Tag Archives: Russell Westbrook

Stuff I Read and Enjoyed … Featuring Dreams that the 2010 Free Agent Class Forms Like Voltron and Creative Artists Agency Happen to Be the Head

voltron

1. Creative Artists Agency Stands at Head of 2010 Free-Agent Class

In the back on my mind, I’ve secretly been hoping that there is indeed a backroom pact made by LeBron, Flash and Chris Bosh to take less money and all sign with the same team to form a Super Franchise that would win the next six NBA tittles. It’s probably unlikely and no matter how much at least LeBron and Dwyane are guaranteed to make in endorsements, my cynicism can’t really allow me to expect two guys who could make close to $20 million per year to “settle” for closer to $10 million.

One thing — in addition to LeBron and Wade’s well-publicized friendship, the fact that all three played on the 2008 Redeem Team in Beijing and all three being signed to Nike — that does make a pie-in-the-sky Voltron-like reality still seem so possible, however, is Creative Artists Agency.

Here’s the background:

For 35 years, Creative Artists Agency has represented many of Hollywood’s top power brokers. Steven Spielberg. Tom Cruise. George Clooney. Will Smith. Tom Hanks. Brad Pitt. Julia Roberts. Nicole Kidman. Bruce Springsteen. The list goes on and on.

As you may have noticed, three of those names (Clooney, Pitt, Roberts) were among those who joined forces to enjoy the ensemble cast success of Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, which combined to take in more than $1 billion in box office receipts worldwide.

I think you know where this is going:

James, Wade and Bosh, of course, are the names on the tongues of every NBA executive these days. All three will be free agents this summer, the headliners of what promises to be the deepest and most heralded free-agent class in league history. That all three are represented by the same agency only adds to the drama and intrigue. It stands to reason that CAA – an agency which wasn’t doing much sports business as recently as five years ago – will now have some influence on how the NBA’s power structure shifts for the future.

The piece goes on to discuss what happened when Tim Duncan and Grant Hill were both being repped by the same guy when they were free agents in 2000. Timmy has some interesting quotes as do several others.

2. Maybe the Dunk, Not Just the Dunk Contest, Is Losing Its Luster

Good stuff from Eric Freeman at The Baseline:

The excitement around Shannon Brown’s inclusion in the dunk contest arose from his several fantastic slams on bigger players this season, and his disappointing performance on Saturday shocked many. But the dunks that made Brown’s reputation have very little to do what happens in a dunk contest. In games, his throwdowns over and on defenders are about reorienting time and space to fit his needs. A contest dunk is about defying expectations of what can be done, but it also depends on near-limitless imagination from the dunker. To put it another way, in games, the dunking Brown is thrown into an ever-shrinking box with one small opening and told to crawl out of it. On Saturday, he had to define the dimensions of the box and throw every other competitor inside it. One task is fit for a human overcoming difficult obstacles — the other is about his transformation into godhood.

A lot of this has been said before, but he says it better than most with the conclusion essentially being: Minus trampolines, we’ve seen almost everything that can be done while dunking, and we’ve now seen it sooooo many times that it’s hard to make it exciting — both in a dunk contest and in a game.

3. Omri Casspi: The King of a Nation

Noam Schiller waxes prolific on my boy — and his Israeli compatriot — Omri Casspi.

Regardless of how Casspi’s career unravels from this point forward, he will always be the first one who made it. And all words and all the articles and all the TV pieces that have aired in the American media since that night late in June – and some of them are really really good – can’t even begin to describe the impact this has had in Israel. Kings games have become a matter of national importance – except nobody cares if they win or lose. David Thorpe’s rookie rankings are monitored on a weekly basis by every major sports website in the country. Tyreke Evans is on Casspi’s team, and is having one of the most impressive rookie seasons in recent memory, and yet if you watch a Kings game on an Israeli feed, the only thing you’ll hear the commentators saying is “WHY WON’T HE PASS?!”. Kevin Martin is public enemy number one, and this is for a country surrounded by people who want to kill us. New Casspi interviews and analysis pieces are published by the hour, and nobody is sick of it, because all they want is more and more information of how their promised son is doing in the scary outside world.

Good stuff. Go read the whole thing.

4. The Trade Value List: No. 40 to No. 1

This year’s Trade Value column from Bill Simmons. Speaks for itself. His Durant facts are particularly interesting. Not sure why he needs to continually scheme up new ways to not like Kobe though. Overall, it’s what you would expect from a Simmons NBA column and this was probably my favorite line:

The Zombies could absolutely win a title some day with Durant as their No. 1 and Westbrook as No. 3. They just need a No. 2. Not to be confused with the No. 2 that Clay Bennett took on Seattle.

