var yuipath = 'clientscript/yui';
var yuicombopath = '';
var remoteyui = false;
else // Load Rest of YUI remotely (where possible)
var yuipath = 'http://yui.yahooapis.com/2.9.0/build';
var yuicombopath = 'http://yui.yahooapis.com/combo';
var remoteyui = true;
Fellow 55ers! This is truly the winter of our discontent. Today, like me, you probably sprang from your bed, peered out your window and only saw rainy darkness, bare trees, and patches of unthawed snowy lawn. You probably crunched your way to your car, grimly scraped the frost from the windshield, cranked a sluggish motor, and then went to your job with all the enthusiasm of a character from a subtitled black-and-white Swedish movie. Emerging from work, you grimly noticed that what little sun there once had been had already disappeared and your trip home was just as bleak as your original trip to work.*
Like me, you probably have tried to combat your winter blues with the happy thought of a trip to Conseco and a Pacers home game. But, alas, when you got there, you found that the cold Indiana December has turned our team’s once-vaunted shooters into ice sculptures, as morosely frigid as our present depressing climate.*
So what is to be done?
Well, cheer up, fellow fun-seekers! The New Year approaches! Rest assured, our team’s lost mojo is about to be restored!*
Effective Countermeasures Have Been Taken!*The Pacers’ current malaise lies not in Obie’s crazy rotations; not in Big Roy’s missing his baby hooks, nor in DG’s recently erratic shooting touch. Nay! These are all mere symptoms! Our real problems run deeper. I have consulted with experts knowledgeable in these matters. Our true problem is that we have been cursed! Yes, cursed! A malicious practitioner of the black arts has cursed our team!*
But buck up! We now have a pretty good idea who the culprit behind it all is and, more importantly, what needs to be done about it. So how do we end this curse? Well….
First, El Pacero, a dedicated practitioner of the Afro-Caribbean religion of Santeria, reports that since Wednesday’s loss in D.C. he has been sleeping on virginal white bed sheets bestrewn with laurel leaves. Furthermore, he now wears a big yellowed tooth, pried from the jaws of an old alligator, on a leather necklace under his wrestling jersey. He has also placed lit black candles and newly-minted copper pennies in strategic locations in Conseco Fieldhouse. Each of these measures, he assures me, is guaranteed to restore lost luck.
Not to be outdone, Area 55′s own voodoo-meister and periodically-entranced shimmy-dancer, SuperFan, has slain a bantam rooster and daubed unseen portions of his body with its blood. He has also invoked the dark power of Orisha, the Yoruba god of good fortune, to cleanse the Pacers. More importantly, as you read these words, SuperFan is methodically sticking tiny pins into a small, doll-like effigy he has fashioned of Lakers coach, Phil “Zen Master” Jackson (The effigy is made from beeswax and bits of old Pacers’ game programs).*
SuperFan assures me that the Pacers’ current statistical woes began immediately after our road win against L.A. He also advises that the Zen Master himself is almost certainly the party responsible for our team’s current spate of bad karma.
Lastly, and just to be safe, Area 55 Chant Leader Kyle Brumback (a/k/a Kielbeze) — ursine resident of Hartford City and well-known practitioner of arcane Hoosier folk remedies — has concocted a potion (reportedly consisting of unrevealed proportions of stale beer, toasted bits of PTO bratwurst, hairs from particularly offensive members of Row 5, some Jim O’Brien toenail clippings, a few drops of Larry Bird’s bathwater, eye of newt, ear of toad, skin of fenny snake, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a few threads from a discarded pair of flannel pajamas once worn by Roy Hibbert). Yesterday, Brumback poured this concoction secretly into the Pacers’ Jacuzzi. After Danny and Roy take a leisurely pre-game soak, he assures me that the evil eye now on them will be averted. Not only that, Kielbeze says that the bad luck that was originally transmitted to our boys will be deflected back towards California and will be visited threefold on Jackson, the evildoer that put the bad hoodoo on us in the first place.*
So watch your step, Zen Master. Our winning ways are due to return! And your time is coming!*
PTO Doings!*Pacer Tailgating Organization VP/GM Casey O’Brien was missing in action at the Boston tailgate. His close crony and as yet unindicted co-conspirator, PTO President Aaron Coleman, consequently showed up again without O’Brien’s grill or fire pit. Hence, PTO participants tuning up for the Celtics were forced to wolf down cold ribs hastily purchased by yours truly from a local Barbeque Heaven This provided some drunken entertainment. PTO regulars watched in awe as attendee Tony Laurenzana (a/k/a Duke Dynamite) gnawed rib after slimy rib, personally accounting for the elimination of over half of those purchased. The Duke hails from Bedford, where he is well-known in competitive eating circles. He is supposedly biding his time, waiting until the Pacers season ends in 2011 to challenge our idol, Roy Hibbert, to a sit-down session at Bub’s. After seeing Dukie in action with those ribs, I will not be placing any money on Big Roy.
