Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Professional Basketball - The NBA All-Cancer Team

Hello Sports Fans!

Before I begin receiving hate mail, let me go ahead and clarify the subject of this blog post. No, I am not advocating for the wide spread death of professional basketball players. I'm not wishing for them to have cancer, I'm not talking about players who might have cancer, I'm not even looking at the patient charts of family members who may have previously had cancer indicating a higher risk in athletes due to genetics and the proximity to sweaty towels. This post has absolutely nothing to do with real-life serious illness.

So then, what in the world AM I talking about? Well, for those of you not aware, an athlete who's referred to as a cancer is simply a player who destroys the organization for which he/she is working. Like actual cancer, this player infiltrates a previously healthy "body," spreads negativity like wild fire, has no true cure, and eventually causes the team to shut down into complete sucktitude (credit: Edge and Christian for their masterful use of the English language).

In order to identify players that classify as cancers, I've decided to break down the athletes into three specific groups:

First Team All-Cancer: These players are individuals who are currently active in the NBA, have played for a minimum of two teams in their career, and have never won an NBA Championship. They are also generally classified as "Superstars" for their sometimes gaudy statistics, ridiculous salaries, and that one time you saw them in a shoe, car, or soup commercial.

Second Team All-Cancer: This group consists of active players who may not meet all (or any) of the previously mentioned criteria for First Team status.

Third Team All-Cancer: Third Team has no rules! This is pretty much any person who may or may not have ever played basketball but it certainly NOT an active player in the Association.

In order to seem like an actual All-Whatever Team, I will select 5 individuals to complete the "lineup" in each category. While the positions of the players don't matter for Second or Third Team, I'll go ahead and put together a realistic starting lineup representing all five positions for the First Team. Shall we begin?

First Team All-Cancer

Center - Dwight Howard: If there was an MVP award for the All-Cancer Team, Dwight Howard would be a co-winner. Early in his career, Dwight seemed like a budding superstar with unlimited potential. He started off with the Orlando Magic and almost immediately elevated that squad to championship-contenders. After quite a few good years in Orlando, Howard became unusually ornery and was not-so-secretive about his desire to leave the city. The fan base that previously adored him were quickly soured and Superman (as he calls himself) was finally moved to the LA Lakers. Do you remember when Howard played for the Lakers? No? That's because the filmmakers of Men in Black from Hollywood hit you with that little flashy thingy and removed it from your mind. Unfortunately they never flashed me and I was stuck watching #12 destroy the Lakers from the inside, including completely refusing to co-exist with Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players and winners of all time. Dwight is now in Houston playing for the Rockets where ... he is doing the exact same thing. Again. Different city, same jerk. Now, apparently, he is interested in moving back to Orlando!? He's going to be the first person in history that Disney refuses to take money from just so that nobody accidentally riots against him in line for Space Mountain. Bad PR.

Power Forward - Amar'e Stoudemire: First of all, who the heck puts an apostrophe there, seriously?! But I digress. Remember like 25 years ago when Amar'e was one of the most dominant big men in the NBA and if you used him in video games he could dunk on King Kong? When he first started with the Suns (Phoenix people, Phoenix) this man-beast was a stud. He was a leader on the court, contributed great things towards team success, and appeared to be the face of the organization. I don't really remember where it all went wrong, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with an injury, starting to wear glasses while he played, and sand in his, umm, lady parts. Long story short, the Suns started playing like crap, Amar'e moved to New York where he was paid way too much by a dumb office staff, and he's been little more than a bench player since. "When the moon meets your eye like a big pizza pie, that's Amar'e!"

