Sunday, August 31, 2008

John Tesh

As long as we're posting musical basketball YouTube clips, check out John Tesh getting down -- with his answering machine -- to the NBA on NBC theme song (which is apparently officially known as "Roundball Rock").

Not enough JT for you? Then surf on over to, where you can learn more about John's views on a variety of subjects, including pets, computers (featured article: "Cyberbullying Has Become a Huge Problem"), and "intelligent kindness."

It is clear to me that NBC turned the right man when they were in need of a theme song for their NBA coverage in the nineties.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One Last Time . . .

If you are American, and if you like basketball, please take the time to watch the above clip one more time before the experience officially slips into the past. It is beautiful . . . truly beautiful!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Who Reigns Supreme?

Team USA has come full circle. When the Dream Team of the ’92 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain took to the court, they were considered the best arrangement of superstars ever assembled. After many Summer Games since, and with a perception or reality that the world has caught up to USA basketball (Argentina won the 2004 Gold Medal after all), the Redeem Team of 2008 has brought back USA basketball dominance. Thorough and convincing has been their play, the USA superstars of today have drawn comparisons to that untouchable bunch of 1992. Perhaps bordering upon hoop-lore blasphemy, the Redeem Team actually stacks up fairly well to the Dream Team. And for the sake of curiosity and intrigue, I’d like to take an inside look at the individual match-up comparisons of the Dream Team and the Redeem Team:

Magic vs. Kidd
This comparison probably isn’t very close. Magic was the best PG to lace up the sneakers (and this coming from a huge John Stockton fan). He and Bird essentially reinvented and reinvigorated the game of basketball in the NBA. In particular, Magic brought a new version of the fastbreak which had its own name…Showtime. Kidd has been a Magic Johnson prodigy…a pass-first PG who loves the fastbreak and distributing the ball. Kidd has become ‘one of the top 5 PGs’ of all-time, yet definitely peaked 4-5 years ago. To his credit, Kidd has been a solid team leader for the Redeem Team.

Edge: Magic, easily

Jordan vs. Kobe
Michael and Kobe will forever be compared to one another. Kobe is arguably the best player in the world right now. He’s got the complete overall game and owns an incredibly accurate jumper and 3-point shot (perhaps better than Jordan). Kobe has become a great defender for Team USA. BUT, we’re comparing him to the best player ever. Jordan sits alone on his pedestal of greatness. He’s THE BEST EVER. No one can match his competitiveness, focus, drive and ability. Until Kobe wins rings without Shaq around, he’ll be looking upward towards the MAN.

Edge: Jordan

Bird vs. LeBron
So, our comparison with Larry and LeBron is somewhat unfair. They’re two completely different players. Bird was ‘the straw that stirred the drink’ for the Dream Team. He was the ultimate team player (passing, shooting, intangibles). LeBron actually provides similar abilities. He passes well and gets his teammates the ball. Bird was probably the best shooter to step on the court. LeBron doesn’t match-up in this regard, but he’s still young and has time to grow and develop. LeBron brings something that Bird doesn’t…he’s an incredibly athletic, physical specimen. Call me crazy…

Edge: LeBron, by a hair

Barkley vs. Carmelo
Charles was perhaps the best rebounder ever. People didn’t call him the ‘Round Mound of Rebound’ for nothing. By the time he played for the Suns, he had an unreal all-around game…shooting, scoring, rebounding, passing. He was powerful! Carmelo can score with the best of ‘em, but he doesn’t do much else. He deserves his star-status, but he doesn’t match up to the Chuck-ster.

Edge: Barkley

Ewing vs. Howard
Ewing owns the advantage over Dwight Howard. He was an immensely skilled and powerful center. He was tough to stop in the post. Howard may be considered the most athletic center to play hoops, but his skills don’t match up to Patrick Ewing.

Edge: Ewing, by a little


Stockton vs. Deron
For a Jazz fan, this comparison is intriguing. Stockton is our legend, our hero. In ’92, he was close to playing his best basketball. He holds the all-time assists and steals record. He was the best point-guard at “setting the table” for his teammates…perfect fit for the Dream Team. Deron (I believe) is on his way to greatness. He’s also a perfect fit for the Redeem Team…unselfish, great passer and outside shooter. Every team needs a good passer.

