Tuesday, August 26


The Supersonicsoul Worldwide Headquarters is observing an extended pre-Labor Day break this week and shall return next Tuesday. See you, as they say in this biz, "after the jump."

Friday, August 22

Reign Forecast for Seattle

As first reported by Brian Robinson at sonicscentral.com, Shawn Kemp will make a - albeit brief - return to KeyArena tonight at 7:30 pm as part of the 3BA basketball league.

Founded by AC Green, the league shrinks the team size from 5-on-5 to 3-on-3 in an attempt to provide fans with more offense and excitement.

(As I recall, this is similar to what happened when Alton Lister and the Sonics used to battle Moses Malone and the Hawks. Those big fellas would often gather for a little confab at one end of the court while the other four players on their respective teams would battle on the other. No sense breaking a sweat if you don't need to, right?)

Anyhow, as I was saying, Kemp will join the roster of the Seattle team tonight against Portland. Alongside the Reign Man will be, among others, Donald Watts and Jamie Booker, while Portland features David Lucas and CJ Miles (Gary Washburn has the full story here).

The game will also be broadcast on FSN on Sunday at 6 pm on a tape-delayed basis. Tickets are available at the stadium, or online here, and range from $4 to $23. Considering the situation, it is about 100% likely this is the last chance anyone will ever see Shawn Kemp play a competitive game in uniform in Seattle. That, to me, despite the odd style of play and the semi-pro atmosphere of the league, makes this a pretty big deal.

Thursday, August 21

Marshall Waived

That's Donyell, not John, in case you wondering. As the headline from cavsboard.com put it, "The Sonics would have traded us Wally and Delonte for some cardboard boxes."

Yes, but only if the boxes had those little holes for you to put your hands in on the side. Otherwise, it would have been no-deal.

SSS HOF #5: Nate McMillan

Mac 10

He came to Seattle as unheralded as an autumn rain, a point guard from the other side of the country, plucked from the second round of the 1986 draft by a team fresh off consecutive 51-loss seasons.

That two decades later he would be one of the most, if not the most, beloved players in team history was not just unexpected, it was impossible. What was it about Nate McMillan, a player who never averaged more than 7.5 points in any season, a player who started fewer than 400 games in his dozen-year career, what was it about this man that made him such an essential part of the Seattle Sonic basketball experience?

I’m reminded of a passage from Roger Angell’s “Late Innings,” wherein he tried to explain what made Willie Mays such a joy to behold. “You can take apart a watch, but not a sunset,” Angell finally concluded, leaving the reader to imagine him casting his hands into the hair.

McMillan was no Mays, to be sure, but he was as integral to the Sonics’ success for the 12 years he spent in Seattle as any player in team history. Mac-10 was the ultimate glue guy, the consummate teammate, the type of player any coach in the league would have relished seeing in the locker room before a crucial game.

Twice named to the 2nd-team All-Defensive Team, it was on that end of the court upon which McMillan made his mark in the league. At 6’5”, he could defend either guard – and many small forwards – with ease. To cap off his brilliance as a defender, in 1993-94 McMillan would lead the entire league in steals, averaging three per game.

Even that accomplishment was understated, for a closer look at the top five that season shows just how unbelievable his accomplishment was. The four players who ranked behind Nate that year, starters all, averaged 2,800 minutes apiece.

McMillan played 1,800.

That’s how he was, though, and that’s why we loved him. Other players would have bemoaned their fates after seeing the parade of replacements brought in for him – Sedale Threatt, John Lucas, Avery Johnson, Gary Payton all donned Sonic jerseys during his tenure – but McMillan soldiered on. With the arrival of Payton in 1990, McMillan never again started more than 30 games in a season, and injuries further curtailed his minutes.

But you never heard a peep from him. Like the rest of us, Nate suffered while the Sonics flamed out season after season in the playoffs. Living in Southern California in 1995, I can still painfully recall seeing him with his head in his hands after the Sonics fell to the Lakers in the first round, another 50-win season tossed in the garbage. His angst needed no commentary, his grief at seeing the dying embers of his career smoldering right in front of him needed no explanation.

