William "Smush" Parker, the worst player to ever start for the Lakers (for two seasons!) and the player who was paid by the Miami Heat to *NOT* play for them for most of this season has signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.
According to yahoo.com, "Smush Parker, released by the Miami Heat earlier this week, signed a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. Terms weren’t announced."
Of course the terms weren't announced. Smush probably has photos of Donald Sterling at a Asian gay bath house.
Anyway, what the hell is going on "down the hall" in Staples Center? Are the Clippers trying to force Elton Brand, a free agent this summer, out the door with both hands? Is the point guard tandem of Frodo Baggins Dan Dickau and Brevin Knight that outright terrible? Do the Clippers really need a player who acts disinterested, wasn't motivated by both Pat Riley and Phil Jackson, choked in games 5, 6 & 7 of the 2006 playoffs against the Suns (shooting a combined 5-25) and flat out sucks?
It totally makes sense... by signing the worst point guard available, the Clippers have entered: The Tankapalooza Zone.
Got the mad hook-up again and sat in the front row for last night's Clippers-Magic game. The Clippers rallied twice from huge deficits to make it an interesting game, but eventually the Magic won 113-106. Here's some brief takes on the game (one day later as the Heinekens and whiskey sours killed me when I got home):
What a difference a year makes: The past two years, Clipper Nation came out early and often to support their playoff contending team. Well we're officially back to the "Hip to Clip" era as the stadium was 80% empty 15 minutes before the opening tip. There was no real energy at the game and with Staples Center half-empty you can definitely notice the piped-in crowd noise during the opening intros. Maybe the Clippers Spirit really do need to perform naked, because a 60% full arena against one of the top Eastern Conference teams just doesn't cut it.
Well at least the Clippers Spirit tried to "lend a hand." Here's a photo of three of them greeting fans as they enter Staples Center and posing for photos. Check out the guy at the right with the cane... nice view my man!
Dunleavy going out gangsta style: Halfway through the 2nd quarter, Coach Mike Dunleavy drew two very quick technicals (the second for yelling, "awww that's bullshit!!!") for a an immediate ejection. He turned and walked right to the tunnel and out... no argument, no restraint by the assistants and no escort by the security guards. At the time, the Clippers were trying to rally back from a huge early deficit and maybe Dunleavy felt the team needed that extra punch. Whatever it was that was a total straight-up gangsta way of getting ejected.
Sam Cassell with a a rare 4th quarter appearance: One of the knocks of Mike Dunleavy is his decision making down the stretch of games (2000 Western Conference Finals anyone?). Recently he's been keeping the franchise heart and soul, Sam Cassell, on the bench for much of the 4th quarters. THAT makes a lot of sense... bench your veteran leader for the likes of Frodo Baggins (Dan Dickau) and Brevin Knight and their "quality" play.... yikes! Anyway, with Dunleavy out, Cassell played most of the fourth quarter and was a couple of missed shots from rallying the Clippers back. Sure he missed some bunnies, but it's his leadership and poise that got them to the backk. Every time he had the ball he was looking to draw a foul or post up Jameer Nelson. Frodo flat out sucks and Brevin Knight is just a journeyman player.
The Rise of Hedo Turkoglu: No longer is he the weakass three point shooter who'd run and hide in the 4th quarter (like the 2002 Sacramento Kings). He's a got a good feel for the game now. When things bogged down, he drove the lane trying to draw a foul. And his body control after contact is excellent. The Clippers were hitting him hard, but he was still able to get off a well-balance shot for a few And-1's. Plus, the guy had a HUGE contingency of Turkish fans there rooting for him (not a good night to be Armenian). With a frontcourt of Lewis, Turkoglu and Howard, the Magic have size and the ability to stretch the defense and they’re the reason why Orlando is a top Eastern Conference Team.
The best job ever: This guy's (below) got the best job in the arena: cord boy for the camera man. So all he does is make sure the camera cord doesn't get tangled up and he gets front row baseline seats. Evidently, the only job requirement is a mullet.
So you missed out on Allen Iverson... so your future fanchise player was one ligament from a live amputation... so your current fanchise player ruptured his Achilles tendon... so your stuck with Tim Thomas until 2009-10... so the 2007-08 season was over by October 1st...