Results of the Footlocker Jumbotron Shoe Race!*To my surprise, at the recent Celtics game the always exciting Dunkin Donut Race was replaced by an equally thrilling Jumbotron racing competition involving torso-less, multi-colored shoes from Footlocker. At the competition’s inception, Row 9 regular Brian Koller (a/k/a Pacers4Ever) immediately selected the ultimate race winner, a sporty yellow pair of athletic shoes, and then challenged me to a $50.00 wager on the pending outcome. (The $50.00 in Koller’s wallet at the time was a Christmas gift from his grandma, and I seriously doubt that she would have approved of the use he wanted to make of her generous holiday donation). After his previously stinging me for $5.00 at the last game I attended (when his pick, Cuppie Coffee, won the Jumbotron Dunkin Donut Race), I was smart enough to decline Koller’s sporting proposal.*
I am now almost positive that Koller has somehow tapped into inside information on the outcome of these Jumbotron races and I’ve resolved not to be taken in by him again. I’m pretty sure he splits his take with the Jumbotron operator, whoever that is, who tells him who wins before every game. At any rate, I plan to write a letter to NBA Commissioner David Stern in the very near future asking him to look into this.
Bandwagon Weirdness!*Area 55 got to see more of the Bandwagon mentality that presently infects Conseco at the Celtics game. As always happens when a supposed playoff finals contender comes to town, Conseco was invaded on Tuesday by a horde of green-shirted, shamrock bedecked bandwagon types cheering for Boston and rooting against the home team. One, weirdly, elected to sit in Row 10 of 101, right behind moi, Koller, and regular 55er Colin Lott who were ensconced in our customary positions in Row 9. After vocally dissing the Pacers at the outset of the game, Colin and I politely pointed out to the invader that such was not permitted under the Area 55 Rulez and that if he wanted to cheer for the Celtics he should relocate elsewhere. The nameless fan then claimed that he would do no such thing. We then told him that if he persisted, we’d get him removed. On hearing this, he stated that he “might consider cheering for the Pacers” if Colin and I both sat down so that he could watch the action on the court while sitting on his comfortable rump. We, of course, demurred and explained that sitting was something that true 55ers just don’t do and that this wasn’t in our game plan for the evening. The interloper did thereafter refrain from actively cheering the Celtics — sort of — but spent most of the rest of the first half grumbling about our erect postures. At half-time, he then made the thoroughly idiotic mistake of trying to induce Area 55’s usherette, Sandy, to order us to sit down. Predictably this proved unavailing. The yo-yo then spent the 2nd half sitting while we stood, but he seemed resigned and relatively chastened.*
Plea #1:*Please 55ers. If you give your tix to replacements or otherwise favor strangers with the opportunity sit in our section, try to explain to them in advance what they’re getting into. Area 55 should not be a haven for bandwagon types like Mr. No Name that think it’s OK to diss the home team and cheer for a hated opponent. The whole lower level of Conseco seems to be available for that.
