Archive for June, 2012

For those who don’t believe the NBA’s regular season matters, look no further than the 2012 Boston Celtics. A clashing mixture of grizzled warriors, self-aware journeymen, and still developing flowers on the cusp of a grand spring bloom, this unit grew into their individual roles, remodeling from a top heavy bag of creaky bones to a versatile, well-muscled monster in just under six months. Very few basketball teams are able to squeeze out every single drop of talent like these Celtics just did. From Kevin Garnett’s resurgence as one of the NBA’s most valuable, and dominant, two-way forces, to Rajon Rondo making his final emphatic steps from economy to first class, to Ray Allen and Paul Pierce limping with gritted teeth through the most physically exerting action their sport has to offer, to timely gut checks from the likes of Greg Stiemsma, Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling, and Brandon Bass, all that was asked for was delivered; in a way, watching it take place was even more fulfilling than a championship—although one of those would have been warmly embraced. Today, that group and their season is permanently in the rearview mirror, and neither is ever coming back. As Danny Ainge looks ahead to the team’s most significant offseason in half a decade, several options lay at his feet, the most (un)popular being for him to “blow it up.” I never understand what people mean when they use this term for the Celtics. When the Charlotte Bobcats traded Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace, they blew it up. When the Portland Trailblazers fired their coach, hired a new general manager, and traded two veteran starters for a sack of unproven bench players and draft picks, they blew it up. When the Orlando Magic finally decide to deal Dwight Howard, they too will have blown it up. To me, blowing it up means purposefully sabotaging a team’s infrastructure by replacing key figures with the hope of building a brand new foundation through the draft and cleared cap room. Blowing it up is becoming bad on purpose so that one day you can be really good. When you just came within one cold eight minute stretch of breaking into the NBA Finals, a complete overhaul probably isn’t the answer, and because of two crucial mid-first round draft picks made in the past six years, I don’t believe Ainge could if he really wanted to. Read the rest of this entry »

Something fun for Celtics fans to ponder while you watch the NBA Finals over the next couple of weeks: Does Thunder guard James Harden remind you of Paul Pierce?

The question stems from a rather interesting Doc Rivers media session in January, when the Thunder were in Boston to face the Celtics. Rivers absolutely gushed over Harden, and his comparison to the Celtics captain, who will undoubtedly have his jersey retired in the rafters of TD Garden, was high praise.

“He’s Paul Pierce, version two, except that he’s a better passer,” Rivers said of Harden. “He plays at a great NBA speed — he came into the league playing at that speed. I don’t think a coach has ever said he’s going too fast. He has a great tempo about him, an unbelievable feel.”

The “he’s Pierce but a better passer” part caught this reporter by surprise, but the pace comparison is absolutely true. Pierce plays the game at his pace, no matter the speed opponent. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, whoever: Pierce is going to have him back on his heels and off-balance after a series of herky-jerky, hesitation moves that appear too slow to the naked eye. You wonder how Pierce gets by anyone, never mind the league’s best, but then you watch him for years and you get it, how good he is at playing at his pace.

Harden has a similar style to Pierce. The game isn’t always pretty, but boy is it effective. (Harden’s five points in Game 1 were an aberration to his playoff averages of 16.8 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists). Harden’s strength is his efficiency. His true shooting percentage (an advanced metric that takes into account twos, threes, and free throws) of .660 was second in the NBA this season. His offensive efficiency rating was third. Pierce’s efficiency dipped somewhat this season, but he was fourth and eighth in the league in true shooting percentage respectively in the two previous seasons.

Where Harden is most known is as an elite defensive player. Pierce has flown under the radar on that side of the ball his entire career. You’ll recall that Pierce’s best stretch of defense came during Boston’s 2008 championship run, when he was effective on both James and Kobe Bryant. Watch Harden on defense this week, watch how he guards Wade and sometimes James, and compare him to Pierce. Watch Harden on offense and see if his game is comparable to Pierce’s. Is he a better passer? Does it really matter? Debates like this are what make basketball fun.


50 Cent is moving forward with plans to release his fifth album—with or without his label. The hip-hop mogul unveiled the artwork for 5: Murder by Numbers, which will be available through iTunes on July 3.

“It’s just gonna hit the streets,” said Fif, who has dropped two mixtapes, The Big 10 and The Lost Tape, in the past six months.

