What was the biggest offseason loss for the Warriors?

Derek Fisher’s hair.  D-Fish shaved his head over the summer, in an attempt to hide the fact that it’s been falling out from all the "vitamins" he’s taken over the years.  It’s an increasingly popular strategy, employed by the likes of Barry Bonds, Jeff Garcia, Scott Hamilton, and several other athletes who have been hounded  by accusations of steroid use. 

The only real losses the Warriors sustained were the departures of Rodney White and Nikoloz Tskitishvili, neither of whom will be sorely missed.  Overall, this has been the least frustrating offseason for Warriors fans in a very long time.


Phil and Kobe: Dynasty in the making, or disaster waiting to happen?

Dynasty in the making.  The Lakers have the two best players in their division, and they’re my sleeper pick to take over the Suns’ throne atop the Pacific.  For all the hype surrounding LeBron and T-Mac, people forget that Kobe is the one who already has three rings.  Shaq is gone of course, but keep in mind that Phil Jackson made his name coaching a pair of elite swingmen to championship after championship.  And what does he have now?  You guessed it- two elite swingmen.  If L.A. can pick up a veteran third option and Kwame or Bynum are actually able to rebound, would you want your team to face the Lakers in the playoffs?


Should the NBA just cut to the chase and give Andrew Bogut the Rookie of the Year award now?

No, for the same reason no one handed the award to Yao Ming, Emeka Okafor, or Kenyon Martin.  Chris Paul is my pick for Rookie of the Year, because he’ll have the ball in his hands at all times and he’s on a terrible team where he can put up big numbers.  As for Bogut, he may not even start for Milwaukee this season.

Andrew shouldn’t worry, though, because his team is headed in the right direction.  Milwaukee has quietly put together a pretty good team, with Bogut, Magloire, Gadzuric, and Joe Smith inside, and Redd and Simmons on the perimeter.  Of the second-tier teams in the East (one level below Detroit, Miami, and Indiana), the Bucks are right there with the Nets and Bulls.  Don’t sleep on the Bucks.


Did anything happen during the offseason that scared you?

Yes: Orlando promoted Dave Twardzick to Assistant GM.  This wouldn’t be quite so bad if Orlando actually had a GM, but they don’t.  This means that the man who drafted Todd Fuller over Kobe Bryant is now in charge of personnel decisions for another NBA franchise.  Read that as many times as you need to.  A few Magic fans tried to pre-empt their misery by jumping onto the third rail of Disney’s city-wide monorail, only to find out that it’s actually a giant candy cane.  Some people just can’t win. 

The only way this could get worse for Magic fans would be if Gatorade decided to include Orlando in their "what if" commercial, showing things like Nick Anderson making his free throws or Shaq’s pen running out of ink as he attempted to sign with the Lakers.

Who will have the higher attendance this season: Atlanta or Charlotte? And if a tree falls during either of their home games, will it make a sound?

I predict Charlotte will have higher attendance, if only because their fans are still in a second-honeymoon phase and the team just drafted two UNC grads.  Atlanta has 39 swingmen and a shoot-first rookie point guard.  If you were a Hawks fan, would you bother going to games?  It’s no wonder their arena is empty every night.  If a tree fell in Atlanta, the Hawks would pick it up and sign it to play center.


Which NBA joke are you getting tired of?

The whole Stan Van Gundy-Ron Jeremy thing.  Van Gundy looks more like a guy ready to put you in a used Chevy than the biggest (no pun intended) porn star in the world. I think the moustache is what’s keeping this alive- growing a moustache is like walking around with one of those blurry trial witness circles over your face.  My dad runs into this all the time; people always compare him to Robert Goulet or the president of Mexico, even though he looks nothing like either guy.   If you want to rob a bank, just grow a moustache, I guarantee no one will be able to identify you.  If Dunleavy ends up keeping his ‘stache, I have no doubt that NBA fans will start asking when Tom Selleck signed with the Warriors.

You know what I could really go for, though?  Some weed jokes involving the Trail Blazers.  How come no one’s gone that route yet?


