Tuesday, August 08, 2006

'Melo Anthony and the Infinite Sadness

I woke up this morning like I usually do. Still half-asleep, I threw my cranky ass in the shower. Then I grabbed a bite to eat and started guzzling coffee like a Hummer does gasoline as I sifted through my morning sports news via the Internet. Typically, I do this without flinching. T.O. strained his tongue and will miss the preseason opener. Big surprise. Al Harrington still hasn’t gotten traded to my Pacers. Oh well. Men’s synchronized swim team banned. Big deal. 67 more athletes busted for performance enhancing drugs. What a surprise.

Then I saw something that really had me shook. Carmelo Anthony hurt his knee. A huge, gigantic, die-hard NBA fan and avid Team USA supporter, I didn’t even care that my boys barely pulled out an exhibition win over Captain Barbosa, Sideshow Bob, and Brazil. I was too caught up in what had happened to Melo.

Now? After all he’s been through? Why? Why?

After all, this is the guy who has seemed to just recently put all of his troubles behind him. This is the guy who legendary Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, the coach of Team USA, has fallen in love with over the course of the last few weeks. This is the guy who has indeed been “on a mission,” outplaying even LeBron James and Dwyane Wade since joining Team USA. This is the guy that looks like he could score 30 a game next year, elevating his Denver Nuggets to contender status and himself to MVP-candidate status. This is the guy that can complete the NBA’s new Holy Trinity of King James, D-Wade, and Melo, this century’s answer to Magic, Michael, and Bird. This is the guy, with his charming smile and unstoppable offensive repertoire, that was becoming something truly special.

In today’s NBA, you can’t spell Holy Trinity without “Melo”.

A lot of people have criticized Melo, and fairly so. He’s had some problems, both on and off the hardwood. However, he has handled superstardom at a young age extremely well. Maybe not as well as LeBron, but who has? Melo is a winner. Carrying the Syracuse Orangeman to a NCAA National Title as a college freshman proves that. If that’s not enough, legendary basketball icons Coach K, Michael Jordan, and Jim Boeheim all fervently vouch for the kid. That’s good enough for me. Plus, I like his style. He’s gotta be the coolest cat to slash and rain jumpers since Walt “Clyde” Frazier.

Early reports are claiming that Melo’s injury, sustained in a collision with Coach K, is merely a hyperextension. I’m hoping that those reports remain accurate. I would hate for arguably my favorite non-Pacer to be doing post-blowout rehab when the NBA kicks off right around Halloween. Especially when I’ve already gone out on a limb and predicted Melo to lead Team USA to a gold medal in this month’s World Championships, and then lead George Karl, K-Mart, Bonzi Wells (it could happen, folks), and the rest of the Denver Headcases to 55-plus wins on his way to earning MVP consideration.

I would be sad if I was wrong. I would be infinitely sad Billy Corgan-style if Carmelo Anthony, undoubtedly one of the league's brightest stars, fell from the NBA's sky because of this injury.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Summer Blockbuster Series: Pirating Uncharted Waters

Two cannonballs were dropped on us last weekend (well, three if you count the World Cup and Zizou’s bizarre Ron Artest impersonation):

The record-breaking film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and the news that LeBron James had finally decided to re-up with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

You Don’t Know Jack

The blockbuster bombshell Dead Man’s Chest reminded that while there is still so much wrong with Hollywood, there is also so much that’s right. The mega-budget Pirate flick pillaged box offices while captivating fans coast to coast. Disney’s flagship film series cruised past Spider-Man’s 2002 opening-weekend box office record of $114.8 million by plundering moviegoers for a treasure of $135.6 Million.

J-Lo ain’t got nothin’ on that booty.

Not since Harrison Ford was cracking a whip and kicking it with Short Round have we seen a swashbuckling trilogy as prolific as the Pirates of the Caribbean series. As a result, the film industry is back with a vengeance. Last weekend American box offices took in a record $217 million. The previous record was $188 million. On the heels of Dead Man’s Chest, original material is once again fashionable and perhaps, just perhaps, big-wig studio execs will once again match the courage displayed by the series’ most beloved buccaneer…

Captain Jack Sparrow, aka America’s favorite rebel Johnny Depp.

Depp is currently the runaway winner in terms of Hollywood popularity.

Depp’s turn as Sparrow has him sitting in the Crow’s Nest of Hollywood’s A-List. Depp is suddenly bigger than Denzel, Bragelina, Julia, or either of the Toms. He has commandeered this takeover his way, blazing his own path by steering clear of the tabloid headlines and towards a series of quirky, captivating roles. Like Sparrow, we sometimes question his methods, but there is no second guessing Depp’s talent or results. He was paid $20 million-plus for Dead Man’s chest, and who knows what kind of loot he’ll command from here on out.

What other actor could sport mascara and dangly earrings and still remain dashing?

Only Depp—the shrewd performer and businessman whose bravado and foresight are navigating the film industry into uncharted waters—is cool enough pull that off.

The NBA's Captain Cool

That kind of cool reminds me of another swashbuckling star—Hardwood Cavalier LeBron James.

Turning a trilogy that draws on an ancient theme park ride and burnout rocker Keith Richards as inspirations into the biggest film franchise in America is downright crazy. Turning the perennial cellar dweller Cleveland Cavs into one of the NBA’s most popular teams and a championship contender, well, that’s almost incomprehensible. But that’s just what LeBron James has done.

Like Depp, LeBron wants to blaze his own path. He wants to win championships and navigate the NBA into uncharted waters. And he wants to do it in Cleveland.

Forget the buzz about LeBron signing a deal that allows him to opt out of his contract four years from now and become an unrestricted free agent. That doesn’t mean he’s trying to sneak his way into a Knicks or Lakers jersey and get his Nike payday. It means he’s keeping Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert, GM Danny Ferry, and the rest of the front office in check. LeBron’s ensuring that if the Cavs don’t get serious about winning a title, come the summer of 2011 he’ll sail away from the Mistake on the Lake for good.

He also knows that by 2011 the NBA’s popularity will be at an all-time high and a new collective bargaining agreement will be in place. Who knows what kind of loot LeBron will be able to command at that point. ESPN hypeman Stephen A. Smith claims he’ll be able to sign a contract “in excess of $150 million” that summer. Add those dollars to his new $50 million contract and his endorsement money, and this deal just makes sense.

LeBron a swashbuckler? Peep the sword in the Cavs' logo.

For those who don’t think LeBron is sitting in the NBA’s Crow Nest , I beg to differ. The Dwyane Wade argument is a strong one, but ultimately one that sinks.

Yes, Wade is the first player from the stellar NBA Draft Class of 2003 to win a championship. However, judging LeBron on that criteria isn’t exactly fair. Only 21 years old, LeBron is three years younger than Wade. Wade’s Miami Heat were also in better shape than LeBron’s Cavs when both players arrived on the NBA scene. Last year was Wade’s third NBA Playoff appearance. Due to no fault of his own, last season was LeBron’s first postseason voyage. LeBron also doesn’t have Riles plotting the course or the Big Whatever-He-Wants-to-Call-Himself as his First Mate.

LeBron is simply more popular and more marketable than Wade or any other NBA star. He’s the biggest sword on the biggest sports-endorsement ship—Nike. Tiger Woods, Tiger Schmoods, I’m rolling with LBJ. Meanwhile, Wade is sporting Converse and sharing commercials with the likes of Jennie Finch. The only time LeBron shares the commercial spotlight is when he clones himself.

LeBron makes more money (after endorsements), is more popular, and puts up better numbers than any player in the league, and at this point in his career he has progressed more than any other 21-year-old player in NBA history. Given the circumstances, I have to tell it like it is…

King James definitely rules the seas of the NBA and will for a long time to come.

X Marks the Spot

What treasures will America’s two favorite action heroes find before their careers become folklore? I’m guessing at least two more Pirates of the Caribbean movies, at least two NBA Championships, two NBA MVP awards, two Best Actor Oscars, and enough money to buy the Cavs twice over.

If you aren’t yet onboard as a fan of these two swashbucklers, get onboard you scurvy animals. I for one would rather walk the plank than miss what Depp and LeBron have in store for us. Ahoy mates!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Summer Blockbuster Series: Kryptonite: For the Love of Money

Money money money money, Money…

For the love of money

People will steal from their mother

For the love of money

People will rob their own brother

For the love of money

People can't even walk the street

Because they never know who in the world they're gonna beat

For that lean, mean, mean green

Almighty dollar, money…

- From For The Love of Money by the O’Jays

Cash Rules Everything Around Me

It's funny that I just heard that song at the grocery store, because all last week I had money on the brain.

I picked up a second job (or third, really), to pull in some extra “mean green.” After all, it’s L.A.C. out here, an acronym that not only stands for “Los Angeles, California,” but also for “Livin’ Ain’t Cheap.” Gas is currently 3 bucks and 30 cents a gallon here in the City of Angels.

I tried to move my mobile phone service career from Sprint to the nifty new ESPN Mobile service. I changed my mind when I learned that the move alone would have cost me in excess of $400. The funny thing is that the phone would have been “free.”

I went to see Superman Returns, a $200 million movie partially based around Mr. Clean’s evil twin Lex Luthor’s lust for wealth. The super-hero flick has raked in a cool $84 million in its first five days.

Kevin Spacey holding a sliver of deadly "Kkkkrypt-to-nite!"

