Saturday, April 21, 2007

Notes, or Death, taxes and rain


Been a rough week.

Suddenly my big Imus blog or my big NBA preview didn't seem so big. I don't have a whole lot to say about what happened in Virginia, and I wouldn't expect you to want to hear it. I'm twenty, and this doesn't make much sense to me, and I don't think it will when I'm sixty. You can listen to FBI profilers or cops or whoever, and no one is going to explain what happened there.

I looked at this thing for a while, and it hurt me, and now I'm not looking. If you want information, it's out there, at every major news outlet in print, and some of it's very poignant. And now for my own good I'll turn back to Imus and the NBA and other stupid little things, if for no other reason than because they're not this.

So I'll go on with some notes, and then jump into the playoffs, maybe after everybody plays once. So, today, the incredible stories of Pacman Jones and Steve Kerr.

- I just paid my taxes online the other day, at which point I was charged $65 dollars for a $150 tax refund. I spent two or three hours doing it, and a handful of people at the IRS will have to do at least an hour or so of filing and paperwork, and you begin to see why we can't crunch the numbers on a national healthcare plan.

- I can't believe how smoothly this went over, but I can think back today, to the first time I heard about a gifted college defensive back named Chad Jones. The FIRST information I ever got about Chad Jones was that he would now be referred to full-time by his nickname, Pacman. And everyone seemed to be okay with this. Look, that kind of name-changing doesn't fly in Brazil.

Two years, four interceptions, four punt return touchdowns, and five, count 'em five arrests later, everyone knows Mr. Chad Jones. Once again, I'm working from paperwork that has not yet been ajudicated in the courts, so imagine that almost every sentence in the next few graphs starts with "Allegedly".

On February 22nd of this year, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published its report of the events that took place in a Vegas strip club during NBA All Star Weekend. The story says that Pacman Jones dropped hundreds of $1 bills on the stage at a club called Minxx. Then 40 strippers took to the stage and started picking up the money, which Jones had only wanted to be for "visual effect." Jones became very upset at what was going on, and somewhere in the confusion, a club promoter made off with a bag containing eighty one thousand dollars (81,000) dollars.

On a side note, I'm not sure what kind of calculators they have at the Review-Journal, but I believe in order to leave this amount of money on the stage, Jones would have dropped 81,000 $1 bills. So, perhaps someone is lying, and these were hundreds. Even if it was hundreds, that's 810 of them. Can you imagine? If you threw out the top and bottom five percent, that's probably three or four years of work for the average person.

Now, if you the reader have never "made it rain" at a strip club, let me tell you, the night usually gets pretty interesting.

For example on this night, a woman who came with Mr. Jones proceeded to fight a stripper, bite a bouncer, and then hit him in the head with a champagne bottle. Finally Jones and everyone he came with was cleared from the building. A few minutes later, a man pulled out a handgun and shot the same bouncer, another security guard, and a female bystander. The bystander and bouncer were injured, but they were incredibly lucky, and will be fine.

The security guard, Tom Urbanski, had one bullet damage his spine. He is, as of today, paralyzed from the waist down.

This case is going to go to trial, and Pacman does not look good here. If he's involved to the level that is alleged by the club owner, which of course I have no idea about, but if he is... Well, needless to say, it would be a shocking turn of events if something like this happened, and then an unrelated shooting took place with the same bouncer as a random target. Again, I'm not convicting anyone, but it's looking really, really bad for anyone sitting in that entire section of the club.

Mr. Jones has now been suspended one entire season for conduct detrimental to the National Football League. His case is up for review after 10 games, and he's already said he thinks his appeal will work and he'll be back as soon as possible. I've heard from someone - perhaps more well-informed than Mr. Pacman - that new NFL comissioner Roger Goodell hasn't even considered the Vegas thing in his current suspension.

But here's who I think should also look into suspending Jones: a jury of his peers.

He's been accused of three big-time bad things by this club owner. And again, I know nothing about what went on that night, but I fail to see what this man would stand to gain by lying, and I think the natural inclination of an owner is to side with the celebrity whenever possible, whenever they could stomach it, because it's good for business to be friends with celebs and have them coming to your club.

But the owner claims that 1) the shooter was sitting with Pacman, that 2)Pacman grabbed one of the strippers by the hair and slammed her head against the stage, and 3) that Mr. Jones, and this is the big one, that he allegedly threatened the bouncer's life.

If No. 1 is true, Jones should be called to give a deposition and testify under oath in a criminal trial, and I'm sure he will. If No. 2 is true, Pacman himself should stand trial for assault.

But No. 3? And if we find out that he said anything, at all, to the shooter? I would think, without looking it up, that those charges should look something like 10-to-life.

I'll wait and see how this is resolved before I pass really harsh judgment on this. But if Pacman, or anyone, likes to smoke a little dope on Sunday night, or hang out late, or run with his boys, or even get onstage and "make it rain" with a garbage-bag full of hundreds, I personally think that stuff is hardly my business.

