published Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

5 at 10: NBA survival, Remember us when and Preds rewind

From the "Talk too much Studios" here we go...

  • photo
    Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) and Boston Celtics center Ryan Hollins (50) battle for a loose ball during the second half of Game 5 of an NBA first-round playoff series basketball game Tuesday, May 8, 2012, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 87-86. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NBA survival

The Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets staved off elimination Tuesday in the NBA playoffs. Couple-three points if you please:

— First, that 'stave' is a good word. Here's a quick list of enjoyable words: Stave, Mustachioed, Rancho Cucamongo, High-Falutin, Gubernatorial and Onomatopoeia.

— As our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer discussed this morning, the Hawks' effort was surprisingly inspired. And as Weeds discussed, the halftime commentary of Chuck Barkley was blistering. (It got to the point where Aaron Rodgers sent Chuck a Tweet, and Shaq and Kenny accused him of name-dropping. Shaq then asked Brett Favre to text him, to which Chuck mentioned that the last time Favre did some prominent texting, it did not work out so well. It was enjoyable TV all around.) That said, the Hawks are posers. Period. Al Horford is a good player and could be a piece on a championship team. Same with Josh Smith, if he'd ever realize he's not a perimeter player. Still, if your best player — your $100 million guy — is Joe Johnson can you win a title? And yes, Johnson is a fine talent, but know this: He has played 46 career playoff games and scored more than 30 points twice. Twice. And the Hawks made him their nine-figure bell cow.

— Kobe Bryant is a hoss. Period. Do we want him watching our kids? Heck no. But when Bryant gets his back against the wall and the Lakers need a bucket, dude delivers. And know this: Listening to his interviews and watching his body language, Kobe knows the window is closing. The West is going to be fun to watch with OKC, San Antonio and the Lakers fighting it out.


Remember us when

Has it really been 10 years since Allen Iverson's iconic, "We're talking about practice, PRAC-tice," rant? A decade ago and that clip seems as fresh as last fall.

Wow. Iverson is a former MVP who may have been the quickest cat with the ball in his hands ever. When he wanted to, he could get to the rim no matter who was checking him. That said, A.I. may forever be remembered for that rant — do-rag and all — above all else. Well, that and the fact that he blew through $150 million.

Iverson's anniversary got us thinking about the best interview blow-ups. Here's our top five (granted this does not include any and all Mike Tyson interviews since dude clearly deserves his own category):

1) Bobby Knight's game face routine

2) Mike Gundy's "I'm a MAN. I'm 40!"

3) Iverson's Practice

4) Dennis Green's "They are who we thought they are"

5) Herman Edwards' "You play to win the game"



Preds rewind

We discussed briefly the end of the Preds' playoff run Tuesday, and we concur with resident NHL expert Deboman that this was an opportunity lost for Nashville. So it goes.

We're willing to shoulder our share of the blame as a jinx — we were justly called out for turning a blind eye to the Preds' playoff success and then jumped on the bandwagon only to have it come screeching to a halt in the Western Conference semifinals. We're also willing to tip a cap to the Preds for making a couple of trading-deadline deals; we always appreciate teams that push their chips in and try to make a serious charge at a championship since you never know when the cosmic tumblers will align and offer another title run.

Mike Smith and Phoenix got hot at the right time, and that happens. But there appears to be a serious cloud of questions over Nashville right now. OK, let's discuss.

Goalie Pekka Rinne, a huge part of the Preds' success and a finalist for the Vezina Trophy given to the league's best goalkeeper, signed a seven-year extension last November. That's a very good thing.

Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, the Preds' best skaters, are facing free agency. Weber is a restricted free agent; Suter is unrestricted. Retaining that duo is paramount, especially if this group is going to to sustain any of the momentum built this season.

It's also fair to wonder how much coin can the Preds throw at Suter and Weber, considering Rinne's deal averages $7 million per year.

Plus, Nashville was 20th in attendance among the NHL's 30 teams this season. While that's not where the Preds brass wants it, it's still the best attendance rank for the organization in at least seven years. Could be an interesting off-season in Nashville, huh?

