Archive for the ‘Basketball’ Category

A Championship In Pictures

Mavs win

Dallas Mavericks: 2011 NBA Champions
Game winner

Game winner
Mavs are tight

Through thick and thin
Emotional

An emotional Dirk leaves the floor
Dirk and his new bud

Dirk and his new bud
Hero

Hero

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One More Win

Some dudes in blue

Just like 5 years ago … I write this entry from Game 6 in the NBA Finals. Right now, the commentators are discussing the two teams as they do the pre-game shootaround. My favorite team, the Dallas Mavericks (surprise), are once again facing the Miami Heat.

This time, the game is in Miami.

This time they are up 3-2.

This time the Mavericks could win their very first championship.

Ok, tip off is happening NOW … here we go! ONE MORE WIN!

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Pause To Reflect

Dallas Mavericks: Western Conference Champions

Once again, I’m living through actual, real, honest-to-goodness magic at the moment. The Mavs are (amazingly/astoundingly/miraculously) in the NBA Finals again. And, just like 5 years ago, everything is happening so fast it’s still hard to fathom, let alone believe.

The stage is the same. The feelings of equal parts joy and anxiety are similar. The foe (crazily enough) is also the same in the Miami Heat. However, there are two very noticeable differences this time around.

Well, I have to admit that there didn’t seem to be any realistic chances we (I’ve been a fan of this team for 8 years now – and we’re talking hardcore fandom – so give me a break when I use the goddamn “we” bullshit) were going to make the finals this year. Three of the top 7 players in the league (according to my old evaluation methods at NBA Sim) successfully hijacked the league after conspiring to play together on the same team. This was absolutely unprecedented in the history of the sport and I felt the deafening destruction of the Mavericks’ championship aspirations before the season had even begun.

Then things got worse.

Savior-of-the-season, Roddy Beaubois, was injured in preseason and didn’t play until 3/4ths of the season was over. And then he was so out of game shape he stopped playing altogether! Next, Dirk went down for 9 games, sinking the Mavs’ excellent start. Finally, Caron Butler, the second-best player on the team suffered a season-ending injury right after Dirk went down. That, added to the fact that so many other teams (Spurs, Lakers, Chicago, Heat) started to look utterly dominant and I began to brace myself for finding victory in smaller, less-championshippy things.

The absolute lowest point of the year was right near the end. The Mavs and the odorous Lakers were tied in wins and vying for the second seed in the playoffs. I felt it was critical that the Mavs win since I believed the defending champion Lakers to be vastly superior and we’d need every advantage – including the home court advantage that came with the higher seed – we could clutch. Well, in that deciding game, the Mavs were defeated. No, humbled. No, demolished. It was a bloodbath. Mavericks were ejected, losing their cool, and I could see the writing on the wall. Other teams started to lick their lips and publicly hoped to face Dallas in the postseason. We’d make the playoffs, sure, but now it seemed a question as to WHO would get to kick our ass.

But then we started to win!

We won after the upstart Blazers made it a series with a miraculous Game 4 comeback. We won against the Lakers – sweeping them 4-0 in a beautifully brief series. We won against the heralded Thunder – who’s average age was 10 years younger than the old-in-the-tooth Mavs. Jason Kidd – aged 38 – played like he was 28. Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic couldn’t miss a 3-pointer. Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler provided some much-needed (and never-before-seen) athletic defense. Dirk was Dirk but was so much Dirk that the nation finally started paying attention.

Well, we won our second trip to the finals and now it’s up to us – the old team of “also-rans” and “never was” – to take down the usurpers and exorcise the ghosts of past playoff failures. This time, however, I’m not going into this one so brazen – not so sure of myself. Those two differences I mentioned earlier are keeping me grounded. I’m amazed we even got here in the first place and I know it’s way too early to celebrate – I’ve earned some valuable wisdom in those 5 years of losing. Can we succeed?

Quote Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavs, after winning the Western Conference Finals: “We ain’t done yet!”

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Comments:
  • Shelby
    Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 at 16:01 | #1

    Let us pray. Oh Lord, give Stanus the strength to endure the unendurable, bear the unbearable and accept that Your will be done in Miami as it is in Dallas. Amen.

    Go Mavs !!!

The Incredible

Just some duded visiting Los Angeles

I’m a few days late on this due to being busy but I wanted to quickly check in. I want to admit here that I thought the Mavericks would win 1 game in their series against the Los Angeles Lakers and then their season would be over. I don’t know if I would be satisfied with that result, but I’d understand since the Lakers seemed to be the better team.

