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Thoughts on Bieber winning Celeb MVP, Griffin Dunk Comp February 20, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, NBA, Sport.
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2011 Getty Images

I was pretty excited for this year’s NBA All Star Weekend, even though not a single player from my Indiana Pacers made any of the events (I thought at least one of Paul George, Darren Collison or Tyler Hansbrough would have made the Rookie/Sophomore game).  The reason?  Blake Griffin.

For those who don’t follow the NBA, Griffin is this year’s lock for Rookie of the Year — a 6’10”, 251 pound freak of nature that jumps and dunks over everything in sight.  He was actually drafted last year but missed the entire season with a broken kneecap.  Now he’s back and wrecking havoc on the league.  Here’s a video of some of his dunks.  Remember that he has only played in 56 games in his entire NBA career so far.

The other reason is because I wanted to see teen hearthrob Justin Bieber (generously listed at 5’5″) play in the celeb game — not because I’m a fan of the kid, but because I was genuinely fascinated by whether he’ll embarrass himself in front of his millions of adoring fans.

Here’s a video of Bieber tearing up the court in a Proactiv commercial.  I’m not kidding.

Well, I can honestly say I did not come away disappointed.  Bieber’s boxscore was uninspiring (8 points on 3-11 shooting, with 4 assists and 2 rebounds) and his team lost 54-49, but he still managed to win the Celeb game MVP because it’s an award voted by the fans.  The highlight of the night was when the Biebs was rejected by Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen while going up for a jumpshot.  Bieber elevated and tried to shoot but Scottie swung his arm out at about chest level and smacked the crap out of the shot.  Hilarious.  Scottie was even congratulated by former Pacer Jalen Rose for the fantastic rejection.

On the other hand, Griffin participated in the Slam Dunk Contest today as part of All-Star Saturday.  He already played in the Rookie/Sophomore game the day before and will be a reserve in the proper All-Star Game tomorrow.  Given that they were win LA given his popularity, Griffin was a heavy favourite to win the comp, where the final round is voted by the fans.  His opponents were relatively unheralded — JaVale McGee (Washington), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto) and Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City) — but Griffin’s presence alone was enough to make this the most anticipated Dunk Comp since Vince Carter brought the house down with some of his classic dunks (since then it’s been a bit of a farce as the comps have focused more on style than substance).

As expected, Griffin won the comp (against McGee in the final), and while he may have deserved it overall, he probably didn’t even have one of the best 3 dunks of the night.  Each of McGee, DeRozan and Ibaka had some sick jams that didn’t get the respect or scores they deserved, while Griffin had a bit of hometown judging to help him out.

That’s not to say Griffin didn’t have some amazing dunks.  His first one of the night was an example of how freakishly athletic he is — a twisting 360 degree two-handed slam with the ball brought back behind his head.  His second dunk of the first round saw a teammate toss the ball off the backboard support — he caught it in mid-air and windmilled it through.

In the second round, he threw the ball off the backboard and went up so high that he dunked his entire forearm through the hoop ala Vince Carter — but this was more impressive because it was off the backboard, he went up higher, and there was a lot more power (so much so that he had a welt on his arm from it).

His final dunk brought everyone to his feet even before he attempted it — they drove a car out onto the court and had a gospel choir singing at halfcourt.  Griffin took a run up and leaped over the hood of the car, just as Baron Davis passed him the ball through the car’s sun roof.  Griffin caught the ball in mid-air and slammed it down two-handed.  To be honest, that description made the dunk sound better than it really was.  It was, after all, a jump over the hood of the car (as opposed to the top of it), though the presentation deserved props as did the fact that it was a potentially dangerous attempt by someone who just recovered from a broken kneecap.

Griffin got scores of 49 and 46 for his first two dunks, which I believe were about right — only if they scored the dunks of his opponents with as much generosity. If they did, I don’t think Griffin would have made the second round (more on this in my next post) — actually, you could even make an argument that Griffin was the fourth-best dunker in that first round.

Griffin’s two dunks in the secound round were not scored as the result was decided by fan voting (he got 68% of the vote to edge out McGee), though I believe he deserved the nod — only because McGee’s second dunk was a run-of-the-mill (if you can call it that) off the backboard, one-handed slam.  If he left one of his spectacular first round dunks for the second round, I believe he should have won it.

Anyway, here are the highlights.

More to come.

Bieber to take on Costanza at 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend! February 2, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, NBA.
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The NBA All-Star Celebrity Game which will take place in LA this year is going to be a cracker.

Forget about Hall-of-Famers Scottie Pippen and Bill Walton playing — they have just announced that teen heart throb Justin Bieber (who may or may not have hit puberty recently) is attending, along with my favourite TV star Jason Alexander (aka George Costanza from Seinfeld).

