|Just as Dirk Nowitzki and Shaq O’Neal (as the venerable Chick Hearn used to call him) get ready to face off in what will surely be an epic NBA Finals battle, coming off the heels of possibly the greatest NBA playoffs ever, the Dream League NYC playoffs are ready to tip off. This will surely be a great playoff run for DLNY as there are at least 5 teams with a good to great shot at winning this year’s title, as well as many other potential sleeper teams waiting to catch fire at the right time. |
But before we get too excited about the playoffs, let’s do a review of the regular season. (The playoff preview will be online on Thursday, June 8.) We are gonna do this review school. What the heck does that mean? Well, seeing as how “old-school” has become an adjective, I figure “school” can be one, too. But what does “school” mean? It just means that we’re handing out simple grades. Let’s see who passed.
16 Minute Men (0-11): Incomplete
Alright, you may say this is a copout because I don’t want to give this hard-working and entertaining team a bad grade. Well, you’d be wrong. 16MM was put into the wrong division, lost a vital teammate before a game was even played, and had the oldest roster in the League. These aren’t excuses; they’re facts. However, not once did they whine about the officials, their situation, or the other teams. They just put on their hardhats and played through it. They had a couple of tight contests during the season, but in the end, the lack of size, bench, and confidence (can you blame them when their best player bailed on them before the season started?) did them in. I know they lost a lot and it would have been easy just to quit, but these guys didn’t and I can’t wait to see them light up the AL next season.
A Ball (4-7): C
With such a talented roster, it was a genuine surprise that A Ball did not have a better showing this season. Especially if you consider their first game, a hard-fought defeat to the Homecrest Cruisers, it’s a bit mystifying how this team failed to reach .500. With a deep backcourt, featuring Drew Chen, and a frontcourt featuring mid-season pickup Jeff Moy and former All-Star Mark Kiang, A Ball seemed to have the makings of a top squad. However, the lack of chemistry (4 new players) and a demanding schedule tripped A Ball up. If captain Jae Ha Hwang can keep this squad together for next season, watch out, because I guarantee you no one wants to see these guys even in this season’s playoffs.
California Love (4-8): C+
Cali Love suffered from the same problems as A Ball. With half the team being holdovers from last season and half the team picked up anew, it was a challenge for players to meld their games and personalities. Add to that a mid-season hiatus for All-Star center, Brian Liang, and what you have is a recipe for mediocrity. Player/coach Kirk Kim and his non-brother Joe Kim, an explosive scorer, came on late as Cali Love won 3 of their last 6 games (after losing 5 of their first 6). This is another team that should get better with time. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have a chance to sparkle in the playoffs.
Lethal Weapon's been lacking a little this season.
Da Bien (9-3): B+
Remember the good old days when Da Bien would coast through the regular season with nary a loss and then lose one game in a double elimination playoff format before running away with the championship? Well, those days are most assuredly over as the Cruisers and Ghee Unit have taken up the mantle of the teams to beat in DLNY. However, notice that Da Bien only lost to those two teams in the regular season. Led by Shawn De Los Reyes, who had one of the best all-around seasons in the history of the League, Da Bien is not only dangerous, but dominant when it comes to battling any team not named the Cruisers or Ghee. However, there are some unsettling signs for De Los Reyes’ crew. The artists formerly known as Lethal Weapon 3 (Ed Lee, Rick Wong, and Virgilio Borbo) have had a sub par performance in most contests leading to their new name: Bootlegged Lethal Weapon 3. Kevin Park has been beset with injuries and although it seems like he’s finally rounding into form, he’s still not 100%. Then there’s the lack of frontcourt depth and the alternating attendance of gunner, Dave Scott. But even with these issues, Da Bien remains a force and it’s gonna take more than what they endured this season to knock them off their perch.
Derelicte (5-6): B-
Will Mugatu turn left on the b-ball court?
Would you believe that this team started the season 1-6? Since that point, Derelicte has reeled off 4 straight wins and is primed to end the season at .500. It’s difficult to fathom such an outcome considering how poorly constructed this team looked early on. However, you just need to look to one man to see how things changed. Point guard, Fred Lee, was away in Mexico for the first few weeks of the season, hiding from authorities and getting a much needed tan. But as soon as Lee got back, Derelicte’s fortunes transformed. Lee’s deft outside touch opened up the lanes for Nelson Wong, Derelicte’s talented forward. Lee’s ball handling freed rugged John Ryu to do what he does best: play tough defense and rebound on both ends. But it wasn’t all Lee’s doing. The team needed time to feel out the competition as well as each other. Add to that Young Yu’s ailing Achilles, which seems to be getting better by the game, and it’s easy to see why Derelicte’s performance is improving. But the question remains: Will Derelicte be able to turn left and stop the Mugatu blade from killing the prime minister of Malaysia?
