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the SportsComplainer presents Close the Gap!

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What did you watch: NBA or MJ?

Photo by Jim McIsaac

----Like music to my ears: With the first pick in the 2009 NBA Draft...Love it. Feel it. The sensation that indicates a new wave of youth and talent and optimism is entering the league.


But I couldn’t feel it. And I didn’t love it. What I felt, was the same thing I heard.

The King (LeBron, please sit down).

Michael Jackson. The King of Pop. Not just an iconic figure. The iconic figure. As big as Elvis and The Beatles. Surreally, tonight, The King has passed.

We will always remember Michael for the good and only the good. And if you feel otherwise, stop reading my article. For this piece, along with the billions of other dedications across the globe, is in memory of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Sports. Okay. Let’s get to it, huh? But first, in your head, replay your favorite Michael Jackson song. And while you’re at it, stand up and moonwalk. C’mon. Just do it, no one’s watching…

…Maybe this will help you out:

“With the first pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Clippers select Blake Griffin,” David Stern stated during the commencement of ESPN’s coverage. And that was about as exciting as it got for this year’s draft. Superseded by the passing of The King; and more basketball appertaining, the major trades that transpired, the draft was anything but a “Thriller.”

Before I plunge into the nitty-gritty of the selection process, let’s first reflect upon the legitimate NBA news. The blockbuster trades.

Shaq to LeBron. RJ to San Antonio. Vinsanity to Superman. Please, hold on a moment as I get my inhaler. Alright, I’m back. As I was just alluding to, these trades could be “Dangerous” for the rest of the league.

Shaquille O’Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers

-Phoenix receives Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, 2nd round pick in 2010, cash considerations

-Cleveland receives Shaquille O’Neal

Looks like The Big Leach has managed to attach himself to another superstar. Just recollect for a moment. Undoubtedly, the three best wing players in the league are Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (yes, in that order). And two out of the three is obviously not sufficient enough for Shaquille. Thus, it’s no surprise that Shaq landed where he did. Championship? Not quite.

Rather than acquiring better perimeter defenders, Cleveland went down another road. Not exactly the road well traveled, but the road over traveled. Shaq has more miles on him than South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s (we all know his pathetic story) frequent flyer card. That’s partially why (and money) the young and rebuilding Suns told Shaq to “Beat It.”

Besides, Shaq is selfish, always has been, always will be. In his interview aired during the draft, Shaq declared that he’ll do anything to be “the first to five [championships].”

Kobe! Duck! Shaq just took another shot at you. Clearly, Shaq will never get over his former lover. Selfish does not work in the NBA, just ask Allen Iverson (sorry A.I., you’re still in my Fav 5, I promise).

Vince Carter to the Orlando Magic

-New Jersey receives Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, Tony Battie

-Orlando receives Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson

The Magic is clearly in win-now mode. They let a rising star in Courtney Lee escape. Not to mention, the wand behind the magic, Skip is gone. Yes, Jameer Nelson is still there, but Skip is the one who hop-scotched them all the way to the Finals.

But Vinsanity has his own magic to stir in Merlin’s pot. With all of Orlando’s perimeter talent, evidently, Carter does not need to be a primary option. So, Championship? Closer than Cleveland, but no.

Hedo He Does Turkoglu, one of the most underrated and complete players in the league, has just opted out of his contract. And Orlando, due to the trade, does not have the salary cap flexibility to offer the kind of “Money” that he’s going to demand (and acquire elsewhere). After all that Hedo has done for the Magic, instead of saving cap space by not trading for Carter, GM Otis Smith has basically told Hedo to “Fly Away.”

Richard Jefferson to the San Antonio Spurs

-Milwaukee receives Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas

-San Antonio receives Richard Jefferson

- (Additionally, the Spurs sent Fabricio Oberto to the Pistons for Amir Johnson, who then went to the Bucks)

Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson and Tim Duncan. Whoa. (Draftees: Jack McClinton, an under-the-radar Stephen Curry who just needs an opportunity; and DeJuan Blair, a poor poor poor man’s Charles Barkley; but we’ll get to the draft a bit later.)

Gregg Popovich must have told GM R.C. Buford, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”

They got enough. What other team has three legitimate penetrators who can finish and dish out? Unstoppable? Maybe. Championship? Indeed.

Of course, health remains a question, but Pop will get them through the grueling NBA schedule with his pedigree and with the manner in which he regulates minutes. While it’s tasteless and ungrateful that San Antonio just threw away the defensive soul in Bruce Bowen, overall, R.C. Buford looks like a “Smooth Criminal.”

Major movement, huh? Now for some minor movement in which I call the honorable mention of the blockbuster trades.

Mike Miller and Randy Foye to the Washington Wizards

-Minnesota receives 5th overall pick, Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, Oleksiy Pecherov

-Washington receives Mike Miller, Randy Foye

“I’m Ricky Rubio, I’m not like anybody else,” Rubio (selected 5th overall by Minnesota) stated in his post draft interview. Well, the kid definitely has flair. More substantially, he has the anticipation of Wayne Gretzky and the vision of Jason Kidd. And he resembles Pistol Pete Maravich (I only said resembles).

