Stern backs down

I haven't spoken to a single player who actually believed David Stern would back down and go back to the old leather basketball but that's exactly what is going to happen on Jan. 1. From the first day of training camp there was little question that just about every player in the league hated the new balls and I still haven't heard a single player say they preferred it, but given Stern's history, I never believed that he'd bring the old ball back. Good for him.

When players started talking about getting cuts on their hands (none of the Wizards said anything about it) you know the league had to do something. The change also allows Spalding to save face. They were in the middle of a public relations nightmare. It's kind of hard to pitch a product as "new and improved" when guys like Shaq are comparing it to a cheap ball you can buy in a toy store.

My only question is this: what's going to become of all of those new, soon-to-be-old balls? Will they be donated to third world countries like all of those Buffalo BIlls Super Bowl champion t-shirts that were printed up in the 1990's? I think we have to get the mad blogger, Dan Steinberg, on the case here. I'd take one off the league's hands but my dog would just tear it up like she did my current ball anyway.

Also, I wanted to get in something about how weird that game was Saturday night. Between the Wiz wearing those goofy alternate uniforms, the Rockets wearing home whites, Gilbert changing his shoes and then going on a "hibachi grill" tear, Etan Thomas, Brendan Haywood and Tracy McGrady getting hurt, James Lang trying to defend Yao Ming after sitting on the bench for three and a half quarters AND Calvin Booth of all people making a clutch three-pointer, it was easily one of the strangest events of my sportswriting career.

I do know this: That effort by Yao Ming was one of the best I've seen in any sport and that includes Vince Young's game in the Rose Bowl against Michigan two years ago (even better than what he did against USC last year), Dwyane Wade putting up a triple-double in an NCAA tournament game and Allen Iverson's performance in Game 1 of the 2001 finals against the Lakers. If Yao makes shots and free throws like that while blocking shots and avoiding turnovers, the league is in serious trouble. Have to wonder about T-Mac's back however. If he goes down, Yao is all alone.

By Ivan Carter |  December 11, 2006; 5:38 PM ET
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Hopefully, if Tracy McGrady can stay healthy in the meantime, these two can become one of the dominant duos in this decade leading the Houston Rockets deep into the playoffs. Yao has lived up to his expectations this year so far, with Tracy McGrady taking the second scoring role, but if it all goes in to waste because of injuries, then that's sad and a wasted chance for all of us to see how dominate this team can really be.

I do have to agree of how the game on saturday was indeed the strangest game I've seen. You have 4 other guys other than Booth who can nail the 3 but yet he's the one who cuts the lead to one, Arenas with his shoe-switching method, Yao taking out Haywood and Thomas and, also the lights that delayed the game in the 4th quarter.

Posted by: Will | December 11, 2006 6:10 PM

Hey Ivan, you didn't bring up the obvious comment of what impact Peter Ramos would have had defending Yao? If Eddie's playing James Lang ahead of Booth, why not take a flyer on 7 foot 3 inch Peter Ramos as your 4th center? I think his size could have at least bothered Yao for a possession or two.

Posted by: juandixonformvp | December 11, 2006 6:36 PM

But Peter Ramos is not on the team anymore.....

Posted by: Lisa | December 11, 2006 6:49 PM

Uh, IC man, I love you and all but I was at that Michigan-Texas game and no way was Yao that good. Vince Young couldn't be stopped, most dominant performance I've ever seen. Given the context of the games (Rose Bowl, a good Michigan Defense vs. regular season, Wizards defense) Young's play far out matched Yao's.

Posted by: Jake | December 11, 2006 6:58 PM

I thought Party John was on our D-League affiliate? Can't we just put up the signal and have him materialize in a puff of (very tall and gangly) smoke?

Posted by: Gack | December 11, 2006 8:55 PM

PJR is not a Wizard. He's a free agent. Wizards have the NBA maximum 15 players and can only sign PJR by cutting someone. There is no more IR in the NBA.

Posted by: Learned Hand | December 11, 2006 10:42 PM

Lisa is correct, Ramos was cut befofre the season even started. Someone picked him up but I forget who.

When I saw McGrady grab his back I couldn't help but feel his pain. If anyone in here has never had back problems, thank God every day you don't.

This is what I fear for Songaila. Back problems never go away. :(

Stern backed down because the players had a genuine case against the League. From my take Stern couldn't change the ball like that because of the last collective agreement. He finally gave up.

Changing the ball is just plain silly anyway. As the players stated, that's thier "livelyhood."

One thing I noticed is what Ivan stated about that shot Carter had against the Wiz. For whatever reason that ball LOVES the rim...shoot a brick and it will go in. It just doesn't sound right, it just dies and goes in the hole.

