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Ron Artest’s Rhino

February 8, 2011

Yesterday, the NBA was shocked to learn that Lakers Forward Ron Artest owns a pet rhinoceros. While Artest has always had a penchant for unusual behavior, the revelation brought Artest’s eccentric behavior back into the limelight.

The Tweet That Shocked the World.

While animal activists everywhere are currently mustering denouncement’s of Mr. Artest’s lifestyle, the Blernsball investigative team went straight to Mr. Artest’s Los Angeles home to see what we could learn. We came away with this recording:

Rhino Interview Part 1
Rhino Interview Part 2

AP UPDATE — AFL TRIES TO RECRUIT PLAYERS FROM NFL BY OFFERING HEALTHCARE, RETIREMENT BENEFITS.

February 4, 2011

AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz

TULSA, OK– As part of the league-wide rebranding process, the Arena Football League (AFL) has announced that it will offer its players wide-ranging and comprehensive healthcare  and a generous retirement package.

“It’s our hope that we’ll be able to lure away some of the NFL’s talent by offering them something that the NFL can’t: The knowledge that they’ll have medical coverage once their playing days are over, “ said league president Jerry B. Kurz.

The announcement came as part of a larger press-conference announcing the return of the AFL from it’s two-year hiatus. Other changes to the AFL rulebook include letting one player from each team wear Moon Shoes and the inclusion of a three point line.

Let Yao Play.

January 28, 2011

Facts are facts. As hard as it may be to face, Yao Ming is a starter in the NBA All-Star game despite being too injured to play. Instead of a deserving professional getting his due accolades, his slot will be awarded to a player with lesser qualifications by a blue-ribbon committee that has been vetted by the commissioner. Thanks to Big Government, we’ll probably see a mere mortal like Nene or Andrew Bynum replace him, casting a black mark upon the sanctified fraternity of All-Star Game starters.

Hoops pundits who advocate for a reformed election process are already using this vote as a catalyst for change according to their neo-progressive agendas. “He can’t play,” they’ll whine while sipping zinfandel in their San Francisco weed cafes. “Its only because Chinese people are raised by Tiger Mothers and are thusly disciplined enough to vote,” they’ll chortle at their Chicago-area fundraisers. “Abolish positional classifications and let the best five players play,” they’ll write in their pamphlets with pitiful photos of polar bears floating on melted ice-caps.

But I’m an American, godddamn it, and when a man gets voted into office I say Let The Man Serve. I won’t stand idly by and let Yao’s memory be desecrated by these  political vultures.

Yao leads an average sized Chinese citizen by the hand.

Remember the Beijing Olympics? Remember the way he proudly carried the flag of his homeland as the entire country chanted his name in rigidly precise unison? Don’t tell me he wasn’t already feeling pain with every painted footstep. The man is a lumbering reminder of selflessness for the Team – even if the Team in this case is a rising superpower that has broken America’s global financial hegemony…

Bottom line, Yao needs to start the All-Star Game, even if it is only a symbolic gesture to the millions, nay, billions of people who look to him for inspiration every day. Thankfully, the High Court of Sport has given us numerous precedents to refer back to when faced with ethical dilemmas such as this:

Want to give an fading  superstar one more moment in the limelight? Look to Cal Ripken’s last All-Star Game, where he bashed a home run on the first pitch. Let’s be honest with ourselves: Bud Selig ordered Chan Ho Park to serve up a few batting practice pitches so that Cal could go out on top. Why not let Yao start, have Dwight Howard win the tip, then “accidentally” fumble the ball into Yao’s hands. Yao take two dribbles, lays the ball in, and the East calls timeout to regroup defensively. Pau Gasol is subbed in while Yao triumphantly lurches into the locker room to the adulation of thousands.

Remember Sarah Tucholsky, the softball player who tore her ACL rounding first-base after bashing a home run? Rules prevented her own team from helping her, so the opposing team carried her around the bases, bringing tears to the eyes of sports fans everywhere. Why not have Lebron James and Amar’e Stoudemire replicate the gesture, cradling Yao as they lift him to the basket to give him the first two points of the game? ESPN can run a soft-focus piece, Rick Reilly can write a trashy fluff article masquerading as journalism, and everyone can be happy knowing that inside we’re all decent people after all.

Or turn it into an NBA Cares commercial! Have Steve Nash narrate, show us some B-roll of Chris Paul and David West teaching Yao how to shoot a jumper and plant a tree, and then let Kevin Durant flash his smile and remind us that the NBA donates an  imperceptible fraction of its profits to helping low-income basketball players.

