Friday, April 29

Kings refuel at Arco, take Game 3

 Bibby taking it to the Sonics   </
Bibby taking it to the Sonics

Sacramento 116, Seattle 104
Sonics lead series 2-1
Next Game: Sunday at Sacramento 7:30PM Pac time

Player(s) of the game:
Mike Bibby and the Elbow (see below) Brothers: Kenny Thomas & Brad Miller. Final numbers: Bibby- 31pts, 6rebs, 4asts. Thomas & Miller- 36pts & 10 rebounds. As Simmons would say: And it’s NOW a two to ONE game series. Re-write the state of the union Lewis, it’s a whole new ballgame.
For the Sonics Allen poured in 32, and Jerome James, much to Cuttino Mobley’s ire, had another great performance with 22pts and 9 boards.

Breakdown:
-Pre-game decision: Mike Tirico & (ughhhh) Tom Tolbert or Calabro & Ehlo. Hmmm… Tough call.
-Pre-game decision #2: Fortson going with the ponytail over the pigs.
-As you may all know Sacramento runs this Princeton style offense. Super-duper All Star Chris Weber used to handle the task of hanging out at the elbow of the FT line and decide whether to a) drive, b) dish to guards in motion all over the place (especially off the curl) or to Peja chillin’ at the arc, or d) shoot the open J. Because of his versatility from the 4 spot (especially pre-injury) he was good at this. Well now that he’s gone Thomas & Miller are the primary guys taking this job on. The Sonics dared the big men to shoot the open shot in games 1 & 2 and for the most part this “defense” was effective. Today, in game 3, James & Co. were once again giving the shot to them, only this time Miller & Thomas were making them pay. 1st half? 9-16 for 23 points. Sacramento: 54 points.
-We may never again see the incompetent Jerome we’ve all come to know and love over the season. If, due to this, he gets the Wally Walker 5year multi-million $ blue plate special like McIlvaine & Booth did, please proceed to the Seattle Center with a loudspeaker and try to talk me off the edge of the Space Needle.
-Speaking of oddities, Ridnour now has back-to-back games with 2 blocks. Yikes.
-In the 2nd qtr, during a Sonics run, Ray got several 3-point plays by aggressively taking it to the hole. If he ever added a consistent desire to drive and look for the foul (aka The Fortson Special), it would add a significant addition to his game by allowing him to utilize that gaudy FT% of his.
-Adelman had Jackson & Bibby out on the floor together for extended periods of time. This combo worries me since it leaves either Allen or Ridnour forced to defend a playmaker with a quicker 1st step than them. Of course, this is only a concern if Jackson has his pre-injury speed.
-Rashard, yet again, played passively, going 0-6 in the 1st half, with very few aggressive moves to the rim. He finished with a very quiet 9 points.
-I believe the 3rd qtr went as most pundits predicted the series would: scoring in bunches off of great shooting & smooth offensive execution/questionable defense: Seattle scored 36 & Sacramento 38.
-So let me get this straight, Kings shoot (or are held to, whichever you prefer) 39 & 42% in games 1 & 2 and lose, and in game 3 shoot 50% and win. Really?

Question of the night:
Can the Sonics take the series with Bizarro Jerome taking over Lewis’ production should Lewis fail to assert himself throughout the series and should Jerome continue to play at this ridiculous level?

Bitches Brew

It appears the Kings are now resorting to the tactic typical of a team on the verge of seeing its' season end: Griping.

From Rick Adelman:
"I looked at the tape, and he made three moves where he walked five steps," Adelman said of [Jerome] James. "But when you're playing well, they let it go."

From Cuttino Mobley:
"It takes seven years to get (him) fired up?" Mobley said, questioning James' career scoring average. "Four points (per game), three points? (It's actually 4.9.) I've averaged 18 for my career. Come on, Jerome."

In all seriousness, how great is it to be on the other side? With Adelman's puzzling benching of his starters in game 2, it's inevitable that if things go slightly bad in game 3, the Kings will start biting each other, rather than the Sonics.

Thursday, April 28

Pickin' Time

Vegas, baby.

Well, apparently Vegas is on the Kings' side, as they've got Sac as a 5.5 favorite for Friday's tilt. After removing the egg from my face after a disastrous pick in game 2, I'm going to go with the Sonics to cover in game 3.

Fact is, the Kings look as played out as my Stevie Wonder "Songs in the Key of Life" album. Brad Miller is done for this season, regardless if he plays or not, Peja - healthy or not - is apparently incapable of producing in the playoffs, and all the stupid giveaways in all of Sacto aren't going to help the Kings play interior defense.

I see Ray-Ray continuing his strong run with another solid game, further improved play from Braidzilla, and some desparate "intensity" from Sacramento. Despite all of their tough talk after game 2, the Kings won't stop the Sonic rebounders because, well, they can't. Yeah, the Kings will start out hot, and they may even lead after 1 quarter, but the Sonics will overcome.

Here come da smack: Sonics 101 - Kings 97.

Inside the NBA (and Capeside)

 Sorry, I just couldn’t resist   </
Sorry, I just couldn’t resist

Some topics here at Supersonicsoul are just lightning rods for controversy: Luke vs. A.D., Dreads vs. Headbands, Ray Allen: superstar or soon to be super overpaid, Bizarro Jeromes: fact or mythical being… I’ve said my peace on most of these and I’ll leave it upon the smarter minds here to decide.

Some other thoughts-

-The 2 games on TNT last night went as predicted with Pheonix beating the Grizzlies 108-103 and the Spurs rebounding in a major way, blowing out the underrated, why is nobody giving us our respect, blah-blibbity-blah-blah uber-team Denver Nuggets 104-76. Please remember to get back on the wagon you started on folks, buckle your seatbelts, and await the no smoking sign to be turned off as we exit this small amount of turbulence to clearer skies ahead.

-I had to check on our neighborhood blogger Matt’s health the other day after the Spurs game 1 loss. Seriously, emotional wreck and nervous breakdown are understatements when describing his status. He’s busy on a project deadline, and actually left me a stern, jittery, slightly incoherent voicemail warning me not to call him with results of game 2 because he wasn’t gonna find out the outcome till he went home and watched the TIVO recording and didn't want me to spoil it. Please light a candle for him, he needs help…

-John Thompson during the phoenix game: speaking of defense, “I just love the way that Sonics team plays defense….” Huh?!?

-John Thompson… announcing a Phoenix game, talking about great defense, and referring to the Supes. Is this funny? May I laugh at this? (I absolutely HATE those commercials.)

-Dallas vs. Houston game 3 tonight 6:30 Pac time on TNT: I know you’re all diehard Sonics fans in here, but please do yourself a favor and get involved in this series. It’s the clear AND cream of the 1st round crop.

-Chuck, don’t listen to EJ and Kenny. Spurtability is too a word! My ex used it do describe my bedroom skills. (Gotta give them that O-face! Oh-yeah! You know what I’m talking about!)

-Oohh that Veronica! She's so arrogant, I hate her! What a b***h!

-I’ve been much too preoccupied of late analyzing the backs of my eyelids, but today I actually got up early and caught up with The Creek:

Creek updates:
-Dawson is filming a movie: it’s a rip-off of Saturday Night Fever and he’s shagging the hot lead actress.
-Pacey is sporting a wicked goatee and going out with the token hot girl with an English accent (Shouldn’t the show be giving royalties to Friends by now??)
-Holy crap! Token hot English girl’s name is Emma! Can..., I..., BEEE…, any more unoriginal?
-To give her an edge, they’ve got Joey working as a waitress in some dive bar… and she’s also banging the dark and mysterious bartender with a chip on his shoulder. Cliché’s galore folks.
-Dawson’s mom started doing acid and joined a biker gang… Just kidding. It was crystal meth…
-It’s the Christmas episode and the cast is sporting outfits 58c-64b from pages 24-26 of ye olde J. Crew catalog. How nice. Subliminal promo tie-ins. Please, just shoot me. And also get me that periwinkle blue scarf with the frolicking reindeer knitted in while you’re at it.
-Joey’s dad is apparently done serving his 5-10 for being the drug czar/crime lord of good ol’ Capeside (that premise always KILLED me) and is participating in the yuletide shenanigans.
-Huge shocker here, Dawson’s conscience forces him to drop the smoking hot actress. Young Leary must hold the record for most amount of ‘tang left untouched due to moral obligations.
-Joey’s roommate and Pacey’s ex-girlfriend came home with them; She’s apparently now an alcoholic and pill-popper and just crashed Pacey’s car into a picket fence. The new car was purchased from some illegal funds Pacey’s been obtaining. I’m trying to read between the lines but I’m still not sure if he’s now been turned into a pimp, hitman, or consigliere to some Mafia overlord.

Please note: All of the preceding occurred in just two episodes.

I’m sorry to keep on with this topic, but on a previous post I said that the wheels fell of the show sometime. Well, I was only halfway right. The wheels were actually taken off by West Coast Customz, replaced with deuce-deuce w/ Pirelli tires, they turbo-supercharged the engine, gave it a whole new cherry red paint job (with flames)… and Mad Mike threw on like fifteen 30” HDTV screens on that mutha… and a cappuccino maker.

Dawson’s Creek: Congratulations… you’ve officially been pimped.

And now back to our regular NBA/Supersonic schedule.