Yao is awesome. He's a GREAT basketball player and seems like he's a good guy also. I think Ernie should go to China and find someone else just like him. ; )

I hope he stays healthy and has years of success in the NBA. :)

- Ray

(PS - Saying this if Brendan stays healthy we win that game. That and Yao walked at the end.)

Posted by: Ray | December 11, 2006 10:48 PM

Looks like Party John is a member of the NBA D-League's Idaho Stampede. They're a Jazz/Sonics affiliate.

He dropped 18 in a loss to the Wizards a few weeks ago!

Okay, so it was the Dakota Wizards, but still...

Posted by: Gack | December 12, 2006 1:30 AM

I know Ramos is not on the team anymore, I should have made my post clearer, but I meant "why did we keep Booth instead of Ramos?" The 4th center spot is barely going to play anyway, but since Ramos is 7 foot 3 he could have been useful when we play people like Yao and the other taller centers in the league.

Posted by: juandixonformvp | December 12, 2006 5:16 AM

Am I the only chump that bought the new NBA ball? The funny thing is that I decided to buy it after seeing Vince Carter put up that 3-point buzzer beater against us a month ago that just sat on the back of the rim...I thought to myself "This ball can't be THAT bad! I mean, why would they switch to it if it wasn't a good ball?" I know, not very logical, huh?

So I bought the ball, brought it to Wednesday night pick-up...and got it booed off the court after two games to 9. In an odd event, the ball bounced off my knee after an errant pass, and gave me a burn that I would equate to what you would get from sliding on the floor. I started laughing after that, laughing with some buyer's remorse. least I have the best outdoor ball that 100 bucks can buy, right? Anybody interested in taking it off my hands??

Posted by: Nick | December 12, 2006 9:11 AM

Cutting Ramos was not about talent. The guy has talent, first round talent, with lotto pick height. Athletic Centers like him are a commodity, but he is a major headache and doesn't care about basketball, at all. He just stands on the court and only plays if he has the ball in his hand, he never rebounds and apparently is lazy and doesn't listen to coaches well.

I was PJR's biggest supportor over the summer, I read scout after scout saying he would have been a lotto pick if he was coming out in this draft, but he obviously screwed up.

He is Kwame-Light. Maybe one day he gets it together, but he and EJ don't get along, and Ernie hasn't had anything good to say about PJR in over a year. Ernie has good things to say about everyone.

PJR is a cancer, let him go... I have.

PS: I took a lot of heat from hoop-heads because I said this was PJR's year, its not, and it will not be, he is a lost child who doesn't want to work hard and doesn't get along with the coach.

Posted by: Jumpy | December 12, 2006 9:21 AM

Why did the Wiz keep Booth over Ramos? Because Ramos isn't up to playing in the NBA. The game happens too fast for him. Booth isn't all that good either, but he can at least keep up mentally.

Posted by: TSW | December 12, 2006 9:23 AM

This isn't related to the above, but since an Iverson trade appears to be imminent:
Does anyone remember three summers ago when Wilbon and Kornheiser were pushing for the Wizards to trade for Iverson on Full Court Press? Their proposed deal: Iverson for Gilbert, Hayes and the Wizards pick (#5) in the draft that year.
Ivan, I'm sure you aspire to be like Wilbon and Kornheiser in many ways, but please not in that way.

Posted by: Henry | December 12, 2006 10:08 AM

About the post talking about Ramos vs Yao, I think I remember reading something about in the Worlds over the summer they went up against each other. Ramos injured Yao and I think knocked him out of the game, and maybe even out of the rest of the tournament. I think Ramos head butted him with that big giant head of his.

As far as Ramos, Eddie said basically Lang beat him out. They liked Lang's longterm potential more than Ramos, as far as keeping a big man project for the future. They kept Booth over Ramos I think because his contract was guarenteed for one thing, and he has just another year left so they can keep him around 1 more year while Lang develops and learns. Plus he is a vet who knows how to prepare incase he's needed and has good defensive fundamentals, and a good guy for the others to practice against. Plus the fact that Ramos is a big giant BUM! He is a big, slow, goofy, lazy, slow footed, nonplayin, nonaggressive, nondunking 7-3 Jabba the Hut that can't get rebounds when they drop right in front of him. He got terrible reactions, and simply his head is just way too big. Of his 7-3 size, at least 2 foot of that was his head.

Posted by: Darnell | December 12, 2006 10:45 AM

"" least I have the best outdoor ball that 100 bucks can buy, right?""

Lol, in a couple weeks it will be on sale at Target for $9.99!

Count on it. ;)

""I read scout after scout saying he would have been a lotto pick if he was coming out in this draft...""