Hey Clipper Nation, there's a hidden benefit to fielding a losing team in sunny Southern California...
Bikini-Clad Clippers Spirit Dancers!!!!!
Fan Patrol Cheerleader Summer has more pictures here.
Brett and I always thought that given the marketing genius of Jerry Buss, the Laker Girls were four losing seasons from performing naked (and we were heading that way if Rudy T. was still coaching them!). I just never thought the LA Clippers would have the vision, the intelligence and the intestinal fortitude to beat the Lakers to the punch. A hearty big ups to the Clippers marketing department! So despite the poor performance on the court, Clipper Nation can feel a sense of pride that at least their Clippers Spirit Dance Team is a playoff level squad.
Clippers Spirit Dancer Taylor has more pictures here.
Clippers Spirit Dancer Ashley has more pictures here.
And by the way, there's at least three reasons why I *WILL* attend a Clipper home game!!!
Checking out the various discount offers for Clippers tickets -- believe me, there are a lot -- I came across the deal of the century in terms of premium NBA seats. It appears that anyone can go to Ticketmaster's website and purchase a courtside seat (not eBay courtside, actual front row seats on the floor), for the amazingly low price of $400.
Now $400 is still a lot of money, but it's less than a third of what courtside Clippers' tickets normally go for, and that's $1500 face value - each. I'm not sure if the price is a reflection of the Website Wednesday promotion or if you can get the same deal for non-Wednesday games, but either way it's an amazing discount.
Oh, and if the Clippers are so bad that you can't bear to watch them play sober, you can always go for the deal where beer is included with your ticket.
Out here in LA, local sportstalk radio isn't the only benefactor from all the Kobe Bryant talk. That other team just down the hall at Staples Center is secretly hoping all the Kobe saga continues on through for the rest of the year. This keeps all the LA Clipper blunders (redundant?) in the past year off the minds of the local media. (Though I might remind you, outside of the annual Mark Heisler open letter to Donald T. Sterling, the only time the Clippers were front page news was the 2006 playoff run and the 2001-02 squad, still one of the most exciting teams in LA hoops history.)
Anyway, here's some of the blunders that Kobe has helped Clipper Nation forget:
1. The Tim Thomas signing:I ripped the front office as soon as they signed Tim Thomas to a 4-year $24 million contract. Jack McCallum from his book ":07 Seconds or Less" describes how Phoenix "motivated" Thomas in the playoffs:
A few weeks before the end of the regular season, D'Antoni said that he was going to have a conversation with Thomas, urge him to give everything he had the rest of the way so he could "fool somebody and get another big contract. It just won't be from us."
But it WILL be from the Clippers.
2. Blowing the A.I. trade:As I wrote back in December, "All they have to do is give up Corey Magette and Shaun Livingston and they get one of the most dynamic shooting guards in the history of the NBA."
With Iverson and Elton Brand the Clippers would have been a top four team in the west for at least three years. Mix in the Lakers mired in the Mitch Kupchak/Jim Buss era and the Clippers had a chance at becoming the toast of Los Angeles for a long time. (Something they also had a chance at back in 1993, but Sterling let Larry Brown go and the rest is history... repeated.) It took balls to make such a move... something that Elgin Baylor lost back in 1972. So instead of instant credibility, the Clippers held firm with Shaun Livingston's upside and Magette's "brains" and then... SNAAAAAAP!!!! We all know how that one ended.
3. Raising Season Ticket Prices: So the Clippers finish a sub-par season packed with injuries (Cassell and Livinsgton) bad contracts (Thomas and Kaman) and no postseason appearance. So how does the front office reward their loyal fanbase? By raising season ticket prices across the board of course. Talk about shrewd moves! Not only does the front office give a firm middle finger to Clipper Nation, but they also lost some good publicity as Sports Guy jumped ship after the price hike.
So while Kobe's roaming the streets of Newport Beach, looking for anyone whose willing to hear his trade requests (and sounding more and more like a crazy homeless person every day), Clippers are sitting back and smiling.
Hey, maybe Elgin Baylor is a secret member of the KVG.
For the past two years or so, I have played in a weekly pickup basketball game on Wednesday nights. There's a group of 10-15 of us, who are more or less at the same skill level, and we have the privilege of having a gym in West L.A. all to ourselves from about 7-10PM. The games are extremely competitive, because unlike other pickup games I've been a part of, everyone actually passes the ball and attempts to play defense. But the last two weeks, we've had a couple of new participants that are basically wrecking the competitive nature of these games.
