Did Mike D’Antoni Kill Rosie Larsen?

Of course not! Because Rosie Larsen is a fictional character from AMC’s new hit series The Killing and Mike D’Antoni is not a homicidal maniac. Some deranged, overzealous Knicks fans probably felt like they could have gone on a murdering spree after watching their team falter in the Garden last night.

In what was billed as the biggest basketball game in New York City in over a decade, the Boston Celtics took the Knicks, and their fans, to the proverbial woodshed. From the start, the game wasn’t close. Amare was clearly hurting – bad backs are so hard to disguise – and for some strange reason the much maligned Knicks defense allowed Paul Pierce and Ray Allen open look after open look. It got so bad that I started to wonder if a team has ever fired their head coach at halftime. I can’t imagine the Knicks, or Mike D’Antoni, coming back from a 3-0 deficit against the suddenly rejuvenated Celtics.

To be honest with you, I didn’t even really watch the 2nd half. Of course I checked in to see the score a few times but last night gave me a perfect opportunity to see why everyone is raving about The Killing on AMC. Going into the pilot I was worried the show was going to be too much Twin Peaks and not enough Seven. After three episodes the show has surpassed my modest expectations and it’s safe to say that I’m in for the long haul.

A few other things:

– The best part of The Killing is the time/attention given to developing individual characters. I may only be through the first 3 episodes but I thought the actors playing Mitch and Stan Larsen have done a particularly great job of showing viewers the various stages of grief following the murder of their daughter.

-And who did kill Rosie Larsen? Early odds – Jasper & Chris 3:5, Richmond 4:1, Holder 8:1, and longshot Mitch Larsen 100:1.

-Could this series take place in any other city besides Seattle? The Emerald City is the perfect backdrop for this murky murder mystery. I was however disappointed by the lack of product placement. I figured Linden and Holder would have passed by at least 25 Starbucks by now.

-Finally, AMC and HBO have really cornered the market on television dramas. Waiting to get into HBO’s Game of Thrones, which I hear is also excellent, and looking forward to season two of Treme.

view from MSG courtesy of @verosoraptor

You Look Marvelous!!!

Billy Crystal couldn’t have been more correct. Marv Albert is still the best around. Having him call the first two terrific games of this Celtic/Knicks playoff series is a real treat, one that we should appreciate while we can. At one point, Marvelous compared Carmelo Anthony’s Herculean effort in Game 2 (42 points, 17 rebounds, and 6 assists) to that of all time New York Knickerbocker great Bernard King. I thought Anthony played his absolutely butt off last night (see 17 rebounds) which was very refreshing because basketball needs it biggest stars to be its hardest workers (see Kobe, Lebron, & Wade). A big part of me feels however that Melo thrives as the “lone wolf” and will continue to demand the ball/disrupt the Knicks offense even when Amare and Chauncey return from injury.

The second great Marv moment from last night came late in the 4th quarter when New York was forced to play a unit that consisted of Roger Mason Jr., Bill Walker, Jared Jeffries, and Toney Douglas. Albert said that if this were a pickup game people would not believe that the two sides were chosen fairly. The talent discrepancy was monumental but the Knicks STILL had a chance to win it if Mike D’Antoni actually knew how to properly diagram a play coming out of a timeout.

With a 2-0 series lead, the Celtics and their fans can exhale as they travel down the Metro North corridor to MSG for games 3 and 4. Serious concerns remain for this Boston team however especially given their age and lack of depth. Why was Paul Pierce guarding Carmelo down the stretch when Jeff Green was brought to Boston with the tacit understanding that he would be guarding the best SF/SG on the opposing team?

view from the TD Banknorth Garden courtesy of @eli_marcus

Carmelo Anthony is One Big Piece of Interpretive Art

They’re not tattoos, they’re skin illustrations! Don’t you EVER call them tattoos! – Rod Steiger, The Illustrated Man

For any of you who watch the New York Knicks with the same level of voracity as I do—or if you’re planning on watching their opening round series against the Celtics— you are bound to be fascinated by what Carmelo Anthony has peeking out from behind his #7 jersey.  From lurid flames, to rubbery basketballs, to macabre spiderwebs, his skin illustrations seem to be everywhere.  I have done some digging, and, as far as I can tell, what follows is the world’s first critical analysis of the mercurial Knicks’ swingman’s body art.  Just don’t call them tattoos.

“I Shall Fear No Man” (Back)

The largest of Melo’s illustrations– one he shares with former teammate Kenyon Martin– this phrase is embedded on a large gothic cross, which covers the majority of his back.  The origin of this mantra can be traced to the late Tupac Shakur’s “So Many Tears”, an ode to his fallen colleagues.  Some say that Shakur himself was inspired by a biblical verse from Hebrews, Chapter 13.  Wherever he got it from, Anthony seems to derive strength from it, especially when deriding an opposing bench or not playing defense.

“No Struggle No Progress” (Neck)

This one is worn like a collar and is visible, from certain angles, on the court.  A theme that will continue to crop up in this analysis is Anthony’s insistence on not using punctuation.  Personally, I think this one would be a lot more powerful with a comma in the middle.  And maybe a period at the end would lend an air of finality to it?  As it reads, though, we can all commiserate with the “Struggle” here.  Whether it’s his Struggle to lose those last 15 pounds, the Struggle to finish a baseline drive in traffic, or simply the Struggle of dealing with all the Haters, I feel you, Melo.  I do.

