Tag Archives: Jazz

Derek Fisher Wins at Life, Tie-Wearing

I try really hard to never get into moralizing and soap-boxing about stupid stuff related to sports. Like, when I read skim … accidentally click on articles discussing, let’s say, what Chris Bosh talking about his free agency status on Twitter means about him as a person, I just shake my head. You gotta make a living writing on the topics that people want to read about, I guess, and, yes, this NBA world is mostly just stupid entertainment banter anyway, but you must have better things you could be writing about. I am just always perplexed that anyone could ever have a heightened enough mental outrage meter that they would waste precious time out of their day to legitimately become upset about something so innocuous and silly. And this is coming from someone who recently wasted an hour or so Photoshopping a one-eyed Steve Nash into a Clockwork Orange costume. (For other examples of wasted time, see every other post in Both Teams Played Hard history.)

Anyway, while most things people get upset about just make me laugh (LeBron’s Yankee-hatgate perhaps being the most comical), there are some things that come up in this sports sector actually worth getting pissed off about.

This one might not even be one of ’em, honestly, but the way that some — not most, not even many, but a very small few — Jazz fans treat Derek Fisher makes me kick a baby dolphin down the staircase. Seriously, look at these two oxygen thieves.

And it’s not just these trollops. There are others.

In case you’re wondering what all this is about, here is how I once characterized the (borderline psychotic) rationale of why some Jazz fans hate Fish:

The Jazz fans are notoriously crude and indeed booed Derek Fisher when he returned this season in a Lakers uniform. (Fisher, if you’re not up on things, played for Utah for the last few years and has a daughter fighting retinal cancer, yet flew back and forth from her treatments in New York last year during the Playoffs to play for them and would often get there minutes before tip-off and in one game famously arrived in street clothes while everyone else was already suited up only to come in and kick ass and hit a game-winning shot but decided after the season that he needed to live in a city where he could be with his daughter and she could get proper treatment so the Jazz owner let him out of his contract and he then signed with Los Angeles, which is a city that has a good hospital to deal with this disease, yet the Jazz fans for some reason felt this deserved booing when he came back to play against them rather than the raucous standing ovation he would have gotten anywhere else. Got it? Cool.)

The assertion is that this fan was yelling “Cancer!” at Fish while he was shooting free-throws. Even if this photo is a fake, there are other allegations of fans chanting “cancer” when he had the ball.

Just blood-curdling stuff.

Well, Derek Fisher has not only stayed well above all this nonsense and consistently taken the moral high ground in the face of a situation that would probably have me making an Artestian romp through the stands, but on his way to the game in Salt Lake tonight, he just made perhaps the greatest statement that any man has ever made with a piece of clothing.

Best thing since the piano-key necktie.

Derek Fisher Daughter Tie

That’s a picture of his daughter on his tie. (h/t @stackmack)

Josh Smith and Defensive Recognition

There has been somewhat of a dust-up about the post-season awards voting process this year among media members. Long-story short, a few people were flabbergasted that LeBron didn’t win the MVP unanimously and couldn’t believe that up to seven writers/analysts/mascots (I’m actually not 100% who receives official ballots, honestly) voted for someone else. Two voters even had the stones to put LeBron third on their ballots.

“AN OUTRAGE,” screamed various fictional people I’m caricaturizing, who protested outside the NBA offices in New York burning effigies of Karl Malone, David Robinson and Stephen Nash. (They being past MVP winners who some think didn’t deserve their awards, you see.) About those who misguidedly voted for someone other than the King, critics have claimed incompetence (old writers don’t follow the league well enough to know any better), bias (at least one — and I believe two — of the people who voted for Dwight as MVP were from the Orlando area) and immaturity (one writer decided LeBron didn’t deserve the MVP for sitting out a few games late in the year). There is also obviously a level of bitterness from smaller writers who think themselves more qualified to vote than the bigger, older dogs who, in their eyes, spend more time filling out their TGIFridays comment cards than their awards ballots.

The whole thing has essentially been one huge, insider circle-jerk that the average basketball fan couldn’t care less about. (Matt Moore breaks it down further — and well — here if you do care.) I mean, LeBron, while not named MVP unanimously (something that I don’t believe has ever happened), did win by about 600 votes. That’s a lot. And no egregious mistakes were made in regards to the other awards either.

In the midst of all this shouting, however, there is an issue. And Bethlehem Shoals, as he is wont to do, wrote a banger today on the whole post-season award hullaballo that brings up some related issues of actual interest.

(Full disclosure: My man-crush on Josh Smith certainly makes me less than objective here. I pretty much thought the guy sucked until like 8 months ago and now he’s one of my favorite five players to watch in the league, so we’re still in that “don’t you dare say anything bad about my dude” phase of our relationship. No homosexual, naturally. Do the kids still say that? I sure hope not. It’s really offensive to gay people, I reckon. Again, no homo. Wait? Dammit…)

Shoals talks about how it’s pretty dumb that Smoove, this year’s runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, did not even make the 1st-Team All-Defensive … team. (No redundancy.) Worse still, is the fact that he has been, as Shoals put it, “twice screwed by process,” as he was also oddly absent from this year’s All-Star team despite being the best player on an overachieving team that sent two others to Dallas (Joe Johnson and Al Horford).

