Archive for May, 2012

Big night for conspiracy theorists.

First New Orleans — which until very recently was owned by the NBA — won the lottery, giving hope to a struggling franchise and new owner.

Then Miami defeated the Celtics in a classic overtime battle that was — depending on your geographical location, favorite color, political leaning, view on The Decision, upbringing, accent and tan — a well-called game that rewarded the aggressors or a disgrace to the game of basketball that was likely rigged by the former owners of the Hornets.

No sports league brings out the conspiracy theories like the NBA. People picture David Stern perched in his New York office, manipulating men and lotteries, officials and executives.


An awful post deserves an hackneyed headline. There. You’ve been warned …

The San Antonio Spurs make me feel bad about myself. And, yes, I’m aware that statement projects the emotional maturity of a 6-year-old.

What I mean is this: The Spurs have won 20 games in a row, including the first 10 of the ongoing NBA playoffs. It’s one of the best runs in recent years if not league history. They’re not pretty much killing it (#pmki), they’re entirely killing it and not trying to cover it up. (more…)

If I believed in jinxes I wouldn’t type this until after Wednesday night.

But barring some type of incident tomorrow night, I’ll have another winter hoops season in the books and the worst injury I’ll have suffered is a bruised ego. Well, the blisters on the feet returned, the same way they have since I was 10 years old. Big, ugly, bloody things that cover half my feet. But no sprains or tears, no concussions or breaks. Bad lungs and heavy legs? I can live with those, even on the trips up the court when it seems like I won’t.

In less than a month I’ll turn 37 and there were weeks this season when I somehow felt 47. It was the weeks when I felt 27 that kept me coming back.


Nothing like loading up the family truckster and heading out of town for the weekend to remind a guy that he’s not 22 anymore, no matter what the Instragram filter in his head (name: delusional) projects.

Said truckster is actually a maroon, Chrysler Town & Country. It has automatic sliding doors and stow-and-go seats. I used them both in getting precisely packed for a two-night trip to Minneapolis with my wife and two daughters, and got inappropriately excited about that. Strike one. (more…)

Welcome to the Memorial Day Weekend edition of The Tapes. It’s raining in New York. I’m working Memorial Day. Other than that, fun weekend. To the links:

* I just finished writing a story for the Saint John’s alumni magazine. It’s extraordinary stuff. And in the next alumni magazine, the extraordinary story will share space with other tales of Johnnies and will include little updates on successes, births and marriages. None of them will be as exciting as Ted Kaczynski – the Unabomber – sending in an update to Harvard for his 50th reunion. He listed his occupation as prisoner.

* The Yankees might be up for sale soon. Well, probably not, unless this barely sourced story in the Daily News is accurate, which the Steinbrenner boys says it isn’t. George paid $8.8 million for the team. What would it go for now? At least, what, $50 million, right?

* Staged or not, this Kyrie Irving commercial is so cool. The story is Pepsi was there filming a documentary on the “nephew,” which is why the cameras were there. But the action was legitimate. True or not, it’s a great video.

* You really don’t want to read anymore about the Kardashians, correct? Well, read this piece on the man in the middle of all of it, Bruce Jenner. Esquire’s Chris Jones tells the tale.”On the show, Jenner can seem emasculated, as though his testicles are in a jar somewhere, along with the rest of his former presence, this once-proud man drowning in a sea of estrogen and petty humiliations. He can seem that way because that’s essentially what he is.”

* TV here. Now, I know this is going to come as a shock to everyone, but I didn’t do a ton of reading this week. Was too busy working and gearing up for the first real road trip for our little one. Oy.
The destination: Minneapolis-St. Paul, which just so happens to be gearing up to the fifth edition of hip-hop festival Soundset on Sunday. The biggest names on the bill are Atmosphere, Lupe Fiasco, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon. But the lineup is incredibly deep and rife with quality indie acts. You can download a mix featuring every involved artist here. It’s free and legal.

* One thing I did read was about, well, reading. The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective took a look at the readability of sports stories and specific writers. The broad results: sports sections are easier to read than most, and Charlie Pierce uses more complex words than, say, Rick Reilly.
What it doesn’t answer: Is it good or bad to be readable? I think we can all agree that some pieces are smarter than others, but I’d argue writers can go too far in that direction. I’m not saying they should dumb it down – ideally, the daily collection is all over in terms of reading level. It’s just that operating in the middle is probably ideal … as long as that comes naturally. Forcing things in either direction isn’t good. At least, that’s what Captain Obvious told me.

