December Chumpservations, Vol. 2: The injured Greg Oden, Tracy McGrady and Troy Polamalu

NBA/Portland’s Kneed

Two and a half years ago, Ohio State’s Greg Oden was the consensus number one draft pick of the Portland Trailblazers. It was hoped the seven-footer would bring the franchise back to prosperity. Since that day, Oden has been a mainstay on injured reserve.

Unfortunately for the Portland big man, his season was once again shortened due to a fractured left patella.

Oden played in 61 games last season, averaging only 21 minutes per game. This year, his season ended after only 21 games, making it only one full season he’ll have played after two in the league.

Prior to getting hurt, his minutes, points, rebounds and blocks per game were all up compared to last year. That all came to a disheartening end on December 5. If there’s any good to be taken out of this, Portland has played without him in the past and knows they will have to do so again for the remainder of this season. That still doesn’t leave Blazer fans feeling all warm and fuzzy.

In the meantime, the NBA and specifically Portland fans can only wish for a speedy recovery.

tracy-mcgrady-injured-bench2The wrong right to vote

Did I read this correctly? Tracy McGrady, who played in his first game of the season Tuesday night (8 minutes, 3 points), is the second leading vote-getter in the NBA’s All-Star race for Western Conference guards.

The oft-injured McGrady has garnered over 280,000 votes, which is more than Steve Nash, Deron Williams, and Brandon Roy. In fact, he’s won more votes than any Western guard other than Kobe Bryant. Now either Tracy’s mom has voted 280,000 times or we have some highly uneducated voters out there.

Fans, please! This is why we get a bad name, why critics claim we know nothing about sports and why some suggest the leagues should rid us of our right to vote.

NBA and Major League Baseball All-Star rosters are decided solely by fans. Yet the fan who speaks the loudest is the obsessed fan who stuffs one hundred ballots into the box or who visits frequently enough to vote for his or her favorite superstar, even if they haven’t played a single minute. Power to the mouse-click.

Perhaps it’s time for an intervention, for I’m not sure the NBA can outfit T-Mac’s crutches in Western Conference colors.

I’m all for power to the people but let’s make educated decisions. Heck, why not just pencil in Michael, Magic, Charles, Larry and Patrick and have ourselves a dream team reunion.

I hereby proclaim it’s objective to educate the disinterested and uninformed sports fan one person at a time. People, we’re knowledgeable. Let’s act like it. If not, they’ll likely rid us of our right to vote… and rightfully so.

Let’s vote for the players who are far more deserving. Like Greg Oden.

troy-polamalu2The real NFL MVP?

With only four weeks left in the NFL’s regular season, the MVP frontrunners are Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. One can make a legitimate case for any one of those three.

But one player, has proven significantly more valuable to his team than any of those three. When healthy and on the field, Troy Polamalu rarely has his team lose and when injured, his team simply can’t get it done. After all, isn’t that the very definition of most valuable? I mean, if Brees, Manning or Favre were taken off their respective teams, they might not have the records they have now but they would most assuredly win some games.

The NBA has a statistic which is often a fair assessment of how valuable a player is to his team. The +/- measures how many points a team is either ahead or behind when a particular player is in the game or on the bench. The names atop the NBA’s +/- statistic are those you’d expect to see: Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Dirk Nowitzki and Al Horford all rank in the top five. Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Pau Gasol, LeBron James, Kenyon Martin, Jason Kidd, Lamar Odom, Vince Carter and Carmelo Anthony are all in the top 25.

If they measured that stat in the NFL, Troy Polamalu would be off the charts. The defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers are 4-0 with a healthy Polamalu. They’re 2-7 when he’s injured. In three of their last four games without him, Pittsburgh has lost to the Raiders, Chiefs and Browns. In fact, since losing Polamalu to injury in Week 10, the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t won a game.

When Troy is healthy, the Steelers are plus three in forcing turnovers; without him they’re minus five. Without a healthy Polamalu, the Pittsburgh Steelers are allowing nearly ten more points a game!

