Self-awareness is overrated, especially among the famous. Should it really be cause for celebration that some historic asshole has the wherewithal to recognize his asshole past? Should we forgive so easily, simply because a celebrity shows the common decency to admit past mistakes? Have our troll-convictions really become so soggy and desperate?
In the early part of this century, a shift in power caused the lines of ACC hate to blur. Duke and Maryland were responsible for two of the first three national championships, and as North Carolina sputtered through the Matt Doherty era, the enmity between the Blue Devils and Terrapins came to a boil. “[It was worst] at Maryland,” J.J. Redick says. “That’s when there was still a rivalry there, dating back to the Miracle Minute and Maryland winning in 2002. It was pretty heated for my first couple years there.”
There were times when the hate actually was hateful. Shelden Williams carried a 2003 incident in College Park with him for his four years at Duke, and Redick said during one game members of the Maryland crowd invoked the name of his then 12-year-old sister.
Behold a video catalogue of the most hated players in college basketball. Some were generational hate-figures found in our Most Hated College Basketball Players bracket. Some were just guys who pissed off our writers at some point or another.
Joe House: There is scientific evidence that suggests the neurological root of hatred follows an activation pattern in the brain that bears certain striking similarities to the pattern for love.
Which happens to provide a perfect explanation for what I'm about to say:
I hated Michael Jordan.
I grew up two miles from College Park, Maryland. While my formative hoops years were populated with heroes on the Washington Bullets and the still-unrivaled highs they delivered (35 years and counting … ), my hoops heart really belonged to the guys playing in Cole Field House. I loved Ernest Graham and Greg Manning and Adrian Branch and Albert King and Dutch Morley and Buck Williams and, of course, Len Bias. Because I could — and did — see those guys play. Not only were the ACC games broadcast on a predictable schedule that was mostly OK for a middle schooler, but I could go to the games (my elementary school had a hookup). And I went to a lot of them. Maryland's coach during this era was Lefty Driesell, who was the perfect underdog coach for a team that never quite got a regular seat at the ACC adults table, and who had a particular skill when it came to fomenting grievances with Dean Smith.
So of course I intensely disliked Michael Jordan. He was an underclassman and he was skinny and it wasn't eyeball-clear why he could play guard and forward so effectively (he used to KILL Maryland on the boards), but more than anything — he was stealing headlines that belonged to Len Bias. Above is the showboater Michael Jordan unnecessarily unveiling the cradle-dunk (10:33 mark) in Cole Field House at the end of a 1984 game Carolina had in the bag.
I have a confession — and that is, in most ways, I am wholly unqualified to write this. One day into our bracket to determine the most hated college basketball player of the past three(-ish) decades, and Patrick Ewing, the ’80s no. 1 seed, is done. The Grantland staff is full of Big East lifers who had a disdain for those Georgetown teams and Ewing’s college career. I did not — mostly because I was born more than two years after it ended. My sole connection to the 1985 NCAA tournament is that I count Rollie Massimino’s grandson among my close friends. That’s about where my Georgetown familiarity ends. And actually, I think that’s sort of the point.
It was just eight days ago that the Milwaukee Bucks were left for dead on the side of the NBA highway. Losers of three straight, the team clung to the final Eastern Conference playoff spot strictly by default. The trigger-happy duo of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings had seemingly shot the team out of any chance at relevance, and even the addition of the trade deadline’s biggest name, J.J. Redick, couldn’t inspire most NBA fans to care about the happenings in the frozen tundra of southeastern Wisconsin.
After a string of tight-knit and entertaining games, the Bucks have won four straight and are emerging as a potential playoff wild card in the East. Ellis and Jennings have been the catalysts for the most recent surge, but not in their usual fashion. Instead of shooting with reckless abandon, they've taken turns in the role of playmaker — with impressive results.
During their winning streak, Ellis and Jennings have combined for 78 assists, including 36 by Jennings in just the last two wins against Toronto and Utah. It is Jennings’s sudden switch from unapologetic gunner to reserved floor-general that's seemingly sparked new possibilities for a franchise mired in mediocrity.
A survey of the players and teams making moves in last night's NBA action.
1. Monta Ellis
Ellis had 34 points on 15-21 shooting last night, leading his Milwaukee team to their second overtime win in as many games (this time over the Jazz), and their fourth straight win overall. With J.J. Redick in the lineup, Monta's averaging 21.5 points, 9.3 assists, and 4.3 steals per game. He also does stuff like this.
The trade deadline, even a mild one, reshuffles rosters and hints at franchise priorities going forward. The changes and the signals combine to heighten the scrutiny and pressure placed on certain players. Here, we present a list of who — and what — is on notice after last week’s relatively uneventful deadline:
In case you were busy realizing that you waited way too long to make that Harlem Shake video, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
LeBron James powered the Miami Heat to their ninth consecutive win as they beat the Chicago Bulls, 86-67, at the United Center. The game was notable both for James's performance and a pair of scary moments. First, James pulled up limping after being fouled hard by Bulls guard Nate Robinson. Fortunately, he's not expected to miss any time. Scarier still, a large lighting fixture fell from the roof of the arena, narrowly missing a group of spectators. While rumors of a "phantom" haunting the arena were quickly dismissed, sabotage by a man envious of James's success is suspected. Early reports describe the suspect as a bald, 6-foot-6, 50-year-old African-American male wearing a mask over his face and six rings on his fingers. He is reported to have eluded capture using his superior footwork, and remains at large.
Join your Shootaround crew for some fake trades, pipe dreams, and beautiful, dark, twisted, deadline day fantasies.
