What’s Your Fantasy?

The following is a recap of events that occurred on the evening of Tuesday October the
17th, 2007 between the hours of 6pm and midnight. It’s a week to the regular season and
time for a fantasy basketball draft but my thoughts are all over the map. Due to various
circumstances of which you are about to read and the general craziness that is my life,
some of the following information will not be entirely accurate but is meant to give a
representation of the craziness that surrounds my life and my love for the game.

6pm – 3 hours to the start of the draft.

It’s raining, I’ve just lost half of my finger, I’m bleeding everywhere and have just
been dropped off on a street corner next to a seedy strip joint … Wait, that’s my
street …. The missing piece of the finger is still lodged on the door latch that took
it off on a couple of hours earlier when my friend Jodie and I were moving a couch out of
my place that I was giving him for his new apartment. So here I am helping my friend
move having taken the afternoon off work and my finger is hanging by a thread and The
draft is three hours away and I’m already late for a three-hour conference I can?t miss
that starts at six and ends at nine. Just the time my basketball fantasy draft starts.

6:30 pm – 2.5 hours to the start of the draft

I was all wet and smelled like I should after helping a friend move in the rain but still
managed to have a thirty second shower and hustle my ass downtown to miss nothing more
than the hosts wasting everyone’s time trying to figure out how to work a projector while
simultaneously pissing everyone off by with their cleverly contrived sales pitch. These
people want my money, but my mind is wondering to the players that?ll still be left in
the draft when I pick 11 of 12, ten or so minutes after nine tonight. Right now, I’ve
got Gilbert ranked at number eleven but I know he’ll go well before then but I figure
someone, maybe even two players in my top ten seeing as how I end up with the 14th pick
as well, will end up in my lap. I’ve got CB4 ranked fourteenth and would love to end up
with him for some home team lovin but I?ve gotta concentrate. This is a finance seminar
and equations and balance sheets are getting thrown around left right and centre.

7:30 – 1.5 hours to draft time

I’ve got algorithms and standard deviations staring at me, Jodie just texted me to see
if I?m coming back to help him paint later that night, my hand is bleeding through my
last band-aid and it looks like I definitely won’t be making it back to the draft on
time. Here I am trying to work out a calculation that I’ve got no idea how the guy at
the front of the room arrived at and all I find myself thinking about is what my top ten
were. I know it starts with KG, Kobe and Lebron but after that, I’m not too sure. I
know Yao, Dirk, Nash and Matrix are in there but the rest has escaped me and to make
things worse, this year I’m in a league with sports media members who obviously know
their stuff and have done their homework. I on the other hand have had absolutely zero
time to do any research and am going in with nothing but my memory of last season and a
bias for all things Raptor. Thank god for the www putting everything at your fingertips.
Better still, it looks like this thing may run late and I’ve had nothing to eat all day
but a shitty slice.

8:50 pm – Ten minutes to draft time

I’m in a cab heading home. I took off from the conference cause my hand is now
officially in pain and seeing as how it’s the ring finger on my right hand and I’m right
handed, I’ve gotten blood on my shirt in all the wrong places. It looks like I’m dressed
for Halloween and that is not for a couple more weeks. I also think the loss of blood
and surreal feeling of being in such a huge room with so many people discussing math
problems has made me feel woozy from university flashbacks. My phone’s ringing again
with Jodie on the other end wondering if I can help paint. I’ve been up since six in the
morning and the last thing I want to do is paint walls but that’s what friends do and I
promise that once my hand stops bleeding, I’ll try to make it over. I run up to my
apartment to apply pressure to my wounds and clean up the mess.

8:59 pm – 1 minute to draft time

My hand is now tightly wrapped up and as I stare at my hand feeling the blood flow away
from the stricken appendage……it hits me. The draft is on in a minute. SHIT, where’s
my computer! SHIT, why isn’t my Internet working! I thought this thing was supposed to
be my saviour tonight. DAMN. What’s my top ten? Will my pre-draft order work? I need
something to eat…

9:02 pm – 2nd pick, first round

I’m in, thank God. Check in with the commish, see what I missed. WOW, Lebron beat out
KG for the number one spot and I don’t think fantasy basketball will ever be the same.
The Big Ticket has had a stranglehold on that spot for like a decade so something’s gotta
be up tonight. Second pick is on the clock and I’ve officially got just under ten
minutes to get organized and get all my research done. Open up a couple of windows on my
Mac and check in on the league on the wire. Hogtown has made it. Finally. The baller
formerly known as The Kid goes number two bringing the world of fantasy basketball back
to normality but it wasn’t the same as we left it just a couple of minutes earlier.
‘Trix goes number three and Kobe goes four and Gil goes five so there goes my eleven.
Time to start digging into the numbers and fast.

