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Thursday, August 4, 2005
Updated: September 2, 11:53 AM ET
Anchoring the NBA's summer

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Remember my mailbag rant about rewatchable movies last month, when I complained about the five-year drought (and counting) for entertaining movies that could be watched on cable again and again?

Anchorman
All the offseason news that stays classy.
Back East a few weeks ago, I ended up on-Demanding (is that even a verb?) "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" at my mom's house one night. Even though the movie (about a chauvinistic '70s anchorman in San Diego, played by Will Ferrell) received mixed reviews last year, since Ferrell was involved, I gave it a belated shot ... and loved it. Two days later, I watched it again. When I returned to California, I bought the DVD and watched the movie and every extra. Much like the "Austin Powers" movies, it's silly and inspired, and you notice four or five new wrinkles every time you watch it. Now, if I'm flicking channels and it's just starting, I can't help myself. It's like being at a wedding where they serve those bacon-wrapped scallop appetizers: Sure, I guess I'll have one more, but that's it. And you end up having 10. Now that, my friends, is the very definition of a rewatchable movie.

Without further ado, instead of awards, I'm handing out 35 quotes and exchanges from "Anchorman" to the best and worst of the 2005 NBA's wild and wacky offseason:

1. "Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention? I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you to stop what you're doing and listen. [Pause.] Cannonball!!!!!!"

To the Wolves ... whose big summer move was to re-sign Mark Madsen for $8 million over three years. How has the ESPN The Magazine cover with a brooding KG and the headline, "Get me out of here!" not happened yet?

2. "If you were a man, I would punch you right in the mouth."

To Joe Dumars ... I mean, you know he wanted to say this to Larry Brown, right? When Brown had his press conference with the Knicks last week, at the very least, the Pistons should have hired John Green to lob cups of soda at him.

3. "Huh? You pooped in the refrigerator? And you ate the whole wheel of cheese? How'd you do that? Actually, I'm not even mad -- that's amazing!"

To Philly GM Billy King, who continues to hemorrhage money like a drunken stockbroker in the champagne room at Scores. Over the past four summers, King spent $68 million on an aging Dikembe Mutombo; $40 million on Kenny Thomas; $35.5 million on Aaron McKie; $29 million on Eric Snow; $20.7 million on Brian Skinner; $18 million on Greg Buckner; and an astonishing $15 million for Kevin Ollie (which was especially memorable because, at the time, I spent 15 minutes on the phone with my buddy House trying to get him to guess how much money Ollie had signed for, before House came up with the exact figure). And don't forget, King traded for C-Webb's bum knee and the $66 million remaining on C-Webb's contract last February.

So if you're Billy King, what do you do for an encore? You spend $45 million for the next six years on ... (drumroll please) ... Kyle Korver and Willie Green! Are you kidding me? It's amazing that King didn't get in on the Brian Scalabrine bidding. Anyway, I think King is clearly preparing for his next job -- Hollywood movie executive. Couldn't you see him spending $18 million to lock up Rob Schneider for "Deuce Bigalow 2?" He'd be perfect out here.

4. "Mr. Burgundy! You have a massive erection!"
"Really? Um, yes ... I do."

Joe Johnson
The Joe Johnson snafu would be bad news for Hawks fans ... if there were any.
To Ray Allen, who used the Clips and Cavs as leverage for another whopping contract from the Sonics, allowing him to pass the $150 million mark for his career (shouldn't they keep track of this stuff, the same way they do with movies?) Plus, Black Starz showed "He Got Game" for the 10,000th time last week. Big summer for Ray.

(The biggest argument with "Anchorman": What's the single-funniest scene? Some of my friends swear by the erection scene, capped off by Burgundy screaming, "Don't act like you're not impressed!" I'm partial to Brian Fantana's breaking out Sex Panther, then getting hosed down outside the network building like he's Meryl Streep in "Silkwood." Others enjoy the Jack Black cameo. Others swear by the phone booth scene. There's a really a plethora of choices. It's a cornucopia. A bevy. A potpourri.)

