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Monday, March 3, 2008
Serving up the week's hottest links

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

So many links this week that I'm not even writing an intro. Here we go …

  • Back in April '06, I wrote a column about getting billed for Clippers tickets that included an extended section about Sam Cassell's brilliance and all the "little things" he does for a basketball team. I demand that you read it if you're a Celtics fan. Maybe Sam is at the tail end of his career, but his spirit and personality remain as strong as ever, and I don't think people back home fully realize how many unique things Sam does during the course of an NBA game, or how much fun they're going to have watching him play on a game-to-game basis. You can't overstate how big the Cassell and P.J. Brown signings were for the Celtics; in the span of 48 hours, I went from thinking they were destined for a Round 2 exit in Cleveland to believing they can win the championship if everything falls right.

    Brady and O'Brien
    This is the precise moment when the Pats' perfect season died.
  • At long last, we have an official photo of the exact moment when the Pats' 19-0 season started to go down the tubes. Look to the right … yep, it's the ominous pregame handshake between Tom Brady and Pat O'Brien! It's interesting that the celebration on Bourbon Street after Super Bowl XXXVI happened at Pat O'Brien's (a bar on Bourbon Street), and the downfall of the 19-0 season started with Pat O'Brien. I don't know what this means. Thanks to Steve Harding for taking the photo and reader Hugh Q. for sending it along.

  • My favorite link of 2008 so far: Two decades of deadline deals on NBA.com. I have to make three points here: First, I had blocked out of my mind that Boston traded Andrew DeClercq and an unprotected No. 1 in 1999 (a pick that ended up being No. 8) for Vitaly Potapenko, then immediately signed him to a $33 million deal. The GM of the team at the time? That's right, Chris Wallace (NTFNCW). You couldn't make this stuff up. Second, scroll down to 1990 for the life-altering "Christian Welp for Uwe Blab" deal. Has there ever been a greater and more inexplicable one-for-one swap? I say no. Third, why hasn't anyone launched a Web site that lists every NBA trade ever and breaks them down by years and teams? Or at the very least, why haven't our friends at basketball-reference.com done this? Let's make this happen by the end of 2008. I insist.

  • My favorite newspaper story of 2008 so far: Dave Stewart giving his blistering thoughts on Roger Clemens to the San Francisco Chronicle. Even in 2008, Stewart somehow manages to own Clemens. By the way, check out the graphic on the bottom of that piece with their head-to-head matchups from 1986 to 1993. Yikes. I think I'd blocked that out of my mind.

  • In my post-trade-deadline blog, I wondered why Otis Smith didn't trump San Antonio's offer for Kurt Thomas. Well, Florida Today reported Seattle demanded first-rounders in 2008 and 2010 from Orlando, then settled for a 2008 first-rounder from San Antonio that will be a worse pick than the pick Orlando was offering. Um, how is that not collusion? Sam Presti worked for the Spurs; now he's giving them a discount price for Thomas? Throw in Brent Barry's curious decision to spurn Phoenix for the Spurs, as well as Steve Kerr's frustrated comments afterward, and this is like one of those shady incidents that happens in a fantasy league. I thought Presti stopped working for the Spurs?

  • HBO launched its own YouTube channel, a wildly unimpressive effort so far (where are all the "Young Comedians" clips?) except for the long-lost clip of the early-'80s HBO intro for every show and movie. All teenagers from the '80s should watch this to get flashbacks to the era when they watched this intro praying for the ratings page with "SSC" and "N" to come up right afterward.

  • Did you read the New York Times feature on Hank Il-Jong? Jimmy Dolan, move over … there's a new Loser Legacy Kid in town! Do you think they went to the same prep school and banged out a 2.1 GPA while everyone else pretended to like them because they had the best houses for parties? As for Hank's shots at Red Sox fans, here's my response: You're 50 years old! Where have you been for the last 49 years? Is this like when Raymond Babbitt was rescued from Wallbrook?

  • If you ever wondered why everyone in Canada hates Vince Carter, just watch this clip of the "Top 10 Reasons Why Everyone In Canada Hates Vince Carter." A magnificent piece of work.

  • Did you know that Kenny Mayne is writing a book? Well, Kenny Mayne is writing a book.

