Saturday, July 31, 2004

One More Saturday Night

This is my response at a Celtics blog to lots of posters saying mostly no to new uniforms, and absolutely NO! to cheerleaders:

I hate to break it anybody, but going to see the C's ain't what it used to be. I remember giving standing ovations through entire timeouts, but that can't happen now, because they run the freakin circus on the court every chance they get. Also, don't forget that next year's high school draftees will not have had the C's win a title in their entire lifetimes. So bring in the cheerleaders, change the uniforms,hell you can even change the name, just do whatever it takes to increase the chances that anyone might sign here, should the current owners ever sell to anyone who might want to spend some money.

I'll vote for something traditional, yet fashionable. How about the Boston Bullets? We'd sell a ton of shirts.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Terrorist Threat

My sister didn't see the story in Boston, and I didn't see it on the national news (and I was watching a lot of it due to the convention), so here's a follow up story to the terrorist scare in Riviera Beach, which is in Palm Beach County. The Feds closed a port, diverted traffic, and evacuated buildings, including a Boys and Girls Club just over two miles from where I start work next week. It turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. Here it is:

Response in Port Incident "Appropriate",Foley says

Rasual Butler - Part 2

Rasual Butler is being handed the starting small forward job with the Miami Heat. That raises the all important question: Can he handle it? Let's look at the numbers.

A first glance at Butler's statistics causes some concern. His points per game, assists, and rebounds all dropped from his previous rookie season. But the longer you look, the more you find some big positives in there. For as it turns out, the drop in Butler's numbers was caused by his loss in minutes, and during his time in the game, he was actually playing some damn good basketball.

Butler's minutes dropped from 21 per game to 15 a game, largely due to the influx of talent that caused the Heat's playoff run. But get a load of these shooting percentage increases:

02-03 field goal % .362
03-04 field goal % .476

02-03 3-pt % .292
03-04 3-pt % .463

02-03 free throw % .731
03-04 free throw % .762

Have you ever seen anything like that? Talk about improvement. I mean, 17% more 3-pointers? And .463 is no small number. As a matter of fact, guess how many small forwards (as listed by ESPN), with over 100 3-pointers attempted, finished with a higher percentage than Butler.

The answer is zero. That's right, Butler was the best of them all.

So it looks like the Heat may have a serious outside presence, IF Butler can keep shooting at similar rates while doubling his minutes. No guarantee for sure, but he is a young ballplayer, being handed a great opportunity, and with Shaquille O'Neal as the first option and Dwyane Wade as the second, he ought to be getting a lot of good looks. Further, having Butler, Wade, and Eddie Jones all on the floor with Shaq ought to open up some room for the Big Diesel.

I'm feeling good. Serious contenders the Heat seem to truly be.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

What Butler Is Doing These Days

Rasual Butler signed with the Heat some time last night. It had to be almost simultaneous with me wondering on the blog about what the hell was taking him so long. I'll write about that later tonight.

Also, I checked my hit counter and, amazingly, I have a few hits. This is mainly due to These Days, a basketball blog that gave me a plug. So thanks to Brendan over there, and if you're coming here today from that site, go read the earlier stuff. It's only 10 days old, and it's funnier.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

If We Played Today . . .

I'm doing this as much for myself as anyone. OK, we all know Shaq (and the Captain) have come to Miami. We also know that many others have left. So what does the Heat roster look like today?

Center - Shaq, Michael Doleac, Wang Zhi Zhi. Shaq and anybody pretty much makes this the best group of centers in the league. Doleac is serviceable, and will play a big role in the nights the Heat play back-to-back games. Zhi Zhi has proven a lot of nothing so far.

Forwards - Udonis Haslem, Malik Allen, Dorell Wright, Jerome Beasley, Matt Freije, Albert Miralles. Uh-oh. Miralles is from Spain and 6-11. Other than that I don't know anything about him. I like Haslem, but the only true small forward in ths group is 18 years old. And Karl Malone is supposed to solve that? Everyone talks about Rasual Butler coming back, but he's not exactly jumping at the opportunity, is he?

Guards - Dwyane Wade, Eddie Jones, Keyon Dooling. There's going to have to be at least one more player here, and he better be better than Dooling, who is a step down from Rafer Alston. Not that anyone in the South Florida press would mention that.