I witnessed my beloved Indiana Pacers lose recently acquired star forward Peja Stojakovic to the New Orleans Hornets hours after the NBA’s free agency negotiating period begun. It was just weeks ago that Peja’s agent said that his client “would like to finish his career as a Pacer." I guess the Hornets’ absurd 5-year, $64 million contract offer changed his mind.

Method Man said it best; Cash indeed does “rule everything around me.”

Killing Like Kryptonite

In the Superman series, Kryptonite is a green element lethal to Superman. Much like Kryptonite, money is the green element that can be lethal for both sports and the film industry.

You see, it isn’t the ESPN Mobile debacle, gas prices, or even the cost of living that has me outraged. I came to the conclusion long ago that the world does indeed revolve around money. It’s money’s influence of my two other favorite worlds, sports and the film industry, that’s put my boxers in a bunch.

The Stojakovic example was just the latest example of exemplary greed. I wasn’t pissed because he isn’t coming back to the Pacers. Honestly, he’s vastly overrated. I’m pissed that it only took him one hour to decide that money was more important than loyalty or success. It’s been going on for quite some time, and I’m sick of it.

The NBA is a financial train wreck. In last week’s NBA Draft the Seattle Sonics flushed a top ten pick down the toilet by selecting no-namer Mouhamed Saer Sene and the Phoenix Suns simply donated away two quality late first-round picks. Both moves were cost-cutting procedures. On the flip side, The Denver Nuggets just signed 23-year-old Brazilian forward Nene to a deal worth $60 million. Nene is coming off a season-ending knee injury and his career-high season averages are 11.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Sounds like a $60-million investment to me.

The NBA isn’t the only sports league dominated by moolah. In MLB New York Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner has amassed a 2006 player payroll of $198.7 million. Meanwhile, David Glass, the wicked man that owns my Kansas City Royals, is cheaper than Wal-Mart, the company he used to run.

Dough has the NFL by the gonads, too. The owners of the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, and Washington Redskins annually shell out crazy cake in pursuit of the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, my Kansas City Chiefs, er, “Cheaps,” have a spendthrift owner in Lamar Hunt. Hunt only does enough to put a playoff contender out on the field. In Kansas City, where BBQ and football are king, that fills the seats. But the Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game in an eternity. Sign CB Ty Law already. The Chiefs have been a cash cow and the fans are dying for a playoff run.

The film industry has been corrupted by cash perhaps even more than sports.

How else can you define an industry in which it is easier to get CHiPs starring Wilmer Valderrama greenlit than Best Picture Crash?

Yo Momma is the only one who thinks you can act.

Hollywood is safe. Yes, great films are still being made, but only sparsely. It’s hard to make art when everything is based on projections and formulas. Hell, this is the industry that is giving us yet another Rocky movie instead of a biopic of Joe Lewis or Rocky Marciano. Do I really want to see a punch-drunk 60-year-old Sly Stallone don the gloves one more time? But Rocky 6 is guaranteed to make bank, so it gets shot, chopped, scored, and shoved down our throats.

I’m just sick of everything revolving around money.

Auteur Orson Welles didn’t compose his masterpiece Citizen Kane because of cash considerations.

Hall of Fame Running Back Jim Brown didn’t punish defenders aplenty for the purse.

The Man of Steel didn't slip on his suit because of a super-sized Metropolis salary.

They did it for the love of the game.

I guess I just long for a return to those days and still have that “love of the game.” For both sports and film. Sometimes I wonder—“does anyone else?”

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

10 must-see movies you haven't seen part III

Why crap out on a new release, when you can scoop up one of these trusty Absolute Best favorites from your local rental joint for less green…

The Last American Virgin - An unheralded 1980s teen comedy that ranks right up there with all the John Hughes movies, Risky Business, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The American Pie of the 80s. Great soundtrack, too.

Owning Mahowny - Philip Seymour Hoffman’s signature performance may be his Best Actor Oscar-winning turn in Capote, but the acting job he delivers in this film isn’t far off. Hoffman plays a compulsive-gambling bank vice president that rips off his Toronto employer for a cool $10.2 million.

Falling Down - I love this flick. Michael Douglas goes so berserk that he makes Mike Tyson look like a rational human being. Falling Down is more of a drama than a comedy, but I guarantee you’ll laugh your ass off.

Strangers on a Train - We’ve all seen such Hitchcock masterpieces such as Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo, or at least should have, but Strangers on a Train is every bit as good. Robert Walker gives one of my favorite performances as psychotic momma’s boy Bruno Anthony. This film was the inspiration for the classic Billy Crystal laugher Throw Momma from the Train.

Defending Your Life - Albert Brooks wrote, directed, and starred in this one. Best described as Groundhog Day lite, its a philosophical romantic comedy about life, death, love, and fear. Meryl Streep and Rip Torn bring it in supporting roles.

House of Sand and Fog - Point blank—an exhilarating emotional rollercoaster. Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley both bring their “A” game. Connelly and Kingsley’s characters are quarreling over a house, and as viewers we ultimately become just as torn as that house.

American Splendor - Sideways blew up Paul Giamatti, but first he tore it up as underground graphic novelist Harvey Pekar. This film is part drama, part documentary, all kick-ass. Hope Davis knocks her role as Pekar’s wife out of the park.

Ed Wood - A Tim Burton biopic starring none other than Captain Jack Sparrow as Ed Wood, unquestionably the worst director in cinema history. Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Murray, Patrica Arquette, and George "The Animal" Steele (seriously!) serve as Depp’s top-shelf supporting cast.

Chocolat - What the hell, pick up this Rom-Com and make it a Depp doubleheader. Juilette Binoche shines as the owner of a small chocolaterie, and Alfred Molina is magic as a devout mayor. How Molina didn’t receive an Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination is beyond me.

The Trial - Although I can’t agree, Orson Welles considered this his finest film before he passed away. I can tell you this—The Trial is at least in the same league as Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil. Based on the novel by Franz Kafka, the film serves as a reminder of just how talented Welles was.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Stern Programming: “Vice” over “Dallas”

The NBA Loves The 80’s

During the 1980s, many memorable shows dominated the TV airwaves.

Cheers. Dynasty. The A-Team. Dallas. Family Ties. L.A. Law. The Cosby Show. Miami Vice. Roseanne. Hill Street Blues.

Only two of those classic TV shows will receive blockbuster big-screen adaptations in the next year-and-a-half—Dallas and Miami Vice.

While both remakes are expected to be major box office hits, Miami Vice will likely end up becoming the bigger success story.

Miami Vice has Jamie Foxx, perhaps the hottest young movie star in America. Vice has Michael Mann, the award-winning Writer/Director. Vice has Colin Farrell, and while his acting isn’t always De Niro-esque, the Irishman is Hollywood’s latest Fonz. Finally, Vice has the bright lights and beautiful people of South Beach.

Dallas has Luke Wilson, whose career is just “Luke” warm compared to Foxx’s sizzle. Dallas has Gurinder Chadha, who, since you haven’t heard of her, directed Bend It Like Beckham. Dallas has John Travolta, who also is no De Niro, and unlike Farrell, hasn’t achieved Fonzie status since the late 70’s. Finally, Dallas’ homely backdrop can’t compare to the glamour and glitz of Vice’s location

Kinda reminds me of the NBA Finals.

The Miami Heat have Dwyane Wade, one of the best players in the NBA and People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People.” The Heat have Pat Riley, the championship-winning Head Coach. The Heat have Shaquille O’Neal, and while he definitely won’t be mistaken for De Niro, the Big Malapropism is still the NBA’s Fonz. And yes, the Heat have the bright lights and beautiful people of South Beach.

Shaq’s pretty cool, but this cool?

The Dallas Mavericks best player, Dirk Nowitzki, is a lanky German that resembles Scooby-Doo’s Shaggy. The Mavericks Head Coach, Avery Johnson, sounds like he just inhaled a balloon-full of helium. The Mavericks Owner, Mark Cuban, is an ex-computer geek so uncool he makes Technology Kip look Fonz-like. And once again, Dallas’ backdrop ain’t got jack on Miami’s.

Based on marketability, that’s an easy pick. Right?

That’s just the thing—you don’t pick in sports. Ever hear the expressions “let ‘em play” or “may the best man win?” Sure, they are trite, but they are also true. The reason we fell in love with sports in the first place is because sometimes History writes better storylines than we could ever conceive ourselves. I say let History pick up the quills and do its thing.

Unfortunately, NBA Commissioner David Stern doesn’t agree.

Not only has Stern and his regime favored the Heat during these NBA Finals because of the abovementioned reasons, but also because of his disdain for Cuban. Let’s just say that Cuban and Stern have had some tiffs in the past, usually over the policies of the league and the performance of its officials.

As a result of both the appeal of the Miami Heat and his hatred of Cuban, Stern seems hell-bent on making O’Neal and Wade Miami’s most popular duo since Vice’s Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs.

Since I’ve made the accusations, here is the evidence…

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The Odds are Stack-ed Against ‘Em

In Game 4, Mavs G Jerry Stackhouse impeded what would have been an easy Shaq dunk with what used to be a "good, clean, hard foul." In fact, even the refs officiating the game didn’t believe that the foul was excessive. They only issued Stackhouse a Flagrant One foul. I think Wade’s knee-jerk reaction to mediate a potential fight made the foul look more severe than it actually was.

Stackhouse is a well-respected player that has been accused of being “soft,” but never, ever of being a bully. He simply wanted to keep Shaq, a horrendous free-throw shooter, from getting two easy points. That is no easy task. Stackhouse had no idea how hard he would have to contact Shaq in order to prevent an easy flush, so he went for the ball hard, getting a lot of body in the process. And when a 340 lb man hits the ground after running at full speed, it will always look bad.