But if he's out with honest-to-God gangster types, and inciting a large incident, and people are getting shot... well when do you stop caring about Mr. Jones' recovery speed?

- I think I remember maybe hearing something about this a while ago, but I would've been very young. But I came across it again recently while I was wasting time at wikipedia.

Steve Kerr can now be found as the funniest color commentator, oh, maybe ever, when he works NBA games on TNT. He's insightful, he knows the game, and he doesn't let Marv Albert get away with anything. Should Barkley ever join Kerr in a broadcast booth, any third person you put on the air with them would soon be laughing so hard that he would take off his microphone and walk away from the scorer's table.

Steve retired as the NBA's best 3-point shooter of all-time, and that record could stand for a pretty long time, so that's something in his pocket. He also won five (5!) NBA championships, three in Chicago, and two in San Antonio. For all five of them Steve was a bit player, but a vital one. He hustled, he kept his stars happy, and he hit almost ALL of his open shots. Players like Steve are usually the difference between winning and not winning. And that seems to be the case, because Steve also reached a Final Four with Arizona. Steve also played 20-plus minutes per game on the 95-96 Chicago team that won 72 out of 82 games in the regular season and then went sweep, 4-1, sweep, then 4-2 in the Finals to win a championsip. Now that's winning.

In 1997, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Phil Jackson drew up a play for Michael Jordan with seconds remaining and Chicago down one in Salt Lake City, which was at the time the loudest building in the NBA. MJ, the greatest clutch shooter of all time, looked at Kerr, like he had John Paxson a few years earlier against Phoenix, and said something along the lines of, "Be ready."

Indeed, MJ passed to Kerr, who hit an NBA Finals-winning shot. Paxson did the same thing in '93, and MJ did it again in '98, but other than that, the group of people who can honestly say they hit the one shot that won an NBA championship is pretty exclusive.

A couple nights later, I was watching Leno (forgive me, I was 11 and I didn't know better) and Steve Kerr delivered the following line, unprompted: "We were in the huddle, and Mike turned to me and said, 'You know Steve, I'm not really comfortable taking these kind of shots. ' "

I'm sure there was a second half to this line, but it was killed when this immediately drew an outburst of surprised laughter from everyone, me included. This was an athlete delivering a line and getting a real laugh on Leno. Pretty cool.

Now, the information that I just rediscovered, and that I would like to share with you now, lies in the following stunner of a paragraph, which I have lifted and edited from wikipedia.

Steve is the son of Malcolm Kerr, an American academic who specialized in the Middle East. Kerr was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and spent much of his childhood in Lebanon and other Arab states, such as Egpy where he attended Cairo American College. He attended Palisades High School in Pacific Palisades, California. On January 18, 1984, Kerr saw his life drastically change when his father, who was then serving as president of the American University of Beirut, was assassinated by suspected militant nationalists in Lebanon.

Can you imagine the number of people, of all kinds, who have recognized Steve Kerr somewhere, approached him, and wanted to talk about something very different from basketball? I'm sure it's much smaller than the number who've said something about the shot in Utah, but to know that these two incredibly different lives belong to the same man is just incredible. To think that this is the same guy blogging - and pretty accurately - on Yahoo! Sports beneath a headshot that could be on the side of a bus in a real estate ad?

I'm pretty sure Steve's got a great book in him, and given the incredibly personal nature of the story, I'll be patient. And if he never decides to write it, that's okay, too. But if I ever meet Steve, we'll make fun of athletes for the first two drinks, and then I'll want to ask Steve about everything but basketball.

- I realize now that I wanted to write something that might take my own, and maybe your mind, off a tragic event, and I then proceeded to write about assassination, attempted murder, and taxes. I could hardly have screwed this up worse. Let me try and make up for it.

If you go to, you can download iTunes, where you can then enter the iTunes store, where you can download all kinds of things (TV and radio shows, songs, movies). Almost all of the TV and radio shows are totally free and available for download at all times. They typically air with a single commercial before the show, and no other commercials throughout the program.

And so I will endorse the Tony Kornheiser radio show, which airs on Washington Post radio. Tony seems to have mastered balancing his massive ego with his neuroses, which is the battle that most sportswriters, bloggers, and, I suppose, adults are waging. The difference is Tony is funny like hardly no one else is. But more importantly, when something big actually happens, like happened a few days ago just hours from Tony's home, I find him to be one of the most reasoned and thoughtful people across almost all forms of media. He's a blowhard when it doesn't matter, and when it really matters, he's at his absolute best. It even seems that, when he's talking or interviewing someone, he sometimes stops and thinks, sometimes to the extent that there's silence on the air.

When bad things happen, most people turn to someone for insight or logic or even just a cheap laugh. And for those of you dumb enough to have read me, I feel I owe it to you to refer you to Tony. Enjoy.

Be back soon, I promise.

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