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In Game 2 of the two Western Conference semi-finals, French players combined to make only three foul shots, out of nine attempts. Tony Parker was 3-6, Mickaël Piétrus was 0-for-3, and Boris Diaw did not attempt a foul shot. Before this, French players had shot extremely well from the line in the playoffs. Piétrus was 16-19, Diaw was 7-9, and Parker was 18-21. In addition, Frenchman Ronny Turiaf of the eliminated Los Angeles Lakers shot 7-10 in the first-round loss to the Suns.

So what changed? I have three theories:

1. Anxiety over election returns:

Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy won the presidency of France, distressing these athletes. Footballer Lillian Thuram has been an outspoken opponent of Sarkozy, claiming that he is "awakening the hidden racism" of the French people. Thuram also took issue with Sarkozy's comments blaming blacks and Arabs for suburban riots, and calling urban immigrant youths "scum".

Perhaps the basketball players are distracted. During the frantic up-and-down of the game, they can put aside their political fears about France's right-wing, racialized future, but at the moment of contemplation just before a lancer-franc, the fears come back. Also, it would not surprise me if the players were unconsciously aiming slightly left of the cylinder, to counter-balance the political shift.

2. After notable headbutts, French players miss important penalty shots:

In last summer's World Cup, David Trezeguet missed his penalty shot just minutes after Zinedine Zidane was sent off for headbutting Marco Materazzi. Since Tony Parker split open Steve Nash's nose, French free throw shooting has gone into le toilette. Maybe Boris Diaw could sense this, and thus settled for jump shots throughout Game 2.

3. Sympathy for Tony Parker

Eva Longoria told Jimmy Kimmel that she was not having sex with Tony Parker until their wedding day in June. It is possible that the sympathetic Frenchmen feel that putting it in the hole so easily is essentially taunting poor Tony.


I'll be watching to see if the trend continues when the Suns and Spurs resume hostilities tonight in San Antonio. As far was the Warriors are concerned, there's a simple way to get Piétrus back on track: Wine-tasting with Nellie.

Or maybe Mickaël just needs a hug.


Detroit 108, Chicago 87

The 108-87 blowout loss in Game 2 means the 0-2 Bulls are in a hole so deep that even shovels might be useless, except as weapons to use on Rip Hamilton's and Tayshaun Prince's knees.

-Rick Telander

Bill Swerski's Superfans, Game 3 Edition


Bob Swerski: Good evening, my friends, and welcome to "Bill Swerski's Super Fans"! I'm Bob Swerski, filling in for my brother Bill, who had a heart attack during the first quarter of Game 2. With me, as always, are the Super Fans: Pat Arnold...

Pat Arnold: Hey, Bob.

Bob: ...Carl Wollarski...

Carl Wollarski: Good to see ya, Bob.

Bob: ...and Todd O'Connor.

Todd O'Connor: How ya' doing, Bob?

Bob: Real good, Todd. We're here, live from Mike Ditka's restaurant in the heart of Chicago, Illinois, the city of broad shoulders, hog butcher for the world, the Windy City. A town that is also the home of a certain team, that finished third in a certain Central Division, a team that is presumably still trying to win this semifinal series against Detroit, a team that is known as, Da Bulls!

All: Da Bulls!

Bob: Any predictions for Game 3, gentleman?

Carl: Pistons 104, Bulls 85. I feel confident that the Bulls stay within twenty points of the Pistons at home.

Bob: A bold prediction, Carl. Todd?

Todd: A United Center security guard locks the Pistons in their locker room for the first six minutes of the second half. Pistons 82, Bulls, 66.

Bob: Expecting a real nail-biter, eh, Todd?

Todd: My cousin is a security guard down there - say no more.

Pat: Pistons 125, Bulls 72. But Chris Duhon only craps his pants once while trying to guard Chauncey Billups.

Bob: The additional playoff experience gives Duhon greater control of...da bowels.

All: Da Bowels!

Bob: Since the season is pretty much at an end, who do you like the Bulls to take in this year's draft?

Pat: In the first round, you gotta go with Durant. In the second round, they need another shooting guard, so I like the guy from Ohio State, Daequan Cook.

Todd: Dae Quan!

Carl: Dae Quan!

Bob: Sounds like there's a consensus. Is there any chance this series could turn around?

Pat: What if the Pistons bus crashed on the way to the arena?

Bob: Who's left to compete in the game?

Pat: It's just Antonio McDyess, Kid Rock, the team trainer, and Hooper the mascot.


Todd: Bulls 78, Pistons 73.

Carl: Is Scott Skiles still coaching the Bulls?

Pat: Yeah.

Carl: Pistons 67, Bulls 62.

Bob: It's tough to look back at what might have been. If only the Bulls had used P.J. Brown's expiring contract and some of their many young players to trade for a certain Spanish power forward, who plays for a certain Tennessee team, and provides a certain low-post scoring threat that Chicago lacks. I'm speaking, of course, of Pau Gasol!

All: Ga-Sol!

Bob: What about this: How would the Bulls fare versus a team of Mini-Pistons?

Todd: What do you mean?

Bob: An evil wizard casts a spell on the Pistons. They have the same guys, but they're all eighteen inches tall.

Carl: What about Lindsay Hunter?

Bob: Mini-Hunter is only sixteen inches tall.

Pat: Are they wearing their normal uniforms?

Bob: No, the mini-Pistons have mini-uniforms.

Pat: I say...Bulls, 92, Mini-Pistons, 79.

