30 May 2007

Kobe, Greg, Tank, and Michael

Hello, and welcome to 90% Mental.
Today's hot topics:
-Kobe Bryant trade demand
-Greg Oden basketball card
-Tank Tyler's beef sticks
-Michael Vick's dogfighting

After a long period (okay, a day or two) of publicly strained relations with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant has requested a trade, saying that "Tough as it is to come to that conclusion, there's no other alternative. It's rough, man, but I don't see how you can rebuild that trust. I just don't know how you can move forward in that type of situation." Here’s how you move forward, Kobe: $17,718,750.00. That’s how much you’re making this year. So shut up and play.

How would trading Kobe work out anyway? He’s got a lot of wear on his tires. While he’s one of the best players in the game when his knees are cooperating, they’re becoming increasingly balky. Assuming a team would want him (not an entirely unreasonable assumption), it would take a lot to get him. As previously stated, he’s making 17 million (cue Dr. Evil pose) dollars, and there aren’t a lot of teams with that kind of cash available, never mind available talent for the Lakers to accept the deal.

I’ve heard that the Hawks (for Josh Smith and Joe Johnson), Knicks (for David Lee, Channing Frye, and Steve Francis), or Bulls (for Ben Wallace and either Ben Gordon or Luol Deng) might be options if the Lakers elect to deal, but all of these situations have issues: Chicago is trying to grow a young team rather than importing older players (remember, Bryant is an 11-year veteran); New York, to borrow a chant from East Rutherford, S-U-C-K suck suck sucks; Atlanta has a seemingly paralyzed group of owners who are unable to make any deal bigger than signing the significantly misnomered (is that even a word?) Speedy Claxton.

One possible destination that hasn’t been getting thrown around a lot is Portland. They have the talent to tempt LA – say, Zach Randolph, Sergio Rodriguez, and Martell Webster, a combination that would work under the salary cap – and a Kobe Bryant/Greg Oden inside/outside game would be nothing short of frightening.

Speaking of Greg Oden, Topps announced today that his first basketball card would feature him together with Bill Russell. While the pairing makes sense – Oden has been compared to Russell in terms of his defensive skill set and (current) lack of a polished offensive game – I’m surprised that Russell let it happen.

Here’s why: it’s a slap in the face to the Celtics. Boston was depending on the lottery to rebuild their franchise. They needed Greg Oden. Instead, they’ll get a Yi Jianlian or Brandan Wright. And Topps is going to rub the Celtics’ noses in the mess by putting out a card with Greg Oden – the could-have-been savior of the franchise – and Bill Russell – the living reminder of when the franchise didn’t need saving.

Perhaps Topps could have coupled Oden with Jerome Moiso? Or Kendrick Brown? Those options would have comforted the Celtics faithful, reminding them that prospects’ futures are by no means assured. But Bill Russell? Ouch.

Speaking of ouch (oh, the beautiful segue!), ESPN’s bottom line showed a little update today: Tank Johnson, former University of Washington and current Chicago Bears defensive lineman, ate 162 beef sticks while in jail on misdemeanor weapons charges. I don’t even want to know what that means.

Lastly, speaking of ignorance: I don’t know whether Mike Vick should be punished for dogfighting. What do we (and by we, I mean the soulless bourgeois prosecutors who seek to tear down any minority who achieves success) really have on him?

Sure, Mr. Mexico isn’t exactly a person of unbesmirched reputation. Sure, he’s been in trouble before, from flipping off fans to carrying a water bottle that smelled of marijuana to getting sued for knowingly giving a partner an STD and then using an alias to buy her medication (at least he cares…).

Sure, there’s plenty of evidence that he was involved, ranging from eyewitness accounts to the fact that there are dead dogs buried on his property and that the fights were in his freakin’ house. But when it comes right down to it, he’s an athlete. And we can’t be mad at athletes, right? Right?

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