One of the guys who works at the gym where we play just happens to be the brother of James Singleton, who plays for the L.A. Clippers. The past couple of weeks, they've decided to roll out on Wednesdays and participate in our "open gym." Last week, we managed to avoid actually playing with these guys, (I said "no thanks, I don't enjoy being shut out") but they did play on on one half of the court, so we could only play half court ourselves. This week however, we didn't have a choice. They had "next," and made it clear that they were going to run with us.
Initially you might be thinking, "hey, wow, I get to play with an NBA player!" But for me, it was more like, "holy shit, I don't want to be the guy that injures an NBA player." Plus, it's not like these guys are going full speed against us, so these basically were half-assed fuck around games, just running up and down the court taking bad shots.
We did get to play one semi-serious game, and I was on James' team for that one. It was funny because I thought we were still in screw-around mode, but he started giving me instructions to run pick and rolls with him, and I was like, "oh, are we playing for real this game?" and he said "yeah." So that actually was kind of fun, and as you might imagine, even going at less than half speed, a guy who gets limited playing time in the NBA is ridiculously talented. He's known as a 6'9" dunker, but was dribbling between his legs and draining NBA threes like it was no big deal. Also, he's a very nice guy, and was constantly passing to everyone on his team, as well as giving little coaching tips to everyone on the court.
So overall, did it completely suck to play pickup ball with James Singleton? Of course not. It's not like he was dunking on people and grabbing his package or anything. But for weekend warriors like myself, these pickup games are not only great exercise, but they provide a nice environment for some serious competition. And that competition goes out the window when someone with NBA-level talent joins the game.
Here's a video I shot of Gilbert Arenas from floor seats of the Clippers-Wizards game on March 24th. As I wrote in the game report, "Arenas took it to the hole almost every time he had the ball..." Here he does just that nine times with the other being a sweet fade away from the short seventeen.
There's a variety of Agent Zero action here; drawing a foul, dishing off for a bucket, eyeing the ref over a missed call, pushing off on a drive and a simple lay-up. Unfortunately there was no "HIBACHI!" on the night, but it's still very cool. Check it out:
Got the hookup again from Brett and sat courtside for the Clippers-Wiz game on Saturday night. Here's a few very brief notes from the game (brief as in several libations were consumed and I'm a little groggy):
Where was Cassell? - Sam Cassell was bouncing all over the floor during the pre-game. We were hoping for an active Cassell yapping away with Agent Zero all night, but he never made it off the bench. Coach Dunleavy said it was a game-time decision, but if you ask us, he was very spry right up to the national anthem. Maybe his back tightened up, who knows?
Tunnel Vision - Knowing that the bathroom is right next to the entrance hallway for the opposing team, we timed our "break" to get some footage of the Wizards' pre-game huddle. (Follow the Wizards into Staples Center) I was able to trail them into Staples, going for one of those NBA Videos-type of shots. Instead, the quality is very Zapruder Film/Blair Witch-like with all the shaking.
Slow start for Arenas - Agent Zero opened the first half with a very quiet 9 points. Antawn Jamison was on fire with 17 and Gilbert spent much of the half as a distributor.
Correct postage for Tim Thomas? - Thomas continues to mail it in. He may have finished with an acceptable 13 points last night, but you really have to see him in person to see how much he coasts through games. As soon as he subbed in, the Wiz started dominating the offensive glass. Timmy just sat on the perimeter matching up with the nearest guard as the Wizard bigs kept crashing the boards. On offense, he just hung around the three point line looking to jack up a shot.
More minutes for Songaila - Darius Songaila was very impressive tonight. I've always liked Songaila's game. He plays hard on both ends of the floor and has a decent touch for a big. Three teams in three seasons is usually a red flag, but I haven't really heard anything bad about the guy. Tonight, he ran the pick and roll with Arenas to perfection, especially in the second half. The Wizards should be playing him more minutes.