9:12 pm – 11th pick, first round

Nash went six followed by Dirk, Kidd, Amare and Pau. I couldn’t be happier cause I’ve
got two of my top ten at my disposal and two of the next four picks. I opt for Yao
thinking this has to be the year he can play at least seventy-five games and be the best
centre in the L. Ladies and gents, knock on wood for me and for maximum points, rebounds
and blocks.

9:15 pm – 2nd pick (14th overall), second round

CB4 lands to me at 14 as planned. I call Jodie back after missing his last call and let
him know that I’m going to grab a bite, relax for a bit and enjoy my fantasy draft.

9:43 – 11th pick (35th overall), third round

Aside from a few picks that have been a bit of a reach and one guy insisting that he’s
got inside info that DWade is coming back to start the season (Ed’s note: DWade is back), I’m feeling
incredibly lucky, smart or stupid as T-Mac has landed in my lap. It occurs to me that
the guy hasn’t had an injury free season since he was a Raptor and never made it out of
the first round but something tells me, if this was any other year, he’d be a top twenty
guy so I take my chances and load up on H-Town. A couple minutes later I pick 2nd in the
4th round and grab uber-rookie Kevin Durant hoping that his 6’9, 180 Lb frame can hold up
for an 82 game sched. Then I look in the mirror and realize that I weigh like 175 and am
5’9 and realize 82 might be asking a bit much. Ah what the heck, lets roll the dice
anyway

10:12 – 2nd pick (62nd overall), sixth round

The wire is blowing up with everyone ripping on one of the teams for picking David Lee
about 100 spots before he’s projected to go and he’s defending himself like Lakers
defended themselves for picking Kobe over Shaq. We all saw how that one turned out but
part of me says this guy may have unearthed a gem. Still, I just got my first PG a few
picks earlier grabbing up Leandro Barbosa and am left trying to decide between Ginobili
and Kirilenko for my 6th pick. So I flip back and forth in my head and use the full
minute and a half to come to my decision. Do I take the flashy Argentine who just who’s
coming back from another brilliant championship season with the Spurs or do I go for the
Russian who played horribly for the Jazz last year then played out of his mind at the
Euros taking his country to an upset W over hosts Spain only to win tourney MVP and
request a trade out of Salt Lake. Granted I can’t blame anyone for wanting to get the
hell out of Utah but I still grab AK47 hoping that he’s in a better mood these days maybe
because he finally took his wife up on her offer for an annual ‘mulligan’. Besides, last
year he was taken in the top ten of my fantasy draft so he’s a great sleeper at 62.

10:53 – 11th pick (107th overall), ninth round

I’m just recovering from getting grilled for picking Ben Wallaace in the 7th round and
although I got some props for grabbing Jameer Nelson in the 8th, I really turned heads
when I grabbed Stephen Jackson with my following pick. Oh they all had jokes….Did I
think he was going to shoot at anyone while in Toronto visiting the Brass Rail? Would he
be the next Baller Ternt Rappa to ask for some time off to promote his album release?
Or would he simply incite another brawl now that he was on the most thugged out team in
the L? Oh , and incidentally it looks like he’ll miss just as many games as DWade with
his suspension for keepin it real…. oh and have you seen that tat? Nah, I just figured
he’d help me out in the three-pointer category where he’s been dropping bombs for a few
years now and has a ring with San An to show for it. Not to mention, I just like those
fuck the system kind of guys. I’m beginning to either look lucky, incredibly smart,
incredibly stupid or simply on drugs. I put that on the wire and one team responds by
telling me that he is ‘on drugs’. I think I’m gonna love this league.

11:12 – 11th pick (121st overall), eleventh round

The draft has been going on for over two hours now and Jodie’s blowing up my phone again
trying to convince me to get over there and help out as some of the other boys are
starting to lose some steam. I’m also a couple of beers in but not all that tired so I
tell him if he covers the cab there and back, he’ll have a painter for a couple of hours.
But before, I still have to make a pick and line up some picks for the last few rounds.
So I grab Ashton Kutch… I mean Kyle Korver to help Jax out with the three-pointers and
start to plan out my final few picks.

