From: Famous Writer Ben Golliver
Subject: Mailbag Question
If your goal was to go 0-82 next season, how would you configure the Blazers’ starting lineup (no positional considerations required)?
CORBIN: My answer to this question begins and ends with Robin Lopez at the point. Meyers would probably be a more popular choice here, but he is pretty athletic and has at least pretended to develop something resembling guard skills (I’m gonna shoot threes this year!). Lopez is an excellent basketball player who has gotten that way by narrowing his focus to exclusively doing big man stuff. He drops back on pick and rolls to cover his limited foot speed, he boxes out, he sets screens, and he never does anything else, at all. He doesn’t even really pass from the elbows. And that’s great! But man the Blazers could really rack up some losses if they put the ball in his hands. Just think about it: Lopez gets the ball in the backcourt, takes two VERY high dribbles, gets stripped immediately, fouls whoever stripped him on the layup, hangs his head in frustration because he is knows how out of his depth he is, two foul shots, gets the inbound, repeat forever.
At your two-guard, gotta go with Mo “Maux” Williams. Mo is out here looking around at the options here and deciding that Mo WIlliams is the key to this game. Gunning for thirty every night. Coming off staggered screens, probing for a second, backing up, and jacking up a contested mid ranger with 10 seconds left on the clock. And no one is going to stop him: he’s a veteran! He’s seen the wars! Headbands command authority! The Modern NBA’s first 30 Point, 13 PER player.
Meyers Leonard is a natural losing small forward. Your ideal modern NBA three is a Swiss Army knife — passing, shooting, cutting, defending multiple positions — and Meyers is not good at any of those things. Imagine, when the Blazers need to match up with Tony Parker, and Robin just isn’t up to the task, Terry sticks a Meyers Leonard out there above the key to slow down his penetration. We’re talking about broken ankles everywhere, multiple Meyeri emerging from the original just so they can fall down on the hardwood and injure themselves. A true bloodbath.
Allen Crabbe at power forward. He is short and it does not seem like he can jump very high. He would get blasted in the post all game and be completely outmatched on rebounds. He might turn into an actual crab under the pressure.
At center: LaMarcus Aldridge. Say what, Corbin?! Lamarcus is a pretty good option at center! He has range to stretch opposing defenders, he rebounds well and is tall and strong enough to bang in the post. Yes, I say, but he just hates it so much. After the Blazers lose their first ten games, Aldridge, the leader of the team and the Blazers’ highest paid player, would justifiably become a locker room cancer. Imagine that you are the L-Train and not only is the team a nightmarish mishmash, but you’re crushed in the post all night when you would rather be playing power forward. You would LIVE in front of reporters, complaining about everything you could think of until someone traded you (The water in the cooler is too goddamn cold!). When you are building a losing team, lack of production is important, but so is the intangible badness you get from a poisoned locker room environment.
JOE: I would actually leave the standard lineup the same, but over the offseason I would bring them all to the IKEA in Renton, Washington, because the IKEA in Renton, Washington, has a restaurant at which a person get 15 delicious meatballs, mashed potatoes, some kind of cream sauce, and lingonberries, all for $4.99. Hopefully I would even take them there around the time of some Swedish holiday when the IKEA in Renton, Washington, sells some kind of fun Swedish holiday drink that tastes a lot like if you poured a Coca-Cola into a glass, put that glass in the refrigerator, forgot it was in there, then thought it was bacon grease and tried to cook something with it on the stove, then when you realized it was Coca-Cola, you put it back in the bottle and drank later to celebrate some fun Swedish holiday. The point is, Ben, the team would eat that delicious meal and realize that the pinnacle of human experience costs $4.99, and they would lay down their basketball arms to happily go 0-82 and spend their time at the IKEA in Renton, Washington. They also have a 99-cent breakfast plate which I’ve never had but I assume it’s great and there’s a Baja Fresh like a short distance away and its maybe a top-8 Baja Fresh, of the Baja Freshes that I’ve been to.
