets hanging off the manger's strings (except throwing a few, shall we say, "fresh fish" references) make this the best diss song of all time."
Missouri reader Bill Knust: "I enjoyed the vengeance scale, but honestly, how does Montecore mauling Roy not make the list? This is at least a 6 or higher. This tiger had been teased his whole life by this (guy) and finally he got his payback. You just know the other tigers refer to him as their Jesus, the savior of all show tigers."
Orlando reader Alex Mendoza: "You listed two albums on your vengence scale, but neglected Marvin Gaye's 'Here, My Dear.' I don't know if this was just a giant error, or if you're just not familiar with his work, so I won't judge too harshly. The person who he thought was the love of his life, left him, took the kids, and half of his money. You don't do that to Marvin. He came back with probably the greatest album of his career and one of the greatest soul albums of all time. The entire album was about his divorce and feelings towards his wife. It was a bare-all album. His wife even tried to take him to court to ban that album because she wanted defamation of character, but no dice. I suggest you get a copy of that CD and read the lyrics sheet before you add albums onto the vengence scale."
Washington reader Mark Johnston: "Let me get this straight. You do an entire column on the Vengeance Scale without ANY references to the Sopranos? This past season alone warranted multiple entries: Tony killing his cousin, Carmelo getting back with Tony only to get the house/money she couldn't get in a divorce because Tony's conflicted/scared all the divorce attorneys in the greater New York area, Adriana getting whacked . . . the list goes on and on."
Those were the major omissions, along with these: Rober Redford in "Jeremiah Johnson" (my Dad's favorite movie, by the way) . . . Joe Louis's rematch against Max Schmeling . . . Michael Douglas in "Falling Down" . . . every Gwen Stefani song . . . the gang from "Porky's" against Porky . . . Nas against Jay-Z with "Ether" . . . Billy Ray Valentine and Lewis Winthorpe III in "Trading Places" . . . the entire Royals roster after the Ligues went after Tom Gamboa . . . Mike McD and Teddy KGB . . . Jason Kidd against the Fleet Center . . . Sonny getting wacked at the toll booth.
And some minor ones that were left out: Miyagi honking Kreese's nose . . . Walter vs. Larry Sellers' Corvette in The Big Lebowski . . . Lloyd Christmas slipping Harry a laxative before his date with Mary Swanson ("Dumb and Dumber") . . . Neon Deion dumping a bucket of ice on Tim McCarver . . . Fonzie going after the Malachi Brothers . . . the President shooting the Duke ("Escape from New York") . . . Henry Steele telling the coach to stick his scholarship offer up his butt at the end of "One on One" . . . Milton burning down the office building in "Office Space" . . . Carl Spackler versus The Gopher . . . Homer vs. Flaming Moe's.
So that's that. Probably my biggest regret is not thinking of Montecore the Tiger -- can't believe I missed that one. That was at least an 8.9, even if it did end up taking the Mirage billboard away from us.
One more reason to watch "Scrubs" next season.
Here's the weird coincidence of the summer: Heather Graham is joining the cast of "Scrubs," playing a new doctor in the hospital. That doctor's name? Dr. Molly Clark. Well . . . that's my stepmother's name. She's even a doctor. In other words, Rollergirl is playing my stepmother. I will now peel the skin off my body.
(See, it worked!)
According to The Intern (playing the role of Stat Boy this week), I screwed up the following things over the past few weeks:
Fiona Apple went crazy at the MTV Awards, not the Grammys . . . on the "Real World: Seattle," Stephen threw Irene's stuffed animal into Seattle's Puget Sound (not the river) . . . Prince Harry (not William) is the loser bro . . . Elisabeth Shue didn't win the 1995 Oscar, Susan Sarandon did . . . Jason killed counselors at Crystal Lake, not Candlewood Lake . . . Patrick Roy won the Stanley Cup the same year he was traded . . . in "Heat," the guy's last name was Waingro (I thought his full name was "Wayne Groh") ... In "Seven," Gwynnie Paltrow was Pitt's pregnant wife, not his girlfriend . . . Joe De's is on Cambridge Street, not Main Street . . . and Seal looks that way because he had lupus as a child.
(Note: Sorry about the Seal thing -- I shouldn't have made that joke, anyway. And for the record, that's a ton of screw-ups, isn't it? Am I that incompetent?)
The Intern also reports that there have been four lingering questions from the past few weeks:
1. With Shaq leaving the Lakers, doesn't the Ewing Theory collide with the Vengeance Scale here?
(Actually, no. Shaq won three titles with the Lakers, which makes him ineligible for the Ewing Theory. The Ewing Theory only applies to media-anointed superstars who haven't actually won anything, like A-Rod, Ricky Williams, Chris Webber and the like.)
2. What's the recipe for Diver Downs?
(I wrote about this in last April's Vegas column -- it's an invention from my buddy Hopper. Just order a Corona topped off with a shot of Bacardi Limon. And make sure someone takes your car keys away from you.)
3. Is there going to be an archive for "Quote of the Day"?
(Yes . . . we're working on it.)
4. When are you launching your long-promised "Best Sports Movies" package?
(Looks like next week . . . hide the women and children.)
