FanPost

18. Jumpers Kill: The View from Memphis

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Back to those Laker fans — or "The Clueless Ones," in the eyes of so many Blazer aficionados. Are they really so arrogant, ignorant, and addled as the Portlandians have themselves convinced that they are?

In Part 17 of this View thang, I agreed that this typical Pritchardneeshie view of the average Laker fan had some basis in fact. How could the average Laker fan be anything but bandwagon-jumping and Kobe-worshipping?

Read closely and note well: the average Laker fan.

It's like this: human beings act in a common way whether they live in New York, London, Paris, Munich... World championships and their attendant publicity attract the attention of casual fans of every sport. People want to feel like "part" of a winner. They want to turn on a game on television and see "their" team on the screen, they want "their" team to have a better-than-average chance of winning against any and every opponent.

Winning feels nice. Monkeys like to feel nice.

Here is a list of Los Angeles Lakers World Championships since 1970, that is, within the lifetime or collective sports memory of well over half of the NBA's fans:  1971/72, 1979/80, 1984/85, 1986/87, 1987/88, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02, and — most importantly — 2008/09.

Now here is a list of Portland Trail Blazer World Championships during that same interval: 1976/77. Which is another way of saying: if you are younger than 32 years old, the Blazers have never won a championship in your lifetime.

Riddle me this: Which of these teams do YOU think is more apt to have attracted the superficial attention of more casual, basically clueless, fans of basketball?

Human beings also develop attachments to superstar athletes. Again, this is human nature. People, for whatever reason, like to revel in the achievements of the ultimate human specimens, those who perform athletic competitions at a peerless level.

Now, make a mental list of the best 3 players in the NBA...

Did you say: 1. Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), 2. Lebron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), 3. somebody else?

Or did you say: 1. Lebron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), 2. Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), 3. somebody else?

Or are you in denial?

Again, this basic fact of sports performance supremacy attracts a certain percentage of the most vapid, the most simple basketball fans to the Lakers over other teams, further diluting the gene pool of that particular fan base.

Now get this right: EVERY team has a broad spectrum of fans, ranging from silly old birds who think that Brandon Roy looks like a nice gentleman, to the casual fans who vaguely like their home team now that it's not the punch line to a national joke, to the fans who watch every game and read whatever they can about their favorite squad, to the supergeeks who spend 3 hours every night attempting to generate a new metric using pace-adjusted plus-or-minus in conjunction with a revolutionary new defensively-oriented permutation of PER...

EVERY team has obnoxious 15 year old ESPN comment-section trolls, trade machine aficionados, and doofi who hold unsophisticated and unsubstantiable views in which they overrate the abilities of the teammates of star players.

On the other hand, EVERY team also has its smart, analytical, more or less well-balanced fans who follow their favorites loyally, come hell or high water.

The Lakers have more of the obnoxious, superficial, clueless, bandwagoneering fans ON AVERAGE because they have won more World Championships — and recently — and because they feature arguably the greatest player in the NBA today. It's completely natural and absolutely unavoidable, given the team's track record of success.

The Lakers also have their fair share of serious, thoughtful, perceptive, analytical fans — just like every other team in the NBA. One just has to look a bit harder to find them because there are so many dodos wearing the same color of shirt.

Now I'll admit that I've sort of skirted the issue of the "entitlement mentality" of many Laker fans. It's a syndrome that is related to the team's success, but not exactly a byproduct of the fact that the mean Basketball IQ of the Laker pack has been inevitably dumbed down by an influx of bandwagoneers. Even the best and the brightest Laker fans often have this tendency. Maybe that will make a good topic for next time.

 

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I'm pretty sure the cause of Josh and Chris of Silver Screen and Roll deciding that this column needed to be ummmm,  greatly shortened and focused was my incessant braying about the comical self-immolation of the me-first gunner dweeb Allen Iverson and the addled organization that decided extending his career was a good idea... 