  • More suggestions from the readers for sports-related terms named after players: The Trent Tucker Rule (can't get a shot off with 0.3 seconds or less); Hack-a-Shaq; Jordan Rules, the Hamill Camel; the Cruyff Turn; and the Deion Sanders Rule (you have to take your final fall semester exams to play in your school's bowl game). Let's add them to the list that includes the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, Tommy John Surgery, the Fosbury Flop, the Larry Bird Exception, Pesky Pole, The House That Ruth Built, the Roy Williams Horse-Collar Penalty, the Allan Houston Rule, the Mendoza Line, the Doyle Brunson and the Rob Ray Rule. Also, you can throw the Ewing Theory on there if you think it's well-known enough.

  • Last Friday, I went on Dave Dameshek's show, and we spent a whole segment (fast-forward to the 15-minute mark) discussing Adam Carolla's impending appearance on "Dancing with the Stars." If you had told me this scenario would happen four years ago, I would not have believed it.

  • Did you see this Variety article about the WWE crossing into the movie business? I loved this quote from the head of WWE Films: "There's a strong audience base that is ready for movies that star our guys." There is? Then, Vince McMahon chimed in, "The films we're going to make are fun. Everything we do is about selling fun. We put smiles on people's faces. Everything we do is about doing that." Well, except for the Chris Benoit thing.

  • Correction to my solution in Friday's Sonics piece (the second one) that had a franchise swap with Clay Bennett taking the Grizzlies and moving them to Oklahoma City, then someone else landing the Sonics and keeping them in Seattle: According to Memphis columnist Geoff Calkins, there's no conceivable way the Grizzlies can bolt before 2014 because of their ironclad lease. Hmmmmmmm. So why hold a fire sale for Pau Gasol then? I'm confused.

  • Some follow-up links after I launched my campaign to become the next Bucks GM:

    1. Joe from Madison, Wis., writes, "Did you know there's a Bucks Career Fair coming up March 5? The timing is impeccable! This is a sign, you should book your flight immediately. If you need a place to crash, fly into Madison … I've got a couch." By the way, if you're a college kid in the area and you feel like crashing this event with a "SIMMONS IN 2008! YES WE CAN!" sign, we'll post any and all pictures on ESPN.com.

    2. On Friday, I did a 30-minute interview with Steve "The Homer" True, the host of Milwaukee's drive-time sports show on ESPN Radio. You'll admire my long-term strategy, my moxie, my conviction and the way I handled The Homer's questions about some controversial choices I made in college. As it turned out, The Homer is in the same fantasy baseball league as my old college roommate, Chip, who betrayed me by telling The Homer a few college stories and somehow forgot I was the guy who had the video camera in college. Chipper, we'll call this an official warning. Slip up again and you'll become a YouTube star like the "Chocolate Rain" guy.

    3. Brian W. in Minnesota alerts us, "Not sure if you're aware of it, but a sports columnist being an NBA GM isn't unprecedented. Sid Hartman actually did it for the Minneapolis Lakers back in the late '40s-early '50s. Better yet, he never gave up his column in the Minneapolis Daily Times, he did both simultaneously! Better yet, he's still writing a column 50 years later, now for the Minneapolis Star Tribune."

    4. A fantastic point from Scott C. in Sunnyside, N.Y.: "Your campaign for Bucks GM made me curious about the guy you are trying to oust. If incompetence wasn't enough to get Larry Harris fired (and for you to get your shot), I believe this link should end the discussion."

    5. Another good point from Tom in Green Bay: "Check out this Draft Express piece from 2005. Larry Harris goes over why the Bucks took Bogut and not Chris Paul. The reason? T.J. Ford! The guy they let go a few months later. I'm going ice fishing."

    6. You knew this was coming: My own "Simmons for Bucks GM!" Facebook group! There actually are a few of them (I liked the title of this one the most), but that first one had the most members when we posted these links … a whopping 115 in all. Come on, we could boost that number, right? People of Milwaukee, IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE!

    7. Finally, the two most well-known Bucks bloggers have taken up my cause: Brewhoop.com and Hardwood Paroxysm. Special thanks to the Hardwood guys for their impressive Photoshop skills, which almost made up for the fact they called me a "douchenozzle."