Stackhouse’s one-game suspension is a joke. Sacramento Kings F Ron Artest, the NBA’s version of Mike Tyson, received a one-gamer for maliciously going after Manu Ginobli in a blowout. Heat F Udonis Haslem received a one-gamer for chucking his mouthpiece at a ref. Mavs G Jason Terry and Nuggets F Reggie Evans both received one-gamers for trying to rearrange their opponents man-atomy.

And Stack gets a one-game vacation for what used to be a “good, clean, hard foul?” This is simple—Stern saw his chance to aid the Heat in this series and pounced. Call me clinically insane, but I really believe that Stackhouse, possibly the NBA’s best sub, would have made a difference in the Mavs’ Game 5 101-100 OT loss to the Heat.

Dwyane’s World

Game 5 free-throw attempts: Dwayne Wade 25, Dallas Mavericks 24.

Now I understand team’s getting a call here and there at home, but this is getting re-freakin’-diculous. Wade is a damn good player, arguably as good as any in the league today. But all of a sudden the third-year marvel is getting treatment that I’m not even sure M.J. used to get back in the day. The most free throws that his Airness ever attempted during his prolific 15-year career was 27. The numbers just don’t add up.

To make matters worse, the refs handed Wade the game-winning points on a silver platter. First, it looked like there was a backcourt violation when he caught the inbounds pass with 9.1 seconds left in overtime. Second, even though he drew a foul on his drive to the hoop with 1.9 seconds remaining, it appeared that he was the one who was out of control. Wade even knocked Jason Terry down to the floor.

Nonetheless, despite both the apparent backcourt violation and the phantom foul, Wade was awarded two free throws. He calmly stepped up and knocked down both shots, giving the Heat the 101-100 victory.

Out Of Time?

The NBA and Game 5 refs Joey Crawford and Joe DeRosa stand by the claim that Mavs F Josh Howard boneheadedly burned the Mavs final timeout in-between Wade’s decisive free throws. Crawford says that Howard was looking right at DeRosa when he signaled “timeout.”

That is complete B.S.

Howard has vehemently denied this claim, saying that he “was looking straight at Coach" when he made the signal. I watched the entire game. It was obvious to me that Howard was communicating with Johnson over when to call the Mavs’ final timeout. I understand that Howard has to be more alert during late-game situations, but the refs also have to allow players to communicate with their coaches.

The refs jumped all over the Mavs communication breakdown. Although they won’t admit it, it was a subtle way to ensure Stern’s Game 5 objective—another Heat victory.

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Stay Tuned

With two home games still remaining on the TV Guide, the Mavs still have a remote chance to foil Stern’s master programming. The Mavs could do that by winning both games, wrapping up the NBA Finals with a shocking season finale—The Dallas Mavericks first NBA Championship.

It’s inevitable—the 2006 season of Dallas will end tragically.

But from where I am sitting, with my TV Dinner, it certainly looks like Stern will make sure that the NBA Finals have an ending that is more faithful to the two original shows. With Wade and Shaq, Vice’s new uber-cool duo, on top, and Dallas’ new J.R. Ewing, Cuban, shot down.

If that happens, instead of all these “Nowitzness” t-shirts, we’ll start seeing some “Stern Shot J.R” ones.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Ann Coulter: The Devil Wears Short Skirts

I planned on either writing “10 must-see movies you haven't seen part III” or another “Summer Blockbuster Series” post on An Inconvenient Truth and how global warming affects the sports world, but this tramp named Ann Coulter went and pissed me off. Coulter appeared on The Tonight Show with host Jay Leno and guest George Carlin. Let’s just say she was lucky Carlin, a comic genius and perhaps the most ruthless verbal assassin of our time, bit his tongue while sitting a few feet away. I, however, will not bite my tongue, or keyboard, rather. As a liberal, I feel personally attacked by Coulter. Well, “Ms. Right,” I have an outlet, too.

I despise Ann Coulter. She is an Amazon blonde that staunchly conservative GOPs geek out over, hanging on to every word of hers like it came from a Jedi-like hologram of Ronald Reagan communicating from the afterlife. Personally, I think she’s a trashy, pompous you-know-what that, to quote The Forty-Year-Old Virgin, has “hands as big as Andre the Giant's” and “an Adam's apple as big as her balls.”

Let’s look at the name of her latest book: Godless: The Church of Liberalism…

Yes, I am a liberal. So, in Coulter’s estimation that makes me “Godless.” I consider my girlfriend a moderate Republican. Last time I checked, I go to church just as frequently as she does, which is about every week. Does that make her “Godless,” too? If so, at least she doesn’t wear skirts that, to quote Kingpin, she needs “two hairdos” to wear.

Seriously, what makes Coulter so much more moral than Me.

She wears hoochie skirts, is a fan of Chris Rock and the Grateful Dead, looks up to George W. Bush (Bush’s job approval ratings… LINK), is racist, and thinks women are "not as bright" as men and that “it would be a much better country if women did not vote.”

I wear clothing that is actually in-style, am a fan of Bill Maher and Led Zeppelin, look up to Hillary Rodham Clinton, embrace people of all races, and think that women should not only vote, but also believe that women have the capacity to think on an even par with their male counterparts.

Really, what’s the difference? That I have good taste, don’t worship one of worst Presidents ever, don’t cut holes in my pillowcases, and actually believe in the Nineteenth Amendment.

Let’s take a look at some of her quotes from last night...

"From my perspective, I'm Dorothy, and I just dropped my house on the mainstream media!"

That’s a heck of a comment coming from someone who looks and acts like the Wicked Witch of the West.

"The funny thing is I'm calling Liberals Godless, well, there fine with that, just don't say anything about the Jersey Girls."

I am not fine with the “Godless” nonsense. See above. As for Jersey Girl, I thought the movie stunk. Just kidding. No, seriously, I happen to sympathize with widows no matter how they behave after their husband’s deaths. I especially sympathize with anyone who was personally affected by the 9/11 tragedies.

"I wear their contempt as a badge of honor!"

You wear contempt as a badge of honor? I could have sworn you wore skankiness as a badge of honor. Boy, was I wrong.

I’m not naturally malicious, folks. It’s just that this repulsive bigot brings this side out of me. In my opinion, someone who unjustly blasts women, minorities, and anyone and everyone whose views are different from theirs in anyway, deserves what I am dishing out and more.

I’m not the only one that thinks she’s a witch, either. In 2005, she had her syndicated column dropped from the Arizona Daily Star. Star Editor/Publisher David Stoefffler stated the following about Coulter, “We've decided that syndicated columnist Ann Coulter has worn out her welcome. Many readers find her shrill, bombastic and mean-spirited. And those are the words used by readers who identified themselves as conservatives.”

With conservative friends like those, who needs liberals, women, or minorities? Not Coulter, I guess.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Summer Blockbuster Series: The Omen 6/6/6

Today, I woke up somewhat expecting to see the end of the world as we know it. I expected to see my cat possessed, with glowing green eyes and foam spilling out of his mouth. I expected to see my girlfriend levitating three-feet above our bed. I expected to see that the sky had turned blood red and the sun had gone on permanent vacation. Most of all, I expected to see the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man slogging down the street. Why?

6/6/6

Thankfully, the Apocalypse didn’t happen and my status quo remained intact. When I woke up today, my cat was his normal ornery self, my girlfriend could hardly get out of bed, the not-so-blue L.A. sky was still stained by smog, and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man was still stuck in my Ghostbusters DVD. Phew…

Even though the world didn’t come to an end today, most of it did notice the significance of the date.

The film industry recognized this devilish day by releasing a remake of one of the scariest films ever to grace the silver screen—The Omen. In The Omen, a nice couple, the Thorns, discover that their five-year-old son, Damien, is the Anti-Christ. Eventually, the Thorns decide that to prevent the Apocalypse Damien must be killed.

I’m recognizing this devilish day by releasing my list of the six most evil people in sports. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked to discover that any of these demons were the Satan of Sports cloaked in human flesh. To prevent the Sportpocalypse, these evildoers must be stopped.

Promoter of Pure Evil Don King

Ill-Famed Boxing Promoter Don King has killed two people (that we know about). He has left the lives of the two most-legendary boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, in shambles. He has ripped off masses, both personally and with pay-per-view TV, leading to at least seven lawsuits. He has befriended infamous mobsters like John Gotti. He also has adamantly supported arguably the worst U.S. President of my lifetime—George W. Bush (Bush’s job approval ratings… LINK). If the aforementioned wrongdoings haven’t convinced you that King belongs in this villainous group, just examine his spiky gray hair. It forms a twisted crown, proof that he might just be the “King” of all things evil in sports. Well into his seventies, King is alive and kicking, filthy-rich, and still more gangsta than Suge Knight.

Defensive-Minded Devil Ron Artest

Over the course of the past few years, Sacramento Kings anarchic All-Star Forward Ron Artest nearly destroyed the Indiana Pacers franchise. His attitude is best defined by the gesture he gave Miami Heat fans several years back—a double-middle finger salute. If the evil inside of him isn’t exorcised soon, he could reverse the NBA’s recent upswing in popularity by his dolo. He has already thrown down with fans once, what would keep him from charging into the stands again? Or—GULP—doing something even worse? If Artest stoops to an all-time low, it will be a sad, sad day. The day snooty, middle-aged NBA haters are proved right on all those nasty things they say about my favorite brand of pro sports.

Artest: “Yes, Chuck. I am the one. I am Damien!

