Month: June 2012

NBA Draft, 2012

To start, a link back to the beginnings of my blogging life and my 2003 draft breakdown. I just reread it and it’s fun, especially my panning of Miami drafting D. Wade. I actually have a few decent observations in there. And a lot of inside stuff that makes no sense A) nine years later and B) without watching the draft.

Last night I only watched bits and pieces of the draft, so this year’s summary will have less snarky comments about suits, crying mothers, bad commercials, etc.

As I’ve documented, I paid less attention to college basketball this year than in the past.1 But I have to say I’m not impressed with this year’s draft class. I think there are a few solid players in there, but I don’t see guys that have a clear path to becoming stars. Sure, a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could blow up, but it’s far from a sure thing with him or anyone else.

I’m even less optimistic about Anthony Davis than most. People keep throwing around the Tim Duncan comparison, but Duncan was a much better offensive player in college. I think Davis will be a defensive force, but I’m not convinced he’s going to become the cornerstone player New Orleans is hoping for. One of my NBA buddies told me I was crazy for thinking that, but I’ll throw it out there anyway so we can make fun of it in nine years.

I’ve been a fan of the Sacramento Kings twice in my life. They were my first favorite team when still playing in Kansas City. I remember watching them play on weekends before we even moved to KC, and once we arrived there, my mom snatched up any free tickets she could find to games at Kemper Arena. My favorite was a game against the Celtics in 1981. Larry Bird hit a long jumper with a couple seconds left to give the C’s the lead. After a time out, Phil Ford took the inbounds pass, one dribble, and drilled a long three to win the game. That was back when NBA players took like 20 threes a year, so it was a big deal.

I readopted them once they got good in the C-Webb years and thanks to some prodding by my boy E-bro who lived in Sacramento. But that didn’t really last.

Now I suppose I’m back on the bandwagon with the Kings taking Thomas Robinson. Thus officially ends the college career of one of the most beloved Jayhawks ever. I loved watching T-Rob grow up, learn the game, and turn into an absolute beast. At his peak, from late December to early February, he was the best player in college. He faded a bit, partially because his teammates picked up their games, and Anthony Davis blew up to take the player of the year honors, but T-Rob grew as much as any player who played at KU. And, of course, he dealt with a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with basketball. I think he’s going to be a solid NBA player, assuming Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans don’t ruin him, and am very proud of what he’s accomplished.

Also very happy that Tyshawn Taylor is going home to play in Brooklyn. We all know what Ty brings to the table, both positive and negative. If he can play under control, I think he’ll be a solid rotation guy for many years.

I know John Calipari has to self-promote at all times, but I get tired of his draft night act. It’s not like he took a bunch of scrubs and turned them into one-and-doners. The expectation was that Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Teague would all be gone after one year in Lexington. Yes, he coached them well and won a title. But this whole meme that he’s some kind of guru who can get you to the NBA faster than any other coach is nonsense.

Larry Bird’s goodbye gift to Pacers fans? A first round pick that is, at best, intriguing, and at worst totally insane. Miles freaking Plumlee? The two texts I got after the pick were “He was supposed to go late in the second round” from a Pacers fan and “Terrible” from an astute NBA observer. Yes, it was a weak draft and perhaps Bird looked at Plumlee as a low-risk pick. But why not take a shot at Perry Jones III or Arnett Moultrie? You’re picking 26th, it’s ok to take a flyer.

Afterward the organization kept comparing Plumlee to Jeff Foster, who retired during this past season. Foster was a freak, a longish guy with solid hops and a tireless motor who somehow stuck around in the league for a long time until his back gave out. He was kind of a white Dennis Rodman. They keep throwing around Plumlee’s size, motor, and huge hops. But if he was that freakish, wouldn’t he have dominated in college?

This pick also points to the Pacers being committed to overpaying to keep Roy Hibbert around. I’m not sure Kevin Pritchard is stepping into the best situation.

Best pick of the draft: OKC taking Perry Jones III. Maybe he’s never going to get it, but what a terrific situation to step into. No pressure, he can learn from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He can provide energy off the bench while he’s learning the pro game and getting bigger. And when the time comes, in another year or two, for the Thunder to move one of their second-tier players who is getting expensive, he could be ready to step right in. But only if his attitude is right and if that mysterious knee issue doesn’t get worse.