Defensive Player of the Year … is the big enchilada. It was always fated to go to Dwight Howard — just as LeBron James had the MVP coming his way, except somehow it was okay if Smith or Gerald Wallace got some first-place votes. And yet Smith coming on in second spoke volumes. Whoever voted on the thing, it said to the public “dude is now among the premier defenders in the league.” For a public only so interested in these things, it was a nice hook. The boy has become a man. The Hawks are in the building.

And then, yesterday’s [All-Defensive Team] announcements, and with it, all that crumbling. Simply put, no amount of “who votes on what and why” can explain away Smith on the second team.

For the All-Star team, speculation, squeeze-outs, and self-interest are part of the game. But it’s okay, since justice will never be served. In these two cases of defensive awards, we have two ballots seeking to determine who defends better than others. The average fan could care less what ballot actually goes where, and why irregularities may be proof of corruption. The All-Star Game is inherently messed-up, a combination of irrational fan voting and coaches trying to pick up the pieces as best they can. Perfection is out of the question.

All-Stars, though, don’t need attention. All-Star Weekend is an event. The defensive awards? They need to be making a push for relevance.The way not to do that? Send conflicting signals whose only recourse is the the kind of explanatory inside basketball (who is the voter, why do they err) that casual fans have zero interest in.

It would be like if the MVP didn’t make the first-time All-NBA. Both would be cheapened.

Good stuff.

I’ve been saying all year that it was going to be awesome when Josh Smith makes 3rd-Team All-NBA without having even been an All-Star this year. Deron Williams pulled off that very feat in 2007-08, and I — being the pretentious, indie-snob-type of dude that I am — always enjoy when that happens. It earns the guy his “respect first, then money … basic shit” merit badge and basically turns them into an NBA version of In Bruges or Sean Price.

Heads know.

Most don’t.

Obviously, maintaining that below-the-surface superiority status is probably less appealing to guys like Deron and Josh. For them, these awards and All-Star appearances are career development. They can literally lead to millions of dollars. Smoove and DWill aint starving, so I’m not going to go on a hunger strike to ensure they receive their due props, but it goes to show that, yes, the voting process may actually have some flaws and there indeed may be real-world ramifications for real people, so the league should at least broach the topic of improving the process.

Because, at this point, I’m pretty sure Josh Smith won’t be making 3rd-Team All-NBA. And that’s a shame.

I would love to hear you try — and fail — to list 15 other guys who played better this season.

Kyler Korver

Kyle Korver also clearly got screwed over by All-Defensive Team voters. Make loud noises.

Lakers Got Totem-Pole Length: Every Guy You Run into Is Taller Than the One Before Him

In my Lakers/Thunder preview, I focused on how the long giants of the Lakers’ front line would beast the Jazz’s midget interior. (Respectively speaking here, obviously … 6’8/6’9″ guys like Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap are fairly tall.) Well, that’s what we saw in Game 1, both on offense (Pau had 25 points on 15 shots) and, particularly, on defense.

The Jazz had trouble simply even passing the ball around the outstretched arms of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom (or even when one of those three was “short guy” Ron Artest). This, more than anything else, made the usually-surgical Jazz offense look mostly pedestrian

And Kevin Arnovitz wrote a whole great piece on the topic earlier tonight on TrueHoop.

Jerry Sloan’s system is predicated on continuity. For many NBA teams, scoring is a matter of finding the best one-and-one mismatch on the floor, the exploiting it, but that’s not the case for the Jazz. They flow into their offense by moving the ball in a pattern. The system relies on crisp passes to players who dart off screens away from the ball, and often on entry passes into Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsap from the wings. Against an undisciplined, average-sized team like Denver, swinging the ball around the court is child’s play. But the Lakers make that task extremely difficult.

“Those passes you usually see Wes [Matthews], Kyle [Korver] and I make from the wings? It’s hard to zip those passes because you have three 7-footers with their arms out,” Jazz forward C.J. Miles said.

The success of Utah’s scheme depends on fluid motion, which means the Jazz can’t afford any hesitation or else the offense stalls. Since the Jazz don’t have many shot-creators who can burn the defense in isolation, the ball must keep moving, something that doesn’t come without risk against the Lakers’ battalion of big men.

“Battalion.” Great word. Well done, Kevin.

And, reader, go read the rest of Kevin’s well-done piece. Otherwise, you would miss some more great stuff on the most important element of this second round match-up. Don’t listen to the TV commentators. Kobe vs. Deron, while awesome and more fun to watch/talk about, isn’t the primary factor that will decide this series.

It’s length, length and more length.

Even DWill knows this.

“Unless I grow another three inches before tomorrow, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Williams said.

Try Enzyte, my man. I hear it works

Lakers Defense Length

Good luck with that, Boozer. Should be a really fun series for you and Mr. Millsap. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)