By J-Dub and Ryan Meehan
Editor’s Note: This article is a collaborative effort between J-Dub and Ryan Meehan from First Order Historians. Ryan also has his own blog, East End Philadelphia, which is featured in the Dubsism BlogRoll and it is well worth the read.
Every four years, the world governing body of soccer (FIFA) holds the pinnacle event in the sport; the World Cup. Just a few months back, we all saw what a spectacle it is; it is a global event second only to the Olympics. What many of you probably didn’t know is that basketball has a similar organization. The Fédération de Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) does the same for hoops as FIFA does for soccer. Similarly, FIBA also hosts a World Cup, which it is trying to make as large of an event as its soccer counterpart.
The trouble is this event has gone largely unnoticed in the country which is the king of basketball. The average American never even heard of the Basketball World Cup, until a few weeks ago when the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George did his best Barbaro impression during a Team USA scrimmage. The echo from his snapping leg bones hadn’t even stopped yet when the debate started. On one side, there is a school of thought in America which believes the basketball World Cup is incredibly pointless. On the opposite side is a group who see great value in international competition.
In this installment of Point – Counterpoint, Meehan takes up the cause of the “America First” crowd, which collides head-on with J-Dubs’ belief the growth potential of all sports, not just basketball, is in the global arena.
1) What Started All This: The Potential for Injuries
Thanks to a suggestion from my usual partner-in-crime Ryan Meehan which sent me into a swirl of horrid 80’s music flashbacks, you can sit back and brace yourself for a cavalcade of Lionel Richie jokes. Don’t even try to tell us you don’t see the resemblance; you have to make the mustache a bit “douchier,” and you have to make the hair a bit more “bathroom-ruggish,” but once you do that, Derrick Rose looks more like Lionel Richie than the statue the blind girl made of him in that video does.
We could be “Running With the Night” playing “Say You, Say Me” “All Night Long,” but rather than do that, there’s “Truly” some basketball news to discuss here. While Kevin “Endless” Love may be on his way to Cleveland, Derrick Rose is assuring us that his knees are as solid as a “Brick House.” We’ll believe that when we see him “Dancing on the Ceiling.”
Now who is having horrid 80’s music flashbacks? “You Are.”
“Hello…Is it knees you’re looking for?”
I’m sure this will prove to be a test of the “Too Soon” rule, but as a guy who lived in Minneapolis when the 35W bridge went down, I couldn’t help but notice how Paul George’s leg suffered a similar epic collapse.
Let’s be honest here. Now that I live in Indiana and while I wish George nothing but a speedy and complete recovery, the local media sooooo over-played this story. I get it; it really was a horrific injury, but the way they covered this story, you would think George had been felled by a second shooter on a grassy knoll.
First of all, Paul George is not a horse. Even if he never plays basketball again, he is going to recover from this and go on to a normal and productive life. In other words, this is NOT going to happen.
Secondly, before you write me some bullshit comment about being sensitive to the victims of that collapse, the guy who has won my fantasy football league two years in a row was one of them, so I have no sympathy for those people. Don’t even try to say any shit to me until you know what it is like to keep losing to a guy with more metal in his head than a Ford F-150.
On Monday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has handed Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime ban from the NBA, along with issuing the maximum allowable fine of $2.5 million. Silver also said that we will ask the NBA owners to essentially kick Sterling out of the league. Since then, there have been lots of articles written proclaiming victory over the evil Sterling and celebrating the end of his reign.
Now, do not mistake this as defense of Sterling; I’m on record far too many times decrying what a colossal asshole he is (here, here, and here for starters). Nor is this a criticism of Silver’s actions. His hand was forced by a “perfect storm” of circumstances; 30+ years of inaction by the NBA, a firestorm of public outrage, a threatened walk-out by the players, and sponsors bailing out meant Silver really had no choice. Rather, this is a “warts-and-all” assessment of what might happen, given the assumption that Sterling has a long and litigious history and given that, forcing him out of the league raises some very problematic legal issues.
