Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the vast spoils of jazz nation

not to imply that i have something beyond a man-crush on chris conley, but when it comes to a certain pop-punk/emo/post-genre outfit from princeton, NJ and their constant re-defining of their sound, i can only quote from the ubiquitous brokeback mountain: i can't quit you, saves the day.

after the all-star weekend and yesterday's news of 'melo going to the knicks, the pressing question for jazz fans is what to make of elite players and their ability to pressure the league. it doesn't take a genius to figure out that, despite deron william's proclamation that he doesn't want to follow in can'thony's shoes, mr. williams is already in a similar situation. he's contracted with a team that isn't a real championship threat. what's worse, at least from the 'melo perspective, is that the team "isn't willing" to "do what it takes" to win a championship: starting this summer, "what it takes" means signing three elite-level players at once.

deron seems a little less self-centered than anthony (i haven't seen denver pushing their small forward's philanthropic efforts), but the lid is off the jar now in terms of questioning whether d-will has ever heard the word "loyalty." unfortunately, of course, there is no real way to find out whether deron believes in his team as much as it believes in him.

well, that's not entirely true. everybody will know the answer to that question within the next 15 months.

i want to make it clear that this post isn't supposed to be about bashing deron williams. the guy is still a brilliant point guard, though the internal pressures within the organization (combined with a wrist injury) have clearly taken a toll on his game as of late. he's saying all the right things, he's generally playing hard, and he's mostly stopped his snide-if-not-poisoned blame-shifting: the last few comments i've heard from him about the team itself have been consistent with most thoughts held by the fans and the media, namely that the jazz need to make some big improvements and they need to do it right away.

no, rather than continue the speculation about where deron's head is, the burning question in my navy/green/gold soul this week is rooted to where other jazz fans are going to turn should miller/KOC/rigby decide to just push the Big Red Button on the whole team during the (inevitable) lockout and start from scratch. i mused recently on my visceral separation from the NBA and the jazz when i was a younger man, and recalled there that the jazz have already had to rebuild once in the last decade.

but if the emotions are too deep, and the desires too opposing to convince the front office that there is anything beyond a mediocre future for this team as it's currently comprised, jazz fans the nation - nay, the world - over are going to have to deal with something we have literally never even considered before. jazz nation will watch as its oligarchy ships out everything we've come to believe in in favor of a harsh reality wherein players work for paychecks and owners fear bottom lines.

that's not a world i believe in. i still assume, and even demand, that at least one team in the NBA can showcase players who play to win with what they've been given, and management finds 12 players who bring something to the table rather than 3 or 4 gods and a gang of sortas.

here's the rub: chris conley once sang that there's something sweet about seeing the world. but now that we've seen how bitter it can be, do we consider ourselves defenders of a flame of truth, or is old-school finally obsolete?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

nothing left to say

i guess DHC isn't really that punk rock. but their song came on shuffle this morning and it got me thinking. plus it gave me the opportunity to put deron's face on this classic image of a chubby bunny/rude girl that's been surfing atop google's "skanking" image results for around a decade now. note the horror of the onlookers - it's not unlike what my expression has been since that january loss to the wizards.

almost a week has passed since sloan and johnson called it quits; 49 hours from the time i start writing this will mark the week exactly. i've been reading lots of good blogs from other jazz fans in the interim, including a great thought-provoker from jazzbot shauna brock and a walk down memory lane from utah jazz 360's paul silotti.

if i had to pick out a single trend of fan reactions from the last day or two, it would be one of resignation. the shock of last thursday has worn off. the hope of a corbin-coached jazz blowing out steve nash and the suns on friday night was shattered. even the dreams of watching the jazz pull it together for the final 20-something games of the regular season and make a run at home court advantage in the first round is getting pretty distant as more and more players get (or stay) injured.

so what is left to say? it's safe to assume that those of us who care enough about our egos the jazz to blog, tweet, and talk about the team all day aren't going to be content with shutting up as the season enters that weird few weeks between the all-star game and final playoff-position jockeying. given that us amateur writers don't have access to shootaround interviews or halftime insights in the tunnel/locker room like the professional* infotainers do, we're left to pick up the pieces until the middle of march.

i haven't been enormously successful at keeping a consistent theme through my posts since i started doing this back in november. but i think i've got an idea to carry this blog through until the jazz start winning in a way that suggests they're a contender to reach the western conference finals.

