The D-League Olympics
I’ve got Olympic fever, and the only prescription is a D-League column gimmick!
The 2010 Winter Olympics will come to a close on Sunday. From curling to hockey and snowboarding to figure skating, the events of the Olympics have provided something for everyone. Although personally I’m more of a Summer Games fan (not to mention the hilarious Office Olympics), it’s always worth tuning in to watch the best in the world compete at the apex of their respective sports.
One of the most fascinating and unique aspects of the Olympics is its prize system. Unlike the loser of the Super Bowl or the runner-up at the Kentucky Derby, second and third place “win” medals at the Olympics. It’s a major accomplishment to medal at the Olympics regardless of place. In the ultimate international sports competition, gold, silver and bronze all mean something.
So, with the Winter Games coming to a close and the D-League heading into their stretch run before the playoffs, I thought I’d dish out some Olympics-style D-League hardware in several different made-up “events.”
Most thrilling all-star weekend performance
Gold: Dar Tucker, Los Angeles D-Fenders
Silver: Brian Butch, Bakersfield Jam
Bronze: Andre Ingram, Utah Flash
Rationale: Tucker vaulted over his competition to win the gold going away. No, really, he dunked over Butch for the highlight dunk of all-star weekend, a dunk that was better than anything his NBA counterparts offered the next night. Butch proved to be much more than a prop, however, with his 18-point, 13-rebound performance in the all-star game earning him MVP honors. Meanwhile, Ingram outdueled the likes of Blake Ahearn, Morris Almond, and Rob Kurz (the respective picks of Kolsky, Weinman, and I) to win the 3-point shootout. But the dunk contest is the spotlight event, and Tucker made the most of his time to shine.
Gold: Mike Gansey, Erie BayHawks
Silver: Rod Benson, Reno Bighorns
Bronze: Tre Whitted, Springfield Armor
Rationale: Benson seemed like a lock for the gold medal until he stopped blogging early in 2010. While his motivation was pure (he didn’t want his zany and uber-entertaining blog to be the reason NBA executives chose to overlook him), Benson’s bye-bye to blogging cost him the hypothetical/virtual gold medal that I’m awarding here. Despite being new to the blogosphere, Gansey edges out Boom Tho and D-League Digest contributor Tre Whitted because he regularly comments and responds to commenters on his post, and he named the D-League lookalike squads for the East and West Conference.
Gold: Shy Ely, Iowa Energy
Silver: Mustafa Shakur, Tulsa 66ers
Bronze: Cliff Clinkscales, Erie BayHawks
Rationale: There were a number of qualified entrants, but no one can top Shy Ely, who doesn’t waste any of his smoothly-crafted six letters. Ely, a reserve guard for the Iowa Energy, has a name befitting an understated movie character or reclusive music sensation, which gives him the nod over Shakur, who scored big ppoints for sharing a last name with Tupac, and the D-League-blogosphere-polarizing figure that is Cliff Clinkscales.
Best NBA-assignment performance
Gold: Malik Hairston, Austin Toros
Silver: Alexis Ajinca, Maine Red Claws
Bronze: Joey Dorsey, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
In 14 games with the Toros, the Spurs’ Hairston has lit up his opponents, averaging a league-high 29.3 points per game. And he’s been efficient, too, shooting 47.8 percent from the field, 41.8 percent from 3, and 83.8 percent from the free throw line.
Most inexplicable transaction
Gold: Springfield Armor, trading Morris Almond to Maine Red Claws
Silver: Los Angeles Clippers, calling up JamesOn Curry, then releasing him days later
Bronze: Erie BayHawks, releasing Booker Woodfox before anyone ever saw him in a BayHawks uniform.
Curry didn’t even stay around long enough to say he had a cup of coffee in the NBA; it was more like a sip. Still, Curry being yo-yo’d back-and-forth only earns him a silver after the gold medal was snatched last week when his teammate and D-League all-star Morris Almond was shipped from Springfield to Maine in a questionable move that Steve Weinman addressed here last week.
Five events so far. That’s a start. Now let’s try a little audience participation. (This is where you come in. I know there is an audience out there, right? Right?) If you like the idea, write in your own event/categories in the comments section below. Be as creative (Best hair? Best tattoos? Fastest player?) or straightforward (Best shooter? Toughest defender? MVP?) as you want. Come up with a good one, and I’ll be sure to chime in my thoughts on who I think would medal in that area.
And, of course, don’t forget to cheer on the red, white, and blue as they finish up this weekend…U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!