Adam Auslund was a long time intern for multiple shows on the FOX Sports Network, but has now found his place, and a job, working for The Petros and Money Show.
Originally from Nor Cal, he’s been described as a bitter, broken sports fan ever since he experienced the rare "Hat Trick of Death" where all 3 of his teams (Sacramento Kings, San Francisco Giants and Carolina Panthers) all lost their respective sports’ championship game in the short span of a year and a half.
Adam now tries to look at sports from a less serious, more irreverent perspective, because that’s what helps bury the pain and keep him sober.
Well, one of my favorite weeks of television, "Shark Week", has come and gone for another year, and while like many I didn't appreciate Discovery channel kicking off the week with an uneducated, insulting, and completely FAKE documentary "Megalodon" to try and spark idiotic conversations about whether the giant prehistoric shark still exists, despite there being zero evidence to that possibility (hold your snide comments atheists) the week DID finish strong with actual compelling scientific programs like "Alein Sharks" and "Great White Serial Killer". But as always, it all went by too fast (even if you also filled up your DVR recording shows from Shark Weeks rival, Sharkfest, on Nat Geo Wild) and so, with the week behind us, there's a hole in my heart that needs to be filled with other dangerous creatures that deserve a week of programming devoted exclusively to them. So it's time for Snake Week.
Yup. You could easily get a ratings spike doing a full week on the fascinating constrictors and the vipers in the reptile world. And it would also give an opportunity to expose everyone to one of the biggest badasses this side of Chuck Norris and Vin Deisel. And a hero of mine…Austin Stevens, Snakemaster.
Here's some video of him being a crazy mofo, getting bitten by a cobra, going to the hospital, only to return a few hours later to photograph the same snake.
Who wouldn't want to watch hours of this guy jumping around the jungles and hiking through deserts to play with the most poisonous and deadliest serpents?
Actually, forget Snake Week. Just call it Austin Stevens Week. He deserves it.
So Grant Hill announced his retirement yesterday on TNT's pregame broadcast and it got me thinking about the direction his career could have gone. Maybe I read too many Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid and enjoy the hypotheticals, the the fork in the road talk, but we all know that if Grant Hill didn't have that stubborn left ankle injury late in the 1999-2000 NBA season things would have been much, much different.
What if Grant Hill wasn't such a nice guy and didn't succom to fan pressure to play in that first round series of the playoffs for Detroit that same year. Then he wouldn't have played on an ankle that was thought to just be a sprain, but was actually broken, and therefore wouldn't have exacerbated the injury and put a cap on what looked like a limitless amount of potential and talent to tap into as he was entering his best years as a pro.
Afterall, he was a 27 year old point/forward coming off his best season, averaging 25/6/5 while shooting 48% from the floor. Those are numbers certainly deserving of a max contract, which the Orlando Magic were happy to give him, not thinking he'd only give them 200 games of work over the next 7 season in return. 200 games where he was only a fraction of his former self, btw.
Orlando at that time was desperate to replace two players that had taken them to the Finals a few years early with Shaq and "Penny", and were looking to reward fans who hadn't given up on the organization after they let Shaq go for nothing in '96 and then traded Penny to the Suns for Danny Manning, Pat Garrity and two 1st round draft picks the summer before.
While hindsight would prove trading "Penny" was a wise move-- as he was just a year away from the dreaded microfracture surgery that would put the nail in the coffin of his own injury plagued career-- little did they know they'd just replaced him with another scuffed-up penny, who was about to disappoint Magic fans far more than Dwight Howard ever did. Hey, at least D12 played well on the court for them before wanting out in the most dragged out, annoying and awkward way possible.
So in comes a hobbling Grant Hill, fresh off his first ankle surgery, on crutches still, probably looking like a 6’8 “tiny Tim” to sign a 92.88 million dollar contract with the Orlando and form would could have been one of the most devasting tandem’s the NBA had ever seen, because the Magic had also grabbed Tracy McGrady from the Raptors.
It was a unique pairing of slashing guards, one that could have taken the league by storm, but unfortunately for the Magic and NBA fans, Hill’s ankle wouldn’t cooperate, and from the combination was doomed before it ever got started.
Hill only played 4 games that first year with the franchise and it didn’t get much better from there. So while T-Mac was fulfilling his end of the bargain, becoming the best scorer in the league, the Kobe Bryant of the East (and was probably better at that point), Hill spent most of his time wasting away on the bench. What should have been his best years became an endless torture cycle of surgery, rehab, a handful of games, more surgery, more rehab, and so and so forth. By the summer of 2004, 4 seasons had past, and Hill had only played in 47 games, and was now 31 years old.
He had missed his prime. The window was shut for his peak years as a player. The dream of what he could have become vanished like Kaiser Soze.