Sonics Fashion Corner: Slick & Twisted


They still haven't retired your jersey, Slick, and now this?!

[Somewhat off-topic but fairly time-sensitive, methinks...]

Thanks to a team policy, the world has been blessed with a swarthier, decidedly less-sexy Yugoslavian version of Bo Derek in "10":
(Radmanovic) used to wear a headband when his hair got long, but McMillan implemented a no-headband rule last year, saying yesterday: "I didn't like all the retro stuff that goes on. You play basketball. Style is for the sidelines."
That's what led to Radmanovic's first hairdo in Game 1, a homemade version designed and braided by his sister.
(Seattle P-I, 04/28)
I guess this is "one of Nate's million rules" that Danny Fortson mentioned a while back.

Nate has had well-nigh Papal Infallibility in my book all year, but I gotta draw the line here for a couple reasons:
  1. What do you mean you don't like all the retro stuff that goes on, Nate? Up until the beginning of this season when you went to the Taye Diggs, your box cut was retro to 1987! You still wear your shirt tucked into your sweats! You wear booty shorts! You are as retro as they come, Coach!
  2. Slick Watts, one of the greatest Sonics ever, was the man who popularized the headband! The headband is possibly the most enduring contribution to The Sport of Basketball to emerge from this franchise (c'mon, name another?), and you're telling me no one on Slick's old team can wear one? Christian-Frickin'-Laettner can rock the headband, but not, say, Flip Murray or Reggie Evans?
Hey, if the braids are working for Vlade, then more power to him. Hope he hits 10 treys on Friday and signs an endorsement deal with Avon. But any policy that inflicts us with pony tails on grown men and Venus Williams* braids on a white dude has got to go. Please. Give us headbands!

--chunkstyle23
Supersonicsoul.com Fashion Correspondent

*goodlookinout to my little bro for that one

Wednesday, April 27

Crazy Times

As someone who grew up in Seattle during the 80s, I am well aware of what it was like to be a Mariner fan when no one else was. M's games on September Sundays were routinely bumped from KIRO for the Seahawks, and the city had as much interest in the team as a Baptist minister does in a David Lynch film.

Well, times have changed. Believe it or not, FSN has decided that Game 3 of Sonics-Kings ranks below a meaningless April game between the A's and Mariners. That's right, the Sonics will be on KONG while the M's play out their crucial match with Oakland on FSN. With only 120 games left in the season, this could be the one that makes all the difference, right?

Keeping in mind that I was a member of the Pepsi Junior Mariners, understand me when I say that I am sick of the Mariners and wish that Safeco Field would fall into the earth, with Chuck Armstrong, Pat Gillick, and all those stupid fans inside of it. Bring me the days of 13,000 announced attendance, of Ed VandeBerg, of the Non-Alchol (sic) Section, of the Kingdome.

I return you now to your regularly scheduled Sonic talk.

James Juiced?

Did Jerome James get Crunked?
Did Big Game get Crunked?

According to the Seattle P.I., the mind-boggling play of Jerome James in the playoffs may be due to a new "energy drink".

Apparently, Big Game James used to drink coffee before games, but it upset his delicate constitution, so he switched to an unnamed caffeinated beverage before game one of the playoffs. The results, of course, were stunning: 17 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks in game one; 19 points and 9 rebounds in game two.

So, what kind of magical elixer could produce such results? Here are some likely suspects (courtesy of this month's Wired):
Lil Jon's Crunk!!!
Wired: Blend of ashwagandha, horny goat weed, and caffeine really delivers. Fresh pomegranate flavor.
Tired: Get ready for a sleepless night; no wonder Lil Jon always seems so amped. WHAT!?! OK!!! YEA-YA!!!
$2, www.crunkenergydrink.com

Ice-T's Liquid Ice
Wired: Pleasantly long-lasting pick-me-up. Super sweet. Lightly carbonated. Goes well with vodka.
Tired: Tastes like a melted Otter Pop. Bright blue color not keeping it real (unless you're a Crip, of course).
$2, www.liquidiceenergydrink.com

Nelly's PimpJuice
Wired: Noncarbonated. Mellow tropical flavor. No aftertaste. Contains 10 percent actual fruit juice!
Tired: Not much pep. Packs 140 calories (20 more than Crunk!!! and 10 more than Liquid Ice).
$2, www.letitloose.com

Russell Simmons' DefCon3
Wired: Each can is filled with 10 ounces of liquid upper, versus the other brands' trifling 8. Only 45 calories per serving.
Tired: Mediciney aftertaste. Too fizzy. Yielded only a mild rush.
$2, www.defcon3.com
I don't know about you, but if a drink can make a modern day Moses out of a poor man's Benoit Benjamin, I wants me some.

Tuesday, April 26

Sonics whack Sac, take 2-0 lead

 Not the 1-2 punch I was expecting…   </
Not the 1-2 punch I was expecting…

Seattle 105, Sacramento 93
Sonics lead series 2-0
Next Game: Friday at Sacramento 7:30PM Pac time

Player of the game:
Let's give props to both Allen & James. Allen had 26 pts, and several shots at the end to seal the deal and Jerome.... well, I really don't know what more to say about him right now. For the 2nd straight game Bizarro Jerome showed up with these silly stats: 19pts (on 9-11 shooting) and 9 boards. His average over the two games is now 18pts, 12 boards, & 3 blocks. It was rightly mentioned by chunkstyle that foul troubles have often been the bane of his game, and for the first two games he's held himself in check on the hacking...

By the way: The TV crews at both TNT & Foxsports have been beating this news bit of Jerome James being cut by the Kings, given his clothes in a plastic bag, and coach Adelman advising him to think of a career change to death. It is an interesting tidbit, but I'm hoping they come up with something new come game 3.

Reasons to feel good:
1) There were contributions to be seen from all the guys that played minutes tonight. Aside from Reggie, who contributed with 8 boards, and Wilkins (who got in for only 1 minute) every player scored at least 8 points.

Reasons to be cautious:
1) The Kings scoring trio of Bibby, Stojakovic, and Mobley combined to shoot 14/37 for 34 points and were not even involved in the late 4th quarter Kings run. I don't know if others will see this as a good or bad thing (maybe it's neither) but the Kings stars/go to guys have not really played well as of yet in these two games. Can we really expect this to continue? From my seat, I didn't see stellar defense being the cause of this.

Fun stat of the night:
Luke Ridnour had an efficient floor general performance with 6 assists and 0 turnovers.... and 2 blocks! If you can recall seeing those blocks in the game please let me know cause those totally passed me by.

Other notes on the night:
-After game 1 Rick Adelman decided to attempt to take Lewis on the post out of the equation early, with repeated aggresive double teams that forced the ball out of Lew's hand. For the few situations where Lewis had Peja 1 on 1, he resorted to the jab step-fall back J instead of driving or backing him further in for an easy shot. This crap may be O.K. vs. the Kings but it just won't do come round 2. Lewis needs to be a little more aggresive in the post.
-Mike Dunleavy on Jerome James: "you can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him." Discuss amongst yourselves.
-During halftime Kenny "the Jet" Smith stole my material!! On Vlad's contribution to the team he mentioned the Sonics record pre & post Radman injury. Heeeyahhh!!! Now gimme some candeee!
-The officiating was horrible for the Nets vs Heat game, with a majority of the close/questionable calls going the Heat way. I hate seeing that crap happen.

I'm dying to throw some new predictions, questions on the series outcome here, but some superstitious folk may consider that bad luck... For those brave readers who don't carry around crosses and cloves of garlic, what are your thoughts? Are the Kings done? Can the Sonics s...., sw.., swe.., well you know what I'm getting at.

Supersonicsoul at SPORT!



Chunkstyle and myself will be catching the game at SPORT! tonight. Stop on by and say hi - I'll be the one slumped over on the bar wearing a Wheedle costume.

Take your pick

Vegas has the Kings at +3 for tonight's game, and yours truly thinks that that's the smart money for this here contest. Seattle had a chance to put the hammer down in game 1, didn't, nearly let the Kings come all the way back, then eked out a win. Add in Bibby's unbelievably bad game, the annual "Road Team Recovers in Game 2" that always seems to happen, and I like the Kings in this game.

My pick? Kings 102 - Sonics 95.

Now, as they say on talk radio, let's hear what our audience has to say!

Monday, April 25

Closer Look

Inevitably, the daggers will be drawn if the Sonics' performance in Game 2 matches their performance in the 2nd half of Game 1. After all, if Seattle drops a home game to the Kings, Sac takes home-court and stands to be the favorite in the series, right?

Well, that's what the experts will tell you, but they'd be wrong. They may even trot out this figure: 22-8. That's what teams that won Game 2 are in the past 2 seasons as far as winners and losers of series go (that is to say, of the 30 teams that won game 2, 22 of them won the series).

Interestingly, though, that standard doesn't hold for road teams that win game 2. In the past 4 seasons, road winners in game 2 won a meager 5 of 15 series. That's a small sample size, admittedly, but it should give Sonic fans a chance to breath easier if Seattle plays poorly in Game 2.

Of course, if Jerome James continues to impersonate Dikembe Mutumbo circa 1994, we'll have no reason to worry for the rest of the playoffs.

Savvy

Former Supersonics guard Brent Barry enjoys the good life.

I'll make this brief.

Game 1, Spurs lose to Nuggets.

