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MAILBAG: Pass the Crow, Tayshaun Prince

This week, how to take back your terrible sports predictions. Plus, what exactly happened behind closed doors between Jason Levien and Robert Pera last year?

I saw Interstellar on Wednesday, and while I don't mean to suggest that the GBB Mailbag has anything to do with the Grizzlies staying undefeated, there's some really strange stuff going on in the 5th dimension, so it might. Also, tell em Crash (audio NSFW):

*What? I'm recycling content with that video? You're damn right I am. You know why? Refer to the above video.

If you've got a question about Siri's favorite professional basketball team, email your deepest, darkest Grizzlies secrets to dwighthowardistheworst@gmail.com and we'll talk about it next week. As always, these are real emails sent by actual readers. Some have been edited for length and clarity.

  • On Tuesday after the Pelicans game, Daniel in Memphis wrote:

Qpon and Tay sent you a collective f*** off during yesterdays game haha

Fair enough. I've dogged Quincy Pondexter as much as anybody at GBB, and while he's not setting the fantasy basketball world on fire, his play so far has been encouraging to say the least. Last season just ended so badly for him: he was the poster boy of the failed up-tempo "experiment,"* he started heaving up hero balls like Rudy Gay, and he temporarily lost his mind during the whole Brooklyn stare down incident.

*The quotations were intentional because I'm not so sure that scheme had as much to do with the team's abysmal start last season as people have been led to believe. It probably had more to do with the fact that Marc and Tony were out of shape, Tayshaun never recovered from his mysterious stomach illness that caused him to lose 25 pounds, and Jerryd Bayless... well, just Jerryd Bayless.

Regarding young Tayshaun, I'm sick about what I wrote last week in the Mailbag and in my preview for the Heat in the preseason. I'd stuck to my guns the entire summer in the face of overwhelming backlash and maintained that Prince would continue to be a productive member of the team (I said he should be the backup four HERE). Moreover, Matt Bishop and I worked on a piece that we couldn't finish in advance of the season (in part because I wanted to re-write what you're about to read after Prince dropped that 7 Trillion against Cleveland in the preseason), where I reiterated my assertion that Prince was underrated and said this:

Here's my boldest prediction of the year: Tayshaun will play more than Pondexter. Moreover, Tayshaun Prince will equal or surpass his point total from last year (454) in half as many minutes on the court (1,948 last year). Is your mind blown, Mattycakes? Did I just BLOW YR FREAKING MIND? Here's how it'll break down, he's only going to play in 55 games and he'll average a little more than 17 minutes per game in those that he plays. In spot duty, he'll average more than 8 points per game on just under 50% shooting. Does that sound unreasonable to expect from a healthy Tayshaun? I don't think so.

Here's the proof, not that it makes any difference.

convo

So yea, I blew it. I I didn't have the balls to go with my gut. (Ed. note: Gross.) I had the ball in my hands and I let it slip through like I was Kendrick Perkins receiving a pass.

  • Stephanie in NYC writes:

I know a guy who once claimed that LeBron would "never amount to anything" when he was a rookie. None of our friends understood where he was coming from and we pleaded with him to change his mind. Throughout the entire season, he stuck to his guns even when 19-year-old LeBron kept getting better and better and he'd just dig in his heels even harder. Is that a guy thing? Can you actually dig yourself a hole so deep that you can't actually bring yourself to admit you were wrong? While we're on the subject, who among this celebrated rookie class would you say will "never amount to anything"?

See how organically these themes emerge in the GBB Mailbag?

It's probably a guy thing. But that's just an extraordinary example of willful, inexplicable ignorance. I've been trying to think of a similar argument with which to compare it, but none of these hit the mark:

  • Skip Bayless hyping Tebow? Ratings-driven trolling.
  • Anti-vaxxers? I suppose they have an echo chamber to reinforce their lunacy.
  • Avril Lavigne fans? I mean, after she married Chad Kroeger, if you were still standing by her, that required wearing blinders, but I'm still not sure it's the same thing. I suppose there's a possibility, however remote, that someone just liked her music and thought she was cool. And yet somehow, that still seems less preposterous than claiming LeBron was never going to amount to anything in 2003.

There's also political hackery, but if I talk about how Sarah Palin and Ralph Nader are two of the dumbest people on the planet, I'm going to get in trouble. I play in a fantasy league, though, with this guy who's in a similar, if less egregious boat. We've got 12 teams and 4 divisions, and last year, we instituted a balanced schedule in which you play the other two teams in your division twice, and everyone else in the league once (all division champs plus two wild cards make the playoffs), and despite all the mathematical and logical arguments to the contrary, the dude continues to argue that it's unfair. Much like you and your friends a decade ago, Stephanie, we've had to stop bringing it up because the guy will just sit there and say "Nuh-uh," and then we'd all wonder if he needed some combination of a punch to the face and/or psychiatric treatment.