Oops … the Mavs punked the Lakers and swept them in 4 straight games! Holy shit! I’m not going to be too descriptive or interesting but I’d just like to register my enthusiasm here. Onto the Western Conference Finals!!!

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Poise And Presence

Old ballas

Nice to see my boys in blue win a damn playoffs series! Even though the Mavs were the second seed in the western conference, 4 out of the 5 Yahoo! experts picked their opponents, the Portland Trail Blazers, to win. And 6 of the 12 ESPN experts picked the Blazers, as well. What the hell, guys?

Well, fuck you! The Mavs move on to face … the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers. And though we’ll probably get our asses kicked, I’m happy to experience a series win again!

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Breaking News: It’s 2011

New Year's drunks

Photo © 2010 Cassie Melnikow

Well, in case you haven’t noticed it’s a new year! As usual, I’d like to give my fond farewell to the 12 months that just left us by wrapping up the best and worst shit I experienced during it. Instead of making one of those Feature websites, though, I’m keeping this thing to just a small post. This one’s been wanting to come out for a couple weeks now. I finally put in an hour and knocked it out. Enjoy (or don’t)!

Albums
Best: Elton John & Leon Russell – The Union (2010) – Dad actually turned me onto this one and I begrudgingly played it at work as I had nothing else to listen to at the moment. I liked it upon the first spin, but it wasn’t until the second and third listens that I truly appreciated it for what it was – a showcase of fantastic, solid songwriting from top to bottom.
Runner Up: Kanye West – Late Registration (2005)

Worst: Avenged Sevenfold – Sounding The Seventh Trumpet (2001) – I wanted to give some more modern rock a chance and Avenged Sevenfold was somewhere on the list. Unfortunately, Random.org picked this album for me. Well, “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet” has to be a joke. Bad screaming, amateur “melodies,” and noticeable mistakes on an album filled with way-too samey-sounding songs.
Runner Up: DMX – Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998)

###

Basketball Games
Best: Atlanta Hawks vs. Dallas Mavericks (2/26) – A phenomenal, triple-overtime game with two near-equal opponents – in the Top 5 of all games I’ve ever seen! Jason Kidd had a monster game, leading the Mavs back from down 15 points with 8 minutes to go. At one point, the crafty Kidd even ran into Atlanta’s coach, who had stepped onto the court. The result was two free throws and possession. I’ve never seen that ever! Wild, wild game.
Runner Up: Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets (3/29)

Worst: Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers (1/30) – Mavericks lose to an injury-decimated Blazers team who were on the tail end of a back to back. Ugly game that didn’t need to happen.
Runner Up: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks (1/3)

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Books
Best: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner – Freakonomics (2005) – I’m only going to do the best book of 2010 since I read just six and pretty much liked them all. Freakonomics just wins over Sex, Drugs and Coca Puffs as I appreciated the similar passion behind it that I see in my own NBA Sim projects. Eye-opening book, even though I wish they went a little deeper into the statistics and research of each essay.

###

Comics
Best: Infinite Crisis (2005-2006) – Just like the books section, I only read 6 new comics this year and pretty much enjoyed every one. The best was Infinite Crisis which is a sequel to the legendary 1985 Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline. What’s great is that the sacrificial protagonists from that first book become the villains in this. Great, though dense read and fantastic artwork.

###

Live Shows
Best: Kramer’s Reality Tour (1/2) – Ever since Seinfeld did the episode on Kenny Kramer’s reality tour I have always wanted to do it and 2010 was the year I finally did! Brandon, Steve, an unnamed officer, and I braved the chilly weather in January to board a bus hosted by the inspiration behind Kramer and see … a couple of places Larry David referenced in his show. To be honest, this wasn’t the most electrifying thing I’ve ever been a part of, but it was unique and spent with a couple of Seinfeld-obsessed friends so this one takes the cake.
Runner Up: Promises, Promises (7/30)

Worst: Next To Normal (7/24) – Went here with some friends who came up for the weekend. Usually, I’m not a big musical fan – the acting is over the top (as it has to be to convey to a giant room full of people), and the music is usually sub par (emphasis on advancing a story in the lyrics over interesting musical ideas). Well, this one was also way too melodramatic as multiple scene cliffhangers ended in Full House-style with someone running to their room crying. Ugh.
Runner Up: Comic Strip Live (6/5)