Brent Barry: 2 turnovers, 0 points.

Ah, veteran savvy, you can't beat it.

Saturday, April 23

Sonics win by a hair, 87-82

Seattle SuperSonics' Vladimir Radmanovic, right, gets a pass around Sacramento Kings' Peja Stojakovic in the first quarter, Saturday, April 23, 2005, in Game 1 of their first round playoff series in Seattle.<br />(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

I passed out in the fourth - did we win?!
SEATTLE (AP) -- Ray Allen scored 28 points and Seattle center Jerome James added 17 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, leading the SuperSonics to a 87-82 win over the Sacramento Kings in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series Saturday night.

The Sonics blew a 21-point second-half lead but held on with big baskets in the closing seconds by Allen and James.

Read the rest at Yahoo!

Game One: Bring it, Fools!

Ray Allen and The Supersonics take on the Kings in game one of the NBA Playoffs.

The second half just started, and the Sonics are spanking the Kings 63-42. Big Game James showed up tonight (13pts, 12 boards, 5 blocks so far), and he's feasting on Sac's soft, creamy middle. Also, Radman has a new hair-do. Discuss.

Friday, April 22

Why the Sonics Will Win


"Gasp! Chocolate! Ooh, half price!"

Since no one else on the supersonicsoulsquad had the guts to go head-to-head against the P-Bomb, it basically fell on me to take the opposing view in this two-parter. Me, chunkstyle, the supersonicsoul Fashion Correspondent/Production Artist. Talk about lambs to the slaughter.

Luckily for me, Mr. Nussbaum did me the favor of going first with his “Why the Sonics Will Lose” troll. This had the predictable result of fomenting the customary wave of dissension and controversy from people way more informed than I. Which gave me a nice foundation of commentary to build my half-baked notions on.

Like Paul mentioned in his Sportsbloggerlive.com interview, I too base a lot of my opinions not so much on stats as on gut and emotion. And is that so wrong? If you want cold-blooded, objective sports analysis, go somewheres else. This site is called SUPERSONICsoul.com, dammit, not HEYLETSCHECKTHEFACTSBEFOREWEMAKEUPOURMINDS.com. Yes, we’re Homers. Ain’t no shame in our game. Why the hell else would we do this?

I did make a few feeble attempts to back up my “Why the Sonics Will Win” arguments with some token stats. And came up empty. Much like my colleague Booth52’s recent failed thought exercise, the numbers didn’t support my theories either.

I was going to contend that since the Sonics already play a very efficient, low-possession style (totally biting David Locke here) built around their excellent 3-point shooting, offensive rebounding and low turnover rate, surely that style would serve them well in the playoffs. Throw in the Sonics superior defense and bench strength and it’s a clean sweep, right?

Turns out, most of those categories were a wash. Sure, the Supes have the edge in rebounding and turnover differential:

DIFF CATEGORY

SEA

SAC

Rebounding

+3.02

-1.9

Turnover

+0.34

-1.59

Big whoop. Though the Sonics rank only behind #1 team Detroit in rebound diff, the #3 team is Cleveland. Who led the league in turnover differential? The Los Angeles Lakers. So much for leading economic indicators.

Even what I considered the Sonics’ other advantages also happened to be areas in which the Kings are almost equal or better. Three point shooting? Dead heat. Opponent field goal percentage? Same. Bench production? Their bench contributed 42% of the points. Ours? 39%. No matter how hard I tried to get the stats to prove that the Sonics would undoubtedly prevail, all I could get out of them was a resounding “Eh, it could happen.”

So I got nothing. No proof, no statistical mumbo-jumbo to back me up. But something's going to prove to be the edge in this series. Hell, it'll probably end up being those time-honored and beaten-to-death Sports Cliches. Intangibles! Experience! Clutch...ness! And let's not forget the dreaded Who Wants It More! You can't tell me a supposed expert with a pile of stats is any more prescient than the Sports Cliches.

Here's what I'll do then. I'm just gonna go ahead and say what I think (hope) will happen, at the risk of being mocked later for how far off I was when the Sonics lose. Mm-kay? Greeaat...

Game 1 @ SEA: Kings 1-0.

The Kings make all the pundits look like geniuses by taking game 1 on the Sonics’ home court. The Sonics will fall behind, scrap enough to make you think they can come back, but ultimately fall short.

Game 2 @ SEA: Sonics 1-1

The Supes redeem themselves and even the series.

Game 3 @ SAC: Kings 2-1

In a raucous Arco Arena, the Kings dismantle the Sonics. Out of disgust, I turn off the TV in the 3rd quarter. Vlad-Rad returns, but goes something like 0-11 from the field. Here come the I-told-you-sos.

Game 4 @ SAC: Sonics 2-2

What’s this? Vlade and the Sonics catch fire.

Game 5 @ SEA: Sonics 3-2

In a triumphant return reminiscent of Game 6 of the 1993 Western Conference Finals vs. Phoenix, the Sonics blow the Kings out. No! Not In Our House!

Game 6 @ SAC: Sonics 4-2

The Maloof Brothers watch in disgust as the Sonics do their Sister Sledge huddle thing on the Kings logo. Arco empties quietly.

Sonics win in 6. Somewhere in the distance, I can hear Marge Simpson shaking her head, muttering.

Thursday, April 21

Holy Crap! The Playoffs are here!

 Quick, call Vegas! The Pope has laid out his playoff picks!  </
Quick, call Vegas! The Pope has laid out his playoff picks!

For those of you who were out visiting another planet this week, there was some rather big news occurring on earth. Yup, that’s right, the Western Playoff Seeds were set! Here they are:

Contenders, toe the line:
1) Phoenix Suns vs. 8) Memphis Grizzlies
2) San Antonio Spurs vs. 7) Denver Nuggets
3) Seattle Supersonics vs. 6) Sacramento Kings
4) Dallas Mavericks vs. 5) Houston Rockets

As promised, we got THE exclusive interview with the highest authority possible: The newly elected Pope Benedict XVI.

For those questioning the validity of this interview: trust me, it’s legit. I met Joseph (Jo, I called him then) Ratzinger on a train while traveling Europe in the summer of 95. The train stopped at Vienna, where I was to switch to another one, but Jo came to me with a unique proposition: get off with him in Vienna to spend the remainder of the night continuing our talks. I agreed. It was magical… At the end of it, we parted ways and lost contact… that is until I caught him on TV becoming the most powerful being on the planet. Through some hard work, I was finally able to get into contact with him and he accepted my proposition for an interview. Anyways, here’s the transcript:

-Booth52: First off, congratulations on the whole pope thing. Must have been a big day for you.
-Pope Benedict XVI: Yes, thank you. I feel truly blessed to be given this responsibility to lead the people of the world to the light of God. In fact, I have been given the message to direct the church in a radical new path, which includes… (The remainder of this particular dialogue has been edited due to article length restraints. We now fast forward to the more interesting portion of the interview.)
-Booth52: Alright Pope, down to business. Many folks don’t know this, but you are a HUGE NBA fan. Care to drop some insight on the playoffs?
-Pope Benedict XVI: (chuckling) Yes, you are right. In fact, most of the Cardinals are. The reason the voting actually took so long was because we had the games showing in the room. Once the playoff seeds were set, Cardinal Arinze set up the church pool for the playoffs and we got back to the whole voting thing. It’s unfortunate about Arinze’s gambling problem; I think it’s what cost him the vote… Anyways, the questions: proceed, my son.
-Booth52: Let’s focus on the Western Conference: In the 1. vs. 8. match up, we have the Suns vs. the Grizzlies. Your thoughts?
-Pope Benedict XVI: Yes, of all the matchups in the west, this is the one I find least intriguing. I just don’t see Memphis offering any competition for Pheonix. They come into the playoffs losing 5 out of 6, and having no true go-to player on their team. Gasol? He’s untested. I see a monster series from Stoudamire and an easy Suns victory in the series.
Pope’s Verdict: Phoenix advances 4-0
-Booth52: Can’t argue with you there Pope. Now 2 vs. 7: San Antonio vs. Denver.
-Pope Benedict XVI: Ahh yes. There always seems to be one of these matches with a top seeded team facing the surging at the right moment team. On paper, this looks like the match up with the most potential for an upset and I see many pundits foreseeing a competitive series. Alas, God doesn’t show his divine plans to the weak and the foolish. When the Nuggets are on, they get a lot of points off of drives into the lane, wide open dunks & alley oops by K-Mart, Camby, & Co. That type of stuff is just not going to happen vs. San Antonio. They’re way too sound defensively. San Antonio should take this in 5. That is unless Duncan is hurt, but my sources tell me he is going to be fine.
Pope’s Verdict: San Antonio advances 4-1
-Booth52: Alright, let’s switch off here and go to the 4-5 matchup: Dallas vs. Houston.
-Pope Benedict XVI: Yes, now this is an interesting match-up. While Phoenix & San Antonio are rightfully deserving of their elite status, I believe these two teams should be considered as the second tier of teams in the race, being clearly superior to Seattle, Sacramento, Denver, and Memphis. They both have legitimate superstars that will demand the ball down the stretch in Mcgrady and Nowitski. It'll be a close series and if the NBA ends up showing all four Miami-New Jersey blowout games over this series, may the Lord have mercy on their souls. I’m not too sure who’s gonna take this ser… wait, what’s that? (looking up) Oh. Houston in 7.
God’s Verdict: Houston advances 4-3
-Booth52: Wow! Really? The 4-3 upset huh? O.K., time for the series that matters: Seattle vs. Sacramento.
-Pope Benedict XVI: I’m sorry to bring you bad tidings, but your Sonics shall not prevail over the Kings. Bibby’s sick tattoo will be rewarded by the Lord with repeated one-on-one defense from Luke Ridnour, and he will average 25-5-8 for the series. His prayers for a miraculous healing of Stojakovic, Miller, & Jackson have also been answered, and they too will perform well. The series will go the distance, but the Kings will prevail.
Pope’s Verdict: Sacramento advances 4-3
-Booth52: WTF! You gotta be kidding me! You can’t say that on this site! I don’t know if you’ve been truly paying attention, but the Sonics, while not an elite team, are good and certainly capable enough of disposing of the Kings. Lewis seems recovered from his injury, and I expect he & Allen to average 55pts between the two of them, with Lewis scoring some key buckets in the 4th quarters of several games. Along with solid supporting performances by A.D., Collision, Ridnour, and Fortson/Evans, I see the Sonics taking the series in 7.
-Pope Benedict XVI: I find your lack of faith disturbing my son. I’ll pray for your soul.

