Franz Stuff

Mostly Mavs, but I've got a pretty wide sweetspot. Maybe you'll grin. First off, are your speakers on? 'Cause here are some tunes you might enjoy while you're surfing ...

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Franz is a cyber-persona. He's much more appreciated than the poor sap typing him to life.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Fan Jam Thoughts

My turn. Can't ... stop ... typing ...

First, I'll mention that Casey Jacobsen of the Suns has an on-line daily diary at about his training camp. Good stuff so far. One thing he points out is that the 4/5 straight days of 2-a-days to open camp are no joke. By the last day EVERYBODY is sore and stiff. He said guys won't get up from the training table to go get the ketchup bottle 10-feet away because they are just too dang sore - they'd rather just go without. They rest, eat and play - that's it. Same for the Mavs. These guys' exhaustion and soreness shouldn't be overlooked by the Fan Jam critics. Generally, the youngsters looked spry, the vets looked like 3rd gear was about all you're getting outta their stiff old hides, and the ding-ed up looked careful AND tired out there.

Also, it should be mentioned that Daniel Meyer doesn't have an NBA 3-point line nor a charge/block line in the paint, and only a college-width key. The refs looked NBDL-caliber at best and not real interested in stopping play. 4 Q's x 10 mins with an automatic TO every 5 mins. 2nd team vs 1st team was basically how they divided it up. I'm sure there will a boxscore and/or lineups posted someplace. The final score was around 54-54 - fans shooting FT's failed to break the tie - but everybody left happy anyway. I'm guessing Josh had 20 plus for the blues and Dirk had 20 plus for the whites. Dirk hit a 25-footer with 4 secs left to tie it up after Shawn Bradley had sunk 2 clutch FT's to give the scrubs a seemingly insurmountable 3-point lead with 8 secs left. The scrubs led big virtually the whole game, and the game was the most hotly contested and competitive of the last 3 years I've been. It was fun, worth every penny.

Oh, having 'DFW' on the jerseys and having Finley and Bradley pick fans outta the stands to shoot FT's to decide a winner was a nice touch. The latter idea appeared to be Cuban's - if I interpreted the situation correctly.

Scrubs -

Devin Harris - I was happy that I wasn't disappointed. But, he has work to do yet. He had 2 flashy passes on the break and a Kidd-like bounce pass on the secondary break once. Oooohs and aaaaahs from the crowd. He hit a big baseline jumper near the end that looked to be a coffin nail for the starters - pretty clutch - you could see him bear down to hit that shot. He played a lot of 2-guard with Dickau at PG - they tried to run him off screens Wisconsin-style in this line-up. I don't think he shot well at all, boxscore will tell us more. He has a very business-like demeanor and concentration level - good game face - not a phony like Stevie Franchise - THANK GAWD. He seems to understand he's the QB and needs to be aware of everything. I see court-awareness and some niftyness to his passing. He can pass off the dribble with one-hand nicely and seems to have excellent peripheral vision. Seemed a little bit too right-hand dominant at times. Quick like bunny, cross-ovah he got, head up on the break, puts his passes in good spots for the receiver to matriculate down the field, vocalized running sets, babysat the offensively-clueless Ebola in the half-court, and chided Hood once for missing an eye-popping pass he attempted that ended up in the front row. The bad ... Terry picked his pocket 2 or 3 times just pressuring in the back-court. When Dickau ran point the starters didn't pressure the ball. When Devin ran point they turned the heat on high. He even had trouble fending off Terry to take the inbounds pass. Then Terry would hound him up court, often with Dirk at his side harassing Devin with the mini-press. I'm guessing Nellie sees a weakness and is giving Devin reps against the press, 'cause he needs them. He's fast and can dribble, so his problems against pressure must be experience-related - he has the tools to handle it with ease if he can learn the tricks. His defense didn't stick out to me, but Terry didn't run amok, gotta credit some of that to Devin's D. Devin is cloooose to having a grasp of the runners and floaters NBA PG's need to master - needs work still. All in all it looks like his biggest problem is that he's an ignorant inconsistent frackin' rookie. Get the floaters down, learn to handle pressure better, shoot better, get some experience - maybe we got something there. I'm just happy a low ceiling wasn't obvious in his young game.