The point is, friends, that Yao’s memory needs to be celebrated, not disgraced. We can do better. As the stewards of the game’s oral history, it falls to us to pass the stories of the past to the younger generation so they can know from whence they came. Yao’s career may be dust and ashes, but by celebrating Yao’s legacy we’ll teach the next generation that they stand on the shoulders’ of a true giant.

A Letter I Wrote to a Fellow Basketball Nerd with a Larger Readership Than I

January 27, 2011

Hi Austin:

While the same concept of modern reimaginations could probably be proudly executed for most hoops-related films from the 90’s, I’d like to use this time of reflection to remember Space Jam‘s 1996 counter-point: Eddie. While failing to capture the imagination of  toon-crazed children, something about Eddie resonated deeply with the programing chief at my local UPN affiliate, guaranteeing that at least once a year I could count on a 30 second teaser for the Saturday movie of the week that included Whoopi Goldberg punking Dennis Rodman, John Salley being washed up, and Greg Ostertag looking stupid.

As far as hoops-with-heart stories go, Eddie feels somewhat underrated, possibly because its thoroughly stupid. But underneath the awesome absurdity (or is it?) of a cowboy’d-up Frank Langella riding to center court at MSG on a Shetland pony wearing sneakers, there’s a compelling pathos to the journey that Whoopi and the Knicks take. Whether it’s Rick Fox learning to be faithful, Malik Sealy suppressing his ego, or Academy-Award-winner Richard Jenkins finally getting his shot as Coach, there’s something satisfying about seeing these professionals face their demons at the behest of a lovable and spunky super-fan. Can anyone forget Ivan learning (incorrectly, by the way) how to take a charge? Or Whoopi Goldberg’s heartbreaking home-video flashback, where we learn that she communicates with her dead husband through the medium of roundball? Chances are yes, but still, its fun to see.

While Space Jam clearly has more star power concentrated on the hardwood, Eddie carries its weight by sheer volume of cameos. Its almost as if after seeing the success of Space Jam every other player in the NBA came clambering for the shot to make a fool of themselves on the big screen. A quick glance at the IMDB page shows Rick Fox, Malik Sealy, Mark Jackson, Greg Ostertag, Walt Frazier (classic Clyde), Gary Payton, Vlade Divac,  Cedric Ceballos, Nick Van Exel, Kurt Rambis, Alex English, Dennis Rodman, Avery Johnson, Vinny Del Nego, Mitch Richmond, Danny Manning, Grandmama, and Muggsy Bogues all appearing. Also, Olden “Black Hole” Polynice.
Notable off court faces include Assif Mandvi (Yes, that Assif Mandvi), Donald Trump, Rudy Guliani, Ed Koch and Fabio. By my count, that’s 5 modern head coaches (if you count Bogues in the WBNA), 2 big city mayors, 3 NBA announcers, a comedian, and Fabio.

I don’t think I’m properly qualified to come up with modern-day replacements for everyone in this movie, but the great thing about an Eddie remake is that there would be room for many of our favorite supporting characters to shine.

For example: It’s clear that there’s a premium on savvy point guards with coaching aspirations. Make way for Derek Fisher,  Tony Parker, Jason Kidd, or Chauncy Billups, etc.

Need a dumb white guy? Without a doubt Kevin Love makes it into this movie. He’s got Dwight Howard personality with a dough-boy body, perhaps as Ostertag’s character. Also, why not throw Big Z in there for his funky looks?

Need a athletic guard to play an ego-driven franchise killer? Why not let Monte take the reins? Or if that hits too close to home, why not let Luol Deng live out his fantasy?

Anyway, thought this deserved most of my work day. While purists can have their Love and Basketball or White Men Can’t Jump,  Eddie may be the best basketball film of the 90s. Or not. But at least there’s this.

Best
Jack Nicolaus

AP Update

January 12, 2011

Cleveland OH, —

Despite losing super-star baskeball player Lebron James in a highly publicized and acrimonious off-season, fielding a football team that finished in last place, and a baseball team that finished 25 games out of the playoffs, Cleveland sports fans are only dimly aware of the existence of the Columbus Crew. The Crew, a professional soccer team located an hour away, are three-time league champions, field a roster of international stars, and do not enjoy popular support from the largest metropolis in the state.

When asked about their lack of enthusiasm for the winningest team within 50 miles, Cleveland fans responded that they were fine getting drunk and falling asleep in their own homes.

OTL – Miamiland

December 25, 2010

The same Author’s piece on Lebron James’ return to Cleveland can be found here.

