Le dunk de la mort vs В Дунк смерти

In 1999, the Knicks infamously made one of the worst draft picks of all time when they took Frenchman Frederic Weis 15th overall, passing on Ron Artest, James Posey, and Andre Kirilenko among others. Ron Artest was the obvious choice there, as he was a hometown hero from Queensbridge who took St. John's to the Elite 8. But Scott Layden instead gambled on Weis, and in the process, sent the proud franchise on a 10 year run of futility that they are just starting to recover from.

Frederic Weis ended up being the highest ever draft pick to never play an NBA game, and he is now known mostly for Vince Carter's ridiculous dunk over him in the Olympics, "Le dunk de la mort"

For years, this was known as arguably the best in-game dunk of all time. But a new contender may have surfaced a few weeks ago when another property of the Knicks from Europe was posterized in grand fashion. The Russian 7 footer Timofey Mozgov was taking up space in the lane (as is his main function), when rookie of the decade Blake Griffin leaped over him and literally threw the ball into the hoop.

Whether this constituted an actual dunk or was just dunkalectical is up for debate, but it remains the highlight of the year in the NBA so far. Was it more impressive than "Le dunk de la mort"? Lets go to the tale of the tape:

Vince Carter vs Blake Griffin: Vince Carter, one of the more enigmatic superstars, has always seemed to rely more on ability than passion for the game. Back when he had crazy stupid ups and could jump over 7 footers, this made him a fan favorite. Now it just makes him nauseating. Blake Griffin is still in the honeymoon phase where he can seemingly do anything on the court (except make the Clippers a winner), and is as hyped a rookie as there has been since Lebron. Since he hasn't gone to his college graduation on the morning of a game 7, alienated an entire city, lost 12 inches on his vertical leap, and taken more bad shots than Josh Smith down 3-0 in a playoff series, I'll give the edge to Griffin.

Frederic Weis vs Timofey Mozgov: Both are tall white stiffs, but Mozgov has actually contributed more than humiliation to the Knicks. Mozgov reads Russian romance novels before games, while Weis probably reads the novelization of a lesser Godard movie or Gerard Depardeiu's "Green Card" before dominating a 6'7" Walloon in the paint. Weis marked the start of the Knicks decade of disaster while Mozgov will hopefully mark the beginning of their renaissance (ok, Amare probably has more to do with that). Since getting posterized is a source of embarrassment, I'm going to give the advantage in this category to Weis.

The Tiebreaker - Artist Renditions: You can't fuck with this. Case closed.

The Last Rites of O.J. Mayo

If you look at your hands every once in awhile, you’ll see a new line start to form, a crack stretching across your palm, pressing against the other lines and scars, and when you make a fist or fold your thumb in, you’ll wonder how you ever got the hands that you have. I have a burn in the middle of my right hand that I hope eventually will wear down into another line, from an unfortunate kitchen incident months ago involving grabbing a saucepan filled with hot butter. I hope that when O.J. Mayo looks at his hands sitting in a private jet late at night, he can blame himself for what he’s become.

Last winter, I played a lot of NBA 2K10, and found myself trying to trade for O.J. Mayo despite whatever team I had taken in franchise mode. Mayo was a straight combo guard in the video game, and at least he looked like one in real life before Tyreke showed up, and there was major potential between virtual O.J. and real life O.J. This fall, I seriously expected him to bump back from his lesser numbers last year (which, albeit misguidedly, I blamed a lot on Zach Randolph’s arrival and Marc Gasol’s ascension), but he's shown a sick knack for losing all of the fundamentals of his game. In-text scouting report: looks lost. And even if he manages to pull away from all of this bull this season and play his way off the bench (Mayo was pretty awful last night, too), he will have this time to ponder how he let the Winner Of The Summer Of Lebron and The Rookie They Were Weird About Signing outplay him in such a dastardly fashion.