Josh Howard - Game MVP. The scrubs basically gave the ball to Josh and got outta his way - Devin's choices weren't difficult to make. He seemed to win every loose ball with his long arms and tenacity. Josh is such an enigma for me. The guy could be stupid good but for some reason I doubt it will ever happen. He matched up with Dirk on D lots and dominated stretches of the game. The rotation and arc on his shot look better. If he is patient and works his shot could fall better someday. Seemed healthy and strong. Relentless. Had Stack complaining to the refs. I think he flat out stuffed a Finley fall-away at the FT line once - rare sight indeed considering Finley's high release point. [Mighta been Mbenga that did that.] If Josh is playing that well in practice it makes you wonder why Nellie is doubting his PT in the press. Josh is setting the standard high for Marquis when he returns.

Bradley - Played well, kind of shocking actually. His height and the small paint bottled up Damp a bit. Damp ain't gonna be facing The Gantry every night in the L.

Henderson - He'd be fine for 10 mins a game if he could be counted on. Much more polished and fluid than Booth. That peanut brittle back must be a bummer.

Hood - I think he started. Would look good driving a beer truck.

Dickau - Played more than I thought he would. He played like Dan Dickau always plays. Dead man walking.

MBenga - Athletic, like all the reports. His repertoire was a 12-foot jumper that he hit 1 outta 2 of, and a hop-along baby-hook over his left shoulder swinging into the paint. The baby-hook looked good, looked unstoppable ... but never went in. Clueless on offense - spacing, recognition, picks, knowledge of the plays - Devin started every set with a shout and a point in aid of Mbenga's confusion. The starters seemed to overplay the scrubs on defense in order to lure the ball into Mbenga's hands as the shot-clock dwindled. Hey, at least he wasn't shy to put it up. Once, DJ and Josh were doing a 2-man game looking to get Josh open for a pass in the post. MBenga was so inept at executing the rub pick that Josh just stopped, closed his eyes and started giggling to himself. Mbenga lamely protested his plight ... to Josh's further hilarity. He tips a lot of balls and battles - he understood his role on offense was mainly to hit the boards. I can see why they want him in the stable for the next two years. I don't know why he can't eat minutes occasionally at center if a situation arose. Meh. Needs to improve if he wants another contract.

Starters -

Dirk - he needs a lot of work if he wants to ever average 100 pts/game. Still looks like a lowly 25/28 point/game guy to me. A pathetic example of wasted potential. I don't think he missed after rimming off his first 2 shots.

Finley - Bet he gets panned. Going back to Casey Jacobsen's diary - old Fin is stiff and sore from the 2-a-days, and his hammy hurts - you could just tell. He was careful and deliberate with his movements and explosion. He'll be fine if the hammy strain is truly minor. Showed flashes, but held himself back a bunch. He was hilarious during a stint as post-game MC of the fan FT shooting tie-breaker. Loves me some Fin.

Stack - Slow start, nice finish. Another vet who looked to be feeling the 2-a-days. Loosened up as the game progressed. He had some educated moves and drives that got him to the FT line in the 2nd half - his FTA numbers aren't an accident. I don't think he hit a jumper - kinda cold. The refs let Josh man-handle him - Stack complained a few times. He laid low and blended in - John Gonzalez of the Dallas Observer can bite me. He seemed to work well with Fin, Dirk and Terry - the guy's a fluid player. They really didn't run a lot of plays for him. The starters rode Dirk for a tie after being down big to the scrubs - Stack's looks suffered as Dirk rained harm. He might get panned for the Fan Jam but he'll be fine. It was so nice not to hear Antoine Walker's constant whooping for the ball. I think they are gonna LOVE not having that oppressive distraction around.

