Friday, November 30, 2007

The Evolution of Bill Walker: From Eating Popcorn on KSU's Bench, to Urinating In Front of KSU's Bench

Question: What do you do when you're playing in a basketball game, but you have to piss really badly?

Answer: I guess you do what Kansas State's Bill Walker allegedly did the other night : you stand on the sideline and go in your pants.

Video here: Kansas State's Bill Walker stands on KSU sideline, urinates in pants.

Note: It's hard to see what Walker is doing in the video. You have to look closely at the Kansas State bench (on the lower left side of the image), where Walker can be seen putting towels into his pants and crouching down.

More info here:

Eyewitness account of Bill Walker peeing in pants during game.

According to the eyewitness account, Walker came to the sideline yelling "I gotta piss, I gotta piss!" He then put towels down his shorts and went about his business ... but not without leaving some wet spots on the floor.

The complete weirdness of Walker's having pissed in his pants on the sideline - during a nationally televised game - is what makes the video so funny. It's just bizarre. But as readers of Drive and Dish may recall, this isn't the first time that Bill Walker has done something weird on the Kansas State sideline. Last year, Walker ate from a bag of popcorn while sitting on the bench during Kansas State's first round N.I.T. defeat of DePaul. Drive and Dish talked about that at the time:

Drive and Dish Archive: "There's Nothing Like the NIT Baby! ... Or Maybe Not."

Video here:

Bill Walker sits on bench and eats popcorn during game vs. DePaul.

Bill Walker probably won't be a college basketball player for long. He'll declare for the NBA draft as soon as he can. But in his short stay at KSU, Walker has done his best to make his presence felt - even if it's not for what he's done on the court (bad choice of words: because, apparently, he did something on the court in that video).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CSI Pullman

By Mark Buckets

In a story that has flown under the radar - which is sad in it of itself - former Washington State basketball player Tony Harris's body was found badly mangled in a central Brazilian army base. For those of you who didn't follow Washington State basketball in the early to mid 1990's (and who really did?) Tony Harris was one of those typical early 90's freakish wing players who did a little bit of everything (think the Flyin' Illini a few years before). Those facts are merely footnotes in this bizarre and heartbreaking story. This story is so unusual, so perplexing, that Drive and Dish deems it deserving of further attention . While this is certainly not breaking news, it is a story that has human ramifications beyond time. The Seattle-Post Intelligencer picks up the story in full: .

At the time of his disappearance, his wife was seven months pregnant with their first child and he had signed (in another questionable part of this story) with a Brazilian basketball team to earn and save money for the birth of their child. He had lost a temporary job as a child counselor prior to his disappearance.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer also quotes :"Lori Harris said her husband sounded anxious in his phone calls early this month and told her there were rumors being spread about him that could put him at risk." Some might construe this story into the popular pick-up line that reads: Basketball player cheats on wife and rumors start to fly.

One must also understand that Tony Harris was dealing with serious mental health issues at the time of his disappearance. Family members and teammates said that Harris was acting strangely leading up to this tragedy. These inner demons were unleashed, sadly, in the worst way possible: suicide. Although homicide has not been ruled out in this case, one has to wonder whether or not Harris' life could have been saved by way of an intervention and, ultimately, counseling.

The Brazilian basketball team, Universo BRB, which had signed him a few weeks before, had expected Harris to suit up three days before he went missing. It must also be noted that Harris attempted to leave the country, but was eventually denied - by BRB - because they owned custody of his passport. It couldn't have been too much to ask for a person - or persons - of the team hierarchy to sense his problems, release him of his contract, and go on with it? Sure, these lower-level third-world country basketball teams aren't raking in the cash - Harris was 37 and hadn't played basketball in a couple of years- and as a result, give a little less slack to guys who want out. This should have been the exception to the rule, and consequently, a life was lost. I'm shocked and saddened by this story ... a tragedy which could easily have been avoided.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Scottie Pippen to Make Comebcack .... In Sweden

Last year, Scottie Pippen toyed with the idea of making a mid-season NBA comeback. Since Pippen's rumored/attempted comeback never came to fruition, it's probably safe to assume that NBA teams never really had much interest in him (either that, or Pippen worked out for teams and didn't prove that he could still play). And that wouldn't be too surprising, considering the fact that Pippen's post-Chicago career was marred with injury and ended with Pippen electing to sit out the second half of the 2004 season on injured reserve - despite being healthy enough to play.

Well, with or without the NBA, "tha 'Pip" will return to play professional basketball this January ... as a member of the Sundsvall Dragons -- in Sweden.

If you followed the above link, but couldn't read it (because it's in Swedish), then click here: Pippen to Make Comeback in Sweden.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Acc vs. Big Ten Challenge Kicks Off With a Whimper

Tonight, Iowa hosted Wake Forest in the first game of the ACC vs. Big Ten Challenge. This game was so ugly that I won't even bother posting the final score, or any sort of detailed analysis of either team. The only conclusion that anyone who watched this hideous drek disguised as a basketball game could have possibly come away with is: Iowa and Wake Forest really, really suck.