The Book of Revelation
Golden State Warriors get: Devin Harris (Hawks), Earl Clark (Lakers), DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), Aaron Brooks (Kings) Los Angeles Lakers get: Josh Smith (Hawks), Andris Biedrins (Warriors) Atlanta Hawks get: Pau Gasol (Lakers), Tyreke Evans (Kings) Sacramento Kings get: David Lee (Warriors), Klay Thompson (Warriors)
The worst-case scenario is that this is the annihilation of many teams at once — but at least it will be entertaining! The Lakers reunite Dwight Howard with his old pal Smith, who gets reunited with his own Cliff Paul; Biedrins slides in at the end of the bench. The Hawks build around Al Horford, Gasol, and Evans, who gets a little more institutional structure — for him, this is one of those “change of scenery” reboots. The Kings lose two streaky young stars but acquire solid cornerstones for the future, whatever that concept means to them. The Warriors get a couple experienced guards who, on any given night, might offer a passable impression of a fourth-quarter triggerman. They also get the budding Clark and Cousins, a combustible talent who could really benefit from a God-fearing coach. Ivan Johnson gets thrown in just to give the Warriors an edge in weirdness. Consider it an homage to 2006-07, when the Warriors traded a third of their team away in January and went on one of the most thrilling playoff runs ever. — Hua Hsu
As Thursday’s NBA trade deadline inches closer, plenty of big names — from Dwight Howard to Josh Smith — are dominating the rumor mills. It’s easy to get caught stargazing, hoping against hope your team acquires an elite talent, but even though they lack the excitement of their higher-profile counterparts, a deal for one of the league’s many available role players can make a drastic difference. With that in mind, here is a list of seven players who could improve the fortunes of any playoff contender savvy enough to bring them into the fold.
Contract status after 2013: free agent
Possible landing spots: Denver, Utah, Indiana, Chicago, Milwaukee
Describing Redick as “just” a shooter overlooks the fact that his game has expanded by leaps and bounds since entering the league in 2006. For a destitute Orlando team lacking much in the way of playmakers this year, the former Duke guard has averaged a career-high 4.4 assists.
His ability to hit the pocket pass curling off screens or find his teammates out of pick-and-rolls is just the newest evolution to Redick’s game. Already much improved as a defender, Redick can now shoot off screens or after spotting up, run pick-and-rolls, and even handle the point guard spot in a pinch. Redick has raised his game to a point where he could be a full-time starter for a contending team if he’s paired with a bigger point guard (like Chicago’s Derrick Rose) with whom he can cross-match defensively.
So, it’s All-Star weekend and the teams have already been chosen. But, I want to use this symbolic time on the NBA calendar to pay tribute to the guys who are having the most efficient shooting performances this season. I’ve selected my own all-star teams on the basis of shooting efficiency. The CourtVision all-stars are the guys who are scoring much higher than league averages at their most common shooting locations. Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of overlap with the “real” all-stars here, but there are also some interesting differences. Let’s start in the backcourt.
Even the harshest critics of the return Orlando got in the Dwight Howard deal had to concede this: The Magic’s own horrid play would land them at least one really good shot at the no. 1 pick, the most valuable commodity in the sport. Even if the mid-tier players and mid-tier picks the Magic received from Denver and Philadelphia didn’t work out as hoped, they’d at least have their own stockpile of lottery deliciousness.
But after a 5-10 start that featured some ugly blowouts and a key injury to Jameer Nelson, the Magic have moved to 12-13 and injected themselves into the playoff race. John Hollinger gives the Magic a 71 percent chance of snagging a playoff spot, even though a relatively easy early-season schedule has helped fuel this solid start. It’s a fair question now: Could the Magic actually make the playoffs? Three trends suggest it might not be so crazy, even if executives and scouts around the league are almost universally skeptical — for reasons both of talent and motivation as we approach the trade deadline.
This summer, after he was fired by the Orlando Magic, Stan Van Gundy, a man who’d spent the previous three decades keeping a basketball coach’s long hours, suddenly found himself with a lot of time on his hands.
After his Orlando exit, Van Gundy and his wife didn't want to leave Florida, where three of their kids were still in school and the fourth and oldest had just transferred to go to college. But coaching for the Miami Heat, which he'd left in 2007 2005, or the Magic was obviously out of the question.
Having the time to shuttle his kids to and from baseball games and horseback riding lessons was nice. But he still wasn't filling his days. Until, that is, he found the Seminole County public school system.
At 4:53 p.m. PST yesterday, I joined everyone else in watching the battle for America’s soul. As I took my place in front of the TV, my mind wandered to what the night meant. This wasn’t about one man. It rarely is. This was about everything. This was about those in blue looking for a handout from a broken system, and those in red pulling themselves up no matter the circumstances. This was about what we, as a nation, want to believe. This was Magic-Bulls on Fox Sports Florida.
The idea came a few hours earlier. A few Grantland staffers were discussing the lack of Tuesday-night TV and wondered which, if any, sports would compete against the election. The answer was three NBA games (and one MAC football game): Bulls-Magic, Thunder-Raptors, Nuggets-Pistons. Because everyone in the office gets twisted enjoyment out of my feelings on this year’s Bulls, the challenge emerged as such: As everyone with a television considered our nation’s future, could I go to a sports bar and watch nothing but mediocre basketball? Challenge accepted.
Attention Fans of Duke Basketball: Yes, it's the offseason. But this month, you can catch a preview of your team. The Blue Devils are visiting China for the "Friendship Games." What are the Friendship Games? Glad you asked! Let's take a look, Q & A style.