Terry - He seemed to be under orders not to push the ball. Mostly just brought it up and started the sets. Was offensively very conservative. Scored 6 or 8 points I'm guessing. Had a coupla nice passes. Took at least 4 clean steps before his first dribble as a rule - it was hilarious, almost a Steve Francis-like disregard for the arbiters. Executed with Dirk and Fin pretty well - happy to see that. JT ran a high p'n'r with Damp pretty well in crunch-time a coupla times. One play stood out to me in crunch-time - a high p'n'r off double picks by Damp and Dirk had JT veering to the hoop unabated drawing the weak-side help. Both Dirk and a cutting Fin were wide open spotting up - JT had his pick, and wisely chose Dirk. That's the kind of offense I wanna see Nellie run - not that crap point forward stuff that AW put me to sleep with last season. Defensively Terry was a pest. Very nice. Devin probably has nightmares that Terry is denying him the other pillow. He's not Nash, but he's not horrible either. Dirk and his offensive sidekicks are gonna have to do a little more work for themselves this season without Nash poking holes in the opponents' D.

Dampier - Still has bad hands. Bradley just umbrella'ed him most of the game. Got kinda ugly once when a nifty Terry pass hit him in the back when he turned his head looking for a rebound - very Raef-like - shoulda been a bunny. He does have a nice chemistry with Dirk. [Yeah, Dirk can't pass. Please.] Didn't show much, but he's big and pretty agile and I can see how he could be a double-double guy easy. Set a few nice picks - once, Fin rubbed off him for an easy look along the baseline. Swish. There were usually 4 7-footers in the game clogging up Damp's cramped, college-width office space - mighta bottled him up a tad. He ain't Shaq. He's nice to have when healthy. Just stay healthy.

Booth - Warmed up by almost exclusively taking face-up perimeter jumpers. Nellie has a plan for Cal. Good luck with that. He's big and nimble - not very fluid. Y'all know Cal. Cal is Cal. Seemed more at ease and personable with his teammates this time around. Like he enjoyed being he. Didn't get that vibe from him the first time around.

Avery - Climbed in Charlie Parker's coaching jock and road it the whole game. Every gesture or shout Charlie made was punctuated by Avery's fervent Wooden-esque patois. He pretty much ran the starters' huddle. He played a little spelling Terry. Kind've embarrassed himself lamely fumbling the ball out of bounds once. As a player Avery's a heck of coach.

Didn't see TAW. Didn't see Esch. Didn't see P-Pod. Marquis Daniels hung around the starters' bench. Seemed at ease. Didn't see Nellie. Saw Donnie. Saw Terdema. Cuban just sat at the end of the starters' bench and annoyingly hovered over their huddle. The wife of the Ft. Worth mayor had a strong sweater-presence ... almost gravity-defying, if I do say so. Humble Billy Hayes ... I'm not saying he needs to be assassinated, but didn't Lee Harvey Oswald live in Ft. Worth? The horse mascot fell off a folding chair and had to be physically pried from it's grip by a few strong men.

Generally speaking - those fellas were tired, sore, stiff and sick of playing each other. But they competed well and to the end. I get a more 'homogeneous' feel from this group than last year. That's a good thing.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Steve Nash stuff

[Still a Nash fan, wish he was still around ... sigh ...]

Body of evidence

Summer regimen credited for Nash's start

Paul Coro
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 24, 2004 12:00 AM

The average NBA player is slightly taller than 6 feet, 7 inches, weighs slightly more than 224 pounds and plays an average of 4 1/2 years.

Eleven games into his ninth season, Suns point guard Steve Nash is both way above and below average. At 6 feet 3 and 195 pounds, Nash is small by NBA standards. At 30, he is old by Suns standards. Yet Nash is averaging nearly 36 minutes per game for the league's youngest team, and he says he is in the best shape of his life.

"He's changed his body around more than anybody I've seen go from college to the pros, and became quicker," Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said.

Nash credits a "revolutionary" workout program designed to develop specific basketball muscles, enhance coordination - especially between the upper and lower body - and prevent injuries.

Vancouver physiotherapist Rick Celebrini, who played pro soccer with Nash's brother, developed the program for Nash after years of rehabilitating athletes. He wanted to try to prevent injuries rather than help athletes heal from them.

Celebrini began by analyzing Nash's four athletic movements - forward/backward, lateral, diagonal and rotational motion - to see how he could make them more efficient.