So let’s play through the what ifs. If Hill stays healthy, it’s likely he and T-Mac contend as one of the top teams in what was a very weak Eastern Conference at that time. They would have beaten a one man show in Philly, where Allen Iverson led a bad Sixers team to the finals in 2001, and they also would have contended with those Jason Kidd running and gunning New Jersey teams that made back-to-back finals appearances.
So they still lose the Laker team in 5 games in the Finals, but oh well, at least they made it. And maybe with a some well thought out roster moves, they could have recruited some former stars that wanted one last shot at a ring to come and join them on the cheap.
Also, If Grant Hill is playing, does Tracy McGrady still break down the way he did, also before entering his prime? Many cite the fact that he had to carry a Magic team, with one of the worst supporting casts in NBA history, as the reason the injuries piled up so quickly. Perhaps Hill significantly lightening the load also extends McGrady’s career. Plus, if Hill is healthy and they're winning, McGrady never demands a trade to the Rockets. And oh yeah, they never fire Doc Rivers as their head coach.
Having 2 wing, slashing, scorer types of that caliber joining forces via free agency also would have been historical for the NBA. The orginal Wade/Lebron combination of it’s kind, and something we would have used to compare the Heat stars alignment to.
Back to reality though. Ultimately you can sum up Grant Hill’s career as unfulfilled potential. It’s most people’s biggest fear in life, including this blogger.
Perhaps if Hill would have been more selfish, less of a team guy and the consummate professional he was, and not returned too early from that ankle injury in Detroit, we would instead be talking about a sure Hall of Famer, and maybe one of the top 50 players to ever play the game.
Maybe Derrick Rose has the right idea. Forget what the fans want. Forget what the organization wants. Don't worry about anyone but yourself.
And here's some video of the kind of explosiveness Grant Hill had before the injuries...and the reason you drank Sprite.
So Lebron James wins the MVP...again. Yes, it’s about as surprising as King Joffrey from Game of Thrones winning an award for most hated character in TV history (complete lock). The honor also puts him in a very select, elite category (where he belongs) as the second player to ever win 4 MVP’s in 5 years. The first being Bill Russell. Also noteworthy, he’s 5 years younger then MJ when he won HIS 4th MVP. So for those who needed to see Lebron pick up some more MVP hardware before they label him as being on Jordan’s level, well, I don’t see any way he doesn’t pass Jordan’s 5 regular season MVP’s by the time King James is done. Of course, many will still want to see him with more championship hardware and Final’s MVP’s before they give him the mantel of the GOAT (greatest of all-time).
So anyways, here’s a video of his best highlights from the season...if somehow you missed any of these looping repeatedly on SportsCenter all year long.
A few shows back on the "FnA podcast" Kevin Figgers and myself were discussing the old school, old man fight, going on between GM of the Celtics, Danny Ainge and Heat owner, Pat Riley, who had some choice words for each other after Ainge was critical of Lebron complaining about the physical fouls he received in the loss to the bulls that snapped "The Heatles" 27 game winning streak. Riley fired back at Ainge telling him to "STFU" as he was one of the biggest whiners in the game, back when he played. That (and the recent video of Rutgers coach Mike Rice chucking balls at his players during practice) got me thinking about one of the most awesome (and despicable) plays in NBA history, involving Danny Ainge and his unmatched, chappy-ass, cry-baby, attitude.
The background: It was the 1994 WC semi-finals and the Rockets were putting it on the Suns pretty good in this game. Mario Eli had delivered what was "the dagger" bucket in Ainge's face, and then taunted him (to which Doug Collins thought he should receive a technical foul for) so at the end of the game, Ainge took the opportunity to get his revenge, by firing an inbounds pass directly at Mario Eli's face!
Now Danny was originally drafted by the Blue Jays out of college and played in the majors for a short time before shifting to basketball, so this was a basketball player who really had the arm strength to put some heat on this throw, and he did –– from about 6 feet away.
The first video gives you some of the context I described above, and the bottom one is just the instant replay of the "pass" in typical youtube remix fashion.
Growing up I despised Michael Jordan. I can still remember my dad driving with me in the passenger seat down Barton road (near my old house in Loomis, CA) in a 70’s, orange, F-150 truck, and listening on the AM Radio to MY Lakers and MY sports hero, Magic Johnson, lose to MJ and the Chicago Bulls in the ‘91 NBA Finals. I was only 9 years old, and had just learned how you could have genuine hatred for someone you’ve never met. Keep in mind, this was also way before I had ever seen a Michael Bay movie. In fact, Michael Bay movies didn’t exist then. It was a better time.
But not for me at that moment because Michael Jordan had just brought tears to my eyes. It wasn’t from the beauty of his “switch the ball to his left hand in mid-air and lay it in” memorable shot from those same NBA finals. A shot I often whined for my dad to emulate in the front driveway, which he did admirably for someone who had John Stockton like hops, if memory serves me correctly.
