The uphill path of an NBA second round draft pick is lonely; filled with obstacles and non-guarantees. It’s dark. It’s tantalizing. These players are so close to the dream they’ve dreamt since their tiny brains were capable of processing dreams and remembering them later. It sits on the tip of their tongue as they come to the realization that they’re sitting on the precipice of either entering a real life NBA rotation, or falling beneath the cracks, to the D-League or Maccabi Tel Aviv. Their heroes are few and far between, with every second round pick believing he’ll hit the lottery within a lottery, growing into a Monta Ellis, Manu Ginobili, or Gilbert Arenas. (At the very least they’re all confident enough to expect something along the lines of Glen Davis, Dejuan Blair, or Landry Fields.)

The second round pick is dispensable, but he also possesses the most to gain and the least to lose, entering the league with the firm conclusion that it was he who deserved the guaranteed money his first round rivals were afforded, and he who from this day forth will outwork all those selected before him. So close to his dream, yet still so far away. This is the life of a second round draft pick.

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Huq’s Pen: A year ago today

This time a year ago we sat checking news on Carmelo and Chris Paul, hoping for some mention of the Rockets as suitors.  The season was about to begin, Yao was healthy, and we were ‘almost-contenders,’ having a bright future on the strength of a pretty good team and really good ‘assets.’  Two guaranteed future lottery Knicks picks, a developing young big man in Jordan Hill, and a budding star in Aaron Brooks gave reason to believe that whoever wound up on the market could potentially be ours.

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An old friend called me the other day, someone I’ve known for more than thirteen years, and during the course of our conversation, he brought up a girl I used to date. I should stress here that this wasn’t a casual, three month girlfriend; I was with her for eight of the thirteen years he and I have known each other. But when he brought her up, for a moment, he couldn’t remember her name.

At the time, he suggested that he’d been very forgetful lately and claimed that this must be the cause of his clumsy recall, an excuse that seems unlikely as he’s barely 31 and has rarely, as long as I’ve known him, participated in any sort of activity (alcohol or otherwise) that is often blamed for such memory lapses. It seems to me that the reason for his forgetfulness in this particular instance was a much more understandable one: he hasn’t seen or spoken to her in almost four years and so is just simply, naturally forgetting.

I bring this up not to blather on about my personal life but to make a broader point about memory. Last week I was sick with the flu and, thus, had a lot of time on my hands to troll around the internet and, in the process, inevitably ended up watching a bunch of old highlight clips.

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This was a very difficult list to make.  I’ve watched roughly 95% of the Houston Rockets’ games since 1994 and have seen a lot of bad basketball and a lot of extremely bad players.  I was there the year Matt Bullard and Walt Williams started in tandem at the forward spots.  I was there when Scottie Pippen fell down in a series-ending Game 1 and again present when Mo Taylor found Krispy Kreme.  I’ve seen it all or at least as much as any other adult living in this era.  Nevertheless, I’m confident in the validity of these rankings and confident that true justice has been served.  Without further ado, on to the list: [read more…]

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They’re the new you, and it’s damn near inevitable they’ll experience déjà vu too. Fight, and you’ll never survive; run, and you’ll never escape. So just fall from grace.

Jay-Z, “Fallin'”

Anyone’s who’s ever felt that terrifying, inevitable twinge that accompanies one’s own replacement intimately knows the fury that can quickly replace the deep, excruciating pain of being deemed yesterday’s news or, even colder, obsolete. “What does he or she have that I don’t?” “Why am I not good enough for them anymore?” Most of the reproach thrown in the general direction of a successor seems petty, as much a product of the past’s sudden confrontation of its own mortality as genuine disdain for the new, but then there’s the very real, exposed vitriol: “I’m getting replaced by this lame?” [read more…]

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