Saturday, February 3, 2007

Lame Name Wars: is “iPhone” Really Worth Fighting Over?!

Filed under: News,Technology — Tom Pittman @ 11:45 am

Cisco isn’t the only one who should be suing Apple for using the name, “iPhone.” Apple’s own shareholders should be as well. Apple is one of the world’s most famously creative companies; it is just impossible to believe that “iPhone” was the best they could come up with.


Dear Mr. Jobs,

I retired 2 years ago at the age of 43 to spend more time with my wife and children, and to pursue some other goals. However, because we have 9 Windows PCs in our home — I’m not as retired as I hoped I would be.

Consequently, this last Christmas I became a first time Mac owner when I bought a 15 inch MacBook Pro for my wife, and a 17 inch MacBook Pro for me. As a former IBMer and hardcore IT guy, I thought the transition and integration of our new Macs would be at least a little bit hard, but it has been a blast. In fact, we are so impressed that we’ve decided to move our PCs out and replace them with Macs. Incidentally, I also bought 8 new iPods as “stocking stuffers” for the family and they were more excited about the iPods than their other gifts which cost much more.

At any rate, like the rest of the world (who doesn’t work for Motorola, Microsoft, or T-Mobile), I am excited about Apple’s latest product announcements. However, one thing disappointed me about the iPhone announcement: its name. In fact, I think the world was surprised by it.

Apple is one of the world’s most famously creative companies, and it is just impossible to believe that “iPhone” is the best you could come up with. Not only is it not really that good of a name, it isn’t even original.

In fact, Cisco isn’t the only one who should be suing Apple for using the name iPhone, Apple’s own shareholders should be as well.

As a former marketing major and a former CEO of a small company, I get why iPhone has some appeal to Apple. However, while this product name may fit an overall branding strategy, this product name doesn’t even fit the product! After all, it isn’t just a phone, is it?

Apple, of all companies, should be able to rise to the challenge of coming up with something great and original — it’s what you guys do!

And frankly, it is what we expect.

To get the ball rolling, here are some ideas I thought up this morning.

If you are wanting to stick to the strategy of product names beginning with the letter “i” then how ’bout:

iQuad – it’s a phone, a PDA, an Internet device and an iPod … that’s 4.

On the other hand, it may be better for Apple to continue with the secondary branding you have already started with products like the iPod Nano and the iPod Shuffle, and go with a name such as:

the iPod Quad
the iPod Pad
the iPod Phone
the iPod Newton

As you can tell, I like the idea of bringing back the Newton. The Newton was a device ahead of its time and it would be nice for it to take a bow now that its time has come.

Anyway, please think about it.

Most of us, if not all, would much rather see Apple resolve the iPhone name dispute with its creativity, rather than its legal department. The latter is just too Redmondian a business tactic.

Tom Pittman


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Myth of the Fourth Screen

Filed under: News,Philosophy — Tom Pittman @ 11:42 am

Someone somewhere sometime said, (and a lot of people have said it since), that

  1. The first screen was the movie screen,
  2. The second screen was the television screen,
  3. The third screen was the computer screen, and
  4. The fourth screen belongs to portable digital devices such as telephones, PDAs and cameras.

Consequently, portable electronic devices are sometimes referred to as the “fourth screen.”

That sounded good to me, then I figured out that the emergence of screens might not have been so straight forward.

According to Wikipedia articles, the movie screen was born in the 1880s. However, “the origins of what would become today’s television system can be traced back to” 1873. Apparently, the television predates movies. Of course television wasn’t any kind of a commercial enterprise in 1873; if it were, then Regis Philbin would have been famous much sooner.

Meanwhile computer screens were in use pretty much parallel with television screens, it’s just that television screens were prominently placed in front of families in their homes, while the computers of the day (and their operators) were kept in back rooms well out of sight of mainstream modern culture. It wasn’t until computers started coming out of the closet (so to speak) that the public at large began to recognize the computer component of the screen age.

I could muddy murky waters more merely mentioning that the fourth screen could arguably be considered the first! Models of Kodak’s Box Brownie camera, as well as other early cameras, had viewer screens roughly the size of the screens of early digital cameras.

So let’s recap:

  • The “first screen” could have actually been the fourth,
  • The “second screen” probably tied with the third,
  • The “third screen” was tied with the second but people didn’t know it, and
  • The “fourth screen” was probably the first.

