Thursday, January 31, 2008


I doubt that too many people outside of Cincinnati have much followed the Chad Johnson saga. But, it's true: Chad Johnson is requesting a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals.
And, my favorite player in the NFL - deserves it.

Being that I have not missed a Bengals football game in years, I am somewhat of an expert on Chad Johnson's strengths and weaknesses.

His route running is unmatched - even by Marvin Harrison. No one is better at beating the double team on a 15 yard out. No one makes as many tough catches as Chad does in a season. And he hasn't missed a game in 6 years. He also is a top notch deep receiver with electrifying speed - if not world class like Harrison.

Weaknesses - this past year he dropped some easy catches; he is not particularly great after the catch like Plax, TO, or TJ, and he is not a great blocker.

Fact: He is the only player in the history of the NFL to lead his conference in receiving yards and in a down year he just caught for 1440 yards.

And, because the Bengals underachieved at the start of the year, both national and local media (and the fucking Bengals organization) talked about how Chad needed to "just focus on football" and "stop with all that other stuff." This - for a player that has not missed a game in 6 YEARS! And for a player who has been the very best (AKA top 5) at his position for 5 YEARS!

And not only did absolute moron "hard-ass" ex-coaches (FYI: Those assclowns, Ditka, Parcells, and Cowher who for some reason didn't think talent won them games but "no-nonsense football") (Part 2: Isn't this great how now EVERY fucking studio analyst loves having an opinion about players shutting up and "just play football;" yet how many can fucking break down a Cover 3 defense? NONE OF THEM other than Jaworski can actually analyze, you know, football plays.) And this opinion filtered down to where the fans, and the Cincinnati media started to turn on him. He started being obliquely blamed for the Bengals playoff loss in 2005 when he had an emotional meltdown after Carson's knee exploded. Instead of analysts and reporters criticizing him justifiably for key drops this year and a few times he was less than tough blocking or taking on defenders, Cincinnati media criticized him as a person - his attitude - his toughness and so on.

I don't know how it is in other cities; but Cincinnati is notorious for blaming their best player on the teams failings.

Carl Pickens was painted as being disgruntled after three pro-bowls and took most of the heat when Blake's career and the Bengals seasons started being awful.

Corey Dillon - a workhorse runner and extremely special talent was run out of town after being frustrated about the team's performance when he may have been the league's best runner.

Ken Griffey Jr. - because of his injuries he has been blamed for the Reds being awful his whole tenure when his salary is actually reasonable (9 mill a year) and even if he hit like Ted Williams Cincy wouldn't have been close to the playoffs.

And now Chad Johnson is being painted as a malcontent.

Honestly, given the Bengals obsession with having a "balanced offense" and "renewing their commitment to the running game" next year, Chad would be better off somewhere else.

And if you recall, right after Corey Dillon was traded to the Pats he lead the NFL in rushing.



1)Chris Paul
2) LeBron James
3) Kobe Bryant
4) KG
5) Dwight Howard
6) Caron Butler

Chris Paul has to be the media favorite right now. Not only is he having one of the best seasons in the history of the NBA point guard (his PER blows away Nash's MVP seasons) but he also is leading the Hornets to the top record in the Western Conference. Paul is a phenomenal rebounder, passer, scorer, finisher. And, what separates him from LeBron this year is how he has turned David West and Tyson Chandler into surefire all-stars. Granted D. West has been pretty good for a while, but Tyson has double his scoring average since coming over from the Bulls.

LeBron on the other hand has played nearly flawless basketball. He has even started playing defense this year which is crazy to see. He won't get as many votes as he should because the Cavs are pretty bad, but this is the first year it's actually inspiring to see LeBron play. No longer feels like he's putting on an act. What separates Paul from LeBron is - I just can't help but think that Paul is building great players around him just by his presence and passing - something LeBron just is not capable of doing.

Kobe isn't rebounding, assisting, or scoring as much as he has in the past. However, he got a lot of shit for scoring too much, and this year he really is trying to let the game come to him. He also has been showing consistent defensive effort this year which is impressive.

KG, Dwight, Caron - all three of these guys are great all around players for overachieving teams; but just can't quite stand up to the first three.

Rookie of the Year:
1) Al Horford
2) Joakim Noah
3) Sean Williams
4) The Durantuala
5) Yi Jianlain

Horford has been the most complete player in the draft. Thirty minutes a game - a block, a steal, an assist, 10 points, and 10 boards on 48% shooting. No one has shown the complete game, and the commitment to doing little things to help his team win like Horford has. He should be the clear-cut favorite right now.

If Joakim would be getting as many minutes as Horford his numbers would be just as good. On a terrible underachieving Bulls team, Noah has been the lone bright spot. He is their best rebounder, defender, and the only big man other than Joe Smith who can actually finish around the hoop. He has all the makings of the next Horace Grant (worse shooter, better shot blocker). Also, has there been a better story than the one of Joakim having a meltdown on a coach after a game and being suspended by his team. Yeah, I know most people are sick of hearing him be called a "great competitor" but in a league and regular season where players so rarely give a shit; it's refreshing as hell to see Noah play.

Sean Williams - ferocious shot blocker and rebounder. Already better than Ben Wallace.

Yes, Kevin Durant is making me look bad. Granted, he has been asked to do more than any of these other 3 guys combined, but he has really dissapointed me. For this reason I am being extra harsh on him. His 19.5 ppg will probably net him ROY honors. But, Kevin, can you really only get 4 boards and 2 assists a game? And, maybe most shocking. . HE'S SHOOTING 28% FROM THE 3 POINT ARC! Durant was one of the best shooters I had seen in college. Period. (He is still shooting 87% from the stripe to attest to this), so how is he shooting so poorly? And how did he stop rebounding? Chris Paul had better rebound numbers as a rook.
With that being said, I blame PJ Carlesimo and the Sonics coaching staff more than anything else. Honestly, how do you play Durant at the 2? How? You have a 6'10" brilliant post player who was a nasty rebounder and finisher around the hoop and you have him being hassled by 2 guards and small forwards all day 25 feet from the hoop? It's unbelievable. They really REALLY need to look at how the Celtics used Larry Bird. Like Bird, if Durant has a flaw in his game, it's his lateral quickness and the fact that he is not a brilliant ball handler. That's it. Durant was a great post passer at Texas, a great finisher near the hoop and a phenomenal spot up shooter. He shouldn't have to pull up after a pick by Nick Collison and shoot over Fabricio Oberto. For this, I'm not even blaming Durant; because the Sonics really may be killing his career.

Repeat it with me:Durant is a power forward; Durant is a power forward; Durant is a power forward.

If I had to pick a team to take on the aliens from Space Jam:
Criteria: 9 rotation players and 3 bench guys who would only see spot duty.

G: Chris Paul
G: Kobe Bryant
F: LeBron James
F: Kevin Garnett
C: Tim Duncan
6) Dwyane Wade
7) Dwight Howard
8) Steve Nash
9) Gerald Wallace
B) Michael Redd
B) Allen Iverson
B) Marcus Camby

Coach of the year: I never give two shits about coach of the year. But, more and more I'm thinking that other than Phil Jackson, Nate McMillan is the best coach in the NBA. He is doing the same shit in Portland that he had been doing in Seattle - making a team far more than the sum of their parts and actually letting young players win starting jobs and make contributions.

Comments welcome.