Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Basketbawful, Colbert-style

In case you missed it, The Colbert Report had a classic segment on all things NBA. They touched on the impending LeBron free agency, the perennial suckitude of the Knicks, and also threw in an interview with an apathetic Mike D'Antoni. They even had the common courtesy of making an Eddy Curry reference. The fun starts at 1:00.

First Lines...

"Everyone has a secret life. Perhaps yours is merely a gossamer web of thoughts and fantasies woven in the hidden furrows of your mind. Or furtive deeds performed on the sly or betrayals large and small that, if revealed, would change how you are perceived."

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

(coming August 2010)

This is Victorian Vampire Wonderful!

AnacondaHL's BasketBawful Quick Reference to Summer 2010

UPDATES!: ATL, BOS, CHA, DAL, DEN, HOU, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, ORL, PHO, SAS, UTA, WAS, and all teams 2010-11 salaries double checked!

July 1st, 2010. It's 12:00 am.

Do you know where your free agents are?

Welcome to my breakdown of the much hyped NBA Free Agency 2010. Here I hope to provide a quick (actually, this is absurdly long) snapshot of each team's current situation and outlook, so that you can survive this dreadful week of non-trading activity. *rolls eyes into back of head as far as possible* Really though, have you tried to visit,, or anything NBA media related recently? I've seen Linda Blair vomit less than the amount of LeBron and free agency bullshit spewed by the media these past few days. So thus, I've taken it upon myself to capture all you need to know to properly enjoy this next week in true BasketBawful spirit.

For comedy's sake, I'm going to ask that we avoid the really crappy wishful thinking type trades and scenarios. Yes, I understand that you could trade Rashard Lewis for LeBron. Yes, I understand that Bynum and Vujacic could be in a sign and trade for Bosh, and then every championship-piggyback veteran could sign with the Lakers. Yes, I understand that you could trade Kirk Hinrich to the Wizards even though they have a poison situation and already have 2 PGs. (Wait, you mean that last one actually is gonna happen?) Anyways, I hope to have the most updated figures, numbers, and rosters by the time of this post, so if you spot any errors or as updates come along, or you just feel like sharing with me your stupid idea of how your team will get LeBron so we can all make fun of you, post a comment!

Other assumptions:
  • Going with the flat $56.1 million cap for next season.
  • This means for new contracts where the 105% rule doesn't apply, we'll use the minimum salary table here, and the maximum contract will be assumed as follows:
    0-6 years of experience: $14,025,000
    7-9 years: $16,830,000
    10+ years: $19,635,000
  • No team is so completely stupid as to talk about their first round draft pick's salary, so we will use the 100% number.
  • Assume all teams in the FA hunt will sign minimum salary contracts after July 8th.
  • We're using face value or near value ideas. No assuming what some guy wants, like Shaq taking the vet minimum somewhere for the Lakers some stacked super team. Unless you have a personal relationship with said player, and his family, and have personally spoken to him about his exact intentions, personally, and how he's okay with leaving tens of millions on the table for the chance at a ring. Then by all means, please share.
  • Crappy players will take their player options. Anyone that has the remote chance at an extension or making more money by becoming a FA (especially considering the end of this CBA) we will assume will not take their player options. Unless we're pretty sure that a team wants to screw a guy into staying on their team, or their qualifying offer/team option happens to be near equal to what they'd make anyways, we're not assuming either is picked up.
  • Think about sign and trades, and if we're going to talk about them, find an incentive for ALL PARTIES (both teams and the players being extended). Not everyone can make deals with Chris Wallace. Otherwise, lets assume re-signings and free agency.
  • Ugh, for the last time, LeBron's not coming to your team, stop bothering everyone about it.
Important resources:The Spreadsheet:
Everything that follows will be a summary of what I've collected in this spreadsheet. (Google docs, no login required, click it now.) First, I've collected and compiled important information from the draft with respect to salaries. This was, as I mentioned earlier, unnecessarily difficult to do, and there's bound to be errors. If you see any errors, let me know.

Second, I've collected a list of free agents who are eligible for max contracts above (in red) or near their respective cap percentage.

List of players who are eligible for greater than max contracts:
Jermaine O'Neal $24,166,800
Tracy McGrady $23,607,280
Shaquille O'Neal $22,050,000
Dirk Nowitzki $20,785,500
Paul Pierce $20,785,498
Ray Allen $19,715,703
Amare Stoudemire $17,197,241
Yao Ming $17,197,241

Finally, there's a tab for every team, where I've copied hoopdata's page, updated the numbers with the latest trades and draft, and complied some cap room scenarios. Since I made lots of notes and formulas such that it's near impossible for anyone else to read what I've done, let's begin with the teams. Oh, also, I use the term "albatross" for long guaranteed contract that you may want to get out of, and the term "S&T bait" for a 2011 expiring that may be used to help leverage this summer's free agency.

Atlanta Hawks:
Current Maximum Cap Space: $6,180,374
UPDATE Maximum non-Cap holding onto Joe Johnson: ($21,656,885)
Notable Free Agents: Joe Johnson [$14,976,754, no player option]
Albatross: See below.
S&T bait: Jamal Crawford [$10,080,000]
Summary: The Hawks have some sign and trade bait with 2011 expirings, or could try to sign and trade Joe Johnson, but it's probably too late for that. Too many albatross contracts with Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, and Zaza through 2013 and Bibby through 2012. Maybe shoot for J.J. Redick? Or hope for the Mayan apocalypse?
Final Verdict: A good hope-crusher for Minnesota fans to show the long lasting effects of what happens when you keep drafting players that play the same position.

Boston Celtics:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space: ($11,098,826)
Maximum Cap Space if Paul Pierce opts out and Rasheed Wallace retires and Ray Allen isn't re-signed: $15,789,807
UPDATE Maximum non-Cap Space with Paul Pierce cap hold: ($4,522,087)
Albatross: Kevin Garnett [$18,832,044, through 2012]
S&T bait: Kendrick Perkins [$4,890,208], Glen Davis [$3,000,004]
Summary: To blow up or not to blow up. This team could go lots of ways, even down to asking KG to take a pay cut. Too many stupid rumors, only time will tell what their plan is (if any).
Final Verdict: Bleh.

Charlotte Bobcats:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space: ($4,448,542)
UPDATE Maximum non-Cap Space with Tyrus Thomas qualifying offer: ($17,999,938)
Notable Free Agents UPDATED: Raymond Felton [$5,501,196]
Albatross: The entire team.
S&T bait UPDATE: Tyson Chandler [$12,600,000], Nazr Mohammed [$6,883,800]
Summary: No draft pick, locked down guaranteed salaries, and an owner with a Hitler mustache. Hey, at least the defense is good, right? It might be worth it to give up big and try to unload some salary. If you need a reason to blame, I'd suggest Smithfield Foods and what they've done to the state of North Carolina.
Final Verdict: Yea, y'all are fucked.

