Monday, May 13

Euphemism of the Year Award

This one comes courtesy of the real estate broker Aubrey McClendon designated to sell his estate on the shores of Lake Michigan.

“What we’re selling is the house and a little over six acres with 500 feet of frontage on Lake Michigan and 700 feet on the Kalamazoo River,” said Dick Waskin, a broker with the ReMax Realty of Saugatuck. “It’s a house that’s built in a location that could never be duplicated.

“It was bought pretty much as an investment,” Waskin said of the lakefront mansion. “He’s come to a point, where it’s time to start reaping back some of that investment.”

He's come to a point where it's time to start reaping back some of that investment. Gosh, when did that point come about? I wish we knew.

(Details courtesy of Michigan Live).

The Loudest NBA Crowd of All Time? It wasn't Sacramento (or Seattle!)

Whenever one of the inevitable Seattle vs. Sacramento flame wars heat up, one of the things Kings fans like to bring up is the alleged Guinness record held by their old Arco arena as the loudest NBA crowd of all time.

Now, having had my ears drums nearly melted at several Seattle sporting events over the years, I had a hard time believing this. I mean, even with all those goddamned cowbells, how could roughly 17,000 people at Arco be louder than a sold-out Coliseum booing Charles Barkey and the refs in the 1993 Western Finals against the Phoenix Suns? Or the grunged out Key Arena maniacs cheering on the Sonics as they blew out the greatest team of all time in game four of the 1996 NBA Finals? Or the (then) record 40,172 screaming Supersonics fans at the Kingdome in 1980? 

Well, it turns out the Guinness Record for loudest NBA crowd of all-time is not held by the Sacramento Kings. Nor is it held by our beloved Seattle Supersonics. Well then, who the hell does hold the record? 

(click below to find out)

Flashback: Stern pressured Maloofs to sell Sacramento Kings to Seattle?

Twitter user RW34MVP (wasn't that one of the bounty hunters in Empire Strikes Back? ) posted an article from six months ago by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports stating that the NBA was pressuring the Maloofs to sell the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen because Stern was "determined to get a franchise back into Seattle" before his reign as ruthless dictator NBA commissioner ended:

Between now and his departure, Stern is determined to get a franchise back into Seattle, league sources said, and has become a strong ally of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s group to bring back the NBA there. Ballmer’s group has been trying to get the Maloof family to sell the Sacramento Kings, so that the franchise can eventually play in a new arena in Seattle. 
From the league office, pressure on the Maloofs to sell has been growing, sources said — just as hopes for a new Sacramento arena have been fading. Seattle Sonics fans will never forgive Stern for his complicit role in Clay Bennett’s deception to move that franchise to Oklahoma City, but make no mistake: Stern desperately wants to return the NBA to one of its great markets and wants it for his own measure of vindication before he leaves office. 
As one source involved in the process said, “Stern has enough time to get a team back to Seattle, but he’ll let Silver deal with the crowd [booing] on opening night.”
Yikes. Have times really changed this quickly or was this whole Seattle vs. Sacramento deal a diabolically Stern-esque set-up from the start?

Saturday, May 11

Ultimate poison pill in Seattle Supersonics, Sacramento Kings battle? Keeping Maloofs in NBA

When I mentioned a few weeks ago that Team Hanson was about to go into Scorched Earth Mode in their efforts to build Seattle Supersonics 2.0, I was thinking Ballmer might let his rabid pack of Microsoft lawyers off the leash. I don't think anyone dreamed they would truly use the nuclear option. The very last of last resorts. The unthinkable horror of . . . THE MALOOF SOLUTION!

Two sources told the Maloofs have informed their fellow owners that if their deal to sell and relocate the Kings to Seattle is not approved by league owners next week, they will not sell the team to a Sacramento-based group that promises to keep the Kings in Sacramento. 
Instead, the cash-strapped Maloofs have made a "backup" agreement with the Hansen-Ballmer group to sell it 20 percent of the team for $125 million to allow the Maloofs to continue to operate the franchise. 
Oh sweet lordy. PLEASE let this just be more crafty posturing to leverage an expansion team out of the NBA. Seattle does not want these guys owning the Sonics. I think this town has had enough sleazy,  awful owners, thank you.

Friday, May 3

George Karl: Still Fighting

There is, of course, a lot of sadness if you’re a fan of George Karl today. His team, the Denver Nuggets, were given every opportunity they could possibly hope for by their opponents, the Golden State Warriors, last night in Oakland and yet were unable to overcome a massive second-half deficit.

And with that, the Nuggets were out of the playoffs in the first round, something Karl’s teams have become all-too-familiar with in the past three decades.

In fact, Karl devotees might be surprised (not all that surprised, but surprised) to know that no man in NBA history has failed as often as George Karl in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Quickly, a list of coaches who have accumulated the most first-round losses in league history:

George Karl, 14
Jack Ramsay, 12
Jerry Sloan, 9
Lenny Wilkens, 9
Larry Brown, 9
Rick Adelman, 8

It is, in some ways, a list of great coaches. All of them either are now or will be at some point, Hall of Fame coaches, and I include George Karl on that list.