Sad. That’s how I felt Wednesday night while watching the latest installment of a compelling mini-series called The NBA Playoffs. And it wasn’t because the Philadelphia 76ers, a rare mix of young, athletic and painful to watch, beat (or, rather, were less bad than) the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

No, the emotional part came prior to tipoff when a slim 36-year-old sporting a replica Lou Williams Sixers jersey, a backwards hat and more than one neck tattoo presented the game ball.

That’s Allen Iverson? That’s Allen Iverson – A.I., the Answer. (more…)

Yes, we’re going to talk about the Lakers again. We’re going to talk about them until we get this thing figured out. We’ll stay here all night if we have to. We’ll write 25,000 words. We’ll circumvent the salary cap with a shady deal that lands a 48-year-old Joe Smith. We’ll bring Magic out of retirement – again. But the Lakers will return to the top of the NBA!

Probably not.

But in the meantime, a pair of Lakers fans channeled their grief and attempted to figure out what went wrong and how it can be fixed. I filed from the home office in New York City and was joined by Mark Harming, a South Dakota teacher and fellow Lakers rube. On Monday night, as the season slipped away, we chatted about their demise on Twitter. On Tuesday, we emailed about what was next. I picture Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak doing the same thing, hopefully with better ideas than ours.

You can follow Mark on Twitter here. And you can read his writing on his blog, From the Couch…musings of the sports doofus. I thank Mark for his time. And now…save the Lakers!


When I was a kid and the Lakers’ season ended in defeat it was all over the moment CBS cut away from its coverage. The next day – or two days later, depending on how late the game ended – I would read an 800-word AP wrapup in the Mankato Free Press or Star Tribune. And that was it.

I was a little kid and alone and upset. My dad taunted me while my mom admonished him and comforted me. When the Lakers lost to the 76ers in a sweep in the 1983 Finals, I sat in a chair and spun in circles and cried while Moses Malone and Julius Erving celebrated. Why did Worthy have to break his leg before the playoffs? In 1984 I just went to bed after the Celtics took Game 7, in a series the Lakers handed to the dreaded men in green. Why didn’t Magic get a shot off in the final seconds of Game 2?


Some cereal was harmed in the making of this post.

Growing up in North Dakota, part of my elementary education included a certain amount of Native American history. While I don’t remember as much of it as I should, I do recall this: the circle is and was an important cultural symbol, exemplifying the life cycle (just to name one).

Turns out I’ve got the same kind of thing going on (sort 0f … maybe). Pretty much every day starts (life) and ends (death) the same – with cereal poured into a circular bowl, my personal dreamcatcher.

The consistency of consumption borders on OCD. My work day or overnight can be ruined without it, whether at home or on the road. In fact, I’ve been known to select hotels based on the availability of a continental breakfast, a strategy that has led me to bag a fair number of fleas. (more…)

Summer is officially underway at the SoDak branch of TVFury as school is out … just for the summer, Alice Cooper, not forever. Predictably, the number of weird police reports has spiked.

I witnessed a couple of skinny yahoos attempt to pull off the old “The Program” stunt where you lay down in the middle of a four-lane road. We breed geniuses by the bulk, in these parts.

And, now, in less dangerous news, The Tapes:

* There’s a new No. 1 on my list of best Justin Bieber stories. And, yes, that means I’ve read more than one meaning that I just might have Bieber fever. This one comes from Drew Magary, best known for his no-holds-barred work at Deadspin, and was published in GQ.
I’m not often a fan of celebrity pieces, especially those in which the writer interjects himself, but this one was wholly entertaining.

* Allow me to draw your attention to a pretty major and progressive project that is officially underway in Sioux Falls. Sanford Health, supposedly the largest rural, non-profit healthcare system in the country, broke ground this week on the Pentagon, a state-of-the-art facility at the center of a massive sports complex. The $19-million venue will hold nine basketball courts and aspires to become one of the premier training destinations in the country. The folks behind it have had meetings with David Stern and are modeling some elements after Tim Grover’s renowned complex in Chicago.
Their goal: To make it an offseason, training hideout for NBA players. Yes, in Sioux Falls. It’s going to be interesting to watch it progress.

* Fury here. Aside: What if the only NBA player who ever shows up to train at the Pentagon is Stiemsma? New York Magazine had its annual TV issue this week, but one of the other stories was on comedian Patrice O’Neal, who I was not that familiar with. But he was apparently the comedian’s comedian, and a guy other comedians were afraid of because his brutal honesty and devastating verbal attacks. O’Neal died last year after suffering a stroke.

* Charlie Pierce took on the high school team who forfeited a baseball game rather than play against a girl. I have a story about being run over by a girl while playing baseball when I was like six. (Note to self: Future TVFury blog post).

* For geeks and shut-ins: How to never lose at Battleship.