¡Hola, ventiladores de los deportes! I don't know what the fuck that means either but SA Forums user "a horse of course" guaranteed me it's nothing derogatory about my mother. I guess that means I can use it in this here little gray box!
General: The Washington Wizards (formerly called the Bullets; they switched when they realized their name was also an answer to “what is lodged in Paul Pierce’s spine”) have taken a novel approach to staffing this year, surrounding a superstar-caliber athlete with a number of inconsistent roleplayers. This seperates them from at least three other teams in the league, none of which the Wizards will ever face in the postseason because they’re all in the Western Conference. I’m not really sure what that all leads up to, but you Washington fans can take solace in knowing your team has a shot at getting better this season. Just make sure not to refer to their improvement as “a rebound” lest you spook Gilbert Arenas, who very well may respond by scoring 50 points with a lampshade over his head the next night.
Offensive Gameplan: The Wizards’ offense revolves around one simple philosophy: letting Gilbert Arenas jack up 83 billion shots a game. This might seem like a lot until you look at his teammates, most of whom do well to hold the ball 24 seconds without running off to wash the smell of competition off their hands. Arenas motivates himself by getting really, really angry at stupid little things and then whining to the media afterwards. The media listens for the most part. This is because he is certifiably insane. One day someone will replace his crazy pills with Pez, and then the shit will hit the fan. That’s a figure of speech now, but you’ll be able to take it literally the day Arenas points someone in the crowd out to Brendan Haywood and says “this guy gets more playing time than you.”
How To Beat Them: Before the game compliment the hell out of Gilbert Arenas. Send him a fruit basket full of video games and Jolly Ranchers. Without his blind, indignant rage guiding him he’ll be completely ineffective on the floor. Then quintuple-team Antawn Jamison and make sure Caron Butler gets the ball every possession. After he blows 10 or 15 open layups Eddie Jordan will pull him out of the game. This leaves you to stop DeShawn Stevenson, which shouldn’t be an issue if you tie a carrot to a stick and shove it down the back of his jersey. Alternately you could tell Arenas it’s the playoffs and foul him over and over.
Prognosis: The Wizards finish two games above .500 and go on to face the Bulls in the playoffs. Arenas, realizing he has nobody to play dueling basketball banjos with, scores three points per game on twenty attempts. Jamison does his part and the team ends up averaging 23 points and nine rebounds in the three-game series. Tragedy will strike the team in the offseason when officials find Etan Thomas hanging from the rafters by his dreadlocks with “who u start now nigga” scrawled in blood on the wall behind him.
General: As of this writing the Atlanta Hawks are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. If you think there is a better argument against the existence of a benevolent god, please let me know so I can laugh in your face. If you run in a church and shout “The Hawks are a top team in the Eastern Division” and the minister doesn’t thrust himself chest-first into the largest, pointiest crucifix he can find, your town is clearly facing a shortage of large, pointy crucifixes. That or you live in Atlanta, in which case the minister will likely run off so he can impale himself on Shelden Williams’ forehead instead.
Backcourt Breakdown: Looking to strengthen their point guard position, the Hawks signed Speedy Claxton over the summer. Claxton immediately showed his gratitude by breaking his finger in the preseason and shooting a whopping .154 from the field when the regular season started. This forced the Hawks to give significant floor time to Tyronn “My Last Name Is Even Gayer” Lue, who has performed admirably despite the fact that he’s actually a woman and spends most of his free time hanging out in Boston, hoping he’ll get to blow Steven Tyler in an elevator and have a song written about him in return.
Rookie Report: The Hawks took a gamble this season and drafted Duke forward Shelden Williams, who is best described as “Dale Davis minus defense or rebounding” or maybe “Blackbar”. Talent questions aside (shouldering three to six “garbage fouls” in the opening minute of the game is every bit as important as scoring), Williams was also a bit of a draft-night anomaly in that he isn’t white, he can’t shoot a three-pointer, and he has never been compared to Larry Bird. In fact, besides my expertly crafted Star Wars reference in the first sentence (BONUS READER EMAIL HEADER PREDICTION: “It’s A Crap”), I haven’t seen Williams compared to anyone in the league. This is really unfair, and it’s too bad that no former NBA greats looked like oversized Koi with large, brown Christmas ornaments welded to their foreheads. If my kid ends up with fetal alcohol syndrome and has an unfortunate encounter with a tanning bed, I’ll be sure to nickname him Shelden. It’s the least I can do.
How To Beat Them: Honestly I don’t think there’s any huge secret to beating the Hawks. You only have to do two things, which I will outline below:
Unfortunately, a few teams have failed to recognize one or two of these points. The Cavs, for instance, screwed their intel up and encouraged LeBron James to let Tyronn Lue “make [him] look like a bitch.” The Magic, still working the bugs out of their new “don’t throw the basketball at the other team” offensive system, managed to commit 21 turnovers in a game against them earlier this month. In short, to beat the Hawks you need to keep defensive pressure on Tyronn Lue and try not to let them steal the ball too much. While you’re doing that I’ll be off drinking myself to an early grave, because I can’t believe I wrote that last sentence in earnest.