Todd: Bulls 104, Mini-Pistons, 101. And Ben Gordon goes for at least 18 points on mini-Hamilton.

Carl: Mini-Rasheed gets ejected, but Mini-Pistons take it, 88-81.

Bob: Two little tiny technical fouls, eh, Carl?

Carl: That's right, Bob.

(Todd begins choking and slamming his fist into his chest.)

Bob: Todd, what's wrong?

Carl: Is he having a heart attack? (Todd shakes his head.)

Pat: He looks like Andres Nocioni there!

Bob: Oh no! Todd is choking! Quick, do the Heimlich maneuver!

(Carl jumps up and throws his pork chop off the rim of the trash can, then clutches his arm as if he was fouled.)

Bob: Not the Hinrich maneuver! The Heimlich!

(Pat administers the Heimlich, and Todd coughs up a shower of peanuts.)

Todd: Sorry, I was so upset about the team that I ate those peanuts way too fast. Gotta remember to remove...da hulls!

All: Da Hulls!

Bob: That's all the time we have for tonight. Join us for our live broadcast during Game 3, where we're going to do our best not to cry. Now, what if Game 3 was played on the surface of the moon, but only the Bulls get space suits...

eli manning vs. wayne palmer


After watching the NFL season and the first twelve hours of 24, I can't help but notice the parallels between New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and fictional President of the United States Wayne Palmer.

Palmer vs. Manning Wayne_Palmer_S6.jpg
Code name The Citadel Elisha
More successful older brother David Peyton
Who endorses Jack Bauer's renegade anti-terror efforts, Allstate Insurance Direct TV, Gatorade, Adidas, MasterCard
Rose to his prominent position because of... People blindly hoping he'd be like his brother, only with less terrorism People blindly hoping he'd be like his brother, only with more postseason success
Succeeded President Charles Logan, who resigned from office in disgrace. Logan's wife was very outspoken, and a little bit crazy. Kurt Warner, who loses his job to a hotshot first-round QB every year. Warner's wife is very outspoken, and a little bit crazy.
Tortures... Suspected terrorists New York Giants fans
Natural rival Arabs Philadelphia Eagles
Imposing backup Hardass vice president Noah Daniels Fatass second-string QB Jared Lorenzen
Disciplinarian named Tom Chief of Staff Tom Lennox, who wants to roll back most of the civil liberties protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights Coach Tom Coughlin, who requires his players to arrive to meetings five minutes early
Over the heads of his associates Rhetoric about civil liberties 85% of his passes
Ally named Pierce When armed commandos attack Wayne, he is saved through the intervention of Secret Service agent Aaron Pierce When Eli was making a playoff push in 2005, he was aided by the strong linebacker play of Antonio Pierce
Standard unit of time 60 minutes 60 minutes
Which in reality lasts 60 minutes Three hours, fifteen minutes
Past incompetence Blew brother's re-election campaign by having an affair with a married woman, while her husband (Wayne's boss) recovered from a stroke. The boss died, his sister-in-law was murdered by Wayne's mistress, and the mistress subsequently killed herself. Threw three interceptions against only ten completions in a 23-0 playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Notable giveaways Unspecified major concessions to the Chinese government in exchange for the release of Jack Bauer 44 interceptions and three lost fumbles in three seasons
Unbalanced trades Wayne turned over Jack Bauer and $25 million to Abu Fayed in exchange for the location of known terrorist Hamri Al-Assad The New York Giants traded QB Philip Rivers, a 2005 first round pick, and third round picks in 2004 and 2005 to San Diego in exchange for Manning
Trade aftermath Fayed detonated a suitcase nuke in Valencia, killing upwards of 12,000 people. Meanwhile, Hamri Al-Assad had rejected violence, and was pursuing political solutions to his goals San Diego went 14-2 in 2006, while three of the players obtained in the Manning trade went to the 2007 Pro Bowl. Meanwhile, the Giants lost their first playoff game in consecutive seasons
Uninspiring quote "I don't know if I'm the right man to lead this country." "You feel pressure when you're in a situation where you don't know what you're doing."
Lives and dies by... A bomb The bomb

If the Wayne-Eli connection continues, expect the government to continue its lackluster anti-terror efforts through at least Hour 18. Then, in the fourth quarter of the day, Wayne will return from the hospital and govern his best, making good reads and aggressive orders. He'll be aided by CTU's replacement for the late Agent Curtis, wide receiver Plaxico Burress.

Unfortunately, the first part of the day has been so screwed up that his late heroics will be useless. The three remaining bombs will explode, killing Jack Bauer and half of California before midnight, but Wayne will do an excellent job directing the "hurry-up" early-morning relief effort.

the raiders audition new quarterbacks

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The Raiders have brought in Tommy Maddox to compete for the starting quarterback position, making him the third new QB they've considered in the past [few] months. First it was New Orleans failure and notorious backwards passer Aaron Brooks, and then they brought in Jeff George, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2001. Now, the team is looking at Maddox, a 35 year-old who failed miserably for Pittsburgh last year, to the point that irate fans covered his lawn in garbage.

Maddox didn't leave Oakland with a contract, which means the Raiders third quarterback position is still open. Starter Aaron Brooks has already been injured, and the offensive line has given up 15 sacks in just two games. It's clear that the Raiders are going to need a lot of extra quarterbacks this year. But who's next? We'll take a look at the most likely candidates to try out for the Oakland job in the next few months.