5. "I look good ... really good. Hey everyone, come and see how good I look!"

To the Pacers, who looked like the best team in basketball on the night of the Artest Melee, at least until Ben Wallace and his temper intervened (everyone forgets this). Now they get Artest back, plus they added the most NBA-ready player in the draft (Danny Granger) and a clutch Lithuanian point guard with a Ginobili-like resume overseas (Sarunas Jasikevicius). How could they not be the favorites right now? Who's deeper 1-through-10? Imagine if they won a couple championships without Reggie Miller? We'd have to move him into a reality house with Don Mattingly.

6. "Oh my God, what it that smell?"
"That's the smell of desire, my lady."
"God, no ... it smells like a used diaper covered in Indian food!"
"You know, desire smells like that to some people."

To Kwame Brown ... I mean, who else would this go to? You can make excuses for the past four years -- MJ ruined his confidence, he's never played on a team that wasn't controlled by shot-happy perimeter players, he needed a fresh start in a new city, etc. -- but the bottom line is this: He didn't play hard every night. Now he's with Phil Jackson (who has a spotty history of developing young players) and Kobe Bryant (who could care less about getting anyone else involved in the offense -- just ask Lamar Odom). So we should expect Kwame to play harder and earn that $22 million over the next three years? I'm a little dubious.

Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas
Uh, a match made in heaven?
(Best line that I'm not allowed to quote from this movie: The one about Bigfoot that comes two lines after the above exchange. High comedy. You had to have been smoking the marijuana that's given to cancer patients to come up with something as good as the Bigfoot line. I'm telling you.)

7. "We've been coming to the same party for 12 years now, and in no way is that depressing!"

To the Clippers, who keep shifting deck chairs on the Titanic and claiming that it's a new boat. This summer, they made their token "Let's get the fans excited" run at Ray Allen (not a chance), allowed the heart of the team (Simmons) to sign with Milwaukee, then spent Bobby's money on Cuttino Mobley (a solid Plan B). Also, they signed Zeljko Rebraca to a three-year, $12 million deal, an interesting move because the Sports Gal kept accidentally calling him "Recrappa" during Clippers games last season. And that's been it -- they have eight guys under contract right now. Needless to say, I'm not putting money aside every week to save for 2006 playoff tickets.

(One positive note: Supposedly Elgin Baylor finally figured out how to program numbers into his cell phone last week. So that was big.)

8. "Come get a taste."

To the Pistons, who have been defiantly sitting around this summer while everyone else in the Eastern Conference loads up. Almost like they're biding their time. Or else they're trying to figure out a way to top the Darko/Delfino summers and haven't come up with the perfect overrated international player yet. It's one or the other.

(By the way, classic Will Ferrell moment here -- when he's holding the billy club and goading on the rival newscasters right before the big anchorman gang fight. How many comedians brought us more laughs over a 10-year span than Will Ferrell? Does Phil Hartman from 1986-1996 hold a candle to him? What about Eddie Murphy from 1982-1992? Mike Myers from 1989-1999? Chevy Chase from 1975-1985? He's in the All-Time Pantheon, right? I'm ranking him ahead of everyone but Eddie. There. I said it.)

Anchorman
Think the Nets are sleeping like babies right now?
9. "I'm Brick Tamland. People seem to like me because I'm polite and I'm rarely late. I like to eat ice cream and I really enjoy a nice pair of slacks. Years later, a doctor will tell me that I have an IQ of 48 and am what some people call 'mentally retarded.'"

To former Cleveland GM Jim Paxson, who made the most underrated panic trade in NBA history last February: A protected 2007 No. 1 pick to Boston for Jiri Welsch (16 games, 191 minutes, 46 points for the Cavs). But here's the kicker: Because they were giving away a first-rounder, by NBA rules, Paxson had to remove the lottery protection from another first-rounder earmarked for Charlotte in 2005. Hence, they lost the 13th pick in June's draft (which they could have used on Danny Granger), and if that wasn't bad enough, they ended up trading Welsch to Milwaukee for a second-rounder in June. Has any team ever downgraded from a first to a second rounder in four months?