Drunken Weirdness!*Other news of note from the Celtics game involved Kielbeze’s confrontation in 101 with a dentally challenged (his lower row of choppers was reportedly MIA), dipsomaniacal geezer seated in Row 5. At the game’s outset, the obviously intoxicated old-timer accused Kielbeze of supposedly “touching” him. He then got all macho and threatened to pop Kielbeze for the alleged offense. Not wishing to be distracted from the upcoming game, Kielbeze mercifully advised the idiot that he did nothing of the sort, but that if the man wanted to visit with him in the Anthem lot after the game, he would be happy to oblige. What followed thereafter was a game filled with bipolarity. There were proffers of good fellowship — with the drunken geezer purporting to make amends and professedly forgiving the totally nonexistent offense. These tidings of good will were then periodically followed with claims of new offenses committed , with the geezen suddenly becoming belligerent and accusatory, and griping loudly that Kielbeze had spilled phantom beers on him with the intent of shaming him in the presence of his tender grandson. (something again that never happened). At game end, the clown staggered out of Area 55 in the same manner he had arrived. Happily there were no visits from him later at the Anthem lot. Kielbeze is a big boy and the results to the man’s remaining teeth might well have been ugly.*
Plea #2:*So Please 55ers, if you can’t make it to a game, do not give your valuable tix to toothless, obnoxious, and paranoid drunks, even if he’s a relative!*
Pacers4Ever on Basketball – The NBA Defensive Three-Second Rule Explained!*In a feature new to this Newsletter, Area 55 regular and basketball savant, Brian Koller (a/k/a Pacers4Ever), has agreed to explain little-known aspects of the game to the clueless and uninitiated. Koller has previously regaled members of Pacers Digest with penetrating insights into Jim O’Brien’s coaching mistakes, Pacers’ management trading errors, and the general Xes and Os of NBA B-Ball. I can personally attest to Koller’s basketball savvy and deep knowledge of the game. One warning, however. Koller’s written communication skills are a bit eccentric. He employs a stream-of-conscience writing style with little regard for mere conventionalities like grammar or spelling. His style is also heavily influenced by a unique Hungarian immigrant background, possible undiagnosed dyslexia, and a youth spent impatiently tweeting incoherent abbreviations on countless NBA-related weblogs.*
Anyway, Koller now brings his same insights and uncompromising style to the readers of our Newsletter. His mission today? To definitively explain, once and for all, the NBA’s mysterious Defensive Three-Second Rule! Have at it, Pacers4Ever!*
“Ha Ha! LOL! OK! Tks! Itz EZ! C, wen the ball krosses the ½-line then the ref startz kownting 123 & if the uther team (the Dfence) has sum1 in the lane and the Dfensiv guy isn’t gardng any1 then the ref can call a T (a T = teknikal). C, U haveta gard sum1 & not just the baskut. U kant just stay there in the lane!. U gotta akt lik U R garding sum1. & U kant just stand ther in the lane & stik yer arm out and just akt lik U R garding sum1 wen U R not. But if U R in the lane on Dfence, U kan gard NE1, just so the 1 U R garding stayz ther but if sum1 doublez the ball, then the 1 that was garding the 1 with the ball has to still gard the 1 with the ball or els he haz 2 find sum1 elsto Dfend in ther or leve the lane b4 the ref stopz his 123 kownt. & if U dont do that, U get a T (but U dont hav to pay any $ for that kinda T to the NBA. Itz a diffrunt kinda T). NEway, if the ref givs out a T then NE1 on the teme that haz the ball can shute the T and then after that that same teme getz the ball. C! lik i sed, Itz EZ!”*
“People don’t look at defense as a big thing in the League. I dont understand why, because defense wins” Dwight Howard
Thank you Pacers4ever!
Editorial Note: If this new feature is well-received, Mr. Koller has promised to explain the intricacies of the “Pick and Roll” offense in our next Newsletter! Stay tuned!
AND NOW FOR SOME FUN FACTS ABOUT THE WASHINGTON WIZARDS!
How the Wizards Became the Wizards!*The team that is now the Washington Wizards originated in the 1962 NBA season as the “Chicago Packers.” In 1963, the team’s name was changed to the “Chicago Zephyrs.” That same year the Zephyrs pulled up stakes and moved to Baltimore, where the team’s name was again changed — this time to the “Baltimore Bullets.” In 1973, the team’s owner moved the Bullets from Baltimore to Landover, Maryland in the Washington D.C. suburbs, where the team began playing under the name of the “Capital Bullets” while waiting for a new arena, the Capital Center to be built. In 1995, the Bullets’ owner, Abe Pollin, announced he had decided to again change the team’s name because the name,“Bullets” had acquired a lot of “negatively violent overtones,” particularly given the high homicide and violent crime rates that were then extant in early 1990s D.C. The final straw reportedly came when Pollin’s longtime friend, Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated. Anyway, Pollin responded with a contest to choose a new name for the team. The choices were eventually narrowed to the Dragons, Express, Stallions, Sea Dogs, or Wizards. (Frankly, I would have picked the “Washington Sea Dogs,” but nobody asked me). Thus, on May 15, 1997, the Bullets officially became the Washington Wizards. They’ve been that ever since.
The changeover to the Wizards generated some controversy at the time due to the fact that Washington is a predominantly African-American city and “Wizard” is a rank in the Ku Klux Klan. However, the “Wizards” name stuck and that’s who we’re playing on New Year’s Eve.*
Accordingly, if you happen to see any guys in white sheets and stupid looking pointy hats at Conseco on New Year’s Eve, ignore them. Those are different Wizards and not the guys that we’re going to be playing.*
Meet the Wizards’ Mascots – G-Wiz and G-Man!*Washington, as far as I have been able to tell, is the only NBA team with two – Count ‘em! Not one, but two! – official team mascots, G-Wiz and G-Man.