Living on borrowed time as an NBA player, McMillan had to know time was growing short on his shot at a title. With the Sonics’ ascendance to the promised land in 1996, it should have been his chance to show the rest of the country why Nate McMillan was every bit the defensive player we believed him to be.

Sadly, it was not to be. Waylaid by injuries once again, McMillan watched from the sideline for most of the series. His emotional return to the floor in game four was the impetus behind Seattle’s victory, and I can still hear the standing ovation he received from a delighted KeyArena crowd that night. The Sonics’ failure to capture the title that season was almost secondary, from my viewpoint, to McMillan’s failure to play up to his abilities on the national stage.

At this point, a writer would turn to numbers to aid him in painting the greatness of the one whom he profiles, but going into statistics to explain McMillan’s place in team history is a fruitless task, because his greatness to us belied his numbers. For the same reason Yankee fans loved Phil Rizzutto and Celtic fans loved John Havlicek, Sonic fans loved Nate McMillan, unconditionally and devotedly.

Asking me to explain my affinity for McMillan would be like asking a child why he likes a parade or asking a mountain climber why he likes to stand on a summit. It is a relationship built upon years of successes and failures, upon memories of alley-oops and picked pockets, upon flat-top haircuts, hiked-up socks, and furrowed brows.

Quite simply, I like Nate McMillan because to not like him would never occur to me.

Wednesday, August 20

Ridnour Relocation

For the entirety of his Seattle Sonic career, Luke Ridnour bore the designation of "bad defense."

Merited or not (and, towards the end, it's safe to say that his poor defensive reputation began to become a bit overdone), ask any Sonic fan which player - Earl Watson or Ridnour - deserved to be the starting point guard, and the answer invariably came back "neither." Instead, we wanted a hybrid of the two: Watson on defense and Frodo on offense.

So, it was with a chuckle that I read this quote from Scott Skiles in the aftermath of Milwaukee's acquisition of Ridnour last week. When asked how the former Sonic will impact the Bucks, Skiles said:

"One way or another, we are going to be a much better defensive team."

Really. I'm not making this up. You can read the whole story here, courtesy Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

It's slightly stunning, to say the least. Acquiring Ridnour for his defense is a bit like buying a Hummer for its gas mileage or marrying Kim Kardashian for her high moral values.

Or, looked at another way, just how bad was Mo Williams on defense that Luke Ridnour is an improvement?

Tuesday, August 19

Local Updates

The Howard Schultz lawsuit against PBC has now been set to begin June 15th, 2009, according to the Seattle Times. Given that that date is still 10 months away, there's plenty of time left for all sorts of emails to surface, on both sides of the courtroom.

In other news, the 3 season ticket holders suing the PBC have turned to an innovative solution to the situation - free tickets to see the Oklahoma City Thunderballs. As reported by Greg Johns in the PI today, the three wish to retain their "priority seat" number, and as the expense of traveling to OKC is greater than the value of the tickets, they want free ducats from the PBC.

If his hair were long enough, I'd bet Clay Bennett would want to pull it out after hearing this latest ploy.

Monday, August 18

Il Uomo di Reign

After weeks of rumors and speculation, Shawn Kemp officially became a professional basketball player - again - on Sunday, signing with Italian team Premiata Montegranaro to a two-year, 1.5 million hamburger contract.

A few quick notes about Premiata Montegranaro:

1. Team photo here (and, guys, that look was old in 1987)
2. In addition to Kemp, the Montegranarians have also signed former Duck Bryce Taylor
3. Kemp will wear number 40
4. The team's first game will be October 5th against Bologna
5. The population of Montegranaro is about 12,000, a number which may increase exponentially with Kemp's arrival, given Italy's views on birth control
6. Montegranaro is about 2 1/2 hours south of Bologna and 3 hours north of Rome

Hey, the Sonics are gone, is it really that bad of an idea to visit Italy and get a chance to see Kemp dunk for one last time?

"Honey, remember how I was always promising you a trip to see Rome and Florence? Well, let's do it!"

That's Not What We Mean by Fiddling

There are bad off-seasons, then there are Vincent Askew off-seasons.

On the heels of Askew's on-again, off-again, on-again coaching tenures in the ABA comes word that the former Sonic has landed in hot water in Miami.