Consider that midway through the first half, the score was Wake Forest 11, Iowa 3. This game looked, for the world, like a bad pick up game at the local YMCA. Missed layups and turnovers were followed by more missed layups and turnovers. And there were just about as many empty seats at Carver Hawkeye Arena as there are at a typical Tampa Devil Rays home game. Oy. That place used to be one of the toughest places to play in the Big Ten, if not in the entire country. And this game was nationally televised. That alone is usually enough to draw crowds - especially in the Hawkeye state, which is usually only in the national consciousness once every four years (when they hold the Iowa Caucuses).

Maybe folks in Iowa City didn't show up because they were in a state of shock - considering all the Kirk Ferentz to Michigan rumors that have been floating around today. But it's more likely that nobody - not even nutty Iowa fans - wants to be subjected to the Godawfulness that is Hawkeye basketball.

Iowa is terrible. And Wake isn't a whole lot better. 'Nuff said.


Not that any sane person would want to, but if you're interested in reading what Iowa sports writers have to say about the Dreadful Hawkeyes, this article from the Cedar Rapids Gazette should be good for a couple laughs. That may have been the worst college basketball game that I've ever seen (and Iowa is one of the worst Big Ten teams I've ever seen), but the Cedar Rapids Gazette's game recap is titled: A Wake-up Call For Hawks.

The Quad City Times has a better perspective on both the game and the 2007/08 Hawkeyes.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Hangover

By Mark Buckets

It’s great to be back in the fold following Thanksgiving and all that it entails - I’ll take some Alka-Selzter with a side of Pepto - along with the usual gathering of family and friends. And you also know what Thanksgiving means - LOTS and LOTS of college basketball. Ever since the NCAA abolished the hideous “2-in-4” rule - where teams were allowed to compete in only 2 exempted tournaments every 4 years - there has been an explosion of holiday events. Tournaments such as the Maui Invitational, Great Alaska Shootout (which has lost it’s luster of late) and the NIT Season Tip-off are the hallmark events of the Thanksgiving season.

Those three tournaments have blazed the trail for new tournaments to emerge. One of the newest events - and perhaps the most competitive of the young season - has been the Old Spice Classic. Don’t let the location (The Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, FL) or the arena (It’s called the Milk House for heaven’s sake) fool you. And despite low attendance, top-level basketball has been played over the past four days. The nation was introduced to a pair of prolific freshmen Michael Beasley and J.J. Hickson. How can anyone forget about Villanova and star guard Scottie Reynolds? Yes, Jay Wright ditched the Armani suits for a classic polo shirt, disappointing legions of admiring women across the country. Next year’s field is also stacked, so this tournament figures to have some staying power.

The season is progressing nicely - we all know of the bulk of early upsets - and should provide fans with more moments to remember. The kind folks at Kay Jewelers are calling and want their slogan back. I don’t feel like being sued, so I’ll give them the credit. Until we meet again…..

EDIT: (11/25/07)

Trashtalk Superstar adds:

In his most recent posts, Mark Buckets has criticized Marquette coach Tom Crean and Villanova coach Jay Price's fashion choices. Drive and Dish's editorial board has, apparently, decided to branch out beyond just talking about basketball. That's OK -- I probably should have seen the changes coming after this blog attracted national attention when I posted a couple items about college football. And, in fairness, the recent fashion talk has sparked a fair amount activity in the D&D's comments section.

So now that Mark Buckets has been promoted from basketball analyst/pundit to basketball analyst/pundit/fashion critic, I thought I'd join the party and weigh in with my two cents (and hope that maybe the editorial board will see fit to throw a promotion - and pay raise - my way, as well).

Tom Crean's windbreaker at the Maui tournament may have been questionable, but at least he didn't wear a Hawaiian shirt, as coaches always used to do at the Maui tournament. My main criticism of Crean's windbreaker is not that he wore a windbreaker, but that he didn't wear a cool enough windbreaker. A vintage 80's style Members Only windbreaker would have been hellasweet!! For future reference, if Tom Crean -- or anyone else, for that matter -- is having trouble finding a sweet 80's Members Only windbreaker, look no further: Sweet 80's Members Only Windbreaker.

But, even better than a vintage 80's style Members Only windbreaker, Tom Crean could have rocked a vintage David Hasselhoff Knight Rider windbreaker.

Better yet, if Crean had wanted to look extra cool, he'd have done well to have stayed with the Hasselhoff Knight Rider motif, but to have bypassed the windbreaker altogether-- and just gone for the full Hasselhoff Knight Rider ensemble: replete with boots, unbuttoned shirt and bitchin' leather jacket.

However, if Tom Crean had truly wanted to make a STATEMENT, he should have gone for the kick-ass Hasselhoff Knight Rider ensemble - sans the boots, pants and open shirt. Now THAT would've been SWEET!

Kansas vs. Missouri Border War About More Than Just Football

Earlier in the week, the Wall Street Journal ran a must-read article that chronicled the intensity of the annual "border war" rivalry game between Kansas and Missouri. The rivalry transcends football (which isn't surprising, given the historic level of success, or lack thereof, that both programs have enjoyed).

The "border war" continues tonight, and for a change, this year's "border war" has national championship implications. Since Kansas is undefeated and Missouri is 10-1, tonight's game is probably the most important edition of this venerable rivalry. One of these teams will walk off the field knowing that it's no longer in BCS contention. And that's unfortunate, because it would be nice to see both programs play in a BCS game (I figured I'd see a Sasquatch before I'd ever see Kansas or Mizzou in contention for the national championship).