  • Speaking of backhanded compliments, New York Magazine blogger Ben Mathis-Lilley took my Mount Rapmore idea and ran with it, but not before calling me "ostensibly a sportswriter who would better be described as the National Commissioner of Bar Arguments" as well as "a notorious Boston homer." (Actually, what am I saying? Both of those things are true.) I liked his idea that Mount Rapmore should be broken down so that each person fits the slots of the Mount Rushmore people -- in other words, one guy should be George Washington, one Thomas Jefferson, one Abe Lincoln and one Teddy Roosevelt -- but that means you have to pick one guy for each era (1985-1989, 1990-1993, 1994-1998 and 1998-present), which means it comes down to Rakim vs. Russell Simmons (first era), Dr. Dre (second era), Tupac vs. Biggie (third era) and Eminem vs. Jay-Z (fourth era). The more I'm thinking about it, we might need three Mount Rapmores: one for rappers, one for groups, and one for moguls and executives.

  • Brian G. in Seattle makes a solid point: "I love how you threatened to move to Canada in your second Sonics piece. As you'll note, this is No. 75 on the excellent 'Stuff White People Like' blog." In my defense, I actually DO want to move to Canada. It's between Milwaukee, Portland, Austin, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal for the Simmons family's next move. We need to get out of L.A. within the next five years before my daughter starts wearing halter tops and miniskirts.

  • For everyone who was amazed by the tidbit in the second "Save the Sonics" piece that David Stern introduced Clay Bennett at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame's 2007 induction ceremony, here's Jim Moore's column about this startling event when it happened in November. If the Seattle-Oklahoma City thing were the JFK assassination, this would be the Oswald-Ruby meeting.

  • This New York Times feature was fascinating: Improbably, Jay Leno is sitting in the catbird's seat after NBC basically sent him out to pasture three years ago, and incredibly, he has become a sympathetic figure even though he's about to make $40 million a year. You could write a 500-page book on how badly NBC botched this entire thing. Does anyone really think Conan will succeed at 11:30? And how could the network walk away from a franchise that earns it $100 million in annual profits? I'm convinced you're given a partial lobotomy as soon as you become a network executive.

  • Uh-oh. My buddy Rob Stone is taking a beating from bowling fanatics for having the audacity to enjoy himself during PBA broadcasts. Is it going to help matters or hurt matters when I join Stoner for a PBA telecast this month as the third guy in the booth? I'm going out on a limb and saying it'll hurt matters. Oh well.

    (Random story: When I was a senior in college, we had a student who fancied himself as a future PBA bowler and wore bowling shirts with his name written on them. When he objected to a bowling joke in one of my "Ramblings" column for the school newspaper, he challenged me to a bowling match, and I eagerly accepted because I was only one year removed from bowling a 199 at Greenwich Lanes. We battled on a Thursday night at the bowling alley in Auburn, Mass. Something like 300 people showed up to watch me get crushed. Which I did. The guy was wearing a bowling shirt and a wrist brace and had a signature fist pump after each strike. You have to love college. $20,000 a year at the time.)

  • I'd like to nominate this for "Most Depressing Blog Piece of 2008" so far: A crusty L.A. Times blogger crushing David Archuleta after his remarkably good performance of "Imagine" on "American Idol." I never watched "Idol" before this season and only started watching it because my daughter latched onto the show, so we watched the "Imagine" cover when it happened, and I have to say, it was a moving moment. It really was. Our whole house was transfixed. Have we really reached the point in life where everyone who stands out needs to be torn down, even if it's a 17-year-old singer? I just thought this was a really depressing piece.

    (By the way, I'm on the fence … do I write an "American Idol" column? When I say I've never watched it before this season, I can't emphasize that strongly enough. So I have a lot of thoughts coming in fresh. I can't decide.)

  • Our YouTube Request of the Week, courtesy of Wolfe in Boston: "Given that you are the new champion of calling for new YouTube clips, I was wondering if you could request some vintage Pedro. It's a travesty that I can't watch Pedro's 17-strikeout game in Yankee Stadium every night before bed." Excellent call. The Yankee Stadium game, the Gerald Williams brawl/almost-perfect game in Tampa, Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS and the '99 All-Star Game should all be on YouTube. There's no excuse.

    While we're here, don't forget about my ever-expanding Sports Guy Collection of clips on YouTube. Here are nine new suggestions from the readers:

    1. Danny B. in Vacaville, Calif.: "Check out this 'Blair Witch' camera angle from Oracle Arena the other night when Baron Davis hit the game-winner against Boston in front of the biggest crowd ever. Remind you, it's February, this team could miss the playoffs despite winning 50 games and hasn't won a title since Bea Arthur was hot. I love being a Warrior fan."

    2. Chris M. in Houston: "Check out this dunk contest with Pierce and VC from 1995. Vince was doing 'Nique-type stuff in high school!"