i don't want to get hung up on retrospectives. i don't want to pretend i know how to break down numerical data in a way that illustrates the jazz's chances to win this or lose that. what i want, and what i know, is that the most exciting thing to watch within the jazz organization is going to be who is stepping up during this rift in leadership and status; everybody could be doing more.

obviously, most eyes are (and should be) fixed on d-will and coach ty.

my focus, for the remainder of the season, is going to be on who is getting after guys that are slow moving around screens. who is still working while deron's being interviewed after practices. who is fiery during timeouts, who is hustling to get back on D, who is crashing boards, who is sprinting on fast breaks.

this should be pretty easy to catch on individual plays, and if i can manage to keep a notepad on me while i'm watching games at home (instead of a handle of dewar's), it should only take a week or two (well, three, given that all-star weekend looms) to determine who is proving they want to remain relevant in the NBA, if not with the jazz brass.

after all, there's not much left to say about jerry that hasn't already been said. there's not much left to ponder regarding the jazz's future that hasn't been hashed over in excruciating detail, either. the only thing left to talk about is what's happening now.

isn't that the only thing that really matters, anyway?

*to me, a "profession" includes some sort of self-regulating ethics body. given that deron has been pretty insistent on the press making up a lot of the "rumors" surrounding his relationship with sloan, i've got to assume that there was at least some inflating of truths going on last week, if not flat-out lies. given that the guys in the locker room after the game seem to have the same standards of accuracy as publications like the national enquirer and l. ron hubbard, i'm growing hesitant to continue calling reporters "professionals." in particular, the newspaper day-to-day coverage guys seem to be presenting impressions and conclusions as facts; i do still have enormous respect for the bulk of the jazz's TV and radio coverage, whether official or not.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

did you really?

i used to be a big pennywise fan. generally i'm not so much these days, but occasionally it fits my mood nicely.

it's been about 72 hours since the sloan/johnson press conference, and things still aren't really any clearer for me. one thing that has gotten clearer is that something is gone and will never come back, even if corbin stays on for 30 years and wins a dozen championships, pushing flex offense and rebounding along the way. but even if it doesn't come back, i'm starting to get excited about something strangely familiar.


one of the reasons i tried out for the jazzbots job in the first place (that failure turned into this blog) was to chronicle what it's been like for me as a semi-returning jazz fan. see, i grew up with my family watching jazz games from my parents' season-ticket, row 25 baseline seats at the salt palace. but when the team moved to the delta center, apparently the ticket prices increased pretty dramatically because my dad decided it was getting too pricey.

we still watched games as a family on the tube, and made it to games at the delta center from time to time. i had the good fortune of being friends with this kid nick who lived up the street; his family owned a pretty successful utah business and one of the things their hard work afforded them was a suite and fantastic seats courtside. going to those games, as a kid of 8 or 9 years old, was incredible.

i remember the first time i got to sit in those seats. i couldn't understand why people said stockton was short; he was at least two inches taller than my old man. watching jeff malone's fade-away jumper in person felt like watching rembrandt painting. and karl; karl was just a beast. but i already knew that, for all his power and intimidation, he was still a nice guy.

but eventually nick's family moved and going to games became pretty rare. the TV stayed on, though, and some of my favorite memories of childhood involve watching jazz playoff games on our back porch on my dad's old RCA set that had analog dials, one that went from channel 2-UHF, and the UHF dial that went from 14 to 40-something. it had fake wood paneling on the sides, rabbit-ear antennae, and a single mono speaker. i bet it was the first color tv my parents owned.

i remember the agony of watching clyde drexler hand-deliver losses to the jazz, dekembe's finger wagging, shawn kemp's dominance. i remember screaming, with my brothers and their friends, who maybe understood the game better but certainly loved the team no more than me, as the blood rushed into our vision when sir chuck peeked into the huddle, only to have our rage turn to ecstasy when number 12 hit that three pointer; as he jumped into the air, higher than i had before or have since seen a man jump, his fist smashing the years of disappointment.

karl malone and hornacek running to embrace him.

and a man, who had been a god made of stone, finally smiling. sprinting , elated, towards what would become the defining moment of his coaching history.


