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The Madhouse - Week of 9/13

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Rubio, Saric, Oubre, Marbury, Booker, unions, the return of video stores, and Danny Ainge sucks.

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Toronto Raptors v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Happy Friday. Cheat on your diet this weekend.

Suns Stuff

In this week’s Center of the Sun Rod touched on the performances of Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes at the FIBA World Cup. What we are seeing is very promising.

I don’t blame Devin Booker one bit for not playing with the Americans at the tournament, but at the same time I’m going to heap a ton of praise on Rubio and Baynes for doing just that.

I mean playing doesn’t hurt, unless it hurts, and these guys have been very impressive.

Also is it foolish to think that these guys, who have both seen their NBA addresses change in the last sixty days, stand to benefit something from coexisting in the same basketball universe for a couple weeks this summer?

I think there’s something to gain. I’ve already told you on multiple occasions that I don’t do advanced statistics because they’re from the devil. But at the risk of sounding pseudo-Freudian, and by extension obnoxious, I think that it’s a good thing these guys are playing in the same basketball tournament, representing different countries, 6500 miles from Phoenix, Arizona. Would I say that if they were not playing well and their teams were not winning?

No. I probably would not.

The questions for the FanTable centered around the best and worst case scenarios for the new guys. Rubio, Dario Saric, and Kelly Oubre Jr. specifically.

I don’t need no damn stats. Rubio is fine playing the defense he has in the past. His primary focus, as it should be with any point guard because I’m getting old and don’t want to change my ways, should be to get the ball to the guy who is big and the guy who shoots well. After Booker and Ayton have each gone for 40, Rubio can score a couple points. If there’s time left.

Worst case scenario is that his defense falls off significantly because he’s tired from playing in the 2019 FIBA World Cup COMPLETELY destroying my theory above. He shoots too much. he stops caring because your Suns look like the Suns from last year. And the year before. And the year before. And the year before. But I doubt he’d stop caring when the Suns are losing. No one has really done that before.

Saric is easy. The best case is Philadelphia Dario. The worst case is Minnesota Dario. Philadelphia Dario is fine.

I’d be happy if Kelly Oubre Jr. can do a Devin Booker impression when Devin Booker isn’t looking like Devin Booker. Once arriving in Phoenix he shot just as well from three as Book did last year, granted it was a down year for Devin. I wouldn’t mind seeing Oubre get up a few more shots this season.

Defense is all effort. How old do I sound now? He has the tools to provide a significant upgrade to the Suns defensively in 2019-20. The worst case scenario is that the Suns lose and he’s pretty and he loses interest. Maybe it’s painting with a broad stroke, but I just don’t think pretty people want to play defense. They probably want to sell some scarf on TV or something.

NBA Stuff

The president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, wants his team to play in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Real Madrid has won a record 10 EuroLeague titles as well as four of the last five trophies of whatever the Spanish League hands out. They can have Atlanta.

Iso Joe is back with the Detroit Pistons. You can go ahead and write in that 41-41 record from last season.

Kevin Durant is spending more time in his head again, something you can expect more of through his basketball-less season, and Scottie Pippen is here to remind KD that the game is all about business.

Officials at LAX confiscated a collection of 28 counterfeit NBA championship rings. They determined that the rings would have been sold for upwards of half a million dollars. In the video provided a Michael Jordan championship ring is shown. Michael Jordan. Anyone under the impression they’re going to be buying Jordan’s championship ring is going to be parted from their money sooner than later.

LeBron James attempted to trademark “Taco Tuesday.” He lost.

The NBA has banned players from wearing “ninja-style” headbands.

“The ninja-style headwear is not part of the NBA uniform and hasn’t been through the league approval process,” league spokesman Mike Bass wrote in a statement. “Teams have raised concerns regarding safety and consistency of size, length, and how they are tied which requires a thorough review before consideration of any rule change.”

Oh my god, who cares? The Suns need ninjas to keep things interesting when they’re getting wrecked by 40 against Portland in March.

Austin Croshere is having trouble selling his Malibu house. Here’s what Austin Croshere’s Malibu house looks like.

Dennis Rodman estimates that up to 20% of NBA players are gay.

Serbia knocked off the United States Thursday night in a World Cup consolation game. At best the Americans can finish seventh. It will be the worst tournament finish in program history.

If you are a collector of such things, here is what the 2020 Hall of Fame commemorative coin will look like.

My Stuff

What I’m reading: The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks. Next: Turning the Black Sox White: The Misunderstood Legacy of Charles A. Comiskey, Tim Hornbaker.