This might not earn Polamalu an MVP trophy or even a vote, but it should earn him something. Hopefully a healthy recovery before the Steelers miss the playoffs entirely.

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21 Replies to “December Chumpservations, Vol. 2: The injured Greg Oden, Tracy McGrady and Troy Polamalu”

  1. Chris –

    The Greg Oden story is truly a sad story for a franchise that never quite recovered from taking Sam Bowie over that kid from North Carolina. It is compounded by the fact that early returns on Kevin Durant indicate the kid is a stud and should develop into a truly special player.

  2. Chirs –

    The T-Mac story absolutely boils my blood. You hit the nail on the head when you talked about what a poor light this sheds on NBA fans. I’d love to see how many of those votes came from China, where the Rockets are a home country team. Makes you wonder why Shane Battier and Luis Scola aren’t starting as well.

    The NBA needs to count fan vote as 25% of the vote with players, coaches/GM’s and beat writers each accounting for the other 75% of the vote to legitimize the process. I’m generally not a big fan of all-star games but the NBA version is entertaining so I’d like to see the year’s best rewarded for their play, not because they have a Chinese teammate.

  3. Frank… At this point, it looks like Durant was the better pick but it’s tough to pass on a seven-footer. The Blazers didn’t… again.

    We’ll see what happens with that.

  4. Frank… All I can say is I’m glad the Magic got rid of T-Mac when they did. They were riddled with the sidelined Grant Hill for so long, it set the franchise back years. Now it appears they’re definitely on the right path.

    I don’t have a problem with fans voting for who they want to see play but one would think T-Mac fans more than anyone would realize the kid hasn’t played a lick.

  5. Chris

    The loss of Oden while impactful for the Blazers mightn’t be as hard as first thought. Afterall they were a playoff team without him last year. And with the likes of Roy, Fernandez, Blake and Alridge. I can see still see them doing quite well in the playoffs.

    Nate McMillan is a too good a coach to let this team falter.

    What has happened to the Steelers should be a cautionary tale to teams around the NFL. It always pays to have at least a damn good backup to one of your frontline players. And in the case of Polamalu, the Steelers just haven’t got that or a team leader at all. It’s certainly not Hines Ward, James Harrison or Ben ‘It Wasn’t Me’ Roethlisberger. Mike Tomlin hasn’t yet chosen to make excuses , as that’s certainly not his style. But I do believe that he ought to light a fire under the asses of many of his veteran players. Many of whom have essentially have now given up on the season.

    Alan Parkins

  6. Chris

    Having fans vote on the participants of the NBA All Star Game is akin to having Paris Hilton write a doctoral thesis on economic policies throughout the 20th century. What you believe she might well know and what she actually knows doesn’t bear thinking about. And it’s the same with the asinine notion that McGrady ought to made an All Star at this year’s NBA All Star showcase.

    What next, David Stern will allow the fans to vote on the color of what the official type of playing basketball that ought to be used for the games ?

    C’mon man !

    Alan Parkins

  7. Does Tracy McGrady getting voted into the All Star game mean that Democracy really doesn’t work? How ironic us it that China proved this.

  8. Hey Rev,
    No wonder Oden gets hurt so often, look at the guy he must be 40 years old.
    As for McGrady, I think the voters thought they were voting for the player most likely to never get into the second round of the playoffs.
    According to Polamalu,”it’s got to be the hair”.
    Shalom my brother.

  9. Chris

    First up I did this socio-commentary piece .

    Get By Got To Get By ….

    So USF will go all out with a full court press investigation into the alleged Leavitt incident ?
    Courtesy of USA Today

    South Florida coach , Jim Leavitt denies hitting player …

    On Monday night, reports surfaced that the University of South Florida was investigating a claim that head football coach Jim Leavitt had slapped a player in the face during halftime of the Bulls’ game vs. Louisville on Nov. 21. reported that Phil Miller, the father of sophomore running back Joel Miller, confirmed the incident, as did five members of the Bulls’ program and Miller’s high school coach.