Sometimes I feel like the more elaborate the fantasy here, the more pleasurable it will be. Mayo is able to recover from his second year doldrums and achieve a comeback in his third season. His ball-handling and drive improves as the strong Conley/Mayo backcourt is able to provide a youthful depth that is missing from a lot of other Western Conference contenders: the Spurs are too weird and old; the Suns are all shots; despite strong play from the point, the Jazz and Nuggets are just confusing. Mayo is able to shrug off his slump that may have started last season. The Grizz take on a significantly easier schedule*** as time goes by, they contend for the eighth seed. Except they definitely won't.

If you want to get really depressed about the prospects for Mayo in 2010+, check out this great quote from a Free Darko (I hate you Shoals) "guest lecture" from a few years ago and truly feel the pain:
The question of "flash" also seems irrelevant here; O.J. seems to play the game with a bit more Rucker in him than Rose does, but who pulls off more Pistol Pete dribble moves and wrap-around passes than anyone in the league? Steve Nash, that's who.
A year later, dude was comparing him to Rose some more, and Joe Johnson, and Beasley (oh, Beasley). Maybe the pressure of being a combo player on a team with an emerging point guard got to him (no ball in your hand, no power). Maybe it was deferring to Rudy Gay's Contract. But even with the rock in his mitts, nothing is compared to what O.J. Mayo has on his hands.

* As long as it doesn't have to do with my fantasy league
** Noting the obvious decline and statistical anomaly, I managed to get rid of Mayo and J.J. Hickson in exchange for Blake Griffin and Dorell Wright early on. Griffin is hedging bets but Wright is destroying my FG%.
*** Their schedule is 7th in winning percentage so far this year (.518).

The age-old question: Why was Brad Lohaus a player in the original NBA Jam?

Apologies for the hyperbolic title, but I like to convince myself that at least one other person cares about the same minutia I do. When the subject of NBA Jam comes up, most people want to talk about the catch phrases (He's heating up!) or the fact that you couldn't play as Michael Jordan but could play as Bill (or George) Clinton. With the newest version of the classic arcade game coming out a few weeks ago, I think it's as good a time as any to share my fixation with Brad Lohaus.

The fact is that the 1992-93 Milwaukee Bucks weren't the most memorable NBA team. Outside of the greater Sheboygan area, you didn't find too many people at the arcade dying to take the controls of Blue Edwards. But the question remains....Brad Lohaus? Of the "Original 54" players included in NBA Jam, his lifetime PPG (5.9) was the lowest. The next lowest was Stacey Augmon at 8.0, though the Plastic Man was in the prime of his career in 92-93, averaging 14 PPG. A quick look at the 92-93 Bucks roster also shows that there were several players more worthy of NBA Jam status than Lohaus.

One late night during an extended stretch of joblessness, I decided to do some investigative research and e-mail Mr. Lohaus himself to see if he had any insight. After all, this is a guy who owned a bar with an NBA Jam arcade machine wherein he would play the game as himself and refuse to take on any challengers. He was also once arrested for failing to deliver $2000 worth of fishing rods sold on ebay, but that's neither here nor there.

I found his contact info from some Aerospace company in Iowa he was currently employed at as a Sales Associate and sent the following tactful note:


Hello, I happened to stumble upon your contact information and had a question for you regarding your inclusion in NBA Jam. As a big fan of the game, I've always wondered why they selected you to represent the Bucks. No offense meant, as you were a very solid player, but there were a few Bucks such as Eric Murdock, Frank Brickowski, and Todd Day who had better statistics, and NBA Jam usually included the top 2 players on each team. Do you have any insight into this? Also, did you play the game a lot as yourself? Did you ever break the backboard? Haha.

Thanks, and good luck with your new career.

Much to my surprise, I never got a response. You would think he would at least appreciate that someone remembers his place in video game history, but apparently not. All I'm left with is more questions. Did he pay someone off? Was this his prize for winning a Mortal Kombat tournament? Was there a racial quota to fill? Since I have nothing else to add to this subject other than more baseless speculation, I'll instead give a shout out to probably the most obscure member of "The Original 54", Mike Iuzzolino: a 5'10" Italian-American who played 2 years in the NBA, on one of the worst teams in history, the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks. He was quickly substituted for Jimmy Jackson once NBA Jam hit the home consoles, and was never heard from again.

But in case Mike is reading this, why were you a player in the original NBA Jam?