In a related story, Jim Paxson is unemployed right now. Might want to shift into sales or something, Jimbo. No offense.

(Speaking of Brick Tamland, one of my favorite things about "Anchorman": The fake names. Ron Burgundy, Champ Kind, Brian Fantana, Brick Tamland, Veronica Corningstone, Wes Mantooth ... in the words of Jack Horner, "Those are great names!" You can almost imagine Ferrell and co-writer Adam McKay sitting around at 3 a.m. one night, throwing out fake names for the script -- "What about Rust Youngblood? What about Lincoln Freeze? What about Harley Mace?" -- before they finally settled on the aforementioned group. That was probably more fun than writing the actual script. And by the way, look for Brick quietly putting mayonnaise into the toaster during this scene. Took me four viewings to notice it.)

10. "Ahhhhhhhhh, God! I did NOT see that coming!"

Remember the scene when Luke Wilson gets his arm chopped off during the anchorman gang fight? That goes to my beloved Celtics signing Brian Scalabrine for ... (gulp) ... (big gulp) ... $15 million over the next five years.

OK ...

I like him as a 10th man. I like the concept of "Let's boost the team chemistry of a team that acted like a '70s rock band last season by signing someone that everyone agrees is one of the best guys in the league." But FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLARS FOR BRIAN SCALABRINE????????????????? They could have signed former Suns blogger Paul Shirley for one-sixth the price and quintupled the Celtics.com traffic. Is there a difference between Luke Walton, Scott Padgett, Scalabrine, Ryan Bowen and 20 other guys? This is like finding out that a buddy paid $150,000 for an engagement ring to someone he met just three weeks ago. What can you even say?

(As for the big gang fight, I'm torn on this one. Liked/loved Tim Robbins's curly afro, liked Ben Stiller screaming "Policia!", liked Wilson's arm getting cut off ... but the whole thing was a little over the top. Then again, it did lead to our next exchange...)

Gary Payton
You can stop shooting now, Gary. Uhhh, Gary?
11. "Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast!"
"It jumped up a notch!"
"It did, didn't it?"
"Yeah, I stabbed a man in the heart!"
"I saw that. Brick killed a guy."

To the Samuel Dalembert bidding, which shattered the NBA record for "Most expensive contract given to a guy based strictly on his potential" (previously held by Marquis Daniels getting $39 million from the Mavs). It's like a play on the old "Bad Idea Jeans" ad on SNL: "So, I figured, when's the next time I'll have a chance to spend more than $60 million on a raw center from Haiti?"

(Of course, the man responsible for giving Dalembert that money? That's right ... Mr. Billy King. I'm telling you -- put him in charge of ESPN and we would be shelling out $900 million for Major League Lacrosse within two weeks.)

12. "You know how to cut to the core of me, Baxter. You're so wise. You're like a miniature Buddha, covered in hair."

To agent Marc Bartelstein, who pulled off the two shrewdest maneuvers of the summer: Convincing Milwaukee to spend $47 million on my man Bobby Simmons (when the next highest offer was in the $38-39 million range), and convincing Miami to spend an extra $20 million on Antoine Walker (when there was no sign-and-trade market for him and he would have ended up signing there anyway). If he manages to get Steven Hunter $20 million from someone, I'm hiring Bartelstein to negotiate my next contract with ESPN.

(Note: Just wait until my contract year kicks in next April -- I'm going to hire a personal trainer, lose 15 pounds and start pumping out mailbags nine at a time, and then my man Bartelstein will take care of everything else. By the time the dust clears, I'll be covering the Packers for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for $5 million per year and wondering, "How did I get here?")

13. "I would like to extend to you an invitation to the pants party."
"Excuse me?"
"The ... party. With the ... with the pants. Party with pants?"
"Brick, are you saying that there's a party in your pants and that I'm invited?"
"That's it."

To Magic Johnson, who announced that he would love to be the owner of any NBA team that plays in Vegas. Ummmmmm ... maybe that's not the best idea, Magic ... ummmm ... can we start you off in Minnesota or Cleveland?