This assessment is necessary because we all know there is a distinct possibility that Sterling will sue. Sterling is an attorney, which helps explain why he has a reputation as the most litigious owners in all of professional sports. Given what is at stake here, it would be a surprise if he doesn’t file a lawsuit contesting his expulsion. Not only do we need to consider the possibility that he files such a suit, but we also need to look at the options under which he has to file a suit, and the viability of those possibilities.
To me, Jack Ramsay will always be the man who got me interested in basketball, and at the time he did it, that was a tall order. Those of you under 30 don’t remember what a time of malaise the late 1970’s were for the NBA. There was such parity in the league that the league was really hard to watch. The merger with the American Basketball Association had not produced the super-league like the NFL, and more importantly, there was no national television coverage to speak of, except for the playoffs.
As a kid in southern California, this meant to watch the NBA meant the Los Angeles Lakers on local television. That also meant watching a lot of bad teams; the western conference was stocked with hapless teams like the Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Seattle SuperSonics.
But then 1976 came. One night in November, the Portland TrailBlazers came to town, and they matched up with the Lakers like no other team in the West I had seen up to that time. They were coached by this bald guy who wore some seriously loud outfits, and his team played at a pace I’d never seen. That season saw the Portland TrailBlazers run over, around, and through the NBA, scoring over 110 points per game in an era that didn’t have the three-point shot.
The TrailBlazers won the NBA Championship that season in an epic six-game series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Injuries, particularly to star center Bill Walton, meant the TrailBlazers would never claim another league title, but the style of play invented by Dr. Jack Ramsay would certainly live on, most notably with the “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980’s.
John T. “Dr. Jack’s” Ramsay’s journey through life and basketball began with his birth on February 21, 1925 in Philadelphia. He enrolled at Saint Joseph’s University in 1942, where he eventually became captain of the basketball team. Later, Ramsay earned a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania, which is were the “Dr.” tag came from.
Ramsay began coaching Saint Joseph’s in 1955, where he enjoyed a great deal of success. He notched a record of of 234-72 and led the Hawks to the NCAA tournament seven times and the Final Four in 1961. Ramsay often said that his years at St. Joseph’s were the most fulfilling of his life, largely because that was when he met his wife, and because he played a large role in the growth of the “Big 5,” the annual Philadelphia basketball series involving Saint Joseph’s, La Salle, Penn, Villanova and Temple.
In the professional ranks, Ramsay coached in the NBA for parts of 21 seasons. Ramsay became coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in 1968, joined the Buffalo Braves in 1972, and brought his craft to Portland in 1976. That TrailBlazer team featured stars such as Bill Walton, Lionel Hollins, and Maurice Lucas, and that team took the NBA championship in Ramsay’s first season as coach. He finished his coaching career with the Indiana Pacers in 1989, but that was not the end of his career. Ramsay went from the sideline to the broadcast booth, where he spent 21 years as one of the best announcers in basketball.
Ramsay was 864-783 in his NBA career and in 1996 was honored as one of the league’s all-time top 10 coaches, and he will be missed.
The other day, I did a podcast on this Donald Sterling situation, and one of the things I mentioned in that show is that when it hits the media, racism does a wonderful job of exposing stupidity, both for the jag-off who says the racist comment and invariably for somebody who gets their hand forced by it. Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, we are all balls-deep in what Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling said. But with all the attention being paid to that idiot, there’s some others who are getting exposed as well.
The first of what I’m guessing will be several examples to come from this whole affair is Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers. Here’s a guy with a real problem on his hands. On one hand, whether he likes it or not, he is stuck in middle of this mess, and on the other hand, he has no way out. And he has nobody to blame but himself.
That fact was made clear when Rivers was questioned about whether or not he knew about Sterling’s racist past. The quote is priceless.
“Didn’t know a lot about it. Probably should have.”
At first, I had no idea what the fuck that was supposed to mean. Then it hit me. Rivers is doing the exact opposite of what Samuel L. Jackson did after he got criticized for his role in the movie “Django.”