Askew, 42, was arrested by Miami-Dade police on Wednesday and charged with three counts of sexual battery. He is accused of having sex with a 16-year-old girl at a hotel in Florida.

No word on how this will affect Askew's coaching career, such that it is, but I'm guessing his chances of joining his former coach and fellow CBA veteran George Karl on the sidelines (if there were ever any to begin with) went from exceedingly unlikely to Mitt Romney-Duet-with-50 Cent unlikely.

Dare I say, Vincent's off-season has gone slightly askew?

(Hat tip to Hacksaw for the link).

Thursday, August 14

SSS HOF #4: Gus Williams

The Wizard

Play word association with some people and when “wizard” comes up, they’ll turn to “Merlin” or “Harry Potter.”

Say wizard to a Sonic fan, though, and you’ll get an entirely different answer.

Gus Williams, to a Seattleite, was and is The Wizard.

And with good reason; while fans raised in the past dozen or so years might be oblivious to Williams’ greatness, those of us who feasted on that magical late-70s run of delicious playoff victories know better.

More than anything I remember from growing up outside of Seattle, I remember Gus’ shoelaces, or the way he tied them. To the rest of the country it’s a trivial bit of NBA history, but to those who grew up with the green and gold, it was an initiation rite. Williams tied his laces behind his ankles, a leftover from a period when his laces were too long. Since the habit started during the Sonics’ run to the NBA Finals, he was reluctant to break it, and before you knew it, every adolescent boy in greater Seattle was copying him.

The loyalty to Gus came from his on-court greatness, though. Williams was playoff-great, posting nearly half of the ten best post-season scoring games in team history and nearly half of the best assist totals.

As further, evidence, consider that in the two consecutive years that the Sonics played in the NBA Finals, they played a total of 39 games.

Gus Williams led them in scoring 19 times.

Even more, in the NBA Finals against the Bullets Williams led the team in scoring in all five games, averaging 28.6 points, a remarkable display of his abilities in the ultimate proving grounds.

Even more remarkable was the fact Williams did all that without the benefit of a 3-point line. In his 477 regular-season games in a Sonic jersey, Williams made the grand total of 22 three-pointers.

That’s right, 22. In fact, in 1981-82, Williams managed to hit 2 of 43 from beyond the arc. 2 of 43! Heck, Olden Polynice could have done that, right?

Well, the NBA was a different league back then. Even Fred Brown, certainly the most renowned long ball shooter in Seattle history, topped out at 39 3’s made in a season, or a good week and a half for Ray Allen.

But I’ve been sidetracked. Gus, DJ, Downtown – they are the touchstone for a generation of Sonic fans. I must have played a million make-believe games on the basketball court in front of my house, nearly all of them as the Sonics, especially the late-seventies Sonics.

And nearly all of those games came down to the same situation – Sonics down by one, seven seconds left, Gus Williams with the ball. Inevitably, he’d sink the winning shot (or, be fouled; the referees were kind to the Sonics in my make-believe world).

I’m not sure why the Wizard became the most imitated player at my house; Dennis Johnson was a better all-around player, Jack Sikma was an all-star center, Fred Brown was a wonderful outside shooter. But he was.

Maybe it was the shoelaces.

Tuesday, August 12

40 Years Gone By

A great piece is up from Sonic legend Spencer Haywood at the NBRPA site at the moment (actually, it’s been up since August 6th, but we roll kinda slow at SuperSonicSoul), detailing the events surrounding his quest for a Gold Medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Among other wonderful anecdotes:

- Charlie Scott getting into a fight with the Cincinnati Royals’ Tom Thacker in an exhibition game
- Scott abandoning the team during European exhibitions, then rejoining the team back in the states
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elvin Hayes, and Wes Unseld all deciding not to participate, thus opening the door for Hayood to play
- The American team enjoying a dinner of horse meat in Kiev, Ukraine
- The Russians forcing all spectators to leave a game the U.S. is winning, then changing the scoreboard from a 26-point American lead to all even

There’s much, much more, and it’s all written in an enjoyable style that makes you feel like you've traveled back in time – very enjoyable.

