SocraticGadfly: 6/20/21 - 6/27/21

June 26, 2021

STFU, Scottie Pippen

Yesterday, I read that laughable interview GQ had with Scottie Pippen, the one that set NBA Twitter ablaze earlier in the week.

Here's my hot takes on several issues he raised.

First, he of course was NOT better than Michael Jordan. I don't know whether he really believes that, or he's that butthurt about Michael attention.

Second, re his ragging in general on Phil Jackson for choosing Toni Kukoc to shoot that 1994 NBA playoff game-ender against the Knicks, let alone the racist claim?

First of all, it went in!

Scottie, Toni made the shot!

Why Phil chose Kukoc, I don't know. But he did. I DO know, or am reasonably certain, that it was NOT due to racism. Look, Scottie, I get that both you and MJ, when he came back, hated Kukoc because you hated Jerry Krause for pushing him. OK. Beyond that, in an end-of-game set, inbounding the ball is important, and all too often, too many teams ignore the in-bounder after that. Well, Phil may have been expecting the Knicks would in no way do that, so Scottie would have been a decoy. That's part of being a team, Scottie.
And, Chicago sports media like Brian Mazique (oh, he's Black, Scottie) say it was the right call. Mazique said that Scottie wasn't beating Anthony Mason off the dribble. It's true. Look at video of the last minute, part of a four-minute video that is also a YouTube stand-alone. The last Bulls possession before Patrick Ewing ties the game, Scottie bricks a semi-airball from beyond the arc against Mason which didn't matter anyway because he committed a shot-clock violation.

PLUS! Phil had called the same play in a regular season game. And it worked. (Rather than embed, that's a link to the video at the moment of Pippen inbounding to Kukoc.)

AND? Kukoc is a better person than Pippen (or Jordan).

Update: A new piece at Washington Babylon, on the other hand, has a fair amount of goods on Phil Jackson indeed walking, talking and quacking like a racist.

Sidebar? People comparing this to LeBron James telling Dave Blatt, fuck no, I'm shooting? It was dumb on Blatt's part. I can't even remember who it was called for. It was also wrong on LeBron's part.

Third, Scottie using this to rag on Kevin Durant for not being a team player? Well, since Scottie benched himself, he knows jack about being a team player. (Besides that, if assist percentage is a benchmark of being a team player, then Durant kicks Pippen's ass all the way back to Arkansas. No, really. It's not even close.)

Third part two? KD was without Kyrie Irving and James Harden was at 50 percent.

Third, part three? If Scottie's as tough as he presents himself as being, as well as being as much a leader as he presents himself as being, why didn't he punch stand up to Jordan enough to even take a punch to the face like Steve Kerr did?

Kerr: "I'm not going to beat anybody but I WILL fight people!"

Fourth? Scottie without Mike?

In Jordan's initial retirement, Pippen did NOT SIGNIFICANTLY elevate his game. Oh, sure, he did to a degree. But NOT significantly. (His scoring and rebounds were both up, but despite the claims even by many in Chicago sports media about him playing team ball, his assists were down. His assist percentage was unchanged. On sabermetrics, his total offensive rating was 108 in 1992-93, then 109 and 110 the next two years. His Win Shares/48 did jump, but his total Win Shares stayed about the same. Why? Phil rested him; fewer minutes than the previous seasons.

In the post-1998 world? Scottie hit a wall his first year after, at 33. Among some reasonable comps, John Havlicek and Paul Pierce didn't hit that much of a wall until their age 36 seasons.

Fifth, that wasn't all the NBA stupidity there. Next, Scottie said that Kenny Smith was better than Charles Barkley because he had a ring.

Scottie, I don't know if being butthurt about MJ makes you that stupid? I don't know if you were drunk on your new bourbon?

But, you've already gotten a reputation as one of the biggest bullshitters around among ex-NBA players and you just added to it. On that, you ARE Paul Pierce. And, Chicago sports media like Rick Morrissey know this is just your latest tire fire. Morrisey, like Mazique, knows you're hurt over this. He also knows your framing is bullshit.
So, let's conclude by repeating the header:
STFU, Scottie.

June 25, 2021

The Philadelphia 76ers vs Ben Simmons

And, yes, "versus" is about the right word.

I mean, Joel Embiid put it politely, but, he said Ben Simmons needs to shoot, and specifically hinted at the ending of Game 7 of the East semifinals, where Simmons had a point-blank dunk attempt and instead, of course, passed to Matisse Thybulle, who got fouled and ... made only one of his free-throws. Simmons, had he been fouled, was in the position to have likely made his dunk anyway and have a possible three-point play, which makes this even worse.