Bieber, despite his diminutive size, actually appears to be a pretty good little baller.  Check out the videos below.  The first one is him playing one-on-one against Usher, who looks like he absolutely tanked it against his protege.  The second is more believable and shows a young(er) Bieber playing in a tournament.

As for Costanza, from what I remember from Seinfeld he was a bit of a ‘chucker’.  I wonder if he trained with shoes from the clip below.

The thought of a Bieber vs Costanza duel makes this year’s All-Star Weekend a must watch.

The Power of Bieber Fever (in Sydney)! April 27, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Entertainment, Social/Political Commentary.
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All I’ve been hearing and seeing lately is “Bieber Fever”.

I don’t really know much about the pop teen sensation with the bangs and the prepubescent voice, but when I first heard his name mentioned on the radio (not very clearly), I was stunned.  I was like, “Is this possible?  A teenage heartthrob with the name ‘Beaver’?”  Everyone’s talking about this kid who’s giving young girls “Beaver Fever?”

I was kind of relieved (and disappointed) when I found out that I had misheard.  Damn.

Anyway, for weeks all people could talk about was how Justin Bieber, a 16-year-old Canadian who was discovered on YouTube, was coming to Australia.  And that he was only going to be giving a single, once-off performance on the local morning television show Sunrise.

Originally, I think the performance was supposed to take place outside the Sunrise studio outdoors in Martin Place, the heart of the Sydney CBD, but “safety concerns” forced them to shift to the more spacious Overseas Passenger Terminal down the road at Circular Quay (not too far from the Opera House).

Young girls started camping out from 6pm the night before, and the crowd numbers surged into the early hours of the morning.  Reports say there were already around 4000 people waiting to catch a glimpse of Bieber by 2am.

However, the girls got too excited and broke through the barriers and people started getting crushed and trampled.  Apparently, at least 10 girls fainted, and someone may have fractured a knee cap.  Efforts by police to calm the crowd down were futile, and eventually the live concert was cancelled!

Risking a riot on their hands, Sunrise invited Bieber into the studios back at Martin Place to perform one song (Baby) instead of the scheduled three.  Needless to say, it got very crowded there, as many of the kids from Circular Quay migrated back up in a hurry.  Even after Bieber left, they stuck around for ages, hoping to catch another glimpse of him.

Disappointed fans lashed out at organisers and Sunrise for the botched concert.  Many had camped out all night in the cold, while some travelled all the way from other states just to see him.  Meanwhile the police pointed the finger at uncooperative parents (the few that bothered to show up with their young kids).

One 10-year-old who came out with her mother by train at 3am said:

“I like Justin ’cause he’s hot.  He’s got a fantastic body and a great voice.”

I swear, I did not make that up.  Direct quote from the papers.

One father was particularly angry at the whole mess, and said:  “Clearly this total waste of our kids’ time, sleep and pocket money getting there was a deliberate publicity stunt designed to exploit fans.  Certainly [Sunrise] knew that thousands of kids would turn out, and it would be unmanageable, and set him up to play to a few kids at Martin Place.  Channel Seven and Sunrise owe the fans and their parents an apology for shameless publicity stunts that ended in injury, hurt , disappointment, money spent and sleep deprived.”

Personally, I am quite perplexed about this whole thing.  I have nothing against the Beaver himself (I think good for him, the kid must have some talent for getting discovered via YouTube).  But there’s just so much wrong with what happened here.

First of all, what the heck are parents doing by allowing their children (some of which are very young) to camp out in the city all night by themselves?  Some of these kids are like 10, 11, 12 years old.  I just can’t imagine my parents giving the okay to something like that to me and my sister when we were at that age.  Secondly, as unlikely as that is, it’s even more unbelievable to me that some parents would actually accompany their kids in the middle of the night, or camp out, just to see the Beaver perform a couple of songs.  If they’re a fan of the Beaver themselves, that’s another thing (though it is quite disturbing in itself), but are these adults being good parents by making the effort to come out with their kids to make sure they are safe, or are they spoiling their children?  I think that’s an interesting debate.

Nonetheless, I place the blame with the organisers.  It was simply poor organisation.  Seriously, they are making 4000 young girls seem like some sort of unstoppable force of nature.  We’ve seen other outdoor concerts and performances, marathons, political marches, industrial action, not to mention sporting events, in and around the city CBD that have way more people, some way more unruly (though when it comes to teenage girls, this is debatable).  And we never seen any of them cancelled for “safety concerns”.

Most of all, this is not the first time something like this has happened for the Beaver, so it’s not like they can say what happened was totally unexpected.  Bieber’s concert in a mall in Long Island last November was also cancelled due to overflowing crowd concerns.

Fact is, they underestimated the power of “Beaver Fever”.

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