Dwayne Wade, Rajon Rondo Ail a Hurting Nation

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D-Wade could already detect the jig’s aerial position during the preseason. (Source: Getty Images)

By Nov. 9, many Americans were searching for answers in a new reality that side-swiped us, launching us into a tempest of confusion and despair. Things we had taken for granted, that we understood as constants in the world, were violently stripped from us. Every prediction we made, each one lined with just a bit more smugness than the previous, was boiled down by what we witnessed into a fitting side for the massive servings of crow we each had to eat. Thousands, if not millions, of Crying MJs were turned away at the crossing point between drafts and actual tweets, never to see the light of day. Instead, it was all of us naysayers, those who doubted the unlikeliest of events, who were facing a tidal wave of memes.

The nation, dare I say the world, was shocked by the end of that night to see what was happening in Chicago. The Bulls were 4-4 after an eight-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 9. It wasn’t so much the .500 record that was confounding America. Rather, it was how they were doing it that had us confounded. The Bulls, who had acquired Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo over the summer, were fielding a cohesive, effective offense. Basketball lovers scoffed at how those two would mesh with Jimmy Butler on the court. The three presented a collection of ball-dominant players who, more or less, had shooting troubles. D-Wade came with a career three point shooting percentage of 28.4%, which roughly translates to ass. Rondo slightly outdid Wade with a 3P% of 28.9%, so ass but with 18 more second spent in the shower. Butler had his own deep-ball struggles, as he possessed a career 3P% of 32.8% coming into this year. Granted, Butler did put up a 37.8% in the 2014-15 season (Rondo had a career-best 36.5% with the Kings last year) and is a continually improving player in his prime, so he still had some hope.

This talk about the Bulls’ new big three isn’t meant to disparage the rest of their very special, very fun games. D-Wade has been a brilliant playmaker for both himself and teammates for what seems like forever now. He’ll always be a wonderful cutter and passer, with a smooth change of direction ability buttressed by some great mid-range shooting ability, all topped off by a great basketball mind and that goddamn pump fake that he’ll be getting people with until the End of Days. As previously stated, Butler is in his prime and is a dominant two-way player, combining a 20-5-5 average last year with great defense. Rondo, for all the ever-present criticisms of assist-hunting floating around, is still a passing savant. He is one of the players in the Ginobili/LeBron/Rubio mold whose understanding of angles, timing and physics enables them to see the game in a different way. Rondo is able to make passes others can’t not just because of his high-level skills and athleticism getting him into good positions but because he sees passes the rest of us don’t conceptualize until the ball is in the basket. Even with those whispers of him overpassing for his own numbers, Rondo’s league-leading 11.7 apg last year were still nothing to scoff at.

So, the issue isn’t that these guys are trash players. It’s that the fit was always going to be weird, since all of their skills are best utilized when they have the ball. When they’re off the ball, they mostly hurt their teammates because their lack of shooting allows defenders to sag off them and clog the lane, which makes getting into the paint for high quality shots harder. All of us laughed at the roster construction and talked about how constipated the offense would be based on everything we knew about these players and the modern NBA. However, haters be damned, these guys were doing it! Through that 4-4 stretch, the Bulls had a 108.9 Offensive Rating, good for fourth in the league. Wade was shooting 42.9% from deep through those first eight games! I don’t fuckin’ know either, dude. Butler was throwing up a 24-7-4 line with a 45.2% clip from three. Rondo was…shooting like absolute dogshit, but hey! Go back up a few sentences and look at that ORtg again! Pretty, right? The Bulls would proceed to go on a four-game win streak and get to 8-4, leaving us snarky assholes to re-evaluate the Bulls.

While the shooting woes being conquered were impressive and shocking on their own, what was even more impressive was the lack of personal conflict, particularly among Wade and Rondo. I had based my entire worldview around the idea that Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo fucking hated each other. Years of Eastern Conference rivalry between the Heat and Celtics had steeled the two, leaving a trail of snide comments and ugly plays occurring between them.

It made perfect sense: take two driven, highly competitive players, put them in enough high-leverage situations and eventually bad blood will appear. Throw in Wade’s penchant for making some – ahem – ethically questionable plays and Rondo’s standoffish, prodding persona, and conflict was almost inevitable. Look, I’ve never met Rondo and he doesn’t know who I am, but I have operated under the assumption that he hates me. Imagine being a guy who kept pissing him off in big games and directly contributed to DISLOCATING HIS GODDAMN ELBOW; it makes sense Rondo wouldn’t fuck with him. Look, this person made a three minute video chronicling their beef (CAUTION: SAID ELBOW DISLOCATING HAPPENS FROM LIKE :30 TO 1:30 AND ARE NOT IDEAL IMAGES). Them motherfuckers got into it in a tight Game 7! They were ready to give up points to the opposition in a do-or-die game just to let the other know they were a dickhead. I was certain the chemistry issues would be resolved before the season started via one of the two strangling the other during training camp. But, things were generally sailing smoothly. The team was 4 games above .500, and before the season started Wade was saying nice things like Rondo is the best point guard he ever played with. The offensive success and lack of beef had all of us looking like the Mr. Krabs meme.

The Bulls’ short-term success wasn’t the most shocking thing going on for America at that time, though. I’m sorry to be the one to break the news, but on Nov. 8 we elected Donald Trump to be President of the United States of America. Trump, a racist shit-for-brains real estate-tycoon and reality TV star, ran on an “America First” campaign centered on economic protectionism and populism at home and hate of the outside world, particularly Muslims and immigrants. The man whose entrance into the political sphere was the racist-ass questioning of Barack Obama’s legitimacy as president via birtherism was revealed to be an aelleged serial sexual abuser via many accusations and recordings of him bragging about sexual assault, and he was still fucking elected. While not all those who voted for him endorsed every one of the disgusting things he proposed and said, they did let it slide in the interest of whatever other part of his platform appealed to them. Many Americans, as much as we probably shouldn’t have been, were shocked to see America’s flaws laid so bare by elevating that man to the most powerful position in the world.

Since assuming the Presidency on Jan. 20, Trump has not pivoted. Turns out the aspirational authoritarian has proceeded to work on all the things he promised to do; shocker, I know. He has signed executive orders to BUILD THAT WALL FUCK YEAH, to cut off U.S. funding from any worldwide charity helping the world’s most vulnerable for so much as mentioning abortions, to ban Muslims from certain countries, leaving people to face horrors our nation has greatly contributed to over the years, very much exacerbated through Barack Obama’s foreign policy. The ban has even affected people already here on green cards and visas, with people reportedly already being stopped from re-entering the country they live in. All the while, he has been bringing in a collection of unqualified and/or malicious lackeys to run his federal departments, with many Democrats offering a very on-brand capitulation to Trump’s nominations. Bleeding-heart pinkos like myself have been thrown for a loop at the degradation of others and the march toward authoritarianism becoming the new normal.

Sensing a divided nation searching for its own soul and any concrete answers in this post-fact world, Wade, Rondo and Butler sprung to action like three cantankerous defenders of sanity. Since that 8-4 start, the Bulls have gone 15-21 to hit a 23-25 mark. Their ORtg has fallen to 103.7 before Friday’s game against the Heat, good for 20th in the NBA. Jimmy Buckets is actually playing well to the tune of a 25-7-5 stat line with some good high-volume shooting, including a 35.4% 3P%. Wade, on the other hand, has fallen back down to earth. He’s shooting 42.8% overall, which would be the worst-shooting season of his career. His 3P% has fallen to 31.9%, which would be a career high for him, but still well below an effective and respectable level in the league. Rondo is particularly struggling, putting up 6.4 points, 6.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game with a ghastly 36.4% overall FG%. You can credit their performances falling back in line with their historical trends on a larger sample size and them regressing to their means, but I like to imagine the Bulls’ Big Three as patriots building a foundation of hope for us, brick by brick.

That theory has only been amplified over the past few days. In the wake of those garbage things the garbage human running our country has been doing, the Big Three have really cranked up the normalcy for us. Following Wednesday’s loss to the Bucks, Butler and Wade decided to lay into their coaching, their teammates and their whole motherfucking crew. “We don’t play hard enough. This is your job. I want to play with guys who care,” Butler said. Wade went even further, saying, “I can look at Jimmy and say Jimmy is doing his job. I think Jimmy can look at me and say Dwyane is doing his job. I don’t know if we can keep going down the line and be able to say that.”

That’s some quality shit-talking right there. Solid job to get in your teammates asses, y’all. Of course, the Connect Four Gawd wasn’t just going to let these motherfuckers say whatever slick shit they wanted. Rajon took to Instagram to basically say, “Well y’all are actually are the ones who are Not Good.”

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While we should technically hear both sides, I think the most important thing is Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade can’t fucking stand each other again. That little dash of normalcy is just what we need right now. Remember, America: while we fret over the presidency of Donald Trump and the tarring and feathering of the values we want this country to live up to, take solace in the fact that Rondo is probably currently telling his friend about how Dwyane Wade is a “weaselly, two-faced fucking prick with the tendencies of the most annoying person from your high school class.” In this age of absurdity, anger and failure to understand our neighbors both foreign and domestic, let us use the renewed pettiness between two declining, multimillionaire NBA players who have no idea who we are as the rock to hold onto when all else is lost.

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Keep Gettin’ Them Checks 2017

As the NBA All-Star Teams are announced I find it appropriate to recognize another group of players. Players who have succumbed to father time’s will,  yet made the decision to play in spite of this. Gaining the moniker “veteran” and  following the great mantra of Jalen Rose, these men have decided to “keep gettin’ them checks”. In honor of Gilbert Arenas and those who follow him, here is the third edition of the Keep Gettin’ Them Checks All-Stars. Feed them kids and pay those bills gentlemen. 

Rules

Minimum of 31 years old

Guards: <5 PPG, ❤ APG, <4 RPG, <1 SPG <1 BPM (Jacque Vaughn Standard)

Forwards <5 PPG, ❤ APG, <6 RPG, <.7 BPG, <1 BPM (Brian Cardinal Standard)

Centers < 5 PPG, ❤ APG, <6 RPG, <.7 BPG, <1BPM (Jason Collins Standard)

 

CJ Watson PG (ORL)

Wizards v/s Bulls 02/28/11

CJ getting minutes as a starter because Derrick Rose destroys his body yearly. Credit: Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons

Paid Like: Tony Allen

Numbers Like: Greivis Vasquez

G PTS MIN AST PER BPM
33 2.6 13.2 1.4 6.2 -5

Playing on what looks like to be the next SuperSonics, Watson has gone from solid back up to watching Elfrid Payton and Jameer Nelson try their hardest. At least he has a front row seat.

Steve Novak PF (MIL)

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Steve Novak was the best NBA shooter in this picture. Credit: Scott Mecum via Flickr

Paid Like: Brandon Bass

Numbers Like: Georges Niang

G PTS MIN 3P% PER BPM
8 .6 2.8 16.7% 1.4 -13.2

 

Remember when Steve Novak made as many threes as Durant? Remember when he led the league in three point percentage? He was poised to replace Mike Miller as America’s favorite old white guy with a sweet three point stroke. Heavy lies the crown, too heavy for him.

Jason Terry SG (MIL)

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Jason Terry during the year where he was killed by LeBron and resurrected as a Frankenstein creation . Credit: Gennaro Masi via Flickr

Paid Like: Raymond Felton

Numbers Like: Sheldon McClellan

G PTS MIN AST PER BPM
37 3.2 17.3 1.3 7.1 -2.4


It was only a matter of time. The Jet is slowly descending. Success at 39 in professional athletics is waking up with minimal pain and requiring minimal treatment. One of the last five players still in the league who was drafted before Y2K. As he once said though:“Jet love the kids”. He does. Enough to get this direct deposit.  

Mike Miller SF (DEN)

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Mike Miller receiving advice on how to destroy his body as much as possible.

Paid Like: Anthony Morrow

Numbers Like: Pat Connaughton

G PTS MIN AST PER BPM
7 1.7 5.1 .9 11.4 -3.3

He rose from the grave through extensive rehab in an effort to steal get his crown back from Kyle Korver. The stroke is there, but the numbers aren’t. The question now is what are his aims? Is he grooming Danilo Gallinari as his protege?

Udonis Haslem C (MIA)

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The bulldog in his heyday. Credit: Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons

Paid Like: Thabo Sefolosha

Numbers Like: Deyonta Davis

G PTS MIN TRB PER BPM
14 1.9 7.9 2 9.6 -4.6

Toughness is a quality that now seems to be highly underrated by general managers of teams today. Just like the NHL, enforcers are a thing of the past. But relics should be treasured. For being the last of a dying breed, I salute you UD. You got your rings, now keep getting them checks.

