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The Madhouse - Week of 8/30

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Devin Booker criticism, Suns secret codes, customer service, League Pass

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Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Kale.

After today there will only be five more installments of The Madhouse before the Suns preseason schedule kicks off. You need to be loud and obnoxious about how masterful writing like this needs to continue after the season gets underway.

Suns Stuff

On Monday Rod’s Center of the Sun piece touched on everything Devin Booker, particularly the criticism that the future Hall of Famer faces.

Firstly, lets cover the most recent news. The Booker double-team controversy. That’s a dumb story. I mean really dumb. But it’s the NBA offseason and we cover dumb things. I get it. We have to talk about something. But Devin Booker and Joakim Noah barking at one another regarding whether or not double-teaming is appropriate in pick-up basketball is no more important than Keith telling you about his potential kale garden or what video games he’s playing.

In any event, here’s the long and short of it. At this point in his career it is impossible to appropriately gauge how good or bad Devin Booker actually is. Those paying attention will circle back to where I boldly claimed Booker is a future Hall of Famer.

I don’t want to hear about your advanced stats, I don’t give a rip. The Suns teams Book has played on are not just bad, they are historically bad. I don’t need advanced stats to know that. Phoenix has averaged 21 wins in Devin Booker’s 4-year career. And the most recent year was the worst year.

I’m not saying you can’t learn something from good players on bad teams. I bounce around when I write The Madhouse, but somewhere down below I mention Mitch Richmond winning the 1995 NBA All-Star Game MVP while with the Sacramento Kings. I was 13 at the time. I remember the Kings being pretty bad.

That Sacramento team won 39 games. I know, I just looked it up. That’s more than twice what Phoenix won last season. I understand the want or need to determine Booker’s place in the NBA universe, but guys, you can’t learn a lot from his first four seasons. It’s wrapping your favorite food in garbage and then being asked how it tastes.

Among the other things discussed, and I know you read Rod’s article because it is your second favorite after mine, was whether or not the Suns would be a playoff team in any of Booker’s first four seasons if Devin was switched out with ANY other NBA player.

The answer to that question is yes. And the player is probably LeBron James. But I’m sure the math works with other players as well.

For what it’s worth Devin Booker is my favorite player in the NBA, I think he is very good at basketball and it would be my hope that he is in Phoenix for a long time.

Unless the team moves to Las Vegas.

NBA Stuff

“During my injury rehab process, before I signed with the Nets, I was prescribed a treatment that included small doses of a substance recently added to the NBA’s prohibited substance list. I did not realize this substance was banned, and neither did the doctor.

”I accept responsibility and apologize to my Nets teammates, coaches, front office and fans for this mistake. I will continue to work hard to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Man, you can set your watch to that response.

“You know I’m all about business

L.A. is gonna regret their decision

Straight to the money, you know how we get it

We count up the cash and we add up the digits”

Wow. There is magic on those tapes.

  • This week we were blessed with the 2019 installment of the Kobe-Shaq beef. A new, fun wrinkle is Raja Bell’s claim that the Lakers had a code word instructing teammates to not give Bryant the ball.

“Shaq told me a story. We had a kid named Gordon Giricek on our Suns team, he had gotten there, and Gordon would go in the game, and Gordon was about his buckets. So Gordon would get in, and no matter what we were doing, no matter what the flow or the chemistry was, Gordon would be just, you know, shooting the ball. Gordon was my guy, I played with him in Utah.”

“But Shaq started saying ‘hey guys, this is the symbol’ (twitches thumbs downward) ‘when I give you this, Gordon doesn’t get the ball anymore.’ And I’m like ‘dude what is the background on that, where’d you come up with that?’ And he was like ‘when Kobe was young, he would be going in and just trying to get ‘em, so the rest of us had a universal kind of code that if we looked at each other and went (gives signal) then that meant Kobe didn’t get the ball anymore.’”

Pardon me, time to go back and watch Lakers highlights.

My Stuff

What I’m reading: “Then Ozzie Said to Harold...”: The Best Chicago White Sox Stories Ever Told by Lew Freedman & Billy Pierce. Next up: Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker.

What I’m playing: I’ve revisited NBA Jam with the joystick in the last week. I find that to be much more fan than using a controller.

What I’m listening to: Lots of Simon and Garfunkel recently. I’m sure someone has made this observation in the last 50 years, but is it not funny that the duo who created the greatest song ever made about friendship also famously dislike each other?

What I’m watching: I’ve been wanting to watch Black Swan for awhile. Give it the college try last Saturday. I fell asleep 15 minutes in. I simply cannot start a movie at 1030p. That era of my life is over.

Suns Swag

I’m going outside the Suns universe this week because....well I’m going outside the Suns universe this week. Here’s some interesting NBA All-Star Game memorabilia I found while spending entirely too much time on eBay and insisting upon buying four books instead of two because you get 15% off if you buy four and you save $1.50. That’s bad logic.

Walter Davis Game Used Shorts: Ok, I lied. As luck would have it one of the first interesting pieces I came across once belonged to the great Walter Davis. Davis appeared in six ASGs, all while with the Suns.

The seller is offering an LOA from their very company, so take that for what it’s worth. If these are in fact Davis’ All-Star game shorts, they are from the 1979 season. That was his second season in the league, one in which he would average 23.6 points per game on 56% shooting.

Davis second All-Star appearance yielded 8 points to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists in 19 minutes. The ask is $1475. Obviously, offers will be heard.

1995 All-Star Game Coaches Meeting Agenda: I think weird stuff like this is cool, albeit not enough to part with 500 chicken sandwiches.

