Monday, July 28, 2008

The Olympics: Where Subtle Racism Happens

Most of my ideas for posts come from the conversations that arise from within my circle of friends.  It's almost as if they actually like what I write, as if someone really reads the random nonsense that my creative so-called genius generates.  I received a message from a few of my friends about an idea for a post; and I took it and ran with it...

As the title suggests, the Olympics has some underlying racism that comes with it.  I don't mean racism as so wonderfully displayed in Boston via Massholes; but "positive" racism.  By positive, I mean the generalizations that the announcers/analysts make with which no one seems to have a problem (check the grammar).  Everyone does it, and this post is to help outline a few of these not-so-harmless stereotypes in not just Olympic events, but all sports...

I'll propose my main examples in inquisitive form.  If you were a betting man/woman/dolphin, would you place a substantial amount of money on Angola to win the gold in basketball?  Would you lay down a few hundred bucks on a Lithuanian to win the marathon?  I didn't think so.  It's crystal clear to most people that America has basketball on lock, and that Kenyans and Ethiopians dominate in long-distance running.  Now, with that thought marinating in your head, you can think back to past Olympic telecasts in which the announcers have said something to the effect of, "Those Kenyans are so strong in the marathon.  It's tough to pick against them."  Apparently, all people seem to do in African countries is run, like they don't have any other habits or like any other sports.  I wonder if Forrest Gump is the choice movie for the entire continent...

Granted, in other sports the winner is more of a toss-up.  For example, in Athens, each gold medal winner of each men's gymnastics event was from a different country.  However, what's more confounding than Richard Jefferson being an Olympian is that in certain sports/events, there are subtle racial nuances that announcers and fans widely accept.

And it's prevalent in the four major sports.  To my football fans, let's examine new great White hype and Masshole icon Wes Welker (pronounced Wel'kahhhhh in Boston).  Football experts always use adjectives like "cerebral" and "scrappy" to describe how he plays so effectively.  However, when describing teammate Randy Moss he's just an "athletic freak" or "physically gifted," as if he has no understanding of routes, defensive coverages, and the football's trajectory when it's in the air.  And if you need nother example from the gridiron, let's examine the position of quarterback.  When teams refer to their, "mobile quarterback," he seems to be of a certain dark-skinned pigmentation.  For those that are, "pocket passers," they're of the lighter persuasion.  Note: Byron Leftwich and Alex Smith are notwithstanding in this example because they go against the grain and, well, they're terrible...

I couldn't discuss this topic without bringing hoops into it.  Is it just me, or are all Caucasian, Europeans, and Argentinians either "standstill shooters" or "have an unorthodox game?"  Manu Ginobili is often referred to being a "nuisance" on the court because of the way the fearlessly attacks the rim.  Bear in mind that Dwyane Wade and Allen Iverson play the exact same way, but they're not pests on the floor.  Also, to lovers of the sport, the lighter-skinned players that aren't scrappy came out the womb with the ability to be deadly accurate with a jump shot.  Now, in my findings I've found a lot of this to be true.  I mean, how many times in a game do you alert your teammates to, "never leave the White guy open?"  Is that wrong to say?  I'm not sure of that answer...

To me, speaking generally, the spectrum—the left end having "intelligence" and the other having "physical gifts/athleticism"—moves further right the darker the subject's skin is.  Again, that's just a generalization; but generalizations and stereotypes, regardless if they're positive or negative, are founded upon truths that have long been established.  The reason why few people pick against African competitors in long-distance runs is because they have a long history of winning them.  Basketball was invented in America, and until four years ago, the country hadn't lost an international basketball that involved professional players.  The facts are there, and fans of these international sports subconsciously use them to back their generalizations; and no one has any complaints.  Is it because it's within the realm of sports?  I'm sure most Black people be offended if he or she asked for something to drink and the vendor offered a 40-ounce bottle of St. Ives Malt Liquor in a brown paper pag, stating, "A lot of Black people buy these, so I figured you wanted one."  I'm also convinced that most Asian people would become offended if people mocked them by speaking to them in broken English the way most of them do.  So why do sports get a pas?  My theory is that because the racial generalizations aren't as vivid in athletcis as they are in other facets of society.  Some of it, like the "don't leave the White guy open" thing, is done in good humor.  A lot of it has to do with words like scrappy, mobile, and freakishly athletic when they're used to describe a particular player.  As long as the speaker doesn't appear to be prejudiced in their thinking, or be blatantly racist, then he or she will be excused for those kinds of remarks.

