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By Adam Hoff


There has been quite a bit of mail rolling in lately, so let’s get some of it answered.  We’ll start with the many emails concerning the USA Olympic Basketball team.


Mike writes: “I know you were trying to be positive about the Men’s basketball team in the Olympics, but something had to have bothered you!  What players did you feel like throwing your remote at?”


Well, I felt that Dwyane Wade was a bit frustrating to watch.  He made some plays that absolutely killed Team USA.  However, he played hard, played good defense, and really can’t be faulted since he was playing about his 120th game of his rookie season.  As I mentioned in my column about the US hoops team, they shouldn’t be sending rookies to the Olympics.  However, the guy that really drove me crazy was Tim Duncan.  Granted, he was wearing two or three guys like a second uniform the entire time and he got absolutely screwed by the referees, but he still didn’t bring it.  He was shanking six-foot bank shots, clanking free throws, leaving his feet on pump fakes from the three point line ... it was just awful.  His mechanical style really hurt him in the Olympics and I feel that when you couple this performance with his disappearing act against the Lakers in the 2004 playoffs, he’s no longer the frontrunner for the mythical “best player in the NBA” status.  In short, when Team USA needed Duncan to have “The Eye of the Tiger,” he instead possessed “The Anus of the Skunk.”  


Al has this to say about my USA hoops column: “Come on, your solutions to the USA Basketball situation were so obvious.  They were the same things everyone else is saying: national coach, role players, more practice.  Give us something a little more creative.”


Okay, fair enough.  Here’s another suggestion: send over the Duke All-Stars.  No group of American basketball players has been as consistently good as Duke over the past decade.  Plus, Duke teams play a similar game to the international teams.  They spread the court, drive and kick, move the ball from side to side, drill threes, and play great defense.  The Blue Devils (who I despise, just for the record) are the perfect antidote for those sharp shooting Euros and efficient Argentines.  However, you can’t just send the current Duke roster; no college basketball team is going to beat the type of teams we saw in the Olympics this year.  What we need to do is round up the best Duke alums in the NBA and put them back under Coach K’s tutelage.  How’s this for a gold medal winner?


C- Elton Brand

PF -- Carlos Boozer

SF -- Corey Maggette

SG -- Trajan Langdon

PG -- Chris Duhon

B -- Mike Dunleavy

B -- Shane Battier

B -- Grant Hill

B -- Christian Laettner

B -- Luol Deng

B -- Cherokee Parks

B -- William Avery


Brand is just as capable of holding down the middle as Duncan; he actually blocks more shots and is a better passer out of double-teams.  In the NBA, Brand is a pure power forward; however, against international teams he could easily play center.  Boozer is a perfect compliment at power forward and we all saw how consistent he played in Athens.  Maggette is an emerging talent that is just as good as Marion or Jefferson, and is a better shooter than either of them.  Langdon is the equal of any shooter in the tournament and has been torching Euro League competition for the past three years.  He’s too small to play shooting guard in the NBA, but he’s perfect for Olympic basketball.  Then you’ve got Duhon to run the whole thing.  I’m personally not a Chris Duhon fan and I think he fakes injuries, but if it’s a true point guard and floor leader that you want, he fits the bill. 


The bench is the best part of this team.  True winners and versatile players up and down the bench.  Grant Hill could play 5-10 minutes a game and provide leadership.  Laettner brings interior passing and shooting as a poor man’s Brad Miller.  Dunleavy would be the backup at every perimeter position, log 30 minutes a game, and wind up being the team’s leading scorer.  Battier would do a bit of everything.  Deng, Parks, and Avery would just ride pine.  This team would play Duke basketball: defend like crazy, work together, and shoot the lights out.  Can you imagine an American team with Dunleavy, Langdon, Battier, and Maggette drilling threes and Brand dominating in the post?  It would be the perfect mix of personnel and the best part is that they would all buy in to the style of play from day one, because they’ve done it before. 


Drew is wondering about The Real World.  “With Real World, Philadelphia kicking off last week, I’m sure you are excited beyond belief.  However, I have a couple of questions.  First, who makes your All-21st Century Real World team?  Second, what cities need to get some airtime in a future season?