Is everyone clear on that now? 😉

At any rate, whatever the order of the screens, welcome to the SCREEN AGE.

Speaking of the screen age, when are airlines going to get with the program and replace those “No Smoking” icons in airplanes with icons indicating it is not a time to be using the  electronic devices we’ve brought on board with us?


Sunday, December 17, 2006

But Don’t We Pay Them To Be Jerks?

Filed under: Basketball,NBA — Tom Pittman @ 1:22 am

On the bright side, at least the brawl between the Nuggets and the Knicks has us talking about something other than Iverson.

I’m sure you have probably noticed that the NBA has been diseased for awhile now.

Nuggets Knicks hard foulThe NBA is infected with an increasing number of people whoare so repugnant that most of us would hate to have to deal with their egos and selfishness in our personal, everyday lives, but because we don’t have to, and because their physical gifts help our beloved teams, these goons are instead adored.

To be sure, there still are some classy people in the NBA who are both good players and good men, but like a cancer growing in an otherwise healthy body, the good players who aren’t also good people are weakening the league, and it is beginning to succumb.

I feel for David Stern on this one; it is a hard nut to crack.

Most businesses don’t want to hire arrogant, self-centered jerks and then lean on them to be nice, they would rather just hire nice people. Unfortunately for professional sports, they have to hire these donkeys, and then hire coaches who not only know the game, but who might also know ways to keep these “heroes” from poisoning their own teams.

But just as the cold tablet that makes our sniffles go away for a time does nothing to cure the actual virus making us sick, the symptomatic treatments the NBA has been applying, such as dress codes and cracking down on poor sportsmanship, are not curing the problem.

A Neanderthal with a tie is still a Neanderthal.

These players are not gentlemen. They are not sportsmen. They are not role models. They are in some cases the lesser element of society who we’ve made rich, pampered, and egotistical because they have athletic gifts. It takes desire, determination and diligence to be a good person — just as it does to be a good player. Unfortunately for their spouses, children, and fans, many players put much more work into being a good player than a good person.

Choirboy Steve Nash is verbally abusive to a rookie reporter, but he is okay in our book because he can pass. Dirk Nowitzki slaps towels to the floor out of the hands of ball boys and treats them like worms, but we cheer him because he is a 7 footer that can shoot 3 pointers. And if Carmelo Anthony can lead Team U.S.A. to an Olympic Gold Medal, how many of us Americans are willing to overlook the fact that after the brawling had subsided, Carmelo Anthony broke away to sucker punch Mandy Collins in the face? Hmm… Hey, Melo, whatever happened to “B MORE?!”

As fans, we’ve decided not see what jerks our favorite players are. So long as they play well for us, we’re fine with that. On the other hand, we have also reserved the right be appalled when we can’t help but see what jerks they are. Until then, we will cheer them, pay to see them, and pay to own their jerseys and sneakers, and beat up total strangers in blogs defending them. That being the case, why should they change?

The NBA is rotting from the inside out. We are all witnesses — and accomplices.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Christmas to Remember Every Christmas

Filed under: Family,LDS,Philosophy — Tom Pittman @ 12:34 pm

It was one month past our first wedding anniversary and Christmas morning.  As struggling college students, we had spent our year together literally banking on the saying, “Two can live as cheaply as one,” and now that we had a new, one month old baby, we were hoping to stretch that to three.  While I was growing up my mom always used to say, “We’re so poor, we can’t pay attention.” Starting my own little family, we were that poor too.

Most couples had gone home for the holidays, or at least to relatives nearby, but being from Alaska, we made a Christmas for our little family in our apartment.  Having little to give others, we decided to give our Christmas dinner away to the only young couple we knew of who was poorer than we were. However, making this delivery anonymously was going to require planning, luck, and athleticism.  Their apartment was in a building where the front door opened into a long hallway. 

With my wife waiting outside in the getaway car, I carefully set the box of food in front of their door, knocked very loudly, then shot down the hall in a flat out run.  As I reached the stairs at the end of the hall, I heard their door open.  I knew my only chance to not be seen was to leap the entire flight of stairs, so I did a weird jump — crouched over so as to be as low as I could be as I took to the air.

I almost made it.

My right foot hit the last step and I rolled my ankle and crashed in a heap on the landing below the stairs.  I popped up and hopped at hyper speed for the outside door, crossed the icy sidewalk and dove into the car and my wife sped off for home.