###

Movies
Best: For A Few Dollars More (1965) – Obviously, everyone is pretty familiar with the awesome The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, but I didn’t see the first two installments in this trilogy until this year. And, wow, good shit! Tons of style, great characters built from very little background, and it’s just very entertaining watching each of the three camps trade the upper hand the whole time. Highly recommended.
Runner Up: Platoon (1986)

Worst: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) – I saw the original Mortal Kombat movie when it came out during the summer of 1995 and loved it. Upon successive viewings, it doesn’t hold up all that well. Still, I had always wanted to see the sequel just due to the nostalgia surrounding the first movie. Well, as I’m learning more and more, decisions based purely on nostalgia usually turn out to be terrible ones. I was cringing in the first 5 minutes of this movie and only managed to sit through the whole thing as a challenge of endurance.
Runner Up: The Expendables (2010)

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Restaurants
Best: Swig [Bar] (3/26) New York, NY
I’ll keep this category brief and only mention the best place. Swig is a bar located just blocks away from our place and is a great place to grab a drink with visitors. The atmosphere falls right in between a dive bar and an upscale bar – perfect for this comic book reader in old man clothes!

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TV Shows
Best: The Civil War (1990) – I recall watching a few episodes on video while staying at my aunt’s house sometime around 1994 but I didn’t seriously pay attention until I got these through Netflix this year. Wow. This series is 20 year old and it’s still breathtaking – the production values are incredible, it’s both educational and entertaining and, most impressively, it makes the entire setting of the 1860’s come alive. Now, I can’t wait to get through Ken Burns’ Baseball.
Runner Up: Sober House: Season 2 (2010)

Worst: Amazing Stories: Season 1 (1985-86) – This was a series I remember watching a few episodes of back in its original run when I lived in Long Beach, California. I’d never seen it since so I only had a few, hazy memories of it. Unfortunately, those memories weren’t very illustrative of the entire show. The episodes I remembered were alright … everything else was garbage.
Runner Up: Celebrity Rehab: Season 3 (2010)

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Video Games
Best: Heavenly Sword [PS3] (2007) – I have a giant list of games I need to get through and to make sure I actually play all of them, I’m going in chronological order. So, I finally got around to the crop of games that came out right around the time the PS3 first debuted. Heavenly Sword was one of these and was spectacular. Interesting fighting gameplay, a gripping story, and the best acting I’ve ever seen in a game, it also was relatively short (about 9 hours). Great, great game.
Runner Up: Bully [PS2] (2006)

Worst: TitanWars [iPhone] (2010) – Gotta be honest: I don’t remember a thing about this one. I was in a phase of downloading a bunch of random, free iPhone games and these two were pieces of shit that lasted less than a day on my phone.
Runner Up: Bowman Attack [iPhone] (2010)

###

Video Game YouTubes
Best: Metal Gear [MSX] (1987) – Video games are, and have always been, a huge hobby of mine but I’m finding that I have less and less time to play all the games I want to. So, to satisfy this demand I’ve grown to love watching people beat games on YouTube. Anyway, this game is NOT the one for the NES – it’s the original one for the Japanese MSX system that the NES version was based on. Fucking awesome game, especially impressive for 1987.
Runner Up: Ultimate Spider-Man [PS2] (2005)

Worst: Brawl Brothers [SNES] (1993) – A lot of the games I watch on YouTube are old games that I either don’t have the equipment or patience to play. Brawl Brothers was a game my brother and I rented some weekend back in 1993 and never beat. As such, it was one I had to see again. Mistake – this thing is boring and shows how far games have come in 15 years.
Runner Up: Splatterhouse 2 [Genesis] (1992)

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Zoggin’ Again

My disgusting Zog shirt

© 2010 Stan Syckes

Another season of Zog basketball has come and gone so I thought I’d update everyone on my progress. You know, because this subject interests everyone.

