For basketball dweebs, the last few weeks have been Morey-palooza. Eat Morey. Sleep Morey. Listen to Morey-house Morey-wave Morey-trap. Find a remote island, call it New Mauritania, and govern by conch-shell possession and small-sample-size offensive rebounding rates.
Of course, we’re talking about Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets and the patron saint of advanced metrics enthusiasts. Last weekend, he was a deity at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, a gathering of 3,000 number-smashers that has become an annual pilgrimage for representatives from just about every NBA team. His remarks at a panel discussion with Mark Cuban were thirstily live-tweeted. He knocked out a podcast with Grantland’s own Zach Lowe. And this week, Morey agreed to a four-year contract extension to remain with the Rockets.
In case you were out learning that what you thought was Oscar Fever is actually just an untreated strep infection, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
In their first game since the death of longtime team owner Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics, 113-99, at Staples Center. Kobe Bryant, who led a ceremony in Buss's honor before the game, was somber afterward, saying, "He's not gone, man. You can't just get rid of a guy like him. He's still here, with us, in this locker room. In fact, he's in my locker right now, waiting to scare me, like I'm a fool. But I'm not a fool. He's the fool, and he's way out of line." Dwight Howard then emerged sheepishly from Bryant's locker holding a blonde wig and a Jerry Buss mask.
James Harden had a career night against his former team, scoring 46 points as the Houston Rockets edged the Oklahoma City Thunder, 122-119. After the game, Kevin Durant was distraught in the locker room, telling coach Scott Brooks, "He was my best friend. Now he moves away, and he acts like he doesn't even know me. This is your fault! We never should've let him move! It's not fair!" Brooks nodded gently, before saying, "Do I feel guilty, Kevin? A little. Honestly, I do. I didn't want you two to have to be apart. But sometimes decisions are made, and while they hurt, they're right decisions in the long run. Plus, you like hanging out with Kevin [Martin], don't you?" Durant shook his head, fighting back the tears. "I hate Kevin! I hate everyone!" Brooks scowled at his forward, "You don't mean that, Kevin. Tell Kevin you're sorry." Durant looked at his teammate, as his lower lip started to quiver. "I'm sorry, Kevin. I like you. It's another Kevin that I don't like right now: me." Martin patted his teammate on the back, "I get it, man. The trade wasn't easy for me either. And, hey, [Thunder Assistant Coach] Mo Cheeks is gonna take me out for ice cream later. You wanna come?" Durant couldn't help but let himself smile. "Ice cream with Mo? Yeah, man. I'll be there."
In their eight years of existence, the Charlotte Bobcats have drafted three players from UNC, one from Duke, and one from Boston College, a school that plays up to seven games a year in the state of North Carolina. They have drafted one player from Texas, a Naismith runner-up from Gonzaga, and two UConn greats. Outside of trading for Alexis Ajinca’s draft rights in 2008, the Bobcats have found nearly every undersized or questionably athletic college star in the country. Some, like Jared Dudley, turn out to be valuable players on other teams. Others, like Sean May, quickly confirm that college post moves sometimes don’t translate to the NBA. The Bobcats haven’t fully developed a player since their inception in 2004. They handcuffed Raymond Felton, they didn’t tell the managers of all Charlotte-area Waffle Houses to stop serving May, they turned Gerald Henderson into the worst version of Kobe Bryant in the history of versions of Kobe Bryant.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
Bubba Watson shot a final round 68 and defeated Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole with an excellent iron from the rough to win the Masters. He wept after he made the shot, which marks the first time in history that a "Bubba" has cried over something other than a raccoon getting into the fried chicken. He later chuckled about his tears, which was the first time a Bubba has laughed at something other than an old Hee Haw episode on Betamax.
Oosthuizen hit a double eagle on the second hole Sunday — only the fourth time that feat has been accomplished at the Masters, and the first on television — and the fan who ended up with the ball, Wayne Mitchell, returned it to Augusta National. Neither side would discuss the terms of the deal they made, but it was curious that when Mitchell left the course, he was wearing a green jacket, and a furious Arnold Palmer was chained to a radiator in Butler Cabin.
It's come to my attention that college basketball fans prefer not to read anything negative about their favorite teams. And now that Eli Manning has ushered in the postpartisan age that President Obama could only dream of, I feel inspired to stay positive. So, for the convenience of Kansas and Missouri fans, I've divided this post into two distinct sections. Jayhawks fans should skip right to the second section, where I blame Saturday night's 74-71 loss squarely on the referees. Tigers fans should read the first section, where I credit Marcus Denmon's heroics for the epic win, and forgo section two in favor of eating an orange or being affectionate with a loved one.
Until further notice, the Big 12 belongs to the no. 7 Kansas Jayhawks.
Monday night's win over no. 3 Baylor — before tip-off, one of three undefeated teams in America — was so dominant that it bulldozed the old axiom about over-valuing one win. Because this wasn't just a win; it was a mighty shellacking. A mighty shellacking, you say? Oh yeah. Believe me, I thought long and hard before choosing that phrase. I think it was last used by a dude named Jedediah to describe a lopsided mule race at a county fair in the 1870s. But today, it fits. Baylor got flat-out embarrassed, and by my reckoning, the Jayhawk pyrotechnic display was the single best offensive showing by any team this season, all circumstances considered.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, enjoy the second Kansas basket of the game:
Before the season started, many experts identified Thomas Robinson as Kansas' key player, noting that there were concerns about whether Thomas could handle all the weight on his shoulders. Last year, Robinson played behind the Morris twins and assumed more of a reserve role on the Jayhawks roster. Five games into the season, the concerns were put to rest, as he has scored in double digits in each game so far, however there are some issues that are starting to appear as well.