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a never-ending well-spring for bloggers because he just can’t help sticking both feet in his mouth. Once again, he’s done so, and once again, the issue is race. In this episode, J-Dub proposes a unique solution to the problem; one that would be awesome, but won’t happen.
You can subscribe to and download the podcast here, as well as get information on how to participate when Radio J-Dub is being recorded live. Radio J-Dub can also be found on Itunes.
Last year, the analogy I made to the disaster that is my bracket was to a crashing airliner. Last year was the first in all my years of this basketball-driven self-flagellation where I lost my champion in the first weekend. This year marks the worst bracket I’ve ever had while still keep all of my Final Four intact. Somehow, I managed to end up tied for ninth in a sixteen-team pool.
There’s two weird part is that despite the fact that I’ve already lost three of my Elite 8, I am in a perfect position to make up some serious ground next weekend. Not only do I have all of my Final Four, but in the Schadenfreude portion of this blog, it’s time to look not at how intact my bracket is, but how fucked the others are.
- Two brackets have already lost their champions – Syracuse, Wichita State, and Kansas took care of that.
- Two brackets have lost three of the Final Four – The aforementioned suspects figure in that crime, with the additions of Duke, North Carolina, Creighton and the guy who made the plaintive cry for help by picking UMass.
- Out of a 16-team pool, there are only two others with all of their Final four intact, and only one of those has the same champion.
Having said that, what realistically are my odds of winning? Roughly the same as that of my splitting a bottle of Dom Perignon with the Abominable Snowman on a non-missing Malaysian airliner. Why? Because I’m J-Dub.
Obviously, the top half of this region for me features more red ink than bag of Twizzlers. And much like cheap, mass-produced candy, it’s giving me a fair amount of gastrointestinal distress. To cure that, I will be a steady diet of Wisconsin beer and cheese for the next week.
You would think after all this time, I would have learned my lesson about the fucking Kansas Jayhawks. They should all get rectal cancer.
Between St. Joseph’s and Villanova, Philadelphia basketball has phucked me once again. If Michigan State doesn’t win this region, my chances of winning become very spartan.
Somehow, depending on Rick Pitino to save this region for me feels like trusting a dentist who sells miniature ivory figurines. Then again, Kentucky is not known for the stellar orthodontia of it’s Skoal-sucking residents, so what the fuck?We’ll let you know once the search party finds my hopes of winning on the bottom of the ocean.
Raise your hand if you remember Robert “Tractor” Traylor. For those of you whose hands are at their sides, let me refresh you. Traylor was a McDonald’s high-school All-American the same year as Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter and Paul Pierce. At the University of Michigan, Traylor’s impressive size (6’8″, and north of 300 pounds) helped lead the Wolverines to the 1997 NIT title and was named the tournament’s MVP. Traylor cemented his status as a big-time big body in his junior year when he averaged 16.2 points and 10 rebounds while leading his team to the inaugural Big Ten Tournament championship.
After his career at Michigan (which ended under some controversy and NCAA sanctions for the Wolverines) Traylor was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the sixth overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, after which he was promptly traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for one guy you never heard of (Pat Garrity), and one guy you may know (Dirk Nowitzki). Traylor’s NBA career also included stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, and even a failed trade to the New Jersey Nets. The stat line showed Traylor as a 14.3 minutes, 47% from the field, and 3.7 total rebounds per game.
Traylor’s planet-like girth also carried him tto the world of global hoops; teams like Antalya Kepez Belediyesi in the Turkish league, NSB Napoli in the Italian league, Halcones UV Xalapa in the Mexican league, and Cangrejeros de Santurce and Bayamon Cowboys in Puerto Rican league all got to have 5XL uniforms made to fit the “Tractor.”
Sadly, the “Tractor” passed away in 2011, but the first weekend of this NCAA Basketball Tournament showed us several guys who could easily match up to Traylor’s carriage. The trouble is that all of the guys we found in this yearr’ tournament have already had their “March Madness come to an end. So, in case you missed them, here are the five starters on our All-“Tractor” Traylor Memorial team.
The Alanis Morrisette-level irony is that as heavy as this team is, it is also not-so-shockingly light on guards.