I haven’t been blogging much of late for a few reasons. 1) The season is over and I’m resting. 2) I lost the “o” key on my keyboard (I accidentally sucked it up with my vacuum… don’t ask) and realizing that the letter “o” is one of the more common ones in the English alphabet I decided to limit my typing. 3) I’ve been hit with some kind of flu that has rendered me useless, although allowed me to catch up on some good DVD viewing – finally saw I Am Legend (liked it), hired one called Awake (good thriller made great thanks to Jessica Alba and her ass), and tried to watch Little Miss Sunshine but fell asleep (cos of the flu, not because it was bad).

In general though I have been wandering around aimlessly wondering how I cope every year during the NBA off-season. It’s almost clinically depressing. So to aid those of you struggling as much as I am, here are a few things that might keep you entertained.

1. Watch the Tour de France. Seriously, this is riveting TV. I know a lot of basketball fans are probably averse to watching men in fluro spandex ride bikes around France, but give it a chance. I got hooked on the Tour de France last year in what became a very sleep-deprived three weeks, but as tired as I was I still couldn’t turn off my TV until that day’s racing had finished. If you’re struggling to comprehend how cycling can be so exciting to watch – and believe me, I initially was – you’ll quickly realise why. The telecast of the TDF is simply mesmerizing. No other sporting event in the world is broadcast like this. It’s a combination of travel show, cooking show, history show, and sporting show rolled into one. I turned on the tele to SBS a few nights ago to see Gabrielle Gaté talking extremely French while cooking some kind of roasted duck. “What the hell is this show?” I asked my mate. “It’s the Tour de France man”. Of course it is.

2. Next time you’re playing in your local basketball league pick out opposition players that resemble NBA players either by looks or playing style, and refer to them as their NBA counterpart throughout the entire game. This worked great for me recently against a team featuring a guy with long hair, shaggy beard and one of those string head-bands. “Keep an eye out for Sasha over there” I kept yelling. “Damn it, you gotta get out to Sasha when he takes those threes!”. The guy was so confused by the end of the game he was passing up his open looks. That’s when I knew the analogy was false – Machine never passes up open looks.

3. Jump in all your friend’s cars to see if the “World’s Best Kept Auto Secret” is true.

4. Look out for a man walking the streets of Melbourne wearing a t-shirt that says “I love Rodney Stuckey”. The man is Chucko (the Frustrated Suns Fan) and he has to wear the shirt after losing a bet with me. The bet came about after several back-and-forth arguments about who was better between our team’s new rookies – the Piston’s Stuckey, and the Sun’s DJ Strawberry. I’m not sure how/when Chucko turned into the world’s biggest DJ Strawberry fan (he even gave him MVP votes), but he is. After we decided we couldn’t wait 12 years to determine who had the better career, we agreed on a bet: whichever rookie was the first to truly “take over a game”, the other person would have to wear a t-shirt with their name on it, i.e. “I love Rodney Stuckey”. Obviously it was hard to measure exactly what it meant by “take over a game”, but the rough criteria was:
- score at least 25 points (which would be a certain career-high for either of these guys)
- hit big shots down the stretch, leading his team to win a close game
- have his name mentioned in the game recap title (the GRTT always give a fair indication of who took over the game)

And what happened just weeks after making this bet? Stuckey led the Billups-less Pistons to a four point victory over the T-Wolves scoring 27 points, including 12 in the final quarter. The GRTT didn’t let me down: Stuckey sticks it to Timberwolves with big jumper. It was pretty obvious – I had won the bet. Chucko will wear the shirt.

5. Snort some wasabi (Warning: only do this if you’re really bored, and you probably shouldn’t do it at all based on this guy’s reaction…)

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6. Go and bet on the 2008-2009 title winner (not that we condone betting on this site). Lakers are at $4.50 according to Centrebet. I’m thinking about putting a few bucks on that one…

7. Go and play NBA Jam on a Nintendo 64 or a SNES or a Megadrive (or a Sega Saturn – yes I actually owned one of those and it was AWESOME) and relive the glory days of the NBA. If you’re playing with a few mates, make things interesting by choosing the worst pair of players you can find. It’s NBA Jam – any two-man team can win, thanks to the most ridiculous “catch up mode” in sports video gaming history. I was playing this a couple of weeks back with Tiz and we chose the Hornet’s menacing duo of Vlade Divac and George Zidec. We soon realised we had a problem. It seemed neither Divac or Zidec could dunk the ball which is kind of a crucial attribute in NBA Freaking Jam. Oh sure they would leap for the ceilings and do back flips, but it would always end in some balletic finger roll. While these didn’t result in the in-your-face “BOOM-SHAKALAKA” slams our opposition was pulling off, they were surprisingly high-percentage shots, leading us to name our tandem “The European Finger Assault”. And no, this has no relation to the porn movie of the same name.

