what’s in a double-zero?

May 15, 2006 at 6:35 pm | Posted in aaron d.w., basketball | 4 Comments

greg ostertagsad and surprising (but not surprisingly sad) news hit the basketball community when the foundation of the jazz team and the only remaining link to the nba finals run decided on early retirement. i was as devastated as the next (casual) basketball super-fan, but i knew that he was following his heart. his ten-year tenure (i can’t believe i typed that — i think i only did it to piss brian off) with the utah jazz had its “ups and downs — hopefully more ups than downs,” but was the major reason that the jazz experienced such post-season success throughout that decade. he was a warrior on the court and a teddy bear in the locker room. he brought toughness and togetherness to a team that didn’t seem to have an identity or a direction. he was a great basketball player and i’m sure he would have been a dear friend, had i ever met him outside of my dreams.

greg ostertag was drafted 28th overall in 1994 after being the top shot-blocker in big eight conference history. he started 10 games as a rookie and averaged 1 block per game in around 11 minutes. the next season, the jazz expanded his role on the team and enjoyed their first trip to the nba finals thanks to their decision. utah had been unable to get past the conference finals in 4 out of 5 years. ostertag was the guy that put them over the top. they advanced to the finals two years in a row and if it wasn’t for jordan’s push-off, greg ostertag would have led his team to an nba championship. his nba career averages include 1.7 blocked shots per game in under 20 minutes with a career field goal percentage of 48.6%. he finished 1-10 from 3 point range in his career.

greg ostertag was always known for his ability to turn on the heat when it was playoffs time. i’ll always remember how much fight he had in him when the game was on the line. in 2002 he donated one of his kidneys to his sister. he also has a tattoo of fred flintstone dunking a basketball on his leg. he will be missed when the 2006-2007 season comes around and i doubt the jazz will make the playoffs. they never had a losing season the whole time greg played in utah and they never missed the playoffs until this year. i’m positive that if they would have let him play more minutes this year they would be battling it out with the mavericks for another shot at the conference championship. even after stockton and malone left, the jazz still had a good season and made the playoffs. but when ostertag left the team last year, utah suffered its worst season in 20 years. i shouldn’t have to convince anyone about his importance to the jazz franchise. his influence speaks for itself.

i look forward to getting free tickets to jazz games and sitting like 6 miles from the floor. if i have my way, i’ll sit right under the jersey that reads 00 and i’ll remember his legacy. i look forward to eating sandwiches in the grass near the statue that he deserves. he might be retiring from basketball, but he won’t ever be able to retire from my heart.

greg ostertag announced his retirement from the national basketball association on april 17th, 2006. he was preceded in retirement by antoine carr, william cunningham, jim farmer, greg foster, jeff hornacek, adam keefe, karl malone, chris morris, ruben nembhard, and john stockton. he is survived by shandon anderson, howard eisley, troy hudson, and bryon russell.

Brother Derek Where Art Thou?

May 11, 2006 at 4:19 pm | Posted in greg, misc | 2 Comments

As is to be expected, local headlines often reflect local products (people, horses, etc) that have made a name on the National/International Stage. The recent running of the Kentucky Derby is one such example. The Kentucky Derby seemed to make more local (Utah) headlines this year due to the running of featured favorite colt Brother Derek. Brother Derek was part owned by a Utahn and trained locally in South Jordan giving him his Utah ties. The national fame that Brother Derek now enjoys has made him a local celebrity of sorts. As with any local celebrity, Utahns, especially Mormons, have a tendency to seek for a connection–of the celebrity– to mormonism. In order to fullfill this need for connection, rumors often crop up around the celebrity. While these rumors usually involve people/animals from or associated with Utah, sometimes the individual or horse can get tied into these rumors just by becoming part of Utah culture. For example: Dennis Rodman is going to be the next Prophet, Shakira is taking the missionary disscussions, Neleh Dennis almost won Survivor because she took her scriptures on the show, or that Larry Miller is a good person. Brother Derek is no exception to the rumor-connection game. While most Utahns have heard that Brother Derek was named after a Mormon missionary, I recently heard a more complete story. As I understand it, Brother Derek was named after the missionary that baptized him. While not common, there are known spiritual occasions where missionaries will administer to animals. Here are a couple of examples: I was an eye witness to Elder Soto giving a sick dog a blessing on my mission. Eliza, in the mormon movie Legacy, blesses her oxen when they are sick. And finally, Brother Derek (the horse) gets baptized by Brother Derek (the missionary). There is little doubt that the success that Brother Derek has had in racing is due to the spiritual fortitude given him through baptism.

all this talk of picking teams…

May 2, 2006 at 10:42 am | Posted in becky, misc | 3 Comments

I’ve been a Braves fan ever since I was 13(ish?) and watched the ’91 World Series (which in my opinion was the best one of all time). I have no idea why I decided to watch the series, or why I chose the Braves as my team. But they’ve been my team ever since (this series is also the reason I’ve had an abiding hatred for kirby pucket [yes, i know his dead], and my love of the Braves is what spawned my hatred for the Yankees). Other than the Braves, I don’t necessarily have any teams. Being born in Michigan, it was ingrained into me my whole life (that saying makes no sense unless my life is over), to root for any team in Michigan, which I tend to do. Anyway, since I don’t really have any teams other than the Braves, I’ve just decided to pick players for now. One from each of the 4 major sports.

Football: as noted below, I’ve already chosen Ricky Williams due to the awesomeness of his beard.

Basketball: i’ve chosen Richard Hamilton. I could say I’m choosing him because he plays for the pistons, but that wouldn’t really be true at all. I’ve chosen him because of that mask. He wears it all the time! It’s like shorts and shoes to the guy. If you’re doubting my choice, here is a picture to change your mind.

Is it not awesome?

Baseball: I was going to say Chuck James because it made me think of Chuck Norris, but I’ve decided (for now) to go with Chipper Jones. Mainly because his name is Chipper, but also because he’s always blowing huge bubbles with his gum, and I support that.

Badminton: Raju Rai–for obvious reasons. he/she has been athlete of the year for three years running.

what team(s) should i root for: episode iii

May 1, 2006 at 5:21 pm | Posted in brian, misc | 2 Comments

in “postmodernism and the consumer society,” fredrich jameson dwells on two features of postmodernism: “the transformation of reality into images and the fragmentation of time into a series of perpetual presents.” these two features, jameson argues, leads to “the disappearance of a sense of history.” this shift from reality to images and time as a series of presents speeds historical experiences into the distant past; left in its place are nostalgic pop-images and stereotypes about the past while the past “remains forever out of reach.”

the same disappearance of a sense of history shows up in the names of professional sports teams. even though i have never participated in the naming of a sports team–a professional sports team that is–i imagine those who choose nicknames for sports teams are careful and deliberate. whether a nickname reflects hoped for characteristics, like the ferocious stength of a lion or the kinetic energy of electricity (i’m guessing that’s what the chargers are all about), or whether the nickname reflects the uniqueness of its city, team names are chosen purposefully. the minor league baseball team located in salt lake city is called the bees. this grows out of the state emblem–a beehive–which grows out of an obscure reference in the book of mormon. in other words, the name locates the team squarely in salt lake city.

however, given our postmodern situation, team names rarely keep their original significance. many team names have completely lost their reference like the dodgers, browns and reds. other team names, especially those names associated with city history, are often reduced like the supersonics to the sonics, the 76ers to the sixers and the knickerbockers to the knicks; the reduction largely divorces the team names from its intent (i mean, what exactly is a knick or a sonic?). other times, names with significant meaning for a certain geographical place are relocated again removing the name from its intent like the (new orleans)utah jazz and the (minneapolis)los angeles lakers. and team names are often chosen as idealized stereotypes, like the patriots, yankees and any name stemming from native americans (which will be a topic for another episode), further reinforcing the disappearance of a sense of history. most team names at some point, as the talking heads say, stop making sense.

this is most obvious in the examples of team names borrowing from labor unions. many diehard fans may not even realize that the steelers, (meat)packers, brewers and, to a lesser extent, pistons grow out of a city’s industry with paticular attention being paid to the workers of those industries. at the time the names where chosen, the cities often had strong, united labor unions representing real pittsburgh steelers or milwaukee brewers. as the labor unions have been undermined the relation of the team name to the workers of a city have been lost. the names, like the names of the browns or dodgers, become meaningless in any context other than within the professional sports team.

what does this all have to do with figuring out which team to root for? very little. but astute (non)sports-fans should take into account the history of team names when choosing what team(s) she should root for.

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