From: Dane Hansen
Portland possesses the lyrical talents of Damian Lillard, and yet it’s been 15 years since Bust A Bucket. What’s up with that? Is the front office committed to bringing fans a Grammy or not?
JOE: Hello, Dane. Thank you for your questions. Before I answer them, I would like to first point out that the Blazers did, in fact, release an EP in the time since “Bust-a-Bucket.” In 1999 I believe, the Trail Blazers, in conjunction with Z100 and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Portland Metropolitan Area, released an EP titled Can I Get A Headband?, which featured the hit title track along with the b-side “It Ain’t Easy,” as well as extended mixes of both, and a fifth track simply titled, “Headband Fan’s Mix,” and for the life of me I have no recollection what that final track contained (I have a vague memory of listening to “It Ain’t Easy” and it being pretty forgettable).
Also, “Bust-a-Bucket” was performed almost entirely by someone called Dan Reed. Granted I hadn’t even begun elementary school at the time of the release and this was the early ‘90s, so weird dudes with cutoff t-shirts tucked into jeans could very well be professional athletes, but I’m pretty sure that Dan Reed was not a player on the Blazers. Therefore, not counting the choral section of assorted Blazers, the only player who truly performed on the song was Jerome Kersey, who delivers a stirring vocal solo with the commitment and gusto of a man who clearly knows his way around the Boyz II Men anthology. By contrast, “Can I Get A Headband?” is performed entirely by players, but since you forgot that one, maybe having players perform a song isn’t really the way to achieve success.
To answer your second question: no, I don’t think they’re committed to bringing fans a Grammy. They are a basketball team. They probably haven’t even discussed what’s required to win Grammys.
CORBIN: I have never heard “Bust-a-Bucket” OR “Can I Get a Headband” before I got this question, I have basically no interest in ephemeral radio-promotional music, I am afraid. I think coming to this cold gives me a fresh perspective. “Can I Get a Headband” is very bad, but it MIGHT feature the lyric “A Robot of God/Who said he was homeless”. As far as the Blazers’ stubborn refusal to bless us with a sequel to the slightly better “Bust-a-Bucket,” men like Dan Reed who wore black tank tops and sang weird fake-y rap songs over electric guitar riffs and drove the local novelty sports song economy all sublimated into gas the second Malkmus bought a house here.
From: Yoni Rapaport
Subject: Mailbag question
If the blazers were a rap crew, which one would they be? Who would be in what roles?
CORBIN: The Allman Brothers Band, circa 1971. Damian is Duane, Lamarcus is Gregg, Nic is Dicky Betts, Wes is Berry Oakley, Robin is Jai Johanney Johnson, Barton is Butch Trucks. Brandon Roy is Elizabeth Reed.
JOE: Corbin just answered the question with precision so I have nothing else to offer, except a couple runner-up analogies.
Chuck D = Aldridge, Flav = Lopez, Terminator X = Lillard, Professor Griff = Matthews, the S1W = Barton and Robinson
RZA = Lillard, GZA = Aldridge, Raekwon = Matthews, Ghostface Killah = Batum, Method Man = Barton, Inspectah Deck = Robinson, U-God = Mo, Masta Killa = Freeland, ODB = Lopez
Rocky = Aldridge, Ferg = Lillard, Yams = Stotts, Ty Beats = Olshey, Bari = Ben Falk, Illz = Batum, Nast = Matthews, and the rest of the Mob can be Claver, Crabbe, CJ, and Dorell Wright.
From: Douglas Corpron
Subject: Questions bout stuff?
Which Blazers are the most talented? But not like basketball talent, u want to know about the real talents- who is the best singer, best dancer, best at writing poetry, who tells the best jokes, and other important talents.
JOE: If anyone with the Blazers is reading this mailbag, then this is a good time to mention that should you credential us going forward, these are the kinds of journalistic tidbits that you could expect us to uncover: who on the team is most talented in the most important ways. As it stands now, we have very little first-hand experience (I saw Meyers Leonard waiting in line at Salt & Straw once, he was very tall), so we have to speculate.
