Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Pretending to Pull Your Pants Down

This is what I wrote a few weeks ago about former UNC All-American and current NBDLer, Joe Forte:

"Forte's precipitous fall from grace makes M.C. Hammer's death-spiral into bankruptcy seem almost glacial in comparison. I mentioned before that Forte is easily the most enigmatic player to come out of UNC in recent memory (not counting Robots McCants, of course). You can only hope that he's on his way back to the NBA after a pretty poor first showing."

Well, yesterday's Washington Post had front page story about how Forte went from being one of the best college players in the country and a first round draft pick of the Celtics, to now playing for the Asheville Altitude (and this is after being cut by the Sonics before the 2003 season started, and with one year and $1 million left on his contract). I think stories like this might have something to do with Forte having a rough first-go-round in the NBA:
Before a game against the Michael Jordan-led Washington Wizards on March 26, 2003, Forte walked into Seattle's locker room wearing a Jordan jersey. When a teammate asked him why he was wearing an opponent's jersey, Forte responded, "Man, I love the Wizards."

An entire locker room glared.

Forte did not play and the Sonics lost the game, 80-74. Afterward, in a shower filled with downtrodden teammates, Forte sang gleefully until 7-foot-1 center Jerome James attacked him. Teammates broke up the fight.

A day later, in a move that revealed much about the Sonics' feelings for Forte, Seattle handed down the consequences: Forte was suspended for a game and fined $11,000; James wasn't punished.

After the season, Forte's problems continued to mount. Less than a week after he left Seattle to spend time at home in Washington, Forte was arrested. On his way back from a trip to New York, during which he met his idol, rapper Jay-Z, and thought, just maybe, he could finally see a light, he was pulled over for going 90 in a 65-mph zone. Police found marijuana and a .22 caliber pistol in the car.
First off, what is it with Tarheel players and Jay-Z (yep, that's right, Robots McCants lists Jay-Z as one of his idols too)? Second, and he admits as much in the article, it looks like Forte might've benefited from an additional year or two in college to mature; he described Coach Guthridge as a father figure, but he retired after his freshman year and not surprisingly, he and Coach Doherty butted heads (which I'm sure helped Forte ultimately decide to turn pro after his sophmore year). Anyway, this is a good story -- and not because it has a happy ending. It's a good story because Forte now realizes that he blew a great opportunity, but instead of blaming everyone else, he holds himself accountable and wants to get back to the NBA -- and is willing to work for it. Good for him.

Last week prior to the Wild Card games, Salon's King Kaufman named the winner of his 2004 NFL Preseason Predictions Contest ... and it was Football Outsiders (not surprisingly, my picks didn't help -- unless picking Tennessee and Kansas City are deemed helpful).
Before the season I collected the preseason predictions of 27 experts, defined as more or less national typists and chatterers whose picks I could find without too much effort.

... I award two points for each correct prediction of a division winner or wild-card team, one point for a predicted division winner getting into the playoffs as a wild card and one point for a predicted wild-card team winning the division. The maximum score is 24. Number of division winners picked serves as a tie-breaker.

Last year, Don Banks of Sports Illustrated won with 17 points. The Football Outsiders crew set a new record with 18. It was a rout: Sal Paolantonio of ESPN was second with only 15. Banks sank nearly to the bottom of the pack -- the shorthand for which is "Merril Hoge" -- with only 10 points.
And when Kaufman calls Hoge "the bottom," that's an understatement. In fact you'd have better luck stealing a monkey from the zoo, getting it drunk, blindfolding it and then having it throw darts at the newspaper to make picks. Let me state up front, that I actually like Merril Hoge (I mean he's a former Steeler), but let me put his performance in perspective. Out of the 30 entities listed in Kaufman's rankings, Hoge finished 30th, behind Chris Carter (27th), Sean Salisbury (23rd), Mike Golic (12th) and Joe Theismann (11th). Ouch. Of course all those concussions might have something to do with it, so I'll cut him some slack -- that and he's the only white guy I can think of with a jheri curl.


Speaking of Football Outsiders, here's a thread about the whole Randy Moss pretending-to-pull-down-his-drawers fiasco from the Green Bay game (who's that dope that wrote the original post, anyway?). Most of the comments are hilarious for no other reason than they're so true (comments #11, #28, #32 and #40 are just some of my favorites). Boo-yah!