Thursday, December 13, 2007

I call it the best article on the PBA ever

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Here's a great example of where TrueHoop's Henry Abbott and Poor Man's Commish have really different viewpoints of the world of basketball. Abbott refers to yesterday's AWESOME article by Rafe Bartholomew (I don't usually put a writer's name in bold, but Mr. Bartholomew deserves it) in the Seattle Weekly about former NBA prospect Rosell Ellis and his current life in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as "You Choke One Referee...", while I would call it...
I say this because if you've ever toured the circuit of amateur Asian American basketball tournaments, despite the highly competitive and ultra-skilled nature of these tourneys, the closest thing we "common folk" ever get to being on the level of pro is that someone in the tourney once played in the PBA or maybe in China.

This occurs enough that we wonder if these ringers in our tournaments are really half-black-half-Filipino (quarter-Filipino?) or if we are just respectfully allowing them to play amongst our Asian American community because they once played in the PBA.

When you watch these guys play, you can't help but wonder what it's like to play in the PBA. I mean, we've heard about the corruption with heights and we've played against guys like Ryan Reyes who got drafted by the PBA. But we've never got an insider's look into the day-and-life of a PBA'er.

Until now.

Here are some choice nuggets from Bartholomew's piece, but really, go check it out. Every word is worth the read...
  • First off, there's a mention of a teammate of Ellis's named Dale Singson. I wonder if there's any relation to Reyes's tourney teammate Ryan Singson?

  • "To get to the ref, Ellis shoved his teammate out of the way, ran to the scorer's table where [the ref] was reporting the ejection, leaped on the referee's back, and put [the ref] in a sleeper hold...Less than two months before, in December 1997, Latrell Sprewell had beaten Ellis to the choke."

  • "Depending on his base salary and performance incentives, Ellis makes between $15,000 and $20,000 per month as an import on foreign teams. By skipping from one team to another as seasons in different countries begin and end, he can, for example, play in Australia from October to February, then in the Philippines from March to July, thus multiplying his earnings."

  • "It's also common for management to change team names to give struggling brands a boost. In 2005, the Purefoods franchise was pushing corned beef and their team was the Chunkee Giants. Now, they're hawking hot dogs as the Tender Juicy Giants."

  • "Companies that can't afford their own team pay to have mascots wander the aisles..."

  • "Ellis kept hearing someone call his name -- 'Ell-ees! Ell-ees!' -- during layup lines. 'Just by the way he was saying my name, I knew something was funny,' Ellis says. 'I knew better than to look, but I'm laying the ball up and he's right under the basket. So as I come down, I just happen to look. Gay dude, just had breast implants, whipped them out and showed me.'"

  • "The Alaska franchise provides Ellis with an apartment, a maid, a car, and a driver. He makes more money in a month than most Filipino families earn in a year. When fans spot him in malls and restaurants, they call him 'idol,' ask for high fives and autographs, and take photos with him."

  • "In the PBA, [former Portland Trail Blazer Billy Ray Bates], a gifted scorer even by NBA standards, was able to put up Chamberlain-like numbers in the bedroom as well as on the court. Even his PBA nickname, 'Black Superman,' contained a hint of innuendo."

  • "Philippine coaches talk about imports in terms usually reserved for used cars -- players who can't average 25 points per game are called 'lemons.' Loyalty is laughable; imports can be replaced anytime during a season, including the playoffs. In 2002, the PBA's Red Bull franchise started former Duke University player Antonio Lang for the entire season, then gave him his walking papers on the eve of Game 7 of the league finals."

  • "Argentine hardwood was similarly afflicted, but ingenious team managers there came up with a solution that's bound to please American soft-drink companies. As Ellis explains, 'Before the game, they pour Coke all over the floor so it'll be sticky.'"

  • "The space above the players' heads was equally perilous. In some drafty Argentine gyms, the players dodged fluttering insects and swooping bats."

  • "Although [Ellis's point guard teammate Willie Miller] looks like a full-blooded American, his mannerisms -- the jumping-bean eyebrows, the nose used for pointing -- are pure Filipino."

  • "Miller plays the same helter-skelter game Filipinos play on the playground, racing up and down the court at full tilt, weaving through defenders, and finishing with improbable circus layups. He throws risky full-court passes to breaking teammates for layups. He dribbles straight into double teams and slices them in half." [Hmmm, I wonder if Miller is a distant cousin of dreamleaguer tourney-man Jeremy delaCruz?!!!]

  • "It was a cross-cultural love-fest that would have seemed impossible a week earlier, capped by Ellis and Miller posing together for a picture. They stood side by side, each grinning with a crispy pig ear between his teeth while holding the porcine head in front of them."
See, I told you. Best article on the PBA ever!