around the time the jazz lost those two finals rounds to michael, i started racing mountain bikes in the summer and wrestling in the winter (it turns out that i can't jump, and my little league batting average was about the same as my bowling score - i'm lucky to break 100). i had also discovered two bands, nofx and face to face, that completely changed my perspective on music and life. between my new one-man sports and that inexplicably consuming pubescent embrace of a shiny, new counter-culture viewpoint. me and team sports, we didn't just split ways. my passion for bicycles and punk rock was only matched in intensity by my hatred for mass-market sports, exemplified perfectly as an icon of selfishness in the NBA. vindication came when patrick ewing was traded to seattle, when jordan came back for washington, and most sweetly when malone left for LA.

but, like children tend to do, i grew up. i quit wrestling my sophomore year of high school to focus on training for cross-country mountain bike racing full time. then i raced and lived downhill bikes for a while, and that turned into riding moto. somewhere in there, i had met new people who introduced me to more new people, and before i knew it, i was watching football at the cell block every sunday and even, frustratingly, playoff baseball (though i've always loved going to trappers/buzz/stingers/bees games).

i swore i would never go back to basketball. between dick bevetta and jordan, karl's benedict arnolding all of us, and the seemingly bleak future featuring only a small forward from russia who had been glorified for doing something called a 5x5 twice in one season, there simply was nothing about the jazz that made me want to come back to them. i pictured myself crawling on hands and knees, my pride finally broken. i swore it would never happen.

somewhere along the line, my friend collin (who had been a serious jazz and NBA fan since he was a toddler) got me to start watching the jazz again. he explained to me how the jazz brass had thought seriously about what the franchise needed, and after consulting with a new-grey coach, they had drafted a promising young point guard from illinois.

a couple of years later, the jazz were back in the western conference finals. when derek fisher signed with LA less than a month later, i was one of the guys holding a torch and a machete in the mob seeking justice for an unforgivable and deeply personal betrayal.


i intended to write this blog as an emotional outlet primarily, and it has quickly turned into part news, part reactionary, part number-crunching (which i swore i would avoid). but sloan and johnson resigning this week reminded me of what i had meant to do with my writing: to keep track of my thoughts as i try to improve as a fan while i'm still stuck in new jersey, a three-day drive from seeing the team i love on its home court, and virtually no shoulders to cry on after a tough loss, other than those i've been able to sway.

the strange realization of the last few hours has been that, like it or not, every jazz fan now is stuck doing what i've been doing for the last five or six years. all of us now have to re-evaluate how we feel about a team that has shed its last vestiges of what we started loving. stockton-malone-hornacek. larry. jarron and matt. and, finally, fittingly, sloan and johnson have exited together, leaving nothing left of the brilliance and hope that shone so brightly 15 years ago. the only trace of the past remaining is that lanky russian, whose career comfortingly and maddeningly overlaps between Then and Now.

i hate myself for questioning deron's role in sloan's departure; if he leaves, picking up the pieces will be a long and ugly process. i hate myself for pitying a future jazz organization that didn't stand up to deron if he did have something, anything to do with jerry and phil leaving besides being in the locker room. but i know that i've already hated my relationship with the jazz, and i came back from it stronger. i don't miss games now. i know stats, i know where people live, i know where people played college ball, i know who can't rotate on D, i know who should be taking clutch shots, i know what traded and free agent players we wish were still wearing the j-note.

the only silver lining, if there is one, from thursday's events is that i know i've already lost the jazz once, and it only made things better in the long run. now we've all lost the team again.

i know it sounds corny, but i can't wait to fall in love, deeply and childishly, with this team again.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

old bill's nod to coach sloan

to coach, or not to coach, that is the question:
whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the sling and arrows of outrageous point guards;
or to take arms against a sea of bitching.
and by opposing, end that: to coach, to lead
no more; and by resign to say we end
the workload, and the thousand daily shocks
that flesh is heir to? 'tis an occupation
of elites to be wish'd. to coach, to win
to win, perchance glory; aye, there's the rub
for in that perfect year, what dreams may come,
when we have won out past this media,
must give us pause. there's the respect
that makes indignancy of such tenure:
for who would bear the whips and scorns of ESPN,
TNT's wrong, sekou smith's contumely,
the pangs of displaced fans, the league's delay,
the insolence of players, and The Spurs,
that cruel bitch-slap of th' asshole lakers,
when jackson himself might his zen quake
with a smug grin? who would there next season dare,
to grunt and sweat under a weary pre-season,
but that the dread of something less than perfection,
the undiscovered title from whose bourne
no player returns, puzzles the league
and makes us rather shuffle those salaries we have
than fly to other markets that we hate on?
thus our fan base doth make little of us all,
and thus the market hue of hi-resolution
is sicklied o're with the pale cast of Teamwork,
and enterprises of great heart and moment,
with this regard the CBA away,
and lost the name of Brilliance.--soft you now,
the fair Stockton? guard, in thy freethrows
be all my wins remembered.

