Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The Knicks look cripplingly depressed. I think this Marbury thing has everyone feeling like "here we go again." Randolph being out doesn't help the mood. And here is the rest of it. Read more

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Knicks-Nuggets Afterglow

Oh man. It feels good. Let that 2-1 record sink in, Knicks fans, let it sink in completely. These are the days, baby, these are the days! I can't remember the last time I felt this good about a Knicks win. You'd have to go back to the Patrick era and then I probably took em for granted. But do you want to share this moment with some lame beat writers? Fuck no! Come with me through a sampling of messageboard comments from the most win-starved fans in the league:

How happy are we about the Knicks? Well there's this English chap on Posting and Toasting leading the pack:

"I fucking love Eddy Curry, he can do anything he likes to my missus, it would be an honour for me!"

Oh those Brits and their "ou" in "honor." Next we have the inevitable Prophet of the Book of Isiah commenting on Berman's blog:

"And who put this team together? ISIAH THOMAS!!! All you 'writers' have been killing him for all the 'bad' moves he's made. How about giving some credit where credit is due. when the team loses, it's all about how Thomas assembled a team of large egos/contracts with little in the way of skills and cohesion. So when the team wins, why not swallow your pride, admit you were wrong and give credit. The man had a plan. he's stuck to it regardless of what you 'writers' say."

If this keeps up he's got a serious point but 3 games in may not be the best time to bust out the mea culpas. Still -- remember what the team used to look like? Here's a reminder:
Hope his retirement is going well -- fortunately for Keith you don't need to play defense in golf.

Over at Knickerblogger, commenter Gregson summed things up well:


And that's it for now. A fantastic win against a very entertaining team. My heart was racing from minute one and never slowed down.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Knicks vs. Nuggets

Everyone's harping on the brawl last year now that the Nuggets are coming to town. I personally don't care about it too much and don't think it was so big a deal. It was great that the Knicks played so well afterwards, but as an incident no one would care much if it weren't for the Detroit-Indiana ruckus a few years back. Now, the game itself, that's where I have my worries...

Denver, on the surface, appears to be a team just built to destroy the Knicks. They have a lethal perimeter shooter in Carmelo and an all-time great slasher in Iverson, who require a large shot blocking help defender and some semblance of perimeter defense to deal with. So far the Knicks have neither, and seeing how the Greg Buckners of the world are dropping bombs on the Knicks, there's no reason to think the Linas Kleiza's won't be able to. In Nene, a theoretically healed K-Mart, and Camby, they have arguably the best 3-man frontcourt rotation outside of the Knicks, almost a mirror image of the Curry-Randolph-Lee juggernaut focused on the defensive instead of the offensive end. The Knicks often play up to the level of their opponent (or down to their level, ala Minnesota) so hopefully they'll bring it, but this team will be a major test in the best of circumstances.
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Sunday, November 4, 2007

WTF Musharraf?

The situation in Pakistan is probably even scarier than the news seems to treat it. The more crazy dictator Musharraf gets and the stronger the Islamists become in the areas out of government control, the closer the country gets to some Iran-style revolution or just plain chaos. That means nukes, fellas, stuck in the worst of places. I hope someone -- Pakistan, the CIA, the French, Scooby Doo -- has a very good plan sitting around as to what to do should that situation arise. Is there a way to make sure the crazies don't get a bomb that's not, you know, apocalyptic?

But Doc Strangelove scenarios aside, let us parse how bizarre The General's speech was today. From the New York Times:

"The general, dressed in civilian clothes, quoted Lincoln, citing the former president’s suspension of some rights during the American Civil War as justification for his own state of emergency."

Lincoln was so badass that Pakistani dictators can cite him as a rationale for overthrowing the government? Does Musharraf read the National Review all day? And isn't Pakistan the number one country for America-hating in the known universe? Maybe the best plan isn't to reassure your citizens with "We'll be just like our hated America during its most bloodiest period of civil strife!"

As if to confirm that Musharraf's speechwriter is a member of The Corner:

"He accused the country’s Supreme Court of releasing 61 men who he said were under investigation for terrorist activities. 'Judicial activism,' he said, had demoralized the security forces, hurt the fight against terrorism and slowed the spread of democracy."

Apparently "Judicial Activism" is a magic word that lets you do anything you want as President in Pakistan, too! At least the judges aren't letting the gays get hitched there, then he might declare himself dictator-for-life instead of just dictator-for-indefinite-vaguely-defined-crisis.
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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Knicks-Cavs Breakdown

I'm kind of surprised at how harsh the press is on the first Knicks game. They collapsed on old nemeses of free throw shooting and 3 point defense, but there was also a lot to like. Let us discuss...