Side note: If you draw a line from the top of Tennessee across the U.S. of A., there are nine NHL teams south of that line. Seven of those teams are in the bottom 10 in NHL attendance. Just making a point. And that's not counting the former Atlanta Thrashers-turned-Winnipeg Jets, who ranked 25th in attendance despite selling out every game in a smallish arena.


This and that

— Claire Lomas finished dead last in the London Marathon, needing 16 days to complete the 26.2 miles. Lomas was in tears when she crossed the finish line Tuesday with an honor guard behind her and dozens of supporters cheering her every step. Lomas was paralyzed in a horse riding accident five years ago and completed the marathon in a bionic suit that helped her walk. Read more here Race organizers said that since Lomas did not finish the race in the day it started, rules dictate she will not appear in the official results or receive the customary medal given to those that complete the race. Mimicking the memorable scene out of "Rudy" when the Notre Dame team offers their jersey so Rudy can dress out in his final game, at least a dozen racers offered to donate their medals so Lomas could have one.

— Ryan Dempster should sue the Cubs for lack of support. Dempster allowed one run in seven innings Tuesday against the Braves and his ERA rose to 1.02. Still he's looking for his first win of the season after Dan Uggla's two-run, two-out single off Kerry Wood delivered a 3-1 win.

— Cris Carter admitted to being part of a pay-for-pain deal during his NFL days. The NFL better get a handle on this quickly. We'll have more this soon.


Today's question

Josh Hamilton is the best baseball player not named Matt Kemp on the planet.

Hamilton hit four homers in a game Tuesday night and could win a triple crown.

If you were Nolan Ryan, would you pay him the big bucks? Is his talent and production and his checkered history that included drug and alcohol addiction worth the quarter of a billion dollar risk?


about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
chas9 said...

Serendipity and schadenfreude and scatology. And is onomonopia similar to onomatopoeia?

Surely Ty Cobb had a blowup or two in an interview or two. And John Rocker had a classic moment or two.

May 9, 2012 at 10:21 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Schadenfreude is a nice call, and yes they are the same — not sure how ours got changed, but we have changed it back. Thanks.

As for Rocker, he's on the short list of most damaging interview of all-time. There with Al Campanis, Marge Schott and Mel Gibson.

— 5-at-10

May 9, 2012 at 10:27 a.m.
Todd962 said...

I would like to add tomfoolery and trigonometric to enjoyable words. Saying trigonometric very quickly is quite enjoyable.

All I can think of with Mike Gundy is blending his rant with Molly Shannon's SNL skit. "I'm a man! I'm 40 years old! I stretch and I kick! 40!"

Preds desperately need Weber. He has guys looking over their shoulders all over the ice. And every good hockey team needs that guy who will put your head through the glass for looking at him funny.

And this last one probably went with yesterday, but Cole Hamels may have been trying to keep it old school with his baseball plunking, but definitely violated an in house rule. If someone is going to need to knock the kid down a peg it needs to be handled from his own teammates. Nobody gets to beat up your little brother but you, nobody gets to haze our pledges but us, and nobody gets to check our rookie and get away with it. That rule transcends all things with rank in life. Tell Hamel to worry about his own rookies, the Nats can handle theirs.

May 9, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.
deboman said...

Nice job on the Predator rundown. Management will have some wheeling and dealing to do this offseason, resigning Weber and Suter should be at the top of the list. Suter could pose a challenge as there are a lot of teams that would like to lure him away. Weber is just a force- He’s got a cannon from the point, plus you’ve gotta love the WWE turnbuckle move he threw on Zetterberg in the first round. Will be interesting to see how both out. They finished the season with the most depth on their roster as they’ve had, so it should be a good starting point as they make their tweaks this offseason.

Did see where Jacob Bell came out and said that he was retiring over concern for his future health. With the mounting information on head trauma and after-football difficulties (Bell also mentions watching Coach Munchak hobbling around the practice field as part of his consideration), does this become more commonplace? Do we see players grab that first golden ring contract and retire at a younger age? What will the NFL do to address this new gorilla in the room and will it risk the possibiity that this new injury awareness could bring the NFL back to Earth with the rest of the sports world? (Not likely, but possible)

As for good words…one that really tends to roll off the tongue and have some impact at the same time is Phenomenal. Another is Malibu…not so much for the car as the view.