Jim Druckenmiller


Fondly known as Jim "Drunkenmiller", Druck came out of the storied Virginia Tech football program. His performance on and off the field set a standard that all subsequent Tech quarterbacks have tried to match, including Michael and Marcus Vick. The 49ers picked him in the first round of the 1997 draft, even though he was a 24 year-old college senior, and he was out of the NFL two years later. His last pro action came as a backup for the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football league. At age 34, Druck's a little young for Oakland, but he'll at least get to come in for a workout.

Gino Torretta


He may have only played one game during his NFL career, but Torretta has the most important quality that the Oakland Raiders look for in a player: a Heisman Trophy. If Torretta doesn't work out, Danny Wuerffel, Andre Ware, or Johnny Lujack could get a call.

Vince Evans


So what if he's 51 years old? Evans was a backup QB for the Raiders for nearly a decade, from 1987-1995. Al Davis loves him, even if he rarely got into a game. Vince Evans in a nutshell: When asked about his favorite games from his Raiders career, Evans listed two preseason victories.

Scott Bakula


At some point during Quantum Leap's run, Dr. Samuel Beckett must have leaped into an interception-prone NFL QB, right?

Bakula also led the Texas State University Fightin' Armadillos to a 1-8-1 season in the film Necessary Roughness. Necessary Roughness was a very inspirational film for the entire Raiders organization. Coach Ed "Straight Arrow" Gennero's conflicts with the college administration mirrors the Raiders struggles with the NFL league office. Former linebacker Bill Romanowski drew inspiration from that white samurai linebacker guy. And Sebastian Janikowski became a placekicker solely on the off chance he might someday get to shower with Kathy Ireland. Let's be honest: 1-8-1 looks like a much better record than the Raiders are going to achieve this year.

As a bonus to having Bakula try out, they could also bring in Sinbad to fill in at left tackle.



Starting quarterback at Walden College, and later a third-string quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, B.D. retired from professional sports in 1987 and lost his leg in Iraq. Despite being an above-knee amputee with a prosthetic leg, B.D. would still be far more mobile than starter Andrew Walter.

Uncle Rico


Al Davis loves the deep pass. With Uncle Rico, Davis would finally achieve his dream of having a quarterback who could throw a ball over a mountain. As the third-string quarterback, Uncle Rico's main responsibility would be to throw steaks at malcontent wide receiver Jerry Porter.

Of course, what Al Davis really wants is to get his hands on Uncle Rico's time machine, so he can go back and beat nemesis Jon Gruden in the state championship Super Bowl XXXVII. If they'd have just thrown more deep balls, they would have been Super Bowl champs. No doubt. No doubt in my mind.

After losing at Tennessee, the University of California's football team rebounded with a victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers last Saturday. The team looks to be well on their way to another 9-3 season, culminating in a blowout loss to Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. I can't wait.

I was at the Minnesota game, enjoying the offensive dominance and festive atmosphere. What I did not enjoy was the Mic Man. For those of you unfamiliar with Cal football, the Mic Man is a designated dork from the Rally Committee. He stands in front of the student section in a shirt and tie, leading cheers, making bad jokes, and receiving the loathing of the entire stadium. I hate the Mic Man and so does everyone else.

In honor of Cal's big game this weekend against perennial (women's soccer volleyball) powerhouse Portland State, here is a selection of history's greatest speeches, as delivered by the Mic Man:

Patrick Henry

All right, the Virginia Militia needs us. Let's make some noise, First Continental Congress! Hey Alumni! Liberty!
Gooooooo Sons of Virginia!

John F. Kennedy

Let the Russians hear it in East Berlin. Ich bin ein Berlinner. You know it, you tell the story, you tell the whole damn world this is NATO territory!

Martin Luther King

First down Bears! First down Bears! Thank God almighty, it's a First Down, Bears!

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Gimme an F!
Gimme an E!
Gimme an A!
Gimme an R!
What's that spell?
What do we have to fear?
What's the only thing we have to fear?
Who's gonna win?
Gooooooo Fear!

Henry V

Make some noise, Agincourt! Ohhhhhh! Ohhhhhh! Ohhhhhh! St. Crispin's Day! Ohhhhhh! We few! We happy few! Ohhhhhh! Ohhhhhh! Come on! Ohhhhhh!

Jonathan Edwards

The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber. The pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them. The flames do now rage and glow - oh, sinner, take off that red shirt!

jewish heritage night at at&t park


I went to see the Giants play the Reds on a recent Thursday night. When we arrived, there was klezmar music playing on Willie Mays Plaza and the air was thick with the smell of knishes. Why was this night different from all other nights? Because it was Jewish Heritage Night, part of the Giants' program of ethnic heritage nights.

We had unknowingly gone to the ball park during Heritage Week - Monday was the season's second Irish Night, Tuesday was Italian Night, and the following Friday was African-American Night. Of course, none of those other ethnicities have the same legacy of baseball success as the Jews, so this was a special night.

For Mexican Heritage Night, the team provided sombreros to all fans. We hoped that they would be handing out yarmulkes with the SF logo on them, but no such luck. Sadly, that meant there would be no opportunity to turn the skullcaps inside out to make Rally Yarmulkes. It turns out that the giveaway was Giants caps written in Hebrew, but only for fans who purchased the Jewish Night package. In other words, the team was being cheap.

Randy Winn led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run into the left-field bleachers, and the Giants had the lead. The homer was an absolute rocket blast, so much that we initially thought Randy Winn was retaliating for a kidnapping. When Pedro Feliz hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the second, it looked like we might be looking at a Six-Day War against pitcher Eric Milton's unimpressive fastball. However, those would be the last runs the Giants would score this evening. It's as if their offense began fasting at sundown.