Bronx Beelzebub George Steinbrenner

New York Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner is a menace that threatens the relevance of the other 29 MLB teams. If The Boss could have it his way, he’d just bypass each season by buying World Series Championships for his beloved Yanks. As things stand, Steinbrenner just tries to ensure championships by annually having baseball’s biggest payroll (Which is $198.7 million, a whopping $78.6 million more than the second-highest team!). Championships aren’t the only thing he has tried to buy. In 1974, Steinbrenner was found guilty of making 14 illegal contributions to the re-election campaign of then U.S. President Richard Nixon. In 1990, he was banned from MLB for life by then Commissioner Fay Vincent for trying to blackmail ex-Yankee Dave Winfield so he wouldn’t have to fork over $300,00 to Winfield’s foundation. Unfortunately, he was later pardoned of the first offense and reinstated by MLB. For more on the epitome of sports scum, check out my upcoming article on Steinbrenner and his filthy Yanks—“Summer Blockbuster Series: The Devil Wears Pinstripes.” Regretfully, I have to save some venom for that post.

Agent of the Apocalypse Drew Rosenhaus

If money is indeed the root of all evil, cutthroat Sports Agent Drew Rosenhaus’ malevolence is second to only George Steinbrenner’s in the world of sports. The real-life Bob Sugar is part of the “Miami Mafia”, an infamous crew of University of Miami alums dedicated to dominating the fields of business, politics, and sports by any means necessary. His notorious clients include NFL stars Terrell Owens, Sean Taylor, Warren Sapp, Chad Johnson, and Jeremy Shockey. Not exactly a bunch of choirboys and milk drinkers, are they? With his renegade clients and cold-blooded methods, Rosenhaus has almost single-handedly blackened the NFL’s figurative eye. Yes, he did save that little boy from drowning a few years back in Orlando. However, to me, that was nothing more than Rosenhaus’ deception. It’s like what Verbal Kent said in The Usual Suspects, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.”

Verbal Kent: "And poof. Just like that, he's gone."

Tightwad Terror David Glass

Kansas City Royals cheapskate Owner David Glass has turned ex-Owner and philanthropist Ewing Kauffman’s once-proud franchise into a running punchline. Don’t let Glass’ lack of celebrity fool you; he is every bit as vile as Steinbrenner. While Steinbrenner is trying to wipe out baseball by creating a monopoly, Glass is taking another route. He could potentially exterminate his Royals with his penny-pinching ways. By caring way more about the bottom line than his team’s on-field success, Glass is endangering everything we love about sports. If every professional sports owner adopted his philosophy, the competitive spirit that fuels the athletes, coaches and fans would be all but extinct? It makes me sick to even entertain that possibility. You know what makes me even sicker? Glass' past with Wal-Mart. Check out this quote from a 1992 Dateline interview, when he was Wal-Mart’s CEO... After being shown photographs of a factory that burned down with children still trapped inside, Glass retorted, "Yeah... there are tragic things that happen all over the world." Glass promptly ended the interview after that exchange. After reading quotes like the previous one, and that the Royals have averaged a disgraceful 97 losses a season since Glass bought the team, I hope his tenure with the Royals ends promptly.

Unrighteous Receiver Terrell Owens

As one of America’s foremost anti-role models, Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrell Owens is polluting the sports atmosphere every time he opens that gigantic yapper of his. It’s ironic that he’s going to play for Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, who barely missed this list, and the Cowboys, possibly the most-widely despised franchise in the NFL. You know what, Owens and the Cowboys deserve each other. T.O.’s childish demands all but ruined a Philadelphia Eagles franchise that made the NFC Championship Game four years in a row. Following T.O.’s lead, NFL players are holding out for new contracts left and right. Even worse, kids across the nation are holding out from the choirs, demanding that their allowances be raised. Shame on you, T.O. If Rosenhaus is Lucifer of the Gridiron, then T.O. is his mouthpiece.

Now, right here in my comments section, I want to hear about who you think is the most evil person in sports and why…

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Summer Blockbuster Series: Sports Break-Ups

As many of you know, FOXSports.com’s judges and users recently broke up with me, affectively ending my run as a Next Great Sportswriter II finalist. The abrupt termination from the contest left me thinking, “What the hell do I do now?” Well, like most of us that get dumped, I’m moving on, hopefully to greener pastures. I still will be posting here, but I also have a new site, http://theabsolutebestblog.blogspot.com/. The new site will include more posts than my FOXSports.com blog and will allow me to really run with my style. Please bookmark the site if you deem it worthy.

After taking several days off, I’ve decided to both continue the weekly Summer Blockbuster Series that I’ve been running and to tackle the second assignment the remaining NGS II finalists were given. In honor of The Break-Up—the film that has given us the tabloid frenzy dubbed “Vaughnifer” —and a long history of overdramatic sports break-ups—Donovan and T.O., Don King and Iron Mike, Kobe and Phil and Shaq, Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner (5 times!), etc…—here are several of the "Absolute Best" sports break-ups of the past year…

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2006 Sports Break-Ups

F Tim Thomas/Chicago Bulls

For the record, I don’t like Thomas. I think he’s an egocentric punk who only plays hard on one end of the court, and he only does that when he has financial incentives. Don’t agree with me? Then why have four teams already dumped him? That being said, he played exceptionally well this season after joining the Phoenix Suns, following his release by the Bulls. The Bulls weren’t playing him at all. As a Sun, he was one of the top performers of the entire NBA Playoffs. He was dunking with authority, hitting the glass, draining nothing-but-net threes, hell, he even played some D. Without Thomas, the Suns' summer vacation would have started weeks ago. With Thomas, the Suns were two wins shy of a NBA Finals trip.

How does this development make the Bulls feel? Here are a couple of metaphors—one for the ladies, and one for the fellas.

Ladies – Remember back in high school or college, when you blew off that sweet chubby guy that used to stalk you like you were Julia Roberts and he was the paparazzi? Now, imagine the same guy ten years later, only without the excess poundage and as a filthy-rich neurosurgeon. Want him back? Too bad, he has a sleek new girlfriend that’s faster than a “Little Red Corvette.”

Fellas – You are out at the club getting smashed. During a moment of weakness—um, I mean drunkenness—a portly little sea donkey waddles up to you and gives you her number. With your beer goggles strapped on tight, you see some sort of potential and take her digits. You never call her. Not once. About one year later, you are out again at the same club. You see this cute little fox and approach her. When you holler at her, she informs you that she is the same girl you dissed a year earlier, and that she now has a man. Momentarily, her man, who is twice as good-looking as you are, grabs her hand and pulls her away to the dance floor. Game over.

Thomas' latest ex, Bulls Owner Jerry Reinsdorf (who paid Thomas around $15 million for essentially nothing), has to hate watching Thomas shake his ass for the Suns. For Reinsdorf's sake, I hope that Thomas signs a huge contract this summer and then relapses back to his underachieving ways.

CF Johnny Damon/Boston Red Sox

I don’t like Damon much either. Why? Because he broke up with my Kansas City Royals, his first MLB suitor, that's why. I know, I know, the Royals are a notoriously cheap date. Still, that doesn’t mean that I can’t be a little bitter.

As for Damon’s most recent break-up, it was his nastiest yet.

A few years back, the Boston Red Sox added Damon to an already loaded roster. The Red Sox expected the acquisition to evolve into a long-term monogamous relationship. Damon had other plans. He saw it as a use-use relationship. First, he helped the Red Sox finally break the curse and bring home a championship. Then he started sleeping with the enemy. Damon convinced the rival New York Yankees that the Yanks could cripple the Red Sox by signing him to a lucrative contract. It worked; Damon got what he always wanted—moolah and pinstripes. In the aftermath of this backstabbing, it seems that hell hath no fury like a Red Sox fan’s scorn. Check out what I recently read on an anti-Damon Red Sox shirt…

(Below an illustration of a long-haired, bearded Damon)

“Looks like Jesus…

Acts like Judas…

Throws like Mary”

Don’t worry, Red Sox fans. It won’t be long until Damon starts hitting like Mary, prompting the Yankees to act like Judas and ditch him. And Yankees fans, don’t even act like that’s a stretch.

QB Daunte Culpepper/Minnesota Vikings

OK, OK, I think the Vikings did Daunte kind of dirty as well. Here’s the thing—I can also identify with the Vikes on this one.

Picture this scenario: In a year’s time, your significant other’s "performance" level plummets to an all-time low, he/she is accused of being one of the ringleaders on a scandalous boat cruise complete with prostitutes onboard, he/she becomes injured to the extent that he/she can no longer work, and he/she develops somewhat of an attitude about his/her current relationship with you. Is the amalgamation of all this not grounds for dismissal? That’s why I feel for the Vikings.

Now, back to how Culpepper got played.

We’ve all wanted to break up with a significant other via e-mail, text messages or MySpace, and a few of us have probably done so. However, it’s not the right way to let someone go.

The “right way” is a face-to-face termination, complete with uncomfortable silences, streaming tears, and half-hearted hugs. Yes, there is a high-probability that your worser half will freak out on you if you give them their pink slip in person. That’s why you do what Bob Sugar did in Jerry Maguire and host the firing in a public place. Like Owner Ziggy Wilf, new Head Coach Brad Childress, and the rest of the Vikings’ brass couldn’t have at least given Culpepper that courtesy. After all, Culpepper was an integral part of the Vikings return to NFL contention. He deserved better.

The Vikings’ e-mail to Culpepper notifying him that the team was done with him showed a striking lack of gratitude. It would by like Kevin Federline casually axing Britney over the couple’s BlackBerrys.

