It was nice to be back in the Forum for a Grizzlies game, even if it was the first preseason game, which by all accounts is just this side of worthless. Indeed, the outcome is meaningless, but the performances were not. Here are some impressions of last night:
--First of all, can we PLEASE stop with the video presentations where the player/coach is looking at the ground, then looks up at the camera all pissed off and angry? Seriously, is there no other way to present an NBA player? Have we tried "smiling playfully, then looking at the sky" or "frowning slightly, then crying", or even "just looking straight ahead with a normal look on their face"? No, it's always looking down, then ANGRY FACE at the camera. If you haven't noticed this before, you will now.
--I echo Will Askew's sentiments about how embarrassing it is for the "Rollings Stones" and "Los Lonley Boys" to be advertised on the huge video boards on the scoreboard. "Rollings Stones"? It's not like the Stones are some two-bit local band, either. It's like saying "The Beetlez" are coming back, or advertising an "Ellton Jon" show.
--I hope this year we will see "Quick Change", "Leg Strength Guy", "Contortionist Chick", and "Unicycle Bowl Balancing Lady" all at least twice during halftime.
--We all need to take a long look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we're contributing to the downturn of the Mazola Moves Dance Hall of Fame. There's been an alarming rise in "Dancing Teenage Guy Who Lifts His Shirt" sightings, and it's just wrong. This segment should be about beautiful women, entertaining children, and fat guys embarrassing themselves. Not teenage shirt-pull-up guy.
--Always good to hear John Paul Stevenson's pipes.
--As far as the on-court performances go, I was very impressed with how well Damon Stoudamire and Eddie Jones integrated into the starting 5. The unit was very smooth, especially at the beginning of the second half, when a real commitment to defense helped the Grizzlies open up a huge lead over the Bulls. You can already see how important ball pressure and disrupting offensive flow is to these guys on defense, and it bodes well for the season.
--Pau Gasol had 11 bearded points and picked up 4 bearded rebounds in 17 bearded minutes of play. He also went to the free throw line 8 bearded times in those 17 minutes--he needs to make more than 3 bearded free throws, though.
--Bringing in Bobby Jackson off the bench is a real luxury for any team. He's a tremendous professional and a game-changer when his shot is falling, and he's always committed to playing defense. After the game, he told me that basically all they'd been working on for the last week or so was defense. It showed.
--Although there were many times where he looked out of position and confused, Hakim Warrick is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season. He had a couple of dunks that were just incredible, including one after the whistle had blown where he just exploded to the basket. He jumps so quickly--"springing" is the right term for it, I think. The problem comes because right now, he simply doesn't know whether he will be a 3 or a 4, and his court positioning can suffer because of that. It's early, though, and he'll come around.
--Antonio Burks did not look good at all. His shot was off, and he was far too aggressive on defense (he fouled out of a preseason game, for crying out loud). His decision-making was poorer than I expected too...he's going to have to get better, because he's got stiff competition for minutes at the PG position. Not necessarily from Anthony Roberson, though, because Roberson was WAY out of sorts last night. Apart from an early lay-up, he didn't give you anything.
--Kennedy Winston was better than anticipated. I don't know if the Grizzlies coaching staff expected him to perform as well as he has thus far. He's making things difficult for the coaches, which of course is not a bad problem to have.
--And where do I begin with Jake Tsakalidis? I don't necessarily blame Jake, because I know he wanted to go to Cleveland, where he would have played more, and I know he's not happy with things in Memphis. Fine. But when he entered the game, he immediately got dunked on, committed an offensive foul, then turned the ball over. All in like 2 minutes! I also would concur with a caller on our show, Aaron, who pointed out that women screamed and kids cried their eyes out when Jake Tsakalidis tried to lead the break with an "Andre the Giant-sized dribble" (which, of course, was immediately halted when a Chicago defender took the ball away). Jake isn't motivated, and right now, is a colossal waste of money.
--Playing 4 rookies and a second-year player is not a great idea, even in the preseason.
--Michael Sweetney looks and plays far too much like Robert Traylor to be any good.
--With Duhon, Hinrich, Deng, Chandler, and Gordon as a base, the Bulls are going to be solid for the next few years.
OK. Before I get out of here, I simply have to link to this (from the Signifying Nothing blog)--Coach O: "I have my Hummer, you need a Hummer--tell 'em about it, Jojo!"
It doesn't get any better.