(Un)Happy Birthday Kevin McHale, You Cheap and Dirty Player

December 19 marks Kevin McHale’s 54th birthday and while he was the Chris Bosh of the Celtics (meaning he was riding more talented players’ coattails to wins) he is often lumped in with those great Boston team’s and their success.

However, he pulled one of the dirtiest moves in NBA history when he clotheslined Kurt Rambis during the 1984 NBA Finals. The NBA gods have made sure he pays for it, as he has been the Matt Millen of GM’s in the Association.

Bad draft moves, terrible trades and cheating (remember the secret Joe Smith deal that got Minnesota in heaps of trouble?) have tarnished his career.

Ahh, but it was tarnished well before then by this terribly dirty play. Even Celts fans have to agree that it was a cheap, classless move.

Christmas Memories: RC Radskate

“He’s a totally radical skating machine!!”

How could you not want one?

As a Southern California kid, skateboarding was something I was familiar with and although I owned a skateboard, I wasn’t very good at it. Yet, through the wonders of T&C Surf on Nintendo I wanted to skate. Or at least, I wanted a toy that could skate.

Enter RC Radskate.

 

I wanted this remote-controlled skateboarder so bad. Why? I don’t really know, but he was at the top of my Christmas list and the list ended after RC Radskate.

Maybe it was being fooled by the above commercial and thinking RC Radskate could do crazy flips or something other than the one move they show three times! (at the 0:12, the 0:22 and 0:29 marks) in a 30-second video.

So, instead of shaking presents, I chose one present under the tree and started peeling back the wrapping paper, little by little, at the connecting corners. I did this every day. It was like my own version of the 12 Days of Christmas.

Damn you, RC Radskate

Finally, about a week before Christmas, I struck the mother lode. I had pulled back just enough wrapping paper to see what it revealed.

I saw that the box said “RC Radskate” – I had gotten what I wanted.

There are several cruel things about finding out your No. 1 gift before Christmas morning. First, you don’t get that unbridled joy – like this here – of opening gifts on Christmas. It’s been taken away.

Second, I think I pissed off Santa Claus, or God, or some other karmic being.

Yup, RC Radskate totally sucked ass.

He would skate about 10 feet and the batteries would pop out from underneath the skateboard. You would try to do moves and he wouldn’t do anything. The one spinning move shown all over the commercial made the batteries pop out at a lightning-fast rate.

I was crushed. And, I felt it was my fault. That cheating on my present-opening caused RC Radskate to suck.

We took him back to Toys R Us on Dec. 26 (yeah, like there would be no one there – that was a bad choice!) and most people in line had the defective piece of crap that was RC Radskate.

When my mom asked the clerk if we could exchange RC Radskate for an RC Radder-skate, the clerk told her that a) no, because they didn’t have any more and b) everyone else returning them complained of the batteries falling out too.

Stupid toy makers in their underpaid sweatshops.

Let this be a lesson: Mildly shaking gifts is OK. Cheating on opening your presents gets you the karma police and RC Shitskate.

Random Pro of the Week: Mark Bavaro

Best tight end in football right now?

Is it Antonio Gates? Rob Gronkowski? Jimmy Graham?

One thing is clear, the tight end position enjoyed by those three and many others would not have been as specialized if it wasn’t for Mark Bavaro.

The guy was a stud and was really one of the true pass-catching tight ends who proved to be a dangerous threat.

How do I remember that Bavaro was a stud? Tecmo Bowl, of course.

Aside from Bo Jackson, who is the greatest player in video game history, Bavaro and the New York Giants were the best overall team. Not only was the defense legit, but Bavaro was always good for 10 or so yards on Pass 2, where he ran an out and it was easy pickings.

The reason that Bavaro was so good in Tecmo Bowl was the fact that he was – at least in my mind – a groundbreaking tight end. And he just seemed like the tough football player you wanted on your team. Look at this, where he drags Ronnie Lott at least 10 yards after a hit:

Bavaro changed the game. Sure there were other tight ends who were revolutoinary, but a big, physical tight end like him who could catch and wasn’t afraid to go over the middle became the prototype for the guys who you want on your fantasy team right now.

