NBA Talking Points: Apocalypse Now In Chicago And New York

NBA Talking Points is a weekly series that runs down some of the top stories in basketball, and some that aren't being talked about enough. Click any of the links below to jump to one of this week's talking points, and click here for last week's edition.

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1. Wallapalooza: A State Of The Union

At this point, my stance on John Wall has been documented for almost a month. Back in November, I wrote “He is that new band that nobody really knows about, and soon enough he’s going to be at the epicenter of the basketball universe.” And now, he is. That’s why he’s leading an NBA column. Because everyone that loves basketball can’t help but love John Wall. And that means that try as they might to ignore college hoops, even NBA purists are talking about Wall.

Less than a month into his career, he’s already a phenomenon in basketball circles; it’s only a matter of time before we start tracking which teams have the best shot at drafting Wall and wondering aloud whether [insert crappy team] should think about tanking the second half of the season to draft him. And like any full-fledged phenomenon, at least half this stuff is myth.

Second-hand anecdotes and quick, 90-second highlight clips have put this 19-year old kid alongside Tiger Woods, Peter Gammons, the BCS, and everything else that has sports fans chattering right now. It’s tempting to bemoan the way the basketball’s world has suddenly annointed him the messiah. What’s remarkable, though, is how Wall delivers on the hype. His games only enhance the myth, and that’s pretty damn rare. It reminds me of the way people embraced Obama after hearing one of his speeches in person. Watch John Wall for an entire college basketball game, as I did last week when I traveled to Kentucky, and you’ll come away gushing just like the rest of ’em.

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So with that, a plea: Can someone at ESPN or CBS Sports make sure that every single Kentucky game get puts on national TV for the rest of the season? Kind of like how all of the networks agree to broadcast the State of the Union every year. Not because it makes money, but… just for the greater good. We don’t need every single network broadcasting Kentucky basketball, but man, would anyone object to more John Wall on national TV? Every sports fan I know tuned in when Kentucky played UCONN Wednesday night; let’s make this a weekly ritual. For the greater good of sports fans, ya know?

On that note, let’s see what the rest of the basketball world’s talking about…

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2. New York And Chicago: Two Different Ways To Spell 'Mediocrity'

Speaking of John Wall and fans fixated on his NBA possibilities, we should note up front that the New York Knicks are not part of that conversation. Saying that Isiah Thomas was the Herbert Hoover of general managers isn’t really new, and yet, it just never gets old. Why are the Knicks missing out on Wallapalooza?

From a New York Daily News article this year, breaking down the winners of a trade that happend 6 years ago:

The former Knicks GM … Layden was working on a Marbury deal in the weeks before he was canned. Isiah swooped in and sweetened the deal for Phoenix with a couple of first round picks, one of which eventually was traded to Utah…

Ah, that timeless, hamhanded strategy: "well screw it, 2010 is 6 years from now, we probably won’t even need our first round pick by then." Isiah Thomas? Isiah Thomas. Isiah Thomas!!!

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It’s a story that’s illustrative not just of the Knicks current plight, but of how they got here. By making a bunch of reckless, home run-type deals, and striking out on nearly every single one. You’d think that, after the Marbury experiment failed, someone in New York would realize it’s time to switch things up. But nope. Don’t let Donnie Walsh’s 2009 temp agency of a basketball team—with 75% of the team sure to be gone after April—confuse you into thinking they’re planning for the future or something.

The Knicks are planning a gigantic gamble, hoping that they can woo one of the offseason’s marquis free agents (Lebron, Wade), and then have that player single-handedly lift the Knicks to relevance. The same thing they’d once hoped Marbury could do, by the way. It’s kind of remarkable when you think about it; Donnie Walsh and the rest of New York’s management team has painted Isiah the rube in order to buy time with New York fans… and they are doing the exact the same thing. When the Knicks pin the future of their franchise to Amare Stoudemire this summer, remember we had this conversation.