more short thoughts

jerry sloan, utah jazz head coach 1988-2011, john deere tractor enthusiast, last american alive who actually does what he said he'd do

maybe i've been spending too much time tweeting today (follow me @JazzInJersey) and thus i'm not interested in typing more than 140 characters, but i don't think i have it in me to post anything substantive tonight. a couple of key points though.
  • finally, david locke asked somebody point-blank about deron. DL: "it was reported that deron said if jerry's re-signed, i won't re-sign [next summer]. is that true?" jazz VP of basketball operations kevin o'conner: "no, that is not true." guess that puts that discussion effectively to bed. obviously deron played some role here, but it's wasn't officially leaning on the front office.
  • phil johnson is the shit. could have snaked the head coaching job for a year or two or three. instead, gave a nod to his history and symbiotic relationship (thanks for that term, locke) with sloan, and hung up his spurs right next to jerry's.
  • watching jerry sloan actually cry was like watching the earth split in two. i cried. you cried. like, when you think of the saddest thing ever, you say "i bet jerry sloan would have cried about that." but you know he wouldn't have. tonight he did, black is white and the world is upside-down.
  • tyrone corbin is going to be a good coach. probably not going to have a legacy that equals sloan's, but i think we could be a much worse position. let's go coach ty.
  • finally got some substantive tweets from CJ; as an added bonus, none ended with "#whatupdoe".

maybe i'll post tomorrow. my heart hurts. my blood hurts.

say it ain't so

posting this quickly before the press conference, then more later.

i'll admit i was, as recently as 20 minutes ago, calling for deron's head on a platter. but i think maybe that's rushing things. who knows what really happened with jerry sloan's decision to resign (and take phil johnson with him)? i don't think any of us ever will; the only person who will really know why sloan is leaving is sloan.

deron might have played a role in this, but so did other players over the years. so did the fans. so did the management (most likely). so did jerry's age, the prospective lockout, and innumerable other options.

for now, i'm trying to hang on to the feeling that came with any jazz game that was close in the 4th: that we had the coach to make it happen. maybe we'll get there again (i for one am 100% in favor of tyrone taking the reins). maybe we won't.

in any event, for now i'm back-pedaling a little on the "blame deron" wagon. the last thing we as fans need is to piss him off enough that he decides today not to re-sign next summer. otherwise, we can plan on becoming good friends with the cavaliers for a few years at least.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


given that i wrote a god-damned thesis yesterday, i'll try to keep this brief - really, i just wanted to post my dr. anderson - homer simpson - boozer shoulder devils picture.

tonight's jazz game against chicago is something a lot of people are looking forward to. if i was attending the game, i would give ronnie brewer a standing ovation at his introduction, if for not other reason than he made deron happy. i'd probably rise to my feet for korver too; he's such an honest guy and he gives so much back to every community in which he's lived (and embraced).

but i think everybody knows the palatable electricity regarding this bulls vs. jazz matchup has more to do with a certain power forward from duke.

there's going to be a lot of hard feelings showering down from the crowd at ESA onto carlos boozer tonight. and he deserves a lot of them. phantom injuries that sidelined him for a third of his utah career. that "strained oblique" that had him sitting for the most important game of the regular season in april of 2010. a total lack of defensive effort or skill. talking about leaving with two years remaining on his contract. having sex with a hairdresser (not even a jazz dancer, booze?).

but, and i think this is obvious, despite my early season predictions that losing boozer for big al would show immediate lateral results, boozer brought something to the team that we're missing. i get that losing matthews and korver has a lot to do with it, but boozer was good for 11.2 boards last year and 13.2 boards during the 08-09 and 09-10 playoffs. the guy was an all-star; his deflating effect on team chemistry was, more or less, made up for on the floor when he was actually playing. and he certainly didn't have to help the jazz out with that sign-and-trade exception that basically allowed us to land jefferson

so my question is this: does booze earn only heckling tonight? or does he deserve a tiny bit of gratitude as well when the SLC attendees sip their first $9 uinta draft?

in other words, boos or booze for boozer?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

fingers crossed

today's post inspired by my favorite band from scandinavia, in no small part because they manage to make a gretsch and a dual rectifier work together. for those of you who, while musically inclined, are not up on your guitar/amp pairings, that's like george harrison joining slayer.