This was more than curls and crunches. It was training tied to practical basketball moves. For example, Nash was stronger planting and turning off one foot than the other. Celebrini retaught Nash the move to make him equally quick and powerful off both sides.

Nash worked out five hours a day, five days a week during the off-season, with a 2 1/2-hour workout on Saturdays. A typical morning session would encompass a series of plyometric drills and sprints before Nash would perform the same exercises with weighted tubes around his ankles and a weighted vest on his chest.

The idea was to keep Nash's form consistent despite physical taxation.

"More than anything, what I did was core work. I've always worked hard to get in shape to make sure I can play every game," said Nash, who played every game for Dallas in 2001-02 and 2002-03 and missed only four games last season. "It's really valuable to me to play in as many games as I can."

To Celebrini, the "core" is more than just the body's midsection. It is an "integration center" for the upper and lower body. If Nash is dribbling fast, coordinating his hands and feet, he also may have to shield off a defender with his upper body. That requires core muscles.

When he shoots, his motor skills must have a consistent base of support, again relying on core muscles.

"The players who can do that without compromising stability or mobility are the athletes who succeed and stay injury free," Celebrini said. "You need raw strength and quickness, but if you don't have proper patterns, it becomes inefficient."

Nash signed up for Celebrini's program after the Suns gave him a six-year deal worth up to $66 million. A part of him worked to honor the Suns' commitment to him. A part of him wanted to refute a contention of his former boss, Dallas owner Mark Cuban.

"It's that kamikaze spirit and approach to the game that is Steve's greatest weakness," Cuban wrote July 3 on his Web site, explaining why Dallas didn't make more of an effort to re-sign Nash. " . . . Our feeling was that we were fortunate that Steve had been so injury free, that it was only a matter of time before his style of play caught up with him."

It hasn't caught him yet. Nash leads the NBA in assists and trails only his greatest benefactor, Amaré Stoudemire, in shooting. He is shooting 57 percent and is averaging 16.2 points and 11.6 assists.

"We've got the youngest team in the NBA, and I'm not sure if he's not one of the youngest," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said of his second-oldest player. "He has a great body and attitude. It's usually the mind that burns out, not the body."

Nash's physiotherapist is not concerned about any sort of burnout.

"With his focus and mental discipline, without a doubt, Steve can be looking at another contract (at age 36)," Celebrini said.

[... sigh ...]

Short blurb from the AZ Republic ...

Steve Nash butting in when head coach Mike D'Antoni tried to end practice early last week. Nash took a few moments to show teammates how to dribble out of the corners against zone defenses, thus forcing the movement of interior defenders and creating space for Shawn Marion or Amaré Stoudemire.

It was impressive and reassuring, and something you never would have seen from the departed Stephon Marbury, who couldn't tell a zone defense from a zone blitz.

[... sigh ...]

OUT LOUD: Steve Nash
November 23, 2004

The new Sun (and new dad) talks love and war with Steve Rosenbloom in Phoenix.

It was a great learning experience for me (the sustained booing he took from Dallas fans).

It made me realize more clearly the nature of professional sports. It's tongue-in-cheek. Don't take yourself too seriously and don't take this whole deal too seriously. It's just a game.

We had twins. Two little girls -- Bella and Lola. It's a little hard when you get to the gym and you're exhausted. But when you wake up in the middle of the night to see those little suckers, it's the greatest thing in the world.

I've always prefaced everything I say by saying I am Canadian and in some ways that denounces my right to have an opinion, and in some ways my right is just as valid and important because of the global community and our relationship with the United States. Although we didn't support the war in Canada, we are very grateful and thankful for our relationship and many of the benefits the United States offers us.

But I'm against war.

Just the way it went down, I made it clear I thought we could've exhausted all possibilities before then. To me, I just didn't buy the link. It seemed very transparent to me the link to Al-Qaeda.

The people that generally had a problem with what I said didn't listen close to what I said. It is a democracy and freedom of speech is a part of the Constitution, I believe.

You could do no wrong in my mom's eyes.

My dad played professional soccer in England and South Africa. My first word was "Goal."

I used to play chess with my dad. When I told him that there was a chess tournament at school, he said, "You better play in it," and I won it for four of five years in elementary school. Chess kind of lost its priority after that.