I hobbled up the stairs to our apartment thinking to myself, “It is amazing how good you can feel with a severely sprained ankle.”

We could hear the telephone ringing as we unlocked the door.  It was this couple.  Rats!” I thought.  He saw me!“

“Merry Christmas, Tom,” he said.

My wife looked at me as if to ask, “Who is it?” I pantomimed that it was this couple.  She gasped.

“Are you enjoying your Christmas dinner?” he asked.

Why would he ask that?” I thought to myself.

We were so busted, but I tried to play it cool. “Actually, we haven’t had dinner yet,” I said.

“That’s what I thought,” he replied.

My wife whispered to me, “Do they know?” I nodded yes.

“Guess what?” He continued.  “Someone just left a whole Christmas dinner at our door, all cooked up, turkey and everything!”

“Really?” I said, wiping the sweat from my palms.

“Yeah, that’s why we’re calling you.  You guys are the only couple we know of that is poorer than we are, so we were wondering if you wanted to come over and have dinner with us.”

As we entered their apartment bearing the apple pie we held back for ourselves and still unsure if they suspected us, he asked me, “Tom, what happened to your leg?!”

“I cut myself shaving,” I joked.

That was exactly 20 years ago this Christmas.  I don’t remember many of the Christmas gifts I’ve received since then, but I know I will never forget what we gave that Christmas day, and how it felt.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Hey, Whiners: Crying is not Passion!

Filed under: Basketball,NBA,News,Philosophy — Tom Pittman @ 8:12 pm

After the Pistons’ loss to Utah, Saunders paraded his ineptitude before the press as he whined about technical fouls.

“My comment is that we might as well play ‘PlayStation’ if we are going to take the emotion out of it,” Saunders said.

Boo hoo. Could someone bring poor Flip a clean diaper? Flip

Anyone who says T-ing up crybabies is taking the passion out of basketball needs to quit embarrassing himself and watch more college basketball — especially in March. Do those teams (whose league doesn’t tolerate whining) seem to lack passion?

Because I like the Pistons, I was pulling for Flip Saunders as their coach, but now I think I understand why the Minnesota Timberwolves choked in every playoffs but one when he coached them. I used to think that Kevin Garnett didn’t have the right players around him, but now I wonder if it isn’t because Flip Saunders lacks championship mettle.

As we all know (I hope), coaching plays a far bigger role in the playoffs than the regular season. Because a team plays the same team several times in a row in the playoffs, there is very in depth analysis and adjustments that need to be made to get by a team.

It takes much more than a good game plan to win though, it takes execution. And execution requires focus (through distraction) and mental toughness (through adversity), and clearly Flip Saunders and too many other NBA professionals have neither.

Thanks to our 65″ high definition television, the multiple angles the TV broadcasts often gives us, and a DVR that lets me skip back and step forward at excruciatingly slow motion, I can say with confidence that the refs certainly do miss calls, but they don’t miss as nearly many calls as get complained about by NBA players and coaches. Time after time reviews show coaches and players complaining about the right call.

However, speaking of the big picture, it doesn’t matter if a call was right or wrong though.

Those of us without multimillion dollar shoe deals have been taught by life that it isn’t always fair. When injustices happen, and they always will, the winners in life shake it off and persevere despite the setback, while the losers wear their excuses like bumper stickers on a totaled, junk yard Lexus.

Once upon a time people used to joke that the NBA stood for “No Babies Allowed.” Now it must stand for “Nancy Boy Actors.” And overpaid ones at that. These guys are far too used to the delicate handling society gives celebrities, to the point that they demand it on the hardwood as well. This disconnection with the real world is embarrassing them and the league.

The NBA’s crackdown on crybabies is LOOOONG overdue. Just like the hand checking rule when it was new, the teams that care most about winning will quickly adjust, while the others just end up showing the world their lack of championship mojo by resisting the new reality.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Celebrity death match: Steve Irwin vs. Germaine Greer

Filed under: News — Tom Pittman @ 9:32 am

“Maybe there are a lot of snobs in Australia who are embarrassed by Steve Irwin, but I guarantee you, right now there are a lot of feminists the world over who are embarrassed by Germaine Greer. At least I hope so.”


For an alleged intellectual and supposed academic, Germaine Greer isn’t very smart.

If you don’t know who Germaine Greer is, you are by no means alone — I didn’t until I read about her today. Ms. Greer’s claim to fame is as the author of the feminist book, “The Female Eunuch.”

