02.21.11

Welcoming Taz Back To MSG

Posted in Basketball at 9:28 pm by

Sadly, I’m not referring to the Red Hook product who once performed under the supervision of Bill Alphonso, but instead, the 20th overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft.  The above video comes courtesy of Steve Cuttler, who wonders if Renaldo Balkman — reunited with the Knicks this evening in a minor transaction that might escape your notice — still owns the above automobile.

‘Lil Stein : Yanks Celebrated ’09 Title Too Much, For Too Long

Posted in Baseball at 6:20 pm by

Who better than Hank Steinbrenner — a man who has toiled long and hard for everything he has in this world — to scold his underachieving New York Yankees for failing to capture a 28th World Championship? With the following comments, relayed by the New York Daily News’ Mark Feisand, is it fair to ask exactly when the Yankees will stop letting the world know they wish they’d successfully pissed off Derek Jeter so much this past winter that someone else in the AL East would be overpaying him this season?

“Sometimes I think maybe they celebrated a little too much last year,” Steinbrenner (above, right) said of his team. “Some of the players are too busy building mansions and doing other things, not concentrating on winning. I have no problem saying that.”

Asked if any other player besides Jeter was building a mansion, Steinbrenner said he wasn’t referring to anybody in particular.

“I’m just saying they were too busy; I’m not singling anybody out,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m saying maybe they were riding the wave of ’09 a little too much. It happens. Psychologically, it happens sometimes.”

Despite his assertion that he wasn’t singling out Jeter, it’s hard to take Steinbrenner’s comment any other way. Jeter had the most disappointing season of any regular last year, hitting a career-low .270, and he’s building a 30,000-square-foot palace in the Tampa area, dubbed “St. Jetersburg” by the locals.

Construction on Jeter’s house began in 2008, so it should be noted that he was “building mansions” during the World Series season of 2009, too.

Steinbrenner said the entire team seemed to lack the hunger last year that helped carry them to the title the year before, but he’s seen that appetite return so far this spring.

NYT : Wilpon, Mets Ran Interference For Madoff

Posted in Baseball, The Law, The Marketplace at 4:11 pm by

Despite continued protestations they were as betrayed by Bernard Madoff (above)  as anyone else, the New York Times’ Serge Kovaleski and David Waldstein have previously reported that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz routinely encouraged members of the New York Mets extended family — including former GM Frank Cashen and Flushing pariah Bobby Bonilla — to entrust their fortunes to the since-convicted Ponzi schemer.  On Monday, Kovaleski went a step further, alleging the Mets didn’t merely pimp for Madoff, but also helped him evade scrutiny ; “to be amongst those referred by the Mets’ owners, one had to agree to odd and puzzling terms that restricted direct contact with or questioning of Mr. Madoff.”

Those invited into this rarefied club — including relatives of Sterling management, an investment banker who is also a supper club entertainer, a technology entrepreneur and a theater industry executive — would not send money to Mr. Madoff. Instead, it would be filtered through the Sterling partner and the Mets board member Arthur Friedman, a certified public accountant with a law degree who served as the liaison to Mr. Madoff’s operation.

By the time Mr. Madoff was arrested in December 2008, his Ponzi scheme exposed, Mr. Friedman had managed 178 Madoff accounts opened for friends and close business acquaintances of the Sterling partners, and for some Sterling employees. He also administered 305 other Madoff accounts set up by Sterling partners for themselves, their families, trusts and Sterling-related entities.

The rules, at Mr. Madoff’s request, were clearly stated in advance by the Sterling partners to investors invited into the club. Account holders were never to speak directly with Mr. Madoff or anyone at his business, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. All communications regarding any of the accounts had to go through Sterling. Clients would receive monthly paper statements from Mr. Madoff, though the year-end tax statements were sent from Sterling.

One woman who, along with her husband, held several accounts with Mr. Madoff said she thought it was peculiar that they were told never to communicate with Mr. Madoff, but it did not stop them from wanting in.

“We never questioned the fact we weren’t allowed to contact Madoff because of our confidence in Sterling,” said the woman, who did not want to be identified as an investor with Mr. Madoff. “We invested because we trusted these two people absolutely; because they were big business and we assumed they knew what they were talking about.”