When I was in high school, I'd just dribble. If I was going to a friend's house, I'd just dribble. If we were going to play ball, instead of riding a bike, I'd dribble.

There was a University of Victoria, and me and my friends used to jimmy the doors so that when they closed up, we could get in. Friday night, instead of drinking beers at the beach, we'd sneak in, and it'd be World War III and they had no idea. This was when we were 13.

My basketball heroes were Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan.

A lot of schools had been notified (when he was looking for a college scholarship), a few had seen me play, but maybe they didn't trust their eyes. "It can't be what I think it is because it's a little white guy from Canada."

I don't see the international players being anything except evolutionary to the game.

I love passing the ball. Passing the ball, you feel good and the guy who scores feels good, so two is better than one in my book. If I wanted to just make myself feel good all the time, I'd have played golf or tennis.

Edmonton Oilers with Gretzky, my hero. I met him at a tournament. Spent a day and night with him. One of the greatest days of my life.

He (when Dallas signed Dennis Rodman) didn't say a word to anybody unless it was during a game when the lights were on, when the cameras were on. He wouldn't even say, "Good morning." I think guys were a little disappointed in that. But he's on his own deal, so what do you expect?

I'm trying to cut it shorter (His famous hair). My girlfriend certainly likes it longer.

Those rumors (his supposed relationships with Elizabeth Hurley and Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice) -- it's embarrassing. It makes me like it was contrived or like I enjoyed that. They were totally blown out of proportion.

Be yourself. It's pretty simple. And have fun.

[... sigh ...]

Nash articles pepper the AZ press.
Nash articles pepper the Canadian press.
Even Charley Rosen is impressed.

[... sigh ... FK]

One fan's take on Dirk-hype

[I found these quips at an NBA forum. The author is sarcastically responding to what he considers a little too much Dirk-hype early in the season. yuck yuck, not bad. FK]

-He [Dirk] was once caught poaching in Africa, and planned to sell ivory. He was caught, and had the wit to lie and say he was killing the elephants for meat. I'll be damned if he didn't sit there in front of the ranger and eat every last one of those rotting elephant carcases, just to corroborate his story.

-He watched, in the following order: How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Titanic, and three entire WNBA games, just to show it could be done, and to win a $10 bet from Tariq Abdul-Wahad. When Abdul-Wahad refused to pay, Dirk didn't care, as he had already proven his point.

-Quagmire from Family Guy is loosely based on Dirk.

The Mavericks once held a high-stakes handicap fight- no holds barred- pitting Dirk against Evan Eschmeyer and Wang Zhi Zhi. The match lasted a remarkable 18 rounds, ending in a draw. Post-match, it was learned that Dirk was unaware the fight had begun. This may not say much for his attentiveness, but the remarkable fact that Dirk was able to battle two larger men to a standstill without even being consciously aware of it shows how he has a sixth- no, no.....a SEVENTH- sense beyond what us normal humans can even comprehend.

Though his current human form is in its mid-20's, Nowitzki is the force largely responsible for the Industrial Revolution, the Renaissance, the Magna Carta, Debbie Does Dallas, and penicillin.

Oh, and Transformers. Much like Dirk, they were more than meets the eye.

The Nowitzki (yes....he is now prefaced with a "The")sacrificies a small Vietnamese man to the gods before every road game. To a man, every last one of them are thrilled that their last moments are spent in The Nowitzki's presence.

Suspensions Mobilize NBA Players Union

By Greg Sandoval
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 28, 2004

The swift manner with which the NBA meted out punishment to Ron Artest and other members of the Indiana Pacers in the wake of the brawl last week in Auburn Hills, Mich., has rankled many in the NBA Players Association at a time when the league and its players' union are entering a crucial phase of labor talks.

NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended Artest for the final 73 games of the season, a move that will also cost Artest more than $5 million in salary. In addition, Stern suspended fellow Pacers Stephen Jackson (30 games) and Jermaine O'Neal (25 games).