He also seemed like a bad-ass. His nickname was “Rambo” partially for his resemblance to Sylvester Stallone, but also because he was a beast. If Bavaro had played during the Twitter era, we might have hashtagged him as #beastmode. He may have even been the first to be hashtagged as such.

When was the last time you saw a TE on the cover of the football issue?

Back when Bavaro played it was hand it off to a bruising back and pass to one of your two wide receivers. The passing game had not been revolutionized as it has been now (along with some handy rules in place to aid passing offenses) but Bavaro was on the cutting edge.

Like Al Pedrique, Bavaro was better-known in a video game. Unlike Pedrique, Bavaro was well-known for his ability to be a great playmaker and difference-maker in a video game.

Chris Paul Non-Trade Further Proves the NBA is Rigged

Yes, we’ve all heard the rumors throughout the blogosphere and around the Internet (mostly made famous by Bill Simmons) that the NBA is rigged.

This guy fell through the cracks and shows the NBA is rigged.

It seems silly to think that a billion-dollar industry as successful (minus the constant work stoppages) as the NBA would not need to stoop to the level of The Miz and wrestling, but it’s also silly to blindly dismiss the conspiracy theories.

Start with the Knicks getting Patrick Ewing in the draft way back in 1985 in the very first draft lottery ever; then consider the NBA telling Michael Jordan to go away for two years to resolve his gambling; or the Lakers defeating the Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals on some eyebrow-raising officiating; then the proof of crooked ref Tim Donaghy.

Of course no one talks about how after the Donaghy scandal the league was in serious trouble as some of these above allegations might all of a sudden hold some water. So, what needs to happen? Well, the marquee teams with a long history between them, need to meet in the Finals. Sure, the Celtics and the Lakers brought every fan back and David Stern swept the Donaghy scandal under the rug.

What brings up new evidence of Stern acting like Vince McMahon again is when he did not allow Chris Paul to go to the Lakers. Wait a second, you might be saying, adding the game’s best point guard to one of its best teams would further enhance Stern’s affinity for one of his marquee franchises.

However, think about this … If Stern didn’t hold as much power as he does, he wouldn’t have vetoed the trade. If he wasn’t this master marionette controller, he wouldn’t be pulling all these strings. Over and over and over. His move was completely unprecedented and it further shows how powerful he is as Big Brother watching over everything.

You really think Dwight Howard wants to go to the Nets? The Nets?! No, they just need a big, happy, smiling star of the game when they move to Brooklyn next year. You don’t think Stern knows this?!

It’s not as if the Lakers were giving up spare parts. They were giving up one of the best big men in the league and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

With this so-called competitive balance, Paul remains in purgatory in New Orleans and then he can sign wherever he wants Stern tells him to.

You can’t trust the NBA because you can’t trust David Stern.

Angels Fans Hope Albert Pujols is Not the Next Mo Vaughn

Let’s hope that any Angels fans jumping up and down in the sheer thrill of adding Albert Pujols did not sprain their ankles.

They could be forgiven if they did, since it was a sprained ankle that unraveled the last big contract that the Angels doled out to a slugging first baseman.

Granted, Albert Pujols is not Mo Vaughn. He’s in much better shape and he’s a much better hitter.

However, similarities can be made. Vaughn was signed as a veteran middle-of-the-order slugger to help balance a team that was young and talented and had postseason aspirations (if not in 1999, then in the immediate future). Placing Mo Vaughn around guys like Troy Glaus, Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson and Darin Erstad in the batting order seemed like it could carry the team far.

The farthest those hopes came was the distance between the field level and the bottom of the visiting dugout.

On Opening Day after Vaughn signed a five-year, $80 million deal to put on the periwinkle, he chased down a foul pop-up on the season’s first batter. As he approached the visitor’s dugout, he slipped and slid into it, severely spraining his left ankle in the process.

The injury seemed to nag him all season – and was a crutch for folks not believing Vaughn lived up to his millions. He did hit over 30 home runs and had over 100 RBI in each his two years in Anaheim, fans expected the world – or the World Series – and they didn’t get it.

Vaughn only played two seasons as an Angel, missing the entire 2001 season due to injury, and became a lightning rod for the team’s continued failures of reaching the playoffs.

Of course, we’re not wishing the same ill on Pujols or the Angels. We’re just making a correlation.