Edge: Stockton, closely contested

Drexler vs. Wade
I believe this is the best comparison of all. Talk about similar players with similar abilities. Clyde the Glide was smooth and acrobatic. Wade might be the better ball-handler and defender. Wade played tremendous ball during the Olympics (perhaps considered the MVP). He’s been utterly amazing for the US…bringing back his Miami Heat championship form.

Edge: Wade

Pippen vs. Prince
Not even close. Pippen was a superstar defender and athletic full court player. He was a fantastic role player for the Dream Team. Pippen might actually compare favorably to LeBron. Tayshaun’s solid, but nothing spectacular.

Edge: Pippen, undoubtedly

Malone vs. Boozer
Our second Jazz player comparison falls far shorter than the first one. The Mailman was a legend, an icon, a franchise carrier. He was unreal running the floor, playing the post, rebounding defending and scoring the ball. Unreal! A better comparison for Malone might be Amare Stoudamire. Boozer is a very good player with an impressive, offensive post game. That’s about where the comparison ends.

Edge: The Mailman, in a landslide

Robinson vs. Bosh
Two lanky post players who play left-handed in the paint. Robinson was plain and simply better. Bosh is young and still has time, but doesn’t possess the strength that Robinson had.

Edge: Robinson

Mullin vs. Redd
Michael Redd is a poor man’s version of Chris Mullin. Mullin’s shot ranks as one of the best ever. Redd shoots it well, but not at Mullin's standard.

Edge: Mullin

Laettner vs. Paul
We can all agree that this comparison should have been Isaiah Thomas and Chris Paul. Can you believe Christian Laettner was on the Dream Team?

Edge: Chris Paul

OK. So…the Redeem Team comparison to the Dream Team doesn’t ‘hold water’. Even so, with the Redeem Team facing tougher competition over the course of the Olympic Games (comparatively to the Dream Team), they played remarkable basketball to reclaim Gold and the top spot of the basketball world landscape. With this fact alone, we should all be proud of our ballplayers in Red, White and Blue! WINNER: DREAM TEAM

Sunday, August 24, 2008


The Redeem Team has brought back the Gold Medal to the USA. In one of the most thrilling and hotly-contested Olympic games ever, the USA pulled out a huge victory in the waning minutes of the Olympic battle, winning 118-107.

Kobe Bryant nailed a three-pointer and was fouled, converting a four-point play in what was a close game with only 3:10 left in the 4th quarter. Later, Dwayne Wade hit another 3-pointer to essentially wrap up the victory for the USA, putting them in front 111-104 with 2 minutes left. Ricky Rubio was then called for a technical foul, with under 1 minute to go and down near 10 points, that sealed the deal for the Americans and started the post-game celebration.

The USA/Spain game was the closest, most tenuous and nervewrecking battle that has occurred for this year's Redeem Team. Spain just wouldn't go away. They played a perfect game, putting them in contention to pull the upset. But, the star-power and clutch play of the Americans was too much to handle at the end. Here are some of the highlights:

Mr. Clutch: Kobe Bryant
Kobe hit some huge shots in the closing minutes. When it seemed like our players were tensing-up and feeling the pressure of Spain's upset bid (and the crowd going crazy), Kobe stepped up to the plate to lead the Redeem Team. He was fantastic at the finish.

MVP: Dwayne Wade
Wade came off the bench to lead the second unit and overcome Spain's first quarter lead. He scored 21 points in the first half alone and finished with 27. He was the difference in bringing us back. Wade was also 4-7 from the 3-point line and helped provide the spark we needed.

Unsung Hero: Tayshaun Prince
Tayshaun was awesome when he was in the game. He gave the team some intangibles in the way of put-backs, rebounds, clutch shots and zone busting passes. He gave some important minutes to the 2nd unit.

Game Changers: Chris Paul and Deron Williams
The 2nd unit guards were huge at pushing the pace, setting the tempo and negating/creating turnovers. With Jason Kidd struggling to keep up with Rubio and Navarro, Paul and Williams provided better defense and fresher legs. When they were in the game, the USA would go on a 'run'.