As for the speculation though, I think the obvious candidate for talents is Nicolas Batum, since he’s French. But, given that he’s French and that we still haven’t seen much, if any, of his off-court artistry in really any fields at all, I think we have to look elsewhere. For that reason, I think Victor Claver would have to be most talented. Still European so he presumably possesses the same continental flair for art history and music critique and the culinary arts, but because he’s Spanish he doesn’t fit the easy stereotype of a Frenchman, which is why we haven’t seen these talents. We haven’t been looking for them. Granted, he’s not the most talented at basketball, but he’s actually pretty good at all basketball tasks if taken in isolation, so I imagine that his well-rounded skill-set carries over into life as well. I imagine he has basic shoe-cobbling knowledge, for instance.
CORBIN: I would say we have at least a little evidence that Robin Lopez is the team’s most accomplished writer though I wouldn’t be suprised if Wes was an on the D/L poetic soul. I was reading the Marquette University student written literary journal in 2007, where I encountered a blank verse work by “John Basketpoem” (A pseudonym; records do not indicate any Basketpoems attending Marquette at the time) that interested me deeply:
And try to get better
That’s how you do it
How you step up and put the ball in the bucket
Get me on the block coach
And I will build a castle fit for basketball gods
Certainly SOUNDS like Wes, though I wouldn’t want to presume.
From: Brian Richter
Did Bill Walton love disco?
[insert image of Disco Stu chart]
CORBIN: Probably not. I think we have a pretty comprehensive knowledge of what Bill Walton’s taste in music is and it’s mostly weedy jam-rock blues stuff. Gotta imagine he wasn’t one of those veiled-homophobic “Disco Sucks” dickheads, though. I’ll bet he would like LCD Soundsystem if someone turned him on to it, though he might think it was a little arch.
JOE: The chart is strong evidence, though I have a hard time accepting on faith that Bill Walton is purely responsible for disco sales booming in 1977. Even if the Blazers were, at some level, responsible, how do we know it wasn’t Bobby Gross, or Lionel Hollins, or even the fierce Maurice Lucas, who loved the sweet sounds of disco music? Poring over Disco Stu’s raw data would be necessary to make any statements with certainty.
From: Tim Sartori
Subject: Yo, guys
Hey, I’m Tim Sartori (@Tim_NBA on twitter, we have had some humorous interactions a few times).
Just wanted to submit a question, if you’re still taking those?
There’s been a lot of talk about those ‘you have $15 to build the best team you can’ things, and I’m basically wondering, who is on the Blazers’ one of those?
Keep up the great stuff, I’ll be looking out for this post.
CORBIN: First off, excellent job pushing your Twitter handle, this is high grade social media strategizing at its finest. I would never answer a question like this using subjective whims, so I went into Basketball Reference, looked up every position, sorted them by descending total Win Shares produced for the Blazers, and arranged them here:
$5: Terry Porter (79.3 Win Shares)
$4: Damon Stoudamire (37.7 Win Shares)
$3: Rod Strickland (32.7 Win Shares)
$2: Dave Twardzik (21.8 Win Shares)
$1: Damian Lillard (15.4 Win Shares. Given, in two seasons. I didn’t say this method was perfect!)
$5: Clyde Drexler (108.7 Win Shares)
$4: Jim Paxson (50 Win Shares)
$3: Brandon Roy (37.5 Win Shares)
$2: Larry Steele (28.2 Win Shares)
$1: Wesley Matthews (24.9 Win Shares)
$5: Jerome Kersey: (59 Win Shares)
$4: Calvin Natt: (34 Win Shares)
$3: Kiki Vandeweghe (33.9 Win Shares. Neck and neck with Calvin Natt!)
$2: Nicolas Batum (32.2 Win Shares)
$1: Bob Gross (30.4 Win Shares)
$5: Rasheed Wallace (61.3 Win Shares, three lifetimes worth of dominance over squares)
$4: Lamarcus Aldridge (60.8 Win Shares)
$3: Buck Williams (50.4 Win Shares)
$2: Clifford Robinson (46.8 Win Shares. Cliff’s position is up for debate, but whatever, positional revolution, man.)