Lounging at the Half - Grabbed a few drinks in the lounge in the tunnel. This is the place where the celebs attending Lakers games go to (cough-cough) relax. But since this is the Clippers, the only celebs there were the owner, Donald T. Sterling and Penny Marshall. For those of you under 35, she was Laverne the slutty chick from Laverne and Shirley. Obviously this was a very loooong time ago (pre-op). Somewhere Cindy Williams is smiling.
Agent Zero Awakens in the 2nd Half - Arenas took it to the hole almost every time he had the ball in the third quarter. Jason Hart (who the Clippers picked up off the waiver wire a few weeks ago) just couldn't hang with Zero on the defensive end. If (and that's a big if) the Clipper bigs rotated over to cut off the lane, Gilbert simply dished off for open shots. But mostly he got to the rack, keeping the Wizards in the game as Jamison got cold.
Gil Zero Closer? - It appears as though Arenas has a closer for his shoes. For the first three quarters, he was rocking the multi-colored Gil Zeros that he wore against Seattle. But in the fourth quarter he put on a pair of the light grey Gil Zeros to close out the game. Do they play "Enter Sandman" at Wizard home games when the light grey Gil Zeros come on?
No Buzzer Beaters Tonight - We were all pulling for Gilbert to keep the game close just to get a chance for last second heroics. Sadly, it was not to be as Chris Kaman was a difference maker, dropping all of his 17 points in the second half. Corey Magette sealed the game from the freethrow line as the Wizards lost 111-105. My only consolation was a low five from Agent Zero as he left the court, which was very cool.
Laying low all season while Phoenix and Dallas are running roughshod through the league, the San Antonio Spurs have put together a nine game winning streak. So I thought I'd check out the Clippers-Spurs broadcast tonight. Plus I've been suffering a recent bout of Insomnia (seriously) and I think my mind was subliminally telling me to watch the Spurs tonight. Here's a few notes on the game (San Antonio won 88-74):
Are you ready for Magette? I totally get what Bill Simmons has been saying about Magette's poor shot selection. Several times he ignored a wide open Elton Brand in the paint on his way to jacking up 7 shots in the first quarter. Obviously, Magette feels he can keep his starting spot by going 05-06 Kobe.
The Clippers couldn't protect the lane. Tony Parker missed the game and the Spurs STILL drove to the bucket with ease. Elton Brand (usually one the the league's best help defenders) was too slow to rotate over and close the lane. The Spurs had Duncan slip to the freethrow line to open up the key for backdoor cuts. Normally EB's good at reading the offense and rotating over for a block. Not tonight.
Boooooo!!!! Directed at former crowd favorite Chris Kaman for much of the first half. I'm trying to figure out what's more shocking, the crowd booing Chris Kaman's play (despite hustling on both ends of the floor) or the home TV announcer admitting to the booing. Kaman was just having one of those nights, a lot of the "million dollar move, nickel shot" variety. He was blowing layups left and right and the Clipper faithful were airing their frustrations. Ralph Lawler (one of the most underrated announcers in the NBA who should be in the Hall of Fame just for surviving tons of shitty Clipper teams) was acknowledging the boos. Normally the homers (read: Joel Myers) would either ignore the fans or say something like, "the fans are saying Kooooooooman!!!" Gotta love Lawler's honesty.
Save the booing for players that don't give a damn (Tim Thomas). At least Kaman was busting his ass. Look, I know Clipper fans are pissed that he's not playing to the level of his contract, but that's Elgin Baylor's fault. Kaman will never be better than 15 and 11. Live with it and move on (until 2011-12)!
Ginobili and Spurs blow it open in the 3rd Quarter. The Clippers cut into the Spurs lead 44-40 early in the 3rd quarter. Manu Ginobili, a non-factor in the first half, takes control of the game scoring a quick nine points off a few backdoor cuts and a three. He also drew a charge during that run. Momentum changes and the Spurs pull away, leading 64-49 at the end of the quarter. Ballgame!
It was a total veteran move, the Clippers were on the brink of taking over the game and Ginobili put the Spurs on his back for a 4 minute stretch. Experienced teams can coast for long periods and find the right moments to take control and destroy their opponent's will. This is what makes the Spurs a dangerous team come playoff time. They've played at a consistent level, stayed relatively healthy and have kept their stars from playing long minutes.
Just remember, the Spurs were a stupid Ginobili foul from the NBA Finals.
BTW - I also fell asleep during the 4th quarter (no lie), thank-you San Antonio!