My prediction? Let's see how training camp plays out.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Not About Basketball - Proceed At Your Own Risk

In South Florida and around the country there's all sorts of debate about the decision of Ricky Williams to retire. In the interest of full disclosure, though I am adopting this Miami Heat team with Shaq due to the absence of any real Celtic hopes, I will never, ever, like the Dolphins. I've hated them since they went undefeated,embarrassing the Patriots and beating the Redskins in the Super Bowl. Having said that, I want to say that although Ricky's timing was poor, if he doesn't want to play, he shouldn't. Football is like boxing, or racing, in that if your heart is not in it, you put yourself in serious danger. Ricky was facing another season in which he would be tackled more than any other player, and he knew it. Here's hoping he finds happiness in Asia, and wherever else his travels take him.

It's kind of hard to believe that there is a living person who has served in the US Navy, as Governor of his state, as President of our country, brokered the only lasting peace in the Middle East, and then in his spare time built homes for the poor, monitored elections in uncertain democracies, and fought disease throughout the world, causing him to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It's not a rule of thumb to compare any of our Presidential candidates to the ideals and accomplishments of Jimmy Carter, but it's also not a bad place to start.

Barack Obama, barring scandal, is going to be the first minority President of the United States. I figure 2016, or 2020, when he will still only be 59, but coming from an important electoral state, with his speaking abilities, he's going to be hard to beat. Maybe a more earnest, urban, Bill Clinton, but its that kind of oratory talent that we're talking about here. Good luck to him, and to us. I hope he makes it.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Dorell Wright - Part 2

OK, let's take the few basic stats we have of Dorell and see if we can find anyone comparable. We're starting with a 6-7, 200-pound (splitting the difference), 18-year-old who was picked with the 19th pick in the draft. In the spirit of the upcoming Olympics, I'll rank them with medals. Here we go!

Gold - Travis Outlaw. Travis is 6-9, 210 pounds, and was taken with the 23rd pick by the Portland Trailblazers last year (Remember the joke? Why do the Blazers need another Outlaw?). He's a little taller than Wright, and taken a little later, but he came out of high school, so he's an excellent match. The bad news? Last season, Travis was on the court for 19 MINUTES of NBA ball.

Silver - Deshawn Stevenson. Out of high school, a little shorter at 6-5, and taken with the 23rd pick. He's turning into a pretty good player, with the most comparable at his current age (according to basketball being Ricky Davis. Deshawn played only 293 minutes as a rookie.

Bronze - Al Harrington. Not a really good fit, because he's much bigger (2 inches and 30 pounds), and he was picked later, at 25th. He played 160 minutes his first year.

And now, how about some good news?

Runner-Up - Kobe Bryant. Bryant was taken with the 13th pick, the same 6 picks away from Wright's 19 spot as Harrington. He's also 6-6 and 220, right around Wright's size. Bryant had great success relative to the other's, playing over 1,100 minute and averaging 7.6 points per game. However,the reason why Kobe didn't medal here is because even though its only 6 picks difference between Kobe at 13 and Dorell at 19, I think there's generally a much bigger gap in talent between 13 and 19 than 19 and 25. Also, Kobe was drafted at 13 during a time when there had been no smaller players drafted coming out of high school, and I'm sure there were many teams that recognized his talent that were skittish about that.

So there you have it. Dorell Wright's ceiling is probably Kobe's 7.6 points per game, but I would have to say he's much more likely to be like those others before him, riding the pine the whole year. Having said that, it doesn't make Wright a bad draft pick. He has a world of talent, and more importantly, the Heat had no idea that they would be landing Shaquille O'Neil. Still, you have to wonder, if the draft were held today, would they have drafted Wright, or Jameer Nelson, the senior point guard from St. Joe's? Either way, it will be interesting to watch Wright's progress.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The X-Factor, and the Conspiracy

Editor's Disclaimer - The quotes in this story are true and are not taken out of context, except for those by Pat Riley.

"He's the X-factor, no doubt. Dorell is a young guy with potential," Heat GM Randy Pfund said about the Heat's first round draft choice, 18-year-old Dorell Wright. OK, fine. We'd like to think that anyone drafted in the first round is a young guy with potential(Or a young woman. Someday, my friends). That doesn't really tell us much. So who else can we ask? I know - how about his agent?

"I think Wright's going to make an impact this season, quicker than people think," said Wright's agent, Calvin Andrews. "He's going to help the Heat this year."

That's certainly a lot of enthusiasm surrounding Dorell. But just how likely is that? I decided to check it out.

The Sun-Sentinel had Wright listed this morning as 6-7, and a "reed-thin" 193 pounds. So I figured if that you looked for players drafted out of high school, between 6-6 and 6-8, 183 and 203 pounds, and within 5 picks of Wright's #19 slot, you could get some kind of range of performances for which Wright should fall between. Right? Sure, except for one thing. There is a conspiracy going on about Dorell, and it involves his weight. That's right, Wright's weight.