Consolation Prizes:

Spain: Give them credit. They wouldn't give up. Spain put themselves in position to steal the game at the end.
The Gasol Brothers: Really pounded the paint. Spain outrebounded the USA.

Navarro: He seemed to get around our guys at ease and shoot his floaters in the paint. It was frustrating to watch. He had a breakout performance!

Rudy Fernandez: His shake-and-bake, off-balance shooting demo kept Spain close. Fernandez made five 3-pointers and finished with 22 points. Portland has found a sweet shooting Brent Barry type.

Ricky Rubio: Established himself as the #1 pick of the 2009 NBA Draft. He's quite the performer and showman, for only being 17 years old.


Friday, August 22, 2008

The Goofiest Team in the World

The Jazz' experience at the Olympics has gone to script so far: the U.S. has dominated (at least parts) of all of its games; Deron has played solid minutes and typically leads the second unit as they pull away from teams; Boozer has looked undersized in his 2-6 minutes of action. Russia completely collapsed and failed to qualify for the quarterfinals, but Kirilenko dropped a classic 2004 line on Lithuania: 17 points, 6 boards, 6 assists, 6 steals(!), and 3 blocks.

On Sunday Team USA will take on Spain, a team that is undefeated if you don't count the 37 point drubbing the first time they played the boys in red, white and mostly blue. But make no mistake, Spain is a worthy opponent, with loads of current, and once-upon-a-time NBA talent. They are also quite possibly the goofiest collection of elite basketball players ever assembled. To prepare for the gold medal match, here's a preview of the awkwardness that will ensue:

The Gasol Brothers: These Catalan brothers are Spain's version of the Collins twins - except subtracting the Stanford degrees, and adding NBA-level talent and radio-good looks. Pau is the anchor of the offense and must have a great game if Spain is hoping to win. Pau is also the only man in history that became better looking by going with the Brigham Young/stoner look. Don't believe me? Check out his pre-beard days. His brother Marc (who was traded to Memphis for Pau) looks like a beefy Apollo Anton-Ono. As a player, Marc is a lot less fluid than Pau, and "carries a little extra weight," but he is a strong, effective center, and took advantage of the U.S. in the first game when they tried to defend him with Kobe or Wade.

Alex Mumbru: You're telling me that this academic-looking fellow is a lights out 3-point shooting small forward? If he were on an NBA team I would expect him to be working in the legal department. To get a more intimidating look, he wears that weird black tape on his shoulder that is all the rage among Olympians, but is probably just duct tape.

Jorge Garbojosa: The former Raptor is, without a doubt, the best chain-smoking big man since Vlade Divac. He's a classic Euro big man - loves the three pointer and sports just enough chest hair to make him irresistable to the ladies in Khimki. Look at him: what a sexpot.

Rudy Fernandez: This soon-to-be Trailblazer has generated some early buzz for rookie of the year. I've only watched him play in the earlier match against the U.S., but from what I can tell he's an energetic defender and a crafty scorer on offense. He also may be the dorkiest guy on an extremely dorky team. I can guarantee that this guy is fluent in elvish and has a 12-sided die with runes in place of numbers. To get a better sense of his social life, check out his myspace pictures.

Ricky Rubio: With the injury to Jose Calderon, it looks like Ricky and TCG's favored son, Raul Lopez, will be manning the point on Sunday. Rubio is talked about as a possible number one overall draft choice next year. He's 6''5', a great defender, and plays with energy and smarts. On the negative-side of things, he is a world class flop artist, looks like the love child of Adam Morrison and Getty Lee, and weighs about a buck forty-five. With some maturation, and good old fashioned American steroids, he will likely be a nice NBA point guard one day.

Juan Carlos Navarro: Love the faux-hawk. Tool.

Olympic / Jazz Fun Fact

With Team USA advancing to the Gold Medal Game against Spain, here is a Utah Jazz / Olympic basketball fun fact to consider before tip off:


  • In 1992 in Barcelona: Karl Malone & John Stockton = GOLD

  • In 1996 in Atlanta: Karl Malone & John Stockton = GOLD

  • In 2000 in Sydney: No Jazz players = GOLD (although there was no Jazz player, I credit this Gold Medal to the absence of Tim Duncan on the roster . . . see below).
  • In 2004 in Athens: No Jazz players = BRONZE (Now, Boozer was on that team, but it wasn't until later that fall that he suited up for the Jazz, so he doesn't count). Is it a coincidence that Duncan's only stint with Team USA leads to its worst failure in Olympic history? I don't think so . . .