According to CNN, Ms. Greer went on Australian TV’s “A Current Affair” news program, and said that those who mourn “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin’s passing are “idiots,” and she said possibly millions of Australians were embarrassed by him.

“It’s no surprise he came to grief,” she crowed.

When it comes to Steve Irwin, I’m indifferent. I’ve never watched a television show of his and I never saw his movie. I did think he was interesting when he appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I do know that my children and their friends loved to do impersonations of him, and he seemed to have a very charismatic personality. And from what I read, he has done a lot both for animals and for how people think of animals.

I realize the world lost a celebrity of worldwide renown, but to me the loss of a father to a young family is the greater tragedy.

Regardless of how you feel about Steve Irwin though, if a mature human being like Germaine Greer can’t act mature about his passing, she could at least act human!

Maybe there are a lot of snobs in Australia who are embarrassed by Steve Irwin, but I guarantee you, right now there are a lot of feminists the world over who are embarrassed by Germaine Greer. At least I hope so.

By all appearances, Germaine Greer is a bitter, elitist old lady who is as much without heart as she is common sense.

When Germaine Greer’s time comes, she’ll likely go choking on a rogue crumpet at an tea party. And ironically, when that day comes, and I’m sure she’ll hate this, she’s more likely be remembered as the lady who was bitter about Steve Irwin’s fame, than she is to be remembered for any fame she may have otherwise acquired.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nicky’s bear!

Filed under: Family — Tom Pittman @ 12:15 am

What would you do if you were walking around in your house and you came face to face with a bear? I can tell you what Nicky would do, because it just happened to her!

We had just arrived home from bringing our puppy to the vet when I got a call informing me Emily needed to be picked up. As the family got out of the car, I walked over to another car and drove back into town to get Em. While driving, my mobile phone rang and I began speaking to Nicky. Suddenly she gasped. The sound of her gasp sparked instant alarm inside me.

I asked what was wrong but Nicky didn’t answer. Then she blurted, “Oh! OH! Oh my GOODNESS!” I kept asking her if she was alright, but she didn’t say anything. Then she muttered, “Bear.”

“Did she just say ‘bear?'” I puzzled.

“Bear. Oh my goodness, there is a bear — a bear in our garage! Kids! There is a bear in our garage!”

While talking with me on the telephone, Nicky opened the door from the utility room to the garage, and found herself eye to eye with an Alaskan black bear! She was so close to it, she could have reached out and stroked it, and she would have hit it with the door had the bear not jumped back when the door started to open. The two of them stared at each other for a moment, then Nicky went back into the utility room.

“What do I do?!” Nicky asked.

I told her to have the kids get their cameras and wait at the window for the bear to come out. I didn’t say what I thought was obvious … like, “And don’t let them go outdoors.” I guess I should have though. Some of the boys climbed out on to the roof of the house to see the bear and take photos. After a few minutes they figured they missed the bear and gave up. When 10 minutes or so had passed, Nicky went into the garage again, supposing the bear had long since left. Once again, Nicky unexpectedly found herself face to face with a bear. The bear looked up from eating our puppy’s dog food (from the bag) and stared at Nicky.

When the bear finally left, Nicky and Tommy went out to the car to get the puppy out of the kennel. Nicky banged pans together to scare off the bear if it was still close. The dog is usually quite keen to leave the kennel, but they couldn’t coax the dog out of the kennel. Then they looked up our driveway and saw the bear. The bear saw them too and went at them. They grabbed the dog and ran for the front door where Sam was standing with the door open, and promptly shut it behind them.

Gemma was sitting on the couch taking photos of the bear when the bear went onto our porch and pressed its face against our window, about 8 inches from Gemma’s face, leaving snot on the glass. The kids got some great photos and Josh camcorded it, but he accidentally put the camcorder in night vision mode and left it on, so most of the tape is in green and white. Nicky called 911, and I called a nearby neighbor who is a police officer, and he got there first and shot the bear with special cartridges that have bean bags in them. The bear looked annoyed and walked away. We have seen the bear back around our house in the the days since.

While the whole thing ended up to be a fun adventure, it was actually quite dangerous. This is what is known as a “nuisance bear.” It isn’t properly afraid of people. Had the bear bumped the glass harder, it could have broken through and harmed the family.

While I am tempted to turn this story into a life lesson here in this blog, I think I’ll just leave it at this for awhile, and thank my Father in Heaven that my wife has such a great head on her shoulders.