Sixers coach Doc Rivers, under fire from fans himself, said the team has a plan to help Simmons' shooting woes.

These are woes at both the free-throw line and the arc. One or the other being bad would be acceptable, especially given Simmons' D. The two combined are not.

A lot of fans, and a guy named Magic Johnson who has some knowledge of what it's like to be a tall point guard AND to be a PG who can't shoot a 3-ball — though he eventually fixed that to a reasonable degree — think it would benefit both him and the team to trade him.

It benefited the Sixers to walk away from Markelle Fultz two years ago, though it pretty clearly did NOT benefit Fultz.

But, where to?

Some rumors, and some early fan pleadings, say Detroit. I couldn't tell if the Fansided "crack blogger" who runs the Pistons account was yea or nay on the trade when he cited the Pistons' history with poor FT, poor 2-ball guy Ben Wallace. (Even given his 4x Defensive Player of the Year honors, it's still arguable the 2004 Pistons won the title in spite of him, not because of him.)

Setting aside his value to the Pistons specifically, or not ... what is he worth? He's played four years now, and gotten marginally better on 3-balls, and marginally better on his willingness to shoot them. His FT percentage has plateaued, as has his free throw attempts. His total shot attempts have also dropped. And, per the Red Satan link up top, this all was worse, at least this year, in the playoffs than the regular season. And, his splits show that he not only doesn't want to shoot threes, but that he's afraid to shoot anything outside 10 feet. Contra the overdone thoughts of Rick Carlisle vis a vis Kristaps Porzingis, per the shooting distance splits of B-Ref, a 10-16 foot 2-ball is fine; 16-arc is what you want to avoid. But, Simmons won't even shoot those.

Question to me is, contra the Sixers' talk, which Red Satan notes is not new, do other teams think his shot is fixable? Or is he already perceived as damaged goods, like Fultz?

I mean, there's also a clubhouse trust issue. What Embiid said in public was surely louder in the locker room. And, does Thybulle, a second-year player who surely now thinks Simmons was kind of throwing HIM under the bus with that pass, trust him?

Who I am really reminded of is one Chris Webber. No, really. I think he called that nonexistent timeout with the Wolverines because he didn't want to face last-shot pressure. I also recall Game 7 of the Kings-Lakers Western Conference finals in 2002. It was like he thought the ball was a hot potato the last five minutes of the game. (Setting aside his knee problems shortening his career, this was another reason I wasn't sold on his Hall of Fame candidacy.) And, sorry folks, if you click that link, there was no big free throw disparity, just a MADE free throw disparity.

For example, and setting aside cap issues and where each player would fit on their new team, if the Sixers asked the Nuggets to swap straight up for Aaron Gordon? That ain't happening.

The other problem is, who takes over at the point? George Hill is old. Can Seth Curry be your PG? Uhh, probably not. Or are you going to make sure a PG comes back as part of a trade?

Could Ben still work out with better lineup rotations, as speculated here? Can any team win it all with Doc blowing 3-1 leads not just here but also with the Clips? One can make the argument he should have one more than one title with the Kevin Garnett / Paul Pierce / Ray Allen Celtics.

So, Sixers fans? If you want Morey to make a deal, fine. Just don't bitch at him if he has to trade Simmons at an apparent loss. This Sixers Fansided site offers a mix of possibilities. It's true that Magic didn't pick up the three-ball until half a dozen years in the league, but I don't think Simmons is fixable. (Morey's already talking smack about how most teams would love to be in the Sixers' position while saying that unnamed people need to get better on offense.)

And, speaking of Simmons, Fultz and Embiid, we're getting closer and closer to shutting the door on Trust the Process. Besides lining up the draft picks to get all three, let's not forget Sam Hinkle was the genius who traded for Nerlens Noel and drafted Jahlil Okafor No. 3.

June 24, 2021

Mark Cuban about to say: Come on down, Jason Kidd?

Could something that many Mavs fans have wanted before the second-straight first-round playoff exit happen? Is Jason Kidd about to be named the new head coach?

I first called for it more than a week ago, former head coach Rick Carlisle called for it earlier today, and now there's word, or speculation that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban could make it official. (Update, June 25: And it IS!)

My one concern, when I talked about Mavs' shit hitting the fan after Donnie Nelson got shit-canned and Carlisle quit, was whether or not Kidd and Michael Finley could co-exist if Finley got promoted to replace Nelson. The latest, at that "could make it official" link, though, co-reported by Tim MacMahon and Woj, is that Finley won't be the new exec; supposably, it will be someone else, but that person, who is also supposedly about to be nailed down, has signed off on Kidd.