  • In 2008 in Beijing: Carlos Boozer & Deron Williams = ????????


Going For Gold

The face-off, the battle, the rematch for gold.

With Jose Calderon out-of-action because of injury, Raul Lopez jumped into the starting line-up for Spain and helped lead the Spaniards to a 91-86 victory over Lithuania. Lopez played 19 minutes for the Spanish team and provided 7 points, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 rebounds, while also hitting clutch free throws at the end of the game to ensure a Gold Medal Match-up with the USA.

Deron Williams played a secondary role for the Redeem Team which beat the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Team, Argentina, 101-81 in the semifinal match-up. Deron Williams came off the bench to play 13 minutes, providing 6 points on 2-three pointers, 2 assists and 1 rebound.

The Americans continue their dominant play going into the Finals rematch against Spain. In their prior encounter, Team USA destroyed the Spaniards rather convincingly. Will the Spanish be out for revenge? Can they match-up with the strength, determination and star-power of the USA? If so, it'll have to be with Raul Lopez manning the point guard position, now that Calderon may not go for the Final.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

European Exodus Continues . . .

ESPN is reporting that one of the most mediocre shooting guards to ever grace the Jazz organization, Gordan Giricek, has signed with Fenerbahce of the Turkish league.

It appears that the Spurs offered him a deal, and he turned it down for, yes, once again, MORE MONEY! His agent said, "We looked around the NBA. Everybody was moving very slowly. And there were great opportunities for him to play overseas for a lot of money." Sounds like a broken record at this point.
Who is going to party with Jarron Collins now?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tune Into TCG

TCG's dominance of Monday drivetime continued on Monday as Pasty Gangster defended Larry H.'s honor and discussed pornography. I am not joking. You can hear the fireworks fly here. (Unfortunately, Pasty's first discussion point is cut off in the recording - it was probably more salty porn talk).

Also, this week you can get two shows for the price of 1! Last week the Booner threw down. You can hear the delayed release here. Amazingly, Booner was NOT the first TCG author to discuss porn on Utah radio.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Which Jazz Players Love Techno?

As the Olympics, and Team U.S.A., roll along, it is clear that globalization has hit the NBA. Other nations are beginning to spend cash to train athletes, and the results are paying dividends. The Spanish team that was dismantled on Saturday is saturated with current and former NBA players. Teams from small nations (Lithuania) have numerous players with international-level skills, and teams from huge nations (China) are quickly leveraging the size of their populace to their advantage.

But the more dramatic example of basketball globalization may be more a result of changing economic conditions rather than improved player development. Josh Childress, among others, was lured away from the best league in the world because of the almighty Euro. Rumors abound that Lebron, or Kobe, might journey across the Atlantic for piles of fake-looking money.

But how does this all affect the Jazz? Can the most provincial of NBA teams possibly be touched by global currency fluctuations? You bet.

Most Jazz players are not attractive to European teams, whether it is because of the player's contract or style of play. Paul Millsap, an absolute beast for the Jazz, would not be as valuable in the uptempo, shooter-dominated leagues in Europe. Same goes for Ronnie Brewer, and Harpring. Some guys (Deron and Boozer) aren't going anywhere because they are getting big time money here at home. Collins has no recognizable basketball talent, so the Jazz are stuck with him too.

But there may be some Euro-interest in these guys:

1. Andrei Kirilenko: Superficially at least, AK seems a likely candidate to sign with one of the cash rich Russian teams, like CSK Moscow. He even threatened to leave once before when he and Sloan were fighting. But while his inside-out game seemingly originates from the old world, his contract is 100% American capitalism. It's unlikely that any team, European or otherwise, is going to offer AK anywhere near the $15 million that the Jazz are paying him. He's just not worth that much. What's more, he's got an astounding three more years making beaucoup bucks until heading home is even an option. However, the wildcard here is that some Russian teams aren't worried about investment returns; their owners are billionaires that lose money owning their teams, but do it out of patriotic pride. Could a Russian owner be enticed to dangle millions of Euros in an effort to lure Kirilenko home as Russia's Michael Jordan? And would the Jazz let him out of his contract if he wanted to go?