Monday, May 1, 2006


Filed under: Alaska — Tom Pittman @ 4:23 pm

Anchorage Daily News reporter, Cinthia Ritchie, challenged us to come up with “Alaskanisms” such as “termination dust” or “bunny boots” in her Sunday article. That sounded fun, so here are some more Alaskanisms:

o The Lesser 48 (snobbish but fun)
o PFDemons (merchants tempting you for your PFD check)
o Permanent FUN Dividend (Alaskan’s annual budget supplement)
o Pothole Ballet (dodging potholes while driving)
o Bermmed in (snow berm blocking driveway)
o Berm back (sore back from shoveling show berm)
o Berm-a-frost (frozen snow burm)
o April Cruel Day (fresh snow falling in April)
o Spring Creaming (fresh snow falling in April)
o Snow Tire-ranny (obligatory semi-annual tire change overs)
o Yearly Re-Tire-ment (seasonal tire change over)
o Kooters (patrons of “Koots” or Chilkoot Charlies)
o Road dirt tan (a car color)
o Mud Lights (mud-covered headlights)
o No beams (mud-covered headlights)
o Lazy wash (“laser” car washes)
o Taking a warm cut (cutting through a building to get warmer)

There is half a chance others will come to me and be added to list later.

Why Steve Nash is NOT the NBA’s MVP

Filed under: Basketball,NBA — Tom Pittman @ 4:31 am

Thanks to Dish Network and NBA League Pass, I get to watch a LOT of basketball. The Suns and the Lakers are two of the teams I’ve tracked all season. Both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash tend to dominate the ball, with Kobe usually looking to score and Steve usually looking to pass.I like Steve Nash. Not only is Stevie one of my favorite players in the league, but he is one of my favorite people in all professional sports. How I wish more athletes had his character!

But tell me, what is the difference between most of a team’s points coming from one player (like Kobe Bryant), and most of a team’s assists coming from one player … like Steve Nash?

And tell me, what is harder to do: pass the ball to any one of 7 teammates who are all having a career best years? Or score against defenses that focus on you as the only player they regard as a real threat?Kobe dunks on Nash

And for all the good Nash does on one end of the floor, he pretty much gives half of it back with his token defense. Most offensive players use Nash like a rental car, although Nash really is a first class flopper.

Nevermind the debate about what refs did or didn’t call, and Nash losing the ball twice at critical times in Game 4 of the Suns’ first round series against the Lakers … before any of that happened, Laker Smush Parker shot his clutch 3 pointer over Steve Nash near the end of regulation like he wasn’t there. Had Nash defended Parker, the other two later incidents would not have mattered.

How can a player seriously be considered as THE most valuable player in the NBA who is only good on one end of the floor? That is not a valuable player, that is a valuable HALF a player!

You know what’s most valuable to championship basketball? Defense. Just look at the Pistons and the Spurs! One dimensional basketball couldn’t get Steve Nash’s Dallas Mavericks a championship, and it won’t get the Phoenix Suns one either.

Steve Nash is without question my favorite point guard in the league, but he is just not the league’s most valuable player.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Things We Do For Love

Filed under: Music — Tom Pittman @ 4:36 pm

It’s winter. It’s Alaska. To my frustration, my boss made me work late and we were playing a private dance that night. Although we had set up the night before, I still had to drive home to change clothes before I went to the gig and I was running so late the band was going to kill me. Adding to my aggravation, the road conditions were not good making the drive to my house was so slow I was almost ready to pop out of my skin.When I finally got home, I couldn’t get the car up our road, so I left it at the bottom of the hill and ran up to the house. I quickly changed and being a certifiable idiot, I grabbed my beautiful, perfect, 1977 Fender Jazz Bass by the neck and decided to save a second or two and not bother to put it in its case … and took off down the hill.

Now, if the driveway was too slick for a 4-wheel drive car with studded snow tires to make it up, why on earth didn’t I realize it was also too slick for a person in dress shoes to run down?

I take that back: I DID realize it was too slick to run down in dress shoes … the instant I felt my feet were no longer under me.

I started to fall hard, and I was falling on top of my bass. All I could think of was, “Tom, you can heal. The bass can’t.” While falling, I tried to lift the bass as high as I could and rolled hard to try to make it so it would land on me, instead of me on it.