I’m going to set this post up exactly like the one I made about my previous season, so first up is a quick rundown of the players:

  • Rory – With the absence of CJ, the MVP of last year’s team, there was going to be a huge scoring hole. Luckily, Rory filled that gap. He had played basketball in high school and brought a super-hustle style mixed with great outside shooting. He was unquestionably the best player we had on the team and totally saved us in a couple of games. A really nice, funny, down-to-earth guy as well.
  • Kathy – Kathy returned from her stint as our closer last season. Her shot wasn’t as dead on this season and she seemed to have lost a step but she toughed out every game and sopped up the most minutes out of all of us. Luckily, in our last games she showed a level of athleticism I never saw in her before – grabbing several big rebounds and blocking out tougher, male opponents. Hopefully an excellent sign if she decides to return.
  • Jonathan – Once again the heart of the team, Jonathan seemed to take a step back and be more of a vocal presence this season. He still had a tenacious attitude on defense, more than making up for what he lacked in athleticism and speed. And no matter what he said to the contrary he also brought a decent shot.
  • Dominique – I thought we would need another woman on our team to give Kathy a rest every now and then so I asked Zog to give us someone from the waiting list. We got Dominique who was a tall, tough girl who had great inside moves and was a hell of a rebounder. She only showed up to about half the games due to work scheduling, but when she showed up we always won.
  • Me – I actually took a step forward this season. I was disciplined on defense as usual, but I focused more on driving over shooting. Sure, more than half of my drives usually ended up with me being stopped by a defender, but it opened up my teammates and made our offense a little less predictable. I’m really looking forward to working on that part of my game in the future.
  • Alyson – A super basketball player although she was the smallest on the team, Alyson spread herself a little too thin. Besides our games, she was also in two other basketball leagues and ended up hurting her foot, ending her season after just 1 game with us. It was a little depressing as I thought we would have done a lot better with her on the court with us.
Date Result Opponents (Win-Loss) Overall Rank
4/15 3-1-0 Wharfdogs (2-0) and Half-Dozen Donuts (1-1)
First time playing with Rory and Alyson – two teammates who played high school basketball. At one point I was in with the two of them and was giving play-by-play instructions from them. Pretty awesome and very educational. The only game we lost was a 2-on-2 game … ugh.
3-1-0 T-2
4/19 3-1-0 Fonseca’s Illegitimate Children (2-0) and Barmy Army (1-1)
I couldn’t make this for some reason … I’m thinking it was work but we continued our strong play.
6-2-0 T-2
4/27 0-3-1 Serenity Now (0-2) and Beijing Special (0-1-1)
The only night of the season that we played at full strength but we ran into two steamrollers. These teams were the best two we played all season and I’m sure they made big waves in the playoffs.
6-5-1 4
5/6 0-4-0 Live Every Week Like Shark Week (0-2) and Wharfdogs (0-2)
Out troubles continue. Even though we faced poorer teams compared to the previous week, Rory gets a little hot under the collar and the ref starts to noticably call everything against us. Left a bad taste in my mouth.
6-9-1 5
5/10 Postponed due to a book fair at the elementary school we play at! 6-9-1 5
5/17 2-2-0 Fonseca’s Illegitimate Children (1-1) and Barmy Army (1-1)
I don’t have any notes from this night but I remember being relieved to finally get out of our mid-week slump. This exact same thing happened to us in the previous season.
8-11-1 7
5/25 0-4-0 Beijing Special (0-2) and Serenity Now (0-2)
We had the same results as we did when we last played these two teams and got smeared. Even still, I had my best game to date, keeping us not only in the game against a taller, superior team but actually winning! Unfortunately, I got lazy on the very last play when I didn’t go for a rebound. One of the opponents picked up the loose ball and chucked a wild 3-pointer at the buzzer … that landed squarely in the basket, sinking all of our tremendous efforts!
8-15-1 8
6/2 3-1-0 Hoops I Did It Again (1-1) and Live Every Week Like Shark Week (0-2)
Hands down my best night in Zog thus far! I was a beast offensively and defensively, guarding the other team’s best player (an annoying dude who always wears a Kobe Bryant jersey AND baseball hat to each game). Unfortunately, I played so much since I was the hot hand that I got pretty winded by the end. Still, a great night even though we pretty much figured to be out of the playoffs.
11-16-1 7
6/7 3-1-0 Wharfdogs (2-0) and Half-Dozen Donuts (1-1)
Amazingly we weren’t out of playoff contention – we just had to win at least 3 games on this final night. Even more amazingly we did just that! I actually was unable to make this night as I had band rehearsal, but my teammates really came through with these much-needed wins. In fact, it sounds like we even had a chance at going 4-0 if Jonathan hit 2 late game open looks! Somehow, even with the terrible mid-season slump we sneak into the playoffs as the final seed.
14-16-1 5

In typical Zog fashion it was a quick turnaround for the playoffs. Our first round matchup was against the 4th seed, Half-Dozen Donuts, who we had just finished playing against 2 DAYS BEFORE! I felt pretty comfortable coming back into the squad from my week off and playing against a team we had gone 1-1 against, but we got our asses handed to us. We all played well, though it was just Rory, Kathy, Jonathan and I (the usual suspects). Ah well. This season was less of a headache than last with no CJ, and each game felt more “ours” as we had to earn everything instead of sitting around watching him make a play. It was a lot of fun (as Zog ball always is), but I decided to take the summer season off and dedicate that time to getting back into better shape and focusing on music.

