NBA MUSINGS, ODDS & ENDS Oddly enough, the sports scene here in Memphis is relatively quiet right now. The Redbirds are going at their season, and the Memphis Xplorers are lighting up Arena2. Otherwise, things are fairly stable. But that’s all relative. Having two first-place teams is certainly not “no news” sort of material. One of the downers of having so many big-time sporting events in town is that the normal work of sporting happenings seems more commonplace than before. How to compare to the RiverKings winning the President’s Cup, the Tigers winning the NIT, or the Grizzlies scoring with Jerry West? How to relate excitement about what is going on right now, when Memphis will be a part of the NBA draft, and the world’s largest boxing event in mere months? The answer is that one doesn’t compare and one doesn’t relate. One simply relays what’s going on as well as one can. When perspective is skewed past the point of recognition by a series of extraordinary things, then perception is necessarily skewed as well. So here’s some bits and pieces of things less ordinary but made more so because of the times.
  • Memphis Grizzlies forward Shane Battier collected another award today, the NBA Assist Award. Battier is the first rookie ever to win the award, and earned the honor because of his various good deeds in the community, including the NBA’s “Read to Achieve” program, the Memphis City Schools' UnderCover Reader program, and "Shane's 31derful Fans" which gave tickets to area youths. Shane also participated in the American Diabetes Association's West Tennessee Chapter Golf Tournament, and the Stuffed Animal Drive coordinated by the Shelby County Sheriff's Office for Children in Crisis. The important point to this honor is that Shane didn’t just write a check to his favorite charity (though the man gave money, for sure). He also gave his time, which he didn’t have in abundance during the regular season. If anyone can doubt his sincerity, then look no further than this: Shane went out and did the things others just paid for. Congrats to him, and congrats to the Grizzlies for having this guy as part of the organization.
  • Will the 76ers Allen Iverson and Larry Brown please shut the hell up? Now the two are calling dueling press conferences in order to air their dirty laundry. I do not doubt the passion of either character or that both feel really bad about everything that is going on. But stuff the ego and keep this mess in the locker room. Former 76er team president Pat Croce would have pulled the plug on this affair long ago by getting Iverson and Brown -- both formidable basketball personas in their own right -- to sit privately, talk, hug once, and then go about winning the Eastern Conference again. Instead the two squabble away and the rest of America gets to watch. Joyous. I have a better idea. Why not get seconds to run notes between the two since they obviously can’t talk face-to-face. The seconds could then hand those notes to for national exposure and to -- of course -- document this historic exchange for our children.
  • At the end of the Spurs-Lakers game last night, with the Lakers down by two, with only seconds left, and the Lakers running the floor: Who else screamed at the TV “Guard Robert Horry!!” I know I did. Too bad the Portland Trailblazers didn’t listen.
  • Duke’s Jason Williams has -- probably wisely -- changed his name to Jay Williams. A couple of things about this move. For one thing, Jay Williams is closer to Jayson Williams (as in, then former NJ Nets star currently indicted on manslaughter) than Jason Williams (as in, the Memphis Grizzlies point guard). So if his attempt is to differentiate himself from the former and not the later, then he could have done better. If he wanted to differentiate himself from the Memphis Williams, why do so? Granted, Jay Williams has a decent to good chance of playing in Memphis next season, given the Grizzlies potential draft pick. But why change his name up front instead of allowing his performance to differentiate himself from everyone else and not just those who share the same or same-sounding name? Image is everything, perhaps. But people make images, and not the other way Ôround. Maybe Jay Williams has been listening too much to an agent who has his or her eyes on shoes deals, etc. All it costs is a name.
Odds & Ends QUOTABLE:
  • “The Grizzlies have been a team in flux since they came into existence, and hiring West as a credibility Band-Aid expected to cover up seven years of bungling is a mistake.” The Sporting News’ Isean Deveney on the hiring of new Grizzlies Prez. Jerry West.

  • "Let the good times roll!" Written statement by 7-5 Chinese center Yao Ming after his workout in Chicago for assembled NBA scouts and team representatives.

  • "You've got to have 16 meetings before the league will do anything." Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on why he will not protest the use of cow bells by fans in Sacramento’s Arco Arena. Instead, Cuban said he will ensure that Dallas fans have similar noise-making devices as the Kings visit Dallas for game three of the Western Conference semi-finals.
  • Before Game Five of the Nets-Pacers best-of-five series, the Indiana Pacers found their locker room freshly painted, with the smell of new paint pervading the premises. The teams have made no comment if the paint job had anything to do with the Pacers finally losing to the Nets, 120-109 in double overtime.

  • The Memphis Redbirds never got a chance to play the Calgary Cannons in Calgary due to snowstorms that left the Calgary playing field under about a foot of snow. The games will be made up in Memphis as double-headers.

  • The Mid-South/Memphis Xplorers must have decided that losing sucks. The team is currently 4-1, and resides on top of the Arena2’s Central league standings. The squad just beat the Mobile Wizards 80-18 while breaking franchise records for points scored, and for margin of victory.

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