But it makes me think – would any of that be possible in 2008? I sincerely doubt it. In today’s corporate/athlete world where the NBA players stay in luxury yachts rather than mixing with the hoi polloi, where LeBron James’ Nike salary this year probably exceeds the budget for the entire athletic team in 1968, it’s just not possible for the zaniness which took place 40 years to be recreated in our times.

And, to me, that’s extremely sad. I’ve read how the soccer teams at this year’s Olympics have eschewed using superteams of professionals and, instead, turned to a combination of pros and amateurs, with an emphasis on younger players, a tact I wish FIBA would pursue.

Further, when I think of Harry Edwards convincing basketball players and other prospective Olympians that the moral thing to do is boycott the ’68 games, I wonder, where is the ’08 version of Edwards? Where is the person in authority who decides that swallowing your tongue in the face of an oppressive regime is wrong, that speaking out and taking a stand is right?

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, Professor Edwards.

Friday, August 8

Xavier McDaniel, pt.2

(photo courtesy of Michael Richardson. See also the X vs. Bennett version.)

Xavier McDaniel was my first superstar man-crush. Sure, I worshiped Julius Erving, but by the time I was old enough to go to a game, Dr. J was already in his Spalding comic book ads / “The Fish That Saved Pittsburg” era. Besides, Erving belonged to another city far away. In the early eighties we had . . . Sikma. Then X arrived.

In 1985, Xavier McDaniel was new. He was hip. He was on the cover of “The Rocket”! He was the Mr.T of Seattle basketball. After the rapid decline following the championship year, X-man was our b-ball savior, set to bring us back to the Promised Land.

It didn’t quite work out that way. It turns out bad-ass small forwards with sweet turnarounds and mean left hooks aren’t the magic ingredients for a championship. X had some tough years. But then, there was 1987. My favorite year in Sonics history. The pundits didn’t think we had a single good player on that team. They were right. We had three.

Tom Chambers, Dale Ellis and Xavier McDaniel formed the mightiest three-headed, ball-hogging, shoot the lights out monster Seattle has ever seen. The Sonics barely snuck into the playoffs, but they managed to knock-out the best team in the west, the Mavericks, then beat the twin towers of Houston in a nail-bitter. And what did our boys get as a reward? The chance to face the showtime Lakers. Ugh. Let's skip that part.

X was the heart of that team, and in that brief era between Gus and Griffey, he was the biggest star in Seattle.

Some things you might not know about X:

- He provided motion capture moves for NBA Jam 2000 (!) for the N64

- He was on Married with Children

- He's not very good at tennis

Essential Xavier McDaniel links:

X-man in Singles

X-man's college highlights

X-man at the (sniff-sniff) Save Our Sonics rally

More X-man videos

Schultz Trial Trudges Along

Thursday marked the final day of paperwork in the preparation for the Howard Schultz v PBC trial and the former owner's lawyer got in one more bit of arguing before Judge Pechman adjurned to decide on how to proceed.

The PI's Greg Johns reports that attorney Richard Yarmuth contended that if Clay Bennett and his "Axis of Evol" really want a rapid resolution to the case, they should support his client's motion to split the trial. After all, Yarmuth argued, if they're innocent, just what the heck do they have to worry about?

In essence, Yarmuth would like to split the trial in two phases; the first phase would decide whether or not the PBC committed fraud, and the second phase would decide a remedy if there was indeed fraud.

It's a fair argument. Yarmuth's proposed plan of action would commence in May 2009, with the second phase, if required, beginning in September 2009. Bennett's plan, which would condense both parts of the trial into one, would start in June.

And yet, Bennett's argument against the split trial is that it's lengthiness would cause "undue harm" to the NBA and the PBC. As Yarmuth argued on Thursday, if Bennett is as innocent as he claims, wouldn't he rather get this thing over with in May, rather than have it drag into the summer?

Tough to disagree with Yarmuth's logic. Johns notes in his article that Judge Pechman is expected to render her decision on how to proceed with the trial in the next few weeks.

Also of note from Thursday, Jayda Evans at the Times reports that only seven of the more than 100 Sonic employees have relocated to Oklahoma City.

