Dave McMenamin runs the rookie rankings over on NBA.com. He is also the blogger responsible for transforming Gilbert Arenas’ wildly entertaining stories into the blog we know and love. And if that’s not enough for you McMenamin dropped the following Will Ferrell reference in a chat with David Thorpe:
”that a Ricky Bobby reference? I'll do you one better in the Ferrell category -- 'A Big Horn, eh? That's why I come out here. Naaaaature. Goulet.'" - Dave McMenamin
That’s roughly a thousand times cooler than referencing Semi Pro or Blades of Glory. Add it all up and I was fired up to ask McMenamin a few questions about his 76ers, the Celtics, Arenas (I could not resist) and Will Ferrell.
Green Bandwagon: As a fan of the 76ers what were your expectations when the season began?
Dave McMenamin: I expected the same thing every Philadelphia pro sports fan is conditioned to expect -- failure. Our core was Andre Iguodala (who turned down a boatload of money and I figured would just coast through the season looking out for his own stats before signing with another team in the summer), Andre Miller (who was just good enough to lead Philly to 35 wins and have them miss out on a top five lotto pick), Kyle Korver (who was only capable of doing three things on the basketball court 1. Catching 2. Shooting 3. Brushing his hair out of his eyes), Samuel Dalembert (who was only considered less of a bust than Eddie Griffin as a pro coming out of Seton Hall because he still had a pulse) and Willie Green (who caused fans around the league to ask, "Your starting shooting guard is who?"). But in a complete opposite of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, we ship Korver to free up playing time for Thaddeus Young, hold on to Miller instead of accepting 50 cents on the dollar trade offers for him, oust Billy King from power, bring in a home-grown hoop head in Ed Stefanski who gets the boys to run and all the while Iguodala matures into a legit No. 1 option (or at least a 1.5 when he had been destined to be a No. 3 guy) and Sammy D becomes an active beast in the paint not seen in Philly since Theo Ratliff back in 2000.
Green Bandwagon: I’d like to add a fourth skill to Korver’s repertoire.
Green Bandwagon: Two more Philly questions. Is Andre Iguodala a franchise player? Do you secretly hate people who claim to be fans of the NBA but don't know who Louis Williams is?
Dave McMenamin: You know, I've had my doubts about Iguodala from Day 1, and not just because he shares his nickname, "Iggy," with one of the lamest cartoon strips in American history. He came into the league with no discernable offensive game other than running fast and jumping high. His game has improved dramatically and I almost have to back off of my, "He'll never average 20 points in a season during his career" claim already after he put up 19.9 this year. If the Sixers continue to play this style of up-and-down ball over the next five years predicated on ball-hawking defense and creating fastbreak after fastbreak, then my answer is a resounding "yes." A.I. is a franchise guy. As for part two, no, I'm not a basketball elitist. I hate people who look down at somebody when they haven't heard of some indie band like Wilco, so if you're a basketball fan and you don't know about Lou Williams yet, that's OK.
Green Bandwagon: I like that line of thinking for the Louis Williams/Wilco phenomenon. It’s never fun to be around people who, to steal an expression from my grandmother, "put on airs" based upon somewhat obscure knowledge.* At the same time, without being haughty, one does feel part of a special club by recognizing and enjoying Louis Williams’ game.
Green Bandwagon: A lot of people, myself included, underestimated how good the Boston Celtics would be this season. Did you see anything on the preseason trip to Europe that foreshadowed the success they've enjoyed?
Dave McMenamin: Some other Celtics-themed blog (Loy’s Place) - not nearly as thorough and intelligent as Green Bandwagon, I'm sure -- called me out for my preseason prediction because I had Chicago over Boston (then again, maybe I deserved that). Back when I covered the team at Europe Live I was impressed by three things: Kevin Garnett, their defense and their collection of quality guys. They had a good balance of superstars, role players, veterans and young guys. There was just a real positive vibe about them. And of course, they were in the infant stages of implementing the whole, wacky "Ubuntu" call in the huddle, which was sort of unique seeing as I'd only heard squads say "Win," "Defense," "Team," or "Final Four" when breaking the huddle in all of my experience around big time basketball.
Green Bandwagon Note: I went back and read that Loy’s Place post, which also included my now embarrassing 49 win prediction. I'd also argue that Loy's place does good work. The "comments from the other side" is one of my favorite running features.
Green Bandwagon: Who is the 4th best player on the Celtics?
Dave McMenamin: At the beginning of the season this answer would sound preposterous, but now I say it without batting an eye: The fourth best player on the Celtics is without a doubt Rajon Rondo. He took a lot of flak last year for not being able to shoot the ball (there was a story circulating about an 8-year old beating him in spot shooting at one point, if I remember correctly) and for being just flat out not good enough to be a starter in the NBA. Fast forward to the eve of the playoffs and the Celtics are the No. 1 seed with RR at the helm averaging 10. 6 points (on .492 shooting from the field), four boards, five dimes and almost two steals per game, all the while being able to manage the game and make sure that his three future Hall of Fame teammates get a balanced amount of shots. And he's just 22 years old! Sam Cassell will definitely take some of his minutes in the playoffs at times, but don't look at that as a slight against Rondo. He's a big reason why they had the most wins in the league this year.
Green Bandwagon: Agreed. Rondo has come a long way in a short period of time. How he managed to improve that much over the summer AND roller skate 2+ hours, five days a week is a mystery to me. There is also a chance that he deserved a lot more playing time last season and the upgraded teammates certainly did not hurt. In closing I never thought I would hear Bob Cousy openly praise a Boston Celtics point guard like he did Wednesday night. Tommy Heinsohn yes. But Cousy? Someone has to work that into the next Rondo inspired YouTube highlight clip.
Green Bandwagon: What is the Gilbert Arenas experience like?
Dave McMenamin: Your question reminds me of that Nike commercial, "The Michael Vick Experience", where people were strapped into a rollercoaster-style seat suspended from a track hovering over a football field and shot off on a round-about route eluding would-be tacklers. If "The Gilbert Arenas Experience" was a ride, sadly it would just involve a lot of text messages that just say "Blog" blowing up your phone as late as midnight and as early as 7 a.m., copious Google searches of the words "Gilbert Arenas" to see what bloggers are writing about him to gather material for the next time you talk to him and painfully editing out a lot of really funny stuff he blogs about that are too inappropriate for NBA.com. But really, it's awesome.
Green Bandwagon: You mean this commercial? By the way, there is a Bad Newz Kennels joke in there somewhere just dying to be made. More importantly just reading “and painfully editing out a lot of really funny stuff he blogs about that are too inappropriate for NBA.com” reminded me of how disappointing censorship and journalistic integrity can be at times.
Green Bandwagon: Rank the following Will Ferrell SNL roles from best to worst – lead cowbell for Blue Oyster Cult, Neil Diamond, Robert Goulet, Delco cat toy salesman.
2. Cat toy
4. Neil Diamond
But what kind of Ferrell SNL list is worth ranking if it doesn't include Harry Caray as an option? Come on.
Green Bandwagon Note: That’s a fair point which underscores a bigger issue – Ferrell’s body of work from SNL is outstanding. At the risk of this completely devolving into a Will Ferrell appreciation post I had to ignore his role as Mr. Tarkanian, the awful boss (“Ohhhh Scot Jorgensen! I love it! I love it! I am actually going to murder you!”), “Get off the shed!”, “I drive a Dodge Stratus!”, the yoga skit that I watched with several of my friends live and never fully recovered from and numerous roles that Ferrell saved just by being himself (old prospector comes to mind). And maybe I’m biased because I recently got hooked on the Delco cat toy salesman skit again. But the following lines are gold. HUGE GOLD!
“Randall, Randall it escapes me how we have not kicked your ass yet.”
“Met a little honey named Donna, told her I made five figures and quickly took off her panties.”
Long story short I don’t put Ferrell’s Harry Caray, even though I love the hot dogs bit, on par with those four. Now whether the Blue Oyster cult skit belongs to Ferrell or Christopher Watkin is an argument for another time.
*Please ignore the fact that I did that in my discussion of Will Ferrell throughout this post.