I don't know how much Dirk Nowitzki and his "consultancy" have played a part in this, but if he was a Kidd-whisperer, good for him. Red Satan says he DID whisper, and that, allaying my other fear, so did Finley.

Of course, we need franchise player Luka Doncic to also sign off on Kidd. As I've said more than once, citing  Magic Johnson getting Paul Westhead fired, and LeBron James finalizing The Decision to be Miami in part because Pat Riley was there, this is a players league. The best coaches and GMs know that, too. And, the best players know they know that.

I had blogged on earlier this month about how Doncic's dislike of Carlisle was coming out, and how Cuban probably needed to replace him. As for Cuban's rejection of that, I noted the Atlanta Hawks midseason hiring of Nate McMillan. I then tied in that information before doing an update after that on where the team stood. That included the Voulgaris meddling.

CBS had a piece with more quotes from the Athletic than the Snooze does. This is the nutgraf:
Multiple league and team sources tell The Athletic that Voulgaris has been the most influential voice within the Mavericks front office since joining the team, either initiating or approving virtually every transaction made over the past two seasons. Those same sources add that Voulgaris has frequently gone as far as scripting the starting lineups and rotations for longtime head coach Rick Carlisle.
That, to me, is the one remaining question.

Kidd would certainly love a head-coaching gig again. At the same time, he won't want Voulgaris scripting plays for him, and he's probably relaying messages through Cuban to the potential new VP, and to Finley, and to Nico Harrison, who's also been offered a team role, that they need to be middlemen and screeners as necessary.

That all said, as I've noted before, I think Kidd will help Doncic raise his game to a new level. the other question is, can he get more out of non-unicorn Kristaps Porzingis than Carlisle did? Can he also add even more to Tim Hardaway Jr., assuming he is still with Dallas, being resigned?

That would, theoretically, the Hardaway resigning, be the provenance of new GM Nico Harrison. But Sports Illustrated says that just because he's connected doesn't mean he can land fish, let alone draft them. And, it says the Sandwich certainly didn't do due diligence on his hiring.

Texas Progressives look at Abbott's veto cancel culture

It was hot outside last week, and ERCOT shows it still doesn't work right. I address the root cause at the bottom of this week's Roundup.

Meanwhile, Abbott made sure it will be hot inside the Pink Dome for any special sessions with his big action.

Let's dig in.

Texas stuff

Strangeabbott did it — he issued a likely unconstitutional veto of legislative and legislative staff pay. But, it's no surprise that wingnuts within the GOP, having long lost touch with the US Constitution, would start doing the same with the state version, too.
Mike Hixenbaugh reviews a few of the other bills Greg Abbott vetoed. Hypnosis as investigative junk science remains in law. Requiring school students to learn about domestic and dating violence? Out.

From winter storm to heat wave, and still, all ERCOT can do is say "buckle up and use less power." That's even as SB 3's weatherization requirements have semi-toothless fines and other problems. At the Monthly, Loren Steffy has more on the latest clusterfuck and it being part of an ongoing mega-clusterfuck that Abbott et al don't want to expend the effort to fix. Also there, Andrea Zelinski asked four experts if enough had been done to fix the system. Shockingly, the two in the traditional energy bidness said yes. Non-sarcastically shockingly, a consumer advocate halfway agreed. As for whether this needs further addressing as part of a special session, the consumer guy said yes, the one traditional energy guy said no (with no comment from the other), and the fourth, representing renewables, also said no.

Speaking of, "Win Free Electricity for a Year!" The fine print? We can control your thermostat and remotely adjust it if ERCOT issues an alert. And, we will.

Danny Goeb, against wingnuts selling guns to terrorists until he was for it. (The same goes for Strangeabbott, of course.)

Mark Levin talks about how Goeb hates criminal justice reform.

The Observer talks about an apparent "trans panic" legal defense, one that not officially called that, or officially framed that way by defense attorneys.

Texas Monthly has its biannual best and worst of the Lege. Interestingly, Senate Dems are among the "worst." (They deserve it, TM notes, starting with voting unanimously for Goeb's budget.) Special awards include "Cockroach" Bryan Slaton.

Off the Kuff introduces you to median districts and shows how they have changed over the course of this decade.

The ACLU of Texas shows you 15 ways that the lives of Texans will be impacted as a result of the recent legislative session.

Lisa Gray installed rooftop solar panels so you could learn from her experience. (Blogowner’s note: Rooftop solar will never be a big deal in Tex-ass without a state income tax to offer tax deductions, unless the state OKs a consumer version of a Chapter 313. They also won’t be a big deal until Texas follows western states and adopts a feed-in tarrif.)  