General: This season the Heat are employing a modified version of the Wizards’ system, employing two superstars alongside anti-superstar Antoine Walker. Really you can tack “anti-” to the beginning of any complimentary word and still have a good description of Walker, but we’ll keep it civil and limit our little game to terms like “athlete”, “teammate”, and “people mistaking your head for a giant bronze faggot egg and trying to crack it open to see if a gaggle of crybaby bitches come from the wound”. We realize that last one’s a little wordy (and non-complimentary), but when your entire practice schedule consisted of “shooting threes” and “avoiding people with hammers” it’s safe to assume you would be against that. Even with his injury, Jason Williams found a way to support his team.
Key Tandem: The team revolves around Shaquille O’Neal and Dwayne Wade, otherwise known as “dunks a lot” and “dunks a lot and occasionally shoots a midrange jumper”. This is not to say D-Wade and Big Aristotle have similar games: O’Neal couldn’t jump more than three inches off the ground if they dangled a bloated contract over his head, while the closest thing Wade gets to “rebounding” is bouncing extra high off the ground when the opposing team’s center piledrives him. There’s also the whole “aging shell of former greatness vs. vibrant young superstar” thing going on there, but PW doesn’t split hairs (the tendons in Shaq’s knee do more than enough splitting for everyone, thank you very much).
Not-So-Key Tandem: Gary “The Glove” Payton and Alonzo “Half Power Urine Stream” Mourning bring a veteran voice to a relatively young Heat squad. Unfortunately, this voice doesn’t do much but bitch at referees and mutter a dejected“shit” every time it misses an open layup. Payton, who gave the term “defensive point guard” some worth (it’s worth at least a couple WIC vouchers nowadays) is a almost as worthless as Mourning, a man who can’t hold onto all his vital organs, let alone a stray rebound or two. On the plus side of things, Alonzo could start firing up more threes and talking more shit to the referees. Given Payton’s mobility, he would essentially become another option at point guard for the Heat. It’d almost be a Jon Bender situation, really, except I don’t think they can perform microfracture surgery on kidneys.
Prognosis: The Heat back up a lackluster regular season with a strong playoff run. The team falters, however, when they realize they can’t quite “flip the switch” on their energy or Mourning’s dialysis machine. Announcers quickly come to recognize Mourning as “Gotta Pee McGee”. His frequent urination breaks cost the team the Eastern Conference title. They fall to a surging Atlanta club, lead by a 50 ppg-scoring Tyronn Lue. After the finals series Lue meets and falls in love with Mourning and spends the rest of his living in the hole in the center’s lower back.
Look at this jerkoff and tell me he wouldn't look better if his gums resembled a bowl of cherry Jell-O with a couple Chicklets in it. As a loyal PW reader you may have noticed that we harbor a lot of negativity towards certain athletes. Some people would chalk this up to our misguided hatred for successful people or our crippling fear of real-life confrontation. This is a correct assumption. But on top of that we hate annoying faggots, and that’s where our first ever Pregame Wrapup Bounty Contest comes into play.
Let me explain something: Here at PW we hate Adam Morrison with the passion and intensity of a million burning suns. We loathe him. We’d gladly do the time for attacking him if the prison guards would let us wear his severed shooting hand on a rawhide strap around our necks. Every day we wake up and turn on ESPN, then pray the sports ticker says something like “brakes on Morrison’s biodiesel car cut; ensuing accident kills forward’s fiancée, unborn child”. Every morning we are disappointed. Each minute, each second he continues living is a personal insult to us, and we won’t be satisfied until someone cuts that stupid mustache off his pimply upper lip and staples it to his father’s scrotum.
That’s not to say we’re unreasonable people. We understand Morrison has his fans (you can generally find them shuffling between Bed Bath and Beyond and the county AIDS clinic). We also understand that plane tickets are expensive, and that flying across the country to harm a professional athlete isn’t feasible for a person who doesn’t play defense for the San Diego Chargers. No, seriously.
Past that all, however, we know two or three NBA players read PW from time to time. If you are reading this and you happen to be an employee of the NBA, get ready for the opportunity of a lifetime! PW is willing to pay you literally dozens of Best Buy dollars to do our dirty work. Much like basketball, Internet sportswriting is a team game, and we need YOU to help PW realize its full potential.
In short, we want you to elbow Adam Morrison in the mouth the next time you play him. We want you to elbow him hard. We want you to elbow him so hard he can’t tell if he’s swallowing teeth or skull fragments. If the side of his face doesn’t look like that silhouette they always showed at the beginning of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, you didn’t hit him hard enough.