Was I preoccupied with that train wreck and the lies ensuing in the aftermath? Sure — guilty as charged! Hey, what else can I say? Remember, Blazer fans, Grizz owner Michael Heisley and GM Chris Wallace are the same bozos that signed Darius Miles last season and decided to try him out at Power Forward (!!!) just for funzies... They managed to thereby eradicate $9M of KP's cap space and a bigger pile than that of Paul Allen's chips. (You all are feeling me NOW, right?)

So, while the humorous tale of A.I. merch going on sale at the Grizzlies Team Store for 50% off and the hilarious saga of the cancellation of Allen Iverson Night in Memphis and the forced "donation" of 3,000 Grizzlies A.I. jerseys to Tanzania have had to pass undocumented in this screed, here for old times' sake is one final parting shot:

"I always thought that when I left the game, it would be because I couldn't help my team the way that I was accustomed to. However, that is not the case. I still have tremendous love for the game, the desire to play, and a whole lot left in my tank. I feel strongly that I can still compete at the highest level." —Allen Iverson (Nov. 25, 2009)

No, Allen, you have to leave the game because you, sir, are an egocentric idiot.

Okay, Josh, I'm done now.

 

Channel Surfing.

Thursday, Nov. 26.

I hope your Thanksgiving was as good as mine. I dodged everybody. Awesome.  

One question: Has there ever been two crappier NFL matchups for Turkey Day than Packers v. Lions and Raiders v. Cowboys? Oy vey... Usually I can feign interest in one game or the other. Not this year, that's for sure. The only people who had interest in either of those pigs have bookies and were playing points...

On to the hoops...

 

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Orlando Magic (11-4) at Atlanta Hawks (11-3).

This promised to be a great matchup, two of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, mano a mano. It was a back-to-back for the Magic, while the Hawks were tanned, rested, and ready, having had three days to rest and prepare. Hell, even their fans showed up for this one, occupying almost every (little used) seat.

The 1st Quarter was good stuff — an even game played at a high level, with both teams looking terrific. But the tide soon turned hard for the Hawks, as they stomped down on the accelerator in the 2nd, sprinting out to a 14 point lead. "Hasta la vista, Orlando!"

Not so fast.

Early in the 3rd Quarter, the unexpected happened. The sprinting athleticism and snappy passing of the Hawks vanished into thin air, as Steve Blake Max — Mike Bibby — led the cacophony of clank with a couple ill-considered bombs. Actually, to be fair, it wasn't strictly Big Binky's fault — Joe Johnson and Josh Smith couldn't buy a bucket either. Whoosh! 15-3 Magic run and the Hawks reeled and keeled.

Honestly, it's so simple. I have no clue why NBA players, guys who make their living at the game of basketball, fail to grasp the basic idea... If you get to the rack and your opponent does not, you will win. If you're gonna shoot jumpers, they'd better be open looks from behind the 3-point circle, because any other recipe generates explosive gas that's gonna blow up your kitchen.

Orlando got to the rim and nailed open perimeter jumpers, both. The Hawks flung and clanked and lost. Back to the drawing board, guys. Magic 93, Hawks 76.

 

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Chicago Bulls (6-7) at Utah Jazz (7-7).

Over the last 2 seasons, the Utah Jazz have been 70-12 on their home floor — one of the most unconquerable fortresses of David Stern's kingdom. Coming into this game, the Jazz were 4-2 on their home floor. Losing this one for them at this juncture = potential seasonal meltdown.

Then again, let's see if we can identify a pattern present in the Bulls' last three games coming into this one: 1. BLOWOUT — 2. BLOWOUT — 3. BLOWOUT... Hmmm, anyone noticing a pattern?

Let's pay a visit to (-1) x Disneyland = Blog-a-Bull (company motto: The Angriest Place on Earth™®) for the entertaining game call. Take it away, Blog-a-Bullies, say it loud and say it proud!

I'm feelin a win.
And James Johnson will have his first 10 point game.

by BigBabyCollin on Nov 26, 2009 7:36 PM PST

TNT!!
...well on our way to another embarassment on national TV!

by kwintz on Nov 26, 2009 7:53 PM PST

That's pretty Booz

by BigBabyCollin on Nov 26, 2009 7:58 PM PST

Derrick continuing his weak play, I see.