oh, the nba and your constant flurry of making me feel human emotions. what's the single biggest heartbreaking story you've delivered to my electronic doorstep this season?

the end of greg oden's career in portland? no (although wesley matthews, on whom i am developing a creepy man crush, going to portland is in my top five).

the unsurprising news that your idiot fans voted yao to the all-star game even though (1) he mediocre at best, and (2) he's constantly injured? booooriiiing.

is it even the jazz and their middling, consistently inconsistent play? i'm afraid not.

no, the nba's 2010-2011 saddest byline has been, and continues to be, the plight of the cleveland cavaliers. i get that gilbert's open letter, along with footage of fans burning lebron jerseys, from seems-so-long-ago summer made the team and its supporters out to be a bunch of crying bitches. but you know what? they were right to be angry.

hey jazz nation, remember every time boozer had a radio interview with chicago or miami? remember how you wanted to pluck out his goose-turd (anyone ever play a round at forestdale?) eyebrows and forcefeed them back to the guy for talking about leaving utah so openly? how do you think you'd feel if he had promised you a championship after growing up in ogden, only to run to LA as soon as he was a free agent?

see, they had a right to be changry.

and now, given the 25-and-counting losses by the cavs, i present to you the saddest story in modern basketball. a team, once a perennial playoff contender; a team that, for a few seasons, was at least a darkhorse championship threat, is now a poster child for pity. and it's not like the season started out completely bleak for cavs fans; even before the streak, cleveland wasn't looking fantastic, but they were sitting at 8-19. that's a .296 record, enough to have them only 4 or 5 games out of playoff contention right now had they kept that tepid pace (detroit, at .373, is 3.5 games out of 8th as of this writing, while new jersey, at .288, is 8 back). but this losing streak: it's enough to make most nba fans look away from sports center out of sheer embarrassment.

so what's got my fingers crossed? besides always having some lateral strain on the knuckles in my hand for the sake of the jazz making it to 4th in the west in the next 9 weeks, i'm crossing them in hopes that the jazz don't turn into cleveland after the 2011-2012 [season/lockout]. yesterday, scott howard-cooper, or scow-poop as i like to call him, posted a quick note regarding sloan's recently announced one-year extension over on nba.com's hangtime blog. predictably, the comments were split evenly along three lines:
(1) non-jazz fans who respect sloan but hate the jazz wishing their team had a coach like sloan;
(2) jazz fans who are excited about the news; and
(3) jazz fans who have a flaming case of hemorrhoids who think the team would be better off without sloan if only because retaining him is going to send d-will packing once his contract is up.

i'm not one to put much weight behind comments on sekou smith's brainchild, though i realize the irony of being one of many inane sports fans with his own dozens-of-hits-per-week blog while discounting my fellow social-media-savvy morons. but the last few weeks of chatter regarding deron's unhappiness, sloan's unwillingness to change, and the "necessity' of having a big three to be a championship contender has given me pause.

frankly, i don't see sloan's presence as a deal-breaker for his gr8ness. if deron wants out of utah, it's not going to be because of sloan (despite a snide comment about running the same plays for 23 years). it's going to be because of the front office's unwillingness to spend "what it needs to" to build the jazz into a title threat (i refuse to refer to championships as "chips," by the way). it's going to be because the existing team is, frankly, pretty lazy. it's because the ESA is getting quieter by the game. it's, to some degree, because he moved from downtown to holladay which is full of creepy polygamists and people who say things like "i got that H for you."

simply put, it's because deron wants to win a championship, and because he's such a perfectionist, he's not going to wait for that to fall into his lap.

the comparisons to john stockton need to stop, and they need to stop now. stockton was a fundamentals-only workhorse who did what he was told and played one game at a time. stockton played before kobe and shaq's personal problems led to one of the deadliest frontcourt pairings splitting apart; before dwayne, dwight, and chuck did commercials together; before the nba stole a championship franchise from seattle; before lebron. simply put, he played before the league finally became, right up front and unabashedly, about money first, rings second. deron wants a ring, and he knows that the fastest way to get there is with a hefty price tag.

but he also knows that a huge payroll, by itself, isn't going to be enough. the jazz are over the salary cap now and it's not working, which means utah's players and fans have one more year to prove to deron that he should stick around. that's not going to be on jerry; the guy is a hall-of-fame coach that has been to the western conference finals twice. please, go ahead and name me another coach on a team, as it exists right now, with room for deron who has better credentials.

