A letter from the Spurs and a simple crime

Written by :
Published on : June 24, 2017

 

In 2004, the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Championship. They had an awesome squad featuring Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. I was 19-years-old at the time and it was my freshmen year of college. My brother and I were both living in Chicago and we watched every Finals game together.

 

The Pistons played a Lakers team featuring hall of fame talent in Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Peyton and Karl Malone. The sporting world didn’t think we stood a chance but Detroit won the series in a commanding 5 games. I can remember being at my brother’s apartment for game 5, I went to the fridge and saw Miller High Life. AKA the champagne of beers. Like champagne as in championship. I saw the golden bottles and got nervous. I asked my bro about it but he cut me off. As if to say, “don’t jinx it”. But we won. We drank those beers and it was one of the best memories I’ve have.

 

2004 pistons

 

Flash forward to 2005, the Pistons make it back to the NBA Finals, this time against the San Antonio Spurs. We’re talking Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen, Brent Barry, Robert Horry and Manu Ginobili. Plus a deep bench of quality players and the master, Greg Popovich, at the helm. This time around, Game 5 was a heart breaker. Robert Fucking Horry. No one guards the inbound man and Horry gets the ball back and sinks a huge 3 with just seconds left. San Antonio steals the game and ends up winning the series in 7. Destroying the hope of a Detroit repeat. Needless to say, I was salty. The Spurs were officially on my shit list.

 

Jumping forward again. It’s the summer after the Pistons lost to the Spurs. I’m home visiting the family in Michigan. My brother was also in town. He wants to take me out for a drink and starts listing off places he thinks won’t card me (I was 20). It’s Detroit, so the list is long. I silence this line of questioning by pulling out my flawless $75 fake Indiana Driver’s License. Complete with hologram. Which I bought from some shady kids in Chicago. The ID looked great because these guys had a real professional rig. They had a macbook, a scanner and even a printer. The forgery was made in photoshop so you could claim any info you wanted. I’m now 23 and an organ donor. It was a quality fake with my very own picture. More importantly, it worked everywhere.

 

My brother and I settle on local spot since I’ve got the fake. We roll in and meet meet my bro’s friend. We get drinks at the bar. Bartender asks for everyone’s papers. A quick glance and we all have beers. Cheers. A few rounds later and the social lubricant is glistening. A round of  whiskey shots to clear our heads. Then, I spot it. The letter. My blood boils. My jaw locks. And I just point until the crew notices. Finally, my brother glances over. His eyebrows jump, as he reads a few lines.

 

2005-Game-5-Robert-Horry

 

Now, I wish I had a picture of the letter but this was way back in 2005 and I didn’t get a cell phone until the next harvest. But even then, that camera was really, really bad. So let me just summarize. The letter was on official San Antonio Spurs stationary. It went something like this:

 

“Thank you so much for your hospitality during the Spurs 2005 championship run, we found the city of Detroit overall, to be very hostile, but your bar and restaurant was an oasis to our franchise. Blah, blah, blah. Slurp, slurp, slurp. Blah, blah, slurp, blah…”

 

After another round and tons of shit talk. We, as a group, decide that the local bar shouldn’t show off memorabilia of teams that beat us in the championship. Then, someone says “we should steal it.” I grab the frame and realize that it’s bolted down. As if this wasn’t the first time someone has tried to take it. Plan thwarted. For now. We keep scheming and we land on the idea that we cannot, in good conscience, leave this document in the possession of the bar. It’s our duty, to the city of Detroit and its fans.

 

Our plan goes into motion. All three of us working like a swiss clock. It’s straight, Ocean’s Eleven. I grab the frame and violently rip it from the wall. It makes an awful sound. An extra yank (yeah, I said it) and the letter comes free! And just like prison, I pass the contraband off to someone else (my brother’s friend). He takes the prize, puts it under his hoodie and bee lines for the exit. I walk the other way and disappear out the front like Keyser Söze. All while my brother sits and drinks from a lookout spot across the dining room. Genius.