Great questions!  I am indeed excited about the new Real World season, particularly because that Landon guy looks ridiculously entertaining.  However, I worry that MTV is simply running out the usual collection of clichés.  We’ve got the flamboyantly homosexual guy, the slut, the drama queen, the party boy, the simple-minded country boy, and so on.  It’s just become so predictable.  Not only that, but every season is starting to feel the same.  They get off to roaring starts (Vegas, San Diego), fizzle for the middle third when the shows revolve entirely around personality problems (Bryn throwing the fork at Steven, everyone hating C.T., Frankie just absolutely crumbling), and then get a little boost down the stretch when they take their trip and everyone starts hooking up.  I mean, mix it up a little bit!  I’d like to see a season in which they throw a bunch of crazy parties and have casino nights and stuff.  Or a season in which the roommates enter a community softball league and get in fights with the other teams.  Just something different.


As for my All-Star team, it would look something like this:


Kyle (Chicago) -- Pure comedy.  It was like watching the Manchurian Global-created vice presidential candidate in a realty show.  He was just so concerned with his image that it became comical.  Plus, there was the legendary fight with Keri.  In case you missed it: Kyle is laying in his bed, chastising Keri for her exploits out on the town with random men.  When she tells him it’s her business, he says something along the lines of, “I have certain view and beliefs, and if your actions conflict with them, well, then I’m sorry.”  Of course, Keri blows up and starts calling him “fake” and “the worst person she’s ever met,” etc.  At one point in the series, Kyle had brought his little brother over to see their Halloween play and stay at the house.  Keri tells him that all of that was an act, to build up his image for the camera.  Well, Kyle is apparently a big Godfather fan, because he flips out and tells her to never (“under any circumstances”) discuss his family.  The fight then ends with Keri storming out, sobbing, while Kyle shuts his eyes and pretends to go right to sleep.  The best part is that MTV mixed in his next-day confessional in which he seemed so calm, rational, and justified for his comments and thoughts; however, when they cut back to him in bed, he looked absolutely creepy -- like a serial killer.  It was at once bizarre, chilling, hilarious, and riveting.


(*Bonus points go to Kyle for never appearing in any of the Real World/Road Rules challenges.  Sure, he’s trying to become a soap star, which is worse, but his disappearance from the MTV realm has added mystery, which is always good.)


C.T. (Paris) -- I don’t think C.T. could make the list purely on his Paris season, nor do I think that his “Inferno” challenge would be enough on it’s own.  However, when you put the two together, you get magic.  From the “I’ll work you, dawg” incident in Paris to the “Shane’s gonna disappear after I eat these milk and cookies” line in the Inferno, C.T. gave us a solid year of highlight reel stuff.  Plus, he eclipsed The Miz as the most improved cast member ever when he went from the insane, ignorant roommate from hell to the calm, rational super-athlete in a span of like six months.  Remarkable. 


Jaime (San Diego) -- This isn’t for anything outrageously funny; Jaime was simply the nicest girl in recent memory to appear on a Real World season.  I’ve got room for a nice person on my All-Star team.


Bryn (Vegas) -- To be perfectly honest, I loved the entire Vegas cast.  You had the most emotional cast member in reason memory (Alton), the strangest (Frank), the cheesiest (Steven), and one of the sluttiest (Trishelle).  Plus, there was the great “coming from nothing” storyline centered on Arissa and the classic Irulan-Alton drama.  I’ll take Bryn to represent this motley crew because she was the only one of the bunch to: A) throw a fork at someone and B) become the world’s worst go-go dancer.


Brad (San Diego) -- Let’s see ... he went to jail.  Twice.  End of story.


Cameron (San Diego) -- Just to keep the drama between “Cammy” and Brad alive.  Although if I could be guaranteed another nosedive over the handlebars by Trishelle, I might have to give her the nod.  (And yes, I realize that’s three people from San Diego.  What can I say?  They were the most likeable cast ever.  If it hadn’t been for Robin and Frankie hijacking the season, it could have been one of the best Real World’s ever.


Theo (Chicago) -- Theo is my 21st Century MVP.  He made every effort to understand the other people in the house, worked harder than anyone else on their projects, and basically become the most levelheaded and “real” cast member of any of the past five seasons.  Plus, there was this thing that always cracked me up about Theo in that he would be the first to pray, or launch into a diatribe about the horror of glorifying Halloween (a classic episode -- Theo goes off about the idea of paying homage to “The Devil’s Night,” which leads to a tense altercation between Theo and Kyle), but his lifestyle was completely, shall we say, free-spirited, and his own personal moral code was, umm, lenient.  Cue best Bill Walton voice: “The open-minded attitude, the comedy, the borderline hypocrisy, the sense of living each day as if it could be your last ... that’s why he’s the MVP!”


