Friday June 27, 2003
The 2003 NBA Draft is over, and I must admit, I don’t think the Wolves did well at all. Granted, because they had the 4th best record in the entire NBA (A little fact so many Wolves “fans” seem to forget), they didn’t pick until 26th in the first round. My thinking was that the Wolves needed someone who would fit a need, and maybe be able to make some sort of contribution to next year’s team. But, instead Kevin McHale picked a high school player named Ndudi Edi. He’s as a small forward from a Houston high school, but he’s a kid from England. A great talent with amazing athletic ability, Edi probably has the biggest ‘upside’ of any player that was still on the board. But, for a team that needs to make some sort of a move to get out of the first round (in the Western Conference where teams like the Spurs, Mavs, Lakers and Kings roam), they should have drafted someone to contribute soon, or better yet, right away. My opinion is that the pick should have been a point guard (allowing Troy Hudson to play more at the 2 guard). The player the Wolves Geek suggested in his recent articles, Brazilian Leandrinha, a 6-8 true point guard who plays great defense totally made sense, and was still available when the Wolves picked at #26. (he went 2 picks later to the Spurs, who traded his rights to the Suns for a future #1 pick). Also, Maceij Lampe, who most publications had going between 5 and 15 in their mock drafts was still available. (he went to the Knicks with the 30th pick, the first pick in the 2nd round).
So, although I don’t agree with going with a high school player at this point, picking Ndudi Edi may have been the Wolves best option for 3 years from now. It is said that he can take one step in from the 3-point line and dunk. I’ll believe that when I see it, but I acknowledge that his upside is incredible.
Apparently McHale then felt bad for former Gopher Rick Rickert, because he then drafted the Forward in the 2nd round (the 55th overall pick). Rickert should feel very fortunate. If not for the Wolves picking him, he probably wouldn’t have been drafted at all, and they could have signed him to a deal right after the draft.
University of North Dakota product, Jerome Beasley went to the Miami Heat with the 4th pick in the 2nd round (33rd overall).
But, I think the surprise of the draft, at least from a Minnesota perspective, has to be Minneapolis native and Boston College product, Troy Bell being drafted 16th overall, by the Boston Celtics. Later, Bell’s draft rights, along with Boston’s second first round pick (20th overall) Dahntay Jones, were traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for the 13th overall pick (UNLV PG Marcus Banks) and the 27th overall pick (high school center Kendrick Perkins). I listened to the first round of the draft on ESPN radio. They interviewed Memphis GM, Jerry West later, and he said that Memphis considered taking Bell with the 13th pick, but then he made the offer with Boston.
So, for these players:
Edi – huge upside, won’t help the Wolves at all for 2 years.
Rickert – should have stayed in school. Will struggle just to make the Wolves roster, depending on how they do in free agency, and if he improves and gets stronger.
Beasley – high second round picks usually at least make their teams, and some even get some guaranteed money. Miami is in need of a lot of help, so this could be a great place for Beasley. If he can play the ‘4’ spot, he could contribute right away. I think that Miami made a great pick selecting Marquette’s Dwayne Wade with the 5th pick. Putting him at the point, with Eddie Jones and Caron Butler, give a pretty formidable, although young, team, and one the people of south Florida can enjoy watching.
Bell – His stock soared in the last couple weeks. Going to Memphis, he will be able to start on the bench, behind Jason Williams at the point guard position. However, because Bell is such a scorer, they could both be on the floor a lot together. With Mike Miller, Pau Gasol and Shane Battier, Jerry West is putting together a team that could contend for a Western Conference playoff spot within the next couple years.
The obvious happened with the first four picks. Lebron James went #1 to the Cavs. Darko Milicic went #2 to the Pistons. Carmelo Anthony went #3 to the Nuggets, and Chris Bosh went #4 to the Raptors.
David Stern could not have been happy before the draft. The NBA draft has big TV exposure, this year on ESPN. Somehow, a rumor was linked that Michael Jordan had purchased the Milwaukee Bucks just hours before the draft was to begin, he had let the GM of the Bucks go, and was going to run the draft himself. That rumor was followed with the Buck’s GM heading to the Washington Wizards, where he would draft for them, after the Wizards GM had been fired.
Well, none of that actually happened. Jordan has not officially purchased the Bucks yet. But, honestly, it’s just a matter of time before he does buy the team. Jordan always needs the spotlight.
But, who craves the spotlight even more than Michael Jordan? Yup, Kobe Bryant. Last week, he was holding press conferences and doing many interviews regarding his shoulder surgery. And tonight, following the Jordan rumors, Bryant for some reason found it necessary to announce that next year, he won’t pick up the option the Lakers have offered him for an extension to his contract. Basically, he’s telling everyone that he will be a free agent after next season. Why did he feel the need tonight to make this revelation? It’s all about the spotlight.
Plus, the story was broken by Jim Gray… who is a moron! He and Craig Sager are tied for the worst reporters! (note – personal opinion)
So, those are my initial draft thoughts.
Well, as I mentioned yesterday, I’m heading off to the Metrodome for tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Twins need a win. They really could use a sweep! Brad Radke did pitch 8 innings today, but gave up 5 runs. Mark Buerhle is back to his 2002 form, it seems, throwing a 5-hit complete game in the White Sox 5-1 win.
I’m keeping this short today, but I decided that I would add a little something to the end of this. It’s a paper I did for a few friends so that I could be in their fantasy NASCAR league. It’s just fun. I’d love to hear any thoughts about it. So, here it is, and have a great weekend!