 

keyser-soze

 

We lost the 2005 NBA Finals but we stole the Spurs stupid thank you letter. A real lost the battle but won the war scenario. Maybe now that Italian joint in the suburbs of Detroit will think twice before displaying their little love notes with the enemy. That should be the lesson here. Don’t sellout your city just to rub elbows with some celebs. It’s a trash move. And if you are going to do it, at least don’t brag about it or hang trophies of your betrayal in places I go drinking.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Bruno Tysh

 

 


Guardians of the Galaxy Play Sports

Written by :
Published on : September 19, 2016

 

The Guardians of the Galaxy started as a comic book but was not super well known. So the movie felt like it came out of nowhere and then just blew everyone away. I’d dare say it’s the best Marvel movie to date. The film is a mega-blockbuster because it’s super funny, well paced, and features a wicked soundtrack. The movie is just fun when so many superhero tales are so boringly serious.

 

The Guardians are fierce warriors. Some might call them space pirates. But pirate is a dirty word and we know Star Lord and team are good guys. They are not necessarily sports people but when they fight I can’t help but view them like a pro scout. And I see potential. Let’s breakdown the Guardians roster and see which sport would be the best landing place for each hero.

 

Groot

Groot

 

The living tree. Originally acted as muscle for Rocket Raccoon back in their bounty hunter days. Groot is tall, strong and resilient. For those reasons, he would be best suited to play center for an NBA team. Groot can take a lot of damage in the paint and keep going. His limbs can grow and stretch as needed and that will be straight unfair in basketball. Expect Groot to snag every rebound and be able to dunk from super far away, all without jumping.

 

Groot could be the next big foreign (alien?) star to storm the league. Think Yao Ming but taller and with better roots. His limited vocabularly will make press conferences tough but maybe he just needs to find the right team. Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs come to mind. Groot is the new Tim Duncan and speaks even less than Pop.

 

Rocket Raccoon

Rocket Raccoon

 

The genius engineer. Unfortunately, no pro game lets you carry a plasma weapon but Rocket is more than just a triggerman. You may underestimate him by his size and foul mouth but his ability to make split second calculations make his opportunities in sports almost endless. I almost want to say he could play QB in a no-huddle style offense but I think MLB shortstop is a better fit.

 

Rocket has the speed and instincts to read the action and track the ball for some insane catches. His superior brain power will aid him in making the right throws to the right places. And we all know the dude has a cannon. Think Manny Machado but faster and stronger. At the plate, Rocket will be more of an opportunistic hitter like Ichiro than a pure power cleanup guy. But make no mistake, you hang a meatball over the plate and he’ll turn your pitch into a souvenir from someone in the nosebleeds.

 

Drax

drax

 

The destroyer. If he could skate, then hockey would be perfect but I don’t think even Gretzky could teach him to glide. That leaves the obvious, football. Drax is an NFL middle linebacker. He could play any spot along the D line but having him as a free runner from the linebacker level would be devastating.

 

His play style would be similar to a Von Miller or a Clay Mathews. If those guys did steroids, in space and were completely mental. The biggest obstacle for Drax in the NFL would be himself. Pre-snap penalties. Roughing the passer. The fines and suspensions could really pile up if he isn’t careful. But let’s be honest, it’s probably a success if he doesn’t rip anyone’s arm off. The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly interested.

 

Gamora

Gamora

 

The assassin. Gamora is an expert in hand-to-hand combat and has the precision of a neurosurgeon. This mastery of coordination will play perfectly in the world of soccer. The green goddess would make a stellar attacking midfielder in the spirit of Zinedine Zidane. She has the endurance to cover the entire pitch and the speed and athletic prowess to win possession over any opponent.

 

Gamora would be instantly famous for her Messi-like passing ability but it’s her skill in the air that would make her legendary. Simply unguardable on set pieces. A corner or free kick is a guaranteed goal with her roving the field. Like Drax, the only limitation to Gamora’s futbol success is Gamora. If she gets bored with winning, we could see her leave soccer for UFC or something even wilder.