Regardless, everything worked out for both parties. Culpepper still has his ridiculous contract. He now lives in South Beach, just one of the many luxuries that comes with being the QB of the Miami Dolphins. Meanwhile, the Vikings are moving on with Brad Johnson under center and a plethora of new talent. You see, sometimes break-ups do end up being win-win.

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Future Fall-Outs

American Sports Fans/The World Cup

To quote Vince Vaughn from The Break-Up, “There's a really big gap between getting your ass kicked and having a dancing, singing sprite fool you with trickery and then strike your throat before you know that you're even in a fight.

And that’s why the majority of American sports fans don’t get into soccer. Before we even know that the World Cup is happening, we’re getting drilled by a bunch of little Argentinean dudes with fancy ponytails, and fancier post-goal celebrations.

In the past I haven’t given my World Cup blind dates with the American Soccer Team a fair shake. I promise that will change this time, soccer fans. What I can’t promise is that the results will be any different.

WR Terrell Owens/Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones

This is the equivalent of the ultimate high-maintenance chick hooking up with the ultimate sugar daddy. This merger may result in some good times, maybe even a few good years, but it is destined for a nasty The War of the Roses-style knock-down-drag-out fight. This new romance will end with Owens once again defacing the Cowboys’ star and Jones licking his wounds.

New York Knicks Head Coach Larry Brown/Knicks President Isiah Thomas

It seems that Thomas’ and Brown’s lawyers may already be negotiating the terms of a divorce. This marriage was doomed from the beginning. The basketball union of these two is comparable to a Jennifer Lopez-Tom Cruise marriage. If you think that sounds like a good idea, then maybe, just maybe, the Knicks have a front office position available for you.

QB Matt Leinart/Heiress & Movie Star (wink, wink) Paris Hilton

Do I really need to elaborate on this one? If he hasn't already, it won’t take Leinart long to figure out that there is no such thing as a Simple Life when you’re hitched up with Paris. My only question is who will Leinart replace first, incumbent Arizona Cardinals starting QB Kurt Warner or Paris?

G Kobe Bryant/Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson

They’ve already split once, only to rekindle the flame after a one-year hiatus. Even though things are going swell now, who wants to take bets on how long they’ll last the second go-around?

Gambling Addict Janet Jones/NHL Great Wayne Gretzky

We knew you would, Janet. But how much longer do you expect Gretzky to continue to stick by your side? I mean, does your husband really want his spotless legacy tarnished by his sports betting junkie of a wife? I don't think so.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Summer Blockbuster Series: X-Athletes

(May 28, 2006)

I went to see the new X-men movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, Friday night. It’s a pretty decent flick, especially if you like summer popcorn movies jam-packed with action and special effects sequences. As always, super thespian Ian McKellen brought the drama, while Famke Janssen, Halle Berry, and Rebecca Romijn brought the hotness. Kelsey Grammer and Patrick Stewart also turned in fine performances. Some X-Men fanboys and fangirls are apparently disappointed with the mishandling of several things and the not-so-faithful script, as was I to some extent, but overall the film was rather enjoyable.

What does X-Men have to do with sports? Everything.

During the movie I started comparing the sports world to the X-Men world. Dominant athletes in our world are rare. Dominant mutants in the X-Men world are just as scarce. Then I started thinking—which of today’s athletes are mutant-esque? That’s when I came up with this post of “X-Athletes." If I could re-cast the mutants of X-Men: The Last Stand with personalities from the sports world, this is how I would do it…

Cast of X-Athletes

New York Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner as “Magneto”

Magneto is the biggest villain the world of X-Men has ever known. Steinbrenner is the biggest villain the world of sports has ever known. Magneto uses his ability to control magnetic fields in his attempts to wipe out humankind. Steinbrenner uses his deep pockets in his attempts to wipe out the rest of baseball. Neither man has succeeded in their destructive quests, but both have come close several times.

Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson as “Professor Charles Xavier”

Who else could manage the massive egos of mutant superstars Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, and Jean Grey, but “Headmaster” Professor X. Who else could manage the massive egos of basketball superstars Shaq, Kobe, Air Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen, but “Zenmaster” Jackson? Professor X can read minds. Jackson can seemingly read the minds of opposing coaches. One lived in a mutant commune, the other should live in a hippy commune.

Miami Heat Center Shaquille O’Neal as “Colossus”

Colossus and Shaq are men of steel that tower over the competition. Both men are extremely valuable to their respective teams. Neither one of them impresses us with their vernacular.

Chicago Cubs Center Fielder Juan Pierre as “Kitty Pryde”

Walls don’t stop either of these standouts. Pryde phases through them, Pierre elevates over them. Pryde robbed Juggernaut in the movie, Pierre robbed Barry Bonds in real life.

San Francisco Giants Left Fielder Barry Bonds as “Juggernaut”

Both of these massive men are believed to harvest their unrivaled power from a supernatural energy source. If that isn’t enough of a similarity, just compare the size of their gigantic noggins.

New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady as “Cyclops”

These pretty boys have a penchant for dating Maxim-quality tail. Other than that, they both shoot out projectiles with laser-like precision. Cyclops shoots out laser beams from his eyes, while Brady fires footballs from his golden arm. Each of these heroes is often viewed to be the glue that holds together their respective team.

New York Knicks President Isiah Thomas as “Rogue”

As a mutant, Rogue was one of the best ever. As a player, Zeke was one of the best ever. As a person, Rogue sucks the life out of and ultimately kills anybody she touches. As an executive, Thomas has sucked the life out of the Knicks, and he might just kill off the franchise if he isn’t removed.

Indianapolis Colts Defensive End Dwight Freeney as “Beast”

Check out this quote from the good people over at Marvel—“The Beast possesses superhuman strength, agility, endurance, and speed, despite his bulk.” Sounds like QB-killer Freeney to me. Both “animals” also don a bright shade of blue while reeking havoc on opponents.

Pittsburgh Penguins Center Sidney Crosby as “Iceman”

The baby-faced Iceman can do just about anything with ice. The baby-faced “Sid the Kid” can do just about anything on ice. Both Iceman and Crosby do there fair share of whining.

Sacramento Kings Small Forward Ron Artest as “Pyro”

Pyro, a young mutant struggling with his emotions, doesn’t always put the fire he can summon to good use. Artest, a young superstar struggling with his emotions, doesn’t always put the fire he can summon to good use. Both are capable of burning either the opposition or their teammates, and both have during their turbulent pasts.

New Orleans Saints Running Back Reggie Bush as “Mystique”

Mystique can psionically shift her body to replicate any human. Bush can shift his body to replicate what any skill player has ever done on a football field. Before Friday, I thought both were impossible to catch.

Phoenix Suns PG Steve Nash as “Jean Grey/Phoenix”

As Jean Grey of the X-Men, Grey was great. When she became the Phoenix, she was almost unstoppable. As a Dallas Maverick, Nash was great. Since he became a Phoenix Sun, he’s been almost unstoppable. Both Grey and Nash possess telepathic powers (Nash at least comes close), can control objects and others around them, and look good doing what they do. They both are dangerous, though. Grey as the Phoenix nearly destroyed humankind. Nash with Phoenix might destroy basketball by letting aspiring hoopsters watch him play defense.

Los Angeles Lakers Shooting Guard Kobe Bryant as “Angel”

Bryant and Angel have a ton in common. They are products of relatively famous fathers and enjoyed privileged upbringings. However, they also endured troubling times as young adults and are trying to restore their now-damaged reputations. Will Angel’s and Kobe’s “wings” allow them to soar to the heights needed in order to revive their reps?

Tennis Stars Venus or Serena Williams as “Storm”

Each sister possesses the requisite beauty and abilities to play this role. Serena and Venus have been known to whirlwind around the court as they unleash a “Storm” of serves, volleys, lobs, and overhead smashes on opponents.

Green Bay Packers Quarterback Brett Farve as “Wolverine”

Wolverine: A moxie-filled man with incredible mutant healing powers. Continues to perform at a high level despite his old age. Typically beats the odds and conquers any obstacle. Vastly popular.

Farve: see WOLVERINE.

Summer Blockbuster Series: The Nowitzki Code

(May 22, 2006)

Nowitzki and Hanks even have the same ‘do.

Saturday Night Lame

Yes, I bought into all of the hype and went to see The Da Vinci Code Saturday night. I mainly went so that I would be able to bring you this article.

Bad decision.

Around 4:00 p.m. or so, my girlfriend and I decided that we were going to go eat Mexican food and catch the 6:30 showing at a small theater here in Long Beach. I’ll just say that it took us awhile to get out of the apartment. By the time that we bought tickets, several shows were already sold out and the next available showing wasn’t until 8:15 p.m. The clerk told us to be back 30-45 minutes if we wanted to get a decent seat.

We ate and came back at 7:30, exactly 45 minutes early. Everyone had already been seated. There was absolutely no seats left and the next showing wasn’t until 10 p.m. We got a refund and decided to go to a bigger theater to avoid waiting so long.

Another bad decision.

When we arrived at the bigger theater, The Da Vinci Code was sold out until 10:15. We bought tickets and went over to a local arcade to kill some time. Afterwards, we got into line about an hour before the scheduled start time. There was already about 200 people in front of us. Once the usher allowed everyone into the theater the rush for seats turned into a Battle Royal. I swear I saw an eleven-year-old kid slap an old man with a bag of Twizzlers (OK, I’m embellishing a bit on this particular claim, but you get the point). Miraculously, we were still able to find decent seats.

