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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Doug Moe, Part II? Westbrook hurt; Week-in-Review: Finals Prediction, Lebron, Barkley, more

Normally, even when I disagree with the hiring of a coach, I think the guy comes off well in his first day of media appearances with the new title. The fact is it’s rather hard not to come off well in what is a fairly contrived setting orchestrated by the organization. Besides, the coach hasn’t lost a game yet, so there’s little to get upset about.

In fact, Doug Moe was the only guy that managed to sound like an idiot Day 1. I’m not quite ready to call Eddie Jordan an idiot, but this is closer to Doug Moe, Part II, than I ever wanted to get.

In an interview on 950 ESPN with Jody MacDonald and Harry Mayes the man seemed to have little knowledge of the players he was inheriting, a Pollyanna attitude in general, and somewhat questionable confidence. (I used the podcast as opposed to other sources so I could take notes.) Below are some quotes from Jordan that concerned me.

On first meeting Sixers GM Ed Stefanski when they worked together in New Jersey: “He walked into the board room and said, ’We’re going for a championship, fellas,’ and we looked at him and our jaws dropped.” Ok, here’s my question: What exactly was Jordan’s ultimate goal for the team? Certainly his point was to get to the fact that they made the Finals soon thereafter, but the fact that his jaw dropped at the new guy in town coming out of the gate talking about championships is more than a little disconcerting.

On his suggestion that coaching the 76ers is the biggest challenge in the NBA: “It’s a championship-driven city, and when you look at the Sixers [there’s] tremendous tradition, they’ve had great history. . . . It’s a basketball city from the schoolyards to the 76ers.” There’s just a little too much Sonny Hill in this for me. Hill’s a legend in the city, and he can say what he wants, but there’s just something about the Sixers’ coach going down this road that is worrisome. It just feels like he’s cozying-up to the city a bit too fast. That generally doesn’t go well.

On Iguodala: “Andre Iguodala is one of the best defenders in the league.” Seriously?

When asked about the trouble he had advancing in the playoffs in Washington and the parallel to the Sixers having the same trouble: “We missed our best players. The Sixers and Elton Brand, and Jason Smith. . . . those are two parts, big parts, that you’re missing going into the first round.” This is where the theme to Jaws started playing in my head. He said “and Jason Smith” with way, way too much emphasis.

On the question of Elton Brand fitting in: “I always say, ‘If you don’t have a low-post presence and you acquire one, why shouldn’t he be successful.’” Anyone? Anyone? I have absolutely no clue what that meant. I’m pretty certain Jordan doesn’t either. The translation seems to be: Ya got me.

On three guys – Iguodala, Brand, and Thaddeus Young – essentially playing two positions: Jordan starts with some coach speak on not pigeonholing players, but then elaborates. “. . . the forwards turn to guards and the guards turn to forwards, and it’s so difficult to prepare for every team in the league admits it’s the hardest thing to prepare for . . .” The coach even threw in a couple chuckles of confidence. When asked later to make a pick in the NBA Finals, he added, “The Lakers, because they try to run the offense that we run.”

Jaws just caught up to the Sixers. I’m thinking a guy named Phil Jackson might take issue with this. Jordan was unemployed, is suspected by some to have been hired because he came cheap, yet he seems to think he invented basketball.

The trail of blood from yet another coach’s carcass will be flowing soon enough.

Westbrook concerns. Brian Westbrook is having ankle surgery. The Eagles are falling all over themselves saying it’s minor, but it’s his second surgery this off-season. Reports are already surfacing that it’s a serious operation. The Eagles hopes for a worthwhile season hinge on Westbrook being ready for the season and his ability to stay healthy. That is looking less and less like a possibility.

Week-in-Review:

Finals prediction. I’m posting a day early to get my Finals pick in even though it hasn’t changed since the playoffs tipped. (By the way, did you enjoy the delay between the conference finals and the Finals? It drove me nuts, especially with the Phillies out west.) The Magic have killed me in the last two rounds, but I have to give them a chance to do it again. I finally believe in how good they are, but I just don’t think Kobe Bryant is going to lose a second straight Finals series. I also continue to hate the ridiculous 2-3-2 format that caters to the media’s travel expense concerns, which I think puts the road team at a greater disadvantage causing them to need to win 3-straight just to hold serve at home.

Lakers win, I’ll guess in 6, but I never officially predict the number of games.

Lebron comes up small. Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers choked against Orlando. Is that simple enough? Six weeks ago Cleveland was the “deepest” team according to everybody and their mother; I even heard one “expert analyst” say their second five could beat some NBA teams. Now everybody looking to kiss Lebron’s ass says he was a one-man show. He scored how many points in the second quarter of Game 6 when the game got out of hand? I believe ZERO. You don’t have to lose a 20-point lead to choke, as one of the many people that disagree with me suggested. Losing to a team you were absolutely supposed to crush works, too.

The Sixers - the freakin’ 76ers - took Orlando to six games. Cleveland avoided being swept with a last-second prayer of a shot by James. That’s ridiculous.

Lebron comes up after-swimming small. Losing to the Magic was bad enough, but for James to leave the court without acknowledging Magic players and ducking the media was just weak. I usually could not care less about a guy not talking to the media. But you can’t be a media ho with non-stop commercials, and then duck the media when you choke.

His moronic explanation while wearing a New York Yankees hat the next day that he’s too competitive to shake hands and do the media bit after getting beat only made it worse. That’s just bull. First of all, it was a punk move to where the Yankees cap with all the speculation that he’s going to the Knicks. Secondly, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were more competitive than anyone in modern sports, and never acted in such a weak manner.

Stay classy, Charles. On the final TNT NBA post-game show of the year, Charles Barkley once again reminded the world that no matter how engaging he can be, he can just as quickly prove he’s classless. Barkley used profanity twice, calling co-host Kenny Smith and the producer of the broadcast childish names, doing so once while faking a cough. Why the man still has a job is beyond me.

Yes, he’s the most entertaining part of the show, but I would have fired him on the spot and I’ve always been a huge fan of Barkley. That show was on at a time when kids easily could have been watching in half of the country. This is a guy that went to jail just a short while ago for drinking and driving, kept his job, and now spits on his employer.

TNT and the NBA can drop any pretense of caring about the community. This merely reinforces the idea for kids that they can do whatever they want without repercussions. Barkley should have been fired immediately after the broadcast.

(Link found via a Facebook friend.)

Quick shots.
-I heard Mike & Mike talking about Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres who has 22 home runs, and they offered up a classic baseball cliché – why does anybody pitch to him? Excuse me? It’s just one of those infuriating things I hear out of baseball people. I know, I know, it’s strategy, it’s why you need a good lineup, etc., etc. But to advocate rendering an exciting player useless is just dumb. I’d love to offer a parallel from another sport, but there isn’t one. Even if you foul Kobe Bryant every time he touches the ball, he eventually gets to shoot free throws. I honestly think baseball should at least consider finding a way to make pitching around a slugger more costly. Off the top of my head, each team should be able to designate one hitter a game that gets two bases for a walk. Go ahead and rip me, baseball purists, but you can’t deny it would add to the game’s excitement.

-Fans are finally coming around, and knocking Manny Ramirez out of the All-Star Game. If he’s anywhere near the starting lineup, fans should lose the vote instantly. I also have doubts about the “electronic ballot box stuffing” going on for Raul Ibanez. He certainly deserves to be an All-Star, but if this is how he has to make it, there’s a problem with the system.

-Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison are joining NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast. They have one game a week, and, unless they’re dumping people, they seem to have more analysts than any network but ESPN.

-Have you “friended” Mike Missanelli on Facebook? So did I, but we were duped. It’s a PR guy, which I actually confirmed with the man himself. That’s just a little too disingenuous considering the Facebook format for me.

-Howard Eskin is reportedly getting a partner to try to revive his show, which is fading fast to Missanelli. He’s even on with his son today. The end of an era appears near.

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