Kirilenko's Euro Rating: 3 out of 10

2. Memo Okur: Okur is another guy that you'd expect to take a long hard look at Europe. He's a prototypical European center, married to a former European beauty queen, and he loves falafel in the offseason. He can opt out next year, and his current salary (about $4.5 million after taxes) is actually less than what Childress will be making in Greece. The real question with Okur is whether he prefers the limelight of the NBA to playing in Russia, or Greece. No Turkish teams have the kind of economic clout that the rich European teams have, so he'd still be playing in a foreign country, it would just be closer to home. So it may come down to whether he'd rather play soccer with his beauty-pageant wife in the idyllic hills surrounding the Aves, or on the frozen tundra of PSkov.

Okur's Euro Rating: 4 out of 10.

3. Kyle Korver: What's that, you say? Kyle "Kountryboy" Korver moving to Europe? Preposterous, right? Maybe not. Korver is the Jazzman with the most Euro-translatable game: he is big (6"6'), a pure shooter, and plays a solid team game. Plus, he makes about $6 million in the NBA, which translates to a measly 4 million Euros. Combine that with the perks of Europe (free house, car) and what's not to like? Well, besides that aggressive secularism sweeping across Europe and the absence of the K2 church.

Kyle's Euro Rating: 3 out of 10.

4. Kyrylo Fesenko: Let's be honest - Kyrylo's Rocky Mountain Revue was an abomination of the highest degree. There is something about this guy that makes coexisting with Sloan seem highly unlikely. He's making peanuts, and the Jazz have an option on him next year, but unless I'm totally off on this one, Fesenko may not even become one of TCG's Jazz greats (and the bar is pretty low). Anyway, why would Kyrylo keep plying his karate big-man act in Boise/Orem, when he can get paid in his home country of Russia (once the Russian army invades the Ukraine, I mean)? You know what? I can't think of a reason why he wouldn't.

Kyrylo's Euro Rating: 10 out of 10

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How could you Raul?

By now you have all seen the photo of former Jazz-man and point guard extraordinaire Raul Lopez doing the "Chinese eyes" pose (he is 4th from the right). Media outlets are FURIOUS! How racist! How insensitive! How inappropriate!

True enough, but I must come to Raul's defense. It was inappropriate, yes. But, those of us who have lived in Spain know that, while there is a steady undercurrent of racism (same could be said about the U.S.), most young Spaniards are NOT racist. Rather, their version of what is "politically correct" is much more lax than ours. They make fun of everyone. The Chinese, the Africans, the Americans, tall people, short people, fat people. They simply don't have "prohibited" words like we do in the U.S.
And let's be honest. Raul and friends do NOT even come close to looking like Chinese players, in spite of their best efforts.

Monday, August 11, 2008

China's Fascination

The popularity of the NBA is hitting new heights in China. During USA's dismantling of Yao's squad, 101-70, China's resident crowd began cheering for the NBA Stars from America. Carlos Boozer even mentioned to the D-news that the Chinese crowd may have been cheering louder for the US. "They cheered for us as loud, if not louder, than they did for China." Deron Williams almost agreed with Boozer stating, "I thought it would be more one-sided, but it was really mixed...We're really proud to be a part of that - the fans have loved us here."

On top of it, with a population of 1.3 billion people and as a host to the 2008 Olympic games, China may have posted the highest TV viewership of any sporting event ever, through the US vs China basketball game. As Deron mentions, "When the ratings come out, we'll see. Hopefully, you've played in the most-watched sporting event ever."

With so much attention and popularity in China focused on USA basketball and the NBA superstars, will it produce more Chinese basketball phenoms, along the lines of Yao, Yi and Wang? And will the Jazz get in the mix for a Chinese hoopster? To an Energy Solutions Arena near you...