At that point I was like “This $@#% better be good.”

It wasn’t. The movie sucks. Even Tom Hanks turned in an uninspired performance and the plot had more holes than the Dallas Cowboys offensive line used to make for Emmitt Smith. I suppose I should have expected this from Opie Taylor.

Anyway…

In the movie Harvard Professor Robert Langdon (Hanks) gets mixed up in a murder mystery while on business in Paris. While attempting to solve the mystery he discovers ancient codes. He believes these codes lead to the Holy Grail and begins a quest for the Grail that takes him all over Europe.

This isn’t unlike what has gone on in the NBA over the course of the past decade.

After a small influx of European players infiltrated the NBA (Vlade Divac, Detlef Schrempf, Toni Kukoc, Drazen Petrovic, Arvydas Sabonis, etc…), scouts found themselves searching all over Europe for undiscovered talent. During this search, the next NBA superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, was found. As a result of this amazing revelation, NBA executives became obsessed with the notion that European players were the key to discovering the NBA’s Holy Grail—The Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy.

Each NBA franchise’s hunt for the next European NBA superstar began. Starting with Nowitzki, here are some of the more significant discoveries NBA teams have made during their quests across the Atlantic.

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The European 'It' List

PF Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks, Germany – Dirk is widely considered to be both the player that started the NBA’s fascination with European talent and the best European NBA player ever. In 1998, the Milwaukee Bucks drafted Nowitzki 9th overall and immediately traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for the draft rights to Robert “Tractor” Traylor. This trade would be similar to Brad Pitt trading in Angelina Jolie for Kathy Griffin. It wasn’t a very smooth move for the Bucks.

Dirk's lethal combo of length and moves make him one of a kind.

During his eight NBA seasons, Nowitzki has developed into one of the elite players in the league. He has also helped revolutionize the game. Before the German Wunderkind, the league had never known a seven-footer with the shooting range, athleticism, and offensive skills owned by Nowitzki. Just how unique is Dirk? He is the only player in NBA history to ever record 150 three-point field goals and 100 blocks in the same season. This season, Nowitzki made All NBA First-Team and was third in NBA MVP voting while leading the Mavs to 60 wins and the third-best record in the NBA. After witnessing Nowitzki turn the once lowly Mavs into a legitimate NBA Championship contender, NBA front offices are still looking for the “next Dirk Nowitzki.”

SF Predrag "Peja" Stojakovic, Indiana Pacers, Serbia-Montenegro – Stojakovic isn’t quite the player that Nowitzki is, but he is still recognized as an All-Star talent and one of the top international players in the NBA. Peja is a little shorter and less versatile than Dirk, but he still possesses a sweet shooting stroke. The Sacramento Kings drafted Stojakovic in 1996, but he didn’t actually join the Kings until 1998-99, which was also Nowitzki’s rookie year.

He Got Game: Peja’s wife, Greek supermodel Aleka Kamila.

Stojakovic started his career somewhat slowly, coming off the bench for the Kings during both of his first two seasons. During his third season, he took his game to new heights, averaging 20.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game during his first season as a starter. In the following seasons, Stojakovic maintained this high level of play while helping reinvent the previously abysmal Sacramento Kings franchise into a winner. Peja was traded to the Indiana Pacers last season in exchange for clinically insane superstar Ron Artest. Even though Stojakovic has been criticized for both his defensive ineptitude and his playoff disappearing acts, he is undoubtedly one of the best shooters and scorers playing in the league today.

PG Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs, France – Contrary to popular belief, there is more to Parker than just being Mr. Eva Longoria. He is also a top-notch NBA player. Drafted 28th overall in 2001 by the San Antonio Spurs, Parker immediately became the Spurs starting point guard. Two years later the lightening-quick Parker lead the Spurs to the 2003 NBA Championship. Since then he has helped the Spurs win another NBA Championship (2005), been selected to the NBA All-Star Game (2006), and recorded a French rap album. After starting the NBA’s French Revolution, Parker has shown no signs of slowing down.

NBA execs are “Desperate” for players like Parker.

PF Pau Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies, Spain – Gasol is a fierce competitor that does most of his damage inside. He was selected 3rd by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2001 NBA Draft. Gasol was a standout from day one, winning the 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year award. Even though the Grizzlies have still never won a NBA Playoff game, at least Gasol is leading them to the postseason. Before Pau’s arrival, the Grizz had never even been in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Bearded Spaniard was selected to the 2006 All-Star Game and has averaged 18.5 points and 1.9 blocks per game during his career. Gasol’s intensity and toughness are helping change the soft label frequently given to European players.

F Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz, Russia – Kirilenko not only is the most versatile European player in the NBA today, he also has the best nickname—AK-47, a moniker that is inspired both by his jersey number (47) and the infamous Russian rifle that shares the same name (AK-47). The Utah Jazz drafted him with the 24th overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, but he didn’t play in the NBA until the 2001-02 NBA season. He was an NBA All-Star in 2004 and is one of only two players to record a “5X6” (6 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 blocks, and 6 steals). The other player is former NBA MVP Hakeem Olajuwon. Kirilenko is so good that his wife (hottie and former Russian pop star Masha Lopatova) allows him to sleep with another woman once every year. Now that’s talent. His defensive abilities are proving that some Europeans can indeed “D” up.

(In Russian) Honey, are you sure it’s OK?

F-C Darko Milicic, Orlando Magic, Serbia-Montenegro – At the ripe age of 20, Milicic has already been prematurely labeled as a bust. I understand why; because Milicic was selected by the Detroit Pistons 2nd in the 2003 NBA draft, ahead of stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade. Still, he hardly played at all during the first two-and-a-half years of his career with the Pistons, so it is a tad early to pass judgment on the young Serbian. Milicic finally started to get some burn when he was shipped to the Orlando Magic prior to the 2006 All-Star break. He finished the season playing fairly well for the Magic, especially defensively (he averaged over 2 blocks per game during his 30 games with the Magic). Will Darko end up a flat-out bust or bust out with potential? Only time will tell, but teams are starting to be more cautious about European players after witnessing the early stages of Milcic’s career.

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The Past, Present, and Future

There have been plenty of other success stories—such as Orlando Magic F Hedo Turkoglu of Turkey, Cleveland Cavaliers C Zydrunas Ilgauskas of Lithuania, and Phoenix Suns PG-C and 2006 Most Improved Player Boris Diaw of France—and a few busts—such as Nikoloz Tskitishvili of Georgia, who was selected 5th overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 2002 NBA Draft, and is barely clinging to his Phoenix Suns roster spot—as NBA teams continue to span Europe for a player that will deliver them an NBA Championship. This search is no longer limited to Europe either, as current NBA stars have been drafted from Argentina (San Antonio Spurs G Manu Ginobli), China (Houston Rockets C Yao Ming), Canada (Phoenix Suns PG and back-to-back NBA MVP Steve Nash) and Australia (Milwaukee Bucks C Andrew Bogut).

The bottom line here is that lots of foreigners can ball (Plus, they all somehow pull supermodel-hot chicks as effortlessly as they hit free throws, which is good for bonus points in my book).

Some basketball theorists associate the success of European and foreign players to the extra emphasis that foreign countries seem to place on basketball fundamentals. Another train of thought is that wherever basketball is frequently played, good players will develop. Both of these explanations seem to make sense.

The bigger question is this: In the future, will the World’s best basketball players hail from America or from European or other countries?

That question may never be answered, but NBA front offices will still continue to import oodles of European and foreign players in their quest to obtain basketball’s Holy Grail. Even The Da Vinci Code Director Ron Howard could get that story straight.

Jack the... Clipper?

(May 17, 2006)

 

Jack of all traitors?

Jack,

I don’t know you, but I’m a film buff and big fan of yours, so I feel that I know you reasonably well. That being said, I have to ask—what in the hell were you doing flying to Phoenix to watch L.A.’s other team, the Los Angeles Clippers? You are suppose to be the quintessential Los Angeles Lakers fan.

Are you mad at Kobe? This is you telling KB8/24 and his teammates “Wait'll they get a load of ME!,” isn’t it? Has Elgin Baylor finally turning things around inspired you to the point that you told him “you make me want to be a better man?” Or were you there to support your good friend and die-hard Clippers fan Billy Crystal, who always seems to crack on you at the Oscars? Here’s his next Jack Nicholson punchline—“never rub another man's rhubarb.”

You’ll probably wake up tomorrow and say that this experience was “The most terrible nightmare I ever had. It's the most horrible dream I ever had.” Jack, you need to take some accountability here. You were wearing Clipper blue. I know you were there to support your director from As Good As It Gets , Clippers fan James L. Brooks, but still—YOU WERE WEARING CLIPPER BLUE! OK, maybe it was light purple, but it looked like blue on TV. You and Penny Marshall are out! What, is three championships every decade not good enough for you?

What's wrong, Jack, “you can't handle the truth?” That's too bad. You are a Lakers fan. Go home! This is an outrage. Noah Cross told you this in Chinatown, “most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and the right place, they're capable of... anything!” Well, buddy, you now have to face that fact. What's your next film going to be, a Benedict Arnold biopic?

You can only hope that Kobe doesn’t disown you during his guest appearance on TNT’s NBA Halftime Show tonight. You know that Chuck and Kenny are going to ask him about you. Well, hopefully the Ocho, I mean, Jack Bauer, will forgive you and it will be business as usual with you courtside next year. I have a feeling you’ll wake up tomorrow, read this, and write me back “What can I tell you, kid? You're right. When you're right, you're right, and you're right.”

