Okay, okay. I've been promising Part 6 of the 2007-08 Worsties for a few weeks now. It's time to deliver. This installment covers the end of the regular season leading into the playoffs.
Creepy merchandising: The NBA marketing geniuses unveiled a series of mildly disturbing bobblepop dolls, the creepiest of which was, without question, the Steve Nash version (although the Dirk Nowitzki bobblepop came close). Poor "Nash" looks like the mutant love child of Pee-wee Herman and Annie Lennox. Which pretty much means it just looks like Annie Lennox. Sweet dreams are not made of these.
Shaq the seven-foot point guard: I guess the Big Ball-Handler's been drinking some of Zach Randolph's special sauce. And, for the record, that is not a good thing.
Autograph madness: Okay, seriously...who gets into a fight at an autograph session? Rashard Lewis fans, apparently. Lewis and his family were taking in a show at the Medieval Times in Kissimmee when a group of teenagers asked for his autograph. One thing led to another and a "mini-riot" broke out. The police were called and they soon restored order. Fortunately for everyone involved, the only casualties were a cell phone and a camera memory card. Nobody got arrested. Lewis said he was only trying to give his fans some love. "I was just trying to be a nice guy." That'll teach him that, you know, nice guys finish last in Medieval Times mini-riots. Or something.
Benny the Bull T-Shirt Cannon Sniper: Benny the Bull: The Chicago mascot sniped Kevin Garnett and James Posey from behind with a t-shirt cannon during the closing minutes of the Celtics/Bulls game. According to the Boston Herald report: "Garnett initially had to be restrained by a member of the officiating crew as Benny stood a safe distance away." Huh. What happens when a mascot pees themselves in terror? I guess we'd have to ask Benny that question today. This incident would have been a little more surprising if Benny hadn't gotten into a fight on The Jerry Springer Show earlier this season. Kudos to Posey (even though he sucks) for finding some humor in the situation. "I don’t know. I feel threatened. I don’t feel safe. They really have tough love here, but it was definitely an inside job. They made the mascot do it. I got hit in the back walking away. That spot on my back is sore. I might have to get treatment on it." Of course, I'm only assuming he's kidding.
The Bulls eventually tried to explain what "really" happened: "The Bulls apologized to the Celtics and explained that one of the members of the IncrediBulls -- a group that entertains during timeouts -- had tripped and his gun shot the shirts into the floor from where they bounced into the Celtics."
Nice story. A big load of, well, bullpoopy, but a good story. And KG, or one, isn't stepping in it. "Wow. That's a story. I just turned around and dude [Benny] had the smoking gun in his hands. I didn't see no lady. I didn't see nobody trip over a gun. You know what I'm saying?"
Chicago coach Jim Boylan gave his own humorous take on the incident: "It was against Posey so, it’s open season against him whenever he steps on the court in Chicago. I was proud of Benny, glad he took matters into his own hands. He orchestrated it behind the scenes." Ha, hah! Good one, coach. Of course, you know what they say. Many a truth is said in jest.
Donnie Walsh, the big, fat liar: Walsh has been a class act for years and years, which is why it was a surprise when news broke that he was about to accept a position with the Knicks...despite still being employed by the Indiana Pacers, who apparently knew nothing about the whole thing. Walsh and his agent, naturally, denied the hell out of those reports. Then, a few weeks later -- SURPRISE!! -- Walsh was named the Knicks President of Basketball Operations. I would just like to point out that, had this been Larry Brown, he would have been skewered. But Walsh pretty much got a free pass on this one.
Dwight Howard, thug: Watch Chris Paul become the latest victim of Dwight's wrath, joining the ranks of Tony Battie, Jameer Nelson, and Brian Cook. It's like he's Superman in a world filled with nothing but Lex Luthors.
The Great Returns: Elton Brand returned to the Clippers' lineup after missing almost the entire season to play in the team's eight final (and meaningless) regular season games. Jermaine O'Neal returned to the Pacers' lineup after missing most of the season to play in the team's final nine (and mostly meaningless) regular season games. The one common element in each situation? Both players had the opportunity to opt out of the contract over the summer. Can you say "auditioning for other teams"? It sure paid off for Brand, and O'Neal is now in Toronto prepping for a little Contract Year Phenomenon.
Speaking of returns...the Washington Wizards choked up a nine-point lead in the closing minutes of a game against the Bucks -- despite Agent Zero's emotional return -- and they couldn't make a defensive stop with 1.1 seconds left on the clock. Oh, and the game-winner got knocked in by rookie and D-League escapee Ramon Sessions. Nobody should ever lose to a man named "Ramon" unless his first name is "Razor." And what's worse: DeShawn Stevenson rolled his ankle and Antawn Jamison hurt his shoulder diving into the crowd after a loose ball.
