Monday, March 11, 2013

3/11 (Monday) Quickie

The play of the weekend -- and the NBA's play of the year -- was the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan posterizing the Pistons' Brandon Knight. First of all, watch it here:

OK, a few things:

*We need to retire the word "posterized" because it won't happen in a more textbook sense than here.

*Brandon Knight may do many productive things in his NBA career, but this is the moment he will be remembered for. (That he stays on the ground juuust a bit too long afterward did him no favors.)

*Why did Knight even try to challenge that lob dunk?

*The camera cut to the kids courtside freaking out is my favorite 3 seconds of video this year.

*The cut to Blake Griffin freaking out isn't bad either.

*The Clippers aren't going to win the NBA title this year. They aren't going to win the West and they probably won't even make it through the conference semifinals. And yet...

This is of a piece with the second most-incredible play of the NBA season -- Jamal Crawford's between-the-legs alley-oop to Blake Griffin, which happened only last week. The gist is this:

If you watch the NBA to see who wins the championship, you're doing it wrong. If you watch the NBA to follow your favorite team, your rooting interest is sincere (I say that as a lifelong Bullets/Wizards fan), but you're doing it wrong.

We watch the NBA for the truly jaw-dropping moments -- like Jordan (who will never again have to worry about sharing a name with that "other" Jordan) over Knight.

UPDATE: Good for Knight that he took to Twitter and displayed a ton of humor about the situation: "It wasn't in the scouting reports that the clippers threw lobs lol" (He might not fully understand the indelibility of the moment, but whether he does or not, good on him for acknowledging it.)

More weekend winners:

*Liberty: As of right now, the best NCAA Tournament story. 15-20 for the season, 6-10 in the conference. But they won four straight in the Big South Conference tournament (including yesterday's title-game win over 1-seed Charleston Southern) and now they are in the NCAA Tournament.

I don't care that they will be stuck in the "First Four" play-in game -- they are in the NCAA Tournament and they validate everything that is awesome about the conference-tournament system (and sort of validate my long-standing theory that we'd be better off getting rid of the conference tournaments and letting every team in an open-to-all mega-tournament.)

*Tiger Woods: ESPN's Scott Van Pelt has had the best reaction to this whole "Is Tiger back?" thing. Here's a representative tweet: "Context: Rory got red hot won 5/19 starts & got to # 1. Tiger now has won 5/19. Luke Donald, # 3 in world, has 5 237 PGA starts"

I would say that among other things, the win mostly heightens everyone's anticipation for what Tiger can/might/must do at The Masters next month.

*Tom Crean: Walks into Michigan's Crisler Arena and walks out with the first outright Big Ten title for Indiana since '93, barking at a Michigan assistant who was part of the pre-Crean Indiana debacle on his way out. ("You know what you did!" becomes part of Indiana lore.)

A couple of caveats on Indiana's win, which all but secures a No. 1 seed for the Hoosiers, presuming they make it to at least the Big Ten Tournament semifinals:

(1) A team that makes its foul shots beats them.

(2) That was a flagrant foul at the end and Michigan should have gotten both the free throws and the ball, which would have likely changed the game's outcome.

(3) That was Michigan's best defensive performance of the season (and it still wasn't enough).

(4) While appreciating the specific emotional trigger that got him riled up, Tom Crean seems pretty high-strung to navigate his team to six straight wins in the NCAA Tournament.

*Creighton: Fends off Wichita State to become the Mo Valley's automatic rep in the NCAA Tournament. They will be a popular Sweet 16 pick, but the Jays' defense is still a huge question. (Top 10 offense, according to Ken Pom, but by far the worst-rated D -- 77th -- among the Top 16 teams.)

*Miami Heat: That is 18 wins in a row. But the real value of this particular win was the symbolism: Any thought you had that the Pacers might be the team to challenge Miami in the East playoffs should be obliterated like Indiana was by the Heat on Sunday. Again, let's go with my soon-to-be-trademarked phrasing: This season is a "Heat Accompli." (re: here.)

*Dwight Howard: Is he manipulative? Or just flaky? Or just desperate to be loved? I'll say some combination of the last two. The big thing is that the Lakers can't make the playoffs without him stepping up his game (as he did yesterday).

*Matt Kenseth: Three cheers for early-fortysomethings.

*Team USA: Advances to the WBC second round. (Yes, I know you are wildly interested.)

*Cullen Jenkins: Gets $8M and, more importantly, jumps from the Eagles -- who cut him -- to their division rivals in New York, who have a pretty good track record with player personnel decisions.

*Great read: Getting excited for Selection Sunday? Patrick Stevens' daily Bubble Watch is really awesome.

-- D.S.

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