Is NASCAR a sport?
By Seth Stohs
April 11, 2003
In order for me to be included in the fantasy NASCAR group, a friend within the group has insisted that I answer two questions. The first: Is NASCAR a sport? Until recently, my answer to this question has been ‘NO!”. Has that opinion changed in the month that I have been attempting to pick racers each week? Read on to find out. The second question is this: Are NASCAR racers athletes? Again, my previous answer to that was: “Absolutely NO!”
We have all seen the Tom Hanks classic movie from the ‘80s, BIG, in which he portrays a 13-year old boy whose body, because of a fairground game, develops into that of a 30 year old man. His character, Josh Baskin, becomes very successful working as an executive for a toy company. In the process, another executive, Paul Davenport, becomes extremely jealous. Paul is upset at Josh and just wants to beat him at something, so they go to a court and play ‘handball’. The following is the dialogue of that scene, leading up to them playing the game.
Josh: “I’m not very good at sports, but I’ll give it a try. My best sport is video hockey.”
Paul: “That’s not a sport.”
Josh: “It takes hand-eye coordination.”
Paul: “It’s not a sport if you don’t sweat.”
Josh: “What about golf? You don’t sweat. That’s a sport.”
Paul: “Yeah, You’re not sitting there letting some machine do all the work.”
Josh: “What about car racing?”
Paul: “Shut up, Baskin!”
Well, Paul Davenport was unable, or unwilling, to answer that last question. And, now, that is the question put before me. Is car racing a sport?
What constitutes a sport, by definition? Well, we don’t get much help from the Webster’s Dictionary. From that, sport, the noun, is defined as “a source of diversion”. From some strange reason, I looked up ‘blood sport’ because it appeared on the same screen, just to see what it would say. The definition for that was “a sport or contest”. So, Webster’s says that ‘sport’ and ‘contest’ are essentially the same. So, how is the word ‘contest’ defined? “A struggle for superiority or victory.”
So, if you don’t mind my re-wording this, the definition of SPORT could be “an event in which contestants struggle in an attempt to win.”
What happens in NASCAR, and how does NASCAR fit into the above definition of sport? Well, each of 36 weeks, 43 racers get into their cars and drive around a track a predetermined number of times with the ultimate goal of being a victor, of crossing the finish line first. So, the only part of the definition we need to explain is the “struggle”.
Is there a struggle involved? Well, this is where we will attempt to answer the second question. Are these car drivers athletes? One argument against NASCAR actually being a sport is that anyone can drive a car (anyone who can drive a stick shift, at least.) in a big oval; anyone can turn left. Anyone can sit on their butts for 5 or 6 hours at a time. Let’s take a minute to look at what this struggle involves.
First of all, imagine for a minute that you are driving down a busy highway, in a metropolitan city, going the 55 mph speed limit as rush hour is approaching. Cars are swerving in front of you from either side. You’re frequently alternating between the brake pedal and the gas pedal. Now, imagine this same scenario, however, at three to four times that speed. Then, add in hellacious corners where the g-forces are ripping away at your innards. Realize that these cars have no air conditioning, and the temperatures are usually well over 100 degrees. There are physical stresses as mentioned to go along with the mental stress knowing that any wrong move made by you or any other racer on the track could cause serious injury, even death. There are no time outs, no halftimes, no second chances, and no challenges.
To me, an athlete is one who endures physical and mental stresses throughout the course of any sanctioned event. So, are NASCAR drivers athletes? In one word, YES.
But is NASCAR a sport? Let’s just go right to our above definition, “an event in which contestants struggle for a win.” By this definition, the answer to the question is also a definite YES.
My contention still remains as before, as it always has, and probably always will. We can not classify NASCAR as a sport in the same way we classify the “Big Four” sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey). I think there should be distinctions made. Those sports have a ball or puck, so we’ll call them ball sports. (I’ll still refer to them as the major sports) The other classification of sport should be called racing sports. Motor sports such as NASCAR would be a classification within the same area as track.
I read a quote recently that was almost a poem, or a tongue-twister. I’m not really sure:
“Is NASCAR a stupid sport
Is stupid a NASCAR sport?
All in all, NASCAR is a stupid sport.”
With that in mind, I will formally acknowledge that NASCAR is indeed a sport, and that its racers can be called athletes. However, I ask that those who read this acknowledge one thing as well. Acknowledge that it is not fair to compare ball sports with racing sports, AND it is not fair to compare the athleticism of a basketball, football or any ball sport player to the athleticism of a car racer.
And I will end this essay with just one more potentially controversial discussion idea regarding NASCAR as a sport. I read this from the archives of www.texasterrylabonte.com:
“Is NASCAR a sport or a show? Drivers keep talking about putting on a good show for the fans. Why should drivers have to put on a show when the product itself in its true form should be entertaining enough? Are the antics of (Kevin) Harvick, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon balanced with the political-correctness of (Jimmie) Johnson and (Ryan) Newman all part of a show to keep folks tuned in each week…?”
In other words, has NASCAR become the same thing as the corporation formerly known as the WWF? Is it all even real?
Update – as of this past weekend, here’s how I’m doing in the Fantasy NASCAR league:
1st Place team - 8,831
2nd Place team - 8.743
3rd Place team - 8,515
4th Place team - 8,095
Seth’s Team - 7,397
So, is it time for me to admit that it is possible that picking NASCAR racers takes more than plain ol’ luck? Not yet!! There’s half a season left. I’m ready to make my move, so look out!!!
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