Last week, this blog recognized Ohio State vs. Michigan as the best rivalry in college football. Everybody knows how big that rivalry is. But few people know about the intensity of the Kansas vs. Missouri rivalry. Tonight's game could do a lot to change that (provided that people actually watch the game -- despite the importance of the game, Kansas and Missouri aren't exactly marquee names in college football). But given the nature of this rivalry, and considering the mutual dislike between people from Kansas and denizens of the Show Me State, the rivalry's place in the consciousness of the American public will have little affect on the intensity of the "border war."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Duke Wins the ... Duke Invitational

By Mark Buckets

Chalk another Maui Invitational Title up for the Duke Blue Devils. As most of you already know, this was the fourth title for Duke in the 25 year history of this prestigious event. Kyle Singler - who was lauded for his tenacious offensive rebounding by yours truly - was named the tournament MVP.

The the title game was, frankly, a bore. Both teams combined for 43 personal fouls - of which 27 were assessed to the Golden Eagles. The vultures are circling around Ed Hightower after this one - and, after watching this one, rightly so. I'll be the first to say - and I mean the first - that the anti-Duke sentiment is undeserved. How can you bash a program that hasn't even entered the NCAA infractions committee's area code under a coach that has done it "the right way"? Sure, much of the vile is self-inflicted - perpetual ACC pusher Dick Vitale doesn't assist in improving Duke's public image - but is also unnecessary.

There I go again, going off on a tangent.

Back to the game, Mark.

Some brief observations (hello SI's Stuart Mandel) from tonight's game:

-As I've stated in previous posts, Sean McDonough needs to pipe down when it comes to analysis. But we needn't go down that path now.

-Tom Crean has put on some serious poundage. You know a coach is in denial when he reaches for a diet pepsi during a stoppage in play - as Crean did tonight - conveniently placed on the scorers table.

-On the subject of Mr.Crean, how many basketball coaches do you know use a laminated play-chart? Remember, these kids aren't football players. Remembering to tuck in jerseys is considered a mental chore.

-Yet another Tom Crean observation that ties into the weight loss issue. Do you really need to wear a windbreaker in a gym where temperatures routinely hover around 90 degrees. Besides, losing water weight won't help him shed that belly fat.

-DeMarcus Nelson is an absolute bull. Despite all of his shooting and ball-handling issues, he continues to gather garbage points through sheer athleticism. Hence, Coach K will utilize him more around the basket than ever before. That's saying something, considering his penchant for rebounding throughout his career.

-You have to be impressed with the babysitting job that Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas do with Sean Mickee. When given the chance to speak - and break the game down - they are second to none. Too bad that CBS has them on separate broadcast teams during the NCAA Tournament (Bilas is paired with Dick Enberg and Raftrey with Verne Lundquist.)

-And finally, if I'm a Marquette fan - which I am not - I wouldn't be too concerned with tonight's result. Sure, it would have been an NCAA tournament-booster - when it comes to seeding, of course - but it is not a death knell. In significant foul trouble most of the game, the Eagles keep Duke within striking distance. Not a bad result considering the situation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Predictably, Ricky Davis Not Working Out Too Well For Miami

By Trashtalk Superstar

When Miami coach and General Manager Pat Riley traded Antoine Walker to Minnesota for Ricky Davis (Miami also acquired Mark Blount from Minnesota, and sent Wayne Simien and Michael Doleac to the "land of 10,000 lakes" to complete the deal), Drive and Dish wondered what Riley was thinking. Walker was shipped out - at least in part - because Riley had grown tired of his bad attitude and overall sloth. So we couldn't fathom what would prompt him to replace one headache (Walker) with a player who would potentially be an even bigger headache (Davis).

Now, as NBA master scribe Sam Smith chronicles in the Chicago Tribune, Pat Riley appears to be at his wit's end with the notorious coach and team chemistry-killing Davis. What a shock.

This week, Riley voiced his disapproval over the on-court production and attitude of one (and possibly more than one) of his team's starters to Miami reporters. But because Riley declined to name the player at whom his comments were directed, it's unclear whether Riley was referring to Davis or to Shaquille O'Neal (although it's also possible that his comments were directed at both players). Riley's vagueness aside, it's clear that he's not pleased:

"People who don't think they should ever be benched might have to come off the bench for a while just to turn this whole thing around ..."

Many folks in the media have assumed that those words were intended to get the attention of the big fella (or Big Aristotle, if you will). And, aside from the occasional appearance of vintage Shaq-style dominance, O'Neal has definitely looked like he just doesn't give a damn anymore. So Riley could, indeed, have been calling him out. After all, his teammates are doing just that: according to Smith, "Dwyane Wade, back from surgery and rounding into form, talked openly of O'Neal needing to be more motivated." Damn!

But, equally likely is the possibility that Riley's ire was directed at Ricky Davis. Just one month into his current stint in Miami, Ricky Davis has wasted no time in going about the business of being Ricky Davis. Smith notes that NBA courtside scouts who follow Miami have been reporting that Davis is doing his best to reinforce his coach-killer and team chemistry-killer reputation:

"they see Davis waving off Riley and telling other players he isn't going to run that stuff."

Now that's the Ricky Davis that we all know and love!

Drive and Dish was dumbfounded when Pat Riley traded for Ricky Davis. Riley had, after all, been stuck with the cancerous Davis before. We absolutely couldn't understand why he'd want another go around with the guy. And we're not alone. Smith cites one Riley confidant who said: "He had him before. How could he not know?"