And then there’s the Chicago Bulls. Over the past decade, they’ve been every bit as maddening as the New York Knicks, and it’s really sort of tragic. It’s one thing to have a franchise like the Knicks at the bottom of the league. The Knicks are like Notre Dame by this point; there’s a presumed relevance and mystique that’s at least partially bullshit. Nobody outside New York City really cares about them as much as the media thinks. But the Bulls, on the other hand…

THAT is a glamour franchise. You’ve got one of the three best cities in America, a great arena, and the whole Michael Jordan era, which pretty much ushered in a whole new generation of fans and shaped the way we watch basketball. For any NBA fan under the age of 30, you watch basketball expecting the Bulls to be good. They don’t have to win the title every year, but with those awesome jerseys, that great midcourt logo, the player intros… The NBA is better off when Chicago has a good team.

And over the last decade, while it may seem like the Knicks have been the gold standard in NBA mediocrity, Chicago’s been right there with them. New York’s winning percentage since 2000 has been .401, and Chicago’s has been .405. It took me nearly 20 minutes to put those numbers together, and they’re probably wrong, so… be shocked! Stats! The Bulls have been just as bad as the Knicks, and save for last year’s not-quite-upset battle with the Celtics, signs of life have been scant in Chi-town. It’s all in the numbers, guys!

(Seriously, that’s the first and last time I every turn to math to try and explain myself. I have a headache, and I need a cigarette. Gosh.)

What’s most remarkable, though: these franchises, both immersed in immense levels of suckiness, have done it the exact opposite way. Where New York has overpayed for everyone, the Bulls have refused to pay for anyone. They’ve been building around young players for literally ten years, and getting rid of players like Elton Brand, Ben Gordon, and anyone else who’s good enough to maybe command more than a mid-level exception. And now, after last season’s surprising hiccup of hope, the Bulls are back to galling mediocrity.

They’ve got a team that’s capable of playing with anyone in the league, but at the same time, they’re prone to fits of EXTREMELY ugly basketball. Like, Knicks-type stuff. This past week, they played at home against a Toronto Raptors team that had given up 146 points a few days earlier, and was playing its 4th game in 5 nights. And somehow, they managed to get waxed by 32 POINTS. So, yeah: this is an awful, awful team.

And for the record, had the Bulls been willing to pay D’Antoni more money, this could all be happening differently. D’Antoni coaching Derrick Rose, New York’s version of Vinny Del Negro (Mark Jackson) would have coached the Knicks to 18 wins last season and the Knicks would have wound up with Blake Griffin, and both sides would be happy. Instead, New York characteristically overpayed D’Antoni ($24 million), and Chicago characteristically balked at matching that offer, settling instead on Vinny Del Negro. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

You get the two most aggrieved fanbases in basketball. They should have to trade Larry Hughes back-and-forth every month, just to make this whole experience a little more surreal.

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3. Dark Days For Greg Oden; But Not That Dark

So, Greg Oden got hurt again. Because that’s what injury-prone players do. They get hurt. For more, let’s look at what NBA writers had to say around the league.

Holly Mackenzie wrote an open letter to Oden:

You will make it because you’ve made it through the dark days in a hospital bed, through rehab, limping, crutching, watching, praying, waiting, hoping, wishing and yearning to be back before. You have been through the dark and made it to the light. It isn’t fair that you have to do it again. None of us can even pretend that it is. But it’s here. Another challenge. You will conquer this because the people around you will not allow you to stay in the dark. Your smile deserves to shine in the light.

This isn’t even about basketball. It is, but it’s about so much more. It’s about a dream that happens to be rooted in the game. It’s about you mattering to us because the game matters so much to you. If ever you need to be reminded of that support, remember Carl Landry grabbing your hand because he didn’t know what else to do to tell you he was with you. Sometimes there are no words. There definitely isn’t an explanation for this.

I wish I didn’t have to be typing these words.

Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen wonders about Oden’s capacity for joy:

The shame of Greg Oden’s latest season-ending injury is based mainly in what it means for Oden. Does it mean a long-suffering career of promising starts and painful stops? How much will he be able to accomplish in the NBA? How much joy can he create in between the pain?

Sekou Smith writes for NBA.com:

This is a cosmic injustice of epic proportions. The sight of Oden writhing in pain on that floor ruined many weekends, in Portland and beyond.

We’re being robbed of a big man talent that who was supposed to challenge Dwight Howard and Yao Ming for best young big man on the planet status in a few years. Instead, when Howard reaches his prime Oden will still be trying to come back from his latest injury.

Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports argues that Greg Oden, who’s suffered significant injuries in high school, college, and the NBA, is NOT injury prone, after all:

I don’t see anything in Oden’s injuries that tell me he’s anything more than incredibly unlucky. There was nothing in what happened the other night that should tell us otherwise.

You think his microfracture or giant frame or broken wrist had ANYTHING to do with his foot rolling over as Andrew Bynum bear-hugged him? Come on. You think it has anything to do with his upper frame? There’s no way. Every player in the NBA, given the similar trajectory and similar circumstances, would have done the same thing.

He may be clumsy, but he’ll be fine. This isn’t wishful thinking. Promise.

And Sherman Alexie, literary luminary and rabid basketball fan, implores Blazers fan to cherish even the worst of luck:

In this poem, I also liken it to the every day death of the Sonics. I feel their loss constantly. And then, seeing that Oden is down for the season (and likely done as an everyday player for good), I first thought, “Well, I’m glad I don’t have to feel the kind of pain that Blazers fans are feeling today. I don’t have to feel the pain of every Sonics loss or injury anymore.”

But then, I thought, no, I miss the losses as much as the victories. I miss the pain as much as the joy. I miss the losing streaks as much as I miss the wins. Hell, I miss Luke Ridnour. And so, I think, my grief for my father — my ever-present grief — is so important because he never goes away. I don’t forget him. I keep him alive that way. And so, I think, my grief for my Sonics — my ever-present grief — is so important because they never go away. I keep the team alive that way. Ah, my father, the Sonics, basketball in general, all intertwined.

So, I guess, if I could console Blazers fans, I would tell them their Oden-grief is valuable, that it is about hope and love, that it is about keeping memory — their love for basketball — alive.

All of which begs the most basic of replies: Can we please just relax? That Oden suffered another serious setback is disheartening, sure, but there’s nothing tragic or even that remarkable about the injury. He’s a basketball player that, despite Dwyer’s claims, is injury prone. You can see it just by looking at his gait on the court. He looks different than the rest of them; brittle, even as he’s running up-and-down the court, independent of contact.

It’s not his fault, and it’s not an indictment against his character. There have been plenty of great players that have had otherwise promising careers derailed by injury. Bo Jackson comes to mind, for example. It’s sad and unfortunate, but not really tragic. And hearing the reactions reverberate all throughout the NBA, you keep hearing people talk about injustice and tragedy, as though Oden’s injury is somehow worse than others we’ve seen. And while many would say that “This is no laughing matter,” it's all sort of laughable.

By the time Greg Oden’s rookie contract expires, he’ll have made in excess of $20 million. That’s enough to live on for a lifetime. (And you wonder whether he’s injury prone? See if anyone gambles and gives him a big extension.) It’s not just that there are greater injustices and tragedies in the world—because that’s freaking obvious—but there are much greater tragedies in the basketball world.

What about Ronnie Fields, Kevin Garnett’s high school teammate in Chicago? He was tabbed for greatness, but tore his knees up in college, before he could turn pro and make a fortune like Greg Oden. Or what about another high school legend, Ben Wilson? He was Lebron before Lebron, except he got shot and killed before the world could learn his name. Are those examples too obscure? What about Kirk Snyder, Utah’s first round pick just a few years ago.