14. "I'm going to punch you in the ovary, that's what I'm gonna do. A straight shot, right to the babymaker."

To the Magic ... this was probably their reaction after No. 1 pick Fran Vazquez told them he was staying overseas for another season. Normally, you would think that a team passing up Danny Granger and Gerald Green to get double crossed by a foreign big man named "Fran" would be the lowlight of the past 12 months -- but this is the same team that gave away Tracy McGrady and has Steve Francis, Kelvin Cato, Doug Christie and Mrs. Christie to show for it. Sorry, that's gonna take precedence.

15. "Oops, I almost forgot -- I won't be able to make it fellas. Veronica and I trying this new fad called uh, jogging. I believe it's jogging or yogging. It might be a soft 'j' ... I'm not sure, but apparently you just run ... for an extended period of time. It's supposed to be wild."

One of the dopiest moments goes to the dopiest moment of the summer: The remarriage between Greg Ostertag and the Utah Jazz, which was a little like David Gest and Liza Minnelli getting back together, only if David Gest had been booed by an entire fan base off and on for seven years. I think Jerry Sloan was watching "Eddie" on HBO3 one night after about 10 drinks and suddenly decided, "You know what? He drove me crazy, but I miss that big oaf! Let's get him back!"

16. "Ooooh, it's a formidable scent. Stings the nostrils."
"In a good way, right?"
"Brian, I'm gonna be quite honest with you -- that smells like pure gasoline."

One of my favorite exchanges in the movie (Brian Fantana showing off his prized Sex Panther cologne to Ron Burgundy) goes to the Milwaukee Bucks, who invigorated their franchise with the following moves:

• They spent $90 million for Michael Redd, a nice enough player who has a zero percent chance of ever making an All-NBA team.

• They used the No. 1 pick in the 2005 Draft on Andrew Bogut, who looked shaky enough in summer league games that there hasn't been this many people cringing in Milwaukee since Jeffrey Dahmer was still running amok.

Anchorman
Cup of Joe, some mirrored sunglasses ... San Diego never knew what hit it.
• They spent $30 million for Dan Gadzuric, an energy guy whose per-minute rebounding stats were surprisingly good (8.3 boards in less than 20 minutes a game). In fact, I liked this signing. But this has to mark the first time in NBA history that a team drafted a center No. 1 overall, then spent another $30 million on an insurance plan just in case that No. 1 pick didn't pan out. Not a ton of faith there.

• They overpaid a little ($47 million) for Simmons, one of my favorite players in the league ... unfortunately, they already have Redd and Desmond Mason at the swingman positions. A truly goofy signing unless they plan on moving Mason.

• They announced that T.J. Ford was back, and that his surgically-repaired spine can finally withstand the rigors of an NBA season ... but it's probably a good idea if he doesn't drive to the basket as much. I'm not making this up.

17. "I don't usually do this, but I felt compelled to tell you something. You have an absolutely ... breathtaking ... heinie. I mean, that thing's good. I wanna be friends with it."

To my favorite summer signing: Houston grabbing Stro Swift for the mid-level exception. Now he can finally play 35-40 minutes a game and concentrate on the three things he does best -- running, jumping and dunking. Perfect team for him. Considering they played Juwan Howard, Clarence Weatherspoon, Scott Padgett, Vin Baker, Ryan Bowen and Julie Bowen at power forward last season, you could make a case that this was the single-biggest upgrade by any contender. In fact, I think I just did.

(And while we're here, how 'bout a round of applause for Christina Applegate, who plays Ferrell's love interest in the movie and is slowly becoming the Rafael Palmeiro of Hollywood -- she's peaking in her mid-30's and has to be considered for the Babe Hall of Fame soon, even though it seemed impossible as recently as two years ago. This may have been her best movie yet. If she's brought down by Congress for perjury in a horrible Botox scandal five years from now, I only hope I still enjoy this movie as much.)

PART TWO: "Anchorman" and the NBA

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.