It’s a must read, naturally.

5. The NBA in 3-D: Coming Soon to a Living Room Near You

The headline of this Brett Pollakoff piece pretty much explains itself. And more than likely, this stuff is probably already further along than you think.

The NBA has been recording events like the All-Star game and the Finals in 3-D since 2007, but until now, has only been able to showcase them in a movie theater setting. As with most new technologies, the obstacles to getting them to market are based in price, as well as the ability to get televisions capable of handling the broadcasts to market. Additionally, the glasses required to view the 3-D programming are expensive — currently estimated to cost around $100 per pair to produce.

Brett was able to watch a preview and was pretty impressed:

There was a demonstration of the 3-D technology at this event, where highlights from the 2009 All-Star weekend were shown on what looked like your standard HD screen of about 42 inches in size. If watching sports in HD is the equivalent of feeling like you’re viewing the proceedings through the window of a luxury suite in the arena, then seeing things in 3-D is like having a courtside seat.

They really did this just right: the 3-D isn’t at all gimmicky like what we’ve come to expect from movies, where everything possible is done to overuse the 3-D effect by having things needlessly appear to be flying out of the screen right into your face. Instead, the front of the screen is used as the beginning point for the action, and everything appears to go deeper into the television, with the depth of the experience being accented like never before. If they had players or the ball flying out at you it would detract from the actual game itself; the way they have seemed to decide to do things makes the technology the ultimate enhancement.

Let’s hope I don’t die before this happens.

lebron MVP 3D glasses

The NBA Logo Ranking Project:
#27 – Oklahoma City Thunder

The promise shown by Oklahoma City’s young talent nucleus (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and, possibly, James Harden) combined with the ongoing outrage aimed at team owner Clay Bennett for hijacking the franchise from Seattle has, for the most part, moved the comedy of errors that is the team’s name and logo to the backburner.

No longer.

Let’s start with the name. Obviously, nonplural sports team names are dumb. The Jazz are probably the closest to not being cringe-inducing, but it’s still unpalatable to say. Even worse is reading the variation in subject/verb agreement when nonplural teams are discussed in written form. Logically, the Jazz, Heat and Magic should all be treated as plural nouns just like the Celtics, Lakers and Bulls. By the rationale of context, they should become like deer, moose or fish in that the singular and plural forms are the same word. “The Magic ARE on a four-game win streak,” for instance, not “The Magic IS on a four-game win streak.” Still, two decades after Orlando and Miami entered the League, there is no consistency, and you will see the names handled differently depending on the publication.

Moreover, even for a nonplural, the name Thunder is just weak. Dogs and 12-year-old girls are the only things scared of thunder. Lighting is a little scary, sure. It can kill you. But loud noises are not intimidating. There are certainly thousands of other nouns that Oklahoma City could have chosen that would have been better, but, for my money, the Oklahoma City Outlaws would have been the ideal choice.

See, the only two things Oklahoma is widely known for is being the title of a simple musical I was forced to watch in elementary school and being the nickname for the notorious gunslinger The Oklahoma Kid, who was played by bonafide tough guy James Cagney in the 1939 film of the same name. (It should be noted that legendary badass Humprey Bogart starred in the film as well.) Throw in the alliteration benefit and calling a team the Oklahoma City Outlaws is a no-brainer.

Then all you have to do to have a great new franchise is steal the phenomenal Arizona Outlaws logo from the defunct USFL. But that would have been way too easy, I guess. Instead, the powers that be in OKC opted for a lame name and a logo that looks more fitting of an internet browser. Or worse, a WNBA team.

thunder logo

This doesn’t belong on a jersey. It belongs on a KFC Famous Bowl.

Dunk: The Vote

As I reckon most of you already know, this year’s Sprite Sprite Dunk contest will feature defending champ Dwight Howard, former champ Nate Robinson, Rudy Gay and one of either Joe Alexander, Russell Westbrook or Rudy Fernandez, depending upon which of those three wins the fan vote-off.

And while the Both Teamsters Union is officially endorsing the same candidate as we are for the actual All Star Game itself — a write-in vote for All-Starbury — our penchant for nontransparent, democratic elections compels us to at least share with you the campaign ads of the three conventional contenders. (You can vote here.)

Here’s Flying Buck Dunk Master Joe Alexander’s ad, wherein he headbutts the rim:

Here’s singer/songwriter Rudy Fernandez with his smash hit “Vota Me, Por Favor”:

And here’s Russell Westbrook being, ya know, entirely uninteresting: