Saturday, April 28, 2012

NBA Playoff Preview

The abbreviated NBA regular season has come to a close, and after a sloppy start, it's been a pretty good one. The 16 teams qualified for postseason play are all above .500 (even in the Eastern conference), the rugged play has leveled off to mostly quality basketball and there is really no clear cut favorite to win it all. Call it parity or simply a watered down league, but there are at least 5 teams with a legitimate shot at the title. There are also subplots aplenty this go round: Can Dirk's Mavs regain their championship form or will the Thunder get their revenge? How will LeBron react in crunch time and will Kobe have enough juice left in his German engineered knees for a title run? Will anyone watch the Magic Pacers series? Lots of questions will be answered over the next 4 months or however long it takes to play these games. Let's get down to the matchups.

Eastern Conference:
1)Bulls vs 8) Sixers

For the second year in a row the Bulls are saddled with the opening game time slot the NBA relegates to the Sixers every year. Aside from Derrick Rose (the NBA's number one jersey seller) this series is seriously lacking in star power. Nevertheless, the games must be played so we can set up a rematch of last year's ECF. These are the 1st and 2nd ranked defenses in the league respectively so on top of the boring lack of stars, expect really low scoring games. Despite their epic fall off after an easy early schedule, I think the Sixers are good enough to get a game or two off the Bulls, but that's about it. Bulls in 5

2)Heat vs 7)Knicks

Now this is more like it. This series has it all. Superstars, a historic rivalry, the Heat trying to atone for last year's collapse in the Finals against a Knicks team hungry for any type of playoff success. Why did the NBA and ABC schedule this game at 330 on a Saturday when most people are either grocery shopping or watching the Rangers game? You're guess is as good as mine but it seems like they figure that Saturday night is a dead zone ratings wise (hence the Orlando vs Indiana matchup at 7) and they still want the Lakers in the golden time slot Sunday afternoon. Regardless, this should be a fun series, especially for us beleaguered Knicks fans at PTU. It will at least give us many opportunities to hate on LeBron. Heat in 6

3)Pacers vs 6) Magic
Ugh. Even with Dwight Howard this series was nearly unwatchable, now I'd rather watch a Downton Abbey marathon in Spanish.

4)Celtics vs 5)Hawks

Even though the Celtics are the higher seed by virtue of their division title, the Hawks had a better record and will enjoy home court advantage in front of thousands of fair weather Hawks fans. A few years ago, these two teams produced one of the more exciting 7 games series in a while and this series should be close as well. The Hawks are missing Al Horford, but the Celtics are banged up and frankly not that good. They still have that veteran moxie and annoying old man game that should get them a victory though.

Celtics in 7

Western Conference:

1) Spurs vs 8) Jazz

Ugh again. The two most historically boring teams of the past 20 years face off. If you don't follow the league too closely (or even if you do) you might be surprised to hear that the Spurs actually score a ton of points, which doesn't prove much besides the fact that you can have a high powered offense and yet still be as boring as The Tree of Life. Spurs in 5

2)Thunders vs 7) Mavericks

This matchup is pretty cool as the bloated, lazy champs try to get that ol' 2011 magic back against Durant and Westbrook. The Mavs just haven't had that same fire they did last season when they took over the playoffs and I see no reason to believe they're suddenly going to wake up now. Dirk came out of the lockout badly out of shape and the loss of Chandler has been a bigger deal than I guess Mark Cuban ever envisioned. Expect a win or two at home for Dallas but I think this is OKC's time.Thunders in 5

3) Lakers vs 6) Nuggets

No MWP shouldn't matter too much against the starless Nuggets. While Denver's gotten by this season with Knicks castoffs and Ty Lawson and Aaron Afflalo, that's not enough to really give Kobe and them a run for their money. This isn't to say that the Nuggets aren't a decent team but Gallinari and Al Harrington aren't going to get more than 2 games off the Lakers.

Lakers in 6

4) Grizzlies vs 5) Clippers

My picks are really boring. I realize this. The only series in which I see the lower seed winning is this one. Chris Paul keeps his MVP type season going by leading the Clips to only their second playoff series victory ever (yes ever). That's about as far as they'll go though.Clippers in 7Let's get it on.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

35 years of Misery: Name that Net

Greetings, hoops fans! As you may have heard, that team that plays in New Jersey is moving to Brooklyn in a few months and so ends 35 years of misery in the Garden State. To commemorate 3 and a half decades of pain, the Nets are having a farewell night and they're pulling out all the stops. All the past legends of the Meadowlands will be on hand like Kerry Kittles and Derrick Coleman? Bernard King's brother? And who's that guy wearing number 10??? I understand that the active guys aren't available like Kidd and K-Mart (and obviously Jayson Williams isn't) but shit isn't Kevin Edwards available? How about Keith Van Horn, he can't be too busy. And where's Buck Williams? I understand DC and Kenny Anderson, since they were the stars of the other good Nets team that didn't feature Kidd, but why does Kerry Kittles get the prime position in that poster? That's the position Ewing or Clyde Frazier would hold if the Knicks had a similar celebration, KK is the symbol of 35 years of history?? At the very least, I'd like to see a Petrovic hologram at this event.

Now, here's where the PTU readers come into play. If you can name number 10 in that photo you will be shouted on in a post as the most knowledgeable sports fan in the world and will also receive a special prize. Good luck, because I am stumped. It's not Sam Cassell or Mookie Blaylock. Could it be a made up player? Let us know if you have any idea, Nets fans.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Who's Your Daddy? Best New York Sports Chants of All Time

Last Friday night, the Knicks blew out another miserable team at home, absolutely dominating a truly awful Wizards team. There was some controversy over whether or not the Wiz could beat Kentucky a couple weeks ago. After witnessing this game, I'm not sure they could beat Brooklyn College. Their girl's basketball team. One positive that came out of the extensive garbage time, however, was a new chant from the Garden crowd. This time it was "FORTY-SEVEN!" coming down from the cheap seats, a reference that at first escaped me (and apparently Steve Novak) to the score the Wiz were stuck on for close to an entire quarter of basketball. New york crowds often receive praise for being the most intelligent fans in sports (as well as some of the loudest) but we sometimes forget their mastery of the art of the group chant. We all know the basic chants: De-fense, charge, aaaashole. Those are all classics in their own right but from time to time we hear some truly inspired chants. It's easy to mess them up like that character on Conan O' Brien's show used to, but here are a few of my favorites.


That "LET"S GO YAN-KEES" rythym is so versatile any four syllables can be inserted in it's place and it sounds pretty good (besides We Want Tacos which is just bush league). Before Johnny Damon was a Yankees World Series hero, he was just another idiot on the eventual champion Red Sox with some decidedly un-Yankee like hair. Besides the great line "Looks like Jesus, throws like Mary" the Yankee Stadium bleachers also came up with "you're not Jesus" to try to get in his head. It mostly didn't work but was a great chant.


New York has known it's fair share of sports villains throughout the years but perhaps no one this side of John Rocker has inspired as much hatred amongst tri- state area fans of Reggie Miller. Just the sight of that monkey face on TNT still makes my blood boil. One silver lining to seeing Cheryl's more feminine brother every spring was a couple great chants. Of course there was "REGGIE SUCKS", "CHEEEERRRYYYYYLLLL" and the best of all "UGLY SISTER". Because nothing hurts a man worse than hearing 20,000 people simultaneously insulting your sister. And as you can tell by that horrifying photo, they weren't lying. This same chant was later used by Mavericks fans (amongst other Laker haters) when Khloe Kardashian's husband Lamar Odom was still an actual basketball player.


Pedro Martinez was yet another Red Sox thorn in the Yankees' side for years. From the Don Zimmer fight to his many dominating performances against them to Grady Little fatefully leaving him on the mound an inning too long, Pedro and his Jeri Curl were smack in the middle of so much Yankee history. After a regular season loss to the Bombers, however, Pedro made the mistake of calling the Yankees his "daddy" and the rest was chant history that would last all the way until his reincarnation as a washed up pitcher with the Phillies in the 09 Series.


We don't get into much hockey talk at PTU (and when I do I just make stuff up) but it's undeniable that hockey crowds know a good chant. One that's spanned decades is the ever present "Potvin Sucks" that is sometimes used to replace "Let's go Rangers" that refers to a guy who played for the Islanders 30 years ago. Like a good crosstown rivalry, a good chant never dies.


Jason Kidd is one of the more respected veteran players now in the NBA but there was a time that he had some dirt on him. While his image is now pretty squeaky clean this wasn't always the case. During the early 2000s things were much different. The Nets were actually an exciting, fun team to watch that did nothing but win after replacing Stephon Marbury with Kidd at the point, and for a few years there dominated the Knicks (on the court if not in the papers). Present for most of the fun was Kidd's hot wife and weird looking child, sitting courtside until revelations about their domestic abuse were revealed, including Joumana throwing a cookie at Jason and Jason hitting her with a purse (or the other way around). Either way, they broke up and the Garden crowd was provided with a chant that was questionable in taste but truly insulting to Kidd. The way all great chants should be.


Simple yet gets the point across.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Black People Don't Play Baseball. Who Cares?

Yesterday was Jackie Robinson day around baseball as you might have noticed if you turned on the Yankee game and wondered why Mariano Rivera was so much whiter and playing every position. To honor the pioneering Robinson everyone wore his number 42, and it's a classy tradition that MLB has done for a few years to celebrate a truly great player who accomplished a lot for minorities everywhere. Unfortunately, this day also means we have to hear the requisite hand wringing articles and commentaries about the lack of black baseball players problem. Stuart Scott referred to the "troubling" statistics that the Major Leagues are only 8% African American now on Sportscenter. Yes, it's true that there are less and less black players every year, but it's not a problem at all. The truth is black people don't like baseball. That's it. They're not beating down the doors of major league teams only to be turned down by racist owners who want an all Dominican baseball league on American soil. They just aren't interested.

Part of it is the lack of resources in urban areas and the expense of playing baseball i.e. equipment, traveling with a team. But even more than that, black kids just aren't that into you, baseball. Get over it. You've been replaced by more exciting sports like basketball and football that promise immediate huge pay days for those involved as opposed to years riding a bus in the minor leagues. And the "action" of baseball seems absurdly slow to a generation of urban youths raised on hip hop. Basketball arenas routinely play Dr Dre and Kanye beats while the teams are bringing the ball up the court. Besides when A-Rod steps out of the on-deck circle, can you imagine "Niggas in Paris" playing during a baseball game? It just doesn't work. So black kids aren't growing up to be baseball players, does that mean we have a racism issue at work here or Jackie Robinson's achievements were all a waste? Not in the slightest, African-Americans don't want baseball, not the other way around. That's not some kind of tragedy like Jason Whitlock or some other writer searching for a noble cause might want to believe but a simple fact of life. The fact that black athletes have the choice to reject baseball is something that even the original number 42 would be proud of.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Let's Go Rangers: Playoff Preview

It's that time of the year, folks! Strap on your skates and get ready for the biggest 6 weeks in sports: NHL playoff time. If you're like us, you're psyched for another run at Lord Stanley's cup by our hometown Rangers. What to expect from the Blueshirts? Here's 4 keys to their success.

1) Center Yanik Yechovik has to be on point with his passing. He started out on fire this season with 19 assists in his first 30 games but after a freak accident involving a moped and actor Reginald Veljohnson sidelined him for a month he hasn't been the same. Rangers will need him for the run.

2) Backup goalie Steve Johnson will need to stay loose. Lundquist has been the Rangers' MVP all season but he may tire out at some point leaving former member of 90s boy group 98 Degrees turned pro hockey goalie Johnson as the only reliable backup. If he can swat away slap shots as well as he used to swat away screaming teen girls the Rangers should be in good shape.

3) Defensive winger Rick Kazinaki needs to show he can be as strong on the ice as he was prior to his stint in rehab for bath salts addiction. His erratic behavior in previous games (including stripping to his jockstrap and attempting to mount Sidney Crosby) will not fly vs. the Senators. Maybe the Flyers but not the Senators.

4) Coach Tortorella has got to keep his mind on the games and not his recent stint as host of Food Networks' Coaching Bites, a state to state grilling competition pitting coaches from sports as varied as badminton and of course professional hockey. He came in second to Bobcat's coach and former Celtic Paul Silas's honey glazed ribs.

My prediction: Rangers in 5.

Let's drop the puck and get it started!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Knicks vs Bucks Preview: The Biggest Game Of The Year

For the past couple weeks, every game the Knicks played has been important, every loss impacting their playoff positioning. This being New York, every loss is treated as the end of the line for the Knicks and every win proof that Carmelo/Woodson/Lin/whoever is finally getting it. Saying tonight's game against the Bucks, however, is the biggest game of the year is not hyperbole at all. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the winner tonight will make the playoffs over the loser. This should be treated as a playoff game by everyone involved as it could very likely decide who gets that coveted 8th seed and the right to play the Bulls or Heat in the first round. This is also the biggest regular season game of Carmelo's Knicks career by a long shot. Last season, the Knicks pretty much had the 8th season wrapped up despite an awful stretch in which a Mets like collapse seemed possible, and he had A'mare and Chauncey Billups to fall back on a bit. This year, it's all Melo. With the injuries to Lin and A'mare this is Anthony's team. If they go 7 and 2 in their next 9 games and secure a playoff spot he will be a hero, but if they somehow let the Milwaukee Bucks (of all teams) sneak into the playoffs past them the blame will fall on his shoulders. It might be unfair to expect one guy to carry that much responsibility, but the Knicks didn't trade half their team to come in 9th in the lame ass Eastern conference. It's not win or go home but a win tonight will put the boot to the neck of the Bucks, and a loss will drop the Knicks into 9th, a place they haven't been since Woodsanity began. While the Bucks are no powerhouse, the Knicks have had all sorts of issues in the land of bratwurst and beer dating back to Andrew Lang breaking Ewing's wrist (essentially ending the dominant part of his career) to the recent barrage of losses they've suffered there. The last time the Knicks won in Milwaukee (get this) Eddy Curry hit a 3 pointer to send the game into overtime. Yeah, so weird shit happens when the Knicks play at the Bucks and I expect tonight to be no different. The Knicks have mostly done the opposite of my expectations this season so I'm going to say they pull out a win tonight and put a stranglehold on the 8th spot.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dwight Howard is a Dick

