Friday, February 12, 2010

Degenerate Friday - NBA Dunk Contest?

Now that the football season has officially ended, Degenerate Friday needs to find other things to bet on. And as I covered a few weeks ago, the way to make money in college basketball is on the smaller conferences with less available data. I’m not going to get into discussing those games because let’s face it, as soon as I start mentioning the Ivy League, I start to get sleepy, so I’m sure you do as well.

I was boarding a flight to Milwaukee to help my sister move (at least it’s my sister and not Keith Hernandez asking me to move) and Devin Harris of the New Jersey Nets was on my flight. We chatted very briefly while we were boarding the plane, asked him how his injuries were (he’s sore but feeling pretty good), asked if he was headed home to see his family (a quick stop before going to Orlando for some sun over the All-Star break), and I wished him well for the rest of the season. While he’s still thin, he definitely has bulked up some since his days at the Kohl Center in Madison.

It got me thinking about the All-Star break, and what used to be the greatest night of the NBA season – All-Star Saturday Night – when all the best talent in the league would compete in the 3-point shoot out and the dunk contest. I remember hanging out at my buddy Sally’s (a guy – nicknamed Sally as a mocking of his manhood. He calls my Nancy) parents house eating pizza, listening to his dad pass gas and watching the festivities. Those were the days where the biggest stars – Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, etc. – competed in the events. And while the dunks may not have been quite as high-flying back then, they were extremely majestic and powerful. Check out these Jordan highlights:

Being that we have to bet on something over the weekend, let’s take a look at the contestants in this year’s competition and where we should bet. Below are the odds I could find from

Dwight Howard (Orlando): 20-31Rudy Fernandez (Portland): 13-4J.R. Smith (Denver): 7-2Nate Robinson (N.Y. Knicks): 19-4

The biggest factor to consider for this year’s competition is that part of the judging will be done via text message. That has a huge benefit for Rudy Fernandez who may secure all of the European text votes. Spaniards are big on hoops and definitely would take some pride in having one of their own bring home a dunk crown. It would also continue to improve the perception of the foreign-born players as more than just finese jumpshooters.

Dwight Howard is the overwhelming favorite with his Superman persona and big smile to sway the audience. While his athleticism is impressive, for me, the fact that he’s a 7-footer just kind of diminishes all of his dunks. He’s already closer to the rim than any of us, so he should be able to throw down nasty dunks, right? So then I should probably go with Nate Robinson as the shortest contestant at somewhere around 5’9”, right? While I like the “Krypto-Nate” routine that he pulled, I can’t see him pulling enough of the text votes, particularly from Europe to come away with the win.

J.R. Smith has the ability to win this contest, as he has the perfect combination of insane hops, size to make the aerial displays look impressive, and craziness to try any dunk. The reason he won’t win? Who knows who J.R. Smith is outside of Denver? No one. There will be very, very few overseas texts voting for the tattoo’d guy who looks more like the black guy on Scrubs than he does an NBA player. He also strikes me as the guy that will try to do something so insane that he misses and gets eliminated because he keeps missing.

So where do we bet? I think the best value lies with Rudy Fernandez. At 13-4 odds, it’s a decent pay day on a guy who can throw down and has European support. It also helps the NBA increase its global presence by being able to promote another of its foreign-born players as an up-and-coming star on an up-and-coming team in Portland. Then again, others that have won the contest include JR Rider, Desmond Mason and Brent Barry. Being dunk champ didn’t exactly boost their careers.

All that said, if Dominique Wilkins, Shawn Kemp (before he pulled a Kirstie Alley) or Kenny “Sky” Walker entered this year’s competition, I’d bet on them.


Have you ever heard the phrase “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”? Pretty sure John Mayer should have that tattoo’d on both of his hands, Sarah Palin-style, as a constant reminder. In one interview with Playboy he proved beyond a doubt that some long, wavy hair and the ability to play the guitar are all it takes to get laid by some of the hottest women in Hollywood. He managed to call his junk racist, dromb an “n-bomb” and complement Jessica Simpson’s ability in the sack.

He then backpedaled faster than Deion Sanders in his prime, arguing that he should have known that he wouldn’t be able to “intellectualize” his use of such a derogatory word. John, you may have a way with words with bimbos, but you did a hell of a job of making an ass of yourself. It doesn’t even matter what your intentions were – you just have to be smarter than that to know that it’s a lightning rod that you don’t want to be anywhere near.


Last add: Yesterday was the 20-year anniversary of Mike Tyson getting knocked by Buster Douglas in Tokyo. I think sometimes it’s hard for those that are too young to have been around when Tyson was the most feared man in the world. Now he’s only known as this complete lunatic who does a great karaoke of Phil Collins and has a tattoo on his face. Back in the day he was among the biggest stars in the entire world and opponents were generally scared out of their minds before the fight would even begin. Just watch the highlights

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