Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lakers Litmus Test

Time to separate the fakers from the realists. Are you a diehard fan or do you dust off that purple and gold flag every spring?

Take the Lakers Litmus Test and find out which Laker you are based on your knowledge of the team's history. Write down your answers as you go along.

Easy: 1 point
1) Prior to Los Angeles what city was home to the Lakers? If you don't know this you might as well stop right now.

2) Before the Staples Center was built where did the Lakers play?

3) Who currently owns the Lakers?

4) Which player on the Lakers has a dad who is the head coach of another NBA team?

5) If college had been mandatory for Kobe Bryant he would have played basketball for which university?

6) What Laker great is the silhouette on the NBA logo?

7) Who had one of the greatest performances in a NBA Finals game with 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists while playing at the center position?

8) Which two current Lakers are local boys, having grown up in Southern California and played college ball at UCLA? Must identity both players for one point.

9) Who is the only person to win a title as a Laker player and then later as the Laker head coach?

10) What was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's government name?

11) Who was the late, great play-by-play announcer for the Lakers?

Moderate: 2 points
1) Who is the all-time franchise leader in points?

2) What player did the Lakers lose in free agency that gave them the first pick in the 1979 draft as compensation?

3) Which pioneer of the triangle offense was Phil Jackson's long-time right-hand man?

4) Name the colleges these Lakers attended: Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher. One point for each correct answer.

5) Who did the Lakers select with their first-round pick in the 2008 draft?

6) Who was Shaq's first Laker head coach?

7) In 1997 Kobe became the NBA Slam Dunk Champion by emulating a move from a former dunk champion and future teammate. Who was this player and what was his dunk called? One point for each correct answer.

Hard: 3 points
1) How many NBA championships have the Lakers won?

2) Who is the only Laker to ever win NBA Defensive Player of the Year?

3) Who is the only Laker to ever win NBA Rookie of the Year?

4) The Lakers have not won a championship since this fan favorite big man left town as a free agent.

5) During the Lakers three-peat earlier this decade there were 7 players who played in the postseason for all three championship teams. Name them. One point for three correct answers. Two points for six correct answers. Three points for all seven.

Have all your responses ready? Hurry up because the answers are right down there!

Answers coming up!

1.1 Minneapolis
1.2 Great Western Forum
1.3 Jerry Buss
1.4 Coby Karl
1.5 Duke
1.6 Jerry West
1.7 Magic Johnson
1.8 Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar
1.9 Pat Riley
1.10 Lew Alcindor
1.11 Chick Hearn
11 possible points

2.1 Jerry West
2.2 Gail Goodrich
2.3 Tex Winter
2.4 Rhode Island, Arkansas-Little Rock
2.5 Trick question; it was traded to Memphis in the Pau Gasol deal
2.6 Del Harris
2.7 Isaiah Rider, East Bay Funk Dunk
14 possible points

3.1 14
3.2 Michael Cooper
3.3 Elgin Baylor
3.4 Mark Madsen
3.5 Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Devean George and Brian Shaw
15 possible points

Count up all your points.

Got your final score? Great. Now find out which Laker you are:

(0-4) Slava Medvedenko - You suck
(5-9) Kwame Brown - Never could get it together
(10-13) Smush Parker - Way too arrogant and lackadaisical
(14-16) Nick Van Exel - Reckless with limited repertoire
(17-19) Eddie Jones - Brief flashes of brilliance
(20-22) Byron Scott - Deserves respect
(23-25) James Worthy - Solid all-around game
(26-28) Elgin Baylor - Surprising people with your talent
(29-31) Kobe Bryant - Humble yourself to achieve greatness
(32-34) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Got game but people hate you
(35-37) Shaquille O'Neal - If only you worked a little harder...
(38-40) Magic Johnson - As close to perfection there is.

For the record I hate the Lakers =)
...and scored 27, which means I'm running the Clippers =(

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jemele Hill Throws Shit Against Wall, Hopes It Sticks

She really should stop declaring certain athletes as all-time greats. As terrible as her "Kobe is better than MJ" argument was, the Page 2 writer blows that piece of trash out of the water with her latest effort. There she declares Michael Phelps as the greatest athlete ever. The claim itself isn't so outlandish (after all, he is the most decorated Olympian ever), but Jemele's reasoning is incredibly misguided. Good Guy At Sports breaks it down.

14 Minutes and Change for Michael Phelps

Congratulations to Michael Phelps for winning eight gold medals and setting seven world records at the Beijing Olympics. The Associated Press was apparently so excited that they forgot to write a story about it:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Swing and a Miss ESPN

Courtesy of Awful Announcing:

From the fine folks that brought you Rob Thomas, The Pussycat Dolls and Tim McGraw... ESPN is proud to present the latest crappy music headliner to perform for a major sporting event: the Jonas Brothers!

If Disney tries to cross-promote the chick that ruined the Cruella song during a NASCAR race I might snap.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wearing Trojan Equipment Will Lead to Tingly Balls

Seems like USC football is getting antsy in its pantsy:
Each day, it seems, another player shows up at USC football practice with a pained expression and an uncomfortable gait, feet spread wide, stepping gingerly across the turf.