For once the Knicks were involved in a game this season in which they weren't the most dysfunctional team on the court. If you tuned into last night's game expecting a fired up Magic team still smarting from the embarrassing beat down at the Garden last week that would show up to play despite their recent shenanigans in the locker room (as I was) you were probably surprised at the lopsided score. The Magic didn't just give up, they laid there and let Toney Douglas dominate them in the 4th quarter without a hint of a Pacers like comeback. And of all the players on that team going through the motions, who was the worst offender? "Superman" himself, that smiling doofus wandering around on the court last night like the Bay Ridge Yeti on 3rd avenue. And he had as much of an impact through most of last night's game as the Yeti (except he wore a shirt). And we thought the Melo vs D'Antoni drama was bad. Those two were as tight as Vinnie and Pauly D compared to what's going on with the Magic. Dwight's as dominant as anyone that's played center not named Shaq over the past 30 years when he's at his best and working hard so it's obvious that when he barely even breaks a sweat through 3 quarters that he's just being a dick. Why is he getting somewhat of a pass? That stupid smile and Schwarzenegger impressions can only take him so far. Beneath the goofy veneer lies a coach killer as bad as Iverson, Kobe and Carmelo. At least those guys mostly played hard during their rough patches with their respective coaches (a case could be made against Carmelo for sure but he got KILLED in the media). Stan Van Gundy definitely deserves some blame in this, and he probably shouldn't have said anything to the gathered reporters at shootaround about his knowledge that Dwight wants him fired, but to get mad at him is missing the point. Why should we get upset at SVG for keeping it real and saying he knows that one of his players wants him fired, instead of being angry at the guy who said it in the first place? It's hard to tell if a coach is loafing during a game - they just sit there all game anyway and there's no statistics to measure them by on a game by game basis- but we know for sure that Dwight gave up. It was as listless a performance as I've ever seen in an NBA game, his own form of silent protest while his team loses it's 5th straight. Grow up, Dwight. All SVG has done in his tenure as Magic coach is take your team to the playoffs every year including one Finals appearance. Other than you, he's never had a legitimate second star to work with. He's basically done a lot with a little, which is precisely the opposite of what you've done. There's never been a more physically imposing and athletically gifted basketball player, yet far too often Howard puts up invisible performances like last night or the previous game vs the Knicks. I don't know if I buy the argument that a superstar has to be mean to succeed in the NBA, but I do know that Dwight's stupid impressions and need to be the funniest guy in the room aren't winning ball games anymore than his pouting is. Van Gundy will probably be fired very soon, but the real issue is with the tallest clown in the room.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

There's No Allergies In Baseball; Leave our Peanuts Alone

Opening day is now finally officially here (we won't count last week's games in Japan or last night's game in Rainbow City). Cue up the organ, pour a frosty 11 dollar brew and grab a bag of peanuts and a hot dog and let's play ball! Wait, we can't have peanuts anymore at a baseball game? Thankfully, it hasn't gotten to that point yet but this season the Mets and Yankees will have peanut free sections to protect those poor babies who suffer from allergies to that silent shelled killer. You may have heard about the hundred or so people who have died from peanuts over the years so the NY teams are joining many other sissy major league teams in providing these safe havens. Well, all I can say to that is GROW UP YOU PUSSIES. The song says "buy me some PEANUTS and cracker jacks". It's an accepted part of the tradition of baseball. If you risk a painful death by sitting around someone eating a peanut, first of all, your life really sucks and secondly, stay the hell home and watch the game on YES in your nut free home. Listen to The Civil Wars and drink coconut milk while root root rooting for the home team, you fussy little troll. We're trying to get our peanut on here. Charles Darwin no doubt had the peanut allergy sufferers in mind when he fleshed out his natural selection theory. The fittest will be enjoying a bag of Planters and a Heineken while the allergic waste away in their segregated, pretentious peanut free zone. I hope they die and go to peanut hell, where Mr Peanut pokes you with his cane and forces nutter butters down your throat for eternity. It starts with one roped off section, next the entire stadium will be peanutless, and then where does it all end? No hot dogs for the pork averse? Only soy ice cream served in little helmets? That peanuts guy who works in the bleachers that looks like Pedro Martinez and throws behind the back passes to customers will be out of work. Where does it stop?? Even if you can't eat nuts, grow some and quit complaining.