Some reader rants from the past few weeks, courtesy of The Intern:
Mike in Allston, MA: I know you don't live in Boston anymore so you may have missed this, but have you seen those Kevin Millar commercials for KFC? He's sitting in a KFC in some silk date-rapist clubbing shirt and with a bucket of fried chicken. He picks up a drumstick and goes, "You know what goes great with some KFC?" and holds up what is unmistakably a big red condom. Sure, he says it's 'Red Sox,' but he pauses just long enough for you to think in horror, "Oh my god, why is he holding up a condom, and what does this have to do with fried chicken?"
Jason in New Brunswick, NJ: If Trebek really wanted to get rid of the JG, he'd have the producers stack the board with categories like 'Kama Sutra Positions' and '50 Cent Gunshot Wounds.' And the final category would have to be 'Going Through Puberty.'
(And the funniest two Ricky Williams e-mails . . . )
Jason McCoy in Indiana: Don't you think Ricky Williams has been watching too much "Pulp Fiction"? Don't you think his retirement is comparable to Samuel Jackson quitting to "walk the earth?"
Ben Bright in Pittsburgh: Here is a telephone conversation I had with the guy in our fantasy football league who drafted Ricky Williams five years ago and has built his team around him.
BB: Hey Mike, just calling to give you my condolences on losing Ricky.
BB: Sucks pretty bad, doesn't it. You're out a bunch of money 'cause of him.
Mike: Yeah, now I have to hope William Green comes back big with Cleveland.
BB: Yeah. But I got good news for you.
Mike: Yeah, what's that?
BB: I just saved a bunch of money on car insurance by switching to Geico.
Mike: (hangs up)
POSTED 4 p.m., JULY 28
I have an announcement ...
On the last weekend of August, the guys at NBA TV have graciously agreed to let me program their channel for an entire weekend. Sure, I had to put David Stern's pet rabbit in a pot of boiling water, but in the words of George Costanza, "I'm in, baby!"
Expect to see plenty of Larry Bird and Dr. J this weekend.
Here's how the weekend will shape up:
Friday, Aug. 27: 6 p.m., ET, to 4 a.m., ET (10 straight hours).
Saturday, Aug. 28: Noon, ET, to 4 a.m., ET (16 straight hours).
Sunday-Monday, Aug. 29-30: Noon, ET, to Noon, ET (a 24-hour marathon).
Yup, you read that correctly: 50 hours total. I'm only showing old games from the '80's and early '90's. That's it. They're giving me access to the complete NBA Entertainment library -- if the game was played and there's an exisiting tape of it, I have the right to show it. Hey, I love the Isiah-Bernard game in '84 or the Larry-'Nique shootout in '88 as much as anyone, but you can catch those games on ESPN Classic or NBA TV anytime. I'm concentrating on games that haven't been shown before -- stuff you haven't seen, lost classics that represent the glory days of the league (1980 to 1993), that glorious span from "Uncomfortably Tight Shorts" to "Baggy Shorts," the heyday of Bird, Moses, MJ, Magic, Doc, 'Nique and Isiah, when players actually knew how to run a fast break and throw a sneaky elbow, when you could clothes-line someone and remain in the game, when every team went eight or nine deep, when playoff series were described as "battles" and the comparison didn't seem absurd.
So here's where you come in. I have 50 hours to fill. Each game runs two hours, although I'm probably showing only second halves of a couple of games (like the Sleepy Floyd game, which runs from time to time on Classic but needs to be involved this weekend for obvious reasons). That means I have about 25-to-30 spots to play with here. And like any good video DJ, I'm open to suggestions.
If you have a game you want to see, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me why. Give me a good reason. Tell me what made the game special. You don't have to send me 500 words about it -- just send me a paragraph or two. I already have about two-thirds of my lineup set in stone -- including a Larry Legend 24-Hour Marathon on Sunday, followed by the premiere of Mel Gibson's new movie, "The Passion of The Basketball Jesus" -- but there are about 16 hours of wiggle room here. If there's a particular game you would love to see, or a particular game that you feel was lost in the shuffle over the years, please pass along your thoughts.
Plenty of MJ highlights will probably be shown, too.
And just so you know, I'm looking for games that fit one of the following categories:
A.) Games that show the absolute best of a great player in his prime. Like MJ slapping up 55 in Game 4 against the Knicks in '93, or Bird's 39-12-10 in Game 7 of the '84 Knicks series.
B.) Really fun games with two teams that complemented one another, like Game 2 of the Warriors-Lakers series in '91 (TMC against Magic and Worthy), or Game 5 of the Pistons-Celtics series in '85 (Bird and McHale against Isiah and the Microwave).
C.) Classics that have been lost in the shuffle over the years. Like Game 5 of the 1980 Finals -- Kareem sprains his ankle, comes back in and carries the Lakers down the stretch (ending up with a 40-15), giving them a 3-2 lead in the series. You always hear about Magic's famous Game 6, when he started at center for Kareem, but you never hear about Kareem dragging himself up and down the court to save the series for them on an ankle so banged up that he never even stepped on the plane for Game 6. And I can't stand Kareem. But how does that game keep getting overlooked?
Again, the e-mail address we set up: email@example.com. The suggestion box is officially open.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. You can reach his Sports Guy's World site every day on ESPN.com.