    3. Dave in Houston: "There's video of Tracy McGrady scoring 13 points in the final 35 seconds to beat San Antonio a couple of years ago. I was at this game, and it is still one of the most amazing performances I've witnessed live. It was one of those moments when the crowd suddenly realizes, 'Hey, wait a minute. We could effing win this game.' When T-Mac dribbles down the court at the end, you knew he was going to make the 3-pointer."

    4. CK in Hawthorne, Calif.: "Don't know if you have seen this Tecmo Bowl re-creation of 'The Helmet Catch.' The man who created it is worthy of the Oscar for Best Screenplay Adaptation."

    5. Tom J. in Connecticut: "You thought Pacman Jones made it rain? Wait until you see Paul Shirley in this montage from NBA 2k8."

    6. Andy in Worcester, Mass.: "Thought you might enjoy this little nugget from the Philadelphia Daily News (toward the bottom) … Gilbert Arenas is apparently constructing a replica of Hugh Hefner's pool (complete with grotto). Not the worst thing an athlete has ever built in his backyard, but a highway to the danger zone nonetheless."

      (Follow-up note from Simmons: If any professional athlete in the past 15 years belonged on an L.A. team, it's Gilbert Arenas. Can't David Stern step in and force the Wizards to trade Arenas to the Clippers just like he forced Memphis to trade Gasol to the Lakers last month?)

    7. Anthony in Ann Arbor, Mich.: "I have a link to add to your Unintentional Comedy list; I see you have the Ken Patera botched promo where Mean Gene can't hold in his laughter, but this one's even more incredible -- Patera calling Hulk Hogan a woman and gay-bashing San Francisco while Mean Gene giggles."

    8. Paul C in Buffalo: "Here's a clip of Jennifer Tilly making one of the worst moves in poker history. Phil Ivey's face at the end makes this clip priceless."

    9. Gagan in Toronto: "How lucky is Vince Carter and Nike that the following commercial never aired, considering Vince gave up on the ensuing season and was traded from Toronto within a couple of months?"

      (Follow-up note from Simmons: That is an AMAZING misfire of a commercial. You must watch it.)

  • All right, it's time for a new running segment of the Links: "The Random Cable Movie Review of the Week That's Confined To One Paragraph."

    Two nights ago, the Sports Gal pay-per-viewed "In the Land of Women" while I was sifting through 3 million e-mails from Seattle, and I ended up getting sucked in. The movie stars Adam Brody, who I once called the next Tom Hanks during the height of "The OC" craze. Not one of my finest moments. (He's destined to be the star of one of those witty "How I Met Your Mother"-type sitcoms, which isn't a bad thing at all. But he's not the next Tom Hanks.) Brody plays an L.A. writer who goes back to Michigan to spend a few weeks with his dying grandmother and ends up getting sucked into the lives of the family across the street. And you know what? This probably could have been a decent indie movie except I was too distracted by Meg Ryan's face. She plays the mom of the family across the street and was supposed to have a flirty relationship with Brody, only she kinda looks like The Joker now. I couldn't get past it. This wasn't like a Priscilla Presley-type, over-the-top plastic surgery where she looked like Catwoman; half the time, she still looks like Meg Ryan, then she'd smile or make a face and turn into The Joker. I couldn't handle it and kept talking about it every time she had a scene. Finally, the Sports Gal asked me to leave. I have to be honest, I only saw the first half of the movie, but I still can't recommend it.

    As for our two running segments that we launched last week …

    1. "This Week's Most Depressing Link about Clay Bennett Murdering the NBA in Seattle While David Stern Does Nothing."

    We're leaving this vacant this week after printing nearly 23,000 words of "Save the Sonics" content Thursday and Friday. But since Howard Schultz was the guy who started this runaway train by selling the Sonics to a guy who wanted to move them, here's a link to the Starbucks Gossip blog, which features every unflattering piece of news you'd ever want to know about Starbucks. Enjoy.

    2. This Week's Irresistible Request to Pimp a Goofy-but-Entertaining Web Site or Blog.
    I'm making the irresistible request this week: So long to our friends from www.straightcashhomey.net, who parted with Page 2 last month but continue to crank out horrendous jersey sightings daily on their site. This remains one of my favorite Internet ideas of the past five years. Come on, check out the Feb. 25 entry of the guy working at his desk in a Curtis Enis jersey. How can you not love this site?