Chicago Bulls:
Current Maximum Cap Space: $20,578,404
Maximum Cap Space if that completely stupid trade to Washington is true: $29,933,796
Notable Free Agents: Brad Miller?
Albatross: Luol "king-o-albatross" Deng [$11,345,000, through 2014]
S&T bait: None.
Summary: The Bulls are definitely in FA search mode, as they don't really have the assets to pull off a sign and trade deal. Let's also assume no one's picking up Luol Deng's crappy crap. Yet somehow Washington is absorbing over $9M in cap for Chicago. Something just doesn't add up.
Final Verdict: It's looking tough to clear the room for 2 maxes, but a strong team can be built here.

Cleveland Cavaliers:
Current Maximum Cap Space: $9,472,590
Notable Free Agents: That one dude [$15,779,912, player option] and that old fat guy [$21,000,000]
Albatross: Antawn Jamison [$13,358,905, through 2012]
S&T bait: Some, but is obviously on the giving end of a S&T if one were to happen
Summary: Screw this,
Final Verdict: Y'all are fucked.

Dallas Mavericks:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space UPDATE: ($17,812,046)
Maximum Cap Space if Dirk opts out, Najera and Barea lowballed a.k.a. "The Mavs are fucked" case: $2,499,850
Notable Free Agents: Dirk Nowitzki [$19,795,714, player option]
Albatross: Shawn Marion [$7,305,500, through 2013]
S&T bait: Caron Butler [$10,561,960], Jason Terry? [$9,873,000]
Summary: Wow, Dirk can really screw over the Mavs, can't he?
Final Verdict: Is Cuban good at pulling off sign and trades?

Denver Nuggets:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space: ($19,593,497)
Notable Free Agents UPDATE: Kenyon Martin? Nope.
Albatross: Everything.
S&T bait UPDATE: J.R. Smith [$6,694,851], Kenyon Martin [$16,795,454], disgruntled Melo and crappy front office bargaining.
Summary: Looking bleak. Everyone's locked down this year, and I don't see Kenyon Martin earning a max contract. No draft picks, no real assets to trade, Carmelo likely leaving, and Birdman through 2014. Update: Or, the front office is threatening to trade Melo if he doesn't extend. Ya, okay.
Final Verdict: So fucked.

Detroit Pistons:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space: ($2,572,216)
Notable Free Agents: KWAME BROWN BITCHES [$4,000,000]
Albatross: Detroit fans probably shouldn't look at their team's future salary chart...
S&T bait UPDATE: Tayshaun Prince [$11,147,760, no player option], Chris Wilcox [$3,000,000]
Summary: Still in the early years of the "how to blow your cap space by severely over-paying" era. But look on the bright side; only $9,000,000 of Rip Hamilton's contract in 2012-13 is guaranteed.
Final Verdict: What's the suicide rate in Detroit again?

Golden State Warriors:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space UPDATE: ($1,085,353)
Notable Free Agents: Uhh...
Albatross: Monta "McTurnover" Ellis [$11,000,000, through 2014]
S&T bait: Bleh.
Summary: Welcome to the Udoh era.
Final Verdict: Not much to do this summer.

Houston Rockets:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space UPDATE: ($16,080,834)
Notable Free Agents: not Yao [apparently picking up $17,686,100 player option]
Albatross: Kevin Martin [$10,600,005, through 2013], Trevor Ariza [$6,322,320, through 2013/14]
S&T bait: A lot.
Summary: Assuming Jared Jeffries picks up his $6,883,800 option, you've got Shane Battier's $7,429,500, Jordan Hill's $2,669,520, David Andersen's $2,500,000, not trading Aaron Brooks, etc., the Rockets have a lot of indirect options this off-season. They can afford to take on a mini albatross with a top tier free agent in a sign and trade, but it's gonna be work to get it done.
Final Verdict: Needs some more Morey Magic.

Indiana Pacers:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space: ($10,547,446)
Notable Free Agents: Uhm...
Albatross: Uhm...
S&T bait: A lot.
Summary: The Pacers have cleared the decks for the 2011-12 season, with Danny Granger locked in through 2014. Maybe this is a brilliant move by Bird to not get screwed by the new 2011 CBA, or maybe there's a bunch of trades incoming. In any case, the 2010-11 roster looks just like last season's roster, only somehow worse.
Final Verdict: Lookin' pretty screwed.

Los Angeles Clippers:
Current Maximum Cap Space: $17,210,816
Notable Free Agents: Bleh.
Albatross: Baron Davis [$13,000,000, through 2012], Chris Kaman [$11,300,000, through 2012]
S&T bait: None really.
Summary: Lacking the assets, the Clippers are going for the homerun swing here this summer. I guess if there's some max contract FA that feels like getting treated like shit and then somehow getting injured, his 4 other teammates will welcome him with warm arms.
Final Verdict: Uh, it's the Clippers.

The Supreme Ultimate Los Angeles World Champions of the Universe Lakers:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space: ($29,530,299)
Notable Free Agents: Adam Morrison [$5,257,229], Derek Fisher [$5,048,000], Jordan Farmar [$1,947,200]
Albatross: Kobe Bryant [$24,806,250 $25,244,493 $27,849,149 $30,453,805], Pau Gasol [$17,823,000 $18,714,150 $19,000,000 $19,285,850], Ron Artest [$6,322,320 $6,790,640 $7,258,960], Lamar Odom [$8,200,000 $8,900,000], Andrew Bynum [$13,700,000 $14,900,000]
S&T bait: Sasha Vujacic [$5,475,113]
Summary: Pour some milk into that bowl of championship rings as part of your balanced breakfast. What kind do you prefer? I always enjoyed 1%, a balance of taste and health.
Final Verdict: Fuck this shit.

Memphis Grizzlies:
Current Maximum Cap Space UPDATE: $6,549,212
UPDATE Maximum non-Cap Space with Rudy Gay qualifying offer: ($3,293,779)
Notable Free Agents: Rudy Gay [$3,280,997]
Albatross: Hasheem Thabeet [$4,793,280, through 2011]
S&T bait: A lot lot.
Summary: There is $0 guaranteed on the books for 2011-12! Another team preparing for the new CBA and lockout? Maybe they can spice things up by attempting to offer Gay the qualifying offer.
Final Verdict: See Indiana Pacers, minus franchise killing brawl.

Miami Heat:
Current Maximum Cap Space: $43,635,815
UPDATE Maximum Cap Space with Wade's hold: $27,952,027
UPDATE Maximum Cap Space with retarded Raptors S&T: $16,726,145 ($17,199,749 for LeBron)
Notable Free Agents: Jermaine O'Neal [$23,016,000], Summit Member #1 [$15,779,912]
Albatross: Michael "oh how the great have fallen" Beasley [$4,962,240, through 2011]
S&T bait: Don't you need people on your team in order to have bait?
Summary: It seems the Heat are giving up their triple max contract plan, as the Mario Chalmers team option was just picked up. They can offer $15,018,876 to three FAs though, or $15,156,048 if Joel Anthony decides to be a nice guy as reported, so if that summit crap was actually true, this is the number they'd be looking at.
UPDATE: The Heat are really waiting for that final cap space number, as any small change will affect if they can give 3 max contracts. You know, assuming this completely fucking stupid S&T with Toronto doesn't happen.
Final Verdict: Keep mentioning the reduced taxes and nightlife!