The Giants unveiled a full array of special graphics for the occasion. A digital Jackie Mason appeared with the words "Oy Vey" whenever a hitter reached base. That was OK. Mike Myers-as-Linda Richman popped up to tell the crowd, "I'm a little verklempt" after good defensive plays. One could argue about the appropriateness of "verklempt". Does a late-August battle between two .500 teams normally leave fans emotionally affected? We also got two different video clips from "Fiddler on the Roof", and an audio-only rendition of "Tradition". Was this Jewish Heritage Night or Jewish Stereotype Night?

We would have liked to see them go all the way with the scoreboard, Jewish mother style. Make announcements between innings warning fans to bundle up. Instead of the bit where fans stand and wave their VISA cards, have single doctors stand and wave their telephone numbers. And instead of flashing "NOISE", the scoreboard could simply say, "Fine, don't clap. Sit on your hands, what do I care? I'll just go sit in the dugout like a dog."

The matzo-eating contest was a bit of a disappointment, as the winner appeared to be crumbling the matzo against his face more than he was actually eating it. Kobayashi would have been disappointed, but the judges may have looked the other way because of our winner's snazzy yarmulke. Our favorite special event was the old bearded man playing the shofar, a traditional Jewish wind instrument, from behind home plate. If you have never heard "Charge!" played on the horn of a ram, you simply have not lived.

In the sixth inning, gentile Shea Hillenbrand hit a single, but he was stranded on third when the inning ended. Though Pedro Feliz hit a double with two outs, the coach inexplicably held up Hillenbrand as he rounded third. Please, third-base coach Gene Glynn, let my baserunners go!

For us, the evening peaked in the bottom of the eighth, when Cincinnati brought in the only Jewish player on either team, reliever Scott Schoeneweis. There was palpable tension in the crowd as Schoeneweis warmed up, as fans were torn between team and religious loyalties. It only got more intense as catcher Eliezer Alfonzo strode to the plate, pausing to kiss his crucifix necklace on his way to the batter's box, a direct challenge to Schoeneweis's faith. Now it was a holy war. On this night, the Torah proved mightier than the New Testament, and Alfonzo went down swinging.

The Giants eventually lost 6-3, and we resigned ourselves to wandering through the South of Market area, looking for public transportation. No trains were running, so it took about 40 years to get home. There was a lot of time to reflect on the night. The game was a victory, not only for the Reds, but for Scott Schoeneweis. Batters will have no choice but to officially recognize his existence from now on, and it proves once and for all that you can be a successful major league pitcher without a foreskin. We learned that Scott Hatteberg is not actually Jewish, that a rally rabbi is ineffective in motivating an offense, and that you can make only one java-related joke about Todd Coffey "warming up" in the bullpen before one of your companions punches you. But the main thing we learned was that baseball is even more fun when it's combined with half-assed ethnic pandering. We'll certainly be there next year for Zoroastrian Heritage Night, that's for sure.

"Hey Shandon. This is Karl. Just calling to congratulate you on, you know, winning an NBA title. Glad you finally got a ring, dude."

"Shandon, it's John. Way to go, man. You deserve to win a title, after all those great years with the Jazz, ten All-Star games, and retiring as the all-time leader in assists. Oh, wait, I was thinking of someone else. Anyway, great job, buddy."

"'Sup Shandon. It's Doleac. Man, can you believe we're actually the NBA Champions? Michael Doleac, Shandon Anderson, and Jason Williams all have more championship rings than Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Kevin Garnett combined. Kind of boggles the mind. So, I was just calling to see if I could get that U2 CD back sometime soon. Thanks."

"Hey, Shandon. It's Karl again. Once again, congratulations. I was wondering if I could come over sometime this week. You know, catch up on old times, maybe show you the slides from my hunting trip, see your championship ring. I should very much like to hold it in my hand, one time. Call me back."

"This is a collect call from Howard Eisley. To accept the charges, please press 1. To refuse, dial 0, or hang up."

"Shandon, it's Isiah. I know we've had our differences in the past, but after watching your performance in the Finals, the New York Knicks would like to offer you a four-year, $24 million-dollar contract. Give me a call."

"Shandon, it's Malone. Let me cut to the chase. I have your son. Right now, he's fine, but if you ever want to see him alive again, you're gonna give me that ring, you understand? Say hi to your daddy, Kori. Stop crying! Stop it! Shandon, I need you to be at the left-most phone booth outside the Delta Center at 9 PM tonight. Come alone. I need that ring! I'm sorry, man. But this is how it has to be."

I'm mainly a baseball fan, but I've been watching the World Cup this week. And I get the feeling that a lot of baseball superstitions and rituals just don't work when you try to apply them to soccer.

Don't talk during a no-hitter

Ashley: Good job, Paul.
Sean: Whoa whoa whoa. Don't talk to the goalie! He's got a perfect game going!
Ashley: I just wanted to tell him, good job shutting down the other team.
Sean: Are you trying to jinx this thing?
Ashley: You might be confused. Our opponents average just over one goal per game, so it's not that unusual for us to hold the other side scoreless for 45 minutes.
Sean: (Punches Ashley in the face) Shut up!


Sean: Hey, don't step on the line! It's bad luck.
Wayne: Sean, this is a corner kick. Please get out of the way.

Rally caps

Sean: Rally time! Time for rally shin guards!
Joe: What?
Sean: Rally shin guards! Come on. Turn 'em inside out.
Rio: This really hurts.
Joe: I think my leg is bleeding.
Sean: OK, we keep the rally shin guards on until we score a goal.
(Rest of the team weeps)

Rhyming taunts

Sean: We want a keeper! Not a crappy sweeper!
Peter: What are you chanting about?
Sean: Just giving those guys the business. We want a midfielder! Not a utility infielder!
Frank: What's a utility infielder?
Peter: Are you making fun of our team, or theirs?
Sean: Theirs! Come on, give it a shot, guys. Nothing's more devastating than a rhyming taunt.
Frank: Um...We want a direct kick, not an indirect kick?
Peter: We want a good pass! Ronaldo is a fatass!
Sean: That's not exactly right...
Frank: We want a goalie! Not a ravioli!
Peter: We want a striker! Not Commander Riker!
Frank: We want a new coach! Not Sven-Goran Eriksson!
Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson: It hurts to hear you say that, Frank.

willie mays and blasting caps


Back in the 1960's, there weren't as many endorsement opportunities for African-American or Latino athletes, no matter how good they were. Minority baseballers had to choose from whatever TV commercials were offered. For the Giants, Willie McCovey did commercials for Bel-Air Foods. Juan Marichal shilled for Saxon Apple Juice. And the great Willie Mays did public service announcements about the dangers of blasting caps:

(Via YouTube)

My dad says that this has to be one of the most successful public service announcements of all time, as he can't remember hearing about anyone being injured or maimed by blasting caps. In fact, he can't remember ever seeing abandoned blasting caps lying around town. It may have been that dad's friends were sure to protect their hands and arms, and thus saved their eyes.

Willie Mays isn't shown doing anything particularly spectacular in the ad's baseball highlights. It's not clear what's happening in the first clip, as there appears to be a play at the plate, before Mays is shown sliding into second. Then Mays hits an easy single. I think the admakers didn't want to distract from the blasting caps monologue, especially this line:

"If you see a blasting caps, remember now, don't touch them. Tell the police, or a fireman, whatever it is."

In the end, this is a timeless message. Have fun, like Willie does, with baseball equipment. Not with blasting caps, OK? Don't touch them!

running out the clock at work

You can learn a lot from watching the NBA playoffs. And not just about basketball. There are many real-life situations where the lessons of playoff basketball can be valuable. For example, seeing how the Phoenix Suns played in the fourth quarter has helped me to develop a strategy for "running out the clock" at the end of the day, at my unnamed non-profit law firm.

Play keep-away: People are going to keep calling until we turn the phones off at 5. As we approach 5:00, more and more procrastinating lawyers will call, with more and more desperate questions. The worst possible outcome is fielding a call at 4:58 and getting trapped in a fifteen-minute conversation with a frantic rookie lawyer facing a court deadline. Nobody wants overtime.

The key is to distribute the calls, just like Steve Nash moves the ball around for the Suns. He knows they can't sit on the ball, and we can't just sit on the phone calls. The key is transferring. Transfer calls to support staff out on the perimeter. Find the open mailbox and send the caller to voice mail. Don't be afraid to hit the hold button, huddle up, and regroup. Be aware of your officemates. Don't let them get trapped.

Move without the ball: More perilous than the late-afternoon phone call is the late-afternoon attorney request. The request could be anything - copying documents, locating a lost file, carrying a series of heavy objects from one place to another. There's no telling how long that project might last.

One element of Phoenix's success late in games is their tremendous movement away from the action. In every game you see Boris Diaw or Shawn Marion cutting to the hoop for easy dunks, as the defense simply loses track of them. It's the same in the office. Zigzag away from the computer. Cut to the water cooler. Then the bathroom. Then go outside and move your car. If you don't have a car, move someone else's. Keep moving. You will appear to be busy, and the attorneys won't be able to find you.

Hack-a-Temp: Sometimes it's impossible to avoid work assignments late in the day. That's when it's time to delegate work to the temp. More crucial than passing off the work is the break in the attorney's rhythmn. Everything stops, as the temp steps to the copier, struggling to collate and velobind legal documents. A few paper jams and off-centered copies later, the attorney has been completely taken out of their game, often deciding to give up and go to Whole Foods for organic vegetables instead.

Don't forget the lazy guy: Last Tuesday, as the day grew short, there were briefs to be copied and transcripts to mail out. The attorneys had the workday in hand. It seemed inevitable that the support staff would have to actually do work. Then the lazy guy came in, arms laden with cookies and pretzels, and suddenly all the attorneys were eating in the break room. At the workday's most pivotal moment, the lazy guy had stepped in to save us.

The Suns have a lazy guy of their own, Tim Thomas. Even though Thomas stands 6'10", he has averaged only four rebounds per game for his career. The Bulls sent Thomas home earlier this year, preferring to pay him $14 million rather than have him stay with the team. However, Thomas hit a last-second three-pointer to vanquish the Lakers, and remained a huge asset for the team, until the Suns finally ran out of gas against Dallas. It is not clear whether Thomas provides post-game snacks.



This week, Sports Illustrated published an excerpt from Game of Shadows, a book by two San Francisco Chronicle writers which details the steroid use of Giants star Barry Bonds. The published excerpt details the progression of Bonds's steroid use in very specific detail. According to the book, Bonds used designer steroids, human growth hormone, female fertility drugs, insulin, cattle steroids, and even something called "Mexican jumping beans". SI's selection also accuses Bonds of drug possession, adultery, and tax evasion. His mistress tells the authors that Bonds once choked her, and struggled with sexual dysfunction.