Kimiya Factory tells why she celebrates Juneteenth. 

Luby's sold to Chicago-based catering company that promises, as much as possible, the 32 purchased locations will stay open with most staff. Deal does NOT include the restaurants' physical real estate. Per its website, that leaves not quite 25 restaurants still not sold, it would seem. With Fuddruckers sold off, I can't see these remaining restaurants getting sold.


SocraticGadfly says we need some climate radicalism, which we're not getting, in the battle against climate change.


At least within African-Americans, being perceived as beautiful may affect income more than sex, or the Black-White race gap.

Steve Vladeck observes that you can't evaluate the Supreme Court's term without also considering the “shadow docket.”

Are some Black people, even if not Republicans, against Critical Race Theory? Sure. Barrington D. Martin makes an "interesting" case, talking about Blacks being upstanding (even though he ran again against John Lewis in last year's primary as a pro-pot legalization guy), hard-working (though he's a pro-Basic Income guy and knows the stereotypes on that) and Christian (even though as someone pro-pot and pro-BI, he should know that's pandering, and also that Black Nones are growing almost as fast as White Nones.)


The Mayor of Kabul talks about the pending departure of (nearly? remember those 1,000 Biden didn't originally count?) US troops from Afghanistan.

June 23, 2021

Max Blumenthal vs CJR, and journalism in general, on Nicaragua

When it comes to the truth about media freedom, media politics and related issues in Nicaragua, if it's Max Blumenthal / Grayzone's framing of the issue vs Columbia Journalism Review, I know which one I'll side with.

First, Max doesn't present the run-up to this whole issue, which CJR does: Daniel Ortega cutting some social benefits. People rioted. That led to crackdowns on the press and the general public as well.

Second, Max doesn't even interview Oswaldo Rivas, the Nicaraguan native who wrote the CJR piece. In fact, Max has NEVER interviewed Oswaldo Rivas, at least not for the Grayzone. He's never even mentioned him. Not.Once.  Let's put it this way? I got ONE hit across the web with both their names, in quotes. And, that was at the wingnut site SOTT, which had Max's blathering, and a picture shot by Rivas for Reuters accompanying it.

Third, Max skews the truth. Nothing Miguel Mora says, even with Max presenting an out-of-context quote, has Mora saying he WANTS a US-backed coup. At least not directly. It can be argued that he says that "solves" it. But, he doesn't call for one. (Max would probably argue back that this is because he'd face arrest again. See below.)

Fourth, Max does admit Mora was an independent journalist, and was arrested. He lumps the Committee to Protect Journalists (which might even free YOUR ass, Max, if you failed to sufficiently kowtow to a dictator) with the U.S. government. Related, he ignores what Human Rights Watch says about Mora's confinement, as mentioned in CJR.

Fifth, Max doesn't tell you about the Ortega regime's criminalization of what it calls fake news.

Sixth, he lies about what the CPJ has said about Assange, when he claims it has been "ignoring the plight" of Assange. CPJ wrote most recently 18 months ago and DOES think he should not be prosecuted. As for whether Assange is a journalist or not? I lean in CPJ's direction, which was not done in a back-of-the-hand or off-the-cuff decision, contra both Max and World Socialists, which Max actually is likely not one of. Maybe Assange was at one time, but, since he started just spewing stuff, he's not. He's a source. Not a journalist. Ed Snowden has said that he, Snowden, is not a journalist, after all.

None of this is new. Max has been called out plenty of times for his misreporting about Nicaragua.

As for Ortega? Like Evo Morales in Bolivia, only successfully in his case, Ortega staged a coup against the Nicaraguan constitution. Yes, one of those Chamorros that Max hates reports on this, but not at National Review; rather, it's at Truthout. And, that happened well before 2018. So, contra left-wingnut sites like SOTT, this has nothing to do with China's plans for a new canal, through Nicaragua, and US imperialist attempts to thwart that. 

The reality about Ortega, per Wiki, is that he's even more thuggish than Morales, and that both have drifted considerably rightward since their first elections. Ortega, being older and in office longer, has done more of this. And no, Max, that's not just the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Per links at Wiki, it's folks like Amnesty International that have expressed concerns about both his skullduggery and his thuggery. So, too, has the Catholic Church, which Ortega has also been attacking since that not-a-coup. (Oh, and Crux is not a wingnut Catholic site, but, since it was started as a Boston Globe project, Max will probably start hurling MSM epithets there, too.)

And, that's enough time wasted on Max.

Well, no, a programming note, so to speak. Ken Silverstein interviews Patrick Hilsman, offering more real truths on Max, Aaron Maté, Ben Norton and other Assad-tankies. (That said, the stenos aren't always wrong, either; Bob Fisk raised questions about Douma, and there and elsewhere, about the White Helmets. That said, he wasn't a suck-up to authoritarians, but he was a good journalist.)

Noam Chomsky, intellectual genius? Not so fast: Part 1, public policy

Is Noam Chomsky perhaps above my intellectual pay grade? Yes.

Genius? No.

First, the political side, in part one of a two-parter.

Per a person touting him as such a genius, if he has been that much of a Glenn Greenwald fanboi, doesn't that alone undercut his claims there? (I'm not the only person on social media to have a reaction like that.)

And, as I've written about more than once, I have little regard for the alleged political genius of supposed actual leftists, even self-proclaimed socialists or Marxists who, nonetheless, go into the voting booth every four years and next to "President" pull the lever for the Democrat half of the duopoly. I mean, he opposed the Vietnam War, but voted for Dear Leader to continue the Iraq War and presumably before that for Slick Willie to expand NATO, that may have been an indirect contributor to Balkans wars and very much directly contributed to freezing Boris Yeltsin's Russia out of the peace process.

Last year, I busted his chops hard for telling people not to vote Green, including his signing a letter to that effect. I also busted the chops of self-proclaimed Maoist Barbara Ehrenreich and others. In other words, Noam practices "lesser evilism" and did before 2012, telling people to re-elect Dear Leader over Romney while not mentioning Jill Stein. Weirdly, if you will, Noam gave money to Ralph Nader in 2000. But, given what happened in Florida, Noam may believe the myths, nay canards, that Nader gave Bush the election.

What's REALLY funny is that the Wiki bio link has Chomsky acknowledging that we are, in fact, a one-party state in many ways. But, he still wants you to vote for the one party. Or else, he doesn't really believe that. It's called sheepdogging. He's a duopolist. So's Henwood, Reed and others.

Now, if I wanted to riff on Emerson and claim this is a foolish consistency cum hypocrisy, and call that the mark of genius, then he's a political genius. Having no idea what sheepdogging he did before 2016, I'll pass, though.

Part 2 will address Noam's big claim to fame: Linguistics and generative grammar.

June 22, 2021

Coronavirus week 63: Chinese defector spills beans on WIV

Big if true! Red State reports, with links to Washington Free Beacon, that Dong Jingwei, a vice minister of state security for China, has defected to the US, and has a boatload of COVID-related information. That said, take some of what Red State spins out of this with several grains of salt. A site to which Red State linked, Spy Talk, says that Red State hinted at this three weeks ago, and claimed that the information on COVID included bioweaponization. It should be noted nothing about that was in the new RS piece. On the third hand, even if that's not true? The early June timing of the RS piece, plus other chatter, explains why the lab-leak hypothesis gained new traction earlier this month.

Former ProPublica head Dick Tofel calls out much of the media for earlier twosiderism on the lab-leak hypothesis, just like I called out Orac. He surely still won't listen.

Peter Hotez says the Delta version of the virus could create "two COVID nations," especially in areas where vaccination rates remain low. Texas was still below 40 percent of adults fully vaccinated, and with summer air conditioning season offering virus-conducive conditions, don't be surprised if the state gets in trouble.

June 21, 2021

Stop the Boban bullshit

No, ESPN, and anybody else, Boban Marjanovic NOT a junior Arvydas Sabonis, contra hints in an ESPN story, though Sabonis was not named by name.

And, no, he wouldn't have been a different player in the Shaquille O'Neal era.

Nor in the Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain era.

First, so what if he has the 11th-highest PER in NBA history? It's based on somewhat limited, situational minutes.

The reality?

Boban has little lateral movement speed or acceleration. On defense, his blocked shots come from a mix of his 94-inch wingspan, not falling for ball fakes, and probably disciplining himself not to fall for ball fakes because he's got limited leaping and limited vertical acceleration.

And, really, not THAT impressive. His blocks/48 are lower than noted swatters Dikembe Mutombo and Mark Eaton.

The limited lateral movement speed means that, other than blocks, he's not a great defender nor a great defensive rebounder, all things considered. He's certainly not a passer of note.

Now, on different eras, he might indeed have been a great player in the George Mikan era, but we ain't there.

He's more than just a height freak, unlike Manute Bol, and less of a height-and-size freak than Gheorghe Mureșan, but let's move on.