A mother was sentenced to spend 15 years in jail for sexually abusing her son’s teenage friend and she doesn’t even seem sorry about the trauma she caused.
Amy Blose, 38, was giggling and smiling throughout her sentencing hearing in Cleveland County, Oklahoma on Friday.
She was even reprimanded by the judge and criticized by the victim’s family and friends for not showing any remorse for her actions.
It’s heartbreaking she doesn’t take responsibility and stand up and say she’s sorry,’ friend Stephanie Odle told local station KFOR.

Though Blose, a nurse, entered a no contest plea against the charges of sodomy, and lewd molestation in April 2011, the case has had a share of legal back-and-forth.
After her initial arrest, Blose told police she had a ‘special relationship’ with the boy. The affair was discovered by the boy’s mum who found inappropriate text messages on his cell phone.
She was charged with[..] and other sexual offences and allowed to leave jail on $20,000 bail.
As part of her bail conditions she was ordered not to contact her victim or any other teens under the age of 18, but she broke that command when she tried to give the boy a love note.
The then-37-year-old nurse wrote ‘Hey, babe, I love you forever’ to her former under age lover.

A 15-year-old girl told a bail revocation hearing at Cleveland County Court in October that Blose wrote a message on a breakfast burrito wrapper and asked her to give it to the teen.
Angela George, a friend of the victim, said: ‘She is like a spider.

‘She pulls them into her web. She has used the other kids to get to her victim again. In the process, she has made those kids victims because they are friends with the defendant.’
Angry parents branded the mother of two a ‘predator’ who should not be allowed to have contact with teenagers.
After she is released from prison, she will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.

ATLANTA — No matter the drama, Cash Money CEO Bryan “Birdman” Williams is riding with his artists. Never one to indulge in rap beef, on Friday (June 15) during an interview with MTV News, Stunna made it clear that he is in full support of Drake in the aftermath of Wednesday night’s brawl in a New York City nightclub that involved Chris Brown and members of their respective crews.
“Well, to me, I think n—as got Drake twisted. A lot of n—as be playin’, pitty-pattin’ with Drake. I don’t like that sh–, period,” Birdman said to us in an exclusive interview. “Drake is one of us, so if you f—in’ with Drake, you f—in’ with us, period!”

Birdman Has Drake’s Back

Birdman wasn’t in attendance when the fight broke out at W.I.P. in NYC, but firmly believes the Take Care MC did nothing wrong. Drake alleges he wasn’t involved in the melee, which left a number of people injured including one of Brown’s bodyguards and NBA player Tony Parker. “To me, Drizzy ain’t did nothin’ wrong, he ain’t done nothin’ wrong to nobody. He just doin’ great music,” Bird said in defense of his artist. “He’s not a reckless guy out there just wildin’ out; he’s a humble kid makin’ great music.”

Drake Vows To Outdo Summer Jam At New York Show

It’s no secret that the #1 Stunna is about his money, and to him, beef is bad for business. “We never been a brand to carry ourselves in any foul manner. None of us, none of the acts,” he said of his Cash Money roster. “We’ve been doin’ this, we want to do this for another 20 years.”

Still, the CM CEO understands how quickly things can get out of hand. He recalls a time where shootings weren’t uncommon between warring factions but now sees those types of altercations as a thing of the past. “It’s a different era, and we don’t promote that, we’re not about that, but I think sometimes sh– get outta hand, and you just gotta be ready for it,” he said. “We did enough of that, so these n—as ain’t got to do it.”

On Saturday (June 16), rumors of an imminent Drake arrest were circulating on the Net but an NYPD official confirmed to MTV News that were “no arrests” looming, adding that an “investigation is ongoing.”

oh snaps not at the crib.....

Kevin Durant and the Thunder let one slip away

You may have noticed that Mark Lisanti’s weekly Mad Men Power Rankings never posted after Sunday’s season finale. Our readers felt confused, outraged and even a little abandoned. Did Lisanti get fired? Did he quit? Did a disappointing final episode infuriate him to the point that Lisanti said, “Matthew Weiner can go screw himself, I’m not handing anything in”? Did he have so much trouble calculating Don Draper’s fingerbang level after the last scene that his carefully groomed beard exploded?

As it turned out, Lisanti got married last weekend and left for his honeymoon, leaving behind a gaping Power Rankings hole on Grantland. Before you bitch about Lisanti taking the week off, know this: I wrote a column during my honeymoon (in 2003) and my wife is still bitter about it. She brings it up at least twice a week. We couldn’t let that happen to Lisanti. At the same time, we couldn’t let Grantland’s potentially historic streak of “52 straight weeks running a column with the word ‘power rankings’ in it” just slip away. We were four away from DiMaggio! That’s why I broke out a “2012 NBA Finals Power Rankings” two games into an increasingly fascinating series.