11:47 – Cab ride to Jodie’s

It’s been a long day and it’s not over yet. I’ve got some more beer, pizza and painting
in my near future but having excused myself from the last few picks and thanking everyone
for a fun night, I reflect. Although I’ve never met any of the people in The Charity
Stripe league face-to-face, spending a couple of hours online, joking about who was dumb
enough to grab Greg Oden, the merits as to why Tim Donaghey would’ve been an acceptable
ref even when convicted of fixing games and which Canadian sports station has the worst
coverage (Ed’s note: please see Rogers SportsNet); I thought to myself in that I just had some good fun with some new friends who like me, loved the game.

A few years ago, I would’ve never even bothered with a fantasy pool but today, if you are
not in one, you are the exception. It’s no longer acceptable to just be a fan of the
game but you’ve got to be a student of the box scores and storylines if you want to be
able to hold your own in these leagues. And sure, there may be some friendly wagering
and bragging rights on the line but really, I?d like to think it all comes down to the
love of the game and every guys fantasy of having his own team and choosing the players
who make it up. This game that has grown men sitting in front of their computers for 3
hours on a week night, hiding from wives and girlfriends and maybe even bleeding all over
their keyboard.

The things we do for love and friends. And to think, I didn’t get home until 2:30 am
that night but on the way home, all I could think of was who I ended up with for those
last few picks??? not the finger that I lost to amputation the next day.

(…. Ed’s note: I ended up with a team of Yao, CB4, T-Mac, Leandro, BWallace, AK47, KD,
Jameer, Stephen Jax, Ashton, Luis Scola, Juan Carlos Navarro, Bobby Simmons and Devin
Harris… oh yeah, and my finger was never amputated but I’ll bet just writing it there
got your attention didn’t it?)

Nash And Dalembert On The NBA All-Star Ballot

So the time has come again, when hoop junkies all over the world to exercise their democratic right to vote their favourite NBA players into the starting roster of the annual NBA All-Star game. Now, we all knew Nash was going to be on this ballot and he should be voted into the game. Dalembert, however, is not a 2 time MVP with a superstar aura nor does he play on a high profile team such as the Suns. Irregardless of that, Samuel played his heart out for the National team this year at the FIBA Americas Tournament resulting in a stress fracture which caused him to come out of the gate slower than he would have liked. He’s beginning to develop a respectable inside game while contributing considerably on the defensive end. His statline for this season has been very respectable:

31 minutes per game
11.4 points per game
2.7/5.9/8.4 Rebounds
2.2 Blocks
FG% 54, FT% 71

Give the man some love. It’s not about whether he gets voted into the lineup or not. As Canadian hoop fans, we have the luxury right now of rooting for a small contingent of players in the NBA. It’s very easy to be critical of sports figures, and we hold that right as fans. But I feel that if we put half as much energy in supporting players like Samuel as we put in chastising Jamal Magloire for his neglectful attitude towards the National team the sports community would be better off. Show some love for Sammmy.

Magloire has played sparingly in New Jersey due to the emergence of rookie Sean Williams. I don’t know exactly when the trajectory of his career started sloping downwards but it only seemed like yesterday when I can recall reading an article on Jamal in Slam Magazine talking about wanting to be a perennial All-Star.

Shaq happens to be one of my favourite public figures of all time. Seriously. Back before the handchecking and anti-Shaq rules came in, he possessed a super-human game. Those days have seemed to be a distant memory. I don’t know if he will get voted into the all-star game this year. Shaq fans are incredibly loyal but NBA fans also happens to have very short memories. As the futility of the Miami Heat becomes more evident game after game, I just hope that it is one step closer to Joel Anthony getting some non-garbage minutes. He has played 5 minutes total this season recording a board and foul. I’m seriously considering a Play J.A. movement. Mr.Riley, seriously, it can’t get any worse. You’re going to lose that fine slick back that you call a haircut if you don’t start winning games soon. Just tell Shaq that you want him to play 48 minutes the next game and get Joel Anthony some legit minutes.

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Tip-In: Toronto Raptors Post Game: Brutal

It’s amazing how much can go on in 24 hours. Lately work has turned my world upside down and it has been hard to find a spare minute. It was just yesterday AM that I told Franchise I would write the re-cap (much to his surprise) but that I would probably have to tape the game and watch it late night. At the time I was thinking there shouldn’t be much to write about anyway because the Raps should take this one in a walk.

During the day I pondered the significance of the Raps 1000th game. The final conclusion was two fold. The first was that although it was a milestone this was nothing that significant. Second, TSN in lieu of the 1000th game proved for the 1000th time that it should not becovering basketball (Matt Bonner on the All-time Raps team?!). Nevertheless, I figured I would talk about the easy win and how the Raps were really getting their act together.