Well, there you have it folks. NBA picks from the Holy one himself. Now go call your bookies and cash in on the scoop.

Why the Kings will win

The Seattle Sonics take on the Sacramento Kings Saturday night in the first round of the NBA playoffs.  Michael Buffer, meanwhile, will be hosting the Lingerie Bowl.
"Let's get ready to... uh... line?"

Somebody find Michael Buffer, because I’m ready to rumble. The Kings and Sonics are ready to go, and I can’t wait.

One problem: the Sonics are going to lose.

I know, Brad Miller’s ready to guest star on ER he’s been so banged up this year. And Bobby Jackson’s recalcitrance about playing hurt leaves many in Sacramento wondering if he should even bother coming off the IR. And their best shooter’s groin is strained, putting his status in doubt for the playoffs.

Forget about it. This Sonics team isn’t ready for the playoffs. They aren’t ready for the night-after-night sprints, not when Rashard Lewis is wondering if he can handle the 7-games-in-2 weeks strain, not when Ray Allen is begging his coach to let him rest up. Not when Radmanovic’s health status is as unknown as the late Pope’s was.

In Dreaming War, Gore Vidal’s book of essays on America, Bush & Co., and September 11th, Vidal touts something he labels as “Received Opinion.” ROs, as he calls them, believe only what they are fed; by the media, by their friends, by their family. In the ROs world, 9/11 happened because of angry Muslims, Pearl Harbor because of angry Japanese, and so on.

Well, ROs will tell you the Sonics will win because “they spread the floor,” because “they’ve got the Kings’ number,” and any number of silly reasons. Here are the facts:

· The Sonics are 13-13 since March 1st. The Kings are 13-10. If anyone can see an edge there, feel free to let me know.
· Ray Allen led the Sonics in scoring in every game of April. The Kings had 5 different guys lead them in scoring in that time. Depth isn’t important when you’ve got MJ, Shaq, or Iverson, but sure as hell is when your best player’s advanced beyond the first round exactly one time in his career.
· What happens when the Sonics go down 1-2? Is Allen going to be focused on sacrificing his points for better team play, or is he going to be focused on how his play is going to affect his next contract?
· Greg Ostertag has seen the light. After a talking to from a Kings’ assistant late in the season, Ostertag shook off the rust, dropped 15 pounds, and grabbed 8 boards in consecutive games, including a 4-block performance against the Jazz. A healthy Ostertag is a huge presence that will limit the Sonics’ ability to grab offensive boards.
· Kenny Thomas is playing better than any of the Sonics’ PFs. He’s averaged 15 points with 9 boards since the all-star break and at 76% from the line, he’ll make the Sonics pay there, too.
· Bobby Jackson is clearly healthy. Anyone who watched him go off against the Suns last night can tell he’s back to his energetic self. With Radman out and Daniels gimpy, the Sonics don’t have anyone to match his presence off the bench.

Tomorrow, Chunkstyle will tell you the Sonics will find a way. I say no way.

Kings in 6.

Hear me Rock the Mic (again)


See that flashing light on the phone? That's ME!

Yes, the Supersonicsoul publicity wagon just keeps on a-rolling! Last week, we were featured on KPUG Sports Radio in Bellingham, and today I was interviewed on Sportbloggers Live on AOL. Unlike last week, however, you can actually listen to this show on the web, so head over there and download an MP3 of the Podcast. No, I don't know what a "Podcast" is.

Wednesday, April 20

An (Anti-)Climactic night

 Anwar, Lebron, & the Cav’s were eliminated in a night of intrigue </
Anwar, Lebron, & the Cav’s were eliminated in a night of intrigue

I was pleasantly surprised to find several intriguing subplots still left on the last night of the regular season. Here are the highlights from the night:

Cleveland 104, Toronto 95
New Jersey 102, Boston 93
-The 8th seed in the Eastern Conference was still up for grabs heading up to the last day, with Cleveland needing a win and a New Jersey loss to Boston to capture the 8th seed. The games were being played simultaneously, with the Cavs game ending just a few minutes prior to the Nets game. To add to the intrigue the Cavalier’s opponent was the Raptors, who, with a victory could have pushed the Anti-Christ, Vince Carter , out of the playoffs.

In Toronto, James had a monster all around game, posting a triple-double (27-14-14), and leading his team to a 23 point lead by the end of the 3rd. At the same time, over in Boston, the Celtics took a 58-47 lead at halftime, only to have Jeff Van Gundy rip into the Nets at halftime and cause a furious 3rd quarter rally, outscoring the Celtics 32-8 in the 3rd quarter. The Nets were then able to withstand a 4th quarter rally by the Celtics to hold on for the win and clinch the 8th seed, and a 4-0 pummeling from the Heat in the first round. Stern not happy. Lebron go bye-bye to playoffs.

Indiana 85, Chicago 83
-Chery Miller caught the game from the stands.
-The Pacers, with the victory, were able to clinch the 6th seed. That’s HUGE. For those unaware, the 7th and 8th seeds in the east challenge the Pistons and Heat respectively in the first round, while the 6th seed sees a massive drop in competition by getting the Celtics.
-EVERYONE in the audience was wearing I love Reggie Miller t-shirts and holding up Reggie signs.
-Reggie was definitely aware of the cameras being on him. Completely playing to the crowd & cameras with forced, over-dramatized actions like long talks with journalists on the sideline, way too enthusiastically powdering his hands in his pre free-throw/game ritual... They even had this inane pregame huddle/celebration after announcing Reggie that was… I really couldn’t do it justice with a description. You know what? F**k it. 16 years in the league, spanning the times of Larry and Magic, Michael, Scottie, Charles, Hakeem, and now Garnett and Lebron. His career could be seen as a time capsule of the leagues growth and evolution. Take a bow Reggie, I salute you.
-In a similar fashion, in a nationally televised game in March versus the Lakers, in which he turned back the clock for 39 points, He did the exact same thing. Check out the 4th-quarter flow of this game:
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playbyplay?gameId=250318011&period=4
The Pacers were up by six with 27 seconds remaining. For some strange reason, the Lakers felt they were still in this thing and fouled Miller THREE times prior to the conclusion of the game, giving him six free throw opportunities. With 27 seconds remaining and his team up by six, Reggie did an extended version of his hand chalking at the announcer’s table ceremony, egging on the crowd ovation, prior to EACH free throw opportunity. If I recall the game ended at 1am Pacific Time. (BTW, it was a classic Miller time performance and I do not blame him for reveling in the moment.)

Deborah and Raymond
were involved in some kind of wacky domestic dispute . I believe Ray’s mom was somehow involved.

Sacramento 132, Pheonix 107
-Bobby Jackson, on the IR for practically the entire season, was activated for the last game, in a test to see how effective he could be for the Kings in the playoffs. The result?
A lively performance, going for 15-6-5 in 16 min. Bobby Jackson DEFINITELY looks like he will be a factor in the Kings-Sonics match up. With the combination of Bibby and Jackson at the point, I believe it’s time to consider having some loyal Sonics fan take one for the team, and kidnap Luke Ridnour for the entirety of the series, Celtic Pride style.
-Also, while they didn’t play, it was announced that both Brad Miller and Peja Stojakovic (wearing nifty matching tan sierra suits behind the bench,) would be activated for the playoffs. Brad Miller was shown in a highlight shooting around during the pre-game warm-ups. Come back now Radman, you are needed!

Anwar Robinson
-was eliminated . Damn you, Scott Savol!!

In cruel heartbreaking fashion,
the Bobcats beat the Pistons, 97-86. That, added with the fact that the NEW ORLEANS Hornets lost to the Clippers, left them in a tie for the worst record in the league at 18-64 instead of the outright title for the Bobcats had they lost.
Some quotes:
``It's just great to go home like this, with a win and on a good note,'' Okafor said. ``We didn't win a lot of games this year, but we played hard in all of them and it's great to get a reward in the last one.''
The Bobcats played with one eye on the out-of-town scoreboard because Charlotte holds Cleveland's first-round draft pick, a lottery pick because New Jersey beat Boston on Wednesday night to end the Cavs' playoff bid.
``This win, the fans, getting that lottery pick ... we deserved something good to happen to us,'' Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.


