With Christmas chopping at us every waking hour and now just single digits away, every year the writers here at hangintheresports.com like to gather around the yuletide log, sip our energy drinks and reflect on sports in a nostalgic, picturesque sort of way. Of course by writers, I really am just referring to myself, and since this website is not even a year old I cannot really say "every year the writers blah blah blah" because everything I say is in season one anyhow. But I am sure my faithful readers out there (all three of you) will not mind as I paint this column to be more than it actually is. Tis' the season and all. We were even going to send out Christmas cards to the readers this year but when the financial committee met together on Monday (again, financial committee = just me), it was decided that Christmas cards did not fit the budget. It should come as no surprise to find out, the financial committee was in utter shock and disbelief when they discovered there was not even "ah" budget, let alone a budget found lacking that would afford sending out holiday greeting cards. The writers of this website send their deepest apologies.
Apologies aside, there is still plenty to talk about. Yesterday, my buddy Brett texted me to see if I had been noticing how insane Raymond Felton has been playing since landing in New York. 18 points and 9 dimes a game; all career highs. Unless you play fantasy basketball or you are a Knicks fan, which Brett and I are not--I love my Sacramento Kings and Brett likes his Seattle Sup... I mean... a team no longer in existence--you would probably not know about our boy Raymond Felton. You see a few years back Brett and I decided we were going to play an entire of season of NBA 2K5 on the 360. We created our own characters, not 99 in every attribute, but normal players, like 72-74 overall.
Brett's character was a SG named Darko Papodopilis and Darko was a little white chocolate on the court. He made Allen Iverson's game attire seam plain by contrast. He had a nice step back three a la Jimmer Fredette (before there was a Jimmer Fredette). I made a huge, black PF named Preston Parish. He was built like Dwight Howard, played mean like Karl Malone, rebounded like Charles Barkley and rocked the #91 like Dennis Rodman. After we made our characters we had them drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats because they would be the stars of the team from the get-go. The Bobcat lineup consisted of Emeka Okafor at center, Parish at power forward, Gerald Wallace at small forward, Papodopilis at shooting guard, and the aforementioned Raymond Felton at point guard. Brevin Knight was the default PG, but we always elected to play Felton because of his stealing capabilities.
We start the season like 7-and-1, and we had agreed that if we lost then we were not going to restart the game but rather take it like a man. The next five games however we lost every single one. It got to the point we were kind of pissed at the other person. Like it was real life or something. So we get to the Boston Celtics and Paul Pierce destroys us. Part of my real life hate towards Pierce is attributed to our NBA season we played on the X-Box. Having lost five games in a row and tensions already higher than they should be, we were so upset, we broke our rule of never resetting the game due to a defeat. We play the Celtics again and lose. Reset. Lose again. Reset. Lose yet again; Paul Pierce cannot be contained. Parish is fouling out of games, Papodopilis is bricking everything, Okafor cannot get a defensive rebound to save his life. Things are looking grim. We start another game and lose.
Brett looks at me and says, "If we play this one more time and lose, I'm breaking this game in half."
Me, "I'm breaking it in half right now."
"One more game, and then we'll break it."
"Let's do this."
The game starts and it is a playoff atmosphere. The refs are letting 'em play, its getting dirty down low, guys are making huge shots, and the game is close. We go up by seven with about 1:14 left to play. Celtics ball. Our D steps it up and the shot clock is winding down until Paul Pierce hits a fall-a-way, and gets fouled by Darko. That's his sixth, he's done. Piece makes the free-throw and it is Bobcat's ball, we're up by 3. Ensuing play, Pierce steals the ball, and jacks up a pull-up three. Of course it goes in. I effing hate Paul Pierce more than anything. Brett and I have stopped talking at this point. There are about 37 second left in the game. We decide to do a 2-for-1, but Emeka Suck-a-for bricks an open layup.
(Note: You're probably saying to yourself, "This is a lot of detail, almost too much for a video game." Well, you know what, at the time is was huge deal. I've never been more upset over a game than I was while playing this one. The moment is burned in to my mind. Lay off me.)
Celtics get the rebound, milk the clock and Ricky Davis knocks down a mid-range jumper. So to recap, we were up by 7, had the game in the bag, and suddenly we are down by 2 with .7 seconds left. We call a timeout, advance the ball to half court and pause the game.
"Un-bleeping-believable," say Brett.
".....," I sit brooding.
"Let's just gets this over with."
We inbound the ball (by the way, it is like 3 or 4 in morning and people are sound asleep) to Raymond Felton. Darko is by far the teams best 3-point shooter and he has fouled out, and is sitting on the bench. Felton was like a 67 or maybe a 68 when it came to shooting threes. If you are video-game-player-rating illiterate, 67-68 is not that good. Another thing to be noted is Brett always took the teams three's too, because when you shoot them you have to time the release of the button at the height of the shot to improve the accuracy and he was always better at then I.
Because Preston Parish was my guy and played the PF position, by default I always inbounded the ball, but whenever you called a timeout, the makers of the NBA 2K games had some algorithm which would switch the person inbounding the ball from Player A to Player B. We only realize this is happening as the ball is in the air on the inbound. Looks like I will be the one shooting. Felton is two, maybe three, steps past half court. Brett drops his controller is disgust/defeat. I barely get this shot off before the buzzer sounds. Swish.