$1: Mychal Thompson (39.9 Win Shares. So is Mychal’s, but moving him to center wouldn’t have gotten Lucas on so I didn’t bother.)
$5: Arvydas Sabonis (47.3 Win Shares. Pretty impressive, considering he started his NBA Career at 31 and was injured a lot.)
$4: Bill Walton (26 Win Shares)
$3: Kevin Duckworth (25.5 Win Shares)
$2: Joel Pryzbilla (20.5 Win Shares)
$1: Chris Dudley (R, Oregon. 12.6 Win Shares)
Did this method leave Maurice Lucas in the cold and suggest that Sabonis had a better Blazers career than Bill Walton? Absolutely! But science is not an affair, it is a marriage and even you you get a result you may not approve of, you don’t just take her to court and split up your beautiful family.
JOE: I would like to submit Corbin’s “objective” monetary assignments as an example of the fake objectivity and false promise of equality that are inherent in capitalism. Any list that says Jim Paxson is more valuable than Brandon Roy, while also ignoring the contributions great WORKERS like Walt Williams and Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon, is clearly the work of fascist neoliberal militaristic oil magnates and I for one will not consent to their rule. Para todos toda, para nosotros nada.
CORBIN: How dare you call me a neoliberal. I don’t need to answer to scum like you, but here is PROOF of my progressive economic bonafides:
From: David Brown
Subject: Re Hi
Hai, we want u in our team!!! Thankss.
CORBIN: When Joe told me this was a spam email, I was crushed. I have always wanted to be a part of a team.
JOE: I actually don’t know for sure that it is a spam email. There was no ask for a reply, or a link, so it’s possible David Brown is an enthusiastic fan of the blog who wants us on his team.
Beloved Family of Ira Curry announces their donation of the sum 600,000.00 USD to you. Send
Have a wonderful day
JOE: My name is Joseph Swide and I don’t really have any of that other stuff right now. But if Ira is so inclined, I like to eat breakfast at Fuller’s, near the park blocks, so maybe he can find me there.
CORBIN: NAME: Corbin Aquamaniac Smith. ADDRESS: 1245 NE ProudToLiveInClarkCounty Circle, Vancouver, WA 98685 MOBILE #: 3604206969 AGE: 15 OCCUPATION: Very successful blogger on the topics of women and plant trellising.
From: Famous-But-Not-As-Famous-As-Ben-Golliver Comedian Ian Karmel
Subject: where my subnglasses is
JOE: Corbin, I don’t want to make jokes about this one. Clearly, this came from a man in crisis. We need to find this man’s sunglasses. Many comedians have dark inner lives and right now Mr. Karmel’s is a bit too brightly lit. The clues here are in his type-ohs. Let’s examine the first one, “subnglasses.”
CORBIN: Probably indicates that they are on a submarine.
JOE: Or a submarine sandwich, maybe one that was served on a submarine. Maybe the Blueback down at OMSI. Do they serve sandwiches?
CORBIN: No, but they do serve comfort food cooked by southern women who call young men, like Mr. Karmel here, “Sug.”
JOE: And a summer day in which he would wearing sunglasses might take him to OMSI, a place many summer loves have been kindled. Yet the most revealing part of this email is that not only did he start by typing his message into the subject line, but then when he made a mistake, he didn’t delete it. He just typed the correction in the message field, then made another mistake and did the same thing, again not going back to delete it. Clearly, this is a man who lives his life fast, like a meteor hurtling through the atmosphere, a fireball that doesn’t look back. So while he probably left his former sunglasses at OMSI, probably on the submarine, those sunglasses are in the past, behind him, and so they are no longer his. His sunglasses must be in front of him, not yet purchased, sitting on the rack at a 711 out towards Gresham, the ones with flames shooting down the sides, of course, just like he lives his life.
CORBIN: The life of a road comedian. Tragic stuff.
(HEY if you want us to answer YOUR QUESTION about the Blazers or whatever (Corbin know a lot about plant maintenance, for instance.), shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org