The smart observer will note that total 1 & Dones doesn’t take into account the overall seasons; after all, Ray Allen missed more shots in his career than Steve Scheffler, does that make Scheff a better shooter?

Here, then, is a graph of the top playoff coaches in league history, with the percentage of their playoff runs which ended in 1 & Dones:

It certainly helps Karl’s cause, and the fact that were the Celtics to lose in the first round this season Doc Rivers’ career totals would almost be identical to Karl’s illustrates how tenuous an NBA coach’s playoff career results can be.

But let’s put all of that aside. I come here today not to bury Karl, but to praise him. Denver fans this morning are no doubt morose – their team has failed, once again, in the first round, marking the 8th time in 9 years they have done so under Karl. The parallels to Seattle’s experience with Karl are astounding – an exceptional regular season squad full of exciting players is booted too early for the home fans, prompting the tittering of dismissal talk throughout the region.

Certainly, there is more than just coincidence to Karl’s failures in the first round. For him to have flopped out so miserably in 11 of his past 13 playoff runs speaks to more than just idle chance, and I am sure that someone more talented than I will be able to figure out just what it is about Karl’s game-planning that leads to his repeated failures in the post-season.

But lest we forget, George Karl is a human being, and a good one at that. Not many coaches would take on the league by sporting a Seattle tie (see accompanying photo) while coaching a visiting team. Not many men in his profession have been through the physical tolls that Karl has been through in the past few years and managed to remain at or near the top of their line of work. And fewer men still have been able to reach the post-season as often as Karl has in his career.

And that, more than anything, is what people should focus on today. Yes, the Nuggets failed in the first round last night, and yes, it is easy to point fingers at George Karl this morning as the culprit. But before you do, ponder this: George Karl has reached the post-season 22 times in his career, the most of any coach in NBA history, alongside Pat Riley and Larry Brown. If the Nuggets retain Karl and reach the playoffs next year, George Karl – not Red Auerbach, not Phil Jackson, not Pat Riley, not Jerry Sloan – George Karl will have led more teams to the playoffs than any single coach in the entire history of the NBA.

There are many things to take away from last night – missed opportunities, missed calls, missed shots – but I, for one, will focus on how George Karl looked as he walked off the court. Quite a bit thinner and a little older, certainly; but not beaten.

Never beaten.

Wednesday, May 1

Best Sixth Man in Seattle Supersonics History: EJ, Downtown, or ?

Paul had a nice mention of Eddie Johnson’s birthday today – which brings to mind the question: Who was the best Sixth Man in Sonic history?

It’s a tough one to answer, tougher still because games started information doesn’t exist prior to the 80s. Assuming that Fred Brown automatically receives a nod as co-champion of this phantom trophy, who else deserves the honor?

Here’s some quick numbers on players who started fewer than 30 games for the Sonics in a given season:

7.1, Sam Perkins, 96-97
6.9, Sam Perkins, 95-96
6.8, Antonio Daniels, 04-05
6.7, Shawn Kemp, 91-92
6.0, Vincent Askew, 93-94
6.0, Dale Ellis, 97-98
6.0, Nate McMillan, 93-94

20.5, Xavier McDaniel, 88-89
18.5, Tom Chambers, 85-86
17.5, Ricky Pierce, 90-91
17.4, Eddie Johnson, 90-91
17.1, Eddie Johnson, 91-92

21.6, Shawn Kemp, 91-92
19.3, Ruben Patterson, 00-01
18.6, Xavier McDaniel, 88-89
18.4, Eddie Johnson, 90-91
17.7, Fred Brown, 82-83

WIN SHARES/48 minutes
.197, Danny Fortson(!), 04-05
.188, Ricky Pierce, 93-94
.177, Shawn Kemp, 91-92
.173, Sam Perkins, 96-97

Best Rebounder: Shawn Kemp, 21.2 TRB%, 1991-92
Best Scorer: Ricky Pierce, 26 points per 36 minutes, 1993-94
Best Passer: Nate McMillan, 9.3 assists per 36 minutes, 1990-91
Best Blocker: James Donaldson, 2.9 blocks per 36 minutes, 1981-82

I think you’d have to choose Shawn Kemp (1991-92 Edition) as the winner of best performer in a single season. You’ve got a guy averaging (per 36 minutes) 13 rebounds, nearly 20 points, two and a half blocked shots, a steal and a half, shooting above 50 percent from the field, and 75 percent from the line … yes, I think I’ll take that sort of production.

For a career choice, though, it’s a bit trickier. Sam Perkins’ numbers are certainly representative of his overall contributions to the mid-90s Sonics, Nate McMillan’s yeoman’s work for so many years certainly deserves a mention, and who can forget Ricky Pierce’s instant offense in the early 90s, but I think – with no influence from the fact that today’s his birthday – Eddie Johnson deserves the nod.

EJ’s 20+ points a night (per 36) for 3 consecutive seasons is pretty sensational, and unmatched in the team’s (documented) history. With that in mind, I think it’s safe to say that Eddie Johnson and Fred Brown are the two best Sixth Men in Sonic history.