So when you're tuning into the Olympics next week, listen for the statements with covertly stereotypical undertones, because they will be there.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bet to make.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lebron vs. The World: The Saga Continues

That's a very intriguing title, isn't it? It's as if Lebron James is on some quest to save the universe, all while keeping others from looking at his lemonade. This make-believe journey through NBA talent isn't that serious. I mean, it's not like he had his Summer League jersey retired. After Part one, I received a few debaters (again, on the Facebook import, not Fundamentally UnSound...) saying that Lebron may not be as dominant as he is portrayed in this series. I'm not delusional in my basketball opinion, but for the sake of argument, Lebron's awesomeness has to be on full display. I'm nothing near being a big fan of Lebron, but I maintain that disputers of my opinion aren't giving Lebron enough credit; which is why I decided to do this in the first place. Anyway, this is the continuation of Lebron's one-on-one journey with key players. The rules are still the same, except I have added the "win by 2" stipulation. So don't be upset if some of the scores look different for some players than others. Will I finally get to the most anticipated matchup between The King and The Mamba? Read on and find out...

Josh Smith: 6'9", 235 lbs.

One thing is certain with this matchup: there won't be a shortage of athleticism. J-Smoove has the length and explosiveness to bother Lebron, and he's a willing defender. The glaring question for him is if he's a capable enough scorer to beat Lebron, because he can't catch alley-oops in one-on-one. I say that he isn't, and that's all the edge Lebron needs to win. Final score: Lebron 11, Smith 6.

Michael Redd: 6'6", 215 lbs.

Against Michael Redd, Lebron defintely couldn't give the lefty any space to release that jumper. While Redd's reputation is that of a deadly perimeter shooter, which explains his Team USA roster spot, few people remember that coming out of Ohio State he was more a defensive player. And ever since he's become the go-to guy for the Milwaukee Bucks, he's developed the scorer aspect of his game. However, Lebron James is still some kind of a beast, and just like the others so far, he would have a great deal of trouble stopping him from going to the basket. Lebron advances. Final score: Lebron 11, Redd 7.

Ray Allen: 6'5", 205 lbs.

Jesus Shuttlesworth isn't the player he was with Milwaukee and Seattle. His points per game average dropped by nine last season. Part of that may be due to age, but I think a lot of it has to do with joining a team with two other all-stars. Just as with Redd, Lebron would have to guard against the perimeter jumper. I mean, Ray Allen isn't going to go right around Lebron like he's Sasha Vujacic or something. Even if Ray-Ray channeled the emotions and looked at Lebron as if that were his incarcerated father, he still wouldn't put up much of a fight. Lebron for the win. Final score: Lebron 11, Ray-Ray 5.

Caron Butler: 6'7", 228 lbs.

Caron Butler aka "Tough Juice" is climbing up the ladder of the NBA's elite. While he still has a ways to go, one would be hard-pressed to find a swingman that plays as hard as Caron does on a nightly basis. He's one of the few perimeter players that takes equal pride in his game on both ends of the floor. Butler also has no timidness in him, and his tumultuous adolescence and overcoming of it is testament to that. But as good as he is, Lebron still has physical advantages over him. Remember, after DeShawn "I-Can't-Feel-My-Face" Stevenson, Caron was the primary defender against Lebron in the playoffs; and the Wizards didn't exactly contain The King that series. Lebron moves on to the next opponent. Final score; Lebron 11, Caron 7.

Dwyane Wade: 6'4", 216 lbs.

D-Wade emerges as the Boss of the second part of Lebron's journey. The only reason he makes this list is because he's Dwyane Wade. At 6'4", he's at least four inches shorter than Lebron, and gives up at least forty pounds in weight. Flash has been a shooting guard for most of his NBA career, and he's undersized on most nights. He still manages to be a top ten player in Association, and his ability alone would keep him in the one-on-one game. Remember that classic back-and-forth battle these two had a couple years ago? In the end, with the T-Mac game notwithstanding, this would Lebron's toughest bout thus far. However, Lebron's size would eventually get to D-Wade, despite Wade having an endless supply of G2. Lebron would pull out a tough victory, and D-Wade's Mama definitely won't like that. Final score: Lebron 16, D-Wade 14.

This concludes Part 2 of Lebron's journey through the NBA's elite. Part Three will be up soon, and I guarantee that one will have cause the most debate. Well, bring it on then. Your arguments will get treated like Lisa Leslie (I couldn't resist...).


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lebron vs. The World

Sparked from a conversation with one of my friends, I wonder if there'd be anyone within the basketball realm that could defeat Lebron James in a game of one-on-one.  I say no, and I say with strong conviction.  Now, I know I'm going to get fans of a certain Mamba claiming that Lebron would be no match for him.  Remember, one-on-one is totally different than the team game.  After all, Kwame Brown was drafted based on a spirited victory over Tyson Chandler (*rests case*).  The rules of the game would be as follows:  1) Game to 11; 2) Lebron gets ball first; 3) "Make it, take it;" and 4) All baskets count as one point.  I've taken the liberty of removing small guards and true big men from this list, because Lebron's obvious size/strength/quickness advantages would make those games unfair (he's listed at 6'8", 250 lbs.).  I'm going to start with a few names, and the list will probably grow, resulting in a multi-part series.  The King's first opponent immediately follows the random picture...

Andre Iguodala:  6'6", 207 lbs.

AI the Second is a supremely gifted athlete, and is a triple-double threat whenever he's on the floor.  However, whatever he is, Lebron is three notches ahead of that at least.  There'd be no way Iguodala could stop Lebron's tank-like drives to the basket, and The King could dominate in the post.  Also, as versatile as Iguodala is on the court, he doesn't function well in a one-on-one capacity (see: last year's playoffs).  If skinny Tayshaun Prince could lock him up, he has no chance against Lebron.  Final score:  Lebron 11, Iguodala 4.

Brandon Roy: 6'6", 229 lbs.

Brandon Roy isn't the athlete that Andre Iguodala is, but he's way more skilled offensively than him.  He can create his own shot, and shoots well with distance.  However, there's a minor task of having to defend a freight train; and Roy's efforts will be as futile as they were at the end of the Blazers/Cavs game in regular season.  Lebron will go by Roy as if he's not there and score layups at will.  Final score:  Lebron 11, Roy 6.

Tracy McGrady: 6'8", 223 lbs.

This is where Lebron's journey gets increasingly difficult.  As everyone knows, a healthy T-Mac is still one of the deadliest perimeter scoring weapons in the Association.  He's more comparable in size with Lebron, so his moves would have more of an impact on King James than the previous two players.  This one-on-one game would be even for awhile; but I think Lebron's rength would eventually wear down T-Mac, and Lebron advances.  Final score:  Lebron 11, McGrady 8.

Ron Artest: 6'7", 248 lbs.

The Tru Warier is the only perimeter player in basketball that can match Lebron's strength.  I've seen Ron-Ron successfully back down Ben Wallace in the post.  Artest has two areas that would result in his demise in a game to 11 with The King.  The first is that Lebron has an overwhelmingly big quickness advantage.  If Ron-Ron guesses wrong on defense, Lebron's too fast for him to recover.  The second drawback is that Artest doesn't possess a one-on-one mentality.  He can score, but I think he'd have to work really hard to get a bucket each time he had the rock; whereas Lebron's baskets would be a little easier to get.  Ron would play tough, but Lebron still moves on to the next and final opponent of this part.  Final score:  Lebron 11, Ron-Ron 6.

Carmelo Anthony:  6'8", 203 lbs.

Lebron's longtime friend would be the "Boss" opponent of this first stage of one-on-one games. If there's one thing Melo can do, it's score the basketball.  However, if it's one thing Melo can't do, it's defend the basketball.  If Lebron were to miss, then it's quite possible for Melo to go on a bit of a scoring run, since it is "make it, take it."  The best defense against Lebron is a strong offense, because he can't score if he doesn't have the ball.  However, I think Lebron could bother Melo more on defense than the vice-versa, and Lebron's speed would end up being too much for Anthony.  Melo, in true Boss fashion, would be difficult to overcome; but it's still Lebron for the win.  Final score:  Lebron 11, Melo 9.

So that's it for the first round of Lebron's one-on-one opponents.  I know a lot of you will be clamoring on my take of the matchup between him and a certain Mamba; but that'll come when it's ready.  Stay tuned for Part 2.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Better Know an NBA Franchise: Oklahoma City [Insert Nickname Here]

Getting back to the randomness of this series after being rudely interrupted by the Dallas Mavericks, next up is the basketball franchise formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics. Owner Clay Bennett, fed up with the city's lack of concern for building a new arena, packed up his team and moved for suddenly new basketball city Oklahoma City. He has to leave the Sonics name and colors behind, but he keeps the players, and that's most important. For the fans of the team, look on the bright side. At least the team didn't leave in the middle of the night. Right, Baltimore?...

Players: Regardless of the city, hometown kid Kevin Durant is the face of the franchise. Towards the end of last season, he started to figure out how to score in the NBA, and finished averaging over 20 points a game. Once he puts on weight and moves to small forward, he'll be damn near unstoppable. He desperately needs to improve his defense, or does he? Considering that about 94.7% of the Association doesn't care about that end of the floor, he can fit right in with them. I apologize for not mentioning any of the other player on the team, but besides other hometown kid Jeff Green, the rest of them don't matter. They're still looking for a point guard, drafting young late-bloomer Russell Westbrook out of UCLA. This comes after signing Luke Ridnour to a big ride the bench midway through last season. They're also still searching for an inside presence because Nick Collison, Johan Petro, and Chris Wilcox are not the solution. It's going to be a long season for the Oklahoma City [Rock Lobsters]*...

Coaches/Front Office:  Despite not having agreed on a team name or uniform design, the Oklahoma City [Percy Miracles]* have already begun the changeover to their new franchise.  New GM Sam Presti has been avidly working on...whatever it is GMs of fledgling teams need to be working on avidly.  I don't know too much about Presti, but he can't possibly be worse than Isiah; so that's a positive at the lowest level.  Coach P.J. Carlesimo isn't expected to take this team to the playoffs, so his job isn't in any kind of jeopardy.  For now, the team will try to maintain relevance and try to generate enough excitement until they can get some better talent around Mr. Durant.

Bonus:  To honor the end of the Seattle franchise, I'll just leave you with this video of Shawn "The Reignman" Kemp in his Sonic prime, before he made his case for Fertile Man of the Decade.  I bet Alton Lister still dreams of having Kemp's sac plastered across his chin...

Projection:  The Oklahoma City [Square Watermelons]* won't be good...for awhile.  But Mr. Durant will continue to improve as a player.  They'll end up right around the same spot in the 2009 Draft...still ahead of the Knicks.


*And if one of my nicknames is used, put my check in the mail, please.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Superhero Clash: Who Ya Got?

This started as the yin to the yang that is my Unnecessary Ranking of DC/Marvel Supervillains; but really, I just want to compare the two most famous heroes: Superman and Batman. I have a personal preference in this case, however I will be completely impartial in this juxtaposition (or not). So in the battle of crime-fighters, who ya got?


There's no need for me to map out all the details for both of them as I did with Barack v. Baron. Everyone knows the backgrounds of both Batman and Superman; and if you don't, then why are you reading this in the first place? We know each of Superman's powers and Batman's gadgets, all of the main nemeses, and their real identities. On paper, Superman crushes Batman in based on abilities alone; so why do I feel the need to have this comparison? The reason is ecause there's a few flaws in the Man of Steel that would let fully human heroes such as Batman be able to be compared with him.

As previously stated, in physical tools, Superman is the overwhelming favorite; so why does my preference lie with The Dark Knight? That answer has many reasons, and once I plead the case for Bruce Wayne, hopefully it will persuade you to favor him as well...

Batman's Strengths: Batman has a huge edge over Superman in terms of their secret identities' lives. Clark Kent is a journalist, so he gets a few points there; but Bruce Wayne isn't just rich, he's wealthy. And in addition to rivaling The Donald's bank account, his swag is unparalleled among people--real or fiction. He isn't a jerk or arrogant, he's just...the man. Bruce possesses so much charisma that every woman, civilians and enemies (Catwoman), want him to explore their Bat-Caves. Yeah, Superman has the women fawning over him, too; but Clark Kent struggles to even get Lois Lane to notice him. Score one for the Bat...

Superman's Weaknesses: Kal-El's weaknesses extend beyond Kryptonite. In fact, Kryptonite is probably the most creative weakness of all the heroes. However, Superman's "style" has a few drawbacks in it. For instance, for someone that is an all-powerful being, Superman receives some of the most brutal beatdowns--real or fictional. Granted, he tends to deal with stronger foes; but Superman's powers give him advantages over almost all of them, yet he refuses to use them. I'm speaking specifically of his super speed. If he's, "faster than a speeding bullet," then why do weapons frequently hit him? The only way The Flash gets hit with anything is if they manage to slow him down somehow. Superman has been frequently shot while facing his opponent, so what's the deal? My belief is that because Superman was so awesomely created, he has to have struggles with what ends up being significantly weaker foes to add drama to the storyline. I apologize if I don't get it, but superheroes should show their dominance early. As the strongest in the universe, he sure gets whooped on a lot. I mean, Batman's human, and super-strong enemies have never wailed on him like he was some bully's lunchtime punching bag...

Intangibles: This brings me to another point: the enemies. As revealed in my supervillains list, I believe The Riddler is the best enemy ever drawn. Not because he has any abilities, but solely because he requires Batman to laterally think his way out of situations. Has Superman ever had to do this extremely difficult problem solving in order to save Metropolis? All of his enemies require him to pit his powers up against theirs, and after about three to four minutes of mindless attacking, Superman overwhelms the enemy and wins. Big whoop. I want my hero to be a genius, just in case Option A, B, and C are unavailable to him. Oh, did I mention Batman is rich upon rich upon rich?...

In conclusion, while Superman's logo looks way better, you can do more with his color scheme and costume, and should easily be the best hero ever placed in comic book panels, there are certain flaws that allow for Batman to claim the top spot. If I had done the unnecessary rankings, Superman would unquestionably be number two, ahead of famous heroes such as Spiderman, Iron Man, and Captain America. It's just that Batman's swag is undeniable and unrivaled, and Superman can't match wits with him. Maybe Clark Kent can advance his career and work for Wayne Enterprises, because Bruce is rich. However, if you agree or disagree, you can vote using the poll on this page. If you have a case for the Man of Steel, by all means leave it in the comment it can be debated and countered. To me, Superman should get his power and cape snatched.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Better Know an NBA Franchise: Dallas Mavericks

I wanted to save this one for a later date. I was trying to stick by the randomness of my team selections. Two posts into this series, and I have slightly deviated from that plan. At first intention, the second post was reserved for the Houston Rockets, because I don't have a particular feeling one way or the other about that team. However, after a somewhat lengthy exchange on my "Better Know: Wizards" post on the Facebook import (not Fundamentally UnSound *hint*), a friend of mine was consistently defending "his" Mavericks. With that said, I decided to shed some light on this franchise in a somewhat unbiased way...

This may give off the impression that I don't have a particular fondness for the Dallas Mavericks, and I swear on Baron Davis' roller skates that is not the case. This paragraph is written to get all of my personal opinions out of the way before I discuss the team as a whole. You basketball fans already know the Mavs' story over this decade. They've been a team on the cusp and have the resources and talent to already have a title or two. But Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan and the entire city of Oakland have thwarted Mark Cuban's plans for sports world domination. A lot of the blame, and a lot of said blame coming from me, has fallen upon Dirk's German shoulders. Both credit and scrutiny are first given to the best player of a team; it's just something that comes with the territory. Dirk's (and Mark Cuban's) methods for dealing with the negatives are what bothers a lot of people. There's also the small obstacle of Dirk playing significantly smaller in bigger games and moments, but that'll be discussed on a broader level...

Players: The Mavs have a lot of talent. Whenever you can trade your point guard of the future and most of your bench and still make the playoffs in a competitive Western Conference, you have to be talented. Josh Howard is a do-it-all player (and probably on the trading block), Jason Terry can chip in with 20 points consistently, and how many players—let alone, seven-foot big men—do you know that has a jumper like Dirk's? But, as the case with the Wizards, something seems to be hindering them from getting over the championship hump. It seems that the team shrivels up in big games because a lack of [intestinal] fortitude (read: cojones) among their key players (read: Dirk). I don't know if it's the makeup of the team, the lavishly comfortable home facilities, or what; but at times they seem to play...well...soft. I like Shan Foster as their second-round pick, but by unwritten rule, he'll probably stay in the D-League for the whole season. More than likely, it'll be the same team for another season. To put that bluntly, they'll be relying on Eric Dampier to be productive. Is that good enough to make the playoffs in an ever-improving West?...