Be careful what you wish for.

Christmas Memories: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out

One year, I thought I got screwed out of my No. 1 gift on my Christmas list. Every kid has a pecking order of what they want. If they don’t get No. 2 or No. 3, so long as they got No. 1, they are happy.

I couldn't wait for this man to get into my living room.

That year, I think it was 1988, it wasn’t as if I was pissed that I was – to a point – getting screwed out of my No. 1 gift. It was the year the Dodgers won, what I thought would be many, World Series (Nope!) and it was a year where the Lakers had earlier won a title. So, I was playing with house money when it came to really getting what I wanted.

Then, Christmas morning, I got my gifts and as a kid on Christmas morning, was obviously excited. I don’t remember if it was the year we got our beagle, or if it was another one of Santa’s great gifts, followed by a bounty of toys from my folks.

Yet, my No. 1 gift, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, had never materialized on Dec. 25. Maybe I hadn’t asked Santa enough, or dropped enough hints to my parents that I wanted the game all my friends were playing and talking about. Was this my fault?

A few days after Christmas my dad took us to visit his parents and to celebrate Christmas with them. When I unwrapped my final gift, it was a calculator box.

“Thanks!” I said with as much enthusiasm as a kid who gets new underwear on Christmas morning.

I was urged to open the box, but said “It’s OK, I’ll play with it later.” Then I was urged some more to open the box. Fine, I thought, I can write 55378008 and 710773435 on it and turn it upside down and get a laugh (Boobless and Shell Oil).

Inside the stupid calculator box was my No. 1 gift – Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. Rejoice! I was excited. Not N-64 kid excited, but I was happy. I had received my No. 1 gift. Finally.

Problem was … my Nintendo was at home and we were at my grandparents for another three days. Talk about buzzkill.

Now, I know my family all coordinated to get me what I really wanted that Christmas and ultimately it came true, but why leave a kid to experience all that dry-humping? What is this, Penn State? (sorry, had to) From not getting the game to finally getting it on the 27th or 28th, to having to wait to play it, it wasn’t nearly as much fun to finally get to play it three days later.

From racist characters to a drunk, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out had it all.

Eh. I made sure to play the snot out of that game for the rest of my Nintendo’s days. I never did beat Mike Tyson, but I had a helluva lot of fun knocking around Piston Honda and Soda Poppinski and even doing some great battles with Super Macho Man and developing Nintendo Thumb. (Tangent: I didn’t realize it at the time, but Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out might have been the last game released that completely throws every stereotype out there and celebrates it – from Piston Honda’s overly slanted eyes and how he talks to the German talking about drinking to “Soda” Poppinski actually drinking and Great Tiger wearing a turban, Punch-Out was ridiculous and probably helped all kids develop their stereotypes.)

Was it well worth the wait? You bet. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play right now. Thanks so much, Internet.

Latrell Sprewell Chokes Out P.J. Carlesimo

What I love about our “This Date in History” page is it helps reignite some of our memories from sports. Today’s seemed to fit right in with the theme of this week’s Random Pro, a player who is remembered for one terrible incident than his otherwise solid playing career.

Latrell Sprewell will always be linked with choking his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, after he felt the coach disrespected him in a practice. The always moody Sprewell (read more here) had fought with teammates before, but choking a coach for doing his job – coaching! – is ridiculous.

As Sports Illustrated wrote:

When he assaulted and threatened to kill his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, during a Dec. 1 practice, he committed one of the most outrageous acts on the court or field of play that American professional sports in the modern era has known, and that act will surely follow him for the rest of his life.

(Read the whole article here)

The incident set off a firestorm of what was wrong with athletes and while it didn’t turn overly racial, it didn’t help that Sprewell didn’t exactly conform to the standards that a lot of Americans envision of their athletes. Sprewell’s cornrows and sour attitude only fed in to the hatred that people had of him.

However, while Sprewell was nowhere near the side of right in this situation, there have been tons of athletes through the years who have wanted to do what Spree did. You don’t think someone wanted to choke out Bobby Knight at some point?

Sprewell was never known as a good guy and further illustrated his terrible attitude after he complained that during his $14.6 million contract when he was aiming for a new deal he said “I’ve got a family to feed.”