Then why did Washington trade away that pick? Gilbert Arenas is a scoring point guard; why not move him to shooting guard and let Ricky run the team? Sure, Gilbert would be undersized as a shooting guard, but Rubio would be 6’5” at the point position.

Nonetheless, I am slighting neither Miller nor Foye, they’re legit players in this league. Couple them with Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and a healthy Arenas and Brendan Haywood: That’s a nice squad. Anyway, with reports from stating that Ricky Rubio may stay in Spain for a few more years, the world is wondering, “Will You Be There,” Ricky?

Jamal Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks

-Golden State receives Acie Law, Speedy Claxton

-Atlanta receives Jamal Crawford

Don’t dismiss this trade. Jamal Crawford is “Bad.” Yes, he’s as inconsistent as it gets in professional sports. The guy can put up 52 one night and two the next. But he’s playing for an Atlanta team that’s already loaded with talent. Championship? Just Kidding.

Big names possibly on the move

-Amar’e Stoudemire, Rasheed Wallace, Tracy McGrady, Brandon Bass, Ricky Rubio, Zach Randolph, Mehmet Okur, David Lee, Ben Gordon


(Even after all the amiss in the day, those trades have to make you “Smile.” I’m getting the “Butterflies” just thinking about it all.)


Rather than starting with the specifics of the draft, I have opted to first display the humorous “Monkey Business” that occurred:

Mark Jackson, who is usually excellent in his observations, gave his input on Blake Griffin. “This is a special player,” Jackson continued, “[who is] going to a great situation.” Really, Mark? I don’t think you’d feel that way if you were headed to the Detroit Lions of the NBA. Yea, great situation. And so is Iraq.

Ricky Rubio. Projected by most analysts to go in the top three, didn’t go till five. Furthermore, two guards were selected above him (James Harden and Tyreke Evans). I naturally assume that analysts attributed so much hype to him, simply because they enjoy saying his name. Try it with me: If you roll the R’s, it’s really fun. Rrrrricky Rrrrrubio. I get it. Hell, I’d select him number one with that name. And that accent is just too much. I’m still laughing. “I’m Ricky Rubio, I’m not like anybody else.”

“Is It Scary?” Yes, Blake Griffin’s purple shirt was scary.

“Speechless.” Yes, I was when James Harden came out in a bow tie. C’mon dude, only Miami Heat Assistant Coach Keith Askins can pull that ensemble off.

Tyler Hansbrough to the Indiana Pacers. Of course Larry Bird took a white dude. I haven’t seen a basketball team with that many white guys since the 1950’s. Keep piling on those high character, low talent players, Larry. That’s precisely what’s going to get your club out of financial woes.

David Stern. What a Jew. (I can say that, I’m Jew.) The guy is never happy or satisfied. Yet when he announced the 23rd overall pick (Sacramento’s), his double chin quadrupled over. I’ve never seen The Stern so giddy. Why? Because Omri Casspi, an Israeli out of Maccabi Tel Aviv, was selected. If he makes Sacramento’s roster (which is pretty certain, considering 1st round selections have guaranteed contracts), then he will become the first Israeli born player in the league. Hey Jordan Farmar, you now have a buddy.

With the 5th pick in the NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select…a point guard. With the 6th pick in the NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select…a point guard. With the 18th pick in the NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select…a point guard. Yes, I’m aware they traded away Ty Lawson; still, that’s comedy.

But this year’s SportsComplainer Award for Best Comedic Performance goes to Brandon Jennings (applaud). Reader, please tell me you witnessed what occurred with Mr. Jennings. This kid is something else. His comedic genius surpasses Larry David, Don Rickles and Jack Benny (even though his drollery was actually unintentional).

For those of you who were not fortunate enough to view such a spectacle, allow me to explain. When Milwaukee selected Jennings with the 10th overall pick, he was absent. ESPN then reported that Jennings would not attend the draft unless he was ensured to be a lottery pick. I’m assuming he received the news of his draft status; for when Phoenix selected Earl Clark with the 14th overall pick, Brandon Jennings magically appeared on the stage (No, he does not have any relation to Earl Clark or the Suns). Wait, it gets better. He then raised his arms in the air as if he had just knocked out Apollo Creed.

You’ve got to love this kid. He does everything unorthodoxly: Went oversees instead of attending college, sported a High-Top Fade when it was clearly out of style, and for his grand finale, he was tardy on draft night. If his NBA career doesn’t pan out, he clearly has other options.

Hilarity. Disorder. Grief. Wasn’t this night supposed to be about the young talent entering the league? It was. Keyword, was. Nevertheless, for the SportsComplainer’s full player analysis of the 2009 NBA Draft: Scroll Down: “Will You Be There?”

“We’ve Had Enough” of the NBA talk. Someone else deserves the coverage. The “Man In The Mirror,” The King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

“You Are Not Alone” Michael, we will always remember your moves. We will always remember your music. And we will always remember you.

He once sang, “Gonna change the world.” Well Michael, you did. And you did it for the better.

Tonight a legend has passed. And while Michael is “Gone Too Soon,” Legends never die. Legends never die.

(Note: I watched Michael Jackson. I DVRed the NBA Draft.)



2009 NBA Draft: Analysis








In Memory of Michael Jackson (1958 – Forever)