Regardless of the thought process that led to his pursuit of Davis, it's clear that Pat Riley has had enough of the 2007/08 edition of the Miami Heat:

"'I don't see a team that feels that feels like they have anything at stake here,' Riley said. 'They come in, they play, they get beat, they go home. They go out into the night."

What's not so clear is why it took him so long to notice that his team doesn't care. They were the same way last year too.

And what's even less clear is why Pat Riley thought it would be a good idea to add Ricky Davis to a team that already had a few too many disinterested malcontents.

But questionable judgment aside, at least Riley isn't trying to "pass the buck:"

"I'll take the responsibility for it (Miami's disastrous team chemistry) because I put it together."


Pat Riley's acquisition (or re-acquisition, to be more accurate) of Ricky Davis reminds me of the old story about the man who befriended - then took as his pet - a talking rattlesnake. The man was well aware that rattle snakes are aggressive and that their venom is poisionous. So, at first, he was very reluctant to talk to the snake. But the rattlesnake kept assuring the man that he was friendly and, as such, wouldn't bite the man. So in spite of his initial reservations, the guy ultimately came to trust the rattlesnake. So much so that he let the talking snake become his pet, and kept it by his side at all times. After all, he and the talking snake had a special kind of bond.

That is, until the snake finally BIT THE MAN.

Shocked by the trauma of the bite as well as by the rattlesnake's disregard for their friendship and betrayal of his trust, the dying man asked the rattlesnake: "Why did you bite me?"

And the rattlesnake replied: "Because I'm a rattlesnake, stupid. That's what I do."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Maui Wowie! PART DEUX

By Mark Buckets

Phew. What a first day of action from Maui, eh? It was a good day for this “Drive and Dish” scribe, as my four predictions were spot-on on the first day of action. Marquette needed a late surge to stave off host Chaminade (who have a couple of quality players - told ya so about Marko Kolaric). The second game of was a game of ebb-and-flow. Oklahoma State raced out to a huge lead only to see it evaporate into a 6 point win. Keep in mind, LSU was without star Tasmin Mitchell, who was battling a foot injury.

The night session continued the trend of one-sided affairs. It didn’t take 24-point favorite Duke very long to match that mark (even though in the end, they failed to cover), they had 24 points about 3 minutes into the game. A swarming bunch of Devils applied full court pressure for most of the first half and Princeton was helpless to overcome it. On the subject of first half blowouts, Illinois put up 20 before Arizona State even scored a basket. Needless to say, the Illini rolled to an easy win.

Now, we take a look at today’s semifinals (as an aside, I have omitted the consolation bracket as Drive and D wishes not to bore you).

Marquette and Oklahoma State square off in a game that features a slew of freakish athletes. Marcus Dove’s ability is well-documented, but another highly touted McDonald’s All-American, James Anderson - doesn’t everyone seem to be a burger star (but not Arby's) these days? - has the Cowboys thinking upset. While Cowboy fans should be satisfied with an impressive opening win, the Marquette faithful are a little less jubilant. Not only did the big three of James, McNeal and Matthews have atrocious shooting nights, but their man-to-man defense was shredded (it's possible that I'm being being too harsh in that assessment, but the game was close) by a division 2 team. The good news for Marquette is that they couldn’t possibly shoot any worse than they did a day ago. My prediction: Take the GOLDen Eagles - but it's going to be closer than the experts think (thank you Lee Corso).

A game that does not lack for intrigue is the nightcap where Duke will take on Illinois. Duke is a team coming off a commanding win, which was highlighted by the play of frosh superstar Kyle Singler. Anytime a Duke player - a wing player, no less - has nine offensive boards in a game, you know that he is destined for greatness. Duke will look to attack the offensive glass once again against an Illinois team that has superior size and strength on the blocks. In spite of that, my homerism is showing through once again - Duke wins, setting up a tremendous finale (and the game that ESPN wanted) with Marquette.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Maui Wowie!

By Mark Buckets

Monday kicks off something that ESPN has coined as "Feast Week," which is headlined by the 24th annual Maui Invitational. At first glance, the teams that will trot up and down the Lahaina Civic Center this year is weaker than in past years. That will change with next year's field - Carolina and Louisville are the feature teams - which is more loaded than Larry Eustachy at a fraternity party. But in spite of the level of competition in this year's tournament, the games played here are pure class. Since we here at "Drive and Dish" are glad to be of service to you - the fan -we've decided that the way in which we can best help the masses - or the gamblers - is to handicap this year's classic in Maui. So, as they say in Hawaiian "No Ka 'Oi." To those of us that aren't fluent in island tongue, it means "Maui is the Best."

So, herewith is a breakdown of this year's field.

This year's classic tips off today at 1:30 with Marquette and host Chaminade. Picked to finish third in their division 2 conference this year, the Silver Swords appear to be outmatched and outclassed. In this case, perception is reality. As I have documented in a previous post, the Golden Eagles - or, as some might remember, the hideous Gold - lack for size in the post. And Chamindae does rely on their inside duo of Marko Kolaric (who had a tremendous tournament last year) and Rodrick Johnson. In the end, though, Marquette should have enough (sense the sarcasm?) to advance.