When I got to the gig, the band was all on stage stalling as best they could — praying I was alright with one face and cursing me with the other. As I came up on stage three of them started to lay into me at once. I just raised my right hand and showed them the open, still-bleeding gash on my palm, and my broken pinky finger pointing 90-degrees in a direction it shouldn’t. That shut them all up instantly and I grabbed my tuned and waiting Ric and we went right into our first set. Someone from the floor saw my distress and got me a towel to wipe up blood. I set the broken finger myself on our first break.

I still have that bass, my beautiful, still-perfect 1977 Fender Jazz bass. And if I had that night to do over again, I wouldn’t hesitate to take one for the gear. After all, I DID heal. I would, however, do one thing different: take the extra minute or two to put the bass in its case.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Mark Cuban does a poor Gandhi impersonation

Filed under: Basketball — Tom Pittman @ 4:30 pm

In Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s latest blog, Some Thoughts on the NBA, he wrote, “I’m a purist. The rules is the rules. I don’t care if you call it on us. “That would be a little easier to believe if we hadn’t watched Cuban’s jubilation at and after the three point contest. Dirk Nowitski should not have even advanced to the second round much less won the three point shootout, had the officials done their job as Mark Cuban claims he wants them to.

Since we haven’t read that he has sent tapes to the league office about it, forgive us for concluding that the only time he wants officiating to be spot on is when it is to his advantage.

Of course, it would be blatantly self-serving Cuban to claim that the time really didn’t matter. If it doesn’t matter that the time ran out when Dirk’s last two points of the first round were still in his hand, then why even time the three point shootout at all? Why not just let them launch five racks of balls and see how they do? Obviously, the timer is a big part of the three point competition.

Despite the articulate overtures of noble purity, Mark Cuban’s actions — and inactions — speak so loudly that it can be hard to hear what he says.

Want to leave a noble legacy? Why not redirect the considerable intelligence and financial resources from reforming officiating and put it into something meaningful like reforming the injustices of our legal system?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that NBA officiating is in need of a LOT reforming, it is just too much of a stretch to believe Mark Cuban champions reform from a non-partisan position.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Could what is wrong with the Knicks be what is right with the Pistons?

Filed under: Basketball — Tom Pittman @ 4:34 pm

If you want to see a very thought provoking article on why the Pistons are so good and the Knicks are so bad, check out this aritcle on Thomas vs. Dumars. It takes the teams that former teammates Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars built, and discusses how each of their teams are created in the image of their creator.This article makes me think about the job Jerry West did for the Lakers and how the Grizzlies have done since he went there, and how the former Phoenix Suns GM, Bryan Colangelo, might affect Toronto.

Maybe what Kobe needs most in L.A. is Jerry Krause! 🙂


Thursday, February 9, 2006

Even billionaires (like Mark Cuban) can’t afford enemies

Filed under: Basketball — Tom Pittman @ 4:27 pm

Cuban, unless he wises up, is going to be one of those guys who the whole league loves to see down when he is down.

The Dallas Mavericks are playing excellent ball, and what is more they are fun to watch play. Coach Avery Johnson finally brought a little D to the “Big D.”

Too bad their owner, Mark Cuban, who I normally really like a lot, has opted to act like such a jerk during the streak. It takes away from the enjoyment of the Mav’s success.

“I own Phil Jackson,” crowed Cuban in his blog. “Not literally of course. That thrill belongs to the smartest businesswoman in professional sports, Jeannie Buss. Figuratively however, the coach formerly known as the Zen Master must now be considered my bucket boy.”

Nothing makes a would-be winner more low-class like taunting and crowing. Just as Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and Larry Brown aren’t atop the league anymore, the Mavs will someday be rebuilding as well. The difference is that Jackson, Riley and Brown were more or less gracious winners. Cuban, unless he wises up, is going to be one of those guys who the whole league loves to see down when he is down.

Hey, Mark, why not show a little graciousness and class? If they can afford it, certainly you can too.

I’ve lived long enough now to realize that friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.


Sunday, February 5, 2006

Boxscore Bloggers

Filed under: Basketball — Tom Pittman @ 10:58 pm

You gotta love all these BOXSCORE BLOGGERS and their “expert” opinions. Analyzing a basketball game from a statistical box score and highlight clips is like saying you know a girl because you’ve read her measurements and saw her dating video. Can you say s-h-a-l-l-o-w?