 

Star-Lord AKA Peter Quill

Starlord

 

The unlikely hero. Quill is charming and quick witted but tougher than his attitude suggests. He is the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy so a team sport seem like a good bet. That may be true but he would really shine as a NASCAR driver. He’s already a great pilot and he has the one thing all good drivers need: confidence. Hell, confidence might be his super power.

 

Star-Lord drives with no fear and would be Sprint Cup champ in no time. His racing persona is strange mix of Dale Earnhardt and Ricky Bobby with a little Michael Jordan for good measure. Quill would shatter any and all records. And this is without Rocket’s help under the hood. Plus he’d do it with a smile and a snarky comment.

 

Each member of the Guardians is fast and strong. They all have skills that cross many athletic disciplines but the key is to find the best fit. Do you have a better idea of what sports these superheroes should play? Let us know in the comments.

 

Intergalactic planetary.

 

 


Farewell, Tim Duncan

Written by :
Published on : July 13, 2016

 

 

Sometimes you have to recognize greatness. This is one of those times. Earlier this week, Tim Duncan announced his retirement from the NBA at the age of 40. He played 19 seasons, all with the San Antonio Spurs. He walks away as a 5-time Champion, 3-time Finals MVP, 2-time league MVP, and 15-time All-Star. The boy from St Croix who dreamed of being an Olympic swimmer before Hurricane Hugo destroyed the pool and dashed those hopes, leaves the game as the best power forward to ever grace a basketball court.

 

The Big Fundamental leaves the game as one of only three players to have 1,000 wins in his career and one of four players to rank in the top 15 in career points, rebounds and blocks. He played the game his way. The right way. Not always with a ton of flash, but always with class. As the Western Conference got younger and quicker and flashier around him, he continued to dominate. Even as he aged into his late-thirties.

 

 Will there ever be another quite like Tim Duncan?

 

His partnership with Gregg Popovich is one of the most successful player/coach relationships in the history of the NBA. Duncan believed in the system in San Antonio and led his teammates by the example he set on the court. And because of that, they were competitive every single year of his career. They never missed the playoffs while he was there, even as the cast around him changed. If that isn’t a testament to his talent and determination then I don’t know what is. While in San Antonio, he accumulated 157 wins, good for 2nd all time, and his 164 postseason double-doubles are the most in the history of the NBA.

 

But he never bragged about any of it. Never let the world know that he was the best at his position ever. Because he didn’t need to. Tim Duncan let his play do the talking. And because his game was so good, it spoke louder than any words ever could. He was as humble as any star athlete I’ve ever seen. He’s the kind of guy that any coach would love to have. No drama, no trash talk in the media, no stress. Just wins.

 

Tim Duncan is one of the few players that didn’t play in Detroit that I have an unending admiration for. As evidenced by his Finals MVP that year, he was one of the most important parts of the 2005 Spurs team that stole the back-to-back opportunity away from my beloved Pistons, and even though I harbored resentment against him for a while, I was at the same time awe-struck by him. His hardworking demeanor was the kind of thing we love in Detroit and I can’t help but be jealous that the Spurs got to have him all to themselves for all those years.

 

 I’m still sad about 2005, but I’ve got to give it up to Timmy.

 

Nothing lasts forever, though, and regardless of the fact that Tim Duncan helped lead the Spurs to a 67-15 record last season, the best in franchise history, it was time to move on to the next chapter. For him and for us. His 19 years with the same team is second only to Kobe Bryant’s 20 years with the Lakers, with one major difference. Tim was good for each and every one of them.

 

The Spurs organization should be thankful. Spurs fans should be thankful. NBA fans should be thankful. All sports fans should be thankful. Thankful for the fact that Tim Duncan was scared of sharks, and wouldn’t practice with his swim team in the ocean. If he had faced his fears we all would have missed out on a hall of fame beast of a power forward. Thank you Tim Duncan, for showing me that sometimes if you avoid your fears then the entire world wins. So long, number-21. You shall be missed.