G-Wiz, I guess, is supposed to be some sort of bewitchingly loveable creature of enchantment (note his pointy hat with the splash of stars) that is emblematic of magic and wizardry. G-Wiz is described thusly on his official website:
“G-Wiz has been with the Washington Wizards since they opened the Verizon Center on December 2, 1997. Infamous for his Belly Shaking, Trick Shots and Cheering, he is a trusted and loved member of the team and community. Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler (Inserted Editorial Comment: Arenas and Butler are no longer with the Wizards, they were both magically traded) believe that G-Wiz is that special ingredient that sparks super special energy that separates them from their opponents. G-Wiz is and forever will be, THE WIZARDS NUMBER ONE FAN!”
There is bad blood between Area 55 Member El Pacero and G-Wiz. See this played out on video here:*
G-Wiz is lucky Pacero didn’t figure-four his head and make him bleat for mercy like some of the women Pacero wrestles. I intend to get more info on the confrontation portrayed on the video at the pre-game PTO on the 31st. Have a brat and hear Pacero explain it all from the horse’s mouth there yourself!
G-Man, apparently, is the mascot that does most of the Wizards’ ball-dunking, T-shirt throwing, and other muscled-up athletic stuff. Why the name G-Man? Well, Washington, y’see, is home to the FBI, whose agents are occasionally referred to as “G-Men.” I can only say that the Wizard’s G-Man bears no resemblance to any FBI agent I’ve ever seen (And I’ve seen more than my fair share of them in the course of my criminal defense representation of PTO VP/GM, Casey O’Brien). So, as for G-Man’s phony muscles, Batman gloves, and blue Marvel Comics Superhero uniform, as being FBI-related, I can only scratch my head and say, “Go figure!”.
Do the John Wall Dance and Meet His Main Squeeze – Ms. Dalivia!*Aside from basketball, Wizards’ rookie point guard John Wall is famous for two main things. First, he is supposedly the “inventor” of the “John Wall Dance” a bicep-popping dance number that his videos say is now “sweeping the country.”*
I fact checked this “invention” with two of the more knowledgeable Area 55 members with expertise in this area – i.e., noted Caucasian hip-hopper and Doug E. Fresh fan Markus Beresford (a/k/a Indianapolis Markus) and Area 55’s own soul dancemaster extraordinaire, SuperFan. Both set me straight and here’s the skinny: Wall didn’t invent “The John Wall Dance”. He just popularized it.*
Markus and SuperFan differ however on one point. Both claim that they, and not Wall, were the ones that invented the dance. They also both claim to have invented the Hokey-Pokey, so take these representations with a big grain of salt.
John Wall’s other claim to fame is that his current sweetie is the fetching bikini / lingerie model, Ms. Dalivia. No marriage announced yet, but let’s hope for the best for the happy couple. Aside from her bikini-wearing and lingerie modeling, Ms. Dalivia has also appeared in a couple of videos put out by hip hop artist, Flo-Rida. I guess no further preliminaries are needed. So let’s get to it:
Just a word of sage advice to John (And I am now doing my best avuncular Clark Kellogg): Be careful, there, young fella! Make sure she’s not the type to kiss and tell. Just ask Dwight Howard, you don’t want an ex-girlfriend showing up later on “Basketball Wives” and giving you the bad mouth.
Guess Yi Jianlian’s Age and Win a Free PTO Bratwurst!*There has been controversy over the Wizards’ Chinese-born forward, Yi Jianlian’s age. Several reports have listed his official birth date as being October 27, 1987. Others say that this birth date was intentionally falsified so that Yi could play longer for China’s national team in junior basketball competitions. Yi has refused to comment.
Here’s the poop:*
In 2004, Yi was listed as being born in 1984 at a time when he played in China’s big “Four Nation Tournament.” Chinese officials at the time claimed the 1984 birth date was “probably a typographical error.” Two years later, in 2006, Fran Blinebury, a sportswriter with The Houston Chronicle, claimed that Yi once told Shane Battier that he was 24 when the two were playing in an exhibition game just before the 2006 FIBA World Championship. However, this was later denied by both Yi and Battier. Still later in 2006, a senior Chinese Basketball Association official admitted that past Chinese youth squads had included players that were above the permitted age, and Yi’s longtime American teammate in China, Jason Dixon, told still another sportswriter, Chad Ford, that Yi was “21 or 22…It’s pretty common over [in China] to change ages”. In 2007, a Chinese government registration site that had been made public by computer hackers showed Yi’s actual date of birth as being 1984. Still later, in December 2008, a Chinese reporter announced that he had supposedly discovered school registration forms that listed Yi as being born in that 1984. So who the hell knows? If you can prove Yi’s real age, you get the bratwurst!*
By the way, Yi isn’t the first Chinese player to come under age scrutiny. Former Dallas Maverick (and reportedly the first Chinese player to play in the NBA) Wang Zhizhi was listed as being born in both 1977 and 1979.*
Meet Andray Blatche and Take a Walk in His Shoes! Er, Better Not!*One of the guys the Pacer’s are going to have to contain on the 31st is Wizards power forward Andray Blatche, a young, 5-year NBA veteran who was drafted by the Wizards out of high school. Andray, you may remember, torched us for 22 points on the 29th. He has a colorful history.