Milwaukee Bucks:
Current Maximum Cap Space UPDATE: $1,402,899 $7,382,671 (Salmons didn't take option lol)
Notable Free Agents: John Salmons, apparently
Albatross: Bad Porn [$9,600,000, through 2013]
S&T bait UPDATE: Michael Redd's picked up option [$18,300,000]
Summary: No idea. UPDATE: Still no idea.
Final Verdict: A strange combination of team options, weird contracts, and pretty much being stuck this off-season. Stuck still with a bad team.

Minnesota Timberwolves:
Current Maximum Cap Space: $13,235,591
Notable Free Agents: Darko [$7,540,000]
Albatross: Al Jefferson [$13,000,000, through 2013]
S&T bait: Some, not really though.
Summary: T'wolves have basically given up on the max FA chase. Unless Kahn pulls something amazing *snicker*. How sad is it that re-signing Darko actually becomes an urgent priority? UPDATE: Looking deeper at Rudy Gay's qualifying offer, I've added a line for his proposed salary [$13,709,195]. But otherwise yea, this team still sucks.
Final Verdict: Can you even make paella in Minnesota?

New Jersey Nets:
Current Maximum Cap Space: $29,989,807
Notable Free Agents: Barf.
Albatross: Devin Harris [$8,981,000, through 2013]
S&T bait: Terrence Williams [$2,214,480], Courtey Lee [$1,352,640], Quinton Ross? [$1,146,337 player option]
Summary: The Nets need a few more minor cuts to make the double FA signing work. Getting rid of Yi was a surprisingly good start. Will hanging Kris Humphries by his feet over a gold mine help read the goal?
Final Verdict: Comrade, trust the motherland! and Jay-Z!

New Orleans Hornets:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space: ($11,913,649)
Notable Free Agents: ....
Albatross: Emeka Okafor [$11,795,000, through 2013/14]
S&T bait: Maybe?
Summary: This is pretty depressing to analyze.
Final Verdict: So fucked. Does Chris Paul feel worse than a slowly dying burning oily sea turtle?

New York Knicks:
Current Maximum Cap Space: $34,528,263
Notable Free Agents: Tracy McGrady [$22,483,124], David Lee [$7,000,00]
Albatross: Eddy Curry [$11,276,863, 2011]
S&T bait: Not much, really.
Summary: This one mistake, Eddy Curry, has pretty much kept NY out of the picture for LeBron. At least the Knicks are the only team in the clear for double max salaries!
Final Verdict: Hello, Boozer and Joe Johnson!

Oklahoma City Thunder:
Current Maximum Cap Space: $6,898,156
Notable Free Agents: None.
Albatross: None.
S&T bait: Tons.
Summary: So the plans to steal Sam Presti and make him GM of the Suns is underwa-...oh, ahem. Anyways, even look at those trades FOR Daequan Cook and Morris Peterson, both expiring in 2011. Could Indiana, Memphis, and Oklahoma City be onto something here?
Final Verdict: Wow, just look at this team build year after year.

Orlando Magic:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space: ($27,200,430)
UPDATE Maximum non-Cap Space with J.J. Redick hold and Barnes opted out: ($34,118,654)
Notable Free Agents UPDATE: J.J. Redick's sweet touch [$2,839,408]
Albatross: Ahahaha.
S&T bait: No, in a bad way.
Summary: Man, next year is gonna hurt.
Final Verdict: As with the Detroit fans, Orlando fans may not want to gaze directly at the ORL salary chart. UPDATE: Like seriously, don't look.

Philadelphia 76ers :
Current Maximum non-Cap Space: ($10,735,638)
Notable Free Agents: Allen Iverson [$650,686]
Albatross: Aaaaahahahaha-
S&T bait: Sorta?
Summary: Even if players opt our from their options, the 76ers still would be stuck this off-season with their same crappy crew.
Final Verdict: Nothing's changed, pretty much screwed for the next 3 years.

Phoenix Suns:
Current Maximum Cap Space (assumes Amar'e opts out) UPDATE: $14,461,055 $11,221,055 (Grant Hill picked up option)
UPDATE Maximum non-Cap Space with Amar'e max hold: ($5,502,582)
Notable Free Agents: LOU!
Albatross: Not really
S&T bait: Yes.
Summary: Didn't think the Suns could pull off getting under the cap and come close to offering a max contract. UPDATE: Not close anymore, but for the love of God please let go of Amar''''''e's cap hold!
Final Verdict: Rebounding and defense, rebounding and defense...

Portland Trail Blazers:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space: ($11,862,668)
Notable Free Agents: None.
Albatross: Lamarcus Aldridge [$10,744,000, through 2015]
S&T bait: Andre Miller [$7,269,264], Joel Przybilla [$7,405,300 player option]
Summary: Maybe Kevin Pritchard did try to screw Portland on his way out, as his draft day trades ultimately put the Blazers about $7 million even more over the cap.
Final Verdict: *tears ACL*

Sacramento Kings:
Current Maximum Cap Space UPDATE: $15,366,159
Notable Free Agents: [This section is intentionally left blank]
Albatross: Beno Udrih [$6,478,600, through 2012/13], Francisco Garcia [$5,500,000, through 2013].
S&T bait UPDATE: Samuel Dalembert [$13,278,129], Carl Landry [$3,000,000]
Summary UPDATE: Lost about $3 million in cap space, probably not gonna find a good use for the cap space. Maybe fight Minnesota for Gay? (This is quite possibly the most favorite sentence I've ever written.)
Final Verdict: Who'd want to come to a team that gets screwed by the refs anyways?

San Antonio Spurs:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space UPDATE: ($13,802,086) $1,343,330
Notable Free Agents UPDATE: No. LOL RJ.
Albatross: Manu? Duncan?
S&T bait: Richard Jefferson [$15,200,000], Tony Parker [$13,650,000]
Summary: Gonna assume Richard Jefferson picks up his player option here, unless I missed something. They might start a trend of when being over the cap by $13 million, saying instead "one Tony Parker over the cap". UPDATE: Aaaaaaahahahahahaha Richard Jefferson probably should have asked Bonzi Wells for advice before this decision. Or like anyone with two eyes.
Final Verdict: Lots of sign and trade opportunity.

Toronto Raptors:
Current Maximum Cap Space: $6,243,868
Notable Free Agents: Summit tag-a-long Member #3 [$15,779,912]
Albatross: My eyes...
S&T bait: Eh.
Summary: Just look at all that Albatross! A core of Hedo, Calderon, Bargs, and Jarrett Jack through 2013?! And you thought LeBron played with some bad teammates!
Final Verdict: More like, sign and trade away.

Utah Jazz:
Current Maximum non-Cap Space UPDATE: ($5,518,526) ($6,176,046) (2 qualifying offers)
Notable Free Agents: Carlos Boozer [$12,323,900, no player option], Kyle Korver [$5,163,636, no player option]
Albatross: Paul Millsap [$7,600,000, through 2013]
S&T bait: Maybe
Summary: Doesn't look like there's much to do here, maybe leverage Kirilenko's expiring for a swingman to make way for Gordon Hayward. Also to buy Fesenko some shake weights.
Final Verdict: Well at least you've got some nice green jazzy mountains.

Washington Wizards:
Current Maximum Cap Space UPDATED: $14,861,038
Maximum Cap Space if that completely stupid trade with Chicago is true UPDATED: $5,032,042
Notable Free Agents: Are there markets for Josh Howard and Mike Miller?
Albatross: *points upwards at BasketBawful banner* [$17,730,693, through 2014, player option in 2013]
S&T bait: Ugh, who cares anymore.
Summary: So, back to this trade again. It becomes official July 8th or something, but with the Yi trade it pretty much shows how desperate the Wiz are to fill the slots. In complete give-up mode. On the plus side, I hope to see tons of John Wall driving and kicking it to Yi for the missed shot, followed by awkwardly looking at each other.
Final Verdict: Abandon all hope all ye who enter here.


Monday, June 28, 2010

The 2010 Finals: I am SO over it.

For those of you who might be wondering, I, Evil Ted, am completely over the Celtics losing Game 7 to the Lakers in the NBA Finals. So completely over it. It’s not bothering me one bit. I mean, sure, it bothered me right around the end of the game, but that was for, like, five minutes.

Does this guy look like he's still upset?
I think not.

People get way too attached to their sports teams. I’m not like that. Hell, I didn’t even notice the Celtics were in the playoffs until they got past the Cavs. Yeah, I followed the Magic Series pretty close, and sure I got a little excited when the Celtics made it to the finals sporting a team that, on paper, had all the talent it needed to win. And I’ll admit, I was enticed by the fairy tale playoff run leaving in its wake the crushed dreams of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and, potentially, Kobe Bryant, but it’s not like I wanted to kill myself because it didn’t come true…in the final minutes…of Game 7…of the Finals...against the hated Lakers...

...where was I? Oh yeah...

So what if everything Doc said to the media was coming to fruition, about how it was more important to go into playoffs as a healthy team than as a high playoff seed? And about how he was just managing the minutes of his aging veterans, trading regular season wins for the ability to sustain a lengthy playoff run. I know, he could have added a huge tangible milestone to his coaching legacy and to the legacy of the Celtics franchise with banner number eighteen, but so what? That’s not important to me. If it were, would I be writing this right now? Of course not.

If I were a lesser man, I would rail about the Celtics being up for most of Game 7, and about the Lakers getting a dozen dubious free throws in the last six minutes, but I’m not a lesser man. I’m beyond that. If I were a resentful, puss-oozing homer yutz, I would probably say that Kobe appeared to nudge Perkins' right leg from behind as he came down with that rebound in Game 6. Again, not me. I'm above it, and we should all be thankful I'm not that guy. I'm beyond such baseless, biased accusations, and am well grounded in the knowledge that there are more important things in life. For example, I'm apparently the father of three children. What’s better than that? Kids who are obliged to love you because of blood relation? That's just awesome. And you know what? They kind of look like me too. Imagine that - little semi-clones of me walking the earth after I’m gone. You know what that is? That’s everlasting life. Or practically. I mean, it’s close to that.

Sports, by comparison, aren’t really important. I mean, if they were, and I wanted to be petty, I would point out that the Celtics still have 17 World Championships to the Lakers 16, and if I were a REAL douchebag, I’d point out that 5 of those championships were won by the Minneapolis Lakers, so they aren’t even worth the fabric on which they’re printed. At least, that’s what I would say, if I even cared. Thank God I don’t.

And yeah, I’m a Red Sox fan, so when it comes to counting championships, I’m aware of how the Yankees are up like 27-6 in championships (at least I think that’s what it is. Fortunately I don’t care), and yeah, from 2004 through 2007, I could always shout down a Yankees fan by saying “Think you’re so great? Well which of the two teams has won the most recent championship?” Fortunately, the Yankees won it all last year so I’m no longer forced to engage in such petty arguments. It’s really wonderful to be given the gift of perspective, to know what’s really important. I consider myself a far more well-rounded individual for it. Imagine, people caring so much about the wins and losses of an athletic team. It borders on pathetic, really.

I’ll bet you’re going to come at me now with the Boston Bruins, up 3 games to none against the Flyers, collapsing in the playoffs. Now that’s hilarious. I mean, its hockey. Seriously. I wasn’t even going to watch unless they got to Game 7 of the finals. To my great fortune, they didn’t. The idea of being forced to watch a hockey game as if it were important is a frightening proposition.

Now, Ghana beating the U.S. in the World Cup, that event actually involves some relevant world implications. I can’t think what they are right now, but I’m sure there are some.

This sport is globally significant.
No seriously, it is.

I’m getting away from my point. My point is that we’re all going to die someday, and when that happens, is it really going to matter if the Celtics won Game 7, elevated the historic status of Garnett, Allen, Pierce and Rondo, and gave the Celtics an 18-15 lead in franchise championships over the Lakers? Not to me, not when I’m a corpse rotting in a casket. Ask the worms eating my dead flesh if they care who won. See? They didn’t even notice that you asked a question. They’re still nibbling away on my small intestine.

Speaking of the hereafter, I wonder if I could be cremated, have the ashes dyed green, and then decree in my final will and testament to have myself poured from a helicopter into Kobe Bryant’s swimming pool. Now THAT would be a grand statement. You know how hard it would be for Kobe’s pool guy to clean out the ashes? And the water would probably be green for, like, days afterward. That would be something.

Take that, Kobe's pool.

No. I’m not going to do that. Kobe’s not worth the effort, and I’m far too mature and above such behavior.

Listen to me here, going on about something as inconsequential as my own demise. Have none of us come to the realization that someday the sun is going to burn out, our planet will become uninhabitable, and the human race will cease to exist? Who’s going to give a crap about the Celtics-Lakers rivalry then? Nobody. Furthermore, I’ll bet the Staples Center and TD Garden won’t even be able to remain structurally in tact against the atmospheric extremes of a sunless universe, leaving championship banners floating aimlessly in the vacuum nothingness of space. How much is this year’s NBA Championship going to matter then, Laker fans? Hmmm? Think your team's victory is a big deal? I’ve just proven without a shadow of a doubt that it’s not.

See? When we're all gone, it's not gonna matter.
Who would read this, Martians?

Now, for argument’s sake, let’s suppose that a small band of scientific misfits, funded by an eccentric, benevolent billionaire, manage to build a spaceship to escape from our dead rock of a planet when the sun goes cold. They’re going to collect as much data about the history of mankind as they can, right? By then, I imagine the Celtics will have amassed 535 championships to the Lakers’ 534, only to be eclipsed by the 760 championships of the Hong Kong Fast Dribble Galaxy (the NBA would go international some time around the year 4,020). Think my hypothetical situations are ridiculous? Tell that to 2 billion Hong Kong Fast Dribble Galaxy fans. In the long run, their team, captained by the cryogenically frozen and reanimated head of Chow Yun Fat, will dominate the EBA (Earth Basketball Association), creating a legion of followers prone to chanting a series of virtually unpronounceable Chinese characters that translate loosely into “Win big and much, Hong Kong Fast Dribble Galaxy! Win big and much!”

