Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, and true greatness.
SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS — Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady were two very exciting basketball players for a few years there. They impressed me. But now that all is said and done — they both announced their retirement in the past week — it's time to look at the bottom line. When you add it all up? They both had very, very good careers. They should be proud of what they accomplished.
But they weren't Great.
I've seen way too many blog sites this week calling them legends, romanticizing their prime, and telling us how grateful we should all be that they graced us with their presence. Everyone is an expert these days, and all the conventional wisdom out there says these guys belong in the Hall of Fame. Well, not me.
Call me old-fashioned, but I say Springfield — like Canton, like Cooperstown — is a retirement home for our best and brightest. Where Stockton and Malone run that pick-and-roll forever, surrounded by the Bad Boy Pistons, the Showtime Lakers, Wes Unseld. All of them. Strolling through the double doors in Springfield, you're blinded by greatness almost as soon as you walk in.
Dwight Howard has been a Houston Rocket for two weeks. I sent him some text messages.
Me: yo! Dwight: hello Me: are you watching the ESPYs? the guy from Mad Men just made a joke about you, ha! that's dope. Dwight: i'm not. what'd he say? Me: that you finally helped the lakers win when you left to houston Dwight: that's not very nice Me: well Dwight: I hope he wins an ESPY for being a big fat jerk. tell him i said that. Me: tell him? Dwight: yeah. if you scream loud enough, he'll hear you. Me: what? you want i shou-- oh. ha. i get it. nah, man. i'm not there. like, i'm not at the actual show. i'm watching on tv. Dwight: I know. Me: … that's not how TVs work
1. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Nobody is going to call the Colts stiff competition (or competition, really), but Julio Jones played Sunday like a robot sent from the future to destroy us all. His falling catch in triple coverage is not something humans should be able to do.
2. Andre3000, rapper
Just so we're all clear if you make the album Stankonia and then show up on the new Drake album with the line, "Now that both of us are colorblind, ’cause the other side looks greener/Which leaves your turf in a Boise State, can’t see a play or the team," chances are you will find yourself very, very high in a power rankings list called Rankonia. Just FYI. Take care.
3. Drunk Falcons Fans
To finish off the ATL's grip on the top three, Rembert Browne, an Atlanta native and the Doris Kearns Goodwin of celebrity softball, brings this to our attention. Sayeth Rem: "Blue Laws Repealed! Sunday Alcohol Sales in Atlanta! Church Parking Lot Tailgates Galore! MATTY NATTY ICES FOR ALLLLLLLL."
4. Lenny Dykstra, investment consultant As suggested by our human frailty editor, David Jacoby. Dykstra is the "face" of one of the craziest sports-related stories you're going to come across all year. Dykstra was supposed to fight Jose Canseco in Hollywood this past weekend in an event that was organized by a Broomall, PA. man who is "no longer allowed to legally promote fights in Pennsylvania after pleading to charges of promoting without a license and fight-fixing" AND a Nigerian-born Internet mogul. This fight didn't happen and now Dykstra is saying he never even agreed to get into the squared circle with the one-time Bash Brother.
I'm personally shocked at all this. A fight promoter accused of fight-fixing? A Nigerian internet mogul? Stock market guru Lenny Dykstra? Jose Canseco? The table was set! All they had to do was eat the meal. Can't believe this didn't go off without a hitch.
5. Marcelo Bielsa, manager, Athletic Bilbao
For those who don't actively follow South American or Spanish football, a) what's wrong with you? and b) meet this genius. Bielsa, a one-time Argentina national coach who led Chile on a breathtaking World Cup run last summer, is now guiding the Basque team Athletic Bilbao.
After a rocky La Liga start, the eccentric tactical genius, who employs little-used formations like 3-3-1-3 and drills his players to play aesthetically beautiful and athletically demanding football, has righted Bilbao's ship and over the weekend he offered up a managerial masterclass against Barcelona, drawing with the La Liga and Champions League winners in what might have been the best football match of the European season, to date. Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona boss called the match, "un canto al futbol," an ode to the game, and said of Bielsa, "I would have liked to have played under him: he is different to everyone else."
7. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles might be slumping, but at least they have someone who can do this.
8. Pius Heinz, 2011 WSOP champion You gotta love a sport where the trophy presentation is actually a dude putting on a bracelet in what looks like a Birdman video. Nice work if you can bluff it.
9. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Got to love the visor. Got to love him because he's a man and he's 40. Got to love him because he teaches you how to Gundy.
But you mostly have to love him because after beating Kansas State this past weekend, in the shadow of the Game of the Century, Gundy had the stones to say, "I'm not so sure they shouldn't have been watching our game."
10. Yao Ming, college student
The average student height at Shanghai's Jiao Tong University just got a little taller. Sometimes it's important to remember that this guy was the absolute best. Yo! Yao!
As part of our coverage of the NBA lockout, Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams checked in with Shane Battier to see how he is spending his newfound free time. Battier discussed being a free agent, how he would solve the lockout, and the toughest player to draw a charge on.
Grantland: Earlier in the offseason, you said that if you played anywhere overseas, it would be in China. Are you surprised that Wilson Chandler signed to play there without the ability to come back should the NBA return sometime in 2011-12?
Battier: “Not entirely. Wilson’s a young guy still. He’s got many more years left to play in the NBA. It’s a much different situation for a guy like me who’s nearing the end. I think Wilson can make up any perceived loss of income he’ll miss out on this one year. I applaud him. It’s a heck of a jump and it’s going to be a great lifetime experience for him and a great basketball experience for him. I was happy to see a young guy, he’s 25 or 26, have the courage to make that jump.”