He’s currently incarcerated, and suffering from debilitating mental instability. This past year, he was deemed unfit for trial after he was put on suicide watch and refused to eat. After he was granted a release from prison to play basketball in China, he cut off the tracking device assigned to him by the parole board, never made it to China, and just this week, had his bond revoked by the state of Ohio. The story of Kirk Snyder—and hundreds of other basketball players who have failed and descended into chaos for one reason or another—THAT is a tragedy.

Greg Oden will play again. He may never fully recover psychologically or physically when it comes to becoming an NBA superstar, but he’ll still be collecting NBA paychecks for at least the next five years, and probably longer. That makes him wealthier than 99.9% of Americans. And that he’s got a particularly gregarious personality and refreshing outlook on life only makes that more rewarding. He’s a special person, with the resources and gifts to enjoy the hell out of life. When his playing days are overwith, articulate and funny, he’ll have his pick of any announcing job in the league. Believe me, life could be worse.

So to NBA folks, Blazers fans, and everyone else painting this as some sort of basketball miscarriage, let’s keep this in perspective. Think of Ben Wilson. Think of Kirk Snyder. Think of Len Bias. Tragedies happen all too often in the basketball world, but Greg Oden’s knee injury just isn’t one of ’em. Gregoden_medium

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4. Tyreke Evans, The Chilli Cheese Fries Burrito

From Wednesday

The reasons to love the internet are numerous, but perhaps greatest of all (or at least greatest today) is the latest from SB Nation’s Sactown Royalty. Nowhere in print media will you find such a circuitous strategy for trumpeting one of pro basketball’s rising superstars.

But man, this is pretty good:

I mean, you do not need to tell me how insane a Chili Cheese Fries Burrito is. I can figure out that much on my own, thank you. You are wasting your time waving your arms, screaming “Hey! Look over here! Chili Cheese Fries Burrito!”

And that’s sort of where we are with Tyreke Evans. I mean, I could commission a banner reading 25 pts, 9 ast, 5 reb, 1 tov and have it flown around New York City and Los Angeles. I could produce a commercial with zoinks sound effects and a booming Krusty voice touting the seasonal 20/5/5 average Evans has now reached.

But why? There’s no need to play [that] game. There’s no need to wrap Evans in a tortilla, or cover him in cheese.

The article comes in response to a Sacramento restaurant’s apparently ubiquitous ads for their new “Chili Cheese Fries Burrito,” something created by either Satan himself, or Artie Lange.

Just hearing the name, you can tell that yes, it’s that ridiculous. No need to waste money on commercials, guys. Really, we get it. Thanks.

And as for Evans, quite simply, his numbers (20-5-5) speak for themselves. He’s been fabulous for Sacramento, the Kings are doing surprisingly well, and he’s quietly neck-and-neck with Brandon Jennings for this year’s Rookie of the Year honors. As Ziller says, there’s no need for a nationwide ad campaign.

“Tyreke Evans” is quickly becoming self-explanatory.

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In other news, Hasheem Thabeet is the Domino’s Bread Bowl. Sounded kind of borderline in theory, and in practice, it’s been an absolute disaster. A few weeks ago, Grizzlies coaches likened coaching him to developing a 7th or 8th grader. Mmm… Memphis!

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5. Washington D.C. Sports: Some Snapshots

As recently as 2006, these were the faces of DC Sports:

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via www.gilbertology.net

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And today, they’re still the face of DC sports… But for the wrong reasons.

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Clinton Portis and Gilbert Arenas might just be the same person, following the exact same career trajectories. I would elaborate, but the SB Nation holiday party is coming up, and hanging myself in the conference room might put a damper on the festivities.

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6. Tim Donaghy, The Informant!

Over the past week, Tim Donaghy’s given about 1,000 interviews, all giving the same muddled picture of NBA injustice, conjuring paranoia, and mainly, advertising the NO-HOLDS-BARRED book that’s the NBA’s worst nightmare. Would you like to talk to him? Really, he’s very available. In any case, earlier this week, I mentioned that we’re sort of missing the point on this one….

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By now, you’ve probably tired of the whole Tim Donaghy story.

I certainly have.

In the simplest terms, it’s difficult to call a white collar criminal the NBA’s great white knight. A whistleblower that’s also a felon isn’t really the most credible source. So it’s probably best that we tread lightly on this whole “NBA conspiracy” angle.

But it doesn’t mean we can’t discuss Donaghy, the person. Because as an individual, he’s really quite captivating. A study in human failure, and quite possibly, a failed system (NBA officiating). He’s a rare, complex figure; the sort of character typically confined to the pages of a good novel or a Hollywood movie. He’s either desperate or defiant, depending on your perspective, but all things considered, the truth is that he’s probably a little bit of both.

It reminds me of Mark Whitacre. Who’s that, you ask? He’s the man who was at the center of a massive FBI investigation more than a decade ago. He turned FBI informant in the early ‘90s, and helped expose a massive price-fixing conspiracy at one of the nation’s largest agriculture corporations, Archer Daniels Midland. He also was the chief force behind an embezzlement scheme that netted him a reported $9 million. At the same time he was playing hero, Whitacre was quietly stealing millions of dollars.

Sometimes, conspiracies can be complicated.

Immortalized this summer in Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant!, Whitacre was also the center of a non-fiction book by the same name. It was one of the better works of non-fiction this decade, and dealt with this man in depth. What makes someone so obviously crooked one day decide to stand up and expose what’s wrong with corporate America? When you think about it, Whitacre’s shadowy operations were, themselves, what’s wrong with corporate America.

And yet, does that make his claims, or the information he provided to the FBI, any less valid? Archer Daniels Midland was still forced to settle with the U.S. Justice Department for hundreds of millions of dollars, thanks in large part to Whitacre’s exposure of price fixing allegations. They were cheating the public; he was cheating them. It’s this dichotomy that the book investigates, as well as some of Whitacre’s personal problems that contributed to his conflicted, bizarre behavior. It’s study in frayed and altogether decayed corporate morals, but more than that, it’s a complicated character study. 

And that’s what Tim Donaghy deserves.

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Instead, we’re spending our time cross-examining him on claims in a book that, make no mistake, was designed solely to make money. Donaghy needs money, he’s got nothing to lose, and he’s got ZERO credibility with anyone. What made anyone think we could trust this guy in the first place? It’s not matter of whether he’s lying, but how much?

Nevertheless, ESPN’s True Hoop unveils an extensive investigation this morning debunking Donaghy’s claims:

Donaghy declares Charles Barkley, as a player, stalked into the referees’ locker room looking for Donaghy after an on-court dispute between the two in a Clippers vs. Rockets game.

Barkley, says Donaghy, then dumped a massive bucket of Gatorade and ice over the referee.

In a text message to ESPN’s Mark Schwarz, Barkley insists he has no recollection of any such thing, yet Donaghy was as indignant as ever.

“The two refs in the locker room know it happened. I know it happened. For Charles Barkley to lie like that is troublesome to me. Maybe we both need to sit down and take a lie detector test, and maybe the loser needs to give $500,000 to charity. And I’d like to see what his response would be to that.”

WHO CARES? Are we really wasting our time impugning the credibility of someone that bet on NBA games every day for multiples of years? Must NBA people be that insecure? 

Take it from someone who’s been betting on sports since 16 years old: we are NOT stable individuals, and the people that do it seriously, like as a lifestyle, are certifiably insane. There was a bookie I knew in college who doubled as cab driver. He’d lived in Southern California for years before a crack addiction and a $10,000 debt forced him to flee San Diego and head to New England. Once there, he started driving cabs and taking informal wagers, eventually making it into a business. Does that sound like someone tethered to a vigorous standard of honesty?