Thursday, August 7

Axis of Evil, Indeed

Am I the only one who finds it slightly humorous that typing in www.oklahomacitythunder.com redirects you to a website for a band called Axis of Evol?

Obviously, the same folks who used that link for the band "Harlequin Romance" a week or so again are still having fun with Clay & The Gang.

SSS HOF Inductee #3: Xavier McDaniel


January 24, 1988.

A day of which most Sonic fans have no recollection, lost amidst an otherwise forgettable season which culminated with a first-round loss to the Denver Nuggets.

But it was – for part of the day, anyways – a glorious day to be a Sonic fan.

To begin with, it was a Sunday which, in 1988, meant the opportunity to watch the one game a week televised around the country (at least, for those of us not fortunate enough to possess cable television). For a Sonic fan, Sunday matinees were as frequent as NBA Finals appearances, so if you had asked me in mid-November whether the Sonics would be on national television in January, my answer would have been an emphatic no. Sure, the Sonics had made it to the Western Conference Finals the previous spring on the wings of a miraculous run of victories, but that was a fluke, a mirage.

But for some reason, magic hit the Sonics that year, especially within the friendly confines of the Seattle Center Coliseum. Entering that Sunday, they owned an 18-1 home record, and were in the midst of a 17-game win streak at home and six straight in total. Sure, the 24-15 overall record didn’t indicate much, but that 18-1 mark, well, that meant a lot.

So much that CBS rolled Dick Stockton into town for a classic matchup between the Lakers and the Sonics on national TV. These were your uncle’s Lakers – Magic, Kareem, Worthy, AC, Rambis – and the Sonics were throwing out their killer trio of Chambers, Ellis, and Xavier McDaniel to combat them. To say Seattle fans were riled up entering the contest would be understatement.

Spearheading the Sonics’ torrid pace, the X-Man was on fire heading into that contest, averaging nearly 30 points per game in the previous five outings, including 41 against the Knicks at MSG. Would this be our opportunity to show the rest of the country just how great he was? Would we finally be able to sneak out from behind the shadow of Showtime and plant our flag as a great team?

For 24 minutes that Sunday, it sure seemed so.

The Sonics raced out to a huge lead that afternoon, thrilling the locals with their offensive exploits. With Michael Cooper suspended due to a fight the previous Friday night, the Laker bench was thinned to three men, and Seattle wasted no time in jumping out to a double-digit first-quarter lead.

Then? Then it happened.

By it, I mean the single greatest dunk in Seattle SuperSonics history. The crowd was at a Nigel Tufnel-11, screaming for Los Angeles blood, relishing every turnover, every made shot with an intensity almost never seen in regular season games. This was the Lakers, man! And we’re winning! On a Sunday!

Following another run of Sonic points early in the second quarter, Seattle forced a turnover, with Nate McMillan and the X-Man racing up court as the crowd roared them along. Approaching the basket, McMillan slowed slightly, awaiting the perfect moment to feed McDaniel.

Finally, he could wait no longer. The young point guard lofted the ball up, seemingly too far back for X to grab, and a thousand throats clinched in the stadium, thousands more at home.

Yet reach McDaniel did, so far back you thought he would dislocate his shoulder from the exertion. That overzealous feed from McMillan was the perfect recipe, though, as the extra momentum McDaniel’s arm received from starting so far back provided even more ammunition for the thunderous dunk that was to follow, a dunk so powerful that Pat Riley signaled for timeout before the ball hit the floor.

At that moment, at that time, you could have fed me a bottle of cyanide and I’ve have died a happy boy. Sunday afternoon, national TV, the Sonics beating the Lakers to a pulp, the X-Man dunking so hard it’s making my ears hurt, I mean, what more could you possibly ask for?

Sadly, X’s 35-point performance that Sunday afternoon wasn’t enough, and Seattle’s first half lead disappeared in the second half. The Sonics, despite their 17-game win streak at home, were not the Lakers, and Magic’s 19 free throws were enough to convert a debacle into a classic Lakers road victory.

For that moment, though, Xavier McDaniel was all a 15-year-old fan could want. He was power, he was cool, he was X. Part of me wishes video evidence of the dunk existed somewhere on the internet, but another part of me prefers watching it in my mind, for fear that the real thing would fall short of my memories.