But come fall, NBA will be back on and the basketball bug will be biting. Watch out!

    Site Updates:

  • Removed Amazing Stories: Season 1 (1986) from Currently Enjoying
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The Sim Is Back

NBA Sim: This Should Be Your Internet Browser's Homepage

© 2010 Stan Syckes

From the overwhelming email I received* I know how hard this past month has been to all of you. When NBA Sim went down, it seemed like the world got a little less fun and a little more confused. I don’t know how everyone managed to survive in a world slightly less informed about basketball statistics but we made it.

NBA Sim is back!

What’s great is now it’s on the same, fantastic host as [stanus.butt] where I have unlimited space, bandwidth and SQL databases! That’s right, no more crashes, downtimes, and laggy loads. Nothing will stop you from hearing my much-needed basketball opinions.

Actual, interesting, non-NBA stuff coming up in the next blog post.

* Claim may or may not be true

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It’s Been A Bumpy Ride

An easy metaphor for my past two weeks

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster these past two weeks.

First, I finally got a huge burden off my shoulders. Wednesday the 21st, my emotions and patience were tested as the giant project I’ve been plugging away on at work finally “went live.” This was a momentous event as it was the culmination of my 3 years at my firm. I started out on this project as the “Robin” to my manager’s “Batman” but with all the twists and turns of multiple years, I ended up being the damn Batman with several Robins! What a strange trip.

When things didn’t go completely according to plan at the deadline, the atmosphere got extremely tense, people became a little crazy and there was a bit of a mad scramble to set things right. But, we succeeded in getting the beast out the door and work is finally coming back down to normal levels. I’m even beginning to get used to what free time outside of the office feels like again.

Coinciding with my work’s most intense point was my grandfather’s internment. The weekend of the 24th, I traveled to Cumberland, Maryland and – although I spent 18 hours aboard a bus, a metro, and driving a car – I ended up feeling way more emotionally exhausted than just plain tired. It was nice to see all of the clan, and it was comforting to honor Pop Pop’s life in a way that was equally grand and private, but I was super sensitive at times and found it hard to really do anything but what was on the agenda. The one night we were all together, for example, I was asleep by 10pm.

I’d love to throw in my two cents on some of the reflecting that I did during this period, but I’ll save it for another post (maybe). Meanwhile, enjoy far better recaps of the weekend at these links:

After being stretched to the absolute limit by stress one day and then faced with final loss the next, I almost didn’t care when I saw my NBA season end with the Mavericks getting ousted last Thursday. Yet, somehow, I found a few last ebbs of emotion somewhere deep in my bowels – enough to still experience that “reliable disappointment” of another losing Mavs season.

To be honest, there was a moment last week where – taking blow after emotional blow – I didn’t know what more to expect.

But fear not, dear reader! I haven’t succumbed to this assault of agitation. Just the opposite in fact, as I feel stronger having survived it all! Hell, with everything I just went through, this calls for a serious celebration. Get ready for something super awesome coming next week that will include all the greatest ingredients of [stanus.net]: archival material, witty commentary, music, photos, way too much information, and never-before-revealed … uh … revelations!

Take shelter! You’ll need it for this huge event.

    Site Updates:

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Current Mood: Relieved emoticon Relieved

Miracle Men … ?

Dirk getting shown the door

Remember when I was talking about how well the Dallas Mavericks were doing as an organization?

Oops.

It very well may be the final Mavericks game of the 2010 season tonight as they face the evil San Antonio Spurs in Dallas. The boys in blue are in a huge hole (1-3) and need a lot of miracles to pull it out. For the record, only 8 teams in the history of the NBA have come back from 1-3.

Here’s hoping for number nine!

UPDATE: Hot damn, we did it! We escape to play another day.

DEPRESSING UPDATE: Ugh. Bye, Mavs.

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