Small Forward - Carmelo Anthony: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your team captain and co-winner of the MVP award. There's a rumor that Grey's Anatomy will be placing a picture of Carmelo Anthony in it's fairly large volume on cancer information. That's how bad this individual is for your team. If it wasn't for the fact that he won a National Championship in college (I'll admit, star players can do such things on that level), Carmelo would probably go down as the biggest sports cancer of all time, in any game! Yes, even more than that guy that once played for that team in that city that you're thinking of when he did that thing that will never be forgotten by that commentator who brings it up everytime that show is on. As an NBA player, Anthony has always been one of the faces of the league and a guy who is viewed as a figurehead of the sport. However, on the court, he's a lazy ball hog that rarely plays defense and shoots more than the Confederate Army in the Civil War. Each year he seems to have a nice stat-line because he takes so many stinking shots. As a result, not one but two franchises have failed to meet their perceived potential with him as the leader and he's never been anywhere close to an NBA Championship. They won't even let him take a picture with the one in the Hall of Fame. It's pretty sad that he's not even the best Melo playing basketball! That honor goes to the guy at the University of Maryland who was supposed to compete for national player of the year but instead led his team to an early tournament exit because he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn since December.

Shooting Guard - James Harden: For those of you who are hardcore into sports, you know James Harden as the guy who plays crazy-hard on offense, has a great but inconsistent jump shot, and takes a nap for 24 seconds anytime his group is on the defensive end of the floor. For those of you not into sports as much, you know James Harden as the dude with the beard that keeps showing up for no reason in all of those commercials that have absolutely nothing to do with sports. Harden has now played with two teams, and while he doesn't completely sink the ship like some of the other guys on this team, he is hardly a winner. He has no rings to his credit and doesn't seem to be closing in on one anytime soon. The best teams he was a part of were consistently the annual Thunder squads and he wasn't even good enough to be a starter. Then he moved to Houston, became the star of the franchise (which really pisses Dwight Howard off) and they've never gone to the NBA Finals under his leadership. Now listen, I get the superstition that athletes have where they don't shave when their team is playing well. I'll even admit that I'm doing the same thing as long as my Tar Heels are still in the NCAA Tournament. But what's Harden's excuse, his team sucks?!? Maybe he just needs a new razor ...

Point Guard - Chris Paul: I really can't believe I'm even going here. This one even surprises me and I'm the guy who is making all of the decisions! Ever since CP3 started at Wake Forest, he seemed to be one of the good guys in the sport. He plays smart, he works hard, and he has excellent performance to show for it. Year in and year out, Paul is selected as an NBA All Star and his skill on the court just can't be denied. The only problem is, he doesn't win. I mean, yeah, his teams are usually pretty good and he's the guy who makes them pretty good. But he's also had the opportunity to play with other stars on both the Hornets and Clippers without it making a difference. For a guy who has been making a boat load of money for over 10 years now in the NBA, he really should have a championship to show for it. But he doesn't. And that's why he's on this list. I don't have a whole lot bad to say about Paul and honestly he's the only guy on this list that has any chance of being a future champion. He's going to turn 31 this year and his professional clock is ticking, so we'll have to see what happens to him the remainder of this decade. PS - For those of you who don't know who Chris Paul is, yes you do. He's the dude with the twin brother who sells insurance on the TV commercials. Or is it real estate? I don't really know, I just remember seeing him dressed up like a preppy with glasses and quietly laugh to myself.

Second Team All-Cancer

Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook: So, I'm going to cheat a little bit here and count two people as one player on the All-Cancer Team. Why am I doing this you ask? Well, at this point, I'm convinced that at least one of these two guys is a cancer on the Oklahoma City Thunder. The only problem is, I don't know which one it is or if it's actually both of them. Without a doubt both players are incredibly talented and can be the star of the game on any given night. They're All-Stars, league MVP contenders, and their team is always one of the better ones in the Western Conference. Better, but not best. They have never won a league championship and quite frankly I don't see it happening as long as they're together. Both individuals have shown flashes of arrogance, have been not-so-great to the media, and don't seem to elevate the performance of others around them. Multiple rumors have been swirling about Durant leaving OKC for another team and then we may finally find out who the bad egg is in this duo. My guess ... both.