Xavier McDaniel – the X-Man – was more than the thug people saw in New York, he was more than the cartoon character peering out from the infamous Costacos brother poster, he was more than a goofy cameo on “Singles.”

Xavier McDaniel was a marvelous combination of powerful dunks and graceful turnaround jumpers, and he was our hero.

Wednesday, August 6


You no doubt recall the uncovered emails during the run-up to the Sonics’ trial, but you’ll be forgiven if you missed one in particular, in which Clay Bennett bemoaned the Seattle media’s attack-dog nature. In the email, the square-jawed one called the local scribes the “worst in the country,” because, as you know, Clay Bennett is the foremost authority on American media.

To Bennett, raised in Oklahoma City, it was an unwelcome and unfamiliar phenomenon. You see, when your wife’s family owns the media, you tend to see more flattering stories about yourself, and you don’t tend to run into people like Greg Johns and Percy Allen.

You know, objective journalists.

It was with that memory in mind that I read this story on NPR’s website (hat tip to Raf for not listening to KUBE on the ride home yesterday).

In essence, the story revolves around Chesapeake Energy’s (helmed by one Aubrey Mcclendon) efforts to drill for natural gas in the center of Fort Worth, Texas, despite the protestations of the local citizens.

To combat the protests, Chesapeake has gone all out in its media campaign, hiring Tommy Lee Jones to pitch for them, and even going so far as to create “Shale TV,” a daily talk show about the situation. Obviously, despite the presence of some hired-gun local journalists to run the show, most people would be a little skeptical about the news you would get from this type of source. But let Julie Wilson, a Chesapeake communications honcho, explain:

"Well, I think we pay those journalists — whether on Channel 8 or Channel 11 or the Star-Telegram — in terms of advertising support," Wilson says. "We see this as pretty much instead of running the ads on the program, we're just writing the check direct."

Congrats, NBA, you’ve got yourself one heckuva ownership group there.

Jim Caple: Lowering the Bar Once Again

You will read many stupid stories in the weeks ahead about the Olympics, but none will exceed the stupidity of Jim Caple's latest at espn.com.

To wit:

Sportswriters moaning about Internet firewalls and governmental snooping in Beijing are both flattering themselves that a Chinese bureaucratic gnome actually cares what we write about LeBron James' shooting percentage ...

Actually, Jim, nobody in any country wants to read your drivel. What the complaints are centered around is the fact China blocks sites such as the BBC, and not because of sports reporting, but because of political reporting on stories within China.

And yes, Beijing is so polluted there may be more toxic waste at the Games than at any sporting event since Lenny Dykstra retired. But Vancouver, which hosts the next Winter Games, dumps untreated sewage into coastal waters.

I live in Vancouver, and I can confirm that, yes, Vancouver does dump sewage into its waters. But to compare Beijing's skies to Vancouver's waters - wow, that's a leap of idiocy only a Bush Administration official would attempt.

For its faults, the nation continually offers more options and freedom to its citizens than one or two generations before.

So, if I understand correctly, a woman whose husband previously beat and raped her should be happy when he only beats her? That's called improvement?

You can color these Olympics any way you choose, but the fact remains that the China is the most repressive nation to have hosted the Olympics since the USSR in 1980 or Germany in 1936. The fact Jim Caple gets to stay in swanky hotels and eat dinner on ESPN's dime doesn't change any of that, in spite of all of his whimsical nonsense.

Tuesday, August 5

Pat on the Back from Winnipeg

My first instinct on seeing this story at sportscolumn.com was, "Great, some twit from Vancouver thinks he knows what it feels like to lose an NBA franchise, and he expects me to appreciate his condolensces."

But, instead, Scott Gilmour has penned a thoughtful piece on the common language of despair and frustration now shared by fans of the Seattle Sonics and Winnipeg Jets. Normally, I'd look askance at someone telling me they "know how it feels" to lose your favorite team.

But when that someone is from Winnipeg, a city where 40 below is a high in mid-January, and where the only thing to look upon with pride was yanked away to a bunch of unappreciative retirees in Arizona, well, I think that someone knows from where he speaks.