What I’m playing: Truxton II, a 1993 shoot-em-up from Toaplan.

What I’m listening to: The Aquabats!, a band I only learned about last Friday, when loyal reader chilliard3 mentioned them in the comments section.

What I’m watching: Law and Order. Just last week I watched my first full episode of Law and Order. I asked my wife if it was still on. She advised me that the incarnation I was watching was not only finished, but the episode I was watching was nearly 30 years old. So I’ve just now discovered Law and Order. I’m a fan.

Suns Swag

Devin Booker Signed Basketball: I share this mostly to make a point. Often, game used or signed memorabilia is not as expensive as the uninformed consumer might think. Maybe that’s bad for collectors, I don’t know. But it’s definitely good for the fan that wants some cool stuff in their office, den, or garage. Or other areas of the house, but my wife is such a tyrant.

This particular offering will run you $125, after shipping. It’s a good looking basketball, and is signed in silver paint pen, which presents nicely. It also comes with authentication from a reputable source. You might not care about that if you never plan on selling the item. I doubt very seriously I’ll ever part with my collection, but I always want the authenticity documents all the same.

Signed Booker basketballs can be had for less. This one is only sixty bucks, after shipping, and the seller will take less. The basketball is not nearly as nice though, the signature is sloppier, and it doesn’t really “pop.” Also there’s no accompanying certificates to verify the authenticity.

In any event, there’s a lot of stuff out there and you can cobble together a nice collection for less than you might think.

Jason Kidd & Danny Ainge Signed Golf Scorecard: I don’t care for Jason Kidd. That should require no explanation.

For most of you I probably don’t need to explain Ainge either, but I’ll share a personal story anyway.

As you may or may not know to say that I am a member of the “press” or work in “media” or am in anyway a “journalist” is being very generous.

Still, I’ve had the opportunity to cover many sporting events as an impostor masquerading in the aforementioned fields. That includes the NBA Summer League on a couple of occasions.

The first time that occurred, I had a blast. Everyone with the Suns was so kind, including the players. Devin Booker, Alex Len, Josh Harrellson, Mike James, everyone. It was a very pleasant experience.

When I wasn’t conducting Suns related business I stayed and watched all of the Summer League games I could. I can be notoriously anti-social at times, but I talked to people. Pseudo-writers like myself. Fans. It was fun.

Then I just started chatting with people I recognized. The first was Paul Coro, formerly of the Arizona Republic. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.

After that dam had broke, I went all in. I was standing in the tunnel leading back to the players locker room at the Thomas and Mack Center. There were two people standing in the tunnel. Myself and Kevin McHale. Neither one of us were staring at our phones. It was quiet, well, as quiet as that environment can be anyway. The atmosphere demanded that words be exchanged. I’m sure Kevin thought the same thing.

So I walked up to him and motioned with my head towards the court and simply asked, “Well, what do you think?”

I can’t recall what response I expected, but McHale responded enthusiastically. It was awesome. I chatted with the Celtics legend for about ten minutes.

It wasn’t Suns related. Why did I do it? To gain journalistic experience? To create new and different content for SB Nation or Vox Media? No.

So I could call my brother and tell him that I had a conversation with Kevin McHale.

Now I knew this method could work. I had a plan. And it played out beautifully. When there weren’t Suns things to focus on I would just walk up to NBA people, motion to the court and say, “So what do you think?”

I had some very memorable conversations, and couldn’t wait to text my brother and tell him whom I had visited. Paul Westphal was especially kind. David Blatt talked with me for awhile, though perhaps he should have been doing other things, he’d be fired six months later. I had a lengthy talk with Woody Paige, who actually asked me why Emmanuel Mudiay wasn’t playing. Paige was late to the Nuggets game. Maybe that’s all he does. Roll in at his convenience chat with the likes of me, and throw something down on paper.

John Wall, Becky Hammon, Reggie Miller. They were all very cool. I walked away with a lot of stories for friends and family.

The following year I utilized the same method. It was again successful.

Until it wasn’t.

If you’ve never been to Summer League the first weekend sees very high attendance. It tapers off through the week, and can be pretty barren by the time the championship game rolls around. This has changed in recent years as the event has grown in popularity.

On the first Sunday night of NBA Summer League in 2016 I was sitting on the eastern baseline at Cox Pavilion to watch the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks.

The game was sparsely attended. I was there to watch A.J. Hammons. I grew up a Purdue Boilermakers fan and was curious to see if the three-time Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection could make it in the league. Spoiler Alert: He did not.