Sorry, I got sidetracked again. I guess what I’m really trying to say here is, sports fans do care a lot about these stupid rivalries - sometimes, even, at the expense of their jobs, emotional stability, and personal relationships. But ask yourself which is more important: being glued to the TV when your favorite team wins a championship, or spending time bonding with your young daughter by pushing her in a swing at the park?

I think we all know the right answer to that question.

If I were a petty, small-minded sports fans, I’d conclude with something like:

Eat it, Laker fans. I’m gonna go get ready for the Patriots season to start.
Don’t have an NFL team there in LA? Awww. Too bad.

Fortunately, I’m not that type of person.

I am SO over it.

The Pickup Diaries: 20-second timeout

Over the course of The Pickup Diaries, I plan to take the occasional "20-second timeout." During these timeouts, I'll set aside my linear narrative to discuss current events and observations.

This is one of those timeouts.

On Saturday, I went on an epic five-hour bike ride all over the Chicago suburbs. Near the end of my ride, I decided to stop by my gym, Lifetime Fitness, to take a dip in the outdoor pool. On my way through the gym, I noticed the basketball court was nearly empty. I figured it was the perfect time to practice my shooting.

Lifetime's court has four baskets. One basket was occupied by a group of small children. The opposite basket was being used by a father and (I presume) his two sons. At the third basket, two friends were shooting around and/or playing one-on-one (or some strange hybrid of the two). The fourth basket was empty.

Choosing a basket

There are subtle rules for choosing a basket to shoot at. Keep i mind that these rules assume there isn't currently a full court game going on.

If there are multiple baskets but one basket is empty, you obviously use that basket. If there are multiple baskets and all of them are in use, you go to the basket with the fewest people unless there is an active game going on (such as one-on-one, H-O-R-S-E, and so on).

Now, assume you go to the basket with the fewest people. Let's say there are four people at that basket (making you the fifth) and all other baskets have at least five people. Further assume that, while you are shooting, three people leave a nearby basket, reducing the number of current shooters to two. As the last person to start using your current basket, you are morally obliged to move to the basket with only two people, thus decreasing the number of people at your current basket and creating a more even distribution of shooters at all the baskets.

Mind you, these rules are never discussed. They are intuitive but nonetheless expected. And you never want to be the asshole who's creating an imbalance of shooters at a particular basket. Everybody hates that asshole. Just so you know.

My routine

When I shoot around, I do my own version of Around the World. I start on the right baseline about three-to-five feet from the basket and work my way around the basket in an arc until I reach the left baseline. Then I take two steps back and work my way back to the right baseline. I continue this process until I pass the three-point line, and then I work my way back in. If I get through that circuit, I do sets of 10 free throws until I go 10-for-10. That usually takes me about three to four sets.

If I can get through all of that, then I start working on specific moves or weaknesses in my game (like finishing at the rim with my left hand, for instance). Also, during these practices, I only ever dribble leftie. It sounds simple, but little things like that can really help improve your handles with your off hand.

Approaching a basket

Anyway, I was three rounds into my Around the World routine when a scrawny high schooler entered my zone. Just as there are unwritten rules for choosing a basket, there are also unwritten rules for approaching a basket already in use.

If the basket is in use by multiple players who do not know each other, you can walk right up and begin shooting. If the basket is in use by multiple players who do know each other, you must assess whether they are about to start a game or are currently between games. Never start shooting at a basket where friends are playing a game or are about to play. To determine what's going on, you can aask outright, or you can dribble around the area until it becomes obvious.

If the basket is in use by only one other player, you can either walk up and start shooting or ask the basket's "owner" if he or she minds whether you shoot around. Of course, this player doesn't really own the basket, but good manners are free.

In this case, the high schooler opted for the "walk up and start shooting" method. However, even this approach can vary. Some people walk right into your general area and start chucking up shots. Others dribble around the perimeter for a minute or two in an effort to figure out what you're doing. At a big gym like Lifetime Fitness, there are some people who don't really play basketball but still end up on the court. These people are usually just messing around, wasting time or loosening up before or after a workout. These people are afforded the least respect.

Then there are people who play ball but are just idly shooting around with no real purpose. These people are afforded a medium level or respect.

Finally, there are players (like me) who are practicing with purpose. They are exerting effort and seem to have a specific routine of shots and/or drills they are going through. Generally speaking, these people are afforded the most respect. When joining a basket where this kind of player is shooting, most people will do their best to stay out of his or her way.

The high schooler was pretty respectful. He spent a few minutes either practicing or pretending to practice his ball handling skills while determining what my shooting process was. When he started shooting a couple minutes later, he made sure to move automatically to the areas I had just vacated or was moving away from. We adopted the all-important "boom...boom" rhythm, where one player doesn't shoot until one or two hearbeats after the other player has launched his shot. This way, neither person has to rush shots to avoid in-air basketball collisions.

The challenge

The high schooler and I had been shooting around for 10 minutes or so when the two friends -- who had been doing their hybrid one-on-one/shootaround thing -- asked if we wanted to play two-on-two.

When friends ask to play against other non-friend players, they almost always want to play on the same team. However, etiquette dictates that you offer the non-friends the option to play together or mix things up (usually by shooting free throws to determine the teams). Unless it will create a large imbalance in talent, etiquette also dictates that the non-friends will let the friends play together. So I said it was fine, that I would play with the high schooler (even though his shooting had been erratic at best).

The two friends appeared to be in pretty good shape. One was about 5'9" and probably in his mid to late-30s. The other was over six feet tall and might have been in his early 40s. Both were sturdily built. For the purposes of this story, we'll call them Short and Tall.

Tall suggested we shoot for first possession. We all agreed, and since Short was holding the game ball, he took the shot and missed. So the high schooler and I started the game. I inbounded to him on the wing, set a pick for him and then made a quick roll to the basket. He hit me with a nice pass and I scored an easy layup. Tall wanted to play "make it, take it," so we got the ball back. The high schooler inbounded to me as I was flashing across the lane. I caught the pass and turn in for a hook shot. On the next play, I inbounded to the high schooler who easily beat his man off the dribble for a layup.

I'm sure you can see how this game was going.

We beat them pretty easily. I should mention at this point that, when the game started, I sensed that Tall believed he and Short were going to beat us. You can usually tell from body language and the way someone talks what that person thinks about his or her skills. When Tall had asked whether we wanted to switch things up, it felt like he was suggesting that letting him and his friend play together might be unfair to me and the high schooler.

As it turned out, the pairings were unfair. Just not in Tall's favor.

The excuses

Still, that didn't really hurt Tall's confidence. After we pounded them 11-1 in Game 1, he said, "Boy, you guys sure hit a high percentage in that game. Not much you can do when the other team's so hot, you know?" I just smiled and nodded. I understood he was trying to save face.

Game 2 was more of the same, although Tall and Short went on a 4-0 run to make it 6-4 before me and the high schooler closed things out with a 5-0 run.

After that beating, Tall said, "I think the key is keeping the ball away from you guys. We've gotta stop you on defense and then keep scoring on offense."

Gee, thanks, Captain Obvious.

Reading between the lines, what Tall was really saying (in part) was that he and his teammate had to get serious on defense. After the first game, Tall had dismissed out win as "hot shooting." When that continued in Game 2, he suddenly realized that, hey, his opponents were actual basketball players with actual basketball skills.

Now they were going to D us up.

But here's the thing: Part of the problem was that Tall and Short didn't match up with us very well. Specifically, the high schooler was much faster thans Short and I was faster and a little bigger than tall. On every possession, one of us would drive, draw the double team, and kick to the other one. Whoever received the pass would either shoot or drive-and-kick again.

Basically, we got an open shot on every possession.

In cases like this, the only thing the opposing team can do is start fouling. Short, to his credit, played clean. Tall? Not so much. He started bumping, grabbing, holding, and reaching. When none of that work, he would hack. At one point, I posted him up and absorbed four consecutive hacks before turning to shoot and getting whacked on the arm.

"I'm going to go ahead and call that," I said, "but that was, what, the fourth one?"

Tall laughed. "Sixth, I think." And then he smiled a friendly smile. See, that's what a lot of hackers will do. They play it really nice so, if you get mad, then you'll be the jerk. Man, I hate that little ploy.

Their newfound commitment to "defense" didn't change anything. The high schooler and I busted them again, this time 11-3. After the game, high schooler and Short went to get a drink. As I was shooting around, Tall said, "You know, usually I play every week, but I haven't played for the last three. I'm a little out of shape. Funny how fast you lose your wind, know what I mean?"

Ah, excuse number three: The "I was too tired" excuse. I love excuses.

For whatever reason, Tall wanted one more shot at us. He took his hacking to the next level, but the result was another 11-4 beating. During the game, he was jawing at his friend/teammate to play harder and shoot better. After the game, he walked off the court and then flopped down in disgust. He couldn't understand how he and his buddy had just been defeated so completely in four straight games. They hadn't even been able to compete.

The thing was, I could tell that Tall had been good once. Maybe even very good. But he had lost a step. Maybe even two or three steps. It happens. Age happens. Which reminds me of a phenomenon I've been observing over the last decade or so...

The Post-Alpha Dog Sydrome

The progression and regression of a typical pickup player's abilities can be represented by the following simple bell curve:

Age bell chart

At some point, no matter how good a player is, he starts the slow but inevitable regression from "good player" to "bad player." There's no shame in this. It's simply the cycle of life. But not everybody is ready to accept that. Not at first, anyway. Which leads to the Post-Alpha Dog Syndrome (PADS).

PADS affects players who were once really good -- you could rightly call them the "franchise players" of a pickup league -- but have recently begun the slippery slide down the second half of the curve.

They're still good players, but they no longer control games the way they used to. They can't take over anymore. They can be stopped cold by the better defensive players. They can't quite keep up with the better young players who can run faster and jump higher.

Many times, this regression is hard for the aging pickup baller to take. At this point, PADS sets in and the pickup player goes through the five stages of grief for their dying career:

Stage 1. Denial: During the denial stage, the PADS player simply denies anything has changed. He continues playing the same way he has always played.'s not working. It's clearly not working. And once he realizes it's not working, that leads to...

Stage 2. Anger: Once anger kicks in, the PADS player tries to compensate for his declining skills by becoming a dick. On the offensive end, he begins calling cheap fouls that are often punctuated by verbal flops and/or cursing. On the defensive end, he starts calling constant violations like charging, palming or traveling...regardless of whether he was involved in the play (such as a charge) or had the right angle to see the play (such as with a travel). And even on those rare occasions in which he doesn't call a foul or violation, he will complain loudly enough for everybody to hear (e.g., "Goddamn, that guy travels on every play!").

The anger stage is also where many players start to develop Bruce Bowen-style tricks. Stepping on a player's foot. Undercutting people on "accident." Setting moving picks that involve more elbow than anything else. So on and so forth.

At first, this anger catches people off guard, especially if this player has a long history at a given pickup league and is generally well-respected. However, pickup ballers will only accept anger for so long. Then they start to turn up the social preessure until the PADS player's rage turns to...

Stage 3. Bargaining: When the other players have had enough of his bitching, the PADS player starts to openly plead for help. He may request to be on the better team "for once." If you're defending him, he may ask you to "take it easy on him." He will talk to anyone who will listen about his age, his conditioning, his weight, his old ankle injury...anything that might earn him some sympathy and therefore soften up his opponents. And it might even work. For a little while. But eventually, people will wise up to his little game and stop enabling him. This leads to...

Stage 4. Depression: The PADS player no longer enjoys playing basketball. Every game is a bittersweet event for him. Every possession seems joyless. Between games, he will talk to other players about "being done" or how he doesn't know how much longer he's going to play with "all you young guys." He might even use the word "retirement" half-jokingly, half-seriously. Some people will try to make the PADS player feel better -- "C'mon, you're still really good" or "Hey, I hope I can still play as well as you when I'm your age" -- but those efforts are in vain.

The real inside.

State 5. Acceptance: Some PADS players will quit before they ever reach this stage. But many won't be able to give up. When you've been playing pickup ball for 30, maybe 40 years, quitting would be like divorcing your wife or maybe giving up masturbation. The PADS player is too old to be the player he once was, but he's also too old to change.

And so he comes to grips with the skills he's lost. He tries to contribute as best he can, never doing anything that's beyond his current abilities. Winning becomes less importand and losing less crippling. He starts to call fewer fouls and becomes friendlier to new people who join the league. He vows openly to "play until I can't play anymore." The battle is no longer against his opponents on the's against time itself.

And that's when PADS ends.

The 2010 NBA Draft: All you need to know

This year's Draft is in the books, and another round of young athletes have been enlisted for duty in the NBA.

The impending free agency overshadowed anything happening on the draft board, as several teams seemed more focused with culling salaries than anything else. You know it was a slow news day when Kirk Hinrich-to-the-Wizards-for-nothing was the night's "blockbuster" move. Anyway, let's take a look...

John Wall: Wall didn't exactly dominate in college, but he is a big point guard (6'4"), he had a high assist rate, and is the best athlete in the draft. If Gilbert Arenas can adapt to playing off the ball, the Wizards could have a formidable backcourt this fall...they hope. Gil is still under contract for four years at nearly $20 million a year. Not to mention he is untradeable due to knee problems and a tendency to almost shoot teammates in the face. The Wizards expect: Derrick Rose. Statbuster expects: An improvement over that Kwame Brown guy they drafted #1 back in 2001.

Evan Turner: Turner suffered a spinal fracture back in December, which was only the third or fourth worst injury he's ever suffered. But that didn't discourage Philly. Turner is a SF with ball handling and playmaking skills like a PG. Besides health issues, another issue is that he doesn't have NBA three-point range. The Sixers were 21st in in the league in 3PT field goals last year, which means he will fit right in. The Sixers expect: Brandon Roy. Statbuster expects: plenty of rebounds for Elton Brand and Marrese Speights. Not so much job security for Andre Iguodala.