Congratulations, Bernie. Congratulations.

Note to readers:
You are not going to want to miss tomorrow’s post on Supersonicsoul.com. We were able to get THE INSIDER SCOOP on the Western Conference Playoffs with a VERY special guest interview, EXCLUSIVE to this site. You were warned. Bookmark us now.

Halftime Heroes: A Study In Futility, & Catching up with The Creek

 Any relationship to Dawson or Billy Bob, Jeff?</
Any relationship to Dawson or Billy Bob, Jeff?

Thinking about the possible playoff match between the Sonics and the Rockets got me to thinking:

If Billy Bob could rally the Permian High Panthers with an inspired speech, if James Van Der Beek can do the same with the West Canaan Coyotes , does it then lead to the potential existence of a real, living, breathing coach having the innate ability to inspire his team?

The beat downs I’ve witnessed the Sonics take in the 3rd qtr vs. the Rockets this year led me to take a quick look at the possibility that Van Gundy was one of these mythical creatures.

Observation:
In the 3 games in 2005 in which the Sonics faced Houston, the Rockets came out into the 3rd quarter with inspired play in 2 of them.
3rd quarter Hou vs. Sea scoring:
Game 1: 15-17
Game 2: 22-6
Game 3: 34-26
Total 71-49=22
22/3 games = 7.1 pt differential per 3rd quarter

Hypothesis:
Jeff Van Gundy is a great coach. In particular, Van Gundy has the ability, not found in all coaches, to inspire teams/players to increased performance output through motivational speaking. In particular, for this experiment, this ability is inherent in the transformation the Houston Rockets 2005 team achieves during halftime, and witnessed in their brief performance surge in the 3rd quarter following.

Procedure:
Take the Houston 2005 season 3rd quarter ppg differential, and compare it to the ave. quarter diff of the Rockets other 3 quarters (data through 80 games):

Analysis:
Total ppg Scored: 7575-1891=5684/80 games/3 qtrs= 23.68
Total ppg Allowed: 7297-1806=5491/80 games/3 qtrs= 22.88
Differential: +0.80 pts/qtr

Total pp 3rd qtr Scored: 1891
Total pp 3rd qtr All: 1806
Differential 85/80games/qtr= +1.06 pts/qtr

Results:
The pt differential seen between the average of quarters 1,2, & 4 are +0.80 per qtr. The pt. Differential for the 3rd qtr is +1.06. The difference is +0.26, about a quarter of a point.

Conclusion:
Not a DAMN thing!! While there is a ¼ point differential that may suggest Van Gundy does have some ability to inspire during halftime, that difference in all likelihood is too marginal to make any credible statement, considering all the other variables not taken into account in the test. What we can conclude is that the 3 games witnessed by my eyes (which indicated a huge ability by Van Gundy) were much too small a sample to make any logical assumption. Lesson learned: I am an idiot. Price paid: 45min of my life.

Reason #15,284 unemployment doesn’t suck:
-Being able to catch the Dawson’s Creek episode where Dawson’s dad dies, and the following episode as well. In-f**king-credible! For the rest of you that missed it, (huge spoiler alert!) in episode unknown of season 3-5 of the series, the writers, in a vain attempt to resuscitate the show, killed of a main/supporting character (they had previously exhausted all love triangle/interest options.) I remember catching the premiere season of Dawson’s Creek in the dorms and finding a new guilty pleasure, that is until the wheels fell off (maybe the damn thing never had wheels to begin with.)

So anyways, how do you go about killing off the father of the main character? End of the show, Mr. Leary goes out to buy groceries, leaves store with ice cream cone, gets in jeep, and on the way home (while doing the gratuitous scene where you sing along to some song on the radio, which has thankfully left my brain) the ice cream drops from the cone, he bends down to pick it up, and... BAM!!!! Cue car crash noise, fade to black, roll credits. Needless to say, I was locked in for the next episode (the reruns on TBS are shown in back to back blocks.)

So the next episode: classic premise, death of a side character, grieving main character shots, reminiscing scenes (they chose this thing where each one of the characters had a shot/scene where they were talking/remembering a particular poignant moment they had with the Dad (surprisingly Mr. Leary was still available to do these scenes.) You would think that under this premise the actors could pull off a few tear inducing performances… let me tell you, if you’ve never seen quality acting before, watching this episode won’t change that status. It was a certifiable train wreck of performances. From Dawson’s mom (how do you NOT hit the grieving widow part out of the park?? It’s like a hanging slider just begging to be taken for a ride,) to Dawson’s Dad (fully understand why the writers killed him off,) to Dawson himself (will we ever see a Mox-ian performance from Van Der Beek again?) it was brutal, awkward TV throughout. Needless to say, I loved every minute.

Final Rating- Two wildly enthusiastic thumbs up!

On a sidenote, I’ve caught several other episodes from this unknown season, and it’s brilliantly bad throughout. Today, Joey ( Katie Holmes) was singing in a rock band. Dee-liteful .

There really aren't enough superlatives to adequately discuss this show. And I believe I’m done emasculating myself now.

Booth.52@gmail.com

Talking Jibba-Jabba & Laying Down The Monster

 Mike McD doesn’t feel good about Ray Allen’s looming contract status & neither should we </
Mike McD doesn’t feel good about Ray Allen’s looming contract status & neither should we


I’ve caught the numerous heated debates on this one. Here’s my thought on the whole thing. Comments both agreeing and criticizing my opinions are wholeheartedly welcomed, and eagerly anticipated. And if you’d like to have me sit in on your home table to take me down, I’m in.

Points to clarify before I go on:

-Ray Allen, at this point, is a top 15 to 30 player in the league. I wish I had a more firm position for you to agree/disagree with, but to be honest, I haven’t compiled enough data yet to form one. A list could be forthcoming.

-Ray Allen, right now, is a legit superstar of the league, deserving of his due credit.

-Ray Allen, along with Rashard, formed the backbone of the Sonics 2004-05 team and they should be given their due credit to the surprising success achieved this season. Who deserves more of the credit is also still undecided, but methinks the pendulum is in the midst of a swing to the other side…

-Removing Ray Allen and inserting Ronald Murray will NOT result in a wash. While I may verbally applaud the play and contribution of A.D, Radman, Nick, Reggie, & Danny far more than him, Ray Allen is undoubtedly a far superior player to any of them. I ain’t no fool spouting nonsense jibba-jabba.

If the last few years’ NBA signings are good indications (and with the new CBA looming, they may not be) I believe the following situation will unfold:

Ray Allen is going to get several 4 year offers, a couple of 5 year offers, and the Sonics, in a decision come upon through a combination of player evaluation, organizational need, and media and local pressure, will offer Allen a 5yr contract in the range of 70-75M. Unfortunately, some team other than the Sonics is gonna throw the gauntlet down and, as KGB would so eloquently put it, pay that man his money: 5years at a whopping 80-90M.

Now, let’s put on our Sonics’s GM cap for a sec. (I believe there may be one available hanging on the bedpost of Calvin Booth’s boudoir, left there by Wally.)

You’ve got position at the final table of a winner take all tournament. The button is sitting in front of you. Action starts with a bullet, with Dead Money beginning the hand by throwing free money into the pot, Ray Allen. Everyone else in front of you bows out. You’ve got a respectable hand; say a pair of Jacks, and you feel good about your chances heads up against the loose player. But you’ve got the small and big blinds still to deal with; them, anticipating your move, you, anticipating theirs. You make the smart, yet tentative decision; merely play in terms of pot odds, and just call the bet. Then the dreaded response: low blind calls, followed by the big blind calling as well. Flop comes J-8-9, all diamonds. You’ve caught your set, but the flush and straight draw scare the bejeezus out of you, so you once again check. The nightmare sequence happens: Low blind goes all in, Big blind calls. The amateur bows out, but RayRay’s still sitting in that pot, waiting for the winner to claim him.

So what’s the proper action?* Forget the Oreos folks, they’re not necessary. You know it, I know it, and Mike McD knows it: Stare Teddy straight in the face and say with conviction: “I’m laying this set down. It’s a monster hand & I’m gonna lay it down. I’m not going to draw against a made hand.” For the most part you played the hand as well as you could have, and you simply have to move on, with all thoughts set on the real goal: winning it all.

Ray Allen is sitting at the apex of his career right now, or maybe more appropriate a plateau; he’s got 2-3 years left to wander up there and enjoy the view, but make no mistake, he will soon reenter the stratosphere of star to mediocre star status. Look at Reggie,Ray, and plan your future accordingly.

 Miller Time is fast approaching for Ray Allen </
Miller Time is fast approaching for Ray Allen


If the Sonics are smart they will too. “The 2004 Sonics aren’t coming through that door folks!” “Charles isn’t walking through it either!”

We’re going to have to accept that inevitability, we simply can’t afford not to. The price is too high, and the product falls too short of the goal. But fear not, we will build him to be stronger, faster….

So, if you’re so damn smart what the hell do you propose, you ask? Ehhhh…. Pass? Kidding, offseason recommendations to come… in the offseason.