I turned to my left and saw a handful of people sitting in the roped-off bleachers normally reserved for coaches and other NBA personnel. I only recognized one face.

Danny Ainge.

Danny Ainge, who during the 1992-93 season game off the bench to provide a dose of veteran leadership and chip in a not insignificant 11.8 points and 3.3 assists in 27 minutes to help drive the Suns to the 1993 NBA Finals.

Oh, how cool it would be to tell my uncle Mark, who is a diehard Suns fan and has lived in Phoenix for over three decades, that I talked hoops with Danny Ainge.

I rolled up to Ainge, notebook in hand and had a seat. Not too close. Arms length, that’s the rule.

Pleasant but not goofy, I motioned towards the court. “So? What do you think?”

Silence.

If it was a second, it was an hour. He probably didn’t hear me. There’s no way Danny Ainge would do me like that. It was the simplest of questions. And I wasn’t dressed like some slacker, 4xl Penny Hardaway throwback with matching shorts and a vape pen hanging out of my mouth. I looked professional enough. Collared button down. I ironed. You know, work attire.

I cleared my throat. He obviously didn’t hear me. “So, what do you think?” A little quicker this time.

Another hour passed.

Then Ainge, never breaking sight of the court, simply said, “Please go.”

Those within earshot would tell you that the entire exchange occurred within ninety seconds. They are wrong. A third hour passed. And I left the bleachers, returning to my spot on the baseline.

I’m not entirely sure of why the dialogue ended there. If I was there as a fan a, “Well f*** you, Danny Ainge” would have been a near certainty. I should get a medal for reminding myself that, while wounded by those cutting two words, I was there representing others. And my existence on the fringes of journalism would have evaporated if I had gone Kermit Washington on Ainge.

How did we get here? Oh, yeah. Kidd and Ainge played in a celebrity golf tournament. They both signed their cards. Ainge took a six on the first hole because he’s a bum. $300 before shipping.

Stephon Marbury Sports Warriors Action Figure: Now here’s a guy I DO like. Stephon Marbury is all that is right with the world. Now let me tell you about this disturbing likeness of him.

Actually, I don’t know what to tell you. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be in the board room or back alley when this idea came to fruition. It’s basically a series of action figures where the NBA meets Mortal Kombat. Stephon Marbury, in monstrous form, is depicted cradling a basketball getting ready to slash or slash. There are five accessories with the figurine that appear to be bones. I’ll have to assume that they affix to the Marbury statue in some fashion. This piece of sports history memorabilia whatever, can be yours for $30.

What I’m Thinking

Ok, this is a touchy subject for a lot of people, so I’m going to tread lightly.

I’ve been following this labor/union situation at the Arizona Republic. It’s ugly.

If you’re unaware, this has been happening a lot lately. All across the country. Newspapers are shutting down. Those employees at newspapers that are not closing up shop are making efforts to unionize. Not all of them. But many of them.

I’ve been on both sides of this thing many times in the past, and I have one question.

Is it ever not ugly?

That’s a real question. Share some perspective in the comments if you’d like. And I am not trying to spark a debate about management vs. employees. I just want to know if this thing ever starts in harmony, proceeds in harmony, and ends in harmony.

Management says unions are bullying. Unions say management is bullying. They’re both right. I’ve seen it. It’s very sad.

Perhaps sometimes these things do go smoothly. You just never hear about it because that’s not newsworthy to many people.

Either way, newspapers are going to die. That’s a bummer. I love the paper. But they’re going to die.

AND THEN THEY’LL RETURN.

Yes they will. I’ll tell you what else will make a comeback. Landlines and video rental stores.

Phones suck. I hate my phone. If it were not for work, I wouldn’t have a cell phone at all. The only thing I need it for is the Flash Seats app, and even then, I think I can get into games with my credit card.

As far as rental stores are concerned, it’s the experience. I know, that oozes with pretentiousness, doesn’t it?

But I’m like you. I waste away so many hours figuring out what I want to watch. Until I watch nothing at all. I mean it when I ask for recommendations in the comment section. I don’t know what to watch. I buy books of reviews to help me figure out what I want to watch on Netflix. HOW DUMB IS THAT?

So the rental store is coming back. And I’m not talking about the independent video store on your street corner that’s as big as your bedroom and has movies like Suicide Circle and Irreversible. I’m talking about something in the Blockbuster model.

It will return because going to the video store is fun. And talking about movies with people is fun. And you know the biggest reason it’s going to comeback, and the biggest reason you’re going to go?

Because you paid three dollars. And you’ll be damned it you’re going to waste three dollars.

Some Quote

“I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.”