Here’s the extent of the seller’s description:

“Nba Coaches Meeting Agenda 1995 All Star Game And Cover Letter previous owned by Jerry Sloan extremely rare”

No mention of an LOA or COA might make this deal DOA. Either way, it’s fun to think back to a simpler time of basketball when we were less concerned with shooting as many threes as possible and more concerned with the violence that helped many of us fall in love with the game.

1982 All-Star Game Computer Punch Card: I learned something.

Evidently there was a time in which this was the preferred method for determining who would be named MVP of February’s mid-season classic. For $150, or less, and you can be sure that the seller will get less, you can own this odd memento from the ‘82 ASG.

This sportswriter cast a vote for Robert Parish. The Chief scored 21 points and pulled down 7 boards in 20 minutes. MVP honors went to Larry Bird who tallied 19 and 12 in 28 minutes in a 120-118 Eastern Conference victory.

2002 Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Game Banner: Now this one isn’t a terrible deal.

$100 or perhaps substantially less will get you this banner hung in 2002 at what is now Wells Fargo Center but was then the First Union Center in Philadelphia. You may recall this as the year Kobe returned to Philly for an ASG and we were supposed to care for some reason. The West conquered the East. Kobe was named MVP. Philly didn’t seem to care.

Be advised that these things are huge and often dirty. I know, I tried to buy a similar item at an Anaheim Ducks garage sale several years back. My girlfriend at the time, now wife, was in tow. We lived in a one-bed, one-bath in Santa Ana. One of these banners would have occupied a significant amount of wall space.

My efforts to buy were unsuccessful.

1995 All-Star Game Ticket: This would not be a bad addition to your collection.

The seller is parting with a 1995 NBA All-Star Game ticket that is encased in a thick lucite holder. The 1995 game is the one that gave use among the best or worst ASG jerseys of all time, depending on where your tastes lie.

The West blew by the East 139-112. Mitch Richmond of the Kings was named MVP. Charles Barkley had 15 points and 9 rebounds. Dan Majerle chipped in 10 and 5.

This is the sort of thing I would buy if it matched anything in my den or office. I don’t know that it’s particularly valuable, but it’s in a nice case for displaying, and is an important part of Suns history. It’s posted at $55, but I’ll bet you can talk the seller down.

What I’m Thinking

  • Andrew Luck retired on Saturday. It was weird.

But it’s not a sad story. I can’t meet you guys there. And that’s exactly what Adam Schefter called it on the radio today. A “sad story.”

Andrew Luck is walking away from a profession that threatens to leave him unable to take a piss or remember who he is sooner than later. He’s walking away with millions of dollars. Oh, and just as a safety net, he has that Stanford degree to fall back on. We should all be so lucky. I know how comforting that safety net is. I have a degree from Ball State University which is essentially the Stanford of Indiana.

That said, I do comprehend that perhaps it is not something I would appreciate because I am not an Indianapolis Colts fan and I do not live in Indianapolis or Indiana.

THAT SAID, I talked to my father earlier in the week and he queried, “Keith, how would you feel if the Golden Knights goalie said he was walking away two weeks before the season started?” I really gave it some serious thought, and responded:

“Dad, Marc-Andre Fleury loves us, and would not do that to us.”

  • You know the popular thought that you shouldn’t give a waiter, or server, or whatever word you are supposed to use these days, or a customer service person a hard time because they may be having a bad day or something may have happened that is beyond their control? That’s a good thought. That’s a kind thought. That’s a compassionate thought.

But the conversation is getting out of control. It’s turning into, “if you’re served food that is quite clearly three days old and you are served that food with a thunderstorm of profanity, don’t you dare say a curt word to that server. Furthermore, you need to make sure you tip 45% on the bill because you are a dirtbag for even walking through the door to begin with.”

I am “talk to your manager” guy. That’s not a popular guy these days. I don’t curse. I don’t raise my voice. But bad service needs to addressed.

But for every time I ask to speak with a manager regarding bad service, I ask to talk to someone when that person has done a great job. I call hotlines at the bottom of receipts just to say someone did a good job. Address good and bad work. That’s the only way things will get better.

A month ago I screwed up an online pizza order because I was completing it on my cell phone and I had a 13 month old who didn’t want me on my phone and that should be all the explanation you need. Delivery driver came to my door, I realized my mistake, and took full responsibility. She insisted on going back to the store to make it right. She returned, the tip was more than the bill and I had her write down her info so I could address it with customer service.

Hopefully she got a pat on the back, or more. Frankly, I deserve a medal. Everyone wins. Address the good and the bad.

  • In a rage I had not previously known in adulthood I canceled the NBA package at the conclusion of last season. I clicked that button on my budget laptop so aggressively the Chromebook is still weeping.

But I just can’t do it. I’m weak. I’m going to come back. I know it. I just know it. I can’t not know, in real time, what the Suns look like. I’ve grown less bitter as the offseason has progressed and I can’t seem to shake one indisputable fact.

The Suns were very bad last year, and they have made a lot of changes.

It’s going to be different this season. It just is. Phoenix may be bad. But they’ll be a different brand of bad.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, a German physicist who I read about 90 seconds before typing this sentence once said, “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better.”

Lichtenberg passed in February of 1799. I can’t help but think he was speaking directly to me, over 200 years later, about how I should part with $200 to watch out-of-market NBA games.

Some Quote

“I remember playing a high school basketball game where I didn’t eat anything for breakfast. I ate, you know, like a PB and J and some chips for lunch and nothing before the game. I didn’t make it through the first quarter. I wish I hadn’t have learned that way, but it did leave a lasting impression.” - Andrew Luck