But wait, let’s continue:

Donaghy asserts there was easy money to be made counting on Bavetta to use his whistle to help a team that is trailing. For a gambler, this strategy would be dicey in games expected to be close.

[…]

Donaghy says he felt confident that big underdogs would beat the spread if Bavetta was one of the three referees.

It’s not hard to find examples when Donaghy was wrong. Bavetta has refereed plenty of blowouts. In January 2004, for instance, the Kings were seven-point favorites over the Suns, but won by 20. The next month, the Rockets were nine-point favorites over the Hawks, and won by 21. In January 2005, the Suns were favored by eight and won by 18. That same year, the Bulls won a Bavetta game by 40 when they were favored by nine, and the Pistons laid a 25-point beating on the Bobcats when they were favored to win by seven. A few months later, the Pistons, favored by seven, beat the Pacers by 25.

So one of Tim Donaghy’s gambling “rules” was proven ineffective? That’s what we learn? Again, take it from someone that bets on sports far too often: the “rules” that gamblers use to pick games are about as reliable as using a sun dial to tell time. It’s an inexact science, and any habitual gambler would admit as much.

Like, in my head, it makes sense to always bet on a college team where the star player has multiple kids. Why? Because he’s got something play for! But that doesn’t make it a viable strategy… And if Tim Donaghy put forth his “rules” as some evidence said to reveal NBA biases, why even waste time responding? Especially when the real story is so much more interesting.

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The problem, of course, is that this type of thing is sort of beyond most sportswriters’ purview. Especially NBA writers, who spend at least 60% of their time defending the sport’s integrity to fellow sportswriters that are skeptical. So it’s no surprise that plenty of talented, reasonable people have jumped at the opportunity to just say, “THIS GUY’S FULL OF SH—.” Because he’s definitely lying. But he’s also probing at the truth, if that makes sense. Again, desperate and defiant in equal measure.

We could vilify him for the desperate attempts at selling a book with salacious accusations—and trying to salvage some semblance of financial security—but where does that really get us? If Donaghy’s so wrong about some of his accusations, does that mean we’re to pretend that the corporate integrity of the NBA isn’t frayed? No way.

Because like Whitacre, Donaghy himself proves what’s wrong with the system in the first place. It’s like if there were a drug addict appointed to the Supreme Court, and then after he’d been disbarred and disgraced, we focused on debunking his allegations rather than, you know, we had a drug dealer on the Supreme Court. A degenerate gambler and known associate of the Gambino mob was an NBA Official for many years, and we know this.

For some perspective, last week the former head of the Gambino family had his fourth mistrial in a racketeering case being prosecuted by the Federal Government. Do you know how unbelievably corrupt you have to be to successfully deadlock four juries? I’m not saying that’s what happened, but… If you were to intimidate four juries, you would have to be unbelievably corrupt.

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Junior Gotti, InPlaceNews, via Associated Press

Now, a gambling habit may not make Donaghy into some mobster, but still. These are the people he was involved with, and as an NBA official, he was intimately involved with some of the most integral parts of the game. That’s the story here

Sure, in search of salvation, and without much burden of proof, he’s making a bunch of allegations about the league’s officiating. What’s remarkable, though, is how easily some of us will dismiss his allegations in the interest of protecting the game. Especially since paying attention to Donaghy could teach us why we need to fix the game.

What he’s done is probe at all the stereotypes and conspiracy theories that already exist about the NBA, all in the name of selling a book. He concocted some potentially false anecdotes to help prove himself, but that’s not the point. Over at Denver Stiffs, there’s an excellent post examining some of Donaghy’s claims, and it ultimately concludes with this: “I’m buying about half of what Donaghy is saying…but already knew/assumed most of that stuff about NBA refereeing in the first place.” The greatest lesson in all of this is that for NBA fans, none of this stuff is new.