Which NBA player is LEAST likely to be featured on MTV Cribs?

Hands down, Kobe Bryant.  Can you picture 15 minutes of Vanessa taking the camera crew through their house, pointing out things like, "this is the ring Kobe bought me when I first found out" or "here’s the bed I made him sleep in for the first 6 months"?  No way Kobe lets MTV anywhere near his house.

Of course, Jason Kidd used to be my answer for this, and I thought he was a mortal lock.  So I guess anything’s possible.

On a scale of 1-10, how tired of the San Antonio Spurs’ success are you?

About a 5.  I don’t mind the Spurs too much- they play smart basketball and they don’t have anyone you can root against, except for maybe Horry. They’re definitely not the most exciting team, but you actually learn more about basketball just by watching them play.  Plus, Tim Duncan is the best player in the league, and it’s never a bad thing when the best  player  wins the championship.  Of course, I’m the same guy who doesn’t mind seeing the Patriots win it all each season.  Maybe I’m the wrong person to ask.

Who was the best offseason acquisition?

Antoine Walker.  He does everything on the court, and he’s still capable of taking over a game or two if Wade or Shaq (or both) go down.  Miami overhauled half their roster over the summer, but Walker is the one addition who gives Miami a chance to get past Detroit.

What’s the over/under on the number of games Eddy Curry plays this season for the Knicks?

Because I don’t want to see Curry get carried off the court, I’ll set the number at 82. But if you’re asking for an over/under on how many games into the season he loses his job to Jerome James, I’ll take 56.  And if you’re looking for a sign that your team has signed the wrong free agent, benching him in favor of Trash Bag Jerome is a pretty good start.


Speaking of bad free-agent signings, who has the worst contract in the NBA?

Jalen Rose.  He’s due $15.5 million this season, and another $17 million in 2006-07.  All this for a guy who resembles nothing close to the franchise player he’s being paid to be, and hasn’t even managed to make Toronto relevant in a weak Eastern Conference.  Jalen’s only one year away from becoming an expiring contract, which would actually make him an asset to the Raptors, but right now he’s making Antawn Jamison look like a bargain at a mere $14 million.


Which of the 4 rookie Tar Heels will have the biggest impact?

Rashad McCants will probably have the biggest immediate impact with the T-Wolves.  He’s walking into a great situation, playing off the double-teams thrown at Kevin Garnett and generally providing a non-Wally scoring option on the perimeter.  McCants is young, athletic, and healthy, something KG hasn’t had since Marbury left a lifetime ago.  If KG is traded before the deadline, sit back and enjoy the cage match between McCants and Wally as they battle for shots.

Who has the best uniforms in the league?

Miami, but almost by default.  It took me forever to answer this question, mostly because no team’s uniforms are anything special.  What happened here?  Where have all the cool NBA uniforms gone?  When I first became an NBA fan, you had the rebounding "L" Bullets logo, the red Rockets jerseys, the pinstriped Hornets unis, and the classic Lakers’ purple-and-gold.  Plus, there were the Barkley & Majerle-era Suns jerseys, which were not only cool, but remain one of the few uniform designs in NBA history that didn’t make white players look like they’d spent the last 12 years in a cave. 

Now teams have gotten carried away, to the point where they actually have to bring back their old jerseys to sell merchandise.  FloJo would be ashamed if she were alive to see this.


Who has the worst uniforms in the league?

Sadly, the Golden State Warriors.  They really should just give up.  Apparently not content to mortify a mere majority of their fan base, the W’s decided to add "road flare orange" jerseys to their arsenal last season.  The sublime design of The City jerseys only draws more attention to how hideous the team’s current unis are.  Of course, the Warriors no longer sell The City jerseys anymore, coinciding perfectly with Baron Davis’ arrival.  Wouldn’t want fans buying a good-looking jersey of the team’s best player.  The Warriors need to just call it a day and go back to the Run-TMC unis of the mid-90’s.  I feel like a parent who’s too exasperated to yell at their kid anymore.  You couldn’t run a franchise this poorly if you tried.


Which player needs to step his game up?