Less Than a Shocker

The predominant message we hear regarding the US men's team as the Olympics approach is one of predestination, that this team "gets it" and Coach K and Jerry Colangelo are the elixir to what has ailed men's hoops in international competitions.

Then Tuesday happens.

Now, I'm not going to go into some ridiculous diatribe about how this year's squad is just as bad as its predecessors. Obviously, with names such as Wade, Bryant, Anthony, and James on the roster, this is perhaps the most talented team since 1992.

However, I wouldn't exactly be devastated to see this incarnation of the Dream Team go up in flames, if for no other reason than to see the Mike and Jerry Show be taken down a few pegs.

For the last little while, you couldn’t go more than a day without reading about how wise Coach K is, how he "understands" the international game better, how his many successful years at Duke have earned him respect from the players, a respect that Larry Brown was unable to achieve.

Likewise, Colangelo is somehow smarter than all the previous folks who ran USA Basketball, and his “team first” mindset will be the key to unlocking the gold medal cabinet for the US after an embarrassing bronze medal in Greece four years ago.

Well, color me skeptical. I’ve never especially liked either of the two gentlemen, and I believe that 90% of the country would be on my side, at least in the general feeling about Duke basketball. It bothers me that people such as Larry Brown or George Karl are so easily dismissed, as if their contributions to basketball are nothing when compared to the Great Coach K, a man who has never ventured beyond the cozy confines of his fiefdom, where he is annually presented a silver platter full of prized basketball recruits, and where his roster is routinely of a higher quality than his opponents.

It bothers me that Colangelo – who has never won a championship in the NBA – has been elevated to the know-it-all of international basketball. Mind you, this is the same man who thought that Luke Ridnour merited an invite to the Team USA tryouts while Allen Iverson did not. Mull that one around on your tongue for a second.

And here we sit, four years after Team USA became known as the gang who couldn’t shoot straight, where every fourth-grader in the country knew the biggest problem facing the team was a lack of outside shooting ... and what happens in our first near-loss of the year?

A lack of outside shooting.

Shooting is erratic. Fine. I get it. But aren’t Colangelo and Krzyzewski supposed to be providing the answer to that problem? Isn’t their combined genius up to the task? If Krzyzewski is such a great motivator, why is that the team came out of the second half “lazy,” as Dwyane Wade put it? Shouldn’t Coach K be the one in charge of stuff like that?

When you add in the fact that the best player on Australia’s roster, Andrew Bogut, didn’t even suit up, or that this same Australian team lost to Argentina just a few days ago, well, am I the only thinking that the opener against China on Sunday night might be prime-time for a loss?

Personally, Colangelo and Krzyzewski remind me of Howard Schultz circa 2000. Schultz came into ownership trumpeting a five-year plan to restore the Sonics to greatness, that he was going to use the same brilliance he wielded at Starbucks in the NBA.

Now, less than a decade later, not only are Schultz’ Sonics out of the NBA playoffs, they’re out of Seattle altogether.

What was it they said about the best laid plans?

Friday, August 1

Supersonicsoul Salute to Shawn Kemp, pt.2

After Nussbaum's eloquent salute to the Reign Man yesterday, there was little left to be said. We've all got our personal stories. I remember in his early years, how his jutting, supernatural calf muscles often made me uncomfortably transfixed on a man's legs. Or how my friend in college made a rap demo for Shawn Kemp and asked me to draw a cartoon of him for the cover (thankfully no copies remain in existence).

Mostly, I just remember the dunks. Those other-wordly leaps that made your jaw drop and your drink splash on the floor. Those ridiculous off-target alley-oops Payton would throw that no human had a right to be able to catch. But he always did.

Say what you will about The Glove, but Shawn was my first love. Even after all the post-trade drama, part of me always wished he would come back home, no matter what shape he was in. (Anyone remember my bittersweet April Fool's prank a few years back?)

So you've heard our from us (twice!) —now it's your turn. What is your favorite Shawn Kemp memory? It's time for sharing.

Shawn Kemp Videos: Google Reign Man Mix
Official Supersonicsoul Shawn Kemp Theme Song: The Who, "Love Reign O'er Me"
NEW! Official Supersonicsoul Shawn Kemp Wallpapers:
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