People seem to suddenly forget that the Knicks' biggest problem last year was turnovers. They were god-awful, with no ball movement beyond tossing it into Curry. Tonight it was like a different team -- crisp passes around the perimeter to find open 3s for Nate, jump shots for Z, and Curry down low. This was against one of the better defensive teams in the league, mind you. If they can play as fluidly as last night, they will see improvement in their record on that alone.

Zach Randolph looked fantastic. I think after a lifetime of Knicks basketball, I somehow expect every all-star the Knicks acquire to immediately become a crappy player the second they put on a Knicks jersey. McDyess, say? But he was as advertised, bombing away with an absolutely gorgeous 20 footer and collecting offensive rebounds with aplomb. He didn't seem to step on Curry's toes at all on offense, with both looking comfortable. Curry looked very in control of his body after a wild preseason. Also on the big man front, Lee played limited minutes but showed off a more refined post game then we've seen before. With all three playing well that is a monster for any team to handle.

The 3 point defense was god-awful, of course. And it will cost them many games if they don't improve. Interior defense, however, showed flashes of improvement while still remaining pretty lousy. Zach and Curry fronted their man and Gooden and Ilgauskas didn't nuke the Knicks, as mediocre big men with half-decent offensive skills often do.

So I'm not happy with the loss. But I'm not at all ready to start declaring the Knicks in trouble or unimproved after that performance. They have to start winning quickly though, another weak November can kill them for the season.
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Friday, November 2, 2007


Let's get them out of the way now. A few guesses at what 2007-2008 holds.

1. First of all: Knicks record is going to be 50-32. I don't believe it, but I really hate that the conventional wisdom is so narrow now and someone has to bust it open. The pessimists say 37 wins and the optimists say 41. It really isn't exactly a wide range of opinion, except for Sports Illustrated which picks them as the 6th seed in the East. I think this time can win games -- the preseason looked very promising in some instances, especially the wins over Boston and Philly in which the Knicks showed good ball movement on O and surprising teamwork on D. If they can bottle that and hit their open 3s...damn, they might be something.

2. Next, lets get to awards. Champions will be the Suns. Why? Because I want them to be and it's their turn. They're looking better every season and I think Barbosa's natural improvement and Amare's continued recovery will kick them up another level. Plus they got Grant Hill around, who's good for at least 20 games. Maid Marion was my first round pick in fantasy basketball, so they better kick ass.

MVP, I'm picking KG. The league is so ready to embrace the new Celtics that I think if they put up any reasonable number of wins they won't have a choice. I think Lebron will have an incredible season but I don't see the Cavs getting better, what with their contract issues and aging center. Unless Boobie Gibson turns into a beast this season, they're sort of stuck.

ROY is Durant. Come on. I watched his season opener and even shooting a low percentage he looked ready.

Defensive Player of the Year, I'll leave to the experts. Sportswriters love to pick Bruce Bowen for reasons I don't seem to understand (really, when you can funnel guys into Duncan for a block you're whole career it's a pretty big advantage). He's like the indie pick. The Pitchfork's Best New Music of player award predictions.

Coach of the Year - Marc Iavaroni. Memphis is going to be awesome this season and Darko is going to fit the system well and compliment Pau Gasol as a defensive enforcer.

Executive of the Year - If Celtics win 50, you'd have to be insane not to give it to Danny Ainge. Considering his horrible reputation until now, that's kind of amazing and should give hope to Isiah.

3. Assorted Stuff

Kobe will be traded to some team no one guessed was in the running. Much like when KG went to Boston, I think Washington or Philadelphia or some other shocker will be the winner.

Shawn Marion won't be traded. I love him in Phoenix too much to comprehend it.

Ron Artest will be traded to the Knicks by the deadline, who by then will be looking to make some playoff noise. He'd be a perfect fit for the team if they can get him to an extension - he plays tough defense and helps commit the other players to his style, hits 3s, and in general does everything the Curry-Randolph frontcourt needs to support it.

Can't wait for the Knicks season to start. My absurd optimism strategy is now in it's third or fourth straight year. It's going to be awesome when it finally works out.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ethics are for Losers

It's the oldest cliche that history is written by the winners, but sports, whose very raison d'etre is to produce winners, are so perfect an example of this truism that it's worth dusting off for another look.

It's been tossed out there already that if the Knicks just started winning, all of their off-court transgressions would become trivial. This is absolutely true, but usually when people write this they mean it in the most cynical way possible. That is to say that everyone's sexual indiscretions and character flaws will go away, not that they should go away, and even then they mean will go away in the media, not will go away in the eyes of The Lord, or something like that.

But then there's Marc Berman, pushing things to new levels of amorality: "JUST WIN, ISIAH!"