Caron Butler.  Now that Larry Hughes is gone, the Wiz are relying almost exclusively on Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison to carry the load, and you can ask the Warriors how well that strategy works.  Washington needs the UConn Caron Butler to show up, the Butler who took over the NCAA tournament and had everyone calling him the next Paul Pierce.  So far, the NBA Caron Butler hasn’t shown much improvement since his rookie season 3 years ago, and is already playing for his third team.  Butler’s play will determine whether the Wizards make the playoffs or head back to the lottery.

Now that they’ve all participated in a Royal Rumble, how do you rank Ron Artest, Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson in terms of street-fighting ability?

Let’s look at Jermaine O’Neal first.  Jermaine’s a pretty mellow guy who would have to be provoked into brawling, so you don’t have to worry about him making the first move.  But if you charge him, you’ll end up on your back, as one Pistons fan found out when he charged the court.  Plus, he’s 6’11", so he’s got the reach advantage on just about everybody.

Stephen Jackson is in a bit of grey area, due to the Crazy Factor- the man ran full-speed into the stands during the Auburn Hills melee, swinging at everything and anything in his way.  While this can be intimidating, it also leaves him vulnerable to early knockouts.  If you can catch Jackson with one good punch, he won’t see it coming, so he ranks below Jermaine.  Jackson has the higher ceiling, but Jermaine won’t beat himself.

Artest is just in a different league altogether.  He’s big, fast, strong, AND crazy.  But Artest isn’t crazy in the "10-year-old who drank too many Dr. Peppers" way that Jackson is crazy; Artest is a calm, brooding crazy, which is much scarier.  If you fought Artest and somehow managed to hurt him, he’s the type of guy to run up on you 4 years later and put a shive in your side- and who needs that in their life?  As if that weren’t enough, Artest was a boxer growing up and has admitted that his anger often grows beyond his control.  I feel like I need to hire Chuck Lidell as my personal security guard just for writing this.


Which team will make the biggest leap this season?

The Utah Jazz.  For starters, they’ve got AK-47 back, which makes all the difference for this team.  Kirilenko does a bit of everything, which frees up all of his teammates to do what they’re best at.  Boozer and Okur should improve in their second season in the West, and Matt Harpring is finally healthy again off the bench.  The Jazz also signed Devin Brown from San Antonio, one of the best sleeper pick-ups of the offseason.  Throw in Deron Williams and one of the NBA’s best coaches, and Utah has a playoff spot with their name on it.


Which team will fall from grace?

Seattle.  Not because they’re a poor team necessarily, but because everything isn’t going to right for them a second year in a row.  Last year, the Sonics had one of those fluke seasons where a team catches a year-long wave and convinces themselves they’re better than they really are.  The 2001 Chicago Bears are the best example of such a season, though I don’t think Seattle will fall quite as far as the Bears did in 2002. 

The Sonics are without coach Nate McMillan and Antonio Daniels this year, as well as center Jerome James, who was the team’s most effective big man in last year’s postseason in a serious contract push.  Seattle didn’t add anyone to offset these losses, and they still don’t have a player who can consistently rebound or score inside.  The Western Conference is just too deep to allow the Sonics to reach .500 this season.


If aspiring law enforcement officer Shaquille O’Neal had his own police drama series on TV,  what would it be called?

"You Better Hope You Can Outrun Me".


Which team is the biggest mystery?

Phoenix.  The Suns could win the Western Conference or they could miss the playoffs entirely- neither would surprise me.  Phoenix absolutely blistered teams last year during the regular season, but now guys like Jim Jackson, Raja Bell, James Jones, and Kurt Thomas are being asked to fill the void left by the absence of Amare Stoudemire, Quentin Richardson, and Joe Johnson, at least until Amare returns after the All-Star break.  I can see Nash and Marion carrying the newcomers and treading water around .500 until Amare gets back, but they’ll have to be at their best each and every night, something they didn’t have to do last season.  If they can grind it out and make the playoffs, they’ll be the team no one wants to play.


What was the worst part about the offseason?