Coaches/Front Office: With back-to-back abrupt exits in the the playoffs, it was inevitable—fairly or unfairly—that Avery Johnson (who loves the game of basketball) would be out as head coach. Enter former Pacers and Pistons great Rick Carlisle to lead the team. Maybe he'll be the one to instill a more defensive mindset into the players, something that's plagued the franchise since Don Nelson told the team a few years back that, "the goal was to average 100 points a game for the season." One thing is certain: Mark Cuban is one of the few NBA owners willing to spend whatever it takes to win that coveted title...

Bonus: There wasn't a bunch of trivial and interesting information that I found in my not-so extensive research, outside of the Mavs' uniforms being designed by Diddy himself. I'm not even sure that's something to be proud of, but I guess that's cool...

Projection: As stated earlier, all of the elements have been here for this franchise to pose with the trophy in June for years now. Are they a top eight team in the West? If you're one of those people that believes in experience, then that answer for you is yes. However, I don't think the Mavs will buy into Rick Carlisle's system right away, and a lot of the other teams on the Left Coast are simply more talented than Dallas. Three of the teams in their own division—The Timmys, The CP3s, and T-Mac, Yao & the Rockets—are better than them. The resulting season is that they will miss the playoffs by a game or two; and will probably trade Josh Howard if they're out of contention by the all-star break. It will definitely be a few years before Mark Cuban gets that ring. Maybe he should have been a little more persuasive in the purchase of the Cubs, because it seems they'll end their 100-year drought before his Mavs are the best team in basketball...


Friday, July 4, 2008

Better Know an NBA Franchise: Washington Wizards

It's been awhile since my last post, but I have returned with a brand-spanking new series I'll be starting. I'm going to shine some insight on each of the 30 NBA teams. I plan to finish it, but don't hold me to it. You can't really blame me if I don't really feel like writing at length about the Bobcats. If David Stern doesn't care about them, then why should I...right? I thought about going in alphabetical order; but Fundamentally UnSound is all about the randomness. Gut feeling would tell me to start with the Knicks; but it pains me to even watch anything they do at this present time. Anyway, to the first team...

I figured I'd start with my hometown team, the Washington Wizards. For going on five years now, they have been an "up-and-coming team" that was supposed to rise to the top of the Eastern Conference's elite. Apparently, Lebron James didn't get that memo, as he's been judge, jury, and executioner for the inhabitants of the Phone Booth for the past three postseasons. It's not a rivalry if one team does all the winning. That "sleeper team" role only passes for so long. (See: 2000-2004 Sacramento Kings)

Players: The Wizards have an abundance of team chemistry. Despite Agent Zero's scorer's mentality, the rest of the team seems to enjoy him. And while he's still the best player of the team, the most valuable is unquestionably Caron Butler. He and Antawn Jamison are the heart and grit of the Wiz. Nick Young should see more time this year, since he has a natural knack to score. With that said, as stacked as they are offensively, they lack that interior presence needed to command games on the defensive end. Brendan Haywood, Andray Blatche, and new draft pick Javale McGee are not the answers. If they don't find someone to own the paint on both ends, they keep wearing "Round 2" T-Shirts and caps in the playoffs...

Coaching/Front Office: Eddie Jordan may be one of the better coaches in the Association. He successfully incorporated the Princeton-style offense; and, when executed correctly, (read: when Gilbert doesn't decide to do his own thing) is amazing to watch. For some reason, he can't translate his defensive-minded mentality over to his whole team. Caron and DeShawn "I Can't Feel My Face" Stevenson seem to be the only ones fully committed to it. As far as the front office goes, Abe Polland believes in his "Big 3" because he locked up both Arenas and Jamison to huge multi-year deals. Gilbert even took less money than the team offered him, hopefully so they could bring that missing championship piece into the franchise.

Bonus Info: It's becoming more and more known that the Wizards are a playful bunch. From DeShawn Stevenson making the rest of the team sign contracts to talk to him, to he and Gilbert's three-point shooting challenge, they like to have fun while working. They like to play practical jokes on each other. Of course, Gilbert is the ring leader and main culprit, and his main prey are Nick Young and Dominic McGuire. Paintball fights, fake boxing matches, and games of H-O-R-S-E are all a part of those two rookies-turned-sophomores daily routine. This is also further proof that basketball players have so much free time on their hands.

Projection: The Wizards are a top eight team in the East, but need interior toughness. That act they tried to pull on the Lebrons last year wasn't them. Now with Toronto, Milwaukee and Indiana getting better in this offseason, their window isn't going to stay open for long. Either defensive intensity needs to be magically instilled in the current roster, or they'll continue to be one-and-done in April.