Under NBA rules, Stern has not only the authority to hand out suspensions but also the final say on appeals. Billy Hunter, the players' union's executive director, will crisscross the country to tell the more than 400 union members that Stern's authority must be scaled back.

"If you don't challenge this apparatus now, what happened to Ron Artest can happen to anyone," Hunter said in a phone interview this week. "This is a grave concern of mine and [the players]. A bunch of them have already told me 'Billy, you can't let these suspensions stand.' "

Said Washington Wizards forward Etan Thomas, the team's player representative: "What good does it do you to file an appeal to the guy who set the punishment? Is he going to admit he was wrong? You need someone independent to hear the appeals."

The issue takes on greater importance with labor negotiations intensifying. The existing collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of this season.

Stern "has now made this a big issue at the labor negotiations," said a person close to the players' union. "He can do anything he wants with that power. The union is going to want a change."

Stern has clearly indicated that the league wants stricter standards for player conduct.

At the news conference to announce the suspensions last week, Stern said, "Although we didn't ask to be at the epicenter of this discussion, we now are going to be in discussion about what we're going to tolerate with respect to fan behavior, what we're going to tolerate with respect to player behavior."

The replays have been shown repeatedly since the melee at the end of the Detroit Pistons-Indiana Pacers game on Nov. 19. In one of the ugliest incidents ever in American sports, Artest and Jackson charged into the stands to exchange blows with fans, some of whom had thrown objects at the players, including a cup that struck Artest in the face. Fighting continued on the arena floor and at the tunnel exit.

At least nine people suffered minor injuries; two have filed lawsuits. Auburn Hills police said that charges against fans and athletes are "forthcoming."

Stern was praised by much of the public -- and some of the league's corporate backers -- for coming down hard on the players involved. Some fans have called on the commissioner to continue cleaning up the league's "thug" image.

Hunter expects the issue of discipline to be aired during negotiations, but stopped short of calling it a deal-breaker. He acknowledged that the league locked out the players at the conclusion of the last labor talks in 1997 and notes a provision in the league's television contracts that allows the NBA to field teams staffed by replacement players in the event of a work stoppage.

"The reality is that we have 450 of the best basketball players in the world. Our players are the game," Hunter said. "The owners certainly have [the lockout provision] in their arsenal. But if they resorted to using replacement players . . . the game would die."

Hunter contends that whipping up public opinion against the players is a dangerous gambit. While Stern may appease fans and corporate partners by cracking down on players, the suspensions further undermine the players' image, according to Hunter.

"It's a two-edged sword," Hunter said. "The league has to be concerned about damaging the product. The players are being vilified. Even if David is not doing it directly, his suspensions are seeding negative stereotypes of basketball players. David is a sophisticated man. He knows he needs the public to accept the players, but the underlying message he is sending -- which is false -- is that the athletes are overpaid, spoiled, self-indulgent guys."

NBA executives did not respond to repeated requests for interviews.

Hunter has filed an appeal on behalf of Artest, O'Neal and Jackson, asking that the appeal be heard by arbitrator Roger Kaplan. Having an outside arbitrator is not unprecedented for the league. In 1997, Latrell Sprewell's case was heard by arbitrator John Feerick after Sprewell was suspended a full season for choking coach P.J. Carlesimo.

The union argued that Stern was authorized to dole out discipline only for on-court behavior. The incident occurred at practice and therefore was considered off the court.

Feerick reduced the punishment to 68 games, and also prevented the Warriors from voiding Sprewell's contract.

Hunter argues that many of the actions by Pacers players occurred in the stands, not on the court, and therefore are not subject to Stern's authority. Should the union's appeal be rejected, Hunter could decide to file a lawsuit.

"The NBA has won in terms of sending a message to the players," Hunter said. "It was obvious that some disciplinary action was needed. Nobody could condone what happened. But by taking the penalties to such an extreme, he was forcing us to act."

[Credit the creativity of Hunter and crew for spinning things against the league and Stern when the brawl could instead have had a negative effect on the upcoming CBA negotiations - FK]

Monday, November 22, 2004

Franz Unleashed

The only way you'll ever stop wondering if you'd enjoy keeping a blog is if you try it. So, here goes. I hope nobody gets hurt ...