Berman ups the ante on the popular sports religion that places winning above all. When he writes:

"Thomas certainly will be booed loudly during the home opener Sunday and he must realize the boos are not just about his sexual-harassment defeat in court, but 118-182. It is all intertwined."

It truly isn't intertwined to Berman. What he means is that he could care less about the sexual-harassment defeat and the host of other character issues facing Isiah. He wants to see some victories. Berman's bullying tone takes on the the air of a jeremiad, but his column is in service of The Desolate One, promoting the trivial to religious status.

Look, the book about my beloved '86 Mets is called "The Bad Guys Won!" The violently misogynistic Jailblazers, whose Portland fans literally bought billboard space to decry, would have surely received similarly cheeky reverence if they had only made good on their championship promise. A strategically timed broken foot from Shaq and we'd be reading "The Jailblazers Won!" at Barnes and Noble instead. Just ask Rasheed Wallace, the tattooed technical machine and poster boy for Portland's bad boy era, who rehabilitated his legend almost overnight by winning a championship with Detroit.

I ask my basketball team to hit threes and play defense, not emulate Gandhi. Not that I take pride in having a convicted sexual harasser on the bench. But seriously, Marc Berman, even if it is true that:

"Thomas has to realize the only place he needs to win now is on the basketball court and everything else will take care of itself."

Do we really have to celebrate it?
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Liveblogging Knicks-Nets

Musings on Knicks-Nets...until I head off to Brooklyn to party.

Good news for America's noblest convicted sex offender, Genarlow Wilson. After being jailed for two years he is finally free thanks to a supreme court decision. The man was convicted for having consensual oral sex at age 17 with a 15 year old, which was exactly as ridiculous a charge as it sounds, but thanks to our awful mandatory sentencing laws, the judge had no choice but to toss him in prison for years. The state Supreme Court finally noticed that this was cruel and unusual punishment thank god.

So the moral of the story is that some people are wrongly accused of sexual impropriety. There's a message a lot of the Knicks and Nets can identify with. At least three, by my count.

First Quarter:

Jeffries spinning inside and travels. It's like I can see it happen the second he touches the ball. You can't trust the guy with an open layup let alone a spin move.

Randolph sets high picks for Steph and Crawford. So far they aren't doing anything but I like the idea.

Just as background, Krstic has been off the scene for awhile because of the injury, but he seems to have the Knicks number. I saw him go something like 10 for 10 once, it was ridiculous. The defense doesn't make the effort to watch out for his perimeter shot, which is his deadliest weapon, and if they don't correct the problem he'll drive them crazy yet again.

There are Christmas ads on MSG. Isn't there some binding law that you have to wait until at least after Halloween to run these things? It was 75 degrees the other day, not exactly the holiday season.

Almost the end of the first and Steph looks terrific on both ends of the court.

Second Quarter

32-20...What happened to the offense this game? This seems like a good time to get Nate involved.

Fred Jones hits a three. I did not know he does such things.

44-38 Nets. Oh man, I've only been watching it a couple of weeks, but I am in LOVE with Randolph's jumper.

Nets have turned it over 12 times in the half and are somehow winning.

Nate goes uuuuuuup for the dunk after a David Lee block and then....clang. I can't exactly complain since I bitched him out the last game for not dunking on a fast break.

OK, it's almost the half. Off to get drunk.
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Isiah Thomas :(

I really don't know what to make of the absolute obsession that New York's beat writers have with Isiah Thomas' mood right now. Is it just wishful thinking that he's about to be fired? The guy just lost a sexual harassment lawsuit that will follow him the rest of his life, you expect him to be doing jumping jacks?

A Post article today on Eddy Curry predicting playoffs contained this "look at me!" detail in the middle, seemingly out of nowhere:

Isiah Thomas stared at the ground as he glumly answered questions.
And Marc Berman the other day threw this into one of his posts, again completely off the topic of the story at hand:
Isiah Thomas wouldn’t answer the question but he rarely answers questions nowadays – in as dark a mood with the media as I’ve ever seen
These are but two of many examples the last week or so. Personally, I could care less what Isiah's mood is so long as the Knicks are playing sufficient defense to win games, and they are for the week at least.

Still, there is a weird insiderness to the beat writers' constant harping on Isiah being a Gloomy Gus. They seem to be begging us, the reader, to catch onto some big old subtext that they won't come out and say but are surely talking about with each other. Isiah's going to be fired? David Stern's going to kick the Knicks' ass? Curry and Randolph are already a failure? Whatever it is, I know they have it in their head and wish they would just toss it out there rather than lead us along with this less-than-subtle trail of breadcrumbs.