In the final game of the first session (leave the opinions to Bilas and Raftery, Sean McDonough, and do your job - play-by-play man) LSU and Oklahoma State square off. Both teams suffered some serious roster turnover from last year. LSU is a relatively unknown team this year as they've lost Big Baby Davis and the underrated Daniel Lazarre. The Tigers rely on Dameon Mason - who, ironically, began his career at Marquette - and a crop of talented tweeners. Tasmin Mitchell has been battling injuries this year, leaving freshman Anthony Randolph to serve as Mason's right-hand man. Similarly, Oklahoma State's roster is decidedly young and inexperienced. The Cowboys will have to rely on point guard Byron Eaton (The former McDonald's All-Americane has been a bit of a disappointnent so far in his career) and swing man Marcus Dove. This very well may be the most competitive first round game, and, after further consideration, I'm a Cowboy believer. OSU wins.

Bereft of any suspense, Duke takes on Princeton in a game that is a massive mismatch on paper. Princeton is a team that runs out only 7 players who play 15 minutes or more a game, while the Devils have been substituting liberally this year. As is common knowledge, the Tigers run an offense that bears their name - the Princeton Offense - to near perfection. Pete Carril will be rolling in his grave after this game - he is dead, right? - as the tournament-favorite (and the favorite of this writer) Blue Devils should win running away.

In a game that begins at 11:30 eastern time and should reel in solid TV numbers (Bartender, can I have another shot of sarcasm?) Illinois takes on Arizona State. Fire up some Maxwell House for this one, as both teams struggle to put the ball in the hoop. I'm interested to see the freshmen play for both teams. Demietry McCamey of Illinois and James Harden of the Sun Devils should go back and fourth, which should make the game worth watching. An ominous sign for Arizona State, however, is their reliance on former Dukie Eric Boateng. That in of itself should give Illinois an advantage. Bruce Weber's squad takes out Herb Sendek's bunch and gets a chance to exact revenge on Duke (we all know the Scheyer story).

Despite its lack of elite programs and star power - no, I didn't forget Duke - the 2007 version of the Maui Invitational should offer up extremely competitive games. I'll have second round breakdowns and predictions early Tuesday morning

Sunday, November 18, 2007

After Sparking "Outrage" With Brokeback Remark, Phil Jackson Sticks It To the Man

By Trashtalk Superstar

After going down to the San Antonio Spurs last week, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson made a crack about the game having been like "Brokeback Mountain" ... because of all the "penetration and kick backs."

Jackson's comments aroused outrage in the gay community and, subsequently, received stiff criticism from GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). So having been thrust into the spotlight, and with the NBA front office breathing down his back, Jackson came out and gave an "apology."

What's funny is that the mainstream media took Jackson's apology at face value, and earnestly reported it as a straight news story. Apparently the American mass media's collective radar isn't tuned to detect the subtle hints which indicate sarcasm, because - with his "apology" - Jackson managed to turn things around and mount a back door slam of his critics.

Notice Jackson's subtlety (and bear in mind that Jackson delivered the "apology" with an Eddie Haskell-like irreverent mock sincerity):

"But in retrospect, it wasn't really funny," Jackson said before the Lakers played Houston on Wednesday night. "When you take it out of context, it wasn't funny. It was a poor attempt at humor and I deserved to be reprimanded by the NBA."

In issuing his so called apology, Phil Jackson said of his "Brokeback Mountain" comment, that when taken "out of context, it wasn't funny." Which implies that, taken in context, it was funny.

But none of the Einsteins in the mainstream media picked up on that.

Look, strictly as humor, the line was OK, but it really wasn't that funny. Was it kind of clever? Sure. Even mildly amusing? I guess so ... after all, it did get a laugh from the reporters who were gathered around Jackson, so it served its intended purpose. But that's about as far as it goes.

But to devote any significant effort to debating the comedic merit of Phil Jackson's remark would be to overlook the true significance of the "apology" - and the situation that prompted the "apology." Phil Jackson didn't get reprimanded by the league for telling a corny joke. He got reprimanded for breaking some unwritten PC speech code. And that's troubling because, whether one thinks the line was uproariously funny or just mildly amusing, one thing Phil Jackson's joke wasn't is offensive. Inappropriate, maybe. But offensive, no way.

Phil Jackson didn't make a single derogatory or malicious statement about gays. He merely compared a game that featured a lot of penetration to a blockbuster, Oscar winning movie about gay cowboys ... a movie that was famous - at least in part - because it featured a notorious penetration scene.

Would anyone have been offended if, instead of having compared the game to Brokeback Mountain (because of all the penetration), Phil Jackson had instead referenced the name of some random porno flick? Would there have been similar outrage if he'd called it a "Jenna Jamison" game?

After all, the typical porno shows a lot more penetration than Brokeback Mountain. And Jenna Jamison (the world's most famous porn star) has made a career out of getting rocked every which way imaginable, whereas the light-in-the-cowboy-boots stars of Brokeback Mountain only had one "penetration" scene (well, from what I understand ... I - admittedly - haven't actually seen Brokeback mountain). But, somehow, I seriously doubt that any non-gay reference to "penetration" would have incurred the same kind of angry reaction that the "Brokeback Mountain" comment did.