Most likely lottery bust: It would be easy to go with one of the three, flawed big men: Andre Drummond, Meyers Leonard, or John Henson. I would be surprised if any of them have significant NBA careers. Terrance Ross is another candidate, having been drafted too high and possessing a body that isn’t ready for the NBA. But I’m going to go with Dion Walters, the Syracuse guard who went #4 to Cleveland. I’m always suspicious of the guys who jump up the draft charts the way Walters did. And I’m also suspicious of Syracuse players once they get out of Jim Boeheim’s system.

Most likely star: Kidd-Gilchrist.

Most likely first rounder that, in five years, we’ll wonder why he went so low: No one jumps out at me, so I’ll go with everyone’s favorite pick, Royce White, with one caveat. Houston either needs to trade him or move some of their other 83 forwards so he has space to play.

  1. At least until mid-March. 

On Owning Music

Ahh, more Gen X navel gazing about the changes in the music world. I’m sorry, I can’t avoid reading these pieces, linking to them, or adding some comments of my own.

I think most of that is because this profound change in the technology of music has come right at the time my generation shifted into true adulthood: the getting married, having babies, and getting deep into your career part of adulthood. Which is more responsible for our changing relationship with music, the move to easily obtained digital music or the shift of our free time being devoted to work and family? As we can never exactly determine the answer, it’s hard for me to say that it’s just because music is digital now that I don’t connect with it the way I used to.

Anyway, Kyle Ryan is the latest music writer to tackle this pressing issue.

And maybe that’s what owning music means now: only buying what you really love, and streaming the rest.

Tabloid News

First, a quick story from my youth.

I once had a babysitter who had stacks of newsstand tabloid magazines. I recall them mostly being The National Enquirer but I believe she had some of the really crazy ones, too. Anyway, I liked to read and since the TV was usually on soaps or the news, I would hide in the corner and work through the latest celebrity gossip.

At some point I began throwing the things I learned into casual conversations elsewhere. Given the timeframe, 1980-81, I would imagine I shared a lot of Loni Anderson news. Anyway, one day I said something especially ridiculous around my mom and she pointedly asked where in the hell I heard that. I shared my source and she then gave me a long talk about how those magazines were full of garbage that wasn’t true and I needed to stop reading them.

I don’t know if I stopped reading them or not; there wasn’t much else to do at the sitter’s. But I am pretty sure I kept my mouth shut about what I learned in them. And I never looked at someone who had their own copy of the Enquirer etc. again.1

Monday the girls and I were at the grocery store and as I moved our purchases from the cart to the conveyor, M. noticed Prince William and Princess Kate on the cover of one of those magazines. She asked, “Dad, what does ‘be-try-eed’ mean?”


“Bee-tray-eed,” and she pointed at the cover of the Enquirer.

“Oh, betrayed. That means you lied.” I went back to loading the conveyor.

“Why did Prince William and Princess Kate lie to each other?”

I sighed. “M., those magazines make stories up about famous people. That isn’t real, Prince William and Princess Kate did not lie to each other. Don’t read those or pay attention to them, ok?”


C. had been digging around in the candy shelves, as she likes to do, but finally tuned into our conversation. With a gasp she asked, “Dad! Why are Prince William and Princess Kate lying to each other?”

Bigger sigh.

Another reason not to take the girls to the grocery store.

  1. Including, ironically, my mom’s mom. 


After a busy weekend, some sports thoughts.

LeBron got his ring. While I was pulling for OKC, I’m glad the national nightmare of LeBron not having an NBA title finally came to an end. I enjoyed his enjoyment of getting the proverbial monkey off of his back. LeBron has made a few poor choices in the PR side of his career, but for the most part he’s been an exemplary professional. He doesn’t get in trouble. He doesn’t act like an idiot. He is thoughtful and humorous and often humble. He’s also both the best player in the game and the best teammate in the game. His individual accomplishments may never live up to what the public wants from him, but I think he’s well on the way towards not only being one of the five greatest players of all-time, but also carving out a niche as one of the most unique ballers ever.