“WB” (left shoulder)

Ah, yes, the most famous of all the illustrations.  Most readers might find it, at the very least, amusing that a superstar athlete has the Warner Brothers logo drawn just inside of his left shoulder.  Melo maintains (he does!) that the “WB” in question represents his roots in West Baltimore.  But wait, I thought he was was New York City? How can you call two cities “home”? Melo, you’ve got some explaining to do.

“Who Can I Trust” (right biceps)

This one is just downright confusing.  Is he asking a question or making a statement here?  It can’t be a question, again, because of the lack of proper punctuation.  So he must be announcing who he can trust.  Possibly, this is an unfinished work, and he will soon add a list of the people who he can trust.  Like: former Denver teammate Chris Anderson, new wife LaLa Vazquez, president Barack Obama, and, possibly, media conglomerate Oprah Winfrey.

“Live Now Die Later” (right elbow)

This is either an aphorism by which Anthony lives each day like it might be his last, or a nod to Dr. Patterson Stark, a cancer survivor whose book, “Live Now, Die Later”, (StarkHealth Publishing) recounts a life-threatening battle with cancer and how the fight changed his outlook on living.  My guess is the former.  The latter, after all, has a comma.

A Large, Flaming Basketball with the initials “CA” protruding (right shoulder)

The most prominent of the game-visible illustrations, this one seems to announce that Carmelo Anthony’s mere initial have the strange ability to cause normally stable basketballs to combust.  Variations of this theme are echoed in some common sports vernacular, like “He’s on fire!” Can I also just mention here how tired I am with athletes and their body flames?  It’s time for someone to man up and try something new, like some mean-looking snow or a menacing gust of wind.

A bulldog backed by playing cards (Left arm)

Your guess is as good as mine!  I know—hilarious!  Is he claiming to be a bulldog, the traditional western embodiment of persistence, perseverance, fortitude?  Is he?!  Where would these traits would show themselves on the court for Melo?  On defense, where he’s always willing to body up the opposition’s leading scorer?  Uh, no.  So maybe he’s a bulldog in the tirelessness manner with which he hoists shots at the goal?  That’s sounds about right.  Now the cards; those are definitely for cross-country flights and Booray!, the fickle game responsible for many a young cager’s demise.

So there it is.  Now, when you watch the Knicks and Celtics wage war, you’ll have more of an idea of the thoughtfulness, depth, and, yes, even pain with which New York’s gladiator approaches his battlefield.

view from the TD Banknorth Garden courtesy of @AaronGallagher

Seasons Greetings From the Association

Hello, friends. This year, there’s a veritable glut of Christmas NBA action– about 13 hours of it in all– starting at Noon and finishing up on Boxing Day, ET. Here’s our brief look at today’s matchups.

Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks, 12:00 PM (ESPN)
It appears that basketball has finally returned to The Mecca. The rivalry began in the early 90s, only to lose a lot of its steam after Michael Jordan retired. But now, with both squads tapping the free agent big man market over the summer, the tradition returns to MSG. And by the way, Ray Felton IS an elite NBA point guard.  Look no further than his numbers: 18.2 PPG, 9.1 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.9 SPG. Stats don’t lie. As good as Amar’e has been early on, and he’s been great, I would argue that some of those Garden “M-V-P” chants could easily be thrown Ray’s way. He’s finally in sync with Stoudemire on the pick-and-roll, is not afraid to step back and knock down a three-pointer, and seems to thrive on pressure situations, making shot after shot when it counts.

(view courtesy of @dR3wMiLL3R)

As a lifelong Knicks fan who remembers the 90s and what those Knicks-on-Christmas game meant to the NBA, I’m just thrilled that this game means something. Again.

Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic, 2:30 PM (ABC)
Boston has won 14 games in a row. The Big 3 has been consistent, steady, and reliable. The two O’Neal’s and Rondo have all been shelved at some point (J.O and Rondo won’t play today), every game seems to come down to the last shot, but somehow the Celts are 23 and 4, leading the East.

Orlando has looked awful at times this year. Their two wing scorers, Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter, loved to disappear, to the point where the Magic blew up their squad with two blockbuster trades last week.  The Magic looked great in beating the Spurs on Wednesday night. Arenas, Turkoglu, and Richardson are all playing meaningful minutes, without any semblance of a formal offense yet, alongside Howard, Nelson, and a somehow-relevant-again JJ Redick.

In the closing seconds, the ball will be in Paul Pierce’s hand and I think you can all guess what happens next.

Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers, 5:00 PM (ABC) [Read more…]

“Veni, Vidi, Vici”

He came, he saw, he conquered.  That about sums about Lebron James and Co. introduction to the Garden as members of the Miami Heat.  James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh combined to score 84 points in the Heat’s 113-91 rout of the New York Knicks. Believe it or not, the game was actually tied at the half however, thanks to a few highlight real dunks, and some incredibly poor shooting by the Knicks, Miami was able to pull away in the 3rd quarter.

New York fans were hoping for so much more.  After a sizzling 16-9 start, NY has now dropped two games in a row. Keep in mind that their last two opponents, the Boston Celtics and the Heat, are both considered title contenders.

I watched this game in a bar alongside VMS contributor and avid Knicks fan Dave.  His Knicks season ticket package did not include last nights game and when he went to look on stubhub, the average ticket was going for $350, that included 70K each for a few prized floor seats. Needless to say, he was more than happy to watch the game from a bar where we split a few beers and a plate of nachos for $70. Money well saved Dave. Money well saved.

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