Friday, August 8, 2008

You Know This Guy Who Just Got Out of the Hospital

The D News is reporting that Larry Miller just got out of the hospital, which is of course a good thing. He also had a heart attack, three operations, kidney problems, internal bleeding, and is in a wheelchair. Oh, and admits that it's a miracle he's alive. So I don't think things are exactly going swimmingly. Knowing Larry though, he'll be up early to watch D Will and Boozer play in the Olympics on Sunday. Er, will be up bright and early to set the VCR to record the game so he can watch it on Monday after the sabbath ends.

The Next Raul Lopez (but with 2 knees)

With Spain set to seriously challenge Team USA in the Olympics, NBA fans would be wise to keep their eye on this young man, Ricky Rubio, seventeen year-old Spanish phenom. ESPN calls him i) the most talented point guard to ever emerge from Europe, ii) a young Pete Maravich, iii) the most fun European player to watch, and iv) a magnificent defender. He is 6'4,", is fearless with the ball, and has great length and speed. And lest we blow him off as another hyped nobody, let's get some perspective: He STARTED for the competitive Badalona squad at age 17 in Spain's 1st division, arguably the second best league in the world after the NBA. He will be a lottery pick next June, but wait until this "chico" is 21 years old. But for now, let's see how he handles Deron Williams and Chris Paul . . . .

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where Are They Now: Basque Country

They say that to make it in the NBA you need to be able to do one thing phenomenally well, be it shooting, rebounding, defense, or (in Collins' case) friendship.

Remember Quincy Lewis? Of course you do. He played only three, mostly uneventful, years with the Jazz. The highlight of his career was when he went berserk in the 2001 against the Kings, scoring 4.3 points per game in the four-game series! Those types of numbers temporarily earned him the 6th spot in the coveted "Jazz Greats" feature on TCG. Unfortunately, they did not earn him a new contract. But don't worry about ol' "Q"; he landed on his feet. He went to play ball in Europe before playing ball in Europe was the cool thing to do. Last summer he signed with Bilbao Berri in the Spanish league.

Recently, I found an interview in which Quincy describes his role on his new team. Don't watch the whole thing, it's sinfully boring. Quincy is an impeccably polite fellow, but he makes a dreadful interviewee. But you don't have to wait long for the money quote, it comes early on: Quincy drops a line that might just explain his all-too-brief NBA career.

"I'm not great at anything."
He goes on to list passing, shooting, ball-handling, and post play as aspects of the game at which he does not excel. Not exactly "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE," but then Quincy never made you think of Kevin Garnett.

Note: The video has subtitles for TCG's vast Spanish-speaking fanbase.

For an example of an athlete that was able to convert excellence in only one aspect of the game into success, look no further than Joe Montana (via Freedarko). In fact, Montana's one skill was so excellent, that he was able to propel a team with nothing but Karl Malone and Hakeem Olajawon over a team with Jayson Williams and two old dudes. Now that is talent.

Remember when L.A. Gear was cool? Yeah, me neither.

Jazz Schedule

In what is usually one of the most boring press releases of the offseason, the Jazz just announced next year's schedule of games. There's a bit of an interesting twist this time around though: it turns out the great NBA computer system in the sky has decided that our boys are only going to play the Lakers, Spurs and Hornets three times this year. The Jazz play every other Western Conference team four times, except for the Clippers, who they also get for three games. Considering that the Lakers and Spurs pretty much own us (especially on their court), the Hornets are damn good and Western Conference playoff seeding will no doubt once again be determined by a game or two, this is great news.

Thank you, Mr. Stern, for lending us a hand.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Three Interesting Boozer / Team USA Stats

Team USA did battle with the mighty Aussies (sans Bogut) yesterday and eeked out a win. But three stats loom "large and in charge" for Jazz fans.
1) Carlos Boozer Minutes - 0!
2) Other Team USA Players Who Did Not Play - 0!
3) Other Team USA Players Who Played for Coach K at Duke - 0!

Tune into TCG

Booner treated us to his thoughts on Jazzdom today on KFAN's Locked on Sports program. For those of you who missed the 4:00 show, here's a link.
Booner hits all the hot topics, like Ronnie Brewer's worth, Ron Artest's impact, the Jazz' current roster balance, and why the Jazz will lose to the Rockets in game 7 this year. Surprisingly there were no expletive-laced tirades about Kobe Bryant or the Spurs franchise. Way to raise the bar, Booner!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Who Do You Value Most?