 

 


Thunder Bounce Spurs

Written by :
Published on : May 12, 2016

 

 

The Oklahoma City Thunder won the all important game 5 on Tuesday to take the series lead 3-2 over the San Antonio Spurs. Game 6 in OKC saw the Spurs battling for their playoff lives. This is a team that many picked to win it all. But the Thunder would not be denied in front of their home town crowd. They went up early and held off a valiant comeback to secure the big win, playing like they truly understood that a game 7 back in San Antonio was too dangerous a proposition. Oklahoma is now headed to the Western Conference Finals where they will face the Golden State Warriors. But before we get into that, let’s examine the details of their series clinching win in game 6.

 

The stars shined

thunder KD 2

 

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook look like the best one-two punch in the league. Durant had 37 points, 9 rebounds and hit all 12 of his free throws. Westbrook had 28 points, 12 assists and was also a perfect 6 for 6 from the line. If you are going to win then your best players need to come up big and that’s exactly what happened. There were many times during the past where this duo has not always meshed together. But no longer. They are sharing the ball and forcing opposing defenses to pick their poison. Double one star and the other will gash you. Try and lock down both and you leave super easy buckets for the other starters. If KD and Russ keep up this pace then they have a legit shot at a title.

 

Spurs showed their age

Beyond Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs seemed just a bit slower. Tim Duncan wasn’t much of a factor until too late and Parker and Ginobili weren’t creating as normal. Ibaka’s block on Duncan’s slam late in the 4th was a telling moment. Maybe we are finally seeing the end of this power trio that has dominated the NBA over the last decade. San Antonio is a powerhouse organization and they will retool as needed but the vets of the Spurs were no match for the young guns of the Thunder. I could see coach Popovich and company recruit another all star in the offseason to join Leonard and Aldridge. This could be the new ‘Big Three.’ Only time will tell. Either way, hats off to Tim Duncan, a class act and an all-time great.

 

Thunder role players stepped up

THUNDER SPURS BASKETBALL

 

Adams, Ibaka and Roberson all had big contributions on both sides of the court. Each time OKC needed a play, there was a block, steal, or offensive rebound that kept the Thunder playing with a lead. It’s these extra possessions and baskets that make the Durant and Westbrook team so lethal.

 

Now the Thunder move on to meet MVP Steph Curry and the red hot Warriors. If Oklahoma is to advance to the NBA Finals then they need to aggressively guard the three point line and keep their foot on the gas pedal. I expect some high scoring games with the league’s best on display. This could be KD and Russ’ last series together as Durant may walk in free agency. The ‘last ride’ theme is fueling this squad and they have all the tools needed to claim a trophy. I truly like this Thunder team and I would enjoy seeing them win a title but I just can’t pick anyone to beat Golden State with a healthy Steph.  

 

 

Warriors in 6.

 

 