    Click on link to read this article in greater detail

    The new is getting stranger by the minute . Bengals’ running back Chris Henry is now in hospital with what is said to be life threatening injuries , having fallen out of the back of a pickup truck that his fiancee’ was said to be driving during a domestic dispute ?

    Courtesy of Detroit Free Press

    Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry ‘battling for life’

    Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry is “battling for his life” after falling out of the back of a pickup truck Wednesday during what police described as a domestic dispute with his fiancée.
    Henry was found in the road about 8 miles north of downtown Charlotte, N.C., “apparently suffering life-threatening injuries,” according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. Police spokesman Robert Fey said he had no information on Henry’s condition, but said he was alive.

    “We ask everyone to pray for Chris,” agent Andy Simms said. “We also ask that you respect the privacy of Chris’ family. Chris is indeed battling for his life tonight, and our thoughts and prayers (are) with him during this extremely difficult time.”

    Police said a dispute began at a home just before noon, and Henry, 26, jumped into the bed of the truck as his fiancée — whom they did not identify by name — was driving away from the residence.

    Click on link to read more of this article

    Alan Parkins

  10. I agree with you on the Blazers, Al. They’re better with Oden in the lineup but I don’t know how much of an overall difference he makes. I’d just like to see him play a full season so we can actually find out.

    The Steelers are in total disarray. And I miss seeing Polamalu on the field.

    It’s funny. After posting this blurb, I did an internet search for Polamalu and MVP. You’d be surprised to see how many people feel the same way.

  11. Al… I’m okay with the NBA or MLB giving back to the fans and granting them an exhibition game to give us what we want to see.

    But T-Mac? C’mon. I didn’t realize he still had that much popularity.

    And what’s up with the MLB requiring that every team have a member? When are they gonna abolish that nonsense?

  12. Richard…

    I had heard that, because of the amount of Chinese Rocket fans due to Yao, that most of the T-Mac votes came from the Orient.

    Too bad they couldn’t all chip in to send T-Mac a healthy knee.

  13. Aer… I was thinking about big guys that can never stay healthy, but Dirk and KG, although no centers, are both seven-footers who have had injuries but have never been injury plagued.

    Hopefully Oden can have a successful career in the league.

    I think you’d inspired me. I may go as Troy P for Halloween next year.

  14. Chris

    It’s sad concerning Henry and the fact that this young man’s life has been lost so needlessly. I wonder if his fiancee will be charged with anything ?

    As for MLB and the NBA and their showcase events. I do believe that it ought to be left up to the players and the coaches as to who ought to be participating. The whole thing now has become nothing more than a popularity contest. Is that really what it’s meant to be about ? Man, that’s probably why crap like American Idol tends to thrive on broadcast television. Cowell , Jackson and Di Guardio couldn’t spot ‘real talent’ if it were raining down cats and dogs upon them ! The voters have voted and what do we end up getting ? Someone who in essence gets their shot at 15 minutes of fame and who’ll then fade off into relative obscurity.

    And I’m to believe to believe that the fans’ picks legitimize the participants in the respective All Star Games. As for Selig and his asinine edict concerning the All Star starters. Well does that mean that the likes of the Pirates , Royals, Nationals and Orioles possess players that ought to be playing in MLB’s All Star game ? Please give me a break ! Next they’ll be telling me that Palin would make for a great Presidential candidate in 2012 ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

    Alan Parkins

  15. They’re saying he’ll be remembered more than anything for his unreached potential. I couldn’t agree more. Bizarre story. I’m sure more will come out. Check out Ochocinco’s locker room interview to see what the kid meant to the team.

  16. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, Al.

    Are the Skins gonna land Shanahan for the icing on the cake? And is Zorn about cash in his 401K?

    With Shan, Reid and Coughlin all in the NFC East, the Cowboys are gonna have to do something to match those coaching chess moves.

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