I read that also, but was still reading on here how the Wiz were probably going to cut him. The thing is the Wiz aren't really known for developing big men so it might actually work out for him at some point.

You know all about Jordan and his "smallball." :P

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 12, 2006 10:48 AM

that ball might actually be a collectable in the future. a bizarre footnote in nba history.

Posted by: poptart | December 12, 2006 11:19 AM

Yeah and I'm real glad they are going back to the old ball. Leather is just better, it is softer and feels better on the hands and fingers. It is the tradition, and the way it should be! Why'd they change it anyways, if it ain't broke don't fix it! What if they changed NFL footballs to plastic and tried to say it was easier to throw and catch it. It changes the game and it's just cheap. The NBA should use the best quality and that's leather!

Posted by: Darnell | December 12, 2006 11:41 AM

you would think that if other nba execs thought ramos was lottery talent we could have traded him for something. even at least a future 2nd rounder? anything would be better than what we got which is nothing.

Posted by: poptart | December 12, 2006 1:48 PM

PJR had no trade value unless we wanted someone from another team's concessions staff. Not one NBA team called PJR with a job offer after he was cut loose by Les Boulez. He's in the NBDL as a result of being drafted as opposed to being assigned by an NBA team. Dude is TERRIBLE.

Posted by: Learned Hand | December 12, 2006 2:20 PM

Why did Stern change to the new ball anyway? I heard a rumor it was mainly because of the Houston Rocket's owner's wife. She apparently is a strong proponent of PETA and disliked the fact that the old ball was leather. This sounds outlandish, but does anyone know if it's true? I heard this on the Brian Mitchell show today in an interview with a Sports Illustrated writer. If it is true, Stern is crazy!

Posted by: CJ Baltimore | December 12, 2006 2:53 PM

Stern changed to the new ball becuase he is a marketing genius. He did the same thing last year with the dress code. Make a controversial announcement that gets everyone talking right before the season starts. People focus on the NBA for a little bit instead of the NFL. Pretty smooth.

I am not endorsing these things but you have to hand it to him.

Also, people focus on the performance of Yao in the 4th. It was awesesome. No doubt. And its easy to say that is why we lost. Like, 'tip your hat to Yao, he beat us' and 'oh well' or whatever else losers say when they lose. Bottom line? We lost because we didn't know one of the top 5 3pt shooters in the league was in the game and he hit 2 completely uncontested 3s. We lost because Little Gilbert couldn't focus on the rim in the 1st quarter and missed 6 foul shots.
We lost because, Jamison could not box out JUWAN HOWARD for 8 second chance points, or get back on D when Alston decided to go coast to coast for easy buckets or the myriad of other sloppy and atrocious things we did to hand them the bacll game.

Stars are going to hurt you. That is why they are stars. Its when you let worthless bamas like Juwan Howard drop in 15 and 10 on you that you lose in the NBA. Occassionaly, for a team to be successful, a team must win some winnable games. See you guys at the 8 seed party (which I predicted from Day 1).

Posted by: Bernard King | December 12, 2006 3:22 PM

Why arent the wiz even considering trading for AI? I know he is a bit redundant given that we have a shoot first point guard already - but can you imagine the backcourt of Gilbert and AI?!

Lets send them Jamison and a young guard. Maybe throw in Hayes to help with salaries.

Posted by: Ari Segal | December 12, 2006 3:39 PM

AI and Agent Zero? I can't imagine it and don't want to. We're already small at center and at the 4. We don't need a diminutive backcourt of shoot first, shoot second, shoot third guards.

Posted by: Learned Hand | December 12, 2006 4:33 PM

no but we could get involved in a 3 way deal.

for example this would be an acceptable trade based on salaries:

we can trade antawn jamison and our 1st round pick to philly.
and haywood to indiana

indiana send jermain oneal to wizards
indiana send jamal tinsley to philly

philly send iverson and carney to indy


wizards get jermaine oneal
lose jamison, haywood, 1st round pick

indy gets carney, haywood, iverson
lose oneal, tinsley

philly gets jamison, tinsley, 1st round pick
lose iverson, carney

just to give you an example of that type of scenario.

Posted by: poptart | December 12, 2006 4:58 PM


AI SUCKS! His game is Gilbert lite, and he's a black hole, a locker room cancer, no practicing jive talking posing good for nothin' loser!!!!

Posted by: Zonker | December 12, 2006 7:26 PM

"Why'd they change it anyways, if it ain't broke don't fix it!"

All about money my friend, I can't think of it being anything else.

""We lost because we didn't know one of the top 5 3pt shooters in the league was in the game...""