Miami, FL –

There’s a short, elderly Jewish man wearing a Cabana hat and sipping a mojito sitting across the pool deck from me. He knows I’m a sports blogger, and that makes me the devil. He knows I’m only here in his tropical paradise to exploit the sweet boys who play basketball in the arena down on Biscayune Blvd. His name is Maury, and he’s lived in Miami for the last 15 years, ever since he and his wife decided they’d had enough of the insurance business in Dayton. Now he lives on medicare and sometimes watches Heat games on the HD screen in his condo when Sheryl is playing bridge at the senior center.

His first words to me are a diatribe on the role me and my kind played in the hoopla about Lebron James’ return to Cleveland. Although I can’t be sure he isn’t just confused about how to hook up his DSL. It’s hard to hear him from his deck chair. But regardless, I don’t tell him the truth, that I understand his frustration. We –all of us– carry some responsibility for what happened on December 1, 2010 when the King made his return. We know better. We know it’s just sports. In the darkest moments after the most embarrassing episodes of our addiction, we’ve looked in the mirror and wondered why we’re giving so much of ourselves to these muscled men when we’ve got wives and girlfriends and music and art and culture to pay attention to.

I of course, couldn’t let him know that I thought any of that. It’d break the local ettiquette. So I yelled back at Maury how funny young people’s music was these days and he chuckled.

He invites me into the air-conditioned lobby where he shows me something. He takes off the Cabana hat and points to his immaculately greased hair. “See that?” he says, “That’s the same gel that Pat Riley uses.” He loves this team down to his follicles.

Later over martini’s at the Cheesecake factory, Maury gets to talking about the time Shaquille O’Neal was on the Heat. He starts reminiscing about the way Mr. O’Neal’s wife Shauines had integrated into the local community. “I couldn’t stand her fashion or her accent,” recalled Maury, “but damn if she didn’t invest in the local time shares immediately. The boost to our economy won her a lotta’ points around here.”

Then he got to talking about how happy he’d been when the Miami Heat had won the 2006 NBA Finals. The news coverage of the people celebrating in Little Havana preempted the new -get this- CSI: Miami episode that week. “We saw everyone starting fires and knew right away we were champions.”

That’s Miami.

The episode that aired that week won an Emmy.

That’s Miami too.

A Love Note

November 30, 2010

“As I told LeBron before the game, I was up late last night, watching old games, YouTube and all that,” Wade said. “I was watching LeBron, and I was like, ‘That’s the LeBron I fell in love with and I know as a basketball player.’ And I haven’t seen that [in Miami]. I just want him to be that, to be him, to have fun with the game. Just be you and enjoy it. I think tonight was the second time this year we both felt comfortable with each other taking over and not necessarily worrying when we’re going to get a shot and where we’re going to get the ball.”

-Dwayne Wade, SG Miami Heat  11/29/10
Lebron, I haven’t been sleeping very well lately. I’ve tried warm Muscle Milk, counting championships we could win together, even imagined myself as Tim Duncan (boring!), but nothing works.

Chris came over to try and comfort me, but I told him I didn’t really want him there. It turned into a big fight. He accused me of using him to get to you, which may have been fair. I got mad and yelled at him about his inablity to make 20 footers unless he was getting passes from Jose Calderon. It got really ugly and I had to let him hold my championship ring before he calmed down. When he gets mad, I get scared. Its something about his eyebrows…

After he left, I stayed up until 3am last night watching old YouTube videos of you and I started to cry. I kept thinking, ‘THATS the Lebron I feel in love with. THATS the Lebron who knew how I was feeling when nobody else understood. THATS the Lebron who told me he’d never let anything bad happen to me.”

Now I feel like you’re somewhere else. Like we’re not even on the same court together.

Coach Eric told me it might help for me to start writing my feelings down, but now I’m just finding that I’m getting angrier at you, Lebron. Why can’t you be the man in the videos? Why do you come home with such tight shoulders and that scrunched expression that only happens when you furrow your eyebrows extra hard so people know you have your “serious face” on? What won’t you let me put talcum powder on your hands anymore?

I have needs, Lebron, and they aren’t just a pick and roll on Thursday nights after you’ve played poker with your buddies. I’d love to eventually work our way up to some ball movement, but I’d start with a little dancing, maybe one of those fun group pieces where we huddle together and bounce up and down. I love those! I tried to do them a while back but Shaq was too tall and it would hurt his knees. He was always clogging up my fun.

So please, Lebron, make the decision to have more fun. This isn’t a summer romance on Team USA anymore. This is my real life, and it matters too much for me to be okay with what’s happening.