Derrick Rose: If it wasn't for the fact that he's spent his entire career on the same team, Rose would be a First Teamer without any question. Here's a guy that came out of college with all of the talent (and expectations) in the world. Physically gifted, hard-working, high basketball IQ ... but no ability to be a team player and winner. Derrick is always going to be one of two things in Chicago: the star player who shines brightly without actually winning anything or the second fiddle who's almost invisible on the court and does more damage than good. Over the last few years Rose has suffered repetitive serious injuries yet continues to demand max contracts and star treatment. Even though he's done nothing to help his club the last couple of years, a few months ago he was threatening to leave Chicago for more money because he needs to take care of his family. Really? Can't do that on $20,000,000 a year? Must be rough.

John Wall: I debated for a bit whether Wall deserved to be on this list but then committed to it when I heard last night that this is his sixth season in the league. Holy crap time flies when you're having fun. It wasn't that long ago that Wall was a star player at Kentucky going number 1 in the draft with expectations of being the next great point guard. And, while he's done fairly well in terms of individual performance, there is no indication that he is ever going to be a consistent winner in the game. A point guard's primary purpose is to make the people around him better and I really can't see where he's doing that. I couldn't name another player on his team right now (the Washington Bullets ... err ... the Washington Wizards) and that just tells me that he's not sharing the ball the way he's supposed to be. He's kinda like the food at your favorite Mexican restaurant ... sounds great on paper, looks pretty decent when it's in front of you, but you don't want to see what happens after the initial deliciousness!

Anthony Davis: OK, I admit, maybe I'm being a little harsh on this one because the dude has only been in the league for three years. For that reason, you can consider this a projection more than a statement on current and past performance. Davis is a young stud (again, another Kentucky guy) who appears to have an incredibly high ceiling. In college all he could really do was block shots and dunk the ball but since getting drafted (again, first overall) he has really improved his ball handling and outside shooting. He's a much more well rounded player than a couple of years ago and before this season started the NBA owners voted that he would be league MVP this year. Guess what, they were wrong. Despite all of the praise being thrown his way and the anticipation that the Pelicans would compete for the Eastern Conference this year, Davis ended up calling it quits on the season early due to injuries and his team is a whopping 27-46 this year. Not only will they miss the playoffs, but who the hell names a professional sports team the Pelicans??? Of all the things New Orleans is known for, this was the best they could come up with? How about the New Orleans Voodoo? The New Orleans Beignets? The New Orleans Our Houses Are Under Water (too soon?)?

M. Plumlee: Every ... damn ... one ... of ... them. No explanation required.

Sixth Man - Anderson Varejao: I'm not going to put Varejao on the starting lineup because for the last month or two he's been on the Warriors team that is looking to break every record in NBA history. But still, he deserves at least an honorable mention. For a guy who's 7 feet tall and looks to be athletic, he's got to be the biggest [nickname for a cat] that I've ever seen in pro sports. He also needs to clean the sand out of his [squint at the name of the state located just above North Carolina] because he complains so much on the court. He's lucky to be surrounded by amazing talent now because his negative attitude might be the biggest reason Lebron has yet to win a ring in Cleveland.

Third Team All-Cancer

Shaq: Yeah, I said it, and I'm not taking it back. I honestly don't care how many rings he has, I don't care that he's going to be in the Hall of Fame, and I don't care that he shattered a backboard at LSU. Shaq was a product of great players around him and would not have won a single championship if it wasn't for Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade. Picture this if you will ... instead of a basketball court looking the way it does right now, let me propose an alternate layout. While looking at the court from above, find the point in which the baskets are directly above the hardwood. Now, draw a circle with a radius of 5 feet around that center point on both ends of the court. Following me? I know it's been awhile since some of you took high school geometry. Anyway, go ahead and completely cut out those circles and replace the spots where the wood used to be with holes 25 feet deep. I don't want anyone to die, so you can put a mattress at the bottom of the holes with a ladder to climb out. If this is what the NBA court looked like, here would be Shaq's career numbers: 0.0 Points Per Game, 0.0 Rebounds Per Game, 1.2 Assists Per Game (he was a decent-ish passer), and 0.1 Blocks Per Game. My point? The guy had success because he was enormous and forced his body on smaller men. He had zero actual skill. That's why he never won a title in Orlando, never won in Phoenix, couldn't get it done in Cleveland. No Kobe and Dwayne, no rings.