BK I don't disagree with you and you all know I've been down on the Wiz's D as much as anyone else in here, but I honestly believe if the Haywood doesn't get hurt they win that game. It's wasn't until late that he took over and both of the Wiz's centers were out.

Also one other event that really annoys me, and it doesn't just happen to the Wiz. When the Wiz were down by two with under a minute left and Yao made his last shot, he travelled....big time. He didn't even put the ball on the floor and took 3 steps.

Lame....made the shot and it was pretty much over.

It was just like when Lebron took five steps in the playoffs last year. Refs get caught up in the moment and don't call those things, they could totally change the outcome of the game.

Anyway, not trying to sound like Gilbert here. Houston won, give them credit and same to Yao.

They're playing better, that's all one can ask for right now.

I wish that trade would happen poptart, I really wish. :)

- Ray

Posted by: Anonymous | December 12, 2006 10:41 PM

Are you ready for some SMALLBALL!?

I got a feeling we're in for it tonight, I don't mind it so much tonight though because of the center situation and who we're playing. Got a feeling we're going to see alot of Jamison as center, and possibly even some Caron. Basically alot of 2 forward 3 guard, and even some 1 forward 4 guard sets tonight.

Should be high scoring and fun to watch!

Posted by: Darnell | December 13, 2006 11:01 AM

I would do a naked tripod on Wisconsin Ave during rush hour if we acquired Jermaine O'Neal.

Posted by: Bernard King | December 13, 2006 11:37 AM

lol! yeah it's funny looking at that a day later it looks like a great trade! i was just trying to give example and thought indy would be good fit for AI. then thought i'd like to have oneal and literally just threw the first names i thought of where the money looked vaguely ok into the trade checker, and was very surprised it was accepted on 1st try!

we get pf we need. philly gets pretty solid team with dalembert, webber, jamison, iguodala and tinsley, and adds a 1st round pick to boot. indy gets starting center and AI the top scorer in the league teamed with stephen jackson and al harrington.

I'd even toss in pecherov to indy and blatche to philly to make it work.

depending on matchups we'd have:
oneal or etan at center, backed by lang/booth
oneal or songaila at pf, backed by ruffin
butler and hayes at sf

very unlikely but fun to think about!

Posted by: poptart | December 13, 2006 12:46 PM

here's link to show full trade and salary acceptance:

wizards get: jermaine oneal
lose: jamison, haywood, blatche, pecherov, 1st round pick

indy gets: iverson, carney, haywood, pecherov
lose: oneal, tinsley

philly gets: jamison, blatche, tinsley, 1st round pick
lose: iverson, carney

Posted by: poptart | December 13, 2006 12:55 PM

Jermaine Oneal is overrated. Take a good look at his numbers. He's basically a jump-shooting big man with an eFG% of 45% (Jamison's is 51%).

Don't get me wrong, he's better than Jamison because of his defense, but I wouldn't trade Jamison, Wood, Pecherov, Blatche and a 1st for him.

I'd definitely give up a package like that for Garnett, but not for Oneal.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 13, 2006 1:44 PM

unknown, are you serious?

we could throw out a lineup of:
etan, oneal, caron, stevenson, arenas

that is pure nasty!

or we could go more offensive:
oneal, songaila, butler, hayes, arenas

i know we'd be giving up alot,
but i think that lineup wins the east this year.

Posted by: poptart | December 13, 2006 2:26 PM

We can still run n gun too:

oneal, caron, hayes, arenas, daniels

that team wins the east, and does so possibly next 2-3 yrs
whole team is in it's prime (oneal is 28)

winning is the goal right?

Posted by: poptart | December 13, 2006 2:42 PM

Please don't say "jump-shooting big man." You'll get Jordan too excited.

Posted by: Henry | December 13, 2006 3:10 PM

"Please don't say "jump-shooting big man." You'll get Jordan too excited."

Lol, and he'll be at the top of the arch the whole game. ;)

I'd give up those guys and that pick for O'neal in a heartbeat. Then you either get Songaila back at the 4, or can you bring someone else in during the offseason.

We know what we have with Haywood, and Percherov has yet to play in the NBA. The Wiz would have have a big man who can play D and score.

It'll never happen, but it's nice to wish. :)

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | December 13, 2006 4:07 PM

I was a water boy, no trainers then, for lacrosse players for Loyola Baltimore before they wore helments. Blood all over !!Tough !!. I played with two broken teeth, once with a laceration that took 15 to close it later etc, that's what I liked about it. Crushed palate , man , let me play. I looked at it like live or die that's where I wanted to be, actually you really don't feel much you are too high. I ate plenty of oatmeal over 12 year of playing lacrosse

Posted by: Nick Kennedy | December 14, 2006 3:11 PM

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