Random Pro of the Week: Darius Miles

Since the Clippers have become sexy again (thank you, Chris Paul), I remember the first time in my life when people actually began mentioning them as a potential playoff team.

It’s like the scene in Major League when everyone around town is talking about the Indians during a successful run and saying “These guys might not be so f—ing bad.”

Three rookies and two first-year players – Quentin Richardson, Keyon Dooling, Darius Miles, Corey Maggette and Lamar Odom – on the 2000-01 team followed up the next year by the addition of Elton Brand to go along with guys like Eric Piatkowski and Michael Olowakandi made the Clippers somewhat intriguing.

Turns out, the Asian groundkeepers from Major League were right. “They’re still shitty” as they said.

A lot of that falls on the Clippers as an organization. But, some of it should fall on Darius Miles.

After being compared to Kevin Garnett for making the leap straight from high school to the NBA – and being picked No. 3 overall – Miles seemed like he would be part of a Clippers core for plenty of years and playoff runs.

Turns out, he never really had a jump shot – or developed one – and at 6-foot-9 he should have been a better rebounder. Yet, because he weighed about 150 pounds (truthfully 210, but he looked as slender as a meth head) he couldn’t bang down low and because he couldn’t pass or shoot, he couldn’t sit on the perimeter.

Somewhat alike, but not really at all.

In his eight NBA seasons he averaged just 10.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. It’s not Adam Morrison (another No. 3 overall pick) statistics, but it isn’t Carmelo Anthony either. In two of Miles’ seasons he averaged – repeat, averaged! – a negative win share. That means that the team would have been better off not having him play a single minute.

What Miles did get known for was his head-pounding that he did on the court with Quentin Richardson where the two would turn their fists upside down and hit the top of their heads.

 

 

The move, known as “antennas up” in reference to people should pull up their antennas and pay attention to what we’re doing. The move carried on with each doing so when they were no longer teammates.

It did become hip enough that the move was featured in a Nike commercial, directed by Spike Lee where the best part is Miles’ block at the 0:09 mark that looks like a fourth grader is shooting the ball.

 

Being in L.A., Miles and Richardson also parlayed their shared fame into a small part in Van Wilder but that seemed to be the only highlight of Miles’ career.

He was arrested recently for carrying a loaded gun – repeat, a loaded gun! – in an airport and trying to get it through security. That followed up his arrest for pot (but, really, it’s the NBA so we shouldn’t be surprised and he was playing with the Jail Blazers at the time) and driving on a suspended license. I guess when you roll in a car pictured to the left, you might attract some attention.

It’s just that the attention Miles drew was rarely for what he did on the court. Except for the “antennas up” salute.

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Random Pro of the Week: Muggsy Bogues

Growing up, if there was one basketball player that wasn’t a Laker that I admired, it was Spud Webb. If there were two, it was Spud Webb and Muggsy Bogues.

As someone who wasn’t cut from his freshman team in high school because all I did was hustle despite the fact that I hadn’t really developed any basketball skills, guys like Webb and Bogues were inspirational.

Here was a guy who was no taller than my mother – Bogues is the smallest player in NBA history at just 5-foot-3 – yet was drafted 12th overall. The fact that he was part of the popular Charlotte Hornets (think Starter jackets and NBA Jam) with Larry “Grand Ma Ma” Johnson meant that people liked him even more.

Muggsy Bogues, the NBA's shortest player, and Manute Bol, the NBA's tallest player, were teammates in Washington.

Bogues, though, played for 14 years in the Association. Think about that in terms of a child: From birth through freshman year of high school, Bogues was playing in the NBA.

Sure, he’s only remembered for his height but he scored almost 7,000 points and had nearly that many assists. If there was ever a person who could inspire just by being on TV, it was Muggsy Bogues. He didn’t need any Tony Robbins speeches, or “The More You Know” videos. Just seeing him on the court, weaving in between the 6-foot-9 players was amazing.