I’m not saying that box score bloggers shouldn’t write; I’ve spotted things of value from many of their blogs. And I’m certainly not saying that stats and highlights don’t have their value because they do. But too many boxscore bloggers are like cement: all mixed up and permanently set. Don’t let that be you.

Say the world’s foremost authority on vision were to lecture at a university near you. You attend the lecture, take copious notes and he just blows you away with what he knows. After the lecture you go to shake his hand and thank him, and discover to your astonishment that the lecturer is blind and has been since birth. How much does he REALLY know about sight?

I don’t care how smart you think you are (or that you slept in a Holiday Inn last night), if you haven’t seen the game, admit your limitations — both to yourself and to your readers. You have analyzed data, that is all, not the game. That is an important difference. A medical chart isn’t the patient, it is just data that can help you understand the patient. Before you can definitively diagnose the patient’s condition, ultimately, you have to see the patient.

Case in point: Kobe Bryant’s 81 point game against the Toronto Raptors. If you cannot get your hands on a recording of this game, then at least watch a Lakers game to see how they play together.

Boxscore Bloggers have been looking at the shot attempts and calling Kobe a ball hog.

Watch the game, however, and you see that nearly every possession has multiple Laker fingerprints on the ball. Also, when you watch the game you see that the other Lakers are LOOKING for Kobe and they get him the ball. Why are the Lakers deferring to Kobe for the shots? Because they want to win the game! You do the math:

— Lamar Odom: 1 out of 7
— Kawame Brown: 1 out of 5
— Devean George: 0 out of 4
— Sasha Vujacic: 1 out of 5
— Luke Walton: 0 out of 1

If you want to win a game, where should the shots come from? The 5 guys shooting a combined 13.6 percent? Or the guy shooting 61 percent?

Teams admit all the time that their strategy against the Lakers is to stifle the supporting cast and make Kobe beat them. The Raptors forced the Lakers to make Kobe beat them, and after the Lakers struggled for most of the game, well, Kobe decided to do just that.

Watching the game though, no one could get the impression that Kobe was a selfish player “determined to get his shots.” In fact, the whole history making thing really snuck up on you.

Down by an embarrassing 18 points in the third quarter at home to the team with the third worst record in the NBA, Kobe got frustrated and decided to take over. Two thirds of his shots came in the second half. All of his points were needed to win the game, and it is CERTAIN the Lakers would not have won if Kobe hadn’t played.

Don’t misunderstand. I am not saying that I haven’t seen Kobe on other occasions play very selfishly, force shots, etc. This isn’t really a commentary on Kobe Bryant: this is a commentary on how box scores don’t really tell the whole story.

The bottom line is if a girl’s measurements and her dating video is all you need to go off of, that is your prerogative. However, don’t be angry at us when we read your blogs, groan, and think of you as shallow.

I’d rather have Kobe for a teammate than Shaq

Filed under: Basketball,NBA — Tom Pittman @ 6:19 pm

I don’t know if we are all too young to remember or too old to have reliable memories, but before Kobe was the player we all loved to hate, there was another young player who scored most of his team’s points, didn’t get along with his all-star teammate, dismantled a championship-caliber team, and got his coach dismissed in the process: Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq and Kobe

Shaq didn’t get along with Penny Hardaway in Orlando then went to Los Angeles to not get along with Kobe Bryant. (Can you say, “Common Denominator?”) In so doing, Shaq ditched a team that had just won their division twice in a row, been to the Eastern Conference Finals twice in a row, and had been to the NBA Finals. Why? According to Shaq himself, he bolted for Hollywood to help his rap and movie career. (Can you say, “Ron Artest?”) Soon after, coach Brian Hill was let go and the Magic have never been the same since.

But look at the bright side, Orlando Magic fans: you may have lost a championship contending team for the next 12 years at least, but at you’ll have “Kazaam” and “Blue Chips” on DVD forever.

When Shaq joined the league, he seemed more into breaking backboards than anything else. He was definitely more about fun than winning. We all were grateful when he “developed” a jump hook from six feet out. When you add that to his other move: bump the defender out of the way with your massive body and dunk, his two-dimensional offensive repertoire was enough to make him unstoppable, so he stopped developing new shots. That’s too bad; I’ve coached many 14 year old kids that shoot free throws better than this “professional” basketball player.

Because of Shaq’s unwillingness to work on his game and grow as a player, you can’t even have him in the game at crunch time ’cause “Hack a Shaq” is so effective it is a league wide strategy in close games. A superstar you can’t count on in close games?! Contrast that to Kobe Bryant at the end of close games. Kobe is the one guy you most want in the game and with the ball in the closing moments when the game is on the line.