What did bug me about the Heat winning was this meme that LeBron has been through so much. Why do we have to equate not quite winning it all with having some kind of unimaginable burden? It’s not like he’s been playing in Minnesota or New Jersey and had no chance at a title. This was his third trip to the NBA Finals. He made the conference finals another year. Both individually and with his teams he’s had a fantastic start to his career. Yes, winning a title is the holy grail of sports, but once again we’re losing sight of all the other great things about sports by focusing just on the end result.

Isn’t it funny how, when the Heat trailed in their series with the Pacers and Celtics, how people were rushing to fire Erik Spoelstra or figure out what roster moves the Heat needed to make? Analysis and speculation are part of sports. They are what help pass the time between games and seasons. But it drives me crazy how our hyper-media culture has to jump to scenarios X,Y, and Z when A, B, and C still haven’t been resolved. Another reason I don’t watch ESPN very much these days.

The NBA draft is Thursday. Which means the unofficial 9th anniversary of the blog is Thursday. That also means LeBron was drafted nine years ago this week. Seems like something I should write more about later this week.

Remind me not to write anything else positive about the Royals this year.

The Euro 2012 soccer tournament has been fun to watch. Or at least it was until yesterday, when Italy totally dominated England but could find the goal and had to rely on penalty kicks to advance to the semifinals. Man the English know how to make a beautiful game ugly. If form holds, the Spain-Germany final should be epic.

Finally, I’ve mentioned before that I don’t follow many athletes on Twitter. I’ve made two exceptions over the past year, though. Oakland A’s pitcher Brandon McCarthy is smart, funny, and understands that he’s leading a charmed life. The other exception is Keith Langford, one of my all-time favorite Jayhawks who has become arguably the best American basketball player plying his trade in Europe. Keith has always been a thoughtful and different guy, and I enjoy reading about his adventures overseas.

I mention that because Dana O’Neil has a terrific story on ESPN about players like Keith, who excelled in college but never caught on in the NBA and how their careers are often viewed. I think the average fan probably doesn’t realize how many of their favorite college players have carved out successful, lucrative careers in places other than the NBA.

Statistics tell us that only 2 percent of all high school athletes earn Division I scholarships. Only 15 will be named All-Americans (that’s including first, second and third teams) and only five to an All-Final Four team, like Langford was. Far less will play in a Final Four and an infinitesimal percentage will play in two national semifinals, as he did.
By any normal number crunching, he is the elite of the elite. Yet on the basketball yardstick, which measures one to D-Wade, he felt like he came up short.

R’s – Coming Back

Are the Royals, in a rather passive-agressive manner, trying to suck us fans back in? While they’re still generally mediocre, they’ve won enough games over the past month to get within spitting distance of both .500 and first place. As I write this they are 31-36 and just 4.5 games behind Cleveland. Far better than they were six weeks ago, when they wrapped up a brutal April.

I say passive-agressive because of how they’ve reached this point. It hasn’t been because of a good, old-fashioned hot streak. They haven’t played .600 ball over a month on the strength of shut-down starting pitching or a ferocious offense. Nope, they’ve surrounded a few really bad starting efforts with some decent ones, continued to get terrific bullpen work, and have squeezed out enough runs here and there to win a bunch of one-run games.1 It all feels kind of fluky.

Take Wednesday’s game, for example. They were out-hit 8-4 and survived another adventurous Jonathan Broxton appearance to get a 2-1 win over the lowly Astros. But a win is a win, and once it’s tallied in the left column, it can’t be taken away.

So color me unimpressed, except…

Salvador Perez is likely back this week after a terrific rehab stint in Omaha. Lorenzo Cain might finally be on the mend. Hosmer can’t stay cold all season-long. And while they’re sure to mess it up one way or another, Wil Myers is probably the best minor league player in the game right now and will likely get called up well before September. Better defense at two positions, better hitting at three if Hosmer can get going, and another bat for the bench. They just might be much better a month from now than they are today, and since no one is running away with the division…

Damn it, they’ve sucked me back in. Perhaps my trip to see games in August won’t be a waste after all.