God he just sucks.

by MPG on Nov 26, 2009 8:08 PM PST

Stupid Gibson, blowout in the making again

by Juan dela Cruz on Nov 26, 2009 8:10 PM PST

sloppy sloppy sloppy

by iamsasquatch on Nov 26, 2009 8:15 PM PST

This game is over already

by Illini15 on Nov 26, 2009 8:17 PM PST

I'll say it again.
Vinny's work this year has earned him the death penalty.

by dakoose on Nov 26, 2009 8:25 PM PST

The worst lineup ever
He sho uld be immediately fired for ever thinking that Miller and Gray could be on the floor together for three minutes. Let's stop the charade about better defense — it's just a poorly constructed team — short, slow with limited skillsets. In other words, just the place where a high level free agent wants to play.

by Gene Banks on Nov 26, 2009 8:25 PM PST

The Bulls are making me so depressed
I might even go for another slice of pie

by Teri on Nov 26, 2009 9:04 PM PST

Big blowout, never close. Ernie Johnson's apt 3-word summary: "This was ugly." Compelling viewing only for the S&M fetishists... Jazz 105, Bulls 86.

 

Friday, Nov. 27.

Grizzlies_medium

Memphis Grizzlies (5-10) at Portland Trailblazers (12-5).

So you thought this game would be a gimme just because the Blazers had beaten teams from a city starting with the letter M (Miami, Memphis, Minnesota, Milwaukee) 27 times in a row?

Look, the Grizzlies have O.J. Mayo, the smaller, economy sized version of Kobe Bryant. They have Rudy Gay, one of the most dynamic scoring wings in the NBA. They have Zach Randolph, still a 20-and-10 sort of guy because he plays Power Forward in position, sucking up rebounds and putting the ball through the hole. They have Marc Gasol, one of the adept scoring Centers in this league, a guy not afraid to mix it up in the paint. They've got Mike Conley who's ummmm, uhhhh, the son of Greg Oden's agent. You've got to be serious about these guys, they have firepower to spare...

You'd think after getting blown out by the Golden State Warriors and taken deep in the game by the New Jersey Nets, The Blazers would start forgetting about the record of their opponents and taking every game very seriously. Nope. Portland looked like Fat Camp kids on the first day of July — a step slow, not too terribly coordinated, trying not to strain their "big bones" on the defensive end, and clearly wishing they were somewhere else.

Okay, let's just get right to it. Whip out that Popcorn Machine GAME FLOW CHART (click the link, sillypants!) because I have something to show you...

Here is the Grizzlies run at the end of the 1st and into the 2nd Quarter: 31 to 2.

You do not survive a run of 31 to 2 in the NBA — 1st Quarter, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Quarter, or 4th Quarter. You might as well shut off the lights and head to the airport, because you're wasting your time...

Who is responsible for the catastrophe? Let me help you figure out whom to hate... Here is a complete list of Blazers who participated in this 10-minute festival of dung-encrusted, turnover-prone, opposition-fast-break-feeding, serially-inept-jumpshooting suck: 

  • Aldridge, LaMarcus;
  • Bayless, Jerryd;
  • Blake, Steven;
  • Cunningham, Dante; 
  • Fernandez, Rudolfo;
  • Miller, Andre;
  • Oden, Gregory;
  • Przybilla, Joel;
  • Roy, Brandon;
  • Webster, Martell.

Blame them.

Interesting note: of the 8 main rotation players used by Nate in this game, the guy LEAST culpable during the 31-2 meltdown in terms of direct participation on the court was the guy who got it all started with two terrible turnovers — Steve Blake. (I'll bet you didn't know that!)

I called "ballgame" in the 2nd Quarter in the Bedge game thread and never had misgivings, despite the Blazers somewhat surprising decision not to become laughingstocks of the NBA by completely bagging it in and taking a 60-point loss. To their credit, PDX got the margin as close as 8 points — but you can only come back so far, y'know...

