Centers' Little Helper

Dennis Hans, unrenowned former adjunct professor of mass comm and American foreign policy, relentlessly exposed the Bush administration’s “techniques of deceit” BEFORE the Iraq war, when it could have made a difference (see links). For decades he has fought baseball’s discrimination against lefthanded infielders and promoted his ingenious clockwise solution. A lifelong advocate for a flowing, non-brutal, flop-free NBA, he now champions the cause of its second-class citizens: the centers.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Two Daily Show bits bear suspicious resemblance to satirical essays I penned years ago
Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show for April 27 featured two segments based on satiric concepts I created several years ago. I could use ten million bucks, but I probably won’t sue, as I presume that the show’s writers came up with the ideas on their own. But if they feel guilty about unintentionally ripping me off, maybe we can work something out.

The bits were well done, though they lacked the bite and insight of my originals.

The first bit was called the “Global Political Index,” which tracked the shifting fortunes of various political figures as if they were stocks. Back in 1999, in a piece that first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, I concocted “The Nightly Peoples Report,” which tracked the shifting value of various nationalities in relation to the gold standard, “the American.” It played off the notion that our government and media place wildly differing values on human suffering, based on our govt’s relation to the perpetrators of the suffering. (Sometimes the perpetrators were, in fact, the US govt.)

The second bit announced the merger of Fox News with the Bush White House, playing off the news that Fox’s Tony Snow had just been named White House spokesman and the correct presumption that Fox News functions in many respects as an arm of the Bush administration. Back in 2000, I announced the merger of CBS — that is, the Columbia Broadcasting System — with the government of Colombia. I showed how CBS News in general and Mike Wallace in particular presented a picture of Colombia to U.S. viewers that dovetailed nicely with the propaganda needs of the U.S.-allied Colombian regime. Glaring distortions in CBS coverage would lead the typical viewer to believe that Colombia was most deserving of the massive U.S. military aid being pushed by the Clinton administration. “60 Minutes” portrayed the Colombian army as at war with both leftist guerillas and rightist paramilitary death squads, which was only half true, for it was collaborating with the rightist death squads that, at the time, were responsible for about 70 percent of the politically motivated killings of civilians in Colombia.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ben Wallace is lost at the line; I can help
For four years I’ve been explaining to Ben Wallace and various coaches and executives with the Detroit Pistons that Ben Wallace can’t get better at the free-throw line by practicing his current method. He needs either a drastic makeover, or dramatic improvements in the mechanics, timing and rhythm of his current method.

Ben is shooting a woeful 42 percent for the season, and about 20 percent over his last 7 or so games.

The current coach, Flip Saunders, has his good qualities, but stroke analysis is not one of them. Here’s what he said recently about Ben at the line, as reported in the Detroit News:

Saunders said that Wallace's free-throw shooting is baffling because he has decent form on the shots and in practice, he makes 70 and 80 percent of them. "My theory is, he plays so hard defensively and he's so intense, his body gets so wound up that when he gets to the free-throw line, he can't get that calmed down. You need to be relaxed to shoot free throws. But he is so intense on the one end, that when he goes on offense, it's like he just stepped out of the weight room."

Saunders is wrong about the form and unaware that most every bricklayer shoots decently in practice, where you take shots in bunches rather than two at a time a couple times a game with an hour between trips to the line.

Here's how I described in 2002 Ben's release, comparing it to two fine shooters who Ben resembled somewhat in form, but not in substance; the analysis still applies:

Whereas Reggie Miller and Doug Christie’s wrist-based release and follow through are the culmination of a simple, unified, rhythmic, whole-body delivery, Ben’s wrist snap is an abrupt, isolated movement largely divorced from his body.

That’s not Ben’s only problem, but it is the most significant one. He can’t fix any of them if he’s listening to coaches who tell him his form is fine and that his free-throw woes stem from the intensity with which he plays — as if he were the only NBA player who busts his butt.

Ben has a couple of weeks before the playoffs start to make some progress. I’m available to help. A respectable percentage in the playoffs — 60 to 70 percent — could be the key to a Pistons championship.

Ben, Flip or Joe Dumars are welcome to drop me a line at

A coach for most valuable player
My latest hoopshype column makes the case for a coach, Mike D'Antoni of the Phoenix Suns, as the NBA's most valuable player. Here's the opening to the counterintuitive essay:

Mike D’Antoni is the 2005-06 NBA Most Valuable Player. By a mile.

Yes, I’m aware that D’Antoni coaches, rather than plays for, the Phoenix Suns. We’re breaking new ground by picking a coach, which is even more radical than baseball giving its MVP — generally the preserve of everyday players — to a pitcher.

But what is the cliché we hear whenever commentators debate the merits of the various MVP candidates? So-and-so deserves the award because he “makes his teammates better.” Well, it says here that D’Antoni is even more responsible for the stellar performance of Steve Nash’s teammates than Nash is.

One big advantage D’Antoni has over Nash — the reigning MVP and a strong candidate to win again — is that the coach is largely responsible for the dramatic improvement of the one Sun who is not a teammate of Nash. That would be Nash himself. Until the pass-happy humanitarian moved to the Arizona desert, no one considered him to be even a remote candidate for MVP. Throughout his Mav years, he wasn’t even a lock to be selected as an All-Star reserve, as he made the Western squad in only two of six seasons.

Click on the link above to read the rest. And here are my thoughts on the pro prospects of some of the Final Four participants, one of whom, the great Joakim Noah of Florida, has just decided to stay in school at least another year.