In September, 2005, Andray was shot near his home in Alexandria, Virginia. The deed was done by assailants who were supposedly trying to highjack his car. According to a passenger who was there at the time, Andray was ordered to get out of the car but didn’t move fast enough and was shot before he could exit. As a result Andray missed the Wizards training camp in his rookie season. He recovered from his wound quickly, however, and eventually played his first game with Washington in November. Given that he did not play college basketball, the Wizards initially split Blatche’s playing time between the Roanoke Dazzle, their then-affiliate in the NBA D-League, and the Wizards in the 2005–06 season. After that, Adray’s pretty much been a Wizard (not the Ku Klux Klan kind, the other, basketball-playing kind).
On August 2, 2007, Andray was charged with sexual solicitation in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. after he was caught allegedly trying to pay an undercover police officer that was posing as a prostitute for some quickie sex. The solicitation charge was later dropped after Andray followed court orders and attended a day-long seminar for men who solicit prostitutes. Andray took careful notes at the seminar and has not repeated this unfortunate mistake to anyone’s knowledge.*
Andray was arrested again on June 4, 2008, this time in Virginia on charges of reckless driving and driving on a suspended license for the third time. Andray was specifically charged with going 86 mph in a 70 mph zone in his Mercedes while cruising on Interstate 85. He was released on bond. I was unable to learn whether his license is still suspended, but my guess is that it might very well be.
On January 9, 2010, Andray was fined $10,000 by the Washington Wizards for participating in Gilbert Arenas’ pre-game antics before a January 5, 2010 matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers. To understand the rationale for the fine, you have to know that Gilbert was being investigated at the time for an earlier incident involving his bringing guns into the Wizards’ locker room. At the Sixers game, Gilbert made light of the investigation by pointing his finger like a gun at his teammates and pretending he was shooting at them. Gilbert’s teammates (Andray, among them) were photographed smiling and affably chuckling along at Gilbert’s little joke.*
Speaking of Gilbert, his antics with Andray did not begin or end with the Sixers game. Apparently, Gilbert once defecated in teammate Andray’s shoes during Blatche’s rookie season.*
Gilbert acknowledges now that this shoe-pooping prank did nothing to improve his injured reputation, as the pooping incident became widely known only after his later “guns in the locker room” fiasco. Says a defensive Gilbert:
“I understand what people think because of the perception of me. They read the funny stuff, like me taking a crap in Andray Blatche’s shoes. But nobody is going to ask what Andray did to deserve it. You read about it because that’s when I’m at my goofiest, when I’m around my teammates. I don’t get in trouble outside of this building. You are not going to catch me drinking and driving, or picking up prostitutes (Editorial Comment: Is Gilbert referring to Andray here? Hmmm.). People don’t see what my teammates see, the guy who is in here three times a day working out. That’s the guy they don’t see.”
Crapping in shoes does take talent, and it’s certainly good evidence of Gilbert’s shooting accuracy – both on the court and off. And as for Andray, does this mean that Area 55 will have a “Check your shoes!” chant ready when he gingerly toes the free-throw line tomorrow? We’ll see!
By the way, what Andray did to deserve Gilbert’s shoe poop was this: In his rookie season with D.C. Andray apparently mistakenly thought that Gilbert was the one that had taken a scissors to his street clothes in a locker room (thereby forcing Andray to fly home from a road game in his sweaty, unwashed Wizards uniform). By way of revenge, Andray took it upon himself to throw Gilbert’s street clothes in the team’s Jacuzzi. Gilbert, justly angered, retaliated by squatting down and pooping out a couple of loaves in Andray’s shoes. See, Gilbert’s right! Nobody asks what Andray did to deserve that!
Gilbert’s oral explanation of these scatological high jinks can be found here:
But enough gratuitous sex, scandal, gunplay, and locker-room mirth! Try to show up in your seats early, 55ers, and start your chanting for the Wizards. I’m predicting a much needed win! The Wizards have yet to pick up a road win this year. Let’s do what we can to ensure that our game tomorrow won’t be their first.