Sorry, that was long.


As for the second part of the question, I think there are several cities that could be great for a Real World season.  Austin could be fun; the cast could work in the music industry.  Denver’s a nice city and they could focus on outdoor stuff.  Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver could be great sites if they want to go to Canada.  Atlanta was good enough for the Summer Olympics.  The big one, in my mind, is D.C.  I can’t figure out why they’ve never had a season there.  Great city, full of young people, breeding ground for controversy, and close to other big cities.  First they won’t give Washington a baseball team and now they won’t give them a Real World season.  I’m guessing that both issues will be rectified in the coming years.


Kyle asks, “What is the best commercial on television right now?”


Wow, that’s a tough one.  I can tell you that the Capri Sun commercial that’s always on MTV is NOT the answer.  You know what I’m talking about; the grandma walking to the car and it takes forever so the kid needs a really big Capri Sun.  Yeah, that one.  Other commercials I hate: The Kinko’s/FedEx commercial where the guy asks to send packages to Funky Town and other fictional places.  Any Levitra commercial.  That commercial for herpes medicine where the girl has the sunken eyes and looks like she’s on death’s door.


I do really like that Madden commercial when the guy gets distracted and the Old 97’s song “Question” plays in the background.  Classic.  I also love that Lance Armstrong Nike commercial with the instrumental music.  However, I’ll go with the Boost Mobile commercial that features Kanye West, Ludacris, and The Game.  What better way to convey your phone company’s multi-regional presence than by going with geographically diverse rappers?  Nothing says “section of the country” like a rapper.  Kanye represents Chicago, Ludacris stands for Atlanta, and The Game is the newest powerhouse out of LA.  It’s a great commercial and a great concept.  Plus, The Game is about to become the biggest name in rap music.  Just wait until they drop his album -- the latest in a sting of G-Unit hits -- in October.  “The whole city’s behind us!”


“Everyone claims that Cleveland is such a great young team, but than why are they 6 games back of the Twins? Also, don't lose sight of the Twins young talent. Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Lew Ford, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer. The Twins also have J.C. Durbin in the minors.”


True enough.  The Indians have dropped even further out of it since I got this email, so that point stands even stronger.  I’ll admit I got a little too excited about the Tribe, but the fact remains that they are going to be a tough team for years to come.  As for the Twins, they simply don’t get enough credit.  Just a few years ago they were being threatened with contraction, now they are one of the most consistent franchises in all of pro sports.  They’ve got pitching, defense, and a terrific farm system.  So don’t worry, I’ve got love for the Twins.  In fact, I bet my Dad at the beginning of the year that they’d win the division by at least 6 games.


The larger question is whether the Twinkies can take the next step forward and win a postseason series.  They are eighth in the majors in wins from the start of 2001 until now with 352, but they haven’t been able to break through in the playoffs.  It won’t get any easier this year with New York, Boston, and either Oakland or Anaheim waiting for them, but the way Johan Santana is throwing, anything is possible.


Several people have asked: “What do you think of Mark Cuban’s Benefactor?”


Well, it sucks, that’s for sure.  Cuban is awful in front of the camera.  The cast of characters are boring.  The whole thing looks like a bunch of high school students got together to make their own reality show.  My buddy Higa helped out on a student film once that was about woman forced to choose between two Ninjas on a reality show.  Let me tell you, they did that in 24 hours on a budget of about 30 bucks and it’s five times better than The Benefactor.  Plus, the people are so unlikable.  All they do is talk about how pretty and beautiful and cute they are.  What year is this?  That Dominick guy is absolutely ridiculous.  He kept referring to himself as a “rock star” and talking about “how blessed he is” to have his hair.  The guy is a freak. 


I have the sneaking suspicion that nobody involved in this debacle has done a major reality show before.  You can just tell by how forced and cheesy everything is.  Combine that with an unlikable cast and an extremely awkward star and you have the recipe for disaster.


In short, his might wind up being the worst reality show ever created. 


Adam Hoff is a columnist for WhatifSports.com and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers of America.  He can be reached at ahoff@uchicago.edu or by sitemail at adamo112.

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