the problem for utah is that this final year might not come. it's a real possibility that, with a season-long lockout, sloan and deron both walk; sloan permanently, and d-will to blue and greener pastures in dallas after jason kidd also hangs up his nikes.

thus i keep my fingers crossed. not for the jazz, but for the NBA, the NBAPA and derek fisher (booo) to make sure there is no lockout, no de-certification of the union to bring lawsuits. i'm crossing them for the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people across the country who will be out of work (part or full time) as a result of stadiums being closed. i'm crossing them for jarron collins and sundiata gaines and all the players who make relatively few dollars, half of which goes to taxes and the other half to union dues that might put them out of a job*.

but, selfishly, i mostly keep them crossed for myself, to keep jerry sloan and deron williams in utah. i'll take 48 wins on the season over 25 consecutive losses any day of the week.

and now we all know, 25 consecutive losses after losing your coach and your all-star is an all-too-real possibility.

*i don't need a lecture that $200k isn't a lot of money. do the math: $100k, more or less, to taxes. $30k to union dues. $10k or so to relocate yourself, and your family, to a new city every 2-3 years. family coming out of the woodwork for financial support. pressure to live up to the NBA rep and drive a benzo and eat at fleming's. suddenly these bottom-tier nba players are bringing home about what you do, and they are going to have ruined knees and backs when they're 40.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

western conference blues

i miss the middle of december.

i don't miss the 4 hours of daylight. i don't miss law school finals. i don't miss stressing about shopping for gifts. what i miss is the jazz sitting at 3rd in the western conference, and being able to root for crap western conference teams to beat playoff-contention western conference teams. i miss then watching those games when they jazz weren't playing, excited at the prospect of the jazz opening up a 5-game gap on fourth place by virtue of a miraculous sacramento victory.

don't understand what i'm getting at? take a look at the current west standings (team - games back):
  1. spurs - 0.0
  2. lakers - 6.5
  3. mavericks - 7.5
  4. thunder - 9.5
  5. hornets - 9.0
  6. jazz - 11.5
  7. thuggets - 12.0
  8. blazers - 14.0
  9. grizzlies - 15.5
  10. suns - 17.0
  11. rockets - 19.0
  12. warriors - 19.5
  13. blake griffen - 20.5
  14. kings - 27.0
  15. pesky t-wolves - 28.5
i was looking at tonight's matchups, trying to figure out what western conference scores i could be watching (aside from the jazz, of course) tonight while i suffer through my 8 pm - 10 pm AWR class. those games include (1) DAL/NYK, (2) MEM/MIN, (3) NOH/OKC, (4) POR/DEN, (5) MIL/PHX, (6) CHI/LAC. let's break those down, shall we?
  1. DAL/NYK: no-brainer here. let's go knickerbockers.
  2. MEM/MIN: i was about to say "barring a total meltdown by the jazz," but then i remembered we're in the middle of one. anyway, utah should make the playoffs. memphis should not. i've got my eyes on minnesota, even though they waived gaines a few weeks ago. also i hate all things gasol.
  3. NOH/OKC: two teams above the jazz right now, and the only two within immediate striking distance. can they both lose? sadly, no; it makes sense to ask for the hornets to win this one, since we're in a better position to beat them should we meet in round one. at least the deron-CP3 matchup has favored utah traditionally, anyway.
  4. POR/DEN: another tough one, two teams capable of beating us and both near us in the rankings. i'm pushing for portland for a few reasons. first, they're 3.5 games behind the jazz compared to denver at only half a game. second, denver's entire team is a collection of the biggest dicks on professional sports. i can't name a single guy on the team who isn't a total prima donna. third, wes matthews.
  5. MIL/PHX: guess this one is totally unimportant. nash is fun to watch. so is jennings. let's go milwaukee.
  6. CHI/LAC: i hope boozer and rose both choke on pieces of glass flying from an exploding backboard courtesy of blake griffen (boozer can have serious injuries as a result, i just want rose i don't want injured so much as just to be not better than deron anymore; actually what i want is d-will to be playing better than rose). and then i hope ronnie price windmill-dunks mid-backflip with laser beams shooting out of his eyes.
i guess it wasn't really that tough to make those calls. eh, not rewriting a post with better content. maybe tomorrow.

love me for trying.