The Jazz have a power forward problem. During the pre-Olympic friendly matchup between the USA and Russia, our very own AK47 played exclusively at power forward for the Russian Red.

Kirilenko impressed in his role at power forward. He roamed from baseline-to-baseline, utilized his quickness, agility and face-up game and ventured out to the high-post and top-of-the-key where he was able to show off his passing skills and playmaking ability.

After AK’s first-class outing, I realized during this contest (in spite of the fact that Kirilenko was the focal point of the Russian team) that AK plays better at power forward than small forward. A la Josh Smith of Atlanta and Lamar Odom of LA, Kirilenko belongs at power forward, where he’s able to set up camp closer to the rim and offer us his length, athleticism and ball-skills. If I’m not mistaken, Kirilenko played his best seasons with the Jazz in 2003-04 and 2004-05 while playing the power forward position. Unfortunately, the Jazz (as currently constituted) are loaded at PF, with Carlos Boozer (himself good enough to be a member of USA’s best) and Paul Millsap entrenched in the paint. Neither should we forget that Mehmet Okur masquerades as a center, when truthfully he plays a pseudo-role of post-up power forward and long distance sniper. What do the Jazz do with all of these power forwards?

In the summer of 2009, Boozer and Okur have the option to opt out of their contracts, if they desire. The Jazz are on tap to pay anywhere from $47 million to $62 million of salary (depending on who opts out) to their contracted players. If only Booz and Memo opt out (and not Korver), the Jazz would only have about $20 million to use for their signature (as well as the re-signing of Paul Millsap).

What is clear and obvious: We won’t have enough “cha-ching” to re-sign our players in ’09 if we don’t make a move soon. This potentiality then begs the question... Well, who do you value most?

The Jazz have few trade assets to move (Harp?) that would open up significant salary cap space for the Summer 2009 Re-signing Extravaganza. Kirilenko’s contract is certainly viewed as the albatross. Yet, if the Jazz wanted to move Kirilenko and score “said” salary cap space (to re-sign this triumvirate), AK would need to be moved for expiring ’09 contracts BEFORE next season’s trade deadline. Otherwise, if not traded then, Kirilenko’s contract would languish on the Jazz salary cap throughout the 2009-10 season. In simpler words…keeping Kirilenko equates to losing two others. Would the Jazz deal AK47 before the 2009 playoffs? At a time when his talents and abilities would be most appreciated and desired? If not…We would essentially be saying goodbye to possibly two of Carlos, Memo and Paul. Once again, I ask…which power forward do you value most?

Arroyo to Israel

Carlos Arroyo, former Jerry Sloan whipping boy, has signed a three-year deal with powerhouse club Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Arroyo joins a long list (8) of NBA players that have skipped town after last season to sign in Europe (I know, Israel isn't techinically in Europe, but just play along). ESPN's Mark Stein claims he's just the second player (after Childress) to establish himself in the NBA before bolting to Europe, but that's debateable: he averaged about 20 minutes per game last season, fewer minutes than Childress, Carlos Delfino, Juan Carlos Navarro and Bostjan Nachbar last season. And did he ever really "establish himself?" Aside from claiming the title of second best Puerto Rican to play for the Jazz, he put up 12 points and 5 assists as the starting point guard for a terrible Jazz team. I wouldn't call that established. Let's just lump him in with the other mediocre backups that the NBA has lost and continue to assert that Childress is the only really surprising loss. So far.

As you can tell, I was never a big Arroyo fan. TCG's esteemed Booner, on the other hand, was. In the comments to this post, I expect Booner to give us the inside scoop on Mr. Arroyo. Booner had such a personal relationship with Carlos that he (A) once beat Arroyo in a game of horse and (B) can comment on Arroyo's opinion of homosexuals. This should be good.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Perestroika: Kidd to the bench?