Well a few things happened between then and now. The first event was that I was graciously offered courtside seats. I have never sat on the floor and this was an experience not soon to be forgotten. Some of the noteworthy activity included the lead singer of Alexis On Fire and his date Leah Miller (dead beat) the Much Music VJ looking like they would have had more fun pulling out each others fingernails then watching a basketball game, sitting near CB4’s girlfriend (seriously she must have called him “baby” 300 times over the course of the game and apparently had some inside joke with Josh Powell about muffins), and getting to listen to these guys talk on the floor. Hearing the guys trash talk and communicate while playing D is amazing although I have to mention that I couldn’t understand a thing Chris Kaman was saying….although no-one seemed to understand what that dude was talking about because I think cave-man stopped being an internationally recognized language 2000 years ago.

The other big change over the past 24 hours is that now I have to write about how the Raps soiled the bed against a weak and very shorthanded Clippers team rather than how they marched towards another victory. Right off the bad I have to say that this was a horrific loss. Just brutal and here’s why.

First, the Raps did a horrible job against Mr. Maggette. Early on it was clearly evident that the former Dukie had it going on and was feeling it. Yet nevertheless the Raps left Maggette open for easy shots and defenders were consistently late on their rotations. If you wonder why Raps fans dream about having Maggette at the three spot now you know why. Not only was Maggette feeling it from the outside but he got to the line 13 times! In the first half he couldn’t miss yet the Raps for some reason didn’t seem to think that double teaming his was a good idea. Mitchell did a poor job adjusting on this evening. But this folks is not why this was a bad loss…

Despite Maggette’s solid performance this game was actually won when he was on the bench. From the latter stages of the third quarter up to the 5 minute mark of the fourth Coach Dunleavy kept Maggette off the floor yet it was during this same period of time that the Clips went on their run. During this stretch the ageless one Cuttino Mobley and Al Thornton took over on the offensive end. Of course it’s not like Mobley or Thornton were unconscious. The run was the result of the Raps sticking to “Plan A”.

Ahhh…..Plan A. It can be described in two words – Jump Shot. Unlike the game against Miami the Raps were having a tough time finding their stroke and once again there was no Plan B. Having no Plan B is simply unacceptable. Despite numerous opportunities to tie or take the lead in the game late the Raps simply would not stop shooting from the outside. It was like the Toronto team was allergic to the rim. Possession after possession the Raps would jack-up a 15-20 footer to no avail. Meanwhile on the other end the Clips, in particular the aforementioned Al Thornton, were attacking at every opportunity. What made this even more frustrating was that the Raps had the Clippers in the bonus early on in the fourth. It wasn’t that the Raps had to get to the hoop and score, they just needed to get fouled.

I must ask, how does BC think this approach is going to work, in particular in the playoffs? This team clearly needs a player on the wing that can create his own shot and get to the rim. Objectively when you look at this team you would think that it would be Jamario Moon but for whatever reason he is hesitant to attack on a regular basis. I’m not sure if it’s because this Toronto team is a little soft, or whether it’s just a skill set this team is missing on the perimeter. Either way this needs to be addressed soon whether by trade or in the draft.

Now there are some positives to take from the game. To me the most refreshing thing to see was the play of Andrea on the defensive end. Quite to the contrary of what one poster believes Bargs did a fantastic job on this evening against Kaman. Despite the fact that Kaman had a double-double, down the stretch Bargs was solid against this much improved big man. He held his position, didn’t leave his feet and didn’t give Kaman any easy hoops. There is no doubt that Bargs, like many others, was guilty of settling from the jump shot, but seeing solid defense against such a solid player is a very good sign.

The other big positive was the return of TJ Ford to his home court. The crowd game his a solid standing ovation when he checked into the game. Ford was also solid in his 12 minutes of game action handing out 6 assists.

Last, a big props to Purolator and the Raps who donated 100 pounds of food to the Daily Food Bank for each rebound grabbed by the Raps.

Nevertheless it is hard not to have a bad taste in your mouth after this loss. In fact, it was not until after having completed this recap I realized I didn’t stick to our usual format. The loss really makes me question whether we are not destined for another first round loss. Even watching a rookie school CB4 down the stretch made me wonder what we can expect when the “second season” comes around.

If one thing is for sure it’s that this was a game that got away and in a tight battle for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs one that could come back to bite the Raps.