How to Swat Away Tanking in the NBA

Written by :
Published on : July 10, 2015

During a recent podcast by the website fivethirtyeight.com, the show hosts asked fans to submit solutions to the notion that the NBA draft structure is broken which is leading to struggling teams “tanking.” I was very intrigued with this article, being someone who agrees with this belief, and judging by the nearly 7,000 responses on the website, many fans out there also believe the NBA needs to address this potential problem.
Before divulging some of fivethirtyeight.com’s favorite responses and sharing my solution to help prevent tanking, first let’s answer the question what exactly is tanking? The biggest misconception in regards to “tanking” is that it is when teams are deliberately trying to lose. Well, that isn’t exactly the case. After all, it wouldn’t be too hard to spot if on a yearly basis a few teams were all intentionally throwing games. Instead, tanking is essentially when a team doesn’t do everything it can to win, and then doing that for an extended period of time.
Now, the latter part of that is huge. Any game where a team rests a star player or two shouldn’t send up a red flag for tanking. For example, Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, is known for, and even has even been fined for resting his trio of stars on occasion. While he runs the risk of losing that game, it’s to his team’s benefit during the season that his trio of veterans get the rest they need to make deep playoff runs. His five championship rings over the past fifteen years can also remove any doubters of his strategy I’d say.
Instead, the evidence of a team tanking is generally found near the bottom of the standings where a team has a strong chance at landing a top pick in the following year’s draft. In recent years especially, the NBA drafts haven’t been very deep with talent so teams, especially the smaller markets who struggle to land marquee free agents, are desperate to land a top pick.
The main problem I have with tanking is that it is disingenuous to the supporting fan base. Consider a family of four taking in an NBA game for a fun family night out. Estimate maybe around $100 for tickets, another $10-20 for parking potentially, the rising costs of food and refreshments, and you’re looking at around $150 to take your family out for a game. Obviously a win is never guaranteed, so the least your hometown team could do is give you their 100% effort to win the game for you, right? Unless, of course, franchises let fans know ahead of time that they have given up on trying to win games, and are instead looking to improve their draft picks all at the risk of losing all revenue from ticket sale…yeah, didn’t think so.
Fivethirtyeight.com’s only ground rules for this contest were that the fan’s proposal had to be viable, understandable and as they put it, “cool.” Otherwise, everything was fair game, so here’s a quick look at some of the top responses.
An idea titled “The Tombstone Date” suggested the amount of lottery balls a team receives will be determined by “Elimination Wins.” The author of this proposal defines Elimination Wins as victories that occur after that team has officially been eliminated from playoff contention. That day would also be known as that team’s Tombstone Day. Whichever lottery team has the most Elimination Wins after their Tombstone Day, receives the most lottery balls in the upcoming draft.
Another idea called for a lottery playoff that would immediately follow the regular season. At the end of the regular season, teams that made the playoffs will receive a week off to mentally and physically prepare for their first round opponent, while the fourteen teams who missed the playoffs will partake in a single elimination tournament to decide who gets the top picks in the draft. The top two teams would receive a first round bye, and the winner of the tournament would receive the top pick while the runner-up received the second pick. The rest of the lottery would be determined by regular season win totals giving the incentive to still win as much as possible in the regular season.
Perhaps the most thought-provoking idea, and the chosen winner by fivethirtyeight.com, was one termed The NBA Futures. In this proposal, we disregard the fact that teams own their draft picks all together, and instead, teams own stock market-style futures on other teams. In other words, teams would get to predict other team’s finishing position and therefore get that team’s pick as their own. So this year, the Minnesota Timberwolves hold the number one pick, if they wished to do the same next year, they would have to correctly guess which team would finish in the bottom next year.
I thought all of these ideas were creative, and all would hypothetically help to make even the worst of teams fight until the bitter end of the season, which as a fan, is all that we really ask. My idea was a much simpler plan, but perhaps still would be effective. The premise of my idea is very similar to what is used often in professional soccer leagues overseas known as relegation. With this rule, the bottom few teams in a league get kicked out of the league, and sent down to a lower tiered league the following season. On the flip side, the top three teams in the lower league then move to a higher tiered league to replace them. The perk here of course is while the top teams are fighting for the league title, the struggling teams near the bottom are fighting just as hard but just for them to stay in the league. Obviously from a franchise standpoint, the higher the league you are in, the more money you make from things like sponsorship and ticket/merchandise sales, and then thus the likelier you sign better players, and ultimately win games.
Now, my idea of relegating teams of course wouldn’t fall into the “viable” category which fivethirtyeight.com required because here in the United States, we don’t have any other professional basketball leagues that could compete with the NBA, so I tweaked it a bit. In my scenario, the bottom three teams wouldn’t get relegated out of the league, but instead would be relegated out of the lottery itself, and would instead automatically pick 12th, 13th, and 14th in the upcoming draft. The remaining eleven teams would make up the lottery and the lottery balls would be divided amongst those teams in a similar fashion to how they are currently distributed in today’s NBA Draft Lottery system.
My thought is, usually when you question how many teams are tanking in the NBA, it’s only a few. Sixteen of the league’s thirty teams make the playoffs to begin with, and there’s always a couple teams in each conference vying for the playoffs so they’re also not tanking. That typically leaves just a handful of teams that can see the writing on the wall and therefore know their season is all but over well before the rest of the league. However, those teams will want to win as many games as possible to stay out of the bottom three. Directly from that, teams that are just above those bottom teams, won’t be able to sit comfy either knowing the teams below them still want a shot at the number one pick.


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