By the way,

Regarding superstar professional athletes and egregious amounts of cash being thrown their way? I hold absolutely no ill judgment for them for obtaining or trying to obtain the highest sum possible. While I may mourn their loss, I do not consider leaving a team for another a form of personal or organizational betrayal.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but I like to think of their situation in relation to the situation of most people living in corporate America. Imagine a scenario of you working for a company, being bound to that company by a previously agreed on contract, which was of a lower value to one you could now obtain elsewhere, regardless of being over or under paid/rated. Then you’re day comes and company A offers (insert salary here), a comparable salary to other peers you know, and company B (and C, and D…) offered you salary A*(enter insane multiple here). So, wtf would you do? “Aw shucks, well if I were happy at my old company, I’d stay there. Hell they’ve been loyal to me for all these years; it’s darn time I repaid the favor. The grass will always appear greener on the other side, yuk, yuk, yuk.” If you believe you’d say something along this line, my congratulations to you on a great attitude and superior morals… and for making me throw up in my mouth.

I will NEVER blame Arod for a payroll greater than this country’s GDP ,
Jim McIlvaine signing for 35M over 5 years, Calvin Booth for signing for 34M over 6, or Ray Allen for whatever sum he is able to extract this summer. Blame Tom Hicks, blame the unholy Wally Walker, and blame Dan Gilbert & Usher .

The term really doesn’t do it justice but, simply put, don’t hate the playa, hate the game. These folks deserve none of your derision for doing the same thing that 99% of America would do in the same situation, and are entitled to in this great country. I mean c’mon!! I thought this was America! Huh?! Isn't this America!? I'm sorry, I thought this was America!


(Now officially off the soapbox, chopping it to pieces, pouring kerosene on it, lighting it up, and jumping in. I disgust myself sometimes.)

*Note: After going over this crap, I came to the conclusion that my call wasn’t quite right. I had initially thought that the only outs would be to get the 4 of a kind, which is actually not the case. Against the likely straight or flush possibilities, a full house would work just as well. So, let me see, say the game was six handed, 12 cards off the deck, assume nothing good comes on 4th street, 4 cards off the deck, with let’s see 1 J, and 3x3=9 possibilities to pair the board, that’s 10 outs/(52-12-4=36cards) and a 27.8% chance, approximately 1:3.5 pot odds. The right play in all likelihood would be to call. For the assumption that a 4 of a kind was needed, it would have been 1/36: a 2.8% chance, and unless the pot was that big and my stack that small, not the right move. My apologies for not being The Master .

Sunday, April 17

Mixed feelings

 Spree thinking about his starving family, and Wally thinking about more bench time </
Spree thinking about his starving family, and Wally thinking about more bench time


Seattle 109, Minnesota 94

Some quick thoughts:

- Ray poured in 34pts and 10 boards, Rashard had 28, and Ridnour had 10pts and 11 assists with no turnovers. The two teams combined for just 19 turnovers and hovered at 50% FG shooting, implying to me that either both teams were playing extremely efficient offensively and/or, true to the common perception of the teams, they really were unimpressive defensively.

- I feel for Kevin Garnett. Read what Matt at San Antonio Spurs Blog had to say about his whole situation. That goes ditto for me. KG is simply one of those players, like A.I, that I genuinely root for and enjoy watching regardless of what team he’s on. Probably shouldn’t say this on this blog, but I was actually hoping that the Wolves would pull off the miracle and grab the 8th seed from Memphis (meaning I was also partially rooting for them to beat the Sonics today,) if simply to give KG something to reflect positively on.

- In further regards to Garnett, I always felt bad for him when Charles Barkley (whom I absolutely love watching/listening to and who is deserving of his own column by me at some point.) and the rest of the TNT crew would get on him for not being a true superstar because he couldn’t get the T-wolves past the 1st round of the playoffs for all those years. I was glad when they finally gave him his due credit last year, and found him absolutely blameless in the Wolves excruciating loss to the Lakers in the Western finals last year.

- A great Division Championship soundbite from Jerome James here. He must’ve missed that Crash Davis interview course.

"It's like a high, a rush. I can understand why MJ [Michael Jordan] and [Scottie] Pippen worked so hard after they won their first one," said Jerome James, who was flanked by sons Mason, 2, and Dallas, 4. "This is so sweet. You wait all of your life as a professional athlete to accomplish something like this.
"It's what all the sweat and tears, all of the hard work, the pain pills, surgeries and ice and film and all of that crap and fussing and cussing and fighting and pulling and everything combined — it's worth it all today. To see my teammates and to be in this room of brothers and to enjoy each other on this level. The camaraderie, the love, the passion. It's like church.


Just guessing, but I don’t think Jerome James attends Catholic mass. Maybe his church doles out 40’s with communion or something cause it sounds like a party up in that motha.


- Vlad watch day 151:
Vladimir Radmanovic, who is on the injured list because of a stress fracture in his lower right leg, walked on a treadmill wearing a weight-bearing vest yesterday in Seattle. McMillan said there's a 50 percent chance of him returning for the start of the playoffs.

Friday, April 15

Before you leave...

Seattle Supersonics: 2005 NW Division Champs

Seattle 97, New Orleans 92

Seattle Supersonics: 2005 NW Division Champs

Ray Allen goes for 32pts (and 7 assists) to negate Lewis going 1 for 12 on the night (1 for 12, is that line real?)

-Great PR move on the Sonics organization part at the end. After the win, after the now traditional team huddle at midcourt, the players remained on the court to hand out t-shirts, frisbees and a crap load of other autographed goodies. Antonio Daniels was even signing and giving away a shiny set of new kicks; damn it, why the hell do I get the games with free balloons... In addition, fox NW got in on the act and interviewed practically the entire team afterwards with the standard, great to be here, what’s good, what’s next stuff. Seriously, it's these little things that the Sonics did after the game tonight that endear fans to teams, and sell future tickets.

-I don’t have insider access to his brain, but I think Calabro was reigning himself in from berating fans for leaving prior to the outcome of a blowout victory. I found him suppressing his thoughts kinda funny.

I don’t consider it messed up at all that fans want to leave blowouts early… but I will say that under the situation, them playing a game so reminiscent of the good times of the early season, winning after a 6 game losing streak, and knowing it was a division clincher should’ve brought enough interest till the end of the game to warrant the 10-15 extra minutes in traffic. Whatever, their loss; I mean free Antonio Freakin Daniels autographed kicks for chrissakes!

-Small thing that only interested me: actually thrown up during the telecast was a +/- stat for Rashard Lewis’ influence on the game and commented on by Ehlo. Maybe the revolution will be televised?

-Wait, another praise for Ehlo?? In the 3rd, Ridnour was pushing the ball up and made a beautiful pass/lob to Rashard, who was just barely open and ahead of the defenders. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to dunk it, instead resetting himself (and the D) and passing it out to Allen for a jumpshot. Ehlo immediately caught it and made the comment that if that was 20 or so games ago, that’s an alley oop. Here’s to hoping it will be one come playoff time.

My congratulations to the team for the season's accomplishment.

We are (finally) the Champions (of the Northwest Division), my friends.

<br />Ray Allen scored 32 points as Seattle snapped a six-game losing streak and clinched the Northwest Division title with a 97-72 win Friday night over lowly New Orleans.

The Sonics pummeled the hapless Hornets tonight 97-72, and finally clinched the Northwest Division title:
SEATTLE (AP) -- Expected to be among the worst teams in the NBA at the beginning of the season, the Seattle SuperSonics are headed to the playoffs as division champs.

Ray Allen scored 32 points as Seattle snapped a six-game losing streak and clinched the Northwest Division title with a 97-72 win Friday night over lowly New Orleans.

Immediately after the game ended, the Sonics unveiled the Northwest Division banner in the rafters of KeyArena. It's the first division title for Seattle since winning the Pacific Division in 1998.

Read the rest here.
You may now exhale.

Thursday, April 14

Hear me rock the mic.

"A lot of people they be Jonesin' just to hear me rock the mic.
They'll be staring at the radio staying up all night"
- Shake Your Rump, Beastie Boys


Tune in to KPUG (AM 1170 in Bellingham) today between 3-5:30pm, and you might hear me being interviewed on the The ZONE WITH DOUG LANGE AND MARK SCHOLTEN, talking about the world's greatest Sonics Blog.

Mavericks, PG’s, Chicken bones, and Earth Stewards

Dallas 95, Seattle 90

Do my eyes deceive me?

One of the things I try to force myself to do while watching games is to avoid the inevitable visual positive reinforcements I may make in regards to opinions on players. I only caught some of the 1st and 4th quarter of tonight’s game, but one of the sequences I caught was in the 4th. It started with Wilkins playing generally good D on Nowitski (but getting the rookie on established star foul call,) then on the ensuing play being involved in a Dallas turnover, and then in a forthcoming play stealing a pass for a breakaway dunk. I don't intend on getting in my car and heading over to a Sonics team store to purchase Wilkins’ jersey (which I guess isn’t for sale to the public.) based purely upon those few minutes of play. There's just simply not enough data there to prove or disprove my thoughts on a guy, even if it does support my hunch. I’m still sticking to my belief that he’s worthy of some playing time though, even during the playoffs. Cut into the playing times of Luke, Jerome, Flip, and the Potato.

Other notes on a game that I couldn’t get fully involved with:

-Rashard Lewis made his return, scoring 12 pts on 5-13 (1-7 3pt) shooting and looking somewhat tentative especially in the 4th quarter. Hopefully he can regain the swagger that had him declaring “It just feels like no one man can stop me.” The Sonics’ playoff chances rest on it.