Two Jazz Olympians had solid games on Sunday morning. Deron had 5 points, 9 assists, a couple of steals, and no turnovers in 20 minutes of action. He also was the "most effective player on the court" when the U.S. finally made their second half run to hold off Russia's comeback bid. Coach K kept Jason Kidd glued to the bench in the second half, prompting ESPN to speculate that his playing time may dry up. Benching Kidd is the only sensible thing to do against teams like Russia. The legitimate threats to the U.S. (Argentina, Spain, Russia, Lithuania) know that they can't run with the Americans. Typically they pack in a tight zone and force the U.S. into half court sets. Kidd is not a shooter so he's much less effective against zone. He is a master of the fast break, but against Russia the fast breaks were kept to a minimum. Deron is the half court master. Let him roam, Coach K!

The Jazz' other Olympian also had a solid game. No, not Boozer. He only played 5 minutes, scoring 2 points. But Kirilenko proudly led the Russians offensively and defensively. His 18 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, and a steal and block kept Russia in it until late in the game. His only negative was his 50% foul shooting. Kirilenko loves playing Russian basketball.

The highlights below are mostly breakaway dunks for Kobe, Lebron, and Dwayne Wade, but ESPN also sneaks in a Kirilenko layup to be fair and balanced.

Love the blowby move on Carmelo. No defensive effort whatsoever. Don't be surprised if someone like the Bucks puts up 160 on the Nuggets this year.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Rocky IV in Shanghai

Looking for something to do this Sunday at 1:00 AM? Of course you are. Well, look no further. In their penultimate tuneup before the Olympics, our boys in the red, white, and blue will be taking on the original evil empire: the U.S.S.R. That means we'll have our own Utah Jazz version of Rocky IV. A playbill:

Carlos Boozer as Rocky Balboa

---Carlos Boozer plays our hero, Rocky Balboa. Just like Rocky, Boozer was just another tough guy thought to be too small for the big time. No one from Philadelphia/Duke ever makes it in the real world, right? Wrong. Boozer came out of nowhere (the 2nd round) to become one of the most dominant strongmen in the world, just like Rock. But now, the champ has lost some of his luster: Rocky lost his belt to Ivan Drago, and Carlos has lost his mojo to Lamar Odom's length. While Rocky had to travel to Russia to avenge the death of Apollo Creed, Boozer must also travel to the far east to redeem his dismal playoff disappearance. Can Boozer be like Balboa and win over the Chinese naysayers and show the world once and for all that (1) he is a champion and (2) anyone, even foreigners, can change? Stay tuned.

Money Quote: "If I can change . . . you can change . . . everybody can change!"

Deron Williams as Apollo Creed

Williams takes on the role played to perfection by the indomitable Carl Weathers: Apollo Creed. After reaching the pinnacle of achievement (a title for Apollo; a fat contract for Deron) each man decides he must further challenge himself. For Apollo that meant fighting Ivan Drago; for Deron that means playing 2-guard behind Jason Kidd. In the end, however, neither man properly prepares himself for the challenge and they are killed in the heat of competition by their opponent. Oh, whoops, that analogy sucked. Let's just move on.

Money Quote: "Get your hands up, it's time to go to school."

Andrei Kirilenko as Ivan Drago

In the role he was born to play, Andrei Kirilenko takes on the role of Russian fighting machine, Ivan Drago. A mysterious hulk of a man, he comes out of nowhere to take the world by storm and capture the highest achievement in his chosen field: with the help of anabolic steroids. But Kirilenko's gold medal, and Drago's belt are not enough. THEY FIGHT FOR BLOOD (and patriotism)!!! Just as Drago takes it to Apollo and Rocky, so must Kirilenko fight for his homeland's pride against Deron and Boozer. Dolph Lundgren played Drago to a steely-edged perfection, while Kirilenko's version involves a lot more giggling and chocolate milkshakes.

Money Quote: "If he dies, he dies."

Travis Hansen will not play Ludmilla Drago

Unfortunately, Travis Hansen will not participate in Monday's showdown, nor will he be by Kirilenko's side when the Russian flag enters Olympic stadium. Had he been asked, he would have played the role of Drago's evil, controlling, blond (traitorous?) wife, Ludmilla. He would have been phenomenal.

Money Quote: "You have this belief that this country is so very good and we are so very bad. You have this belief that you are so fair and we are so very cruel."

Sasha Kahn as Russian Extra

Also featured in Sunday's production will be former Jazz draft workoutee, Sasha Kaun (master of word processing). Sasha will be guarding Dwight Howard.