May 9, 2012 at 12:13 p.m.
dawg747 said...

Ten Cup: Playoffs! Did you say Playoffs! from the great Jim Mora. Bad interview that really hurt: Jimmy The Greek. Talking about breeding and I do not mean horses. As for Josh Hamilton it seems the dude is trying if not having corrected his life some but time will tell.

May 9, 2012 at 12:28 p.m.
chas9 said...

Mr. 962--Try saying Hoof Hearted (leftover from the 5@10 worst horse names list) fast, like you're calling the stretch run in a race.

May 9, 2012 at 12:40 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Mr. 962 —

Tomfoolery is nice.

And we concur on Weber. In addition to the enforcer role on the ice, he seems to be the glue guy in the room too.

Great point about the veterans on teams tended to their own rookies. As Boone said to Otter, "He can't do that to our pledges. Only we can do that to our pledges." If we pitched for the Nationals, Hamels would get one in the back every second at-bat from now though Christmas 2014.

As for his "old-school" excuses, doing something like that is old-school; telling everyone about it is definitely not old-school. In fact, telling everyone about it is so, "Look at me and see how old-school tough I want you to think I am" that it's as old-school as Dr. Phil, men crying and romantic comedies. It's as old-school as hair waxing and tanning beds.

Deboman —

Concur on Weber. And an enforcer in hockey is like a shutdown corner or an elite pass rusher in football — the defense is so much better because everyone has to have their head on a swivel to account for that difference-maker.

As for the head-injury thing, most definitely. In fact, here's saying it happens in both directions, too. Fifteen years ago, Dallas gave Troy Aikman a big-dollar extension despite being concussed (the verb concuss is a cool word, too) a few times. Would they do it now, knowing that one or two more and he may be done?

Malibu... the car, the town... or the rum?

— 5-at-10

May 9, 2012 at 12:44 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I propose that this week be Goobernatorial, in honor of the late George Lindsey.

If I'm Nolan (first off, I enjoy the better hairline I am suddenly gifted with, but I digress), I lock up Hamilton to a five-year deal with a sixth-year club option. They were telling a story on the Red Sox radio broadcast last night of how Hamilton, in a minor league rehab assignment, was challenged to hit a baseball off a tee over the 40-foot backdrop behind the center field fence 400 feet away.

He did it twice.

And the Hawks, as an organization, died many years ago when, with Mo and Nique already in the house, signed Reggie Theus. No knock on Theus, a fine player in his own right. But with three guys known for their proclivity to shoot first and ask questions later, much less pass the basketball, just how did they think that would work out? Wasn't Joe Johnson a Celtics draft pick at one point? (Then again, so was Joe Forte, I believe, and I thought he was going to be a good one. Oops.)

May 9, 2012 at 12:49 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Dawg747 —

Playoffs. PLAY-offs? Almost made the list. And great, Great, GREAT call on Jimmy the Greek. Dude was Madden before Madden and was cooked as soon as he said what he did.

We concur that Hamilton has turned his life around, and deserves to be commended on it. But with that out there — and the physical toll his body has taken — would you give him a 10-year, $200 million deal? He's great, no doubt, but he has a lot of miles on him — physically and emotionally — and will be 31 in 12 days.

9er —

Hoof Hearted... good times.

— 5-at-10

May 9, 2012 at 12:53 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Bad move by the Hawks for giving the max to Joe Johnson a couple of years ago. That might have meant he would have gone elsewhere, but so be it. He's a good player but not worth the max. Not then, not now.

You mention the Lakers like they're already in the second round. Yes, I think they're going to be advancing, but I learned a long time ago not to put the cart before the horse. L.A. should have finished their business last night at home but idiot Bynum had to run his mouth and inspire the Nuggets to play well. I didn't expect to see Mr. Artest (excuse me, Mr. Peace) during this series, but he could come back for Game 7 if Denver wins at home in Game 6.

I agree with the others that Jim Mora's "PLAYOFFS?" should be in the top 5 for sure. As for its omission from your list, "In my opinion, that sucked!" Classic.