I have to address the Jonathan Sanchez situation. Dude is becoming my least favorite Royal in recent memory. As maddening as Luke Hochevar is, Sanchez might be worse. Whereas Luke seems like he just might not be super smart or just easily distracted, Sanchez often seems like he doesn’t care. At least from my view. How can you miss the strike zone (or first baseman’s mitt) as often and as badly as he does if you do care? There’s a part of me that wonders if he’s just trying to get released so he can get picked up by someone else.

Making matters worse, Melky Cabrera has been phenomenal so far for San Francisco. Other than himself and perhaps the Giants’ management, I’m pretty sure most people didn’t see that coming. It makes Sanchez’s struggles harder to take as Melky sits at the top of the NL batting stats. I thought Sanchez was a reasonable risk, especially with Cabrera likely to regress after his terrific 2011 season. And with Lorenzo Cain expected to be in center field all year, it made sense to move Melky when his value was at its highest.

We have no idea what other offers Dayton Moore had for Melky. Did he offer him to 10 other clubs and Sanchez was the best return he could manage? Or were the Giants the first team he called and he jumped on their offer of a big-league arm without shopping further? Moore has made plenty of blunders with managing the major league roster, so it’s tough to give him the benefit of the doubt. But surely Sanchez wasn’t the only offer he had, right?

  1. Let’s not forget how, 2-3 times a game, Ned Yost tries to prove he’s the worst manager in the game. It’s hard enough when you’re not hitting and barely pitching without your manager getting in the way. 

My Wisest Choice

File under: Sometimes otherwise smart people do dumb things.

I’ve never been in a tanning bed in my (almost) 41 years on earth. Until Monday. Thanks to a meeting of two circumstances1 I decided to take the plunge and get a little unnatural color Monday. I knew going in there were risks. S. will occassionally use the tanning beds at our gym and while she gets some color after a day or two, she often has to go through what appears to be an uncomfortable red-pink stage to get to the brown. My skin is lighter than hers and parts of it don’t get exposed to the sun very often. I tried to be careful, but I wasn’t careful enough.

I expected my chest and back to get a little roasted. I had sunscreened them both pretty well on our two trips to the pool this summer. I kind of forgot about the backs of my thighs, though. I figure I haven’t worn shorts or swim trunks with less than a 7″ inseam2 in over 20 years. As such, the backs of my thighs haven’t been touched by the sun since at least high school. They got touched a little bit in the tanning bed, to say the least.

As I type this, I’m sitting on a barstool in our kitchen with my legs propped so there is no weight on the parts of my legs that got fried. I’ve been treating them generously with aloe gel. I assume the pain will go away in a few days, right?

It’s been a long, long time since I had a real sunburn, so this is a good reminder to keep lathering the sunscreen on when I am going to be outside for extended periods. And I might want to keep the long, workout shorts on next time I use a tannng bad. Or just skip the tanning bed all together.

  1. We will be spending a lot of time in the sun and water this weekend. We are also ending our gym membership at the end of the month and S. has a bunch of tanning sessions left on our account. 
  2. Hey-oh! 

The Greatest

One of the many cultural icons of my generation is the 1992 US men’s Olympic basketball team: The Dream Team. While this oral history of the greatest team ever is good, I must admit I was a little disappointed by it. It doesn’t seem nearly long enough. I know there were more great stories that could have been repeated.

Johnson: Oh man, the best basketball I ever played was during those practices. Because everybody said, “Let’s strap up.”
Wilkens: Our last scrimmage, Magic’s team was dominating Michael’s team. And the guys were teasing Michael, because he was playing golf every morning. Well, that did it. The whole thing turned around.
Thorn: He got upset, so he started to score every time down the floor. One time he drove, and the refs called, like, a real tick-tack foul. So Magic booted the ball up to the ceiling: “This is ridiculous! Just like the NBA! He gets every call!”
Hubbard: Magic was saying, “This must be what it’s like playing in Chicago Stadium,” because Michael was getting the calls. And Michael said, “Well, this is the ’90s, not the ’80s.”

Depp Being Depp

I’ve been slowly working my way through the most excellent Joe Strummer documentary The Future Is Unwritten. If you’re a fan of the punk rock prophet, or just a fan of music in general, I highly recommend it.