That's because most of the objection to Jackson's comment came from people and groups that have made a profession out of being outraged and offended. Notice that in their objection to Phil Jackson's comment, GLAAD didn't claim that Jackson had been homophobic or insulting to gays. They didn't even claim that Jackson had said anything negative about gays, gay culture, the gay lifestyle or the gay community in general. Their objection was, simply, that they found what Jackson had said to be "offensive."

In failing to cite any insulting, demeaning or even remotely negative comments about gays in Phil Jackson's statement, GLAAD's objection to the statement's "offensiveness" leads down that old, proverbial "slippery slope -- because whether or not something is considered to be "offensive" is a totally subjective matter. The offensiveness or inoffensiveness of any statement is completely up to the judgement of the individual who takes offense - or doesn't take offense - to the statement. Just about anyone can take offense to anything Which is why, by basing their objection to Jackson's statement on the fact that they find it "offensive," GLAAD doesn't have a leg to stand on.

But it's doubtful that the validity of their position is a primary concern of the folks at GLAAD. Their primary concerns appear to be attracting attention to their organization, acquiring power and wielding what power they do have. And make no mistake, they absolutely love this kind of drama (don't be fooled by their objection to Jackson's comment ... the people at GLAAD aren't happy unless they're offended and outraged). It gets them the attention that they crave and - perhaps more importantly - it's a fund raising cash cow.

As for Phil Jackson, he's an old hippie, a self-described "Zen master," an acolyte of the late Dr. Timothy Leary, was an outspoken supporter of former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley's bid for the 2000 Democratic Presidential nomination (Bradley was a vocal advocate for gay issues and an early proponent of same sex marriage) and part of his mystique stems from the fact that - even though he's a basketball coach - he's been known to question authority and "stick it to the man." Jackson is, after all, a life-long adherent of the "anti-establishment" counter culture of the late 1960's (despite having spent his entire adult life as either a player or coach [authority figure] in the completely "square" and "establishment" world of professional basketball). So it's hard to imagine that Phil Jackson harbors any particular hatred for ill will toward the gay community.

Phil Jackson is just about as far from being a redneck or a bigot as anyone can be. He's a tree-hugging, (and -at the very least- former) pot smoking flower child. Hell, when he was coaching Chicago, Phil Jackson reprimanded Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for owning firearms ... Phil thought that guns brought "bad Karma." And Jackson ran such a loose ship in Chicago that he even encouraged bench players Jud Buecheler and Steve Kerr to go out and get drunk with Dennis Rodman while on road trips, because he thought Buecheler and Kerr were "too uptight" and needed to "relax."

Phil Jackson shouldn't have had to apologize to anyone for his "Brokeback Mountain" quip. And - in quite brilliant fashion, actually - he didn't.

When forced to apologize by the NBA, Phil Jackson could have issued the standard "non apology" apology that's quickly becoming the the "go to" course of action for public figures who find themselves drawing fire over something they said.

Jackson could easily have slid by if he'd said: "I apologize if anyone was offended by my comments." After all, that's how it's done these days. You don't, technically, admit to having said or done anything wrong: you're only sorry that some people may have found your comments "offensive" - but not necessarily sorry for having made the comments. It's the easy way out. It's posturing, placating and obfuscating all at once. It's sophistry as public relations strategy. And it works.

But that's not what Phil Jackson did. Rather, he - underhandedly - made a smart ass mockery of the "non apology" apology (and of the situation that prompted him to "apologize") which also served to rebuke GLAAD, the NBA and other critics of his "Brokeback" comment. And the best part is that it was all cleverly disguised as an actual apology.

Which is pretty damn brilliant! Bill Murray couldn't have pulled it off any better or with any more irreverence - and he's made a career out of doing that kind of stuff.

By saying: "If I've offended any horses, Texans, cowboys or gays, I apologize," and "when you take it out of context, it isn't funny" (which, again, implies that - when you don't take it out of context - it is funny), Phil Jackson delivered a giant middle finger to all the critics of his comment. And, once again, Phil managed to stick it to the man.

But the funniest part is that no one seems to have noticed.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Buckin' On Up!

By Mark Buckets (Not Buck-eyes)

As my colleague has stated in a previous post, this blog is all about basketball, so we usually just talk about - guess what - basketball. Rarely do we delve into the world of college football.

But while studying online game film and scouring morning editions of newspapers across the nation, an HBO program documenting the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry that was beaming on my television caught my eye. So I turned off the projector and turned my attention to the tube.

As a Duke fan, I know a few things about integral rivalries.

However, there is nothing - I'll say it again - NOTHING like the Michigan-Ohio State game.

From Bo's arrival to Woody's upheaval, there isn't a rivalry in sports that matches the punch-by-punch storylines that "The Big Game" offers.

For a Duke supporter, this might come across as sacrilege. But not even the Duke - North Carolina rivalry in basketball can compare to Michigan - Ohio State football rivalry. I know, you may be thinking, "who forms an opinion on a rivalry based off of an HBO documentary?"

I am from the midwest, so I didn't need a documentary to educate me as to the importance of this game. Michigan - Ohio State is as big as it gets. Sure, a few folks in the state of Alabama might object to that, but there's a general understanding that this is must-see live theater. And even with the litany of intriguing storylineson the field, there are equally as many off of it.

This long-standing rivalry isn't simply all about the game.

It even extends to what past graduates have done in and out of the classroom.

