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Archive for March, 2009

shaq

It’s tough to beat a good Shaquille O’Neal story. It really is. Even having covered the guy a number of times before, I’ve learned if Shaq is going to talk, then you better be around to listen.

After Portland put the hurt on Phoenix last night at the Rose Garden and on TNT, Shaq held court with a handful of us around in the Suns locker room.

He waxed poetic – in his signature mumbling fashion – and comical about the game for a few minutes and Portland center Joel Przybilla, whom he has history with. They’ve mixed it up before. Plenty. (check out HOOPSWORLD for his take on Joel and “flopping”.)

Somewhere in the middle, I asked what he thought of Greg Oden.

The kid’s been playing nice of late – the last two games that is.

Now, I knew Shaq would be Shaq with the reply. But you have to ask, just for the sake of getting the response from Mr. Quotatious himself. I mean, we are after all talking about Shaq here.

“I don’t,” he said when asked what he thinks of the Blazers young center.

Shaq didn’t even look my way, at least until he repeated himself first.

“I don’t.”

“I’m a Shogun. You can’t ask me about a low level ninja. I still have to worry about Yao Ming, Dwight Howard.”

Classic.

Minutes later Shaq wraps up the postgame interview and we all disperse. As I’m heading out of the Suns locker room, I hear this low, deep, mumbling voice right behind me.

“You can’t be asking me about no ninjas.”

Didn’t think he was talking to me until I turned around and there’s Shaq smiling. I turn around letting Shaq know I had to ask, even though I know full well the routine.

“Don’t be asking me about no ninjas,” Shaq said driving home the point, again with a smile.

Okay, I get it. But I had to ask. Now I know.

Don’t ask about no ninjas – and never miss the chance to speak with the Shogun.

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The Latest: With all the playoff talk floating around Portland, you have to think the Blazers could be one of those teams prepared to pull an upset once they do reach the postseason.

Got into this the other day at HOOPSWORLD – the key to shocking Rip City and actually advancing to the second round.

pic via: takegreatpics.com

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paper

Chris Tomasson was busy covering another Denver Nuggets practice when he got the call: the newspaper was closing. Now after weeks of uncertainties, Tomasson and others from the defunct Rocky Mountain News are finding life after the newspaper.

A couple weeks back, Tomasson – along with fellow beat writer Aaron Lopez – was kind enough to recount his Rocky experiences about working a dead beat (The End Of A Rocky Road). Little did either of us know then that he’d find a place to call home so quickly in the same city.

He’s found it at InDenver Times – where the news is free, but a subscription fee is required to receive “analysis”; “insight, perspective, live blogging, live chatting, commenting, interactivity with writers and other readers.”

Chris recently spoke breifly about this new news model and his role at InDenver Times….

How did InDenver Times come about?

A little more than 30 former staffers from the Rocky Mountain News have banded together with three investors in an attempt to keep the 150-year-old spirit of the Rocky alive. If we get 50,000 subscriptions (at $60 a year, although shorter subscriptions are available) by April 23, the online venture will launch May 4.

Until then, we’re all working very hard to show potential subscribers what they can expect from InDenver Times.

I’ve already seen a couple headlines on the Nuggets attributed to you at InDenver Times. What will your contributions look like moving forward?

I’ll be providing a number of Denver Nuggets articles each week. For anyone who appreciated my Nuggets coverage in the Rocky Mountain News, feel free to take a look at http://www.indenvertimes.com. We’d love to have you come aboard as a subscriber.

With the state of the business, do you think we’ll see more paper – or at least staff members – use this model as a template?

I think everybody around the country will be looking to see how InDenver Times works out, and how the Seattle Post-Intelligencer does with its new online venture. Right now, the current newspaper model is broken. Too much money is being spent on production costs and distribution.

The online model is one solution to that. After observing what happens online, I wouldn’t be surprised if more newspapers follow suit.

pic via: nytimes.com

 

 

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76076207HH017_PORTLAND_TRAI

I should be 10 dollars richer by now. “5 bucks the Blazers drop this one,” my text flashed to two other Portland media row writers about three minutes into the Blazers versus the Philadelphia 76ers game.

No takers.

We all agreed Portland had plenty of chances to win though. Even after the overtime results, no one could have predicted that kind of ending.

Chances are if you missed the game, then you have plenty in common with Steve Javie’s officiating crew.