1. Kevin Durant

Fact: Two hours before Game 2, Durant finished warming up, then wandered into the stands and signed autographs for 20 minutes. I’m starting to wonder if he’s being CGI’ed by Pixar.

Fact: Durant scored 68 points combined in Games 1 and 2. Only Iverson (71), Jordan (69) and Wilt (had a 69 with … wait, what list is this again?) scored more in their first two Finals games.

Fact: Durant dropped 17 fourth-quarter points in Game 1 and 16 in Game 2. According to Elias, he’s the first player to score 14-plus in consecutive fourth quarters in the Finals since the ABA and NBA merged. When did the ABA and NBA merge? Exactly. It’s been a long time. Thirty-six years if you really wanted to know.

Fact: Any Durant junkie1 knows he’s just scratching the surface in this series. He played well in Game 1 — efficient, in control, got better when it mattered — but you wouldn’t say he went bonkers or anything. He stunk (for him) in Game 2, picking up a couple of dumb fouls and nearly fouling out twice down the stretch before getting saved by the little-known NBA rule, “We don’t foul out future Hall of Famers on borderline calls in big playoff games … unless they’re named ‘Paul Pierce.'” There’s a monster Durant game coming. Probably in Game 4, maybe even in Game 3. Just know that it’s coming. Unfortunately …

2. Tony Brothers

You may have noticed that Durant got fouled by LeBron James on the biggest play of Game 2 — a little baseline drive/jumper in the last 10 seconds that LeBron foiled by grabbing Durant’s left arm — only Brothers wasn’t close enough to make the call. Oh wait, he was five feet away and looking right at it? My bad. You know what happened next — Durant missed the bunny, Miami got the rebound after clobbering Russell Westbrook in the head (the refs missed that, too), then LeBron iced the game with two freebies. Even though Miami deserved its Game 2 victory, I detested that no-call for a variety of reasons, including …

• We were robbed of Durant making two pressure free throws to tie the game (a game that Oklahoma City had no business being in, by the way).

• We were robbed of Miami’s final game-winning play, which undoubtedly would have been LeBron settling for an off-balance 25-footer over driving to the basket, followed by Twitter venomously exploding for about six minutes.

• We were robbed of the most precious of commodities: an NBA Finals overtime.

• That no-call just about guaranteed a seven-game series, which means Game 7 will happen on Tuesday, June 26 … just two days before the 2012 NBA draft. Two days???? That’s not nearly enough time for me to prepare enough sarcastic Andre Drummond material, watch YouTube clips, break down Chad Ford’s Mock Draft 19.0 or talk myself into the Celtics taking a flier at No. 21 or No. 22 on The Guy Who’s Afraid To Fly! THIS IS BULLSHIT! How could this happen? Why didn’t the NBA push the draft to Sunday night? They didn’t see this coming? The NFL spends six weeks hyping its draft — the NBA couldn’t carve out four days?

(Fine, fine … the previous paragraph wasn’t totally honest. I’ve already talked myself into The Guy Who’s Afraid To Fly. He’s the rich man’s Boris Diaw! I’m all in! We could just play him 55 games a year — all home games and any East Coast game that he can get to by train. In the playoffs, we’ll just roofie him before every road trip. This will be fine. Give me The Guy Who’s Afraid To Fly!)

3. Shane Battier

His splits for his first Miami season along with Pat Riley’s internal dialogue …

Pre All-Star Game (34 games): 22.3 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 38.9% FG, 36% 3FG

(Riley: “Well, a lot of guys start out slow on new teams. We still signed the right guy.”)

Post All-Star Game (32 games): 23.9 MPG, 5.1 PPG, 38.5% FG, 32% 3FG

(Riley: “Shit, did anyone scout Battier before we signed him? Were we looking at his 2007 game tapes?”)

Round 1 vs. Knicks (5 games): 27.6 MPG, 6.0 PPG, 34.6% FG, 32% 3FG

(Riley: “How healthy is James Jones? Can he play 30 minutes a night?”)

Round 2 vs. Pacers (6 games): 29.3 MPG, 3.8 PPG, 21.2% FG, 27% 3FG

(Riley: “Well, at least we’re saving money on the fork that Battier and Mike Miller are passing back and forth to stick in their backs during games.”)