With all of this damaging, titillating information available already, one wonders what's left in the book to entice buyers. The answer is, plenty. Zembla will be presenting excerpts from Game of Shadows that are even more shocking than what already appeared in SI. Today we present the story of another one of Barry Bonds's illicit extramarital affairs.

Part One: Thunder Pup

Barry Bonds and Shawon Dunston began their relationship in 1998, after Dunston came over from the Indians in a midseason trade. Bonds insisted that Dunston keep the affair secret, since he'd gotten "too much s---" from the media in the past for dating utility players. Dunston moved on to St. Louis in 1999, but the two rekindled their affair when Dunston re-signed with the Giants before the 2001 season.

In just over two years, Dunston had noticed dramatic changes in Barry. He was much more muscular than in the past. Barry had begun shaving his head, suffered outbreaks of acne, and Dunston noticed that his testicles were significantly smaller than in the past. Bonds claimed he wasn't doing anything beyond taking flaxseed oil and studying extra game film.

In addition to the physical changes, Bonds had developed a vicious temper. Back in their shared hotel room, Bonds often shouted at Dunston, "Why do you f------ swing at everything? Would it kill you to take a f------ walk, you punk bitch?" In July, Dunston could only watch, hurt, as Barry dallied with right fielder John Vanderwal on a long road trip. Still, there were flashes of Barry's former tenderness. After Bonds hit six home runs in a weekend series against Atlanta, he and Dunston shared a Jacuzzi in the clubhouse.

Dunston told Bonds that, the way he was hitting, he might break Mark McGwire's single-season home run record. Bonds said, "F--- that white boy," and then promised to buy Dunston a Mercedes Benz if he did break the record. Then the two made love on the clubhouse floor.

Bonds made good on his promise. However, he had to hide the purchase from his accountants and Giants general manager Brian Sabean, who might ask uncomfortable questions about the money and gifts being lavished on Dusnton. As a result, Bonds paid for the car entirely in cash, which he obtained by selling jewelry, equipment, and hair dye stolen from Jeff Kent's locker.

On October 5, 2001, Bonds hit home runs #71 and #72, in a loss to the Dodgers. The Giants held a postgame story to commemorate the record, during which Bonds wept and a demonstrative Dunston hugged and consoled him at the podium. When Bonds initially became emotional, Dunston told the crowd about the new Mercedes, though he said the gift was "from a bet" they'd made about Bonds winning the home run title. Though Barry smiled for the camers, inside he was furious that Dunston had betrayed the secrecy of their bond, risking financial trouble with both the IRS and Bonds's ex-wife, Sun.

Things would never be the same after that between Dunston and Bonds, though their relationship continued through the 2002 season. Bonds became increasingly abusive and overprotective regarding Dunston. After losing to the Angels in the 2002 World Series, Dunston planned to re-sign with the Giants. His plans changed when he got a phone call from Bonds.

"I need you to disappear," said Bonds.
"What do you mean, Barry?" said Dunston.
"Did I f------ stutter?" Barry replied. "F------ retire, dawg!" Before the stunned Dunston could reply, Barry had already hung up.

For months, Dunston wondered if the Mercedes incident had ruined his relationship with Bonds, or perhaps the stress of losing the World Series had disappointed Bonds to the point he couldn't be with a teammate anymore. Dunston blamed himself, the flaxseed oil, even Giants pitcher Felix Rodriguez. Only later did he learn that his rejection came because a different veteran player had caught Barry's fancy: Outfielder Marquis Grissom.

jerome bettis: miked up!

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ABC fitted Jerome Bettis with a body mike for Super Bowl XL. They played some clips during the game, but obviously censored quite a bit. Zembla is proud to present highlights of the Jerome Bettis "Miked Up" clips ABC wouldn't or couldn't play:

  • "I don't care about the Super Bowl MVP award. I just want a ring. Plus, the MVP gets an Escalade, and you know Jerome Bettis don't drive no American car."
  • "Ow. Ow. Ow. Damn, I crapped my pants a little bit on that tackle."
  • "Willie, I want you to hit that hole, and then just fall down. Lean forward and get the safe two yards. That's Steelers football, baby."
  • "Honestly, this is the first time I've been to Detroit in eight years. Terrible, depressing city."
  • (Singing) "You make a dead man come, yeah, you make a dead man come."
  • "Yo soy el autobus, cabron!"
  • "No, me and my girlfriend have an open relationship, baby. Both of us see other people. It's cool."
  • "Please don't hit me so hard, Mr. Tatupu. (whispered) Please. I'll just fall down. No one will know." (Pause) I'll give you money."
  • (Flatulence) I guess The Bus should have made a longer stop in the can during halftime, huh?
  • "Oh, that's nothing. Just got a little bit of a stiffy here, Antwaan. Nah, that always happens when Troy makes a tackle. It's cool."
  • "Willie, you need some oxygen? Want to borrow my inhaler? How about some Skittles? I got a bag right here in my helmet."
  • We gotta pull together here! This win means nothing if we don't cover the spread! Let's get a first down here - for the gamblers!
  • "Jerome Bettis, you've just won the Super Bowl? What are you going to do next?"
    "I'm going across the border to Windsor, to gamble, smoke Cuban cigars, and pick up a busload of whores!"

In the aftermath of Pittsburgh's victory, there's been a lot of talk about the poor officiating in Super Bowl XL. To get some perspective on the game, I asked baseball umpire Doug Eddings to look at the game tape and give his opinion on some of the more controversial calls.