We will pay you for your trouble. Twenty-five bucks in Best Buy gift certificates, to be precise. Sure, you might have to serve a five-game suspension for your actions, but with that kinda scratch you could easily buy a copy of Ford Bold Moves Street Racing for your diamond-studded PSP to pass the time. You could stock up on canned air and chase your cats around your mansion for hours on end. Hell, you could drop the whole load on a copy of the Reese Witherspoon classic “Sweet Home Alabama” and watch it sixty times in a row. The sky’s the limit, my abnormally tall, probably black accomplice-to-be – but only if you accept our challenge.
To win the bounty simply email a video clip of you elbowing Adam Morrison in the jaw to this address. After proving who your identity and assuring me you completed the task, you will be asked to provide your address. Five to 10 business days later your $25 Best Buy gift certificate will arrive in the mail, as well as a handwritten thank-you letter from none other than me, Evan “Pantsfish” Wade.
If you've seen the kid play (and if you're an NBA player you have), you know you've wanted to do this for a long time. Now you have a reason. Twenty-five reasons. They could all be yours. Now get to practicing those cheap shots, pal – you’ve got a promising young career to end.
Atlanta Falcons 12, Baltimore Ravens 14: I think comparing NFL players to talking birds is pretty apt, given Ray Lewis’ penchant for shouting “I’ma kill him” hundreds of times in a row until he runs out of breath and collapses on the other team’s quarterback.
Buffalo Bills 14, Houston Texans 24: David Carr continues to get sacked, JP Losman continues to suck, and New York sports fans find they share something in common with Texans: a growing affinity for the taste of gunmetal.
Chicago Bears 44, New York Jets 3: I was going to draw a picture of a dolphin violently humping a bear for this prediction, but instead I’ll just say if Chad Pennington doesn’t walk out of this game with his rotator cuff hanging out of his nose the Bears defensive squad didn’t do its job right.
Cincinnati Bengals 27, New Orleans Saints 23: ¡ OCHO CINCO! ¡ AGUA MALO! ¡ MONDO BITCHO!
Indianapolis Colts 52, Dallas Cowboys 35: Peyton Manning, meet your future (he’s on the bench writing “Fuck You Romo” on his Tom Brady trapper keeper).
Minnesota Vikings 28, Miami Dolphins 13: FIRE JOEY HARRINGTON’S SEEING EYE DOG
New England Patriots 35, Green Bay Packers 10: Honestly, I’m just getting ready to watch the Pats/Colts matchup (go Colts) and I can only hope our blue-clad Nor’easterners are wearing black armbands for Tom Brady’s ACL at this game.
Oakland Raiders 7, Kansas City Chiefs 28: Somehow the Chiefs are a much better team than they were last year. In other news, Mike Tyson hasn’t raped anyone else since he got out of prison.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Cleveland Browns 20: Angry fans might be calling the Steelers “Shitsburgh” this season, but Cleveland’s been brown since the beginning.
St. Louis Rams 17, Carolina Panthers 20: I’d take a bullet for Marc Bulger. Mostly so I wouldn’t have to watch this game, but whatever.
Tennessee Titans 7, Philadelphia Eagles 35: Maybe Steve McNair will lend Vince Young what’s left of his spinal column when he finally gets around to retiring.
Washington Redskins 13, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23: Anyone reading this care about this game? Anyone? Good. I have some orange juice to defrost.
Detroit Lions 17, Arizona Cardinals 21: If the Cards can’t pull one off against John Kitna’s kitten club they may want to consider playing another sport. Football, maybe.
Seattle Seahawks 33, San Francisco 49ers 10: THAR BE GOLD IN THAT THERE FESTERING SHITHOLE OF A CITY
San Diego Chargers 7, Denver Broncos 10: I could really give two shits about this game so let me use this slot to promote the Sam Kinison joke I have below.
New York Giants 18, Jacksonville Jaguars 21: Boy, that’s a great selection for Monday Night Football. *screams “auh-auh-AUUUHHH”* *dies in car accident*
Evan "Pantsfish" Wade is the author of Pregame Wrapup and some front pages. He hopes you enjoy them. I mean, he doesn't need your acceptance or anything but it's good to know you have fans. Not that it really matters or anything, he'd keep doing it, but you get the point. Email him if you want.
"Really, Holmes!" I dropped into my seat, shocked. "You are remarkably tall! What are you, six foot six? Six foot eight?"
As the 19th century diver approaches a giant clam, a flash of brilliant golden light flares from within the shell. I emerge in a swirl of bubbles and do the timeless universal underwater hand signals for the following: ZODIAC KILLER, KKK, BLOOD OF YOUTH
The only thing better than sports is making fun of sports. Pregame Wrapup, the Internet's premiere biweekly sports humor column, is both educational and amusing... kind of like that birthday clown who took you on your journey to manhood! SPORTS!