8. Go and find out your NBA alter-ego!

9. Get back into the footy! While the NBA in June is one of my favourite months of the year, it can’t compare to the Finals fever of September in Melbourne. I live pretty close to the MCG so perhaps my experience of the Finals is a little heightened, but 2008 might just prove to be the best Finals series in decades. We have plenty of Victorian teams to get excited about – not that I’m against interstate sides, but having more Vic teams = more games in Melbourne = more fun for me! I don’t remember the last time the top three sides were all Victorian – maybe 2000? It means we’ll get big crowds and lots of good coverage.

The MCG lit up at night gets me aroused

We could foreseeably have four Victorian teams – Hawthorn, Geelong, Bulldogs and Collingwood – in the preliminary Finals. Contrast that to the past few years where there’s only been one preliminary final (or none) in Melbourne – we can thank the Swans and the Eagles for that. Throw in the fact that the Saints are looking on the rise, the Roos are always dangerous, and the likes of Richmond and Carlton loitering around 9th position, and it all makes up for a very entertaining finale to the 2009 season. My prediction? The Cats to comfortably secure their back-to-back flags.

10. Go and check out the latest on NBA Live 2009 and NBA 2K9. For the past few years I’ve been a strong supporter of the 2K series while NBA Live has generally sucked. Looks like the tides may have turned this year, with NBA Live featuring the very cool “Dynamic DNA” while 2K9, from reports thus far, looks basically the same as last year. Check out the NBA Live 09 demo video from E3 – looks really impressive (and I wonder if Tony Parker will follow up the NBA Live “cover curse” after Arenas’ horrific start to the season last year? i.e. injuries forcing him to miss most of it). As for 2K9, I honestly thought 2K8 was one of the best basketball games I’ve ever played so if it hasn’t changed much than it’s probably a good thing.

11. Look at pictures of Jessica Alba. NOTE: Following this link could lead you to spend far more time than you’re planning to browsing these photos. Those pics from GQ magazine are… WOW. I think my keyboard needs another vacuuming…

12. Play the Nintendo Wii Fit. My parents have bought one of these and I’ve spent hours playing this over the last week. It’s way more fun that I thought it would be – it’s not just yoga exercises like the TV commercials suggest. Last night I smashed the record on that soccer ball heading game (scored like 520), which I’m extremely proud of because I generally suck at the Wii and get beaten by my dad and sister numerous times. My dad plays so much Wii. He is so good at Wii Sports Tennis that he can’t gain any more skill points unless he wins EVERY SINGLE POINT of the match. Which means as soon as he loses a point he ends up turning off the Wii and starting again. It’s quite amusing.

13. Watch Flight of the Conchords. Probably my favourite show on TV at the moment, and without doubt the funniest. Follows two New Zealand musicians trying to make it big in New York with the help of their manager Murray and best friend Dave (Arj Barker). At the moment this show gets a run late on Sunday nights on Channel 10, but its well worth staying up for. One of my favourite scenes from the show:

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14. Send me an email with your own list of “things to do in the off season”. I’ll add the best ones to the end of this list and together we can help rid the world of NBA off-season blues.

Comment posted by
at 8/6/2008 3:50:55 AM

No mention of the summer olympic hoops? I’ll bet your revised list would include the summer olympics after your Aussies gave us Americans all we could handle yesterday…

Comment posted by
at 8/6/2008 9:24:19 PM

good point! i certainly did forget the Olympics. very impressed by the Aussie’s efforts yesterday, especially without Bogut! although i think it was merely an off-shooting night from the USA.

how good did Patty Mills look early on? practically unstoppable!

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