The film features audio from the late Strummer cut with interviews with people he was close to through his life. Family members, friends, lovers, rivals, bandmates, people he inspired, etc. The only downside is none of the people are identified when they speak, so I have no idea who a few of them were. But most, like the other members of The Clash, his daughters, and other celebrities stick out. One in particular.

Apparently Johnny Depp was both a fan and friend of Joe’s.1 His interview is the best. He’s sitting in a dark room in full Pirates of the Caribbean attire. I’m sure most people think, when they see his scenes, “Oh, they must have filmed his interview while he was filming one of the Pirates movies.”

But then I thought, you know, this is Johnny Depp we’re talking about. He may have just been chilling in his French estate or hanging out at a bar in LA and wearing the pirate garb for no reason other than it was comfortable. It’s funny to think that, but also completely within the realm of possibility.

JD is the best.

  1. As were Matt Dillon and John Cusack. Apparently being a Brat Pack-era actor with dark hair and a taste for artsy movies drew you to Joe’s music. 

Fin de Semana

It’s been a busy start to the summer, thus the slow rate of posts here last week. I can’t promise it will increase, but know it’s because we’re enjoying the season.

For example, here’s how we spent the weekend.

Friday the girls got to go to Target and spend some of the money they’ve saved. L. got a turtle from Nemo that really swims. M. and C. both got (yet another) Barbie. The neighbors were home so after lunch, I put up our tent, filled one of the little pools, and turned the girls loose. They spent the entire afternoon playing, making clubhouses, and generally bouncing back-and-forth between our yard and the neighbors’.

Saturday we had what the girls insisted was “the best day ever.” In the morning we went to a local park we hadn’t been to in quite a while. They got to dig in sand, swing, and climb some ropes. That’s a pretty solid day right there, but it got better.

We went to my in-laws’ pool after lunch and splashed around for about 90 minutes. Both M. and C. showed off their skills, swimming around quite a bit without any floaties, noodles, etc. Everyone was starving and we were tired, so we got Wendy’s on the way home for an early dinner. Wendy’s alone was exciting for the girls, but getting it at 3:30 in the afternoon was like the greatest thing ever!

One of our sprinklers doesn’t appear to be working correctly, so after we ate I turned them on and tried to figure out what the problem was. While I was investigating, the girls got to run through the spray.

After I shut everything down, I listed off all the things they had done during the day. C. shrieked, “This is the best day ever, Dad!” Her sisters quickly agreed.

I’d love to say everyone collapsed into bed early, but C. and L. just aren’t wired that way. L. finally drifted off after about an hour. I was a little sunburned, my eyes dry from chlorine, and generally beat, so I headed to bed at 9. When I peeked in, C. was still laying there talking to herself. I have no idea how she wasn’t out cold.

Sunday was a little less eventful. Some time outside, a couple errands, we watched some Euro2012 together, and then some time with the neighbors after dinner. Hopefully everyone falls asleep quickly tonight, because we’re back to swimming lessons first thing tomorrow.

Summer Dreams

Back in mid-May 1990, when our circle of high school friends was retuning home after our first year away at college, a good friend was insistent that it was going to be “the greatest summer ever.” It’s tough to measure these things accurately, but I do recall that being a pretty solid summer.1

Obviously that became a running joke each summer after that, and it’s always fun to think of it as we transition into our summer schedules. Which happens to be what we’re doing right now.

M. ended school last Thursday. The girls began two weeks of swimming lessons yesterday. We have a trip to Denver planned for July which they are very excited about. It will be L.’s first ever plane ride and M. and C.’s first since 2008. We also get to meet their newest cousin on that trip. I’ll be taking in a Rockies game and hopefully seeing a couple KC friends who have relocated to Denver.

I’ll be taking my annual Kansas City baseball trip in early August.

We have birthdays of family members and friends. Some playdates, no doubt. Trips to pools, the Children’s Museum, zoo, farmer’s market, etc. Bike rides around the neighborhood. We’ll also be spending some time at a nearby lake, which should be fun.

Hopes are always high when summer begins. We’re hopeful that the weather will cooperate, the girls will behave, and in early September we’re looking back and saying, “That was a kick ass summer!”

  1. At least until my grades showed up in mid-June. Then there were a few uncomfortable days, at least in my house. 

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