I started checking for similar players at the ESPN website, and then I noticed that they had Dorell listed at 210 pounds. Well, there must be some mistake, I thought. How can there be a 17-pound difference in weights? Somebody must be wrong. So I went to, and they also had Wright listed at 210 pounds. OK, it must be the Sun-Sentinel's mistake, right? Well, I don't know, because I then went to, the best of draft websites, and guess what they had Wright at on draft day? 190 pounds!

So now we have a discrepancy of over 10% in Wright's body weight. How can this be? I mean, the Heat have invested millions of dollars in this kid, and nobody even bothered to weigh him? That can't be right.

Then, a cold feeling blew over me. It rattled my bones and shook me where I stood. What if, what if,...all of those weights are ...TRUE?!

What if weighed Dorell during the season, the Heat weighed him a day before the draft, and ESPN got their number from the NBA this last week? That would mean that Wright has gained 20 pounds in exactly one month! How is that possible? Well, I shouldn't say that, I know how it's possible. But there doesn't seem to be anything in Dorell's past to suggest that he's going to the International House Of Pancakes at 2 in the morning, every morning (Do they call it French Toast in France?). And what does that say about his prospects for this coming season? At his current rate of weight gain, on Opening Night Dorell could weigh 270 pounds!

Gravely concerned, I immediately sought out Heat President Pat Riley. Here's how the conversation went between us.

Me: "Pat, Dorell seems to be moving far away from his playing weight, do you have any concerns about that?"

Riley: "I don't think he's as far away as people think."

Me: But he seems to have gained 20 pounds in one month! How can he get up and down the floor like that? Isn't this going to make his transition to the NBA difficult?

Riley: "He's smooth. He glides. The game is easy for him."

Me: "So you have no concerns about his sudden weight gain at all?"

Riley: "We're sort of enamored by that right now."

If Pat's fine with it, I guess I can live with it. Maybe they'll have Wright in a fat farm before camp opens. But if you should see Dorell anywhere, help the Heat to their first NBA title, and tell him to put down that donut.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Goin Down The Road Feelin Bad

The Miami Heat signed former South Florida high school star Keyon Dooling today. So what has Dooling become since leaving the neighborhood?

"He's a guy who can score points and has a chance to develop into a very good player," said Heat coach Stan Van Gundy in this morning's Sun-Sentinel.  First of all, Van Gundy implies what we all know - that "he has a chance to develop into a very good player"  means that Keyon Dooling is not a very good player right now, and that he has a much greater chance of peaking somewhere between mediocre and awful. A guy who can score points?  On the stats page for ESPN, they list 108 players as being "Shooting" Guards.  Of these 108,  Dooling ranked 100th in 3-pt field goal percentage. 100th.

But they didn't hire Dooley to be the Shooting Guard.

"I'm going to feed Shaq as much as possible until he can't take it anymore or tells me not to," Dooling said. Well, that's promising.  At least Keyon knows who is supposed to get the ball, and that he is being hired to back up Dwyane Wade.  So how good was Keyon at making decisions last year? His average of 2.0 assists to turnovers would have ranked him 57th out of 84 point guards.  By the way, Wade ranked 74th.  Damon Jones, who apparently was deemed to costly, ranked 2nd in all of basketball.

So what we've got on our hands here is a local kid who can't shoot and can't pass backing up our potential star kid.  Wouldn't this be a great spot for a guy with a little experience and discipline?  Don't the Heat know anything about replacement value?  Dooling is NOT a substitute for the more expensive Jones or Mike James. He's a scrap heap, dime-a-dozen kind of guy, chosen to be the third guard on a team with a three-year window on winning a championship.

The Heat did absolutely the right thing in trading for Shaquille O'Neil. Finding the supporting actors to your Superstar is infinitely easier than actually getting the Superstar.  Signing Michael Doleac is a great example of that.  Signing Keyon Dooling isn't.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


Now all I really want from life is to crawl back into bed
On account that my brain is just a jellyfish in the ocean of my head
 - Jellyfish, by String Cheese Incident

Went to go test drive a couple of cars today.  The dealership was about 45 minutes from my house, which wouldn't be so bad except that I didn't get a lot sleep last night, and the idea of driving that distance, test driving cars, and driving back wasn't real appealing.  And of course, Mapquest gives me the wrong turn off of 95, going west into Delray Beach instead of east, setting me back about another hour.  It's somewhere during this time that I hear Jellyfish on the radio, matching my feelings perfectly.  To top this off, I hit one hellacious rain storm on the way home.  For someone from the northeast, Florida rain is surreal. The clouds so completely cover everything, shutting out all light, like having a pillow over your head.