Anyway, play ball and let's go Yankees! See you at the ballpark.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Top 5 White American NBA Players

Man, this was a tough one. Over liters of dark German beers at West Village bar Peculier Pub on Friday night, Snoot, Bottle and I somehow got to discussing the best White players in the NBA. Discounting Europeans and mixed race players this is about as tough as choosing the top 5 hottest WNBA players (believe we tried that one before too). But, being the suckers for a good list that we are, we decided to go for it anyway. We all know that there's been a severe decline in the White player going back some years now (SI did a story on this way back when)but I hadn't even realized it's THIS BAD. We've heard a lot about the lack of black baseball players but I could easily tick off 5 great African-American players who are active in the Majors. Long gone are the days of Dave Debusschere, Bill Walton, Larry Bird, hell even Jason Williams and Wally Sczerbiak would be an upgrade from most of what passes for a good White guy these days in the league. What did we rack our brains to come up with for White America and the NBA? Since the first one is easy, we'll start there and then go in descending order of White crappiness.

1) Kevin Love

A no brainer. The subject of a recent "what if he were a different race" PTU post, K Love may be a minority in the league, but he's not letting anyone bully him. Dominating all season, Love is putting up stupid numbers on a mediocre team in Minnesota. The fact that he's white has led to some stupid Larry Bird comparisons (his game is more Barkley and Moses Malone than Bird or McHale) but his play has put him in the running for top 5 white American player of ALL TIME if he keeps it up.

2) David Lee

The drop off from one to two is steep but wait til the next couple of guys. The one-time Knicks' all-star is still a dependable 20 and 10 guy on most nights, yet his defensive short comings are still a huge issue. Despite the occasional flashes that D Lee has showed through out his career, I don't think it's a coincidence that he's never been on a .500 team. He is definitely white, though, and stats like his leave him second to only one.

3) Steve Novak

Ok, I said the drop off was steep. A virtually unheard of journey man turned cult figure in New York this season, Novakane has demonstrated his 3 point prowess as a valuable member of the Knicks this season. Unfortunately, Steve is about as one note a player as there has ever been in the league. Even though he's nearly as tall as A'Mare, you're more likely to see Ben Wallace shoot a 3 then see Super Novak post up anyone. In the same vein as White players like Steve Kerr or Jason Kapono, Steve is the ultimate specialty player, he's in for one reason and one reason only. At least he has the only white guy celebration move in the league.

4) Chris Kaman

- This guy was actually an all star a couple years ago. Imagine that. I'm sure he still has some talent but there are a couple of factors working against this zombie looking fool. Firstly, he played in the Olympics for Germany which would normally eliminate him from the White American discussion. He's like 1/16th German. I'm all for national pride but how much love can you feel for a country that your great grandmother was from? That's stupid but another factor against the Kamanator is he's totally fallen apart since the Chris Paul trade. Just as that trade ruined Lamar Odom's fragile psyche it seems to have done the same for this ugly bastard. He's been off and on the injured list, has put up numbers way below his career averages and has recently missed more than a week's worth of games...with the flu! Who takes off a week because of the flu? I know playing for David Stern's Hornets in April isn't quite the same as going up against the Jazz in the finals, but man up, you punk. To make matters worse, he sat on the bench during the Lakers game on Saturday. If you're well enough to put your suit on and drive to the arena you could play the game. If I were one of his teammates I would have punched him in the balls.

Anyway, he's still one of the 5 best White American players in the league.

5) Mike Dunleavy Jr:

We are really scraping the bottom of the cracker barrel now. Dunleavy has been the typical white Duke player throughout most of his career. That is, he's been a severe disappointment to everyone and bounced around from mediocre team to mediocre team. But, he's still got some skills as evidenced by his Reggie Miller impression at the Garden last week. Another guy who had a Reggie like day at MSG this year was Ryan Anderson of the Magic. But I'm going to chalk his season up to a contract year anomaly. Also, he doesn't have any pictures as funny as that one of MD Jr.

Honorable Mentions: Ryan Anderson, JJ Redick, Kirk Hinrich, Luke Ridnour, Troy Murphy, Nick Collison, Blacky, Kyle Korver.