Allen Iverson: Without question, Iverson is one of the most skilled players the game of basketball has ever seen. He revolutionized the crossover, left his guts on the court every night, and proved that a small guy could be successful in a tall person's league. However, you likely noticed he never won a championship. The reason for that was his attitude. Yes, I'm talking about practice. Practice. I'm talking about practice. That press conference alone demonstrates why Iverson was a team cancer. The focus was always on him and it was about him being a star, not acting like a great teammate. He clearly didn't care about what happened before or after games and he was just as well known for his poor demeanor as he was for his outstanding ball skills. Go ahead and name a single player that Iverson was ever teammates with. You can't do it, can you? That's because it was always "The Answer" all the time. Practice.

Buddy Hield: I'm giving Buddy Hield the nod as my official futures-prediction for All-Cancer status. As many of you know, particularly right now, Buddy has evolved into one of the most dominant players in college basketball this season. His effort is tremendous, his shooting is exceptional, and he might very well win a National Championship in less than a week (though I'm clearly hoping my Heels take that honor). The problem is, he likes to showboat and be the center of attention and I don't really see his success translating to the next level. Hield will likely be named the Wooden Award Winner this year as College Basketball's MVP. While that says a lot about his skills at Oklahoma, it doesn't necessarily translate into success in the NBA. The last Wooden winner to go on to be a star for an NBA Championship winning team was Tim Duncan who won the award in 1997. A couple of guys like Andrew Bogut have won championships, but they did so as role players and not franchise centerpieces. Buddy plays like Steph Curry and acts like Carmelo Anthony. I don't see great things ahead for him.

Reggie Miller: This one is actually a little tough for me. I know I'm biased because I grew up a Knicks fan and Reggie was one of our most hated rivals. I recognize that he was one of the great shooters of all time and probably the only reason his Pacers teams were ever any good. But then I think deeper about his attitude, on and off the court antics, and the general celebrity he became while playing the game. When you think of Reggie's career (aside from shooting threes), the first accomplishments that come to mind were feuding with Spike Lee, fighting with John Starks, and attempting to climb out of his sister's shadow. With all of these considerations in mind, perhaps Reggie was actually his own worst enemy. There is no doubt that each of these things was a distraction for his club and provided ammunition for his opponents to want to grind his smug little face into the floor. He didn't really grow up until late in his career and by that time he was no longer athletic enough to carry the team on his back without help. At the end of the day, Reggie may very well be the cancer that prevented the Pacers from winning a title. Kind of ironic considering he's also the greatest player in franchise history. Maybe they should have drafted what's his name from Indiana after all (go watch the 30 For 30 ESPN produced about Reggie, you'll see what I'm talking about).

Lane Kiffin: Yes, I'm aware that Lane Kiffin is not a basketball player. But, if you recall the rules of the Third Team, there are no rules! I'm going to ignore the fact that Kiffin was the Offensive Coordinator for this year's national champions because he was operating under Nick Saban who I'm sure kept him in check. What I'm focusing on is how he single handedly destroyed the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers, and USC Trojans. I can't remember ever seeing a coach before who continued to receive great opportunity after great opportunity without having any success in their career. No really, he had zero! Sure, I'll give him some credit for being a decent assistant coach early in his career at USC. But once he received his first head coaching job in Oakland, he did absolutely nothing. He was a front office nightmare, a loose cannon in his decision making, and pretty much lost anywhere he went. It would be like the CEO of Ruth's Chris calling up the guy who one time put the right amount of salt on the fries at McDonalds and said "Hey there, how would you like to be the executive chef at one of our most prestigious locations in the middle of Manhattan?" Then, after he got fired because he thought filet mignon was ten Jewish guys sitting around eating flounder, he receives a call from the CEO of the Ritz Carlton asking him to be the new Catering Director in Hollywood. It just makes absolutely no sense.

Sixth Man - M. Plumlee: Every ... damn ... one ... of ... them.

So there you have it, my First, Second and Third Team All-Cancer squad! If you don't agree with any of my choices, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Go ahead and email me at YourOpinionDoesn'

Thanks for reading!

- Fishy