NBA official Eric Lewis: This is a situation that would make Vince McMahon proud. T.J. Ford seemingly hit a game-winning layup at the buzzer -- off an amazing halfcourt lob pass from Carlos Delfino, by the way -- but after a lengthy video review, the officials determined that Ford released the shot after the clock had expired. It was on to overtime, where the Hawks prevailed over the Raptors 127-120. Just one problem. The arena's timekeepers Referee Eric Lewis shaved 0.1 off the clock, which deprived Ford of the split second he needed -- and deserved -- to complete the play. And here's the video evidence to prove that the ball hadn't even touched T.J.'s hands with 0.4 left on teh clock, anyway.
Ernie Johnson, the ageist: Andre Iguodala was a guest analyst on the NBA on TNT in early April, and Ernie referred to him as the "44-year-old" Andre Iguodala. Which wouldn't have been that silly of a mistake if Iggy didn't have the kind of babyface that makes you wonder whether he still gets his lunch money stolen by the big kids. The only theory I have to explain Ernie's gaffe is that he was thinking about Dikembe Mutumbo, who's been 44 for, what, the last three seasons? Now we finally have an answer to the age-old question: "Who wants to sex Mutumbo?" Ernie does.
Wally's awkward moment: Yeah...awkward probably doesn't quite cover it.
J.R. Smith's ego-ectomy: Hey, J.R. The rim is still 10 feet high, yo!
Mo Williams' ouchie in his man region:Yikes. I wonder if Cleveland knew about this when they traded for him?
Pat Riley mangles the English language: After a very rare win, against the Chicago Bulls, Riley described his players by saying: "These guys are unadulterated." I have no idea what he could possibly mean. But far be it from me to argue with words of wisdom from a Hall of Famer.
Jermaine O'Neal mangles the english language: The Pacers staved off playoff elimination (however briefly) by beating the Hawks...and it rattled something language-related in Jermaine's coconut. Said O'Neal: "We're starting to take a disposition about ourselves on both ends of the floor."
Joe Johnson's bitterness: After his Hawks lost to the Pacers (as mentioned above), Joe had some, ahem, choice things to say about it. "[The Pacers] just play harder than us every time we play them. It's nothing they're doing. It's not the players they've got. We didn't play hard, so we get our ass kicked. Point blank." Hold on. The Pacers "play harder" than your team does, but "it's nothing they're doing." Not sure I quite followed that one. But you have to love it when a player manages to both criticize his own team and demean his opponent all in one fell swoop. That's insult efficiency is what that is. Maybe John Hollinger should create a statistic to measure that.
Bruce Bowen does it again: Oh, and look...his target was Amare Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns. I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
Isiah Thomas finally "does" it: With his team riding a three-game winning streak -- and yes, that was a season-high -- Isiah was all bright eyes and wistful smiles. "Finally the spirit of the team is good. The camaraderie of the team is good. I just think that they’re a team now. A little late, but nevertheless." Wow. It took him only four years and almost $500 million to make them a "real" team. Congratulations, Zeke.
FedExForum:Uh oh. "Three people were injured Saturday night before a game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies when a small section of the stands at FedExForum collapsed. One man was taken away on a stretcher and two others were treated at the scene, arena officials said." Wow. I guess everything about the Memphis franchise is falling apart. Steve Zito, senior vice president of arena operations, said: "This has surprised us. We're going to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again." Gee...thanks, Steve.
Isiah Thomas, poet and philosopher: After a loss to the Celtics' reserves, Isiah addressed the uncertainty of his future with the Knicks. "There are certain times when you live in uncertainty and you're not comfortable with it, but you have to learn to settle and be patient and see what plays out. And we all want certainty in our life. However, in the uncertain times you have to sit with it and in sports there are a lot of uncertain times." Um, well said, Isiah.
The Stern Button: I did an extensive writeup of this mess for Deadspin, but let me sum things up: The Sixers were up by one point with a few seconds left. LeBron drove to the hoop -- and totally travelled, by the way -- before getting the ball knocked out of his hand. Devin Brown recovered it, forced a shot, missed it, and the 76ers pulled out a huge 90-89 win. Or did they? The referees reviewed the film and decided the "right call" was that Devin Brown got fouled on his last-second shot attempt. Brown sank the freethrows, and the Cavs won...setting of a ripple-effect throughout the Eastern Conference playoff pond: Cleveland clinched the fourth seed, Washington got stuck with the fifth seed, Toronto backed into the sixth seed, and Philadelphia fell to the seventh seed.
Forget the fact that refs don't make those calls in end-of-game situations -- the prefer to let the players decide the game -- if they really wanted to get things right, they would have called the travel on LeBron, which happened before the foul on Brown. And that should have been the end of the game, with the Sixers winning. But that's not how The Stern Button works, is it?
Carmelo Anthony, the designated drunk driver: Why's 'Melo so mellow? He's buzzed, that's why. I get the same way. Also: Hungry for burritos. Nice mugshot, by the way.
Dirk Nowitzki forgets to be careful what he asks for: This is what Herr Diggler had to say after the Dallas defeated New Orleans, thus ensuring a first round matchup with the Hornets: "This was definitely a win we wanted to get. The Lakers are probably the hottest team in the West. We definitely didn't want to face them in the first round...(New Orleans) had a great year, but I think we match up pretty well." Yeah, uh, how'd that turn out for you again, Dirk?