-Seattle remained in the game partially by outboarding Dallas 45-30, with 16 of those coming in the offensive end, 8 of those by Mr. Glass. It's gonna be sad seeing the breaking up of the 3 power forwards come the offseason.

-Van Horn and Nowitski on the same team requires a sharper attention to the game than I had. Can someone put a frikkin’ bell on Nowitski or something, so I can immediately differentiate him from the Ute?

-I didn’t catch it, but apparently Bizarro Jerome made an appearance in the 3rd quarter. Well done Jerome, I suppose 1 quarter’s worth of work is worthy of a $55,000 per game paycheck.


Other points of interest:

-While I may chastise Ridnour’s deficiencies an ungodly amount of times, I will concede that he does have some skills and assets, such as his genuine point guard mentality and his nice assists/turnover stat. More importantly, because he's still locked into his rookie salary of 1.5-2.5M per year, he is good value player on the roster. But the fact remains, anything Luke does, I can do better. I’m gonna be beating this dead horse repeatedly: A.D. simply provides a better option at PG for the Supes. Daniels not only shares in Luke’s ability to run the team, find open players, and shoot the ball, but he also plays defense at an above average skill, and provides more offensive ability than Rid. The only skill that Luke marginally excels over A.D. in is 3pt shooting %, and I’ll be damned if that’ll sway my vote enough. If you don’t believe me go ask Mr. Roland, he’ll point you to the truth.

-I don’t intend to fully delve into the Sonic’s upcoming personnel decisions till after the playoffs but I will say this: if Mr. Daniels ends up signing for something around the tune of 3-4 years at 4-5 million per (which is what I expect since that’s what this guy got in a similar deal and situation last year) I’d fully endorse the move. I seriously hope he hasn’t priced himself out of our league.

-I’ve been perusing Seattle newspaper’s online as well as the regular sites in hopes of finding some word on Vlad’s expected return. I finally was able to dig this up at Foxsports today:

Sat Apr 2 2005 - Vladimir Radmanovic had the cast removed from his broken right fibula. The organization won't know until the week of April 18 whether he will be available for the playoffs. His regular season is over, though.

And to reiterate, from Yahoo sports is this:

McMillan said he does not expect reserve forward Vladimir Radmanovic to return before the end of the regular season. Radmanovic was placed on the injured list March 18 with a stress fracture in his lower right leg.

Translation: We’re f***ed. I think reasonable adjusted expectations may be to pass the first round, and maybe steal a game or two from the 2005 NBA champs.


– Finally, during my Radmanovic research, I also caught that Percy Allen of the Seattle Times on Sunday beat me to the punch on the Curse of the Sonics big men that I briefly commented on here. My apologies for failing to mention Haywood and the X-Man in my comment. While we may be onto something, I believe Dan Shaughnessy’s legacy shall remain safe.

A few lines from that article:

The e-mail from Dragon Wolf Medicine Woman was sincere and informative, and so we talked the other day about the possibility that the Sonics are cursed.

The supernatural theory originated a couple of years ago during a conversation with Spencer Haywood while he was lobbying the Sonics to retire his number.
Haywood made mention that he placed a hex on the team and would only lift the spell upon receiving confirmation that his No. 24 jersey would hang in the rafters.

"I'm from a place where we know about voodoo and stuff like that," said Haywood, a native of Silver City, Miss. "I got some chicken bones around here, so I used some old Black Magic like that boy in Boston did to the Red Sox. This stuff is real, man."


My favorite lil’ nugget of the article came here:

"On some level, they are aware of what's going on, perhaps not consciously," said Ms. Medicine Woman, an ordained minister, spiritual healer and Earth steward….

There you go ladies and germs, the decay of American civilization in a nutshell. When any individual that goes by the email moniker of “Dragon Wolf Medicine Woman” can so easily attain the prestigious title not only of ordained minister but Earth Steward as well… well, I think it might be time to consider that move to Canada. My congratulations to Mr. Percy Allen for digging deeper and going that extra mile to find the real stories that need to be told…

Signs of Life

I’m the last guy to be enthusiastic about moral victories, but last night’s game against the Mavs has me a bit more optimistic for the Sonics’ chances in the postseason.

With Radman still hurting, Lewis, Fortson, and AD all came back, and if Lewis had had his legs (1-for-7 from 3), the Sonics probably win the game. The fact that AD came off the bench with 17 points, and the Fort grabbed 7 boards in 16 minutes should be enough for anyone.

In other news, according to the Sun-Times, the Sonics have a verbal agreement to bring Nate back for next year. ... Great quote from Ray-Ray after yesterday’s loss: “The last game I was hurting, and (Tuesday) at practice, I was hurting," he said. "It's not so much as playing the minutes, playing 40 minutes is easy. But it's playing 40 minutes and being involved in the offense on every play." I know this is a cheap shot at Allen, and that his quote was most likely part of a larger context, but, still, wasn’t he complaining 3 weeks ago about not getting the ball enough?

Wednesday, April 13

Pass the Mic

A couple of weeks ago, we invited a fellow blogger to post a story on Supersonicsoul. This week, we recieved this piece from one of our loyal readers, Booth52:

A Sonics Playoff Preview Precursor:

With the Playoffs looming over the horizon I thought I’d take the opportunity to throw in my two pennies on the Sonics and their a) recent struggles and, of more interest to me, b) their chances in the playoffs. I thought I’d drop a post here and should you deem it at all interesting/post-worthy, I’d like to tackle a few other Sonic-subjects in more depth.

Quick side note: I really have no desire to add to the crowded field of Sonics blogs (for which I’m grateful to both sites for) out in this here internet thing. If anything I’d love to enrich the site with my humble opinions on the team, sending in some posts from time to time. My inspiration spawned off of reading an Oakland athletics website you may have heard of (www.athleticsnation.com) and the game threads of red sox games by the diehard redsox fans at sosh. I read a bunch of other nba blogs and they seem to be in their infancy stage when compared to other more established sites with regards to a community vibe. Anyways here’s my first attempt at a post.

Stating The Obvious:
First off, a brief response to the Sonics recent struggles. The team is in the midst of a 4 game losing streak. In reality, they have been playing mediocre to awful basketball for a longer period than that.

Over the past 7 games, the Sonics have compiled a 2-5 record. If we are seriously evaluating the skid, we should count them for at most a 1-6 record since at least one of the two victories vs. Memphis and, Portland, should have really been discounted considering their poor play.

But, for my amusement, let’s go back a bit further say, how about 13 games? Their record since then: a very pedestrian 9-7. Some interesting tidbits:

Sonics pre-3/18:
3P%: 37.5
3PM/G: 8.5
3PA/G: 22.7
PPG: 100.5
PPG All: 99.8

Sonics post-3/18: (13 games total as of April 10)
3P%: 33.3
3PM/G: 5.5
3PA/G: 20.3
PPG: 95.1 (not including 14 points scored in overtime vs. NY, 7 of which came via the charity stripe with the Supes up by 5 with 38 seconds to play)
PPG All: 99.8 (Our recent defensive inadequacies will conservatively and mercifully be ignored for simplicity of comparison)

That PPG differential comes out to 5.4. For those that don’t consider that to be much let’s put that into context for the season: overall the Sonics (50-26) have, up to this point averaged 99.5ppg scored and 96.9ppg allowed. If we were to find a team who gave up a similar amount of points and scored roughly 94.1ppg(99.5-5.4) what would we come up with? How about this team (93.4ppg, 97.4ppga)?

So exactly what separates the previous team, that was (record wise at least) making claims to being one of the top 4 teams in the league, to one now garnering comparisons to the 4th worst team? Simple: Their names are Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic. Since Lewis’ injury the Supes have thrown together that 2-5 record (again, realistically 1-6 or 0-7) and since Vlad was sidelined with a stress fracture on his right leg, the Sonics have made 3 less treys a game and scored on average 5 less points a game. I cannot stress enough the Radman’s importance to the team, particularly by forcing the opponents to extend their defense, having a normally paint roaming potential rebounder, shot blocking/averting 3-4-5 man having to respect Vlad’s 3pt shooting ability. Not to provide some generic tv broadcaster’s response, but he simply makes that offense flow better.

So again you might ask, what the hell’s your point? Simply put, the current state of guarded pessimism taken on by Superfriends everywhere is a bit misdirected at this current time towards the nosedive the team is in. I don’t consider the slide any indication at all of the team’s ability to win (in the playoffs). I don’t care if the team as is loses by 3 or 30 to the Lakers, cause they ain’t gonna do s*** in the playoffs as is. Rashard is expected to return after a few more games, and Vlad’s tour of duty in IR is scheduled to end either today (if you believe the 4 week timeline) or by the start of the playoffs. What is of importance is the team’s ability to re-incorporate two of their most important players back into the fold, and to again develop that chemistry that made the offensive execution a thing of beauty during the first half of the season. If they’re not able to do this, consider the Season record your only present year, cause the Sonics ain’t going nowhere in the playoffs without a little of that magic they conjured up in the beginning of the season.

Overtime:

Some opinions/topics I’d love to drop an analysis on or merely ramble on about Simmons style:

-Damien Wilkins Has played himself into some quality P.T. for the team. He and A.D. are the team’s top perimeter defenders, and he should be used accordingly for certain player matchups. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: 12-15 minutes max young man, you ain’t your uncle.