Zembla: Thanks for helping out, Doug.

Doug Eddings: No problem. Say, were the Chicago White Sox involved in the Super Bowl this year?

Zembla: No, the White Sox are a baseball team. It's the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl.

Eddings: OK, got it. Do either of these teams play in the American League Central Division?

Zembla: Again, that's baseball. The Seahawks are in the NFC West, and the Steelers play in the AFC North.

Eddings: AFC North, that's close enough. Let's do this.

Zembla: Sounds good. Now, Doug, I'm going to show you a controversial play, and you just let me know what you think of the call on the field.

Eddings: Will do, buddy.

Zembla: Here's the first one. Darrell Jackson catches a pass at the 23 for a first down, but the Seahawks are called for holding.

Eddings: Looks like a pretty obvious penalty to me.

Zembla: Alright, let's move on. The next play is a little more critical. Darrell Jackson catches what looks like a touchdown pass, but he's called for offensive pass interference. Some people have complained that this was a "ticky-tack" call, and that the referee threw the flag late.

Eddings: You know, that didn't seem late to me. In fact, he seemed a little hasty. Take your time, let the players jog off the field into the dugout --

Zembla: They don't have dugouts.

Eddings: Whatever. The important thing isn't the speed of the call. It's that you eventually make a call, and stick to it, no matter how indefensible and illogical that call might be. Anyway, Jackson clearly changed the direction of the defensive back there. Great call.

Zembla: Alright. The next play is a punt return. Peter Warrick runs the kick back 33 yards, but it's called back due to a holding penalty.

Eddings: Warrick plays for the Seahawks?

Zembla: Yeah.

Eddings: OK, that's definitely a hold. Holding that one guy over there, totally.

Zembla: Fair enough, Doug. Now, in this disputed play, Ben Roethlisberger tries to run the ball in, but appears to be stopped at the goal line. The touchdown signal is a bit delayed --

Eddings: Doesn't matter. What's your hurry? He's been signalling like that all game. Great call.

Zembla: Well, the Seahawks challenge the call, and the replay official--

Eddings: No need! That replay crap is bullshit! He saw it fine the first time. Next call.

Zembla: This next play is - it's actually just a missed field goal by Josh Brown. I guess it's not really controversial.

Eddings: You sure that kick missed? Kinda looks like it went through the uprights to me.

Zembla: Doug, he obviously missed the kick. Look at it. It goes wide left. It's not even that close.

Eddings: (Shrugs) Agree to disagree.

Zembla: The next play is - OK, this is simply a terrible call. On an interception return, Matt Hasselbeck tackles Ike Taylor, but he gets called for blocking below the waist, even though he's making a tackle, not blocking.

Eddings: Boy, that is a close one. He looks like he's blocking well below the waist here.

Zembla: Come on, Doug! How could he be blocking there? Hasselbeck's making a tackle! He's on defense!

Eddings: Young man, they teach us in umpiring school never to be afraid to ask for help when you're unsure. So if you don't mind, I'd like to consult with my good pal, NFL official Pete Morelli. Come on in, Pete. (Pete Morelli enters)

Pete Morelli: Hey Doug. You're asking about the Hasselbeck block?

Eddings: Yes. To me, the question is, does Hasselbeck make a football move?

Zembla: That's not the question!

Morelli: Doug, I'm going to say that Hasselbeck definitely makes a football move going after that blocker. Good call. Tack on fifteen yards to the end of the return.

Eddings: I concur, Pete.

Zembla: Unbelievable. Fine, we'll move on. On this play, Hasselbeck scrambles, but appears to fumble at the end of the play. Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu recovers - but the play is challenged and reversed.

Morelli: Polamalu. Replay. Why does that sound familiar?

Eddings: Pete, that looked like a horse collar tackle by Hasselbeck. What do you think?

Morelli: Hmm. See, this is where I would have blown the play dead and made them replay the down, Doug.

Eddings: I concur. First down, Steelers!

Morelli: Exactly.

Zembla: That doesn't make any sense! Pete, what gives? In the game against Indianapolis, every call you made went against the Steelers. And now, you and Doug are displaying ridiculous favoritism toward Pittsburgh. Did the NFL pay you off? Is this because Jerome Bettis was playing in Detroit, his hometown?

Eddings: I'm fairly sure Bettis is from Chicago.

Zembla: He's from Detroit!

Eddings: (Shrugs) Agree to disagree.

Zembla: Seriously, Pete, what's going on?

Morelli: (Deep breath) It's Mr. Joey Porter. He knows where I live.

Zembla: But...the game's over. The Steelers won. You weren't even working the game!

Morelli: That doesn't matter to Mr. Porter. From what I hear, he's already trying to motivate himself for next season. If you're reading, Mr. Porter, you should know both Doug and I respect you a whole bunch.

Zembla: OK, this is pathetic. We'll look at one last play, and then this is over. Here, the play clock expires, but the officials still allow Ben Roethlisberger to call time out. Shouldn't this have been a delay of game penalty?

Morelli: No sir. I wouldn't be surprised if a defensive player on the Pittsburgh sideline, possibly a outside linebacker, saw the play clock winding down and alertly signalled for a timeout. Great call.

Eddings: Pete, I'm gonna have to say that's a passed ball. Take your base, Big Ben.

Zembla: I hate you both.

The two biggest off-the-field football scandals of this fall that didn't involve Terrell Owens were about a decadent boat trip and a controversial rap song. Many of the Minnesota Vikings attended a wild party on Lake Minnetonka that led to four player citations this week. Reportedly, the boats were only forty-five minutes into their trip before the rambunctious sexual activity led the frightened crew to return the boats to the harbor.

The rap song was recorded at the University of Miami, detailing the lurid exploits of a group called the Seventh Floor Crew, a crew that included at least one current Miami football player. The song is almost nine minutes long, the lyrics are extremely raunchy, but the general theme is that the seventh floor is the place to go for gang bangs at U of M. Even though the song was two years old, and hilarious, there was predictably hysterical outcry when the song became better-known. Also, a blogger got kicked out of campus housing after posting a link to the song. Here's the chorus:

"If your ho only know
That she was getting fucked on the seventh floor
If that bitch only knew
That she was getting mudded by the whole damn crew
What would she do?"

So, the question that comes to mind is, If the Minnesota Vikings from the boat cruise were members of the Seventh Floor Crew, who would they be?

Bryant McKinnie: "Big Nick" (who "slings dick"). Bryant McKinnie is 6'8, 343 pounds, so he's got the "big" part covered. Despite the myriad of sex acts detailed by the Seventh Floor Crew, Big Nick is the only one to discuss cunnilingus. As McKinnie is the only Viking accused of picking up a naked woman, placing her on the bar, and performing oral sex on her, this seems like the perfect match. Big Nick promises to run a seven-man train, Big Bryant participated in a four-man oral sexstravaganza in deck chairs. Had the cruise not been prematurely stopped, McKinnie may well have done it until the roof collapsed.

Daunte Culpepper: "Marvelous". As a quarterback, Culpepper must use his field vision to read the defense, which seems to parallel Marvelous, who "keeps his eyes peeled for deez here ho's" on the seventh floor. The posture described by Marvelous - holding his nuts with both hands and a smile - is reminiscent of Culpepper's stance behind center, awaiting the snap. The criminal complaint alleges that Culpepper placed his hands on the buttocks of a woman giving him a lap dance, while Marvelous emphasizes the buttocks in his rhyme, going as far as to spell out "A-S-S".

Moe Williams: "Big Beez". Williams is a good pass blocker and an excellent short-yardage back. On the Seventh Floor crew, he'd be Big Beez. Moe is one of the four Vikings charged in the case, which matches up with Big Beez's assertion that whenever the SFC fucks a bitch, "all the guys on the crime scene". Big Beez also aims for the mouthpiece when he nuts, a parallel to Moe's style of hard-nosed, smashmouth football.

Fred Smoot: "G-Reg". Smoot paid for the sex boat cruise, and also had the raunchiest allegation in the police complaint. He is accused of using a double-headed dildo on two women simultaneously, out in the middle of the floor. Now, some might argue that Smoot should be T-Buck, due to T-Buck's affinity for multiple positions ("from the back, from the front, on the T-Bird trunk"). However, G-Reg is clearly the kinkiest member of the SFC, with his proclivities for bukkake and ear-fucking ("Come on fellas, let's get weird/Stick that dick up in her ear"). The bold Seventh Floor Crew still blanches at G-Reg's insistence that he nuts directly into a ho's eye, but G-Reg ignores their uncertain reaction and repeats, "In the eye!" I can imagine Fred Smoot announcing, "Come on fellas, let's get weird" right before he went Requiem For A Dream on his two boat ladies.

Darren Sharper: Tavares Gooden, AKA "T-Good" AKA "The Big-Dick Bandit". T-Good plays linebacker for Miami. His most notable line in the song involves his uniform number and his dong: "She thought 5-2 was just my number, then she realized/ Multiply that bitch up you get my dick size". So, when deciding which Viking matches up best with T-Good, my selection is based on who has a uniform number that can be multiplied to an impressive but not impossible penis size. None of the Vikings on the cruise can get to 10 exactly. Cornerback Ken Irvin would be an embarrassing 4 (2x2). Wide receiver Travis Taylor would be a frightening 72(8x9). Also, I'm leaving out anyone with a 1 in their uniform number, because the Multiplicative Identity Property of One is boring. So, candidates are: Will Offord (2x4=8), Ralph Brown (3x3=9), and Darren Sharper (4x2=8). I'm picking Sharper, simply because "D-Sharp" makes a much better MC name.

Lance Johnstone: "Li'l Newt". Along with Smoot, Johnstone organized the boat trip. Li'l Newt seems very concerned with logistics in his verse, detailing the specific order in which the Seventh Floor train will be run, in an orderly, team-based manner. Johnstone might appreciate this, since the scouting report says he has trouble with double teams.

Mewelde Moore: "Dub C" AKA "Thundercat". Mewelde "Dub M" Moore initially claimed he didn't attend the boat trip. However, he went with McKinnie on a covert op to throw away garbage bags from the party, in a dumpster at a construction site. In the song, Dub C entreats the ladies to "check the bag" (where they'll find his wee-wee). Also, "Mewelde" sounds like it could be the name of a Thundercat, or at least a Thundercats villain.

Koren Robinson: "Holla Man". Holla Man gets out control about halfway through his verse. He drops the beat, just like Koren Robinson does with important third-down passes, and proceeds to ramble on semi-coherently, just like Koren Robinson does when he gets pulled over for drunk driving.

Willie Offord: "T-Buck". I think T-Buck's aforementioned positional flexibility is similar to Offord's, who was Minnesota's special teams captain as well as the starting strong safety before he was injured. Also, for no good reason, I think Willie Oford likes to "put it in the butt".

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