It was like winning the lottery, but winning it on MTVs Silent Library. Brett runs out of the room and when he runs back in he is doing the Jordan fist pump from when Jordan hit the game winner against the Cavs, and I'm jumping up and down like an idiot. Watch any cheerleader on the sideline from any game winning shot or touchdown on Youtube, and you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. We watched the replay of it over and over for at least 20 minutes and then talked about it for the next two weeks. Raymond Felton sealed his legacy forever to me that night in Brett's basement. To some Raymond Felton came out of nowhere this year, but Brett and I have known about him for five years.
What has come out of nowhere, to me at least, is Seattle possibly getting a basketball team again. I knew about the NBA purchasing the New Orleans Hornets, but knew nothing about Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, selling 1.3 billion dollars worth of shares in the beginning of November. One of the side effects of having not lived in the Pacific Northwest for the last 4 years. Apparently, Ballmer was one of the main people in opposition of the Seattle Supersonics moving to Oklahoma City. With the NBA buying New Orleans, and the Hornets on pace to NOT meet to mandatory two-year attendance quota, perhaps getting the Supe's back in the 206 is right around the corner. Why else would you liquidate over a BILLION dollars of shares? Where there is smoke, there is often fire.
There is also some smoke about the Sacramento Kings possibly being the team that moves to Seattle. The Kings are in the midst of stomping their feet because the city does not want to build them a new arena. I am partially torn about this. If the Kings did in fact move and become the Seattle Kings or whatever, one half of me would be overjoyed.
There is something fun about following the team from where you grew up. I get this feeling with the Mariners. With Seahawks? Yeah, right! My brother calls them the Seachickens. I'll never root for them. The Supersonics were kind of a middle ground. I never really followed/liked the Sonics when I was growing up. That was during Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton's heyday, but that was also prime Michael Jordan time. No kid my age, followed any other team but the Bulls. To say the least, it was easy for me not to follow them. When they drafted Kevin Durant I found myself checking in on them. I even went ahead and bought Durant Sonics home jersey. I felt a tiny bit of Sonic pride. Maybe that pride grew inside because I no longer lived in Washington and on sub-concious level I yearned for connections. Who knows? When the team was hijacked to Oklahoma, a small part of me felt sad. To get a team back there would be cool, and to have the team be MY team (Kings) would be awesome. But therein lies the dichotomy.
I do not want to lose the SACRAMENTO Kings. If they moved to Seattle, my team would die. Nobody would want that. I love my purple, black and white Kings and do not want them any other way. When I tell people that I am a Kings fan, I want them to say, "Sacramento huh?" instead of "Seattle huh?". I have noticed something peculiar about being a Kings fan too. Anytime I tell people I am a Mariners fans (in addition to being a Red Sox fan) they will always ask me if I grew up there. When I tell them I like the Kings, people always ask why and never if I grew up there. It is one of those weird mysteries. I do not want to lose that. I take pride in my Sacramento fanship. I want them to stay put. In the end I believe they will. The Hornets are more likely to end up in the Pac-Nor then the Kings.
In other sports news how bout them Heat? 19-and-8 with a 10-game win streak. This is the part where I say "I told you to chill the freak out." To baseball, we have the have a couple of big offseason signings. The Sox got Crawford for $142 million. If you remember on my Christmas sport's wish list I had said I wanted him at a cheap price. Anything under 160 I considered cheap. A win. The Philadelphia Phillies reclaimed Cliff Lee to the tune of $120 millions dollars. Now their pitching rotation boasts Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. Three out of those four players, made my version of the All-Star game this last July: found here. Oh boy. So basically we're just fighting for second place (laughing nervously, staring off in to nothingness, face turning to a shade of shale gray).
Speaking of shale gray, the Seattle Sounders FC unveiled a new kit for the 2011 soccer season. The Sounders easily have the tightest jerseys and I don't just say that because I'm a homer. They really do. Brett claims the new Vancouver Whitecaps take the cake, and I like the their white home kit, but the blue is bland and does not measure up to Seattle's green. And since we're talking about jersey's... I LOVE Oregon's National Championship game set-up and I could care less if I am the only one. It's gangster. Carbon fiber helmets, are you kidding me?!! Filthy, just filthy. Everybody who claims they're awful is just a hater.
The only thing left to talk about, is how hot Tony Romo's, Candice Crawford, fiancee is. Wow. Obviously she surpasses Jessica Simpson and she edges out Carrie Underwood, but the real quest is this: Is she English Premier League girlfriend/wife caliber? That is the bar every athlete aims for, is it not? This needs to be discussed. I know I am not the only one struggling to find the answer. I cannot make up my mind. I'm on the fence. Depending on how offended my wife gets when I mention her and we Google her pictures together, will really be the deciding factor if Crawford cracks in the EPL barrier. But before I completely bury myself any further while trying to tackle to tough issues that press on our minds, let the record clearly show that no women will ever surpass the gorgeousness of my wife, and any discussions on the physical appeal of any women on this website, or otherwise, will exclude the comparison of any said person and my wife, as including my wife in deducting the attractiveness of another women, is clearly not fair, as my wife will win hands down any and every time. I would also like to mention that I love her very much, and truly appreciate the gift that it is, to be able to sleep next to her in our nice comfy bed and not the couch.
Oh boy... I'm screwed. I'm just gonna quit now. Happy Holidays everyone.