The Dallas Mavericks denying Donnie Nelson his legacy by refusing to name him head coach.  Donnie waited in the wings behind his dad for decades, only to be usurped by Avery Johnson once Poppa Don finally called it quits in the middle of last season.  By failing to correct this mistake once the playoffs were finished, the Mavs ruined what could have been the most exciting extracurricular storyline of the season- courtside hecklers yelling "shut the f— up, Donnie!" or "Donnie, you’re out of your element!" every time the junior Nelson got up to argue a call or run a play.  This likely would have become the greatest sports name game of my lifetime, surpassing "What does Marcellus Wiley look like?!?"

Will the New Orleans Hornets ever play another game in New Orleans?

Here’s another way to approach this question: if the Hornets, Bobcats, Raptors, Clippers, and Grizzlies all started rotating rosters and wearing each other’s uniforms each night, would anyone notice the difference? Would anyone care? 

I guess the answer to the original question is this: does it really matter if the Hornets play another game in New Orleans?  Big Easy residents certainly wouldn’t be missing anything if Shinn & Co. packed up and moved again.  In fact, they should probably pray that the team does move, just so they can get an expansion franchise with an owner who isn’t George Shinn.


Which player is poised for a bounceback season?

Carlos Boozer.  He’s got a solid new point guard, he’ll have a full season of Kirilenko next to him, and most people have forgotten to badger him about swindling an old blind man.  Now that he’s had a season to get comfortable with his new conference and new team, I expect "AA" to return to his old All-Star form.


What’s the difference between Luke Ridnour and Kirk Hinrich?

Luke is a hobbit, Kirk is an elf.  I’m not sure what the difference is exactly, but both groups get very angry when you get the two confused.  In fact, one of my friends was stabbed in a knife fight last year for making this mistake.  You can talk all you want about Pistons-Pacers, but that is a blood feud right there.  November 18, Chicago at Seattle.  Mark this one on your calendars.

Let’s play some word association. When I say ______, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Mark Cuban:  Coming up with better ideas to improve the game of basketball than anyone in the NBA.

Allen Iverson: Finally playing alongside the injury-prone, perimeter-shooting power forward he’s always needed.

Yao Ming: Created in a lab.  May have been invented by Mark Cuban.

LeBron James: Former Warriors PA announcer Dick Callahan ("too…many…steps").

Ben Wallace: Chris Porter.  In fact, Big Ben should just start calling himself Chris Porter, like the 47 different guys who played the Ultimate Warrior.

Bill Walton: Polarizing. Either you love Big Red or you hate him. He’s the NBA version of Joe Buck.

Carmelo Anthony: Needs to slow down.  Even Sprewell acted normal for a few years before becoming a complete turd.

Stephen A. Smith: Do the people in charge of ESPN actually watch their own network?

Paul Pierce: Better than everyone remembers.  If he’s traded during the season, he could swing the balance of power in an entire conference.

David Stern: The Don. Kiss his ring, adhere to his dress code, and accept his vision of global dominance, or you’ll end up at the bottom of a large body of water.


Finally, where do you predict the Warriors will finish? What one thing will "make or break" their season?

I think the Warriors finish at 45-37 and grab the 8th seed in the Western Conference.  Everything needs to go right in order for this to happen, as the fate of the entire season rests on the shaky legs, back, and shoulder of a single player.  It’s a perilous position, especially given the team’s poor record before Baron’s arrival last year.  The Warriors are still a donut with no real presence inside, a group whose top big man is at his best when he’s away from the basket.  But if Baron can get Murphy, Dunleavy, and Co. playing well enough on offense to at least minimize their lack of defense and rebounding, the Warriors should score enough points to overcome their lack of muscle.

Even if Baron doesn’t suffer some catastrophic season-ending injury, chances are that he’ll still miss a handful of games with various ailments due to his physical style of play.  The fate of the season may hinge upon these games, which is enough to make any Warriors fan nervous.  The hope here is that the team will gain enough confidence playing with Baron that they’ll be able to hold down the fort if/when he’s out.  I think they’ll play close to .500 ball without Baron, and that Davis will play in enough games to carry them to the postseason.


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