No, this loss had greater implications and those were tears from sadness and anger, knowing I’d never hear the end of this 5 game slaughtering that MJ put down on my favorite player from my older sister, who couldn’t care less about the NBA until Jordan arrived on the scene. She even had a Bulls Starter jacket. Yeah. How annoying.
Meanwhile I was like an NBA hipster fan back then. Always rooting for the secondary, lesser seen, lesser exposed players in the league. I know it could seem like Magic didn’t fit that formula, but at that time, believe me (and if not, put the documentary "Hoop Dreams" in), everything was already about MJ back then. And now, he had just won his first title.
I was entering a world of pain.
For the next 8 years (minus 1 year where Jordan retired and the following year where he came back late in the season, only to lose in the playoffs to Orlando and my next favorite player, the next Magic Johnson, Penny Hardaway) I would be tormented by false hope that Drexler, Barkley, GP, or Malone would be able to stop Michael Jordan in the Finals and in doing so, STOP the calls to my house from my other nemesis, a rival NBA fan at school, Garrett Vanderboom. I didn’t know it then, but looking back now, he was my Scott Tederman. And not just because he was a full blown ginger. Garrett was a crazed Michael Jordan fan, and one of the popular, cool kids, who was always equipped with the latest air jordans. Every year, as soon as the confetti started raining down in the arena, he’d call my house, laughing, gloating, fresh off just viewing John Paxson, Steve Kerr, or his “Airness” himself, having just seconds ago knocked down another series clinching shot.
To stay within the time period, I could definitely relate to the popular catchphrase from the caveman character Bill in the “The Terrible Thunderlizards” cartoon, whose plans always blew up in his face-- literally. So whenever he found himself underneath a tree or boulder that was supposed to give him freedom, but had now somehow became his undoing, he wouldn’t swear, he’d just simply ask, “when does the hurting stop?”
But there was no relief for me back then and I was seeing red again.
Growing up and maturing as a person can work wonders though, and as the years past after Jordan’s 2nd retirement, I began to fully appreciate the greatness that I had so much disdain for in my youth.
I missed the unnecessary tongue wagging. The aggressive but controlled chaos in his game. The unmatched pairing of raw talent and developed skill that he wielded like a double edged sword. I missed the pain of him dominating my favorite players. I even missed the obligatory calls from Garrett Vanderboom after a big Bulls win.
I was now living in a bizarro world where I found myself defending MJ. I had become so tired of ESPN constantly pushing the next Jordan, be it Grant Hill, then Vince Carter, then Kobe Bryant, who in all fairness is the closest thing, but also in all fairness, is still far, FAR from the real thing. Anyone saying otherwise is just either trying to make news, or too young to have seen the majority of Jordan’s career, live.
These new stars were just cheap imitations of the player I hated. Kids today (I’m officially getting old) can never understand what a terror MJ was on the court. How haters like me would make silent deals with the devil, offering our collective souls to try and combat MJ’s one soul (which was obviously already in the hands of satan in the trade off for all that talent and winning) just to see him lose in the finals. Just once. But it never happened.
So on Sunday, Michael is turning 50 (now I really feel old) and his tease or threat in his 2009 hall of fame speech of his possible return is upon us. Recently, Lakers small forward Antawn Jamison started an interesting debate when saying he believes Jordan could still average 10 points a game today, at half a century in age.
I have to agree.
Jordan is simply too smart, too savvy, too skilled, not to be able to get you 10 points in limited minutes on any team. Of course all of this is dependent on his health and being able to even jog down the court without his knees sliding down to his ankles and falling off. But if he has anything left in the tank, he'd be able to do it. I suspect he would have to rely on his pump fake a lot, but that would be enough to go 4-11 shooting with a couple free throws mixed in there, in about 20 slow-motion minutes off the bench to get that 10 points. But he'd get them.
I met Jordan a couple years ago when he was walking out of an elevator at Harrah’s after a day of golfing at the annual American Century Golf tournament in beautiful Lake Tahoe.
It was a strange finally seeing him in person. For a moment, i felt like I was transported back to the 90’s. He didn’t look like a late 40’s washed up, soft, pudgy, shell of his former self, that I would have expected to depress me. Perhaps the moment just overwhelmed me and I was seeing what I wanted to see, but I swear to you, in those 30 seconds that he walked from the elevator towards me and down into the casino, I thought I was looking at a prime Jordan, who was ready to take off from the free-throw line again.
It was an out-of-body experience...at least right up until he rejected my offer to come on the radio show I was promoting-- WHILE NOT EVEN LOOKING AT ME!
I always knew he was a dick.
Anyways, here’s the very best, obscure, Michael Jordan videos on youtube for you to watch and celebrate him on his birthday. You won’t find a better compilation of Jordan highlights anywhere. I'd say 90% of these clips you haven't seen or certainly don't remember. Relating it to an album from your favorite band, these would be the deep cuts you won't find on mainstream radio. Or you know, not the same old highlights you'll see on ESPN over and over again this week.