  • Pieces I liked from the last 10 days: Tyson Chandler's heartfelt blog post about his buddy Bobby Jackson getting traded … Jonny Ludden's column on Amare Stoudemire, post-Shaq trade … Adrian Wojnarowski's column on the ominous friendship (for Cavs fans) between LeBron and Jay-Z … Joe Poz's annual "Why the Royals Can Win This Year" column (always followed within eight weeks by his annual "Why It's Hell to Root for the Royals" column) … Peter Vecsey's upon-further-review take on the Marion-Shaq trade was interesting.

  • Let's have the readers take it home with 12 recommendations:

    1. Damian in Toronto: "This is one of the more interesting Springsteen interviews I've read in a while. Loved hearing him weigh in on Obama vs. Hillary, what his teenaged kids listen to, and what's on his iPod."

    2. Scott P. in Fremont, Neb.: "Since you are a resident of the Los Angeles area, I need you to verify the content of the following quote from Anne Donovan, U.S. women's basketball coach: 'With Lisa (Leslie) coming back and (Candace) Parker coming out, that's going to be a formidable combination for years to come. I know L.A. is dancing in the streets right now.' Be sure to have the Sports Gal take a picture of you and Michael Rapaport frolicking together, rejoicing in the glory of this momentous event."

    3. Ryan in Arlington, Va.: "The Hardball Times posted an item where the premise is to find the least value possible for the outfield positions. Using 'Net Win Shares Value' (a dollar amount representing how much a player contributed in relation to the total value of his contract), they have Podsednik in left, Edmonds in center, and your boy J.D. Drew in right. Sometimes sabermetrics can be a really complicated way of figuring out what everyone already knows."

    4. Sam in Lake Bluff, Ill.: "You will not believe what MLB.com is selling on its Web site, how can this be legal? And would any girl EVER wear this?"

    5. Tom R. in Charlotte, N.C.: "Remember the 'legacy key' that Steve Sanders had at West Beverly? Well, it looks like it has turned up at Chapel Hill High School."

    6. Matt in New York: "You might want to rethink your theory about blackjack and coaching. Check out this 1991 Dave Anderson column and remember, Ray Handley was a really lousy coach."

    7. Willis K in Chicago: "Before you accept the Bucks GM job, you should know that the headquarters of the United States Bowling Congress, the heart and soul, the shirt and shoes of American bowling, located in Milwaukee for more than a century, is threatening to pick up and move to Texas."

    8. Marc in Middletown, R.I.: "I know you try to avoid politics in your columns (and rightly so), but did you see this article on the Sox going to the White House last week? Putting aside the normal accolades you'd expect from this sort of thing, the one thing that struck me was just how knowledgable and (intentionally!) funny the Bush quotes were. When was the last time you could actually say that about him? I can't shake the feeling that he belongs in baseball, not in politics. In fact, it explains a lot about the last eight years. OK, I'll stop."

    9. Ricky in Alexandria, Va.: "Any NBA GM who takes Mike Beasley with the first pick in the NBA draft should be forced to read this article. Yeah, I can see Jordan not working out for an entire year because it was too cold. … RIGHT!"

    10. Zach in Greenville, S.C.: "I wrote you before the trade deadline, saying that the Cavs didn't have to make a trade. However, even though I do not believe Ben Wallace will significantly help the Cavs (the other players acquired will), I can't help but be glad that the Cavs got rid of a player who would say this. Brian Windhorst nailed the commentary after the quote."

    11. Jay in London, Ontario: "I regret to inform you of the passing of an integral part of the 'Road House' family, as well as a legendary musician, impresario, radio personality. Jeff Healey has passed away at age 41. Long may he play the stage of the Double Deuce."

    12. Anthony in Encino, Calif.: "I'm not sure why I'm sending you this link, or why I would expect you or any of your readers who aren't from Pittsburgh to care. But you seem open to collective expressions from a fan base, and I want to join what I imagine to be a wave of Steelers fans and Western Pennsylvania natives calling for more attention to be given to the passing of Myron Cope. As clichéd as it might sound, he really was more than an announcer, and the Steelers really are more than a football team. People love the Steelers because they represent what's best about Pittsburgh, and Myron, in turn, represented what's best about the Steelers. As a Steelers fan, I mourn the passing of a symbol of the team and the city, but I also mourn the passing of a man who just loved life, and dedicated himself to enjoying life and making sure those around him enjoyed it as well."

    Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. For every Simmons column, as well as podcasts, videos, favorite links and more, check out the revamped Sports Guy's World.