The Daily News at least tries to give it some context:
The stress from the trial and its aftermath is starting to show on Thomas, whose mood in recent days has ranged anywhere from distracted to miserable.
But now that the point is made, they really can stop talking about it until there's something relevant that comes out of the discussion.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Undeadblogging Knicks-Phillies

It's not liveblogging because it already happened and it's not exactly a postgame since I'm watching the Knicks in 60 without knowing the result, but hey, let's give it a shot. This should be a regular event here, by the way.

Some rambling thoughts:

Jesus, can Fred Jones dunk. The last several years have been very kind to that man's legs. I guess all that time at the end of the bench kept them well preserved.

Speaking of that dunk, since when do the Knicks get easy fast breaks? If anything shows they're playing more defense, that's it. There were a couple of great runs to the basket against Boston the other day that began with steals, including that one where Nate Robinson had the whole lane to himself aaaaaand....made a layup. Don't get me wrong, it was a pretty layup, and the papers the next day used it to rave some more about Nate's newfound "maturity," but come on. I was fully expecting a 360-through-the-legs-F-U-to-James-White sexplosion on the rim. These are obviously the kinds of moments Nate sees every time he closes his eyes. So don't leave my basketballs blue, Nate.

It's the start of the third and Zach Randolph just beat the crap out of three Sixers to get a rebound. No whistle (and no basket came of it) but damn I loved to watch the effort.

Clyde says the Knicks are making people "hurry and worry" with their new commitment to defense. Is that a new one? Are there any Clyde-isms since 1999 about Knicks defense? He hasn't exactly had much reason to come up with them. The Knicks are lazing and grazing on defense? The Knicks are an ineffective collective in need of a corrective (from my perspective)?

Jeffries is about the worst ballhandler I have ever seen and he clearly loves to bring the ball up the court. It seems hard to believe, but when he came to New York part of the now discredited spin was that he was so versatile he could even play point guard. Remember when the Iraqis were supposed to greet us with flowers and candy? It was sort of like that.

HOLY SHIT did Nate Robinson just make a layup with a foul. I am doing everything I can not buy this new paper-thin conventional wisdom on Nate without some results first, but damn, the dude can make the spectacular common.

Knicks 77, Sixers 64. Jeffries taking that charge to stop a fast break was worth at least twenty dollars of his contract.

Nichols hits a three. The last we ever see? And there's another one. "Coach you may want to think about it," says the announcer. What he meant was CUT JEROME JAMES.

There's Nate dropping another open three. I've been saying it a long while, but if Nate's chief role is just hitting open threes off of Curry and Randolph double teams and he can do it reliably, he will be extremely valuable for that alone.

Isiah's royal blue dress shirt under that checkered dark gray suit is making me fall in love with him all over again. If George Bush looked that good things might be different between us. Maybe that's the logic behind Dana Perino.

Knicks 100, Sixers 80 and the Knicks still are playing hard.

Is this the end of Jared Jordan too? A white guard on the Knicks is a mindfuck of a concept. We've had our lumbering Dudleys, Knights, even Longleys, before, leading up to THE white man, David Lee, but a white little guy? There's just no precedent without going back to the 70s.

So another great game, another GREAT defensive game. Amazing what a couple of wins can do for a team's image after mass despair following that blowout last week. If they can just play with this kind of passion during the regular season, they'll make the playoffs easy. People are starting to look like they know their roles on offense, especially Nate.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The Expiring Contract exists to explore the awesome metaphorical power of politics to perfect mankind's understanding of what really matters in this world: professional basketball.

This blog is here because the author reads a ton of basketblogs already and wishes there were one more for him to stagger into for a fix. This blog is here because he hopes others feel the same way. This blog is here because the basketgods demand a sacrifice, and the author's time and dignity are the obvious choice.

To get started:

This is not zen and basketball (see FreeDarko) At least not as much.

This is not camp and basketball, (see YaySports or Deadspin.) At least not until I get my hands on a bootleg copy of Adobe Photoshop.

This is not stats and basketball. No qualifiers on that one. We are not here to solve the crisis on infinite Earths that is Hollinger versus Berri. I don't care if I'm down to two regular commenters -- if they're arguing over how the latest metaphysico-theologico-cosmolonigology proves Von Wafer is Oscar Robertson minus 40 minutes a game, I'm not going to be paying attention.

This blog is designed to harness the power of:

To maintain the author's professional sanity under:

And to restore his personal sanity under:

By reminding everyone of the things that matter most:

The author is a working journalist, an unabashedly experienced political blogger, and an abashedly devoted follower of the slow motion debasement on all things holy that is Knicks basketball. The Expiring Contract will draw upon all of his skills by name, ala Captain Planet, to cluster bomb your daily monotony with yet another useless blog to check in vain every half hour for an update. Read more