I'll get to tonight's game in a minute, but first things first: the NBA trade deadline highlights the many differences between life in the NBA and life in the real world.
The scene tonight was completely surreal; come along on the following experiment as tonight's events are put into the perspective of your average American company.
Millionaire corporate manager PJ Carlesimo, a key figure in a multi-multi-million dollar organization, was aware that his company had acquired millions of dollars worth of new personnel while also relieving itself of millions of dollars of personnel. Had he, as an important ambassador for his team, spoken to these new hires? No. Had anybody from his organization actually communicated with their new investments? As PJ put it, "Sam [Presti] has spoken to them or their agents." Did he have any idea when he would be in contact with the new hires or when they would begin working for his organization? No, not exactly, "My guess would be Saturday or Sunday."
Company Starlet Kevin Durant, whom the multi-multi-million dollar organization has built its short-term, long-term, economic and marketing plans around, was not notified of the major personnel changes in a company meeting, conference call or official press release. Instead, he was text messaged by one of his friends who saw on ESPN that Wally Szczerbiak, another millionaire and key personnel figure, had been relocated from the company to a major competitor in Cleveland. Mr. Durant responded to this news glumly, "It's a big business." He then ate a power bar.
Not two hours later, a rival multi-multi-million dollar corporation, the Portland Trailblazers, had its latest personnel hire show up at his new place of business. First day on the job! Mr. Von Wafer was looking sharp but confused, unsure where to sit until millionaire employee Greg Oden pulled up a chair for him as he watched his new organization play for the first time. Shortly thereafter, one of his co-workers, Jarrett Jack, made a passing comment about Mr. Wafer's jeans (for the record, Mr. Jack approved) and another one of his new co-workers, Travis Outlaw, asked him why he was so quiet and shy. Then, in a matter of seconds, a third co-worker, Brandon Roy, exited the shower and was swarmed by television cameras and newspaper reporters, and the crowd overflowed into Mr. Wafer's new office (his locker, which had not yet been updated with his nameplate). Mr. Wafer responded by leaving his office and trying to find a ride to the airport for his first business trip, to Seattle, that night.
Like I said, it was surreal. And now, much to the relief of the players and the coaches, the deadline has passed and it's back to business. Unfortunately for the Blazers, business isn't great right now. The team continued to play flat stretches tonight, much to the dismay of Coach McMillan and also the thousands of fans in attendance tonight who were pleading for a knockout punch and blowout victory for much of the second half.
Although that never materialized, the Blazers did escape with their first victory in six games, led by a solid performance from Jarrett Jack and a career-high in rebounds from Brandon Roy. Given how short-handed the Sonics were, and how short the turnaround is before tomorrow night, this victory won't be savored. In fact, by the close of the post-game interview session, it seemed like some of the players had already forgotten they had just won. I guess you can't blame them: it was a crazy day.
Up Close and Personal
Portland-area barbers rejoice. Middle school children across the city beg their parents to let them get the Greg Oden Mr. T cut. Oh dear god, I'm not sure I'm ready for this.
Pre-game and Post-game Reaction
PJ Carlesimo on the new-look Sonics: "I feel good. We've got the core group that I think is going to be here going forward. That's the most important thing. Sam has done a real good job giving us more flexibility with the draft and financially. To get some of the financial flexibility that we got, you have to give up something. We gave up 2 guys who played very well for us when they were here. Wally and Kurt played significant minutes and played well for us.'
Kevin Durant on who impressed him at the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge: "Brandon is a great player. Lamarcus. Rudy Gay. Jordan Farmar. All of them guys are going to be all stars one day."
Kevin Durant on the day's trades: "This league is a big business. I can't question what the guys did up in the front office. I know they are trying to do their best to make us in the long run... I came from high school and college where you've always got the same guys on the team. Never a move during the season. It was something new to me. People have been telling me, it's a business. You might not be playing with your same teammates your whole career. It's something you've got to get used to.
Nate McMillan on the result: "We'll take it . We did some good things out there. We wanted to be more aggressive getting to the free throw line tonight. That was a challenge all season long but definitely lately... we got 39 attempts at the free throw line tonight. We did a good job of taking care of the ball... except for those shot clock violations... and we're moving the ball, we're doing some good things. We need to make some plays down the stretch which we haven't done lately and I thought we did that tonight... but we're still having that five minute spurt where we are digging holes for ourselves."
Nate on his line-up moves tonight: "My thought was I have to get Joel in the game and keep him in the game. I pretty much went to a short rotation in the second half. Frye didn't play in the second half, but we still didn't control the boards like we wanted."
Nate on the passing trade deadline: "I thought about that. I know a lot of them were looking at 12 o clock today waiting for that to pass. That definitely could have played a part. I've been there before and its on your mind until that deadline passes. What you've got to do is keep playing. It is a business. Today, it was just one of those things that the clock passed 12 they knew that nothing was going on so they take it upon themselves that I'm here, I'm keeping the same address at least for the rest of the season."
Brandon on the result: "We can't get too excited about it with another game tomorrow night, they want to get the win. Hopefully we can build on this win and get another one tomorrow...I wish we could have done better with the 10 point lead. We gotta get better. We gotta play well for 48 minutes. Those stretches where we go flat, these top teams who we've got to face, they'll go up by 10 or 15 points, it's great to win but we're not there yet."
Abbreviated Random Game Notes
-- PJ interrupted his pre-game interview to say hello to Harry Glickman. It was like watching someone pay tribute to the Godfather and not just because PJ is Italian.
-- Doug Collins also paid tribute to Harry in the hall pre-game. Harry's credibility runs deep.
-- Speaking of Collins, if you had any aspersions of drafting him for your rec. league, don't. The poor guy walks like he played hopscotch on landmines as a kid
-- Former Western Oregon University Tight End, and current World Champion New York Giant, Kevin Boss was in attendance tonight. He threw autographed footballs into the stands during one timeout
-- Martell Webster gave Cheryl Miller a big hug before the game and he wasn't the only one. It's clear she's got the respect of everyone in the league
-- Jarrett Jack sure played like he had a big weight lifted off his shoulders, didn't he? I'm glad he didn't get moved despite his on-again, off-again play recently.
-- Absolutely zero people in the sold out Rose Garden were surprised that Bill Simmons' imagined trade of LaMarcus Aldridge to Memphis didn't go through.