Reserves

 

Marcelo Huertas PG (LAL)

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Marcelinho before he was eligible for this team. #GoMarce Credit: Gerard Reyes via Flickr

Paid Like: Mitch McGary

Numbers Like: Tyler Ennis

G PTS MIN AST PER BPM
19 2.6 10.5 2.5 9.2 -7.1

 

This man came into the league eligible for this team. His play confirmed his membership. Averaging nearly a turnover a game, the former Shaqtin MVP candidate, is one of three members on the Lakers’ roster born before 1985. Despite his penchant for embarrassing plays, this man still maintains a roster spot. #GoMarce

Paul Pierce SF (LAC)

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Paul Pierce in a position he will continue to occupy for the rest of his NBA career.  Credit: Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons

Paid Like: Will Barton

Numbers Like: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot

G PTS MIN AST PER BPM
12 3.8 12.3 .2 4.3 -4.9

KG left. Ray Allen left. You couldn’t take the hint could you? You had to go chase a ring in L.A didn’t you? You had to have your family and friends close didn’t you? Join the other members of the Boston Three Party on the other side. Join them in obscurity and being the center of 10-day contract rumors, like Ray, or at the analyst table, like KG,  (You had fun with Jalen didn’t you?).

Sasha Vujacic SG (NYK)

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Sasha running from his true headband self. Credit: Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons

Paid Like: Rodney Hood

Numbers Like: Malik Beasley

G PTS MIN AST PER BPM
23 2.2 8.5 .9 7.5 -4.1


I miss the old Sasha. Wearing the headband Sasha. Remember what Kobe got ya? It was a ring Sasha. I hate the new Sasha. The limited threes Sasha. Still in the league Sasha? Knicks you should leave Sasha.

(If you’re on the Knicks at this point I’m just going to assume you’re only in it for the money).

Anderson Varejao C (GSW)

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Rumor has it Andy plotted his betrayal in this exact moment. Credit: Erik Drost via Wikimedia Commons

Paid Like: Al Jefferson

Numbers Like: Miles Plumlee

G PTS MIN LeBron Betrayals PER BPM
11 1.2 6.6 1 9.5 -0.6


I don’t know how LeBron chooses who he likes but when he does he gets his guys. This man, Mike Miller, and James Jones have made their lives to roll with him. Except Varejao betrayed the player/coach/GM/mafioso boss and suffered a finals loss because of it.

Alan Anderson SF (LAC)

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Alan Anderson playing on his world tour. 

Paid Like: Clint Capela

Numbers Like: Shabazz Napier

G PTS MIN AST PER BPM
16 3.1 11.5 .5 4.4 -4.9


He’s been on a world tour all across the land played in each and every country with a ball in his hand. New York, Crotia, Israel, China. Unfortunately the New York stop was with the Nets in the last two seasons. His current stop is on the Clippers.

For next season I’m on the lookout for the following players to be on this team for the first time:

Tony Parker

Andre Iguodala

George Hill

Beno Udrih

Taj Gibson

Arron Afflalo

Brandon Rush

 

Bobby Bonilla Hall of Fame Nominees

The following men have embodied the true spirit of the mantra “Keep Gettin’ Them Checks” in the manner of the greatest check collector ever: Bobby Bonilla. Here are the nominees to join the inaugural class alongside Gilbert Arenas.

 

Elton Brand

Washington Wizards v/s Philadelphia 76ers November 23, 2010

Credit: Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons

Paid Like: JaMychal Green

After playing on the Clippers, when that meant something completely different, this man has earned his money. I’m happy he’s getting it from their modern day equivalent: the 76ers.

 

Caron Butler

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Credit: Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons

Paid Like: David West

Shoutout to the man name “Tuff Juice” who managed to finesse the most dysfunctional NBA team into paying him while he racks up no mileage on his body. Though he is not on the level of Bobby Bonilla and the GOAT Gilbert Arenas, his veterans’ minimum will do him very well over the next three years.

 

Yi Jianlin

Washington Wizards v/s Denver Nuggets January 25, 2011

Credit: Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons

Paid Like: Bobby Brown

Will he ever play in the NBA as much as he does the CBA? Probably not. Will these NBA checks still keep clearing? Definitely yes.

 

Anthony Bennett

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Anthony Bennett the moment he realized Dan Gilbert made a huge mistake. Credit: Jeremy Rincon via Wikimedia Commons

Paid Like: Justin Holiday

The youngest to appear on this list, but just like the Hall of Fame changed its rules for Shaq so shall we for this finesse lord. His youth does not detract from his ability to collect checks. He faked it and he made it. The checks from the Nets are real though.