Names of past graduates are eye-popping. From Mike Wallace of 60 minutes (U of M class of '39), to writer R.L. Stine (OSU class of '69), these two schools alumni bases boast some of America's most influential public figures (and I didn't even get around to mentioning Michigan alum and football great Gerald Ford, who - even some Ohio State fans will know - was the 38th president of the United States).

So, as you tune into ABC at high noon on Saturday (or as they call it now, ESPN on ABC), remember that this contest is more than just a game. It sounds cliche, but this rivalry lives up to that moniker.

And after all that build up, you're probably expecting a prediction.

Well, we usually don't make predictions around here, but ...

Bucks win 31-24

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Third NCAA Post Season Tournament In the Works

By Trashtalk Superstar

There's an old saying: "two's company, but three's a crowd." The people at the Gazelle Group must not know that colloquialism because they've started the new College Basketball Invitational post season tournament - which, as the third NCAA post season tournament, will compete with the NCAA Tournament and the NIT.

In fairness, a third tournament probably isn't a bad idea. Every year several deserving teams are left out of both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT. And, no doubt, college coaches and players won't object to the creation of another tournament because it will open opportunities for more teams to extend their seasons.

The main hurdle that the College Basketball Invitational will face is likely to be low fan interest. The NIT is a good - and well established - tournament, but it only generates minimal interest. What's worse, major conference teams that get left out of the NCAA Tournament are sometimes slightly less than motivated - and often don't exactly bring their "A-games"- when they step on to courts bearing the NIT logo. A fledgling tournament will face all those obstacles and then some. Add to that the fact that many of its contestants are likely to be good, but relatively unheralded, mid major teams. A late March match up between, let's say, Charlotte and Northern Iowa may make for good basketball, but it not exactly going to beat Dancing With the Stars in the Nielsen ratings.

Personally, I like the idea of a third tournament. But I'm a basketball person, maybe even a "lifer." And bear in mind: I've always kind of liked Arena Football, I liked the idea of the XFL (until I actually saw some of the games), and - when I was a child and just beginning to follow sports - I kind of followed the USFL in its final season or two ... plus, I've actually gone to NIT games ... and CBA games.

Hard core basketball people - like the proprietors of this blog - and hard core gamblers may have some interest in the new tournament. And fans/alums of teams that participate in the tournament may be interested as well. But that's likely to be all the interest the CBI will get.

Good luck to the Gazelle Group and the College Basketball Invitational.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Aloha means hello-Mark Buckets is back

By Mark Buckets

The college basketball season began in earnest tonight as a slew of classics and foundation-based games tipped off. We'll get to the rest in a moment. As a devout follower and worshiper of Duke University basketball, I was pleased to receive communion tonight in the form of live competition for the Devils(no pun intended). And no, North Carolina Central's foray into the deep end of college basketball's highest division does not qualify. Tonight, it was time for the New Mexico State Nomads - I mean Aggies - to have a stab at the home standing Blue Devils. Yes, I'll admit, Duke's 52-game home non-conference winning steak that dates back a decade doesn't include a whole lot of blue-blooded programs. Regardless, tonight - with Duke hosting an undermanned Aggie team (without blue chip recruit Herb Pope, who would have been extremely useful for NMSU tonight) - the games began.

Over on ESPN 360 (which is unavailable to people using Comcast in the Chicagoland area without a fee) Syracuse was trying to tame the Siena Saints. Winning the game wasn't a problem for the home standing Orange. Rather, performing with panache and flash was of paramount importance was a night to round up the faithful at the Carrier Dome, with an exciting new brand of Boeheim Basketball. Johnny Flynn, whose 28-point opening performance trumped even that of the debut of one Carmelo Anthony, led the way. Although the cancer that is Eric Devendorf remains fully malignant at this time, Coach Boeheim and staff seem to be soothing the Devendorf ailment. A good night, indeed, for all of those involved at the country's number one broadcast journalism school (No need to mention alumnus Dick Stockton's putrid performances on FOX NFL Sundays this year).

And how about Marquette? Talk about a team that is stumbling out of the blocks. Sure, their record remains unblemished at this early point in the season, but things haven't been all roses in Milwaukee. When you're being outrebounded by the likes of Utah Valley State and IUPUI, things can't be running smoothly. Maybe Tom Crean needs to strap his players up with football pads and put a lid on the net a la mentor Tom Izzo of Michigan State. But although toughness may be instilled through the personality of a coach, but height certainly isn't.

Speaking of teams that are vertically challenged, exhibit B, the Duke Blue Devils. Talk in the preseason centered around what kind of production (or lack thereof) that post men Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek would contribute this year. After two games, the results are mixed. Both are extremely energetic players who leave it all on the court, and still, both are powder puffs around the goal.

Let's set the scene:
Zoubek gets a weakside rebound, has a chance to take it up strong against another fairy tale of a center, Martin Iti (he really needs to lay off the Edy's Ice Cream, but I digress). Instead of squeezing the air out of the ball and taking it up strong, Zoubek proceeds to - to put it bluntly - get his shit packed. This is supposed to be a player that was coming into the year with a renewed toughness and grit, not the blocking dummy he was last year. To be fair to the kid, he is only a true sophomore.