Plus, he even blocked a shot by Patrick Ewing once.

And, he had one of the best names in sports. Although Muggsy is not his real name, no one knows him as Tyrone Bogues. Like Magic, Muggsy is just his name. Not Earvin. Not Tyrone.

While most weekend warriors try to envision themselves as Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant – think of the hilarious Along Came Polly scene where Philip Seymour Hoffman yells “White Chocolate!” – I think that Muggsy Bogues inspired more people to take up hoops than any other professional player.

“Hey!” you’d say while looking at the TV, “If that midget can play in the NBA, then I definitely can play a little ball.”

Muggsy Bogues, plain and simple, showed people that adage – if you put your mind to something, you can succeed.

Plus, he made the hilarious crossover to Curb Your Enthusiasm  when we realized that Muggsy wasn’t small in every area.

(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.

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.

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.”

The NBA Lock Out: Have We Missed Anything?

Sometimes we like to pay it forward. It’s something we believe in and feel that karma – good or bad – is always at the ready.

This afternoon we paid it forward. The Throwback Attack-mobile needed some service and the service rep was above-and-beyond good. In our day job, Throwback Attack can sometimes get tickets to sporting events and with a four-pack of tickets for a college hoops game in hand, we handed them over to the service rep.

He loved it and then said he’d been itching for some hoops since the NBA was locked out.

That got us thinking: Do we really miss the NBA?

Something you won't be seeing any time soon.

As a fan of the game, yes, it’s always great to see some of the world’s best competing which is what makes sports great. But, did we miss the NBA?

The season is so laborious. There are only about a dozen regular-season games that people pay attention to every year. There is such a huge discrepancy between the haves and the have-nots. (Sound familiar, baseball?)

And, the fact that there has been absolutely ZERO progress made in the negotiations makes us miss it that much less. (Really, ESPN? The scroll of the labor situation is new each day? It seems the exact same to us!)

With other professional leagues that have had stoppages in the past, how much has been missed? There is not enough attention paid to college baseball to ease the pangs of spring and summer, so we can’t afford a MLB strike. The fans of the NFL and college football seem completely different and divided. Both are supported whole-heartedly and equally, so the NFL would be missed by some. When the NHL missed an entire year, there was little for puck fans to enjoy.

Really, most of you couldn't dress up a little?

But, is there that big of a difference between college hoops and the NBA? There are upsets galore – fans rushing courts, inspired chants, hustle on the floor and pride in your school both on the court and the stands. That makes us love college hoops. You never see that in the NBA. And there’s the fact that there are so many college players that aren’t that far off from playing in The Association. That means that the talent level isn’t too far off between elite teams and players.

The NBA is a larger version of college hoops in the sense that the regular season matters little and most people pay attention only in the final month.

When the NBA locked out in 1998 I remember running a giant middle finger on the sports page of my college newspaper in protest. Yet that wasn’t as much for missing the games as it was for the greed and ridiculousness of locking out and forcing fans of the game to miss their teams.

Yes, ideally, we all want what’s fair. But you, loyal reader, took a job knowing that not everything is a democracy. You have to put up with a fair amount of BS at your place of business. It’s just how life works.

It’s the same with the players. As someone we know says to us when we complain: “It’s the life you chose.”

So … here, NBA, this middle finger is to you. We’ll be busy with college hoops when you decide to come back.

The Week of Magic

A big thank you to Lyle Spencer and Marvin Gapultos for contributing this week as we remembered Magic Johnson and how his announcement 20 years ago changed not only sports, but the world.

Sounds brash, but it’s true. Magic taking the torch and being the face of HIV and marching towards a cure has helped change the world. The fact that he is still alive, 20 years later, and looking good – he does not look anything like Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia” – has only helped his cause.

As we wrap up The Week of Magic, we take a final look at how great of a player he was and why he still remains loved in the hearts of Lakers fans, and basketball fans.