The Miami Herald had it that Damon Jones may be looking for too much money (which is bad), as is Mike James (which is good.  He likes to shoot too much).  Robert Horry seems to be very much in the mix.  We'll see.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Sitting Here in Limbo

Yesterday, we went furniture shopping.  Nothing much exciting about that.  Afterwards, we went out for dinner.  Nothing much exciting about that either, except that we went to this place down the road called (I believe) the Palm Beach Ale House and Oyster Bar. 
We get out of the car, and you can hear steel drums coming from the patio, and out in front in the parking lot, there's two guys grilling large racks of ribs. Inside, they've got Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap (I have great nervousness about being able to find good beer down here) and the Red Sox on the TV.  As rain beats down on the slanted horizontal blinds, they tie balloons to my son's chair, the bar's chanting "Let's Go, Red Sox", and the steel drum player is playing Jimmy Cliff's "Sitting Here In Limbo".  Not bad. 
Meanwhile, At Alonzo Mourning's "Zo' Summer Groove" basketball game, The Captain's favorite low-budget free agent Damon Jones was putting on quite a performance, hitting six three-pointers. He also had time to discuss Sitting in Limbo with the Sun-Sentinel:
"I'm enjoying the process," he lied.  The Heat is a great organization.  What has Shaq done for everybody he's played with?  He takes their game to another level."
Bring him to the Ale House, and sign him up.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Damon Jones

The Sun-Sentinel has Pat Riley in pursuit of Damon Jones this morning.  Jones, a 27-year-old point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, is an unrestricted free agent, and appears to be exactly what the newly-constituted Heat might want. Ask yourself this:  What exactly should the Heat be looking for in a point guard?
"Well, you might say to yourself,"I want an unselfish player who knows how to feed the ball to Shaq, doesn't turn the ball over, allows Wade time at the 2, hits some threes to take pressure off the inside, and plays some D."
Damon's the answer.
Damon Jones ranked 14th in assists last season, playing in only 24.6 minutes per game.  He also ranked 4th in ALL OF BASKETBALL in assists per 48 minutes, behind only Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, and Earl Watson.  
Damon Jones ranked 2nd in ALL OF BASKETBALL in assist-to-turnover ratio, behind only Antonio Daniels.
Damon Jones shot a very respectable . 359 from Three Point Land, 51st in the league.
Not only that, but Jones got more minutes in the playoffs in a five-game series with the Pistons, and played even better. 
Sign him up Pat.  He's perfect.

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Race Is On

One of the benefits of living in Florida as compared to Massachusetts is that our Presidential votes will actually matter.  So of course, any kind of news that has to deal with the more sordid side of the Florida electoral process I pay great attention to, as maybe everyone should.  Here's a great column by Elisa Cramer in today's Palm Beach Post:

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Arrival

So we've been in town since July 2nd, first staying in Singer Island until our furniture and car showed up. It has mostly been a high stress time, waiting for a week to get started, then having my pregnant wife fly out of town the day after the movers dropped everything off. At the same time, my computer was down, my 18-month old son was crawling everywhere, and let's just say that with all of the exciting things going on, life was basically a drag.

But now, Shaquille O'Neal is coming to Miami. And everything has changed.

Don't believe me? Do you think it's just coincidence that my son finally, FINALLY, started walking on the day the deal was finalized? Do you think it was just a coincidence that little neighborhood kids started hanging around our house, distracting my son long enough for me to start a new blog, on the very same day? A coincidence that I showed up at my new job to get a head start on things and they sent me home, telling me not to worry until August? Hardly.

I've had an amazing sports year. I root for the New England Patriots, and they won the Super Bowl, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, and they won the Stanley Cup. The Red Sox traded for Curt Schilling, and now the Big Aristotle is following me to South Florida. I'm a Celtics fan at heart, but hey, a team that refuses to go over the salary cap doesn't deserve complete, undivided loyalty. So, what the hell? Go Heat!

Links Email The Captain Click for West Palm Beach, Florida Forecast
Starting Five
  • Shaquille O'Neal
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  • Udonis Haslem
  • Michael Doleac
  • Wesley Person
  • Malik Allen
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  • Dorell Wright
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  • Jerome Beasley
  • Matt Freije
  • Albert Miralles
  • Wang Zhizhi
  • Local Sports Pages
    Hoop Bloggers (There Ain't A Lot Of Us)
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