If James Dolan Has His Way, Wilson Chandler & Danilo Gallinari Will Be Playing In NYC For A Long Time

Posted in Basketball at 2:31 pm by

Not in Knicks uniforms, however.   “The Knicks were reconstructed by patience and guile and, for once, having grownups back in charge..it took Donnie Walsh two years to clean up a decade of mess. Dolan might have undone it all in a weekend,” observed NY Mag’s Will Leitch, whose gory summation of Knicks ownership’s willingness to overpay for Carmelo Anthony was published before ESPN’s Chris Broussard dropped the following bombshell ;

If the New York Knicks send Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler (above, left)  and Timofey Mozgov to Denver for Anthony, the Nets are in discussions to then acquire either Gallinari, Felton or Chandler plus Mozgov for two first-round draft picks.

That deal is obviously contingent upon the Knicks trading all those players to Denver for a package headlined by Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

Although league rules generally preclude packaging players for two months after they are acquired via trade, Denver can package players acquired from New York in a subsequent trade with New Jersey if the players involved are sent to the Nets in separate but simultaneous smaller deals before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.

One example: New Jersey could trade Troy Murphy to the Nuggets as a trade exception that Denver would generate by the trade of Billups to New York. The Nets, then, would accept multiple players from Denver whose aggregated salaries are less than Murphy’s. There are other combinations possible for the Nuggets and Nets to make two separate trades to satisfy league rules and convey the former Knicks to New Jersey.

02.20.11

Barkley’s Ring-free Career Commemorated In The Form Of A Terrifying, Giant Cake

Posted in Basketball, Food, Sports TV at 6:27 pm by

With all due respect to Chris Morris (the satirist, not the former New Jersey Net), if Cake isn’t in fact, illegal, it ought to be now.

“Sauron and Voldemort Joining Forces To Complete The Death Star,” or What Dolan and Zeke Reuniting Above The Penn Station Houlihan’s Feels Like

Posted in Basketball at 4:26 pm by

There are exceptions, because there are always exceptions, but this is by and large a pretty good time for the NBA. The NBA’s pre-All-Star broadcasting pulled in record ratings, the Rookie Challenge game was hilariously loose — the screaming “OH BABY” dude from the And1 Tour was all that was missing — and while Blake Griffin’s winning effort in the slam dunk contest was basically a sledge-o-matic away from total prop overload, it’s always and everywhere kind of hard to argue with Blake Griffin. (If admittedly harder to argue with this) There are a bunch of good teams in the NBA, and they are for the most part fun to watch and interesting to ponder. So, looming labor strife and other bumouts notwithstanding, it’s a good time for the NBA. But there are exceptions, because there are always exceptions.

Among the most glaring being that James Dolan (above) — mock turtleneck aficionado, revenge-blues artist, embodiment of loathsome entitlement’s most loathsome aspects and general toxic idiot — still owns the New York Knicks. When the Knicks are playing well, or even just playing the hyperactive pick-and-roll offense and kind-of-playing the whatever-that-was defense for which Coach Mike D’Antoni is known, they’re a very likable team — one comprised of a legitimately fascinating philo-Semitic power forward, a few long-shot reclamation projects made good, a comic Russian, and a host of players enjoying the sort of statistical and reputational boost that playing in D’Antoni’s system offers. (Raymond Felton and Boris Diaw have something to talk about next time they get beers, is what I’m saying) And when they’re playing badly, as they sometimes will, the Knicks are — and this may be even more important — also pretty likable. They always play hard and at times play very well and are largely free of the sad, extravagantly compensated and thoroughly past-it veteran washouts that be-shat the stat sheets during Isiah Thomas’s implausibly long tenure as the team’s GM last decade.

Given that Dolan is Dolan, and that he abetted and co-piloted Thomas’s trashing of one of the NBA’s marquee franchises, there’s a sense in which the looming, if not already extant, reunion between the two is unsurprising. While I feel for GC and other Knicks fans as they face down this reunion between Titanic and Iceberg, I also don’t really care all that much about the Knicks. The team I grew up caring about has its own clownish/offensive owner and wince-induction issues, and while the Knicks are exponentially more fun to watch than the Nets at this point, I don’t really watch either all that much. (The one Knicks game I’ve been to this year was for work, and I’ve been to maybe two others in the past three years) But as a Mets fan, I know the unpleasantness of watching a dim-but-loyal ownership group defer to a defective chief executive who manages to consistently underperform his worst-in-class reputation. I know that it sucks, a lot. I just don’t feel it as acutely in this case.