May 9, 2012 at 1:29 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewly noted —

Concur on Joe Johnson and the max deal. JJ would be an excellent No. 2 but he can't be a No.1. Quick idea/second question: If you're the heat would you not send Dwyane Wade and a No. 1 to the Hawks for Joe Johnson and Josh Smith.

The Heat already have an alpha dog and adding Johnson is a great No. 2. Plus, if Josh Smith was in Miami, he and James Hardin would spend the next decade sharing the NBA's sixth man of the year award.

Fair point about the Lakers — and Kobe the longer this series goes the more it helps OKC, which gets to rest Perkins while the older Lakers keep working and fighting. But sweet biscuits and strawberry jam, a Lakers-OKC series, with the Mr. Peace-Hardin reunion, the Bynum-Perkins fight inside, and seeing whether Durant is ready to take Kobe's place as the NBA's offensive assassin, would be nice.

We respect your appreciation of Mora's PLAYOFFS?, but which one would it replace?

And remember we have not even touched Mike Tyson's glory or Les Miles' inspired circles of confusion.

From Tyson

— "I want to rip out his heart and feed it to Lennox Lewis. I want to kill people. I want to rip their stomachs out and eat their children."

— "I'm a dreamer. I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds."

— "I'm a Muslim, but I think Jesus would have a drink with me. He would be cool. He would talk to me."

— "I don't know man, I'm just going to fade into Bolivian."

— Quayle said the worst thing that happened to him was that he never trusted his own judgment. I said from now on I am going to go with my own judgment." (And yes, he's quoting and following the teachings of Dan Quayle. That'll do.)

— 5-at-10

May 9, 2012 at 1:58 p.m.
deboman said...

Malibu..that would be the town 5er, followed closely by the rum (which may infringe upon one’s ability to pronounce said word), and the car bringing up the rear.

Given the recent struggles of a certain someone wearing #5 in an Angels uni, GMs may not be so quick to try and wrap up players for so much cash in the extended contracts. As for Hamilton, it may go back to your previous days question of production over potential. Dude is rockin it right now, but what is the potential for that production to last; sounds like a 4-5 year pact w/ options (either team or player) would be prudent.

May 9, 2012 at 2:03 p.m.
chas9 said...

And in a special Oscar-worthy role, the Ali-Frazier sparring at their press conference.

May 9, 2012 at 3:03 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[Quick idea/second question: If you're the heat would you not send Dwyane Wade and a No. 1 to the Hawks for Joe Johnson and Josh Smith.]

Yes, PR fallout and any loyalty aside, I absolutely make that trade. Although I may have to send another player or two to the Hawks to make the trade legal under NBA rules. But I'd be willing to also part with a Mike Miller and/or Shane Battier to make that work.

Agreed about Harden and Smith sharing the 6th Man Award for the next decade in that long as Smith is coming off the bench. He may sulk if he's not starting for that team, but I think it'd be better for the team if he came off the bench and played starter minutes.

It's hard, but I'd take out the Herman Edwards rant to put in Mora's. The only reason is because Edwards doesn't really "blow up" in his rant because he's too nice of a guy.

"You don't just play it just to play it." Haha.

May 9, 2012 at 3:10 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Debo ("He got knocked the flip out" and that may be the 5-at-10's first "Friday" reference; it shan't be our last either.) —

Great point about Albert's struggles and how that may be the cautionary tale for monster deals. Here's saying the owners look for some sort of seven-year max on contracts in the next labor deal. (Granted owners' negotiations in those labor circles are simply an effort to save themselves from themselves, but still.)

And at what point does potential fade into expected decline. Hamilton's mashing right now, but his potential is being reached/maxed right now. The question of his potential is does he have the possibility of continuing to reach his potential.

9er —

Ali deserves his own category in the comedy category. This will be a summer time topic. Someone needs to start a list so we don't forget these.

Stewed Squash —

We can see Herm, and that'd be the one we would choose, but we have a soft spot for Hermie. He is the guy that ran back Joe Pisarcik's fumble that led to the creation of the victory formation in football. You can look it up.

And as for our trade idea — will never happen. Did you know that Joe Johnson is making more coin than Dwyane Wade this year? Did you know Joe Johnson is making more coin than LeBron James this year? Ouch-standing.

— 5-at-10

May 9, 2012 at 3:36 p.m.
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