And some of it’s true. Anyone that watched the 2006 Finals (or any number of other embarrassing officiating displays) knows that there’s something wrong with the NBA officiating process. Allowing Donaghy’s trangressions to overshadow that fact would be like discarding the price fixing allegations against Archer Daniels Midland. Just because one crime was committed doesn’t mean we should ignore others.

So, if we’re going to discuss Tim Donaghy, it should be as one of the more fascinating, tragic figures in recent sports history. He’s a study in contradictions, desperation, and in some perverse way, defiance of the NBA’s archaic system of officiating. It’s the type of thing that deserves its own non-fiction book, or a major motion picture. Truly, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

But if we’re going to discuss Tim Donaghy’s allegations, we can’t just pull the wool over our eyes and pretend that none of it’s true just because it’s coming from him. He may not be the one that proves it, but he’s absolutely probing at some truth. Tim Donaghy acted like a weak, pathetic fool, and he’s been rightfully disgraced.

But if we let that overshadow the bigger problems facing the NBA, we’re the ones that look pathetic and foolish.

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7. VH1 Greenlights A 'Basketball Wives' Reality Series

From earlier this week…

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an NBA player’s wife? Well, wonder no more!

VH1 has teamed up with the wives and girlfriends of some of the NBA’s most elite players to give the viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the glamorous life of a professional basketball player’s wife in VH1’s original series, “Basketball Wives.” Production is set to begin on the series in December 2009. The eight-episode 30-minute series is set to premiere on March 15, 2010.

This series is about the insider life of the wives, girlfriends and a few ex-wives of some of the biggest ballers in the game.  These ladies live the life.  They drive the best cars, live in the biggest mansions, wear designer clothes and jewelry and only travel first class.  But living the high life is not all glamour.  In order to protect it, they have to deal with the jealousies and dramas of living in — and staying in — the inner circle.  They must also keep the groupies at bay while their husbands and boyfriends are traveling on the road for over six months of the year playing ball all-the-while wondering if their spouses are being faithful to them.

The cast is filled with the wives and ex-wives of superstars including Jennifer Williams (wife of Eric Williams), Evelyn Lozada (ex-fiancé of Antoine Walker), Mesha O’Neal (wife of Jermaine O’Neal), Royce Reed, Faith Rain (Udonis Haslem’s girlfriend) and Shaunie O’Neal (wife of Shaquille O’Neal) who will also serve as  executive producer on the series.

There are so many different places this show can go, but unfortunately, VH1 is producing it. Were it on, say, HBO, we could really be talking about something special. Like “Real Sex” meets “Real Housewives” meets TRUCK PARTY.

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“It’s not TV, it’s… the actual, documented exploits of NBA superstars.” Sadly, I have a feeling VH1’s version will be sanitized, and peppered with fluffy storylines, like “How do I juggle all these charity events?!” instead of, “Who brought all these groupies to Allen Iverson’s charity softball game?!” Oh well…

But hey, there’s always Jersey Shore, right?

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Another way to make this show 1,000 times better would be to make “Sweethearts: Girlfriends Adjusting To The NBA.” Because many NBA rookies come into the League with a serious girlfriend. Sometimes it’s a girl from their hometown, or maybe someone they’ve dated for a few years in college. You want entertainment? Let’s put together a reality show seeing how those relationships play out during those players’ rookie season.

“Tyreke, you told me I was the one!”

[…]

“You are! But it was All-Star Weekend! Ron-Ron said he needed to ‘jump me in’ and I wasn’t sure what that meant. Then these four girls came in the room, and you know, I couldn’t disappoint Ron-Ron…

So, you know… (Laughs, playfully pushes girlfriend) Come on baby. What do you want me to say? (Laughs nervously) Some things happened. But you know you’re my hummingbird babyyyy."

Watching Shaunie O’Neal divide up tasks between her personal assistants is about as exciting as The T.O. Show. Seeing Chase Budinger grapple with the temptations of NBA stardom and loyalties to his highschool sweetheart… Now THAT sounds like quite a storyline. Who’s with me?
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