But I’m getting there. The blamelessness of walked-over team president Donnie Walsh — who turned the league’s most fucked franchise around in impressive time — is beyond debate, which makes the way in which he has been treated pretty gross. And given just how bad the two parties at the center of all this are — Dolan is Dolan, and Isiah, who has done literally nothing to warrant a job in basketball since retiring as a player, is both an unctuous creep and terrible at everything that could conceivably fall under his job description as a team-runner — the possibility of Dolan-Thomas Part Two is kind of a challenge to any basketball fan’s gag reflex.

Swapping three of the team’s best players and a valuable draft pick for Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony — terrific players both, neither of them a fit for the style that has belatedly made the Knicks a non-joke — looks like a classic Isiah Thomas deal, but whether the trade happens or not, it’s hard not to feel for Knicks fans seemingly consigned to cheer for a team that’s a laughingstock even when the on-court product isn’t a joke. At Straight Bangin, the indispensable Joey Litman addresses the sorry state of a Knicks fan facing “a miscarriage of reason” that he compares to “the basketball equivalent of Sauron and Voldemort joining forces to complete the Death Star.” The prospect of entrusting Thomas to create a Big Three based around Anthony, Stoudemire and a star PG TBD, Litman writes,

… Takes for granted that Isiah Thomas will find the right complementary players, that Isiah Thomas will successfully navigate the salary cap, and that Isiah Thomas can preside over a functional organization. He has never demonstrated an ability to do any of these things, though, and that is why today’s news is so distressing. Allowing Isiah Thomas to return, even as some Machiavellian puppeteer, is an insult to reason, to history, and to decency. It’s an affront to fans, to professionals, and to the entire NBA. His initial tenure with the Knicks was a cautionary tale of epic ineptitude, unapologetic petulance, and even lurid inhumanity. Rewarding him with another opportunity is just an insult all around.

We expect nothing more from James Dolan–who deserves more run in conversations about the worst owners, and millionaires, in the world–but all the same, this feels gross and terrible. Setting aside a fan’s righteous indignation and debilitating lack of control, restoring Isiah’s power, in the shadows or elsewhere, also is a legal, moral, and ethical crime. He is employed by Florida International University as its basketball coach, yet he is currently working on basketball projects for another organization. I am sure his employer, his players, his recruits, and the parents to whom he must answer all are pleased to read how little they mean to him. So, too, must Donnie Walsh, who twists in the wind as the cuckolded Knicks president, love that his hard work and tireless commitment to prudence and propriety has been rewarded with such indifference, if not casual disdain. Were Isiah returning not inherently so awful, allowing him to run the Knicks and wage war against Walsh with the owner’s approval would make this entire story distasteful, anyway. There are few constants in the universe, but one of them remains that nothing involving Dolan and Isiah will ever be done appropriately, respectfully, or rationally.

Yahoo’s Wojnarowski : The Head Coach Of FIU Is The Knicks’ De Facto GM

Posted in Basketball at 11:32 am by

Perhaps even more chilling than Donnie Walsh being encouraged to turn the mooted Carmelo Anthony trade into the most lopsided swap since Dallas sent Herschel Walker to Minnesota are the claims of Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, who insists this entire affair has Isiah Thomas’ fingerprints all over it. ““Isiah is calling the shots for New York,” says one of Wojnarowski’s sources, while the columnist insists, “Walsh has never wanted to give away Raymond Felton for an aging Chauncey Billups and throw Danilo Gallinari into the package, too…this is all Isiah, all his influence.”

Eventually, Anthony will likely end up with the Knicks, and Thomas plans to take full credit with Dolan for delivering him. He’s worn out Dolan with the idea that Walsh is too old to recruit the biggest stars to New York, that he can’t connect with them. This is complete nonsense. What sells New York isn’t the GM, but cap space, the Garden and a magnificent teammate and leader like Amar’e Stoudemire(notes). Thomas is forever selling revisionist history and out-and-out lies to an audience of one: Dolan.

For months, Thomas has privately insisted that Walsh was done with the Knicks this spring. His option must be exercised by April 30 and that still hasn’t happened. Thomas believes it’s never happening, and believes he can install a puppet regime through Dolan to replace Walsh. This way he can eliminate the middleman. “He wants his own guy in that office, someone he can have some control over,” a league source said.