-Rashard Lewis on the right side posting up should, in all circumstances, be considered the Sonics offensive option #1. (Just for the record, if you had told me 2 years ago that Lewis would have one of the top 20 most efficient iso-post up games in the league I would have simply laughed at you. If you had told me that six years ago, after the sonics put him out of his draft day misery, I would’ve strongly considered offering to purchase your medication.)

-In particular, the most efficient offensive play the Supes have in their playbook is A.D. and Lew isolated on one side, executing the pick and post to perfection, leaving either Lewis on the block with an undersized guard on him (can I get a “mouse in the house” comment from Calabro? Amen, brotha.), or A.D. wrecking havoc driving into the lane.

-Luke Ridnour is highly overrated, and much of it is due to his skin tone (No, I am not Spike Lee under a pseudonym, defaming yet another white player.) Hearing Ehlo and Kevin drool over the guy eerily reminds me of McCarver and Joe Morgan going gaga over the intangibles of Derek Jeter.

-Ridnour’s deficiencies on the defensive end are most evident against quick, penetrating, offensive minded guards. (Interpretation: get him the hell out of there against the Parker’s, Marbury’s, and Franchises of the League) His inabilities to work the A.D/Lew Pick and finish in the lane are often understated. (Note to Ehlo: driving into the paint, not having the offensive ability to create/score, BUT being able to continue your dribble, is not a basketball talent to be praised.)

-Damien Wilkins Has played himself into some quality P.T. for the team. He and A.D. are the team’s top perimeter defenders, and he should be used accordingly for certain player matchups.

-I am absolutely dumbfounded by Ronald Murray and have no idea if he would be a legitimate star in this league with some decent playing time.

-Jerome James, at best, is an average to slightly above average center. Unfortunately, THAT is the Bizzaro Jerome James, and he only makes an appearance approximately 1 in 10 games. The first few minutes of each game should be spent by Mac-10 determining if the alter ego has shown up and act accordingly, providing Matteen Cleaves a clapping, chest bumping-during timeouts sidekick.

-SuperDanny (He of the 10pts, 8+ rebounds, 3+ offensive rebounds resulting in putback attempts resulting in two free throws and the occasional And-1 situations performances) NEVER appears in the same game that Bizarro James shows up in. Furthermore, +/- Uber-Collison of recent playing time, has miraculously emerged to alleviate the mysterious disappearance of SuperDanny. While John Hollinger of ESPN.com briefly touched on the scary potential of a Reggie-Forston rebound transformer, he’s merely scratched the tip of the iceberg. If someone can debunk my theory that Bizarro Jerome-Uber-Collison-SuperDanny & Reggie all actually share the same brain and merely barter it off at the bench during timeouts, please notify me ASAP. Evidence will be required.

-Signing Ray Allen to a 4 (or worse 5) year contract beyond $75M would be a mistake of McIlvaine-esque proportions. I will not argue about this. Contending for a 8-5 seed in the playoffs over the next 4 years and then moving into a rebuilding mode is not what I consider success. All personnel moves should be made with the sole purpose of leading towards a team capable of contending for a title. A Lewis-Aging Allen combo with intermediate surrounding players taking up the rest of the meager cap space WILL NOT provide for this requirement.

More ramblings to come.

Booth.52

Tuesday, April 12

In Through the Out Door

There is one story we can all expect to hear over the next week – is the Sonics’ playoff fate sealed because of their crappy play at the end of the year?

Well, I’m all about the numbers, so I crunched a few and came up with this conclusion:
YES.

Here’s what I did: I looked at the last four seasons and took the top 4 teams in each conference. Then I added up what they did during the last 10 games of the season and compared it to how they did in the post-season. The relationship of last 10 games to playoff success was shocking. Here's a look at the numbers:



(Editor's Note: Big thanks to Nels of Give Me The Rock fame for help with the chart! -Paul)

Anyway, it’s pretty evident that teams that finish well in the regular season tend to do well in the playoffs. Of course, teams that finish well during the regular season played well all season, so it’s natural that they’d do well in the playoffs. Still, it’s amazing how the numbers drop almost in uniform fashion. (Strange that the only team to run the table over its last 10, San Antonio, flamed out in the 2nd round of the playoffs to the Lakers). Even more amazing, of the 32 teams seeded 1 through 4 in the playoffs in the past 4 seasons, not one team has finished the year with less than 4 wins in their last 10 games. In fact, I had to go back more than 10 years to find a team with as little as 3 wins in its final 10.

It was the spring of 1994. Led by David Robinson, Dale Ellis and Dennis Rodman, the Spurs tore through the league, amassing a 39-14 record by late February before cooling off , finishing in a slump with 7 losses in their final 10 games.

They lost in the first round.

Media Watch: April Edition


Horked from www.sports.IGN.com

The Bad News: So the Supes are limping, figuratively and literally, into the playoffs.
The Good News: They're finally getting some pub. Check the linkage:

>IGN Interview with Nick Collison
He's on the front page of their sports section even. And looky thar: they also chat with our old pal, GP.

>SLAM shows more love for the 206
I love when SLAM loves Seattle. But maybe there is such a thing as too much love. Like, ain't it strange how Ray Allen's hit a mini-slump since his face got plastered on the cover? Not content to put the voodoo on just the Sonics' best player, this month's issue of SLAM might just hex the entire city:
  • Sonics PG duo of Luke "Frodo" Ridnour and Antonio Daniels featured
  • City Game section sizes up Seattle's game through the years and at all levels of comp. There's some nice reminiscing here--Seattle U's Elgin Baylor (not the Clips'), Spencer Haywood, '79 Sonics, Reign Man, the Storm even. Worth the $4.99 cover price alone.
  • Piece on Franklin High alum Jason Terry
  • Open letter to ex-Gonzaga Bulldog, Dan "The Disaster" Dickau, tracing the unspoken "beef" between the mag and he.
Oh, and visit www.slamonline.com and you'll find those same articles, plus the online edition of last month's issue, including the Ray Allen feature.
>Fox Sports.com: Best pro teams to not win a championship
The 95-96 Sonics come in at number 9 in the top 10. Not exactly pub for the current team, and not really a good thing to be recognized for, but it's Sonics pub nonetheless. The 2001 Mariners are No. 3.

Rockets' Glare

All together now: The Sonics have no chance against the Rockets if Rashard Lewis isn't healthy.

Man, how painful was it to see Wilkins, et al trying to guard T-Mac? A nice effort from Collison, and the Potato managed to post double-figures and get in Yao's grill a few times. Still, it was obvious the Sonics need Rashard to be healthy if they're going to compete with the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs (if, of course, they play the Rockets and not Sac. or Denver).

Monday, April 11

Groan

Of all the NBA writers on the web, my favorite has always been Jack McCallum from SI. Maybe it's because I took a journalism school class at Oregon from a former co-worker of his, or maybe it's because he has a better sense of history than most of the guys in his business, I'm not sure.

That said, his recent column about why Steve Nash should be MVP is an absolute joke. McCallum was nice enough to lay out his argument in 5 sections, so I'll destroy them point by point.

1. Nash improved his team more than Shaq improved his. FALSE.
Phoenix averaged 36 wins/season over the past 3 years and Miami averaged 34. Yes, the Heat made it to the semis of the East last year, but does anyone think they'd be this good this year without Shaq? Furthermore, let's look at how the teams both players left did without them. Dallas? 52-30 last year, on pace to win 57 this year. The Lakers? I don't even have to go into that one, do I?

2. Miami can win without Shaq. FALSE.
The Heat are 4-4 without the big man, while the Suns are 2-4 without Nash. Not much of a difference there. Or look at it this way; the Suns' 4 best players other than Nash are Stoudamire, Marion, Joe Johnson, and Quentin Richardson. The Heat's top 4 are Wade, Eddie and Damon Jones, and Udonis Haslem. Let's say you're the GM of the Heat, would you trade your 4 for the Suns' 4? If you said no, please stop reading this blog and go back to reading Bowling Monthly.

3. Nash has changed the game. FALSE.
If this was true, then what about the years he spent in Dallas? Didn't he play the exact same way there? Sorry, but the reason the NBA is scoring more has nothing to do with Steve Nash and everything to do with rule changes and David Stern's grasp of the fact that 82-75 scores do not translate to high ratings.

4. Nash can beat you in numerous ways. TRUE.
Of course, so can Shaq. McCallum lists 5 ways Nash can beat you, 4 of which are actually true (his assertion that Nash gets to the line often is a flat-out mistruth; Nash ranks behind Earl Boykins and ahead of Rafer Alston on the FTA/gm chart for guards). Well, Shaq can rebound, block shots, dunk, and get to the line. Okay, when he gets to the line he misses, but he gets there doesn't he?

5. Nash is fun. HUH?
What does that have to do with anything? Is Nash any more fun than Luke Ridnour? What about Jason Kidd? Geez, Reggie Miller's always been a favorite of mine, let's make him the MVP!

In all seriousness, if someone can give me a logical, thought-out argument for why Nash should be MVP, I'm all ears. But if your argument contains the words "intangibles," "leadership," or any other nonsense like that, I'm turning a deaf ear, because I'll take Shaq's one intangible ability that surpasses any that Nash has: To dunk on any living human being at will.