I admired Shaq a great deal for deferring to Phil Jackson when Jackson took over the Lakers, but I credit Shaq’s momentary maturity to Phil’s ability to get egomaniacs to play together. I say momentary maturity because it took Pat Riley and Bill Russell double teaming Shaq to get him to set aside his animosity (publicly at least) with Kobe. Again, many 14 year olds know better and you would hope a professional would act, well, professionally.

That’s not to say that Kobe doesn’t have his downside, but it’s not like this site needs more “ink” exposing Kobe’s faults. It is done ad nauseam.

By the way, I don’t buy the “Kobe dismantled the Lakers” hype anyway. Of the two superstars, Shaq has lost more than most people care to admit (especially Shaq), and Kobe had yet to peak. Re-signing Kobe was the right first priority for the Lakers at that time; it’s a shame Shaq wasn’t mature enough to defer to Kobe as Kobe did to Shaq when Shaq was at the top of his game.

But even if it was true that Kobe dismantled the Lakers, at least Kobe stuck around to deal with the fallout. Shaq left plenty of scorched earth in Orlando and left for Hollywood. Then Shaq ran again for greener pastures when the going got tough in Los Angeles.

Shaq is a big kid, and like most kids, he doesn’t want to work and he wants things HIS way. Even now, you get the sense that Shaq rather lose games than lose weight.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Alaska Day

Filed under: Alaska,Politics — Tom Pittman @ 9:55 am


This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, October 13, 2005.

(Faxed to Dan Fagan Friday, 07 October 2005 @ 2:41pm)

Dear Dan Fagan,

I enjoyed listening to your show yesterday (Thursday, October 6, 2005). I agree; Paul the intern is a “solid guy.”

I listened with keen interest to the anecdote about the woman who is eligible for health services at the Native hospital but doesn’t take advantage of them because she doesn’t want to be a part of the entitlement mentality. I had my three high school aged children in the car with me as I listened, and I turned up the radio and made them listen as well as you and your guest applauded her for her principles, and thrashed the evils of the entitlement culture. I agree how un-conservative that thinking is. I was glad my children were hearing this.

But then we were all thrown for a loop as we listened to your guest turn around and refer to the Permanent Fund Dividend as “your” dividend check, and then the two of you campaigned for the PFD with indignation. My children literally started laughing as they discussed how can you believe the entitlement mindset is bad, and then hold your hand out and demand “your” PFD check?

For quite a bit of the show, you and your guests criticized Ben Stevens about money he has received putting to Ben the question, “What did you do for the money?” That is a GREAT question! Let’s put it to all Alaskans: what did YOU do for the PFD money? Fill out a 1 page application online?!

It is easy to rationalize and say the PFD is different, I know, because as an Alaska Native myself, having worked in Native organizations for most of my career, I have heard those arguments again and again. Every entitlement thinks it is different, and there are always plenty of really legit reasons for an entitlement — that is how the entitlement gets established in the first place!

But no matter the justification, if we really feel it is our right to be handed money, and that we are entitled to it even though we didn’t work to earn it, then we are without question a major part of the entitlement culture of Alaska, whether or not we like to admit it. A spade doesn’t have to be a liberal to be called a spade, does it?

You know what a true blue Reagan Republican would do with the Permanent Fund earnings? Not give away money like blanket welfare for all Alaska residents, but use it to bring tax relief to actual working people. Take property owners for instance. Where is the politician who will stand up and say the money will be used for villages, boroughs, municipalities … for local governments to provide relief from high property taxes as a benefit for actual Alaskans living and working in Alaska? The trickle down effect of course would be that renters, businesses and even visitors would benefit as well. Or where is the politician who will champion setting aside a huge savings account for disaster relief when that rainy day hits an Alaskan community as Katrina hit the lower 48? And don’t even get me started on people who want to increase property taxes or establish statewide sales or income taxes but not touch the dividend.

Sadly, most Alaskans, including we conservatives, would rather debate political principles than sacrifice for them. That is what makes the woman who declines to take advantage of her Native health benefits special, and a noteworthy example for us all.

At any rate, good show. By the way, if you think Paul the intern is solid in the studio, you should see him on the basketball court! Wow.


Tom Pittman
Eagle River, Alaska



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