Random musings after covering Sonics, including players not to watch
Posted: Monday December 13, 2004 1:00PM; Updated: Monday December 13, 2004 1:00PM
Nick Collison had a successful career at Kansas, but do you know his real claim to fame?
Noah Graham/Getty Images
IN THE JET STREAM, MILES ABOVE MIDDLE AMERICA -- Typing from the forward cabin of Delta Flight 1178, which departed Seattle too early Sunday morning and arrives in JFK too late Sunday afternoon. Behind me, a man has been playing cards for the last three hours, shuffling at a high volume -- Braaaaapppppp! -- every seven minutes or so. I hate him.
I was in Seattle, and before that Dallas, because of the streaking Sonics. After winning twice in Texas -- at San Antonio and Dallas -- the boys lost to Boston Saturday night, but they remain 17-4. Team looked good, moved the ball well, Ray Allen's a stud: all this you already know. What you may not know is exactly how heinously ugly the team's mascot, Sasquatch, happens to be. Picture Chewbacca if someone hit him hard, and repeatedly, with the ugly stick, then gave him some sort of reverse Botox. There is no mother Sasquatch out there who could love this abomination, and I shudder to think what goes through the minds of unsuspecting children who, believing they are being brought to a basketball game featuring a normal, lovable mascot, are confronted by the hairy, scowling, mutated mug of the 'Squatch. I have seen more absurd mascots -- the Whatzit, the San Franisco Crab -- but none less appealing.
What's that, you don't care about the Sonics mascot -- you want sports news? Understandable. Then how about this trivia tidbit: Nick Collison is now the only player in the NBA to have played with not one, but two point guards branded with cinematic nicknames because of their hair. At Kansas, he teamed with the mop-headed Kirk Hinrich, also known as "Harry Potter," and now with Seattle he plays with Luke Ridnour, who, as those who read the column two weeks ago already know, gained the handle "Frodo." (Collison says he spent last season raggin on Ridnour to trim the fro, which he has since done). Which got me to thinking -- and that is a dangerous thing at high altitude on low sleep -- about other cinematic doppelgangers in the NBA world. So for what it's worth, I think Shaquille O'Neal looks uncannily similar to the lead character in that movie Steel.
Perhaps, again, you don't care (though Calvin Booth is a dead ringer for Huckleberry Hound). Readers, I am told by the SI.com powers-that-be, want sports news and opinions. Give them rankings, any manner of rankings, be they Power Rankings or Breakout Player Lists or the Five Most Memorable Moments in Red Sox History or Nine Things Stanley Roberts Had for Dinner Last Night (though the harder column might be Nine Things Stanley Roberts Didn't Have for Dinner Last Night). We are a society that likes to be told what's important, mainly so we can subsequently disagree with it. So, harnessing my infinite ordering powers, I give you what you purportedly want: Five NBA Players Not To Watch.
1. Tom Gugliotta, Celtics: Why Googs? Because you can't watch him. His ass never leaves the bench. So take it from me: don't waste your time hoping it does.
Have a question or opinion for Chris? He might answer or address it in his next blog.
2. Chris Crawford, Hawks: Chris may be a decent forward, but don't keep an eye out for him these days. He's done for the season after suffering a gruesome torn right ACL.
3. Ralph Sampson: Sampson disappointed the fans as a player and continues to do so now that he's retired. Nothing to see here.
4. Johnnie LeMaster: Sweet-fielding shortstop for the Giants in the early '80s could snare a grounder deep in the hole but never could hit the 3. Move along.
5. Wilt Chamberlain: Could fill it up in his day, but he's no fun to watch now that he's dead. Look elsewhere.
Tim from New Jersey took issue with my list last week -- it's all about the lists, clearly -- of the five players in the NBA I'd pay to watch.
"Do you smoke crack, snort cocaine, or is it just me?," wrote Tim. "Your list of five is horrible and you have to be on some type of narcotic to make up this list. Ginobili does not make people better. You are crazy."
In response to your query, Tim, I believe you are the only one of the two of us who smokes crack and snorts cocaine. Which, if I may be so bold, is quite the bit of cross-training you're doing there. Personal habits aside however, I've always wondered about the "are you smoking crack?" line of questioning. Again, I don't have personal experience with the drug, but from everything I understand of its effects, I don't believe it alters one's opinions in any fundamental manner. If anything, I think it just makes one more effusive in the stating of previously-held beliefs. So instead of saying that I like to watch Ginobili play because he shares the ball, I might say, for example, "I'd sell my Benz and mortgage my Florida vacation home just to watch that Ginobili play. He shares the ball in direct contrast to the manner in which you are currently sharing that crack pipe."
See, same sentiment, different delivery. Thanks for writing in, Tim!
The second question is not so much a question but a declaration, and it comes from J.B. Cross in Detroit, who writes, simply: "No. 6. Darko Milicic: Every time he steps out onto the Palace court, the fans go electric. He has the ability to bring the house down night in and night out."
I'm not sure exactly what "go electric" means (could one "go gas," or "go battery"?) , but with regards to this clearly bold, if untrue, sentiment I am forced to question whether you, J.B., have been hitting ye olde crack pipe. Please let me know so that I can sort this issue out.
Important Sports Thought from my Friend Owen
Finally, this rather useless, self-indulgent column will end, as usual, with the voice of reason: the important Sports thought from My Friend Owen.
Owen wrote in on Friday with this to say:
"Chris, where can I get me some of that good, good crack?"
No, just kidding. Owen was actually quiet this past week, so no thought from him. In the meantime, a question: what is the best sports bar in the country? And why? And yes, frequent reader Mark Stroh from Kuwait, I still expect you to answer. I'll post some of the best nominations in a future blog. Til then, make sure you're not watching Tyronne Lue. He's just not worth it.