But before I get into it here, just know this young Blazers team has to expect anything and everything on their way to the playoffs – even poor officiating.

It may be about as close to the “Montreal Screwjob” as you’re going to get – a bevy of close calls and near falls until the shaft in a matter of seconds. That’s one train of thought. Still, I’m not willing to bet – despite my earlier $5 gamble – that Portland can put this loss entirely on Javie, Leon Wood and Mark Lindsay.

You can easily go there. You can blame the refs. Plenty of blogs and chatrooms full of Blazers die hards on Tuesday morning will. Or you can assume these kinds of growing pains to casually occur over the next couple of months, perhaps not to this extent. If the Blazers are making postseason plans – and I believe we can all agree they are – then shoddy officiating is going to happen as often as a team going 10-34 from behind the three-point line.

Nate McMillan put it perfectly.

“Either they missed some calls or they are getting ready for playoff basketball.”

McMillan’s beginning of the quote is accurate enough. But if officials are really beginning to get into the postseason mood here in late March, Portland should too.

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The Latest: In the comings days I’ll be plugging this post from Monday every now and again. It’s a chance to gather some reader feedback for the upcoming re-launch of Beyond The Beat. Details inside….

piv via: daylife

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typewriter

When I first started this blog last June, I wasn’t sure how long it would last. But nearly a year and several posts later, the blog has taken on a life of its own thanks to those of you who frequent Beyond The Beat. So now I need your help.

BTB is in the early stages of a major facelift, and has been for the last month behind the scenes. A move away from WordPress – who has been a great blog format to work with – is coming hopefully by late April/early May. More to come on this.

The look will change – layout and advertising. Content will grow and morph as well. And this is where you come in….yeah, you.

My original plan was to use BTB as a one-stop-shop for all my writing, from HOOPSWORLD to the Northwest Examiner and any freelance writing gigs along the way. I also wanted to give a glimpse about covering the NBA in Portland and the league as a whole.

Hopefully I’ve done those aspects justice.

As a highlight, I’ve had some brief feature stories (in memory of Kevin Duckworth), occasional interviews with other beat writers (the latest with Chris Tommason and Aaron Lopez from the now defunct Rocky Mountain News), and plenty of additional very random thoughts on the Blazers (time for Martell Webster to really shut it down?) – and the NBA to boot (some Mexican food from Mo Williams actually sounds good right about now….).

And while I have a sense of how I want to proceed with in content going forward, your feedback is important to this process and is greatly appreciated.

If you are a faithful reader (all five of you) or simply stopping by for a quick blog fix, your comments are what help keep this adventure interesting.

So it’s feedback time.

What have you enjoyed? What has worked? What needs to be scrapped? What would you like more of? Story ideas you’d like to see come to life? Interviews you’d like to see? Other blog/website features you’d benefit from?

Speak up….

And thanks always for reading and writing.

W

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What’s The Rush?

Spurs Trail Blazers Basketball

Rudy Fernandez probably didn’t understand the joke lobbed his way, but Martell Webster tossed the zinger nonetheless. It was last week. Right before Portland faced Dallas. Maybe now Webster will heed his own comedic advice.

Fernandez was wrapping up his brief pregame media session outside the Blazers locker room, fielding questions about his sore right chest and right hip-pointer courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers Trevor Ariza.

Just before the last question, Webster joined the crowd peering over shoulders giving Rudy some gag insight into life on the disabled list.

“Put some ice on it. Lots of ice.”

As Webster smiled and casually walked away, I couldn’t help but think about Webster and his own injury. This was well before Webster’s most recent comments saying the prognosis he’s received about his stress fracture in his left foot lately was merely that – a prediction – and that he’s targeting an April return.

Webster knows all about putting “some ice on it.”

The Blazers have essentially “iced him” like a big game kicker ever since they prematurely rushed him back from injury in Toronto in early December. Basically iced him with a walking boot for five months. Iced him again saying Webster would return around the All-Star break. Iced him yet again when they reportedly shut him down for the season once the NBA trade deadline passed.

Now it’s as if Martell is taking matters into his own hands.

Got talking family matters with Webster’s cousin – Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks – shortly after the Mavericks put the hurt on Portland last week. It was interesting. While Terry knows Martell can help Portland – as I detailed Wednesday over at HOOPSWORLD – he also knows it is best for Webster to get completely healthy and hit it hard this offseason.

Can’t help but feel the same way.

Yes, there is a need for Martell – as Terry explained. Portland knows the role he could fulfill on this roster – as Terry explained. But Portland’s managed to go this far without him and that goes without an explanation.

Will having Webster back mean the difference between the Blazers being a 4th or 8th seed out West? Does a possible Webster return extend Portland past the first round of the playoffs when the time comes?

Yes on the first one. No on the second. So what’s the rush?

Guess I’d much rather prefer Webster continue to sit this one out.

Put some ice on it. Lots of ice.

pic via: daylife

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er

The last place I thought I’d find myself on St. Patrick’s Day morning was the emergency room. Guess that’s what I get for not wearing green – or drinking enough liquids before and during working out at the gym: a little dehydration.

So after some dizzy spells, nausea, a little vomiting, almost passing out, a quick bumpy ride in the ambulance to the hospital, I found myself being pumped full of fluids during about two hours worth of steady contemplation.

My first thought – should have drank more water. Brilliant.

Second thought – hope I don’t worry my pregnant wife of seven months and two year old daughter too much.

Every thought while trying to get some rest went a little something like this:

Wonder if my brother Patrick is waiting for me to call him back to wish him a happy birthday…..

Will Greg Oden (who is now listed as a “game time decision”) play Wednesday at his homecoming in Indiana?

It’s freezing in here….

This is seriously cutting into my research time on a story I’m attempting to write for a sports magazine in Seattle…..

How much is that ambulance ride going to cost me exactly?

Do the beat writers in New Jersey ever get exhausted by the small Asian media horde that follows Nets forward Yi Jianlian from town to town?

Do I still have to paint my daughters bedroom pink today?

Should I even bother asking if I can move to a room with a TV….

When should I call to arrange an interview with that one pro wrestling icon….

Will I see Nicolas Batum have another career night the rest of this season….

Can a brother get some Jell-O?

Now I know what Rudy Fernandez felt like – minus the bruised right chest, right hip-pointer, staying the night in the hospital, and visits from Sergio Rodriguez….

Wonder what my dad thought about when he was in and out of hospitals when he was sick with cancer….

Wish I had a book…

Do I still need to meet those three deadlines I have waiting for me at HOOPSWORLD this week?

Can I leave now?

I am blessed with the best wife in the world.

pic via: wikipedia

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team

Knowing where Portland has come from the past few seasons, I can’t believe the Blazers winning the Northwest Division remains a possibility. Figured they’d make the postseason. Just didn’t imagine they could beat out Utah and Denver in the process.

So late last about midnight – after spending about a good five hours painting the master bedroom in my house – I had some work to do. The task: trying to figure out how Portland can get this done – win the Northwest.

The goods are running now over at HOOPSWORLD, and for me comes down to something the Blazers have played Jekyll and Hyde with all season long – winning on the road. Those two games in Texas – against Houston and then San Antonio – are going to be rough.

Think we all know what happened a couple weeks back.

With 18 games remaining (8 at home, 10 on the road), how will this race play out? Here’s the tale of the tape from here on out – with a little guessing game to boot:

Portland plays New Jersey, at Atlanta, at Memphis, at Indiana, at Cleveland, at Milwaukee, versus Philadelphia, Phoenix, Memphis, Utah, at Oklahoma City, at Houston, at Memphis, at San Antonio, versus the Lakers, at the Clippers, versus the Thunder and versus Denver.

Record: 10-8

The eight losses? I have Portland falling to Atlanta, Indiana, Cleveland, Phoenix, Utah, Oklahoma City, Houston, San Antonio.

That would give Portland a final record of 50-32. Is that enough to win the Northwest?

Discuss….

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The Latest: Know I am getting this update out late…..but it’s been one of those weeks. First, I think with Rudy Fernandez – who was pretty gimpy before the game – fully healthy, Portland would have beaten Dallas on Wednesday night. They missed his three-point shooting. I’m just saying.

But you still can’t argue with how the Mavericks always handle the Blazers. It’s pretty sick. Same goes with Dirk Nowitzki doing what Dirk Nowitzki does. Those two shots over LaMarcus Aldrige with a minute and under left in the game are as clutch as they come. You can’t stop that.

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