More disconcerting for Duke fans, however, is the tentativeness that Lance Thomas has shown around the basket. Let me make this abundantly clear: Both Thomas and Zoubek are schooled in the way of K on defense, and play it to a "T" (no, not like Psyco T, but you get my point). But what worries me most about Thomas and Zoubek is that this isn't a fundamental or strategic error. It's that both players lack that killer instinct, and it may ultimately lead to Duke's demise down the road.

That's all for now, but be sure to check back periodically for more updates. As the season swings into full gear next week, posts will be coming fast and furious.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sight Seen: Ohio State Fans in the Dumps

By Trashtalk Superstar

Although this blog is about basketball, and we rarely deviate from that format, sometimes other sports (or sports related) items demand our attention. #1 Ohio State's "humiliating" gridiron upset by supposedly "lowly" Illinois didn't elicit commentary from Drive and Dish's editorial staff. But something I encountered the day after OSU's loss did.

Falling into the "you can't make this stuff up" category, the above picture is of an Ohio State hat that I found after somebody threw it away at a Chicago area health club last night - one day after #1 OSU fell (at home, no less) to unranked and unheralded Illinois. Maybe you had to be there, but when I saw the discarded red hat with the gray "O" staring at me, I couldn't help but laugh. Since it was late and I was the only person in the gym, there was nobody there with whom I could share the moment. So I took pictures and posted them here.

Unfortunately, when I found the hat, it wasn't positioned quite as perfectly as it is in the pictures. So - admittedly - I had to do some digging in the garbage to better position the hat for the sake of photographic artistry. And, while today's round of tetanus shots and vaccinations were no picnic, I got some good shots of the discarded OSU hat that I now share with the world. It'll all be worth it if even one starving child is able to forget that he's too hungry to sleep tonight ... because he got a chuckle, or two, from the Ohio State fans' collective disgust.

(4:50pm, 11/13/07)

When I referred to OSU's "humiliating" loss to "lowly" Illinois, I used quotation marks around "humiliating" and "lowly" to imply -- subtly -- that I disagreed with the conventional wisdom (i.e. national media coverage) about this Illinois team. I probably should have been more clear.

For the record, I thought that the Illini were underrated and under appreciated going into Saturday's game. And considering the fact that Illinois gave then #1 Ohio State all it could handle the week before they were to play Michigan last year, I thought that this year's talented but young Illinois team had a decent chance of pulling the upset in Columbus. Illinois is an exciting, legitimately good football team (although they're somewhat inconsistent-- due to their overall youth). But they don't get much respect from the national media.

And after listening to ESPN and Sporting News radio for about three hours Saturday night as I drove back to Chicago from Indianapolis, I had a fairly clear picture of how many in the national media (and an awful lot of college football fans--particularly those South of the Mason Dixon line) viewed the Illinois win: the Big Ten sucks and a fraudulent Ohio State team got "exposed" and "embarrassed" by hapless Illi-freakin'-nois and their equally hapless coach, the "Zooker" (how could Ohio State lose to the "Zooker," for God's sake?).

Hence my tongue-in-cheek reference to OSU being "humiliated" by "lowly" Illinois.

To be fair, Mark May and Lou Holtz (lisp and all) did give the Illini some love on ESPN. But the guys on ESPN radio (Freddie Coleman excluded) sure didn't do the same.

So, although my use of "lowly" to describe the Illini was intended as sarcasm, my use of "unheralded" is spot on. Illinois is unheralded because they don't get much respect nationally ... yet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Kentucky Falls to Gardner Freakin' Webb

By Trashtalk Superstar

Welcome to Kentucky, Billy Gillispie. Your predecessor, Tubby Smith, was chased out of town after a successful ten year run which included two Final Fours and a national championship. But it wasn't good enough for the crazed UK fans. They expected so much more from their beloved Wildcats. Which is why you now hold one of the most prestigious positions in sports ... head coach of men's basketball at the University of Kentucky.

And the Kentucky faithful treated your arrival as if it were a the fulfillment of prophecy ... a savior would come to lead his people to their rightful glory. You were Billy G. as Messiah or Mahdi. Kentucky fans spoke of you as if you could walk on water and turn water into wine (and hell, everybody knows how much you love to drink). Yes Billy, you were supposed to lead Kentucky to the promised land. Because to the devoted followers of UK basketball, you were the freakin' man.

That is, until tonight, when Kentucky was blown out by uber cupcake Gardner Webb.

Two games into your tenure and Kentucky has already suffered a loss as humiliating as Michigan's football defeat to Appalachian State in this year's season opener. Gardner Webb should write you a check because, by losing to them tonight, you will have given them more media exposure than they've probably ever had. Everyone who watches Sports Center or reads the sports section of their daily newspaper will now have heard of tiny Gardner Webb (enrollment: 4,000). And many of those same people will laugh at Kentucky's expense.

You'll be on the hot seat before you know what hit you.

At least Kentucky fans have a good football team to cheer for this year, even if it is the first good Kentucky football team that most fans have seen in their lifetimes. Hell, if you don't get things going quickly, Billy Boy, Kentucky might get a reputation as a "football school."

Then Ashley Judd will be forced to start going to football games. The TV close ups of her won't be as good as they are at basketball games, but exposure is exposure. And it's not like she's just there to watch the games and root for her team.

You better get everything straightened out soon, Billy. If you don't, Wildcat nation might even start longing for the good ol' days of the Tubby era.

Welcome to Kentucky, Billy G. Welcome indeed.