I love ya, Jack, but you're pushing me. First, Wolf, then Mars Attacks, and now this? Are there any real fans still out there? What happened to loyalty? Jack, this is a wake up call. "Lord have mercy! Is that what that is?" Yes, now go back to your family—the purple and gold. That's where you belong.

Sincerely,

Adam

David Blaine: Pushing the boundaries of sport

(May 9, 2006)

For those of you who don't know who David Blaine is, the first thing that I want you to do is to climb out from underneath that rock. Now, I'll enlighten you.

The media often refers to Blaine as an illusionist or magician. He says that he is neither. Instead, Blaine calls himself a performance artist. I happen to agree with him.

Yes, the Brooklyn-born Blaine did indeed start out as a New York City street magic performer. He performed acts such as card and levitation tricks, and bringing dead flies back to life. That was then, this is now. Over the course of the last seven years, Blaine has taken his act to the legendary Harry Houdini’s level. Referring to Blaine as simply a Magician is doing him a disservice. The death-defying stunts and feats of endurance that he has completed over the years are not sleight of hand magic tricks. They are physical feats that teeter on the verge of impossibility. He underwent months, sometimes years, of vigorous dieting and physical training. That sounds like a great competitor to me. Possibly even what I’d call an athlete?

Look at how Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines the word.

athlete: a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina

Again, that sounds like Blaine to me. Is Blaine any less of an athlete than some of today’s competitors that we consider great athletes? Tiger Woods? Shaun White? Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Tony Hawk? It’s a bold suggestion, but one that deserves further examination.

Many are quick to doubt or discredit Blaine, which in my opinion is just ridiculous. While performing his stunts he always places himself in a public place (usually somewhere in NYC), making him easily accessible to anyone who wants to take a closer look. Also, he has always remained fully visible and allowed the use of live television and webcams to authenticate his feats. Despite what the pundits might say, Blaine is actually doing these things that nobody else has ever done before.

The way Blaine is treated by a large share of the media is really no different than the way they have treated Barry Bonds, Kobe Bryant and Lance Armstrong. Basically, there is a whole lot of hatin’ going on. A bunch of crusty 45-year-old armchair athletes that have nothing better to do but to sit around and invalidate the greatest individual feats of our time. This list of David Blaine’s greatest feats speaks for itself…

“Premature Burial” (April 5, 1999)

Blaine was buried in a glass coffin at the bottom of an open pit for seven days. The pit was in front of a NYC office building, allowing spectators to view Blaine at all times.

“Frozen in Time” (November 27, 2000)

Blaine spent 61 hours, 40 minutes, and 15 seconds encased in a transparent block of ice that was slightly suspended from the ground. A tube provided him with air and water. Another tube removed his urine. Blaine says that he didn’t walk right for a month after this stunt. This took place in Time Square, NYC.

“Vertigo” (May 22, 2002)

Blaine was crane lifted onto a 90’ high pillar, which was 22” wide. He remained there and kept his balance for just a shade under 35 hours. He didn’t have food, water, or anything at all to lean on. Blaine had no safety harnesses and didn’t have safety nets underneath him for almost the whole duration. He punctuated this feat with an exclamation point by jumping off of the pillar and onto a landing platform made out of a pile of cardboard boxes. He suffered a concussion as a result of this jump, but fully recovered. This took place in NYC’s Bryant Park.

“Above the Below” (September 5, 2003)

For 44 days, Blaine was sealed inside a small, clear plexiglass case that was suspended 30 feet in the air. He received water, but no food at all. There was a webcam inside the case that allowed viewers to watch Blaine. He lost 54 lbs. during this feat. This took place over the Thames River in London.

“Drowned Alive” (May 1, 2006)

During his most recent stunt, Blaine was underwater in an 8' water-filled sphere for a planned seven days and seven nights. He used tubes for food and water and to relieve himself. At the conclusion of this feat, Blaine attempted to break the underwater-breath-holding record of 8 minutes and 58 seconds. He could only muster 7 minutes and 8 seconds. During the weeklong stunt a doctor urged Blaine to get out of the water, stating later that Blaine was "pushing his body insanely to the limits." Because he didn’t want to disappoint his fans, Blaine gave no consideration to this warning and remained submerged underwater. He has suffered liver failure, atrophied muscles and various other injuries as a result of this feat. This took place at the plaza of the Lincoln Center in NYC.

For “Drowned Alive”, Blaine trained and dieted for a year in order to drop 50 lbs. so that his body would require less oxygen. He trained with both Navy SEALS and many of the world’s best divers. His dedication and determination should make him a national hero. His ability to exercise mind over matter and do the undoable should be celebrated, not condemned. For example, why is New England Patriots Linebacker Ted Bruschi largely viewed as courageous for returning to football after a stroke, when Blaine is widely considered crazy? That just doesn’t make sense.

Regardless if you consider David Blaine to be a magician, illusionist, stunt artist or athlete, it is hard to deny that the man is remarkable. He is a role model for people of all ages. A living testament that you can achieve almost anything that you put your mind to (and yes, I’m convinced that he will come back and break that underwater-breath-holding record ).

"The Surreal Life" of Sports

(May 8, 2006)

Flava Flav and the tall b**** from Beverly Hills Cop II

First off, for the record, I am not a reality junkie. I hardly ever subject myself to the tube unless I'm watching sports or a film. However, for some reason whenever I encounter VH1's The Surreal Life I simply cannot pull myself away. The concept is great--take advantage of eccentric, washed-up famous people who desperately need the money by placing them in the same combustible household.

The Surreal Life cast alumni list includes Vanilla Ice, Tammy Faye Baker, Brigitte Nielson, Flavor Flav (who, bizarrely enough, dated Nielson), Sherman Helmsley, Corey Feldman, MC Hammer, Ron Jeremy, Verne Troyer, Chyna, José Canseco and Bronson Pinchot. Those are just the more famous, or infamous, ex-stars that have appeared on various seasons of the show. When you add elements like those to one another and constantly force them to mix, the chemistry often becomes extremely unstable.

That's where my idea comes in. I would like to see Fox Sports, ESPN, VH1, etc…—SOMEONE, ANYONE, PLEASE!!—, put together a “who’s who” list of sports’ wackiest wackjobs and do a sports version of The Surreal Life. Screw it; I’ll make the list. I’ve even stayed the course and included cast members of different sexes, ages, ethnicities, and sporting backgrounds. All I need now is for someone to foot the bill for the show...

The Cast:

Rosie Ruiz - If her name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s understandable. I’ll make it easy for you. Rosie Ruiz is only the biggest phony in the history of sports. She’s a Cuban-American runner that cheated her way to a 1980 Boston Marathon victory by only running the last mile or so of the 26.2-mile race. She even cheated at the previous New York Marathon just to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Eventually, race officials stripped her of the victory. To this very day, she has still not completed a marathon. What could she possibly fake on the show? Get your mind out of the gutter, you!

Ryan Leaf - Possibly the biggest bust in the history of professional sports. The former Washington State quarterback was selected by the San Diego Chargers with the second pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. If being selected second in the draft didn’t already provide high enough expectations, he was picked right after Peyton Manning. Ouch. Leaf was so immature, pompous, lazy, and temperamental, not to mention overrated, that he was forced out of professional football rather quickly. While those attributes didn’t make him a star in the NFL, they would make him a huge hit on this show. I’m pretty sure the hefty paycheck would be enough to convince him to quit his job as quarterbacks coach at West Texas A&M.

”Iron” Mike Tyson - This boxing sensation turned freak show needs no introduction. Sure, he might be hard to convince, and even harder to contain, but he needs the money. It might take millions to get him on the show, but the ratings that resulted would be worth every penny. You’d even have to provide around the clock security to make sure he didn’t kill Leaf or one of the other cast members. Imagine those two going at it…

Tyson: (heavy lisp) Hey pretty boy QB, why didn’t you make it in the NFL?

Leaf: Leave me alone, Mike.

Tyson: I just wanna know why you didn’t make it. It’s just ludicrous.

Leaf: I don’t want to talk right now.

Tyson: Just talk to me big guy? Why couldn’t you cut the mustard?

Leaf: Just shut the @#$% up, Mike.

Tyson: What did you say to me? I’m Alexander the Conqueror. I’m impregnable. I’ll eat your children.

(Tyson breaks Leaf’s nose. Security breaks up the skirmish.)

Tyson: I’m gonna get you, Leaf. You better not drop the soap in the shower, big boy.

Leaf: I’m suing. I am going to sue your ass, Tyson!

What more can I say?

Tonya Harding - Former elite U.S. figure skater that became notorious when she literally had her husband take out the competition in 1994—when he clubbed skater Nancy Kerrigan in the knee. Partially due to multiple run-ins with the law, Harding has been so desperate for money in the past that she has appeared in both pro wrestling and porn. Think she wouldn’t stoop to this level? She also has somewhat of a relationship with Tyson. She appeared on the undercard for the Tyson-Clifford Etienne fight. Even though she’d still be playing second banana to Tyson on this card, she still would be a very popular cast member.

Shawn Bradley - Getting the “Stormin’ Mormon” on this show might indeed be “Missionary Impossible”, but, man, wouldn’t it be fun? The 7’6” former NBA basketball player, who once took a two-year hiatus to do missionary work, recently retired to run a chicken farm in Utah. He frequently donates large amounts of money to his church, and might jump at the chance to both donate more and promote his faith. During his playing days he was known to get into the occasional scuffle (usually because he was getting picked on), and history might repeat itself if he was on the show. Maybe he would get irked because someone made fun of his religion or made inappropriate references to his M.I.L.F. wife and hot daughters? Then we’d get to see Bradley’s tough-guy act followed by those gangly arms and legs flailing all over the place if a brawl broke out. If he says no there there is always Manute Bol.