Gen X (7-4): B
After an uncharacteristically slow 0-2 start, Gen X showed their heart throughout this long and trying season. Missing All-Star Brandon Chock for the first three games and then losing Mike Lee to a fire - a fire department in Virginia that is - Gen X was reeling, but never gave up. As soon as Chock returned, it was back to normal as the team did what it does best: played great defense, led by the Defensive POS Paul Ohshima, and worked the ball around into Chock on offense or shot the long ball. This season, the script was altered a bit by Dennis Yang, a smooth shooting point guard who has given Gen X more speed in the perimeter and playmaking abilities not seen on the team since the loss of Danny Wang. Imagine how great a tandem Yang and Chock will be with some more time.
Vic kills like Shaq, sports shorts like Wilt.
Ghee Unit (10-2): A-
So how does a team that only lost two games garner a minus after the A? Well, when you’re Ghee Unit who added what seemed like the final piece of the puzzle to their already formidable lineup in Usama Nausradreen - a slashing point guard who is capable of taking over games - and you still let teams that you should beat hang around too long. That’s been the Ghee Unit story for their DLNY history and it may just be in their makeup, but this team is way too talented to let so many games get away from them. It may be a lack of concentration or it could be that most teams just get extra-motivated from facing such a talented squad, but that something could be what holds Ghee Unit from hoisting their first DLNY championship. That being said, Ghee Unit did have a fabulous year, led by the dynamic duo of Mo Ghumman and Vic Bhartiya. Now only if we can get Bhartiya some longer shorts and keep him from posing after missed three-pointers.
Homecrest Cruisers (11-1): A
What more can one say than 11 and 1. Their only loss came against Gen X and that was without George Chan and Tony Hu. Their closest game was against Ghee Unit, which they won by 7. But they were up huge until a furious Ghee comeback that fell short. They are big (Hu and Chan), quick (Stan Yeung, David Cheng), long (Leighton Kuet, Mika Ohior), accurate (CB Liu), and deep (the rest of their roster).
Since I don’t have anything more to add, let me tell you about my buddy’s classmate in Los Angeles. For some reason she can’t pronounce the letter “z.” So instead of “zebra” it comes out as “jebra.” I know that it’s wrong to make fun of people like this but imagine hearing, “Jorro likes to eat jucchinies with jebras while watching end jone celebrations on channel jero.” Now that’s funny.
Moe’s Tavern (3-8): C-
It’s been a rough season for Moe. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. We had some close games against most teams and we ended up losing most of them. That’s been the key this season and it may say something about our roster. Or it’s just bad luck. I will say this, however: no other team has had as much fun together as Moe. David Copperfield’s on 74th and York has never seen so much regular business. By the way, a quick shout-out to our homey, Cris Garcia, who’s now in Hong Kong. Also, a big welcome to Jerry Tanaka, the newest character in our cast. That gives us the lead in Jerry’s (2) in DLNY. I’m expecting a big plaque for that.
...or Tri-State InvAsian?
Tri-State InvAsian (8-4): B+
One of the friendliest teams in the League, Tri-State was one of the best this season. They got off to a hot 5-1 start, but went a pedestrian 3-3 for the rest of the season. They have the League’s leading scorer in Dave Wong, a premier big man in Jiang Yu, and a host of solid veterans. This newly built roster by captain, Andre Liu, has paid dividends as the team shot up the standings as compared to past seasons. But the recent losses suggest that the team may have peaked too early. Much like the Detroit Pistons, who seemed to be on a mission until four of the starting five was placed on the NBA All-Star team, Tri-State may have let the early wins get to their heads. The biggest change since the mid-point of the season for Tri-State was Wong’s scoring load. As the season progressed, the team went away from a more balanced attack to one that relies heavily on Wong. So did the team already play its best ball? That’s the big question for Tri-State as they head into the playoffs.
Oh Holla! (2-9): D-
OK, I’ve been gone a while and I forgot my record so far, but it was pretty damn good. My protege MikA was real good. He went 13-2 while I was away. Hmm, maybe I trained him too well? No, MikA, you cannot have job. This is the last regular season pick, but we’ll be quick for the playoffs, which start this Thursday!
Wednesday, June 7, 2006:
Oh Holla! at Moe’s Tavern: Moe is gonna be without Jerry Tanaka, Eugene Kim, Herb Tam, and Joel Lejarde. That’s in addition to HK-bound Cris Garcia. Oh Holla has Yoshi Kagitomi. Oh yeah? We got half a dozen drunk guys who are craving some White Castle. So yes, Moe wins.
A Ball at Derelicte: Derelicte has been on a tear to end the season. A Ball? Not so much. But this game should be very entertaining and close. It’s tough to call, but I’m gonna go with Derelicte to continue their upward trend and get to the coveted .500 spot.
16 Minute Men at Gen X: I wanna give the Minute Men the W and they did get close against Derelicte, but I can’t do it. Gen X is a tough team with an almost unstoppable presence in Brandon Chock. I don’t think 16MM can stop him and that’s why I’m giving the game to Gen X. But if 16MM wants to prove me wrong? I’ll be the first one to applaud.