Derrick Favors: This officially marks the end of the Chinese Fred Roberts (also known as Yi Jianlian) project in New Jersey. Favors was another player that underwhelmed in college (12 ppg, 8 boards) but was picked based entirely on potential and athleticism. Fortunately for everyone, scouting reports stopped short of calling him a project, which we all know is the kiss-of-death. The Nets expect: Dwight Howard. Statbuster expects: Al Horford.

Wesley Johnson: We are now three picks in and not a single outlandish outfit in sight. that what I think it is? Problem solved! The T'Wolves resisted their instinctive urge to draft another point guard, power forward and/or someone who has no intention to move to Minnesota. For a change, Johnson fills a need in their lineup. Johnson fills up a box score (16.5 ppg, 8 reb, 1.7 steals, 1.8 blocks, 41% 3pt). But he is an old rookie (22) that didn't produce until his senior year. But those are the things you don't care about when Corey Brewer and Ryan Gomes are playing 30 minutes a night. The T'Wolves expect: Shawn Marion. Statbuster expects: Sean Elliott 2.0.

DeMarcus Cousins: Cousins posted some outrageous stats on one of the best teams in college, but intangibles caused him to slip to #5. Well, maybe an elbow to the head isn't "intangible", but still. Since high school, Cousins had a reputation for being combative, uncoachable, and out of shape. But, with all this baggage, and he still posted 24 ppg and 16 boards per 40 minutes in college?!? The Kings will take that chance. The Kings expect: Al Jefferson. Statbuster expects: Benoit Benjamin.

Ekpe Udoh: Udoh's abillity to pass, block shots, and score facing the basket seems like a good fit for the Warrior's offense. One red flag is that, before transferring to Baylor, Udoh had two completely forgettable years playing for Michigan, where he shot 45%, which is an unforgivable number for a PF hoping to be a lottery pick. And he is reaching a Sam Mitchell-level of old rookieness at 23 years old. But knowing Don Nelson's penchant for small ball, not to mention they already have similar players in Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph, this may the last we'll hear about Udoh for the time being. The Warriors expect: A poor man's Lamar Odom. Statbuster expects: Derrick McKey, if they're lucky.

Greg Monroe: Monroe is a big man that can score inside and out. He nearly averaged 4 assists per night as a center, and he has excellent basketball instincts. The knock on him is that he's slow, soft and lacks killer instinct. Which begs the question..if Brad Miller had went to Georgetown, would he have been a lottery pick? The Pistons expect: Brad Daugherty. Statbuster expects: Vlade Divac.

Al-Farouq Aminu: Aminu has been repeatedly compared to Josh Smith. Since Aminu is an insanely athletic SF that can't shoot worth a lick, the comparison is somewhat valid. But it ends there. Josh Smith can play guard in a pinch; passing and put the ball on the floor. Aminu mustered an anemic 41 assists in 31 games. But this may be due to some severe astigmatism he seems to be suffering from. The Clippers expect: Josh Smith. Statbuster expects: a nice backup for Rasual Butler.

Gordon Hayward: Another jump-shooter from a relatively unknown college in Indiana, that had his draft stock inflated by an improbable NCAA tournament run? No, I'm not talking about Bryce Drew. Scouts will tout his shooting as his strong point, but I don't think 29% 3pt shooting qualifies as "accurate". The Jazz expect: Mike Dunleavy. Statbuster expects: Luke Jackson.

Paul George: You can never accuse the Pacers of not taking chances. Remember, they traded for Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy, and signed Dahntay Jones to a long term deal. The Pacers again rolled the dice on this pick, since scouts expected George to slip into the second round back in January. George is a big SG/SF that already has NBA three-point range. One red flag is his ability to create his own shot, which he will need if he hopes to supplant Brandon Rush at SG. Also, he didn't play with much intensity in college, and he tends to disappear, which raised questions about his basketball IQ. The Pacers expect: A poor-man's Danny Granger. Statbuster expects: Martell Webster.

Soul-crushing fail of the night: Hassan Whiteside, who was projected to go as high at 10th in mock drafts earlier in the year, slipped into the second round due to teams finding out he was diagnosed with ADD. I'm sure Whiteside didn't show up in New York hoping to walk on stage and shake Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver's hand after 9PM.

Speaking of Adam Silver: From Henry Abbott via Twitter: "Fans at MSG greet Adam Silver with a raucous "Sexy Silver" chant. This is a very serious night for some, but not those guys in section 201."

Stay classy, my friends: There was a rousing "USA! USA!" chant when the Toronto Raptors announced their Ed Davis pick. How can you be anti-Canada? That's like saying you hate North Dakota, even though you've never been there. They later booed Kevin Seraphin, who is a native of French Guiana. Last time I checked, we are not at war with Canada or Guiana. Really, guys?

Sleeper pick of the night: Being undersized will normally scare teams away like a disease, and this is what happened to PF Trevor Booker. Despite having the 2nd best overall numbers (behind John Wall) in the pre-draft camp athletic testing, he measured in at 6'7.5" in the combine. The same thing happened to Paul Millsap and Carl Landry, and you can argue that they are two of the top 15 PF's in the league right now. Not to mention Leon Powe was a valuable rotation player when the Celtics won the title in 2008. The point is, you can't teach talent. The Wizards realized this and traded him from the T'Wolves on draft night. Cue the slow, congratulatory applause.

Are mock drafts a CWOT?: Again this year, once you are past the top five picks, the accuracy of mock drafts goes in the toilet. Mostly they are completed by NBA outsiders who weren't there for the Combine or the workouts, and have no direct insight on the thought process in each team's head office. I should now...we can smell our own. Here is how the top 12 mock drafts (according to fared this year:

#1: John Wall. Mock drafts that got it right: 12/12
#2: Evan Turner. Got it right: 12/12
#3: Derrick Favors. Got it right: 7/12
#4: Wesley Johnson. Got it right: 7/12
#5: Demarcus Cousins. Got it right: 9/12
#6: Ekpe Udoh. Got it right: 5/12
#7: Greg Monroe. Got it right: 4/12
#8: Al-Farouq Aminu. Got it right: 8/12
#9: Gordon Hayward. Got it right: 1/12
#10: Paul George. Got it right: 0/12
#11: Cole Aldrich. Got it right: 1/12
#12: Xavier Henry. Got it right: 1/12

Just for fun: This year's draft was surprisingly well-dressed. And, as a result, we missed out on some unintentional laughs. Well, here is your consolation prize: The Worst NBA draft suits EVER.

Memoir Mondays... Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness:
A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose
by Tony Hsieh

I saw an interesting segment on one of the major television networks a few Sunday mornings ago... it was about the online retailer, the guy who started the company, Tony Hsieh, and his innovative ideas about making one of the best places to work. It seems like it's working too! It made Fortune magazines "best" list for 2009. is a huge online presence. It's the of shoes. But it's not just about shoes anymore. Zappos is clothing, sporting equipment, and even a baby shop... And now we can read about it in Tony Hsieh's book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose. Here's what the publisher has to say about the book...

Pay brand-new employees $2,000 to quit

Make customer service the responsibility of the entire company-not just a department

Focus on company culture as the #1 priority

Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business

Help employees grow-both personally and professionally

Seek to change the world

Oh, and make money too . . .