Round 3 vs. Celtics (7 games): 38.0 MPG, 7.1 PPG, 36% FG, 35% 3FG

(Riley: “That guy is kinda sorta starting to vaguely look like Shane Battier!”)

Round 4 vs OKC (2 games): 42.0 MPG, 17.0 PPG, 71% FG, 69% 3FG

(Riley: “If you remember, I was the one who wanted Shane Battier! I knew he’d come around!”)

Anyway, I don’t see Battier making 70 percent of his 3s for the entire Finals. That’s my expert opinion. (I’m glad I’m here.) But I don’t think those first two games were a total fluke, either — there’s a really good chance that Battier needs extended minutes to immerse himself into the nuances of a game. The longer he’s out there, the more comfortable he feels draining open 3s, taking annoying charges, doling out sneaky screens, shielding a shooter’s eyes, tripping them as they’re coming down from a jumper and everything else that makes Battier one of the ultimate “You love him if he’s playing on your team and hate him if he’s playing for someone else” role players. If you wagered on Battier at 15,000,000-to-1 to win the 2012 Finals MVP, you have to feel fantastic right now.

4. LeBron James

The averages for LeBron’s last 10 playoff games (dating back to Game 6’s clincher against Indiana): 45.4 minutes, 32.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 51.3 percent shooting, 3.1 turnovers. Oh, and he submitted one of the single greatest modern playoff performances ever (Game 6, Boston, while facing just about as much pressure as any basketball player has ever faced in a single game, no less); came through down the stretch of the decisive Game 7; and in last night’s semi-must-win-game, he notched typical LeBron numbers (32-8-5), outplayed Durant and got him into foul trouble, made that dagger banker with 85 seconds to play (ridiculous angle, by the way), settled for a game-clinching 3 with 14 seconds left (and missed it — no surprise since he’s missed 40 of 53 3s dating back to the Indiana series), got away with a sneaky-smart foul on Durant on the game’s biggest play, then drained both free throws with the crowd screaming so loudly that (a) one of my contact lenses almost fell out, (b) I couldn’t hear my friend Chen even though he was two feet away from me and (c) Jimmy Goldstein actually moved.

Will LeBron get credit for these things today? I spent the morning writing this column and didn’t have time to watch the talking head shows or surf the Internet, so I don’t know … although I’m sure there’s at least one visible “LeBron almost blew Game 2 with his heroball 3-point miss!” post lurking out there. I can only tell you this: LBJ was the best player on the floor last night. After watching three of his last four games in person, I can safely report the following things:

• You’re only allowed to compare him to Durant if the debate is “Who’s a better offensive player?” If you’re comparing the entirety of their games, it’s no contest.

• He’ll never be perfect for us, but nobody is, right? We’re in the era of Picking Nits. You know what LeBron’s smartest career move is right now? Win the 2012 title and immediately retire from basketball to play football for the Browns. Oh, you can’t stop picking me apart? You’re going to blow everything I do out of proportion? You’re not going to appreciate me at all? Watch this … I’m going away. [Extending middle fingers.]MJ showed how it’s done. He took his ball and went home. If LeBron followed suit and added a “Good luck in the Olympics without me,” we’d be more pissed off than OKC fans were at the referees last night. Eventually, we’d miss him and want him back. And yes, LeBron would never do this. I know. But you have to admit … it would be pretty savvy. Especially the Browns part.

• I wrote this in our Shootaround Finals preview and I’ll write it again: If the greatest player of his generation loses his first three Finals, it’s a historical fluke. Not saying it can’t happen … just saying, again, it would be a historical fluke. Everyone who poured dirt on Miami after Game 1 and tried to figure out how Oklahoma City could keep Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka AND Harden for their new dynasty needs to gulp a big sip of Settledown juice. That reminds me …

5. Dwyane Wade

After about the 27th straight hour of the media blaming Dwyane Wade for Tuesday’s Miami loss, wondering if he was finished and goading him into those There’s no question I’m not the same guy I was when I was 24 answers, it became pretty clear that Wade would play significantly better in Game 2.2 If you were making a Pride Power Rankings of NBA players, Wade and Kobe would be 1-2 in some order, then there would be a massive dropoff to no. 3 (maybe Chris Paul?), and then you’d keep going for about 400 more players until you got to Vince Carter. Alpha dogs are wired a certain way — they think they’re the best in any situation, whether it’s a basketball game, a poker table, a nightclub, or even an NBA labor meeting. In the past 20 years, only four players could complain about a blown call, walk over to the offending official, debate the blown call with one of those sarcastic “you know you messed up, right?” looks on their faces, then walk by the official and give him a totally condescending slap on his behind. Those four players: see full story

Nasty Nas New Album

Is anything you’re doing brand new? Good, cause 2012′s a year of self-realization and self-activation. Maturing perspectives are making crappy old things look shiny and redeemable. Case & point: Nas’ rebirth. There’s a softer and more huggable side Mr. Jones is showcasing nowadays that has little to do with weighty politics and revolutionary warfare, just a simple request, “This is my life retrospection —feel me for a second.” And needless to say, I do.