Are there polemical holes so deep you can't extricate yourself? I'd say yes. Donald Sterling's a good example. You can't come back from that. The good news for our friends, Stephanie, is that sports arguments generally don't fall in this category. If either of these guys just admitted they were wrong, everyone could move on. I admit I'm wrong all the time (see the previous question). In fact, admitting you were wrong about something can be super liberating. I remember I was trying to defend Boardwalk Empire and a buddy of mine was like, "Yea, but it's so boring." And I couldn't disagree, so I stopped watching it, and it was great! I played this stupid Simpsons game on my phone incessantly for almost 18 months, and then my wife told me I was wasting my life and I was like, "You're right!" and I haven't played it since.

All that said, Zach LaVine is going nowhere fast and I'll NEVER entertain an argument to the contrary. He couldn't start in front of Jordan Adams at UCLA for a reason.

Now, as expected, the Canucks want to know about Vinsanity.

  • Adam in Canada writes

I'm a Vince Carter fan, I follow him wherever he goes. I was excited when he inked the deal with the Grizzlies, however after watching the first three games I'm disappointed in how Vince is being utilized. First off, the minutes are erratic, As a lifetime fan, I've watched all of his games and he needs time to get into rhythm and have a feel for the game. He was in the conversation for 6th man of the year last year in Dallas, and sometimes he's not even the first guy off the bench. It's Pondexter or Prince.

Do you see Joerger getting Vince some more consistent minutes or continue to give away minutes to Pondexter and Prince who continue to throw up goose eggs in the box score?

  • Shane B. From T.Dot (Toronto) writes

Why do you think Vince Carter has been playing very limited minutes so far? Do you think he will at least go up to 25 minutes a game?

Hey Adam, the GBB Mailbag is a Quincy and Tayshaun criticism-free zone, buddy. (See what I mean about admitting you're wrong... you can do whatever you want!) You and Shane both seem to be asking the same thing, and I can assure you, everyone in Memphis wants to see as much Vince as they can, but he's clearly not 100% healthy right now. He's favoring the ankle that he underwent surgery to correct, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why he's not focusing on rehab instead of participating in the wonky rotation you both reference. The Grizzlies' coaches and trainers insist that getting some playing time will help speed along his recovery, which seems counterintuitive, but hey, I'm not a doctor. If y'all say that there are medical benefits from full-speed professional basketball for 37-year-old human ankles recovering from surgery, I'll stick to that story.

  • @ryan_watt in Memphis writes
If Robert Pera was granted his rumored wish of direct contact to Joerger via a headset during games, what do you think he would be saying?

Ryan, thanks for letting me indulge in a bit of Jason Levien bashing for a minute. Part of this is on Chris Mannix at SI for regurgitating the recently scorned, thrice-fired former GM, but make no mistake, Levien is a total scumbag. First of all, I tend to think that rumor is probably true; but what makes Levien's leaking of it so despicable is that it almost certainly was suggested in the context of a private brainstorming session between management. If you've ever participated in a big-picture planning meeting at your job, you've undoubtedly said something equally as ridiculous within the context of your business. My boss still razzes me for using a 5-year IRR on charged off receivables when everyone knows it's an 8-year time horizon. DUH! So on that note, I wrote a little one-act play that lays out exactly how this probably went down.

Robert Pera, Jason Levien, Stu Lash, and some other suits sit around a conference table inside FedEx Forum discussing the team. John Hollinger works at a computer in an adjoining office. The group, except Pera, is laughing because Levien just did a lap around the office doing the "big balls" dance.
Levien: So I told Justin Timberlake, "JT, Bubala! You don't need to tour! I'll tell you what, you come to 15 Grizzlies games and our boy Bobby Pera will reimburse you for any lost wages from missed shows." *Winks at Pera*
Pera: Uh... 
Levien: Cheer up, Bobby, I'm just bustin' balls! Nevertheless, I guarantee JT will be sitting courtside for every playoff game. Oh wait, fun's over guys, here comes the geek... *Elbows Stu Lash and laughs*
Hollinger: Never gets old, Jason. Robert, I printed out the lineup analyses you asked about. There are some really interesting trends with respect to the way we match up with Golden State. 
Pera and Hollinger examine some data while Levien looks at Lash and makes a wanking motion. 
Pera: Wow, so when they go small with Draymond Green at the 4, it looks like we've got to pound them inside with Z-Bo and Marc, but that usually happens when Coach is in the middle of his rotations. 
Hollinger: Exactly, I'll make sure Coach Joerger gets a copy of this. 
Pera: But last game against the Clippers, he didn't employ the optimal lineup for long stretches of the game. I wish there was a way we could communicate that information to him in real time, like through a headset or something. 
Hollinger: That's probably not practical because we've got to allow Coach to adjust for any number of factors on the floor that don't come through in the data. 
Pera: Yea, you're right
Levien: OK, are we done? My hooker just got here.  
SCENE. 

So in answer to your question, Kanye lyrics.

See ya next week!

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