Thomas had a plan to run the Knicks again, and it failed a year ago: When Dolan pushed Walsh to bring back the disgraced executive as the Knicks general manager, Walsh reacted with the threat of resignation. This was pure lunacy, a plan hatched out of the incompetence of Dolan, out of the deviousness of Thomas.

Wojnarowski predicts that after leaving his team president to twist in the wind, Dolan won’t exercise a contractal option on Walsh, and a Thomas-selected successor will emerge. Even the most casual observers are aware Isiah’s already done incalculable damage to the Knicks’ reputation ; not only has this escaped Dolan’s notice, but if Wojnarowski’s reports are credible, the Cablevision heir’s continued relationship with the “Love & Basketball” fan in no mere matter of loyalty towards a troubled ex-employee. It suggests — not for the first time — that Dolan is mentally unfit to own an NBA franchise.

Blake Griffin Is The Carrot Top Of The Slam Dunk Contest

Posted in Basketball at 10:48 am by

All-Star Weekend’s Slam Dunk competition has been heavy on the gimmicks in the past, but Cedric Ceballoas’ blindfold or Dee Brown’s blatant plug for Reebok seem like modest gestures compared to the kitchen sink’s worth of props the Clippers’ Blake Griffin dragged out at the Stapes Center last night. Much as I’d hate to jump on a kneejerky anti-Griffin bandwagon, I think I speak for CSTB readers all over the globe in saying it would’ve been so much more impressive had he landed in the arms of Nate Robinson.

02.19.11

Lawrence : Knicks Are Chasing The Wrong Megastar

Posted in Basketball at 11:37 am by

With rumors swirling the Knicks — represented by owner James D’ohlan (above) rather than soon-to-be-free-agent Donnie Walsh — have offered Denver a package of Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Eddy Curry’s expiring contract for Carmelo Anthony, indications are the Nets’ own high stakes bid has come to naught. That’s bad news, writes the New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence — for the Knicks. “They’re still not getting very far in the playoffs this spring. Or in future springs,” Lawrence warns, while advocating a future pursuit of Dwight Howard. “You don’t outscore people on the road to an NBA title.”

Rest assured, there will come a point when D’Antoni is going to have to make the Knicks a more formidable defensive team. Can he do it? We don’t know, since it’s not exactly one of the first 30 entries on his coaching resume. But Anthony is the last player for the Knicks to trade for with that goal in mind.

“Carmelo is at his best when he is the fifth-best player on your team – look at the Dream Team,” the great Bill Walton said Friday at a press conference for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “That’s when he’s at his best.”

By going after Anthony, the Knicks are showing the impatience that was a hallmark of the years when Isiah Thomas ran the team. But Dolan and Thomas, a basketball brain trust if there ever was one, are consumed with Anthony. More than Donnie Walsh.

“Dolan’s going crazy to get this done,” said one team source.

Why, for more buzz? For more baskets for the Knicks? The Knicks are selling out, so ‘Melo can’t help the gate.

More to the point, ‘Melo can’t help, period.

02.18.11

Phil Mushnick, An Unlikely New Head Of G4′s History DIvision

Posted in Hockey, Video Games at 11:46 pm by

New York Post sports media columnist/conscience Phil Mushnick has long railed against hypocrisy amongst professional athletics’ leading lights on both sides of the camera, much as he’s long been a critic of simulated violence in sports video games.  However, in recalling a Sega Genesis game that was introduced in the year 1991, Phil has revealed himself to be a bit of a zippity-zappity trainspotter type. From Friday’s NY Post :

It’s tough to disagree with Penguins’ co-owner and legend Mario Lemieux. He condemned last Friday’s revenge-themed, fight-filled Penguins-Islanders game as “a travesty.”

“It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow,” he said, adding that the NHL failed to “send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport.”

Funny thing, though, one day the kids in the neighborhood dumped the Mario Bros. video games for “Mario Lemieux Hockey.” Just one look. They loved that video game. Not that they all were hockey fans.

As a “sideshow,” Mario Lemieux Hockey had a fighting mode — the kids could skip the hockey, click straight to the fighting mode. The Mario Lemieux video game even scored the fights, knockout punches to players’ heads worth the most.