Only Benson could look good in the O's uniforms right now.

Anna Benson - Okay, so she’s not an athlete. But since she’s married to Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kris Benson we’ll make an exception this time. Besides, other sports super hotties such as Anna Kournakova and Jennie Finch would be too difficult to sign up. Benson would be easy. This ex-stripper is starving for the spotlight. It’s obvious to see that when you consider that she’s already appeared in FHM magazine and on the Howard Stern Show. She even almost did Playboy. The statement that she made about having sex with all of the Mets players (her hubbies former team), even the grounds crew, if her husband cheated on her, made national news. She would no doubt flaunt her inflated breasts for the boys on her way to making headlines again if she was a cast member. Especially if we put a pitcher on the show, which brings me to…

John Rocker - The former Atlanta Braves pitcher that was famous more for bashing NYC with his racist, sexist and homophobic comments than his mad dash to the mound, would be a perfect fit. He’s done reality TV before (Spike TV’s Pros vs. Joes) and had a tabloid-making fling with fitness model/sports journalist Alicia Marie. He would be a natural match for Benson and a natural clash for New Yorker Tyson. His mouth would definitely get him in some trouble, and that’s why he’s on this list.

Irina Korzhanenko - Russian shot putter that won the 2004 Olympic gold medal, but was later disqualified when she tested positive for the steroid stanozolol. She later refused to return her medal and received a lifetime ban by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). I would pay anything to see Irina K bodyslam Bradley. The language barrier sends her stock through the roof. She makes Ivan Drago look like a Russian pansy. They fought once. He walked away saying “She's not human. She's like a piece of iron.”

Top Alternates: Harold "Baby Jordan" Miner, Todd "Marijuanavich" Marinovich, Marion Jones, Manute Bol, John McEnroe, Christy Martin, Tony Twist, William "Refridgerator" Perry, Ricky Williams, Martina Navratilova

Now, back to the hard part. Ah, yes, finding financing for this show... Hey, while I'm still dreaming, can I get Charles Barkley as the host?

Owning Barkley

(May 4, 2006)

Philip Seymour Hoffman doing his thing.

Last night I watched the 2003 film Owning Mahowny for the first time. The movie centers around a compulsive gambler named Dan Mahowny. Now, I wish I could say that I was bright enough to watch this film solely because of the film's obvious connection to the recent news about the gambling problems of NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley and popular PGA Golfer John Daly. That wasn't why I popped it in my DVD player. I popped Owning Mahowny in because A.) It had been sitting in my collection accumulating dust for the last two years; and B.) It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of my longtime favorite actors.

Still, even though Hoffman's performance was riveting, I couldn't help but to think about the Chuckster, one of my all-time favorite athletes, as I watched.

Owning Mahowny was inspired by a true story. There actually was a Toronto bank vice president that used his position to steal money in order to pay his gambling debts. He started taking $10,300, which was the sum of his first gambling debt owed to some goons down at the horse track. By the end of the movie Mahowny had miraculously taken the Bank for $10.2 million. What's even more miraculous, is that he lost it all. Every single penny. He had fantastic luck with his Bank, sneaking money through airports and customs, even at the casinos from time to time. The problem was that he couldn't walk away. Watching Hoffman stuck to that table reminded me of the way a heroin addict is tragically magnetized by a needle. As long as he had access to money, that was money to lose.

A nice mug shot of Sir Charles.

Charles in Charge?

That is where Barkley comes in. Yesterday, I was dumbfounded when I read that Barkley admitted to losing around $10 million to gambling and said "Do I have a gambling problem? Yeah, I do have a gambling problem but I don't consider it a problem because I can afford to gamble." That sounds an awful like Mahowny to me.

It's sad, because even though Chuck said back in the day that he wasn't a "role model," he most definitely is. It's not just that kids of all colors and economic backgrounds look up to him, but also the NBA players of today. Yes, they might want to "be like Mike" (who also seems to have a gambling problem), but they also want to be like Chuck. Today's young athletes are less educated than ever and news like this is bad news for their futures. It seems to me that they have a hard enough time managing their disposable income. Role models such as Chuck only enable them to be even less responsible with their money. Chuck is often the first person to talk about Hurricane Katrina victims or running for office, but it's hard to take him seriously when he is in such a state of denial. Just listen to him "It's not a problem. If you're a drug addict or an alcoholic, those are problems."

Can't you see Barkley twenty years from know? I can see him. He's dead broke and borrowing money from filthy-rich buddies Nike CEO Phil Knight, Michael Jordan (who probably really does have too much money to ever go broke from gambling, but may have lost his father because of his problem) and Tiger Woods to survive the way former Eagles owner and compulsive gambler Leonard Tose did when he borrowed from Dick Vermeil and others. He's going down a nasty path. He's not a professional poker player or a suave sports gambling expert, he's a poor gambler that thinks he has too much money to ever go broke.

Tell that to Mahowny, or better yet, John Daly. Daly said that he has lost an estimated $50-60 million gambling. I was shocked to find out that Daly even had that kind of money. He can't be worth that much, can he? And if he is, and really did lose that much, how is he staying afloat financially? At least Daly is coming to grips with his problem. When asked about his problem he admitted that his gambling could "flat-out ruin" him.

At least Daly's moved past the denial stage. He's got that on Barkley.

Gambling can be fun and entertaining, but is nasty in its addiction form. I've seen compulsive sports gamblers bet ten or twenty times what they started out betting earlier that day, on games they hadn't even really liked coming in, just to recoup their losses. Mahowny once called in $1,000 dollars on all the MLB teams; he took all of the away teams in the National League, and all of the home teams in the American League. He was playing $70,000 a hand in Atlantic City. When gambling gets to this point it isn't just about losing disposable income. It's like a drug addiction. You lose touch with reality on your way to losing everything. Friends. Family. Reputation. Everything. Mahowny was lucky. He only ended up doing a six-year stint in prison as someone's teddy bear and owed basically every dollar he earned once he was released from the can. It can get worse. At least he kept his life, because many people that get that sucked in don't make it out.

I'm not trying to be a square here. I think gambling is a perfectly fine habit if you can control yourself. It is no different than drinking. Lots of people can enjoy throwing down some serious drinks, but some people are awful drunks. You know the kind of people that get banned from all drinking establishments by their P.O. or have a breathalyzer in their car. Those people shouldn't drink, just like compulsive gamblers shouldn't gamble.

I guess I just don't want to see one of the beloved sports heroes from my youth ruin himself and his legacy. There is still time for Barkley to accept and curtail his problem, and he better. Or else his biographical film will end up being called Owning Barkley.

10 must-see movies you haven't seen part II

(March 13, 2006)

You know the drill...

State of Grace - One of my all-time favorite gangster films. Very underrated. How could you not love a gangster film set in New York's Hells Kitchen that stars Sean Penn, Ed Harris and Gary Oldman? One of Oldman's finest performances.

Tootsie - This film makes Mrs. Doubtfire look like chopped liver. Tootsie is absolutely one of the greatest comedy scripts ever written. Dustin Hoffman puts on a show by transforming Michael Dorsey into Dorothy Michaels.

Glengarry Glen Ross -As far as I'm concerned, this film's dialogue is right up there with the likes of Pulp Fiction and Network. To quote Pulp Fiction—"the same ballpark." Alec Baldwin delivers one of the most memorable bit-role performances in recent cinema history.

Auto Focus - William Dafoe and Greg Kinnear light up the screen in the story behind the life and death of legendary TV actor Bob Crane (aka the dude from Hogan's Heroes). The film was released in 2003 and never really took off like it should have. A top-shelf biopic.

Bottle Rocket - Wes Anderson's (Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) first film centers around three wannabe criminals. This is not only one of Martin Scorcesse's favorite films (yes, with him I'll name drop), but also the one that put both Anderson and the Wilson Brothers (Luke and Owen) on the map. One of the best first films a director has ever made.

Public Access - This film is hard to find (try Netflix or Amazon and you will), but it is yet another fine first film by a young American director—Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects). The late, great (well, at least in this film) Ron Marqutte stars as a nomadic stranger who uses a public access TV show to send a perfect little town into upheaval. 

Hard Eight - Since I'm on a roll here, I'll stick with fine first films from young American directors, Trebek... This Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) film was originally titled Sydney and stars Phillip Baker Hall, Gwyneth Paltrow and John C. Reilly. It's a twisted love story that takes place in Reno, Nevada, aka "the Biggest Little City in the World."

Ong-bak - This Thai film featuring the amazing Tony Jaa is awe-inspiring. There are no special effects in this film. All of the stunt sequences are performed by the actual actors. Jaa's character, Ting, kicks more ass than Ah-nold in Commando. Just trust me on this one.

Hoop Dreams - To me, this is the best documentary ever made. Yes, I know that it's a bold statement, but I'm sticking to my guns here. Even if you don't like sports, this film about broken dreams and perseverance is one of a kind. Because of Hoop Dreams, I still want to meet Athur Agee and William Gates.

Logan's Run - An older sci-fi film that was The Island before The Island ripped it off (and did a piss-poor job, I might add). It might actually get the remake treatment by Singer and has a serious cult following. Yeah, it's that good.

Part III coming... eventually...

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