They are victims of an ailment that has swept through the team during training camp, something that coaches refer to as "a skin irritation."

The players call it "jock itch."

As much as 25% of the team has been affected.
I wonder if Matt Leinart has visited his old team recently.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Boss Bound for Super Bowl

Various news outlets are reporting Bruce Springsteen will headline the halftime show for Super Bowl XLIII. Not too surprising since the NFL has been conservative in choosing its musical headliners, as not to upset its constituents.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Beijing Smog Strikes Journalists

Courtesy of Truehoop:

Washington Post's Dan Steinberg and Sally Jenkins go for a brisk run through China's capital. Conclusion? "Don't go jogging in Beijing this week."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What Has Been the Most Important Sports Moment in Your Life?

I'm doing a huge piece on the upcoming 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and I got to thinking... what has been the most significant sports moment in my lifetime? I don't mean personally but society, the world. An instance in sports that defines and changes a generation. I was born in the mid-80's so I'm too young to have witnessed:

* The Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds play the first night game in 1935

* Jesse Owens dominates track in Hitler's background during the 1936 Olympics

* Joe Louis knocks out Max Schmeling in 1938

* Jackie Robinson breaks the color barrier in 1947

* Palestinian terrorists kill members of the Israeli Olympic team in 1972

* Muhammad Ali defeats George Foreman in Zaire in 1974

* Miracle on Ice in 1980

I do however vividly remember watching Mark McGwire break Roger Maris' home run record in 1998. Not only was the moment itself quite surreal (the way the ball was hit so hard and low, no one was quite sure it would be a home run) but the build-up was tremendous. Every morning for months the LA Times would have a giant graphic of McGwire and Sammy Sosa, comparing their accomplishments to the historic '61 season of Maris. This story captivated the country, with mainstream media watching every at-bat alongside enamored baseball fans. The fact that not one but two players were chasing the illusive home run record also added a racial component. The fact a white guy and a Dominican were striving for the same goal made the story even more popular. One only needs to watch the footage of Mark and Sammy embracing one another that historic September night to understand how joyous the moment was to a sport, to a nation.

But beyond the context of athletic competition and its ability to bring people together I believe this moment had influence far beyond a typical sports story.

First and foremost, this moment is a perfect example of the allure and consequences of performance-enhancing drugs, a subject which is perhaps at the top of the current state of sports. During the home run chase McGwire was using androstenedione, a muscle-building hormone. While it wouldn't become illegal until years later people questioned the ethics of using such substances. Years later Mark would be dogged by accusations of also using other, more powerful enhancers. Sitting in Capitol Hill, once again in front of a nation, Mark had an opportunity to reach millions across the country -- to explain himself and reveal the truth. Instead he refused "to talk about the past." His silence on the matter in some sense said it all. Mark was a disgraced cheater. By using illegal substances he was hailed as a hero, reaching the pinnacle of popularity and triumph. But now Mark is reduced to a hermit, residing in a secluded Orange County community and wary to acknowledge the long shadow of his murky past.

Another effect of the home run chase was profiteering off in-game history. At around 50 home runs almost every home run hit by McGwire or Sosa would lead to a rush in the bleachers to retrieve the ball. Inevitably the ball would later be auctioned for profit. Almost every day it seemed a newer, better record-breaker would pop up on eBay -- for a premium price of course. In retrospect it seems like a bizarre experiment in economics and sociology, once that resonates to this day. It seems as life memorabilia from any historic game can be had for a price.

Anyway, I think McGwire hitting #62 was the most significant sporting event of my life. So what say you? Am I wrong? Was Brandi Chastain's World Cup winner more important? Perhaps Marion Jones' fall from grace is a better example of the consequences of steroid use? Maybe it was an event I failed to mention? And what do you think was the most significant sports moment of your life?

Monday, August 04, 2008

One Point About the Brett Farve-Aaron Rodgers Soap Opera That Hasn't Been Discussed Much

Aaron's contract situation:
The Packers signed Rodgers to a five-year contract on July 30, 2005. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, he received a $1.5 million signing bonus and $620,000 roster bonus in 2005, and received a $3.01 million option bonus in 2006. His base salary was $230,000 in 2005 and $310,000 in 2006. If he is the Packers' full-time starter from 2006 through 2009, he will add $8.25 million to his salaries from 2007 through 2009. If he is the full-time starter in 2007 through 2009, add $5.25 million to his salaries; and if Rodgers doesn't become the starter until 2008, he'll add $2.2 million to his salary.
Rodgers only has two more years left on a five year contract. If Farve were to retake the starting QB job this season and play only in 2008 (and that's a big if), it would leave Aaron only one season to play out a five-year contract.

The waffling of Farve and the Packers for the past several seasons has cost Rodgers millions of dollars, not to mention playing time in the NFL. Anyone think Aaron would want to play in Green Bay in 2010 and beyond after the way the franchise has relegated the former first rounder to clipboard duties?

If Farve is named the starter for this season then Green Bay would be wise to groom either Brian Brohm or Matty Flynn as the heir apparent to #4, because I doubt Aaron would want to stick around. Whether Rodgers can be a good QB in the NFL remains to be seen... but that's because the Packers haven't given him a fair shot.