When you're down double-digits with less than 5 minutes remaining, you'd better have a close personal relationship with Basketball Jesus, because that's the only guy who's gonna be able to save your bacon. And he doesn't do housecalls when he's already let you make up 20... Grizzlies 106, Blazers 96.

 

Well, our Canuck friends are still on their long weekend and thus the latest installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD is still the last one. But we need something to watch NOW, eh? So allow me to introduce you to a couple of YouTube pals — Jackie Broyles and Dunlap. Life will be complete when they finally get some face time on The Colbert Report... (The second one has a snippet of slightly NSW language.)

 

 

Okay, time to get down to the real point of this meandering mess of a column — snippets and hotlinks to the Memphis Grizzlies blogarium...

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(1)

Grizzlies Hold Off Late Surge to Defeat Portland, 106-96: Early 21-0 run help Memphis win second road game

By Ronald Tillery, Memphis Commercial Appeal

* * *
The Grizzlies experienced their best stretch of basketball in recent memory when they scored 21 unanswered points in the first half Friday night, and then cruised to a 106-96 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

That 21-0 scoring barrage bridged the first and second quarters, tying the Grizzlies' all-time record. The Griz had never scored so many consecutive points on the road.

The decisive sequence staggered the Blazers and hushed a normally raucous Rose Garden crowd. The Griz routinely earned defensive stops and turned them into patient, unselfish offensive possessions in snapping an eight-game losing streak to the Blazers.

"It was an awesome performance from start to finish," Hollins said. * * *

 

(2)

Jamaal Tinsley Learning his Role with Grizzlies: Point Guard has calming effect on offense

By Ronald Tillery, Memphis Commercial Appeal

* * *
"Everybody loves him," Conley said. "He's doing a lot to make his presence felt. For me, I've been noticing the way he probes and observes the game. Even though he doesn't know all of the plays, he's putting guys in spots and getting into pick-and-rolls. He's going to help us a lot when he gets into the kind of shape he wants to be in."

Tinsley said he'll play whatever role is required. He's taking this shot at redemption day by day and possession by possession in hopes he can convince his younger teammates to do the same with every game.

"I've learned a lot about bringing my leadership on the court," Tinsley said. "I'm just trying to let them know that you don't have to hit every home run on a possession. The more possessions we get, the better chance we have to win the ball games."

 

(3)

Sometimes the Best Gifts: Memphis beats Portland 106-96

by DJTurtleface, Straight Outta Vancouver (SBN)

Forget the final score, this game was a beat-down led by a 21-0 run by Memphis in the first half. And even after that, the Grizzlies kept rolling to a 31-2 streak. By the time the Blazers had pulled within striking distance even Hasheem Thabeet had managed to score 9 points. * * *

The Memphis Grizzlies still have a lot to prove before I'll bless this core as a team worth holding together, but in the past few weeks they're starting to look closer than I've seen in a long time.

 

(4)

Grizzlies Light Up Blazers

by Matthew Noe, 3 Shades of Blue (TrueHoop)

* * *
This game was karmic retribution for the Pritchard hollow-"threat" letter of last year regarding the Darius Miles thing.

Oh, and also, the Grizzlies outplayed the Blazers for a majority of the game and held on for the win, and a HIGH QUALITY win it is. The Blazers are one of the best teams in the Western Conference, no doubt — but the Grizzlies came out and jumped on them with both feet and did what had to be done to keep the game within grasp.

My personal player of the game?

That's right, Hasheem Thabeet. Sure, there were other players who, it could be said, made greater contributions — but I've never wanted to be proven wrong about a player as badly as I do about Thabeet, and he made steps toward making me look like a moron tonight, and I'm just thrilled about it. * * *

 

(5)

You're so pretty, you're so pretty — vaaa- cant

posted by Vanjulio to Real GM Memphis Grizzlies message board

Portland has shown their colors. Awfully vacant.

I never thought they were for real. Their team is strong but it lacks real firepower. I won't place our team among the elite but also you can't put Portland there ever either.

 

I may add more links later as they appear... Please check back if you're interested...

 

The Bottom LIne:

1. Hey Portland, Z-bo has a message for you................................. pwned!

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