Sound crazy? It's all standard operating procedure at Zappos, the online retailer that's doing over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. After debuting as the highest-ranking newcomer in Fortune magazine's annual "Best Companies to Work For" list in 2009, Zappos was acquired by Amazon in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion on the day of closing.

In DELIVERING HAPPINESS, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh shares the different lessons he has learned in business and life, from starting a worm farm to running a pizza business, through LinkExchange, Zappos, and more. Fast-paced and down-to-earth, DELIVERING HAPPINESS shows how a very different kind of corporate culture is a powerful model for achieving success-and how by concentrating on the happiness of those around you, you can dramatically increase your own.

Sounds like a rags to riches tale to me, and so interesting. But his message isn't just about profits, but about creating a happiness in the workforce and in ones own life. This is definitely on my TBR list!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Sunday Salon..."Books with Buzz"

It's Sunday! Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of joe and relax! The Sunday Salon is where hundreds of bloggers gather together virtually to chat about all the bookish things that happened this week.

One of the exciting things to happen this week in the "eReader world" was the price war between Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders. It started with Barnes & Noble lowering the price of The Nook (with Wi-Fi & 3G) to $199 from the original $259. Amazon almost immediately lowered the price of the Kindle to $189, which was originally $249. Sony then dropped their Sony Touch eReader to $199, down from $250 and then Borders jumped in by not lowering their price on the Kobo, but giving a $20 gift card along with doubling the Borders Bucks for any new Kobo purchased. You can read all about it in my June 22nd post, and I've also included links to all the eReaders mentioned. So, if you were thinking about an eReader, now seems the time to buy one!

Karin Slaughter fans were happy this week as her new book, Broken, was released. Bringing back her characters from Undone, Karin weaves mystery
& suspense together with murder to give us another thriller based in Georgia. Last August I read & reviewed Undone and really enjoyed it! It was the first Karin Slaughter book I had read and I am looking forward to reading more! Like to read this on your Kindle? This book is Kindle Ready! Janet Evanovich fans were happy too, as her 16th Stephanie Plum novel, Sizzling Sixteen, came out this week! If you are unfamiliar with the Stephanie Plum novels, they're kind of like chick-lit noir. Stephanie is a plucky girl working for her cousin Vinny as a bail bondswoman in New Jersey. She's got brains and lots of luck, she's funny and her life is filled with lighthearted adventures... and of course romance. If you want to start at the beginning of this series, One for The Money is it. Her Stephanie Plum novels are numbered "One for the Money", "Two for the Show", etc. For fun Janet Evanovich usually has a contest on her website to name her next book too.

There were a few books that I've had my eye on for a while that were released this week...

The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay by Beverly Jensen... It's a tale of two sisters spanning 70 years as they live and love and travel from Canada to New England. It's gotten wonderful buzz. Unfortunately Beverly Jensen died before it was published. Here's what the publisher writes... In 1916, Idella and Avis Hillock are children living on the edge of a windy bluff in New Brunswick – a hardscrabble world of potato farms and lobster traps, rough men, hard work, and baffling beauty. In The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay, we follow them, along with the ornery men in their lives, through tragedy and comedy, all the way to old age. Relationships between sisters can be difficult, loving, competitive. I look forward to seeing how the relationship between Idella and Avis develope over 70 years! BTW, This book is Kindle Ready!

The Lovers by Vendela Vida... Here's how Indie Bound described The Lovers, "a stunning novel about the love between husbands and wives, mothers and children. Twenty-eight years ago, Peter and Yvonne honeymooned in the beautiful coastal village of DatÇa, Turkey. Now Yvonne is a widow, her twin children grown. Hoping to immerse herself in memories of a happier time—as well as sand and sea—Yvonne returns to DatÇa. But her plans for a restorative week in Turkey are quickly complicated. Instead of comforting her, her memories begin to trouble her. Her vacation rental's landlord and his bold, intriguing wife—who share a curious marital arrangement—become constant uninvited visitors, in and out of the house. Overwhelmed by the past and unexpectedly dislocated by the environment, Yvonne clings to a newfound friendship with Ahmet, a local boy who makes his living as a shell collector. With Ahmet as her guide, Yvonne gains new insight into the lives of her own adult children, and she finally begins to enjoy the shimmering sea and relaxed pace of the Turkish coast. But a devastating accident upends her delicate peace and throws her life into chaos—and her sense of self into turmoil." I thought it would be interesting to see Yvonne's memories of her youth compared with the present as she tried to travel back in time. * BTW, This book is Kindle Ready!

Looking ahead to next week, James Patterson along with Maxine Paetro have a thriller coming out called Private. What's it about?... "Former CIA agent Jack Morgan is already deep into the investigation of a multi-million dollar NFL gambling scandal and the unsolved slayings of 18 schoolgirls when he learns of a horrific murder close to home: his best friend's wife, Jack's former lover, has been killed."

Tess Gerritsen, a favorite thrill writer of mine, has a new book coming out, Ice Cold, starring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli ( I just love her!) and medical examiner Maura Isles... "Boston medical examiner Maura Isles is in Wyoming for a conference. Impulsively, she joins an old friend and his daughter on a ski trip. When their vehicle breaks down, they’re stranded in the eerily named Kingdom Come, a small community whose residents appear to have vanished. Then Maura vanishes. The announcement of her death shocks homicide detective Jane Rizzoli, Maura’s close friend. Investigating Kingdom Come, Rizzoli uncovers dark secrets that may explain Maura’s disappearance." *BTW, Jane & Maura are coming to television! TNT will premier the television series this coming July. It's called Rizzoli & Isles, it will take place in Boston, and the pilot episode will be taken from Tess Gerritsen's book The Apprentice. If you want to start from the beginning with Jane Rizzoli, read The Surgeon first. *BTW, Ice Cold is Kindle Ready! And so are The Surgeon & The Apprentice!

As far as what I'm reading this week... I've got my nose in Into The Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea and am loving it! The story takes place in a small dusty Mexican town where all the men left to go north for work. The women in the village are wonderful, and when banditos threaten to take over the little town, 19 year-old Nayeli along with three of her friends, go in search of help. The writing is wonderful, and Urrea's descriptions of the surroundings is so vivid. *Psst...Look for a review and a GIVEAWAY for this soon!

And it's still June, and that means it's still audiobook month! On my iPod, I'm listening to Stuart Woods' Hot Mahogany, and it is fabulous! It's got that old time detective story feel to it, with Lawyer turned sleuth Stone Barrington, the theft of a piece of antique furniture, women falling for the hero, and a great side kick. Tony Roberts is the narrator and his voice is perfect for this crime noir! I'll be giving you the full scoop when I've finished.

AND, If you haven't yet, there's still a few days left to enter the GIVEAWAY for Knight of Passion by Margaret Mallory! Giveaway ends monday, June 28th at midnight!

What have you been reading?! Listening to any audiobooks lately? Share what books have caught your attention! I'd Love to know what you've found this week! In the meantime, I hope you found something that peaked your interest here!

Happy reading... Suzanne