In celebration of the new album “Life Is Good” dropping July 17th, 2012, I took the time to pry further into the heart on Nas’ sleeve nowadays and picked a few love lessons we could all toast to. (No I didn’t pirate the bootleg, just sharing my observations as of late. Ha!)

1. Reflecting Vocally On His Failed Relationship

There’s only but so many things a man can say after his public marriage dismantles into a debris offinancial f-ckery. If he’s not spewing out a tirade of 4-letter damnations, he’s emotionally hyperventilating and mums the word. In any event, for the broken hearted man vulnerability hour is far from public viewing. But Nas, comfortably situated in his own skin welcomes the intrusion. On thecover art for his upcoming album “Life Is Good”, he’s sitting on a black sofa with his ex-wife’s green wedding dress draped across his knee (bossy Kelis abandoned it when moving out). Why Nas? “You can see my life on that album cover… love, joy, anger, celebration.” Oh yeah! Almost forgot, reflection and acceptance are default options after love’s made a fool of you! It’s a bit on the high road but certainly in the horizon if you step on your tip toes and grow up. Yup, it’s there– peaking with the sunrise of a new day. Thanks for the light Nas.

2. Recognizing That Girls Gone Wild Are Birthed By Fathers Gone Missing

Overheard: “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous” which makes the reality of womanizers’ eventually nutting out daughters damn funny! (Bwhahahaha!) It’s a silly, ironic, circle of life, soothsayer forewarned realization  that some men tend to miss but I’m glad that Nasir took the time to grafitti the writing on the wall in his latest single Daughters: “They say the coolest playas and foulest heart breakers in the world. God gets us back and makes us have precious little girls.” It’s like one of those Snapple under the cover fun facts that you knew, but forget you knew: Every woman in the world is someone’s daughter… marination moment. Before her evolution to f-ckme pumps (in wayward cases, clear platforms) there were the doiley trimmed socks that one man found to be darlingly delicate (or should have). Nas playing connect dots between the roles of Pops + babygirl vs. hubby + wifey nudges everyone to fix their posture and remember that everything is everything. Yup, Hooters wings are delicious until you have a daughter…

3. He’s Still In The Running For The “Bag Your Chick” Award (Ha!)

Okay honesty hour, Guerdley wasn’t a happy camper when she first saw the Nicki Minaj “Right By My Side” video featuring Nas! Eeek! Not my finest hour, I know. But really, 1.)  I’m totally one of those chicks in an imaginary relationship with Nas (can you tell?) 2. Seeing him slob down a shoe in for the “Black Girl Lost” album art cover had me looking at my man type hypocritical (sorry Barbz!). But after reciting some scriptures I learned from my anger management classes (kidding but kinda not!) I found a silver lining to anchor my rage –reality. Yes, in reality that vid was such a good look for Nas’ humble sex appeal. Nicki was so happy! Like giddy school-girl, sophomore who’s bra strap was just signed by her teen bop crush happy! For all we know, that vid was an excuse to recreate an intimate moment she had with her wall poster 15 years ago, so you kinda have to be happy for her! Mean time Nas was just laxing around with his signature chill. Dude might as well have yawned, nothing to be overly excited about, just comfortably situated in the obvious facts of the matter, “Yes, I bag those…. If and when I want to.” And every now and then, a little stuntin’ is in order –especially after marital hiatus. Exit swag. Enter swoon.

4. Carrying On Tradition

That’s really the gist of his whole feel nowadays: Love comes and goes, but wisdom doesn’t as long as you exercise it. Love, like life, doesn’t get any easier, you just get better at it. It’s an option that’s almost always eclipsed by other show-boat emotions — rage, denial, fear. If we always look at love like a crash course realization to a secret aspect of life, we’ll always live to love another day, unscathed. Yup, sounds like a good life if you ask me…

How you guys feeling about the softer die of Nas? Are feeling the new messages? Do you think they’re long overdue? Say what you need to say @wwmdtv

%d bloggers like this: