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Calvin Chamberlain

Calvin Chamberlain

I am the Co-Host of the Careless Whispers podcast on the CLNS radio network, on Tuesdays at 9 eastern.  I host many of our Celtics postgame podcasts, and occasionally produce articles for CLNS.com.  My intention is to be as objective as possible.  I like turkey sandwiches.

Monday, 04 March 2013 22:01

What is the Right Way to Win in the NBA?

[caption id="attachment_57724" align="aligncenter" width="560"]Winning the Right Way Winning the Right Way[/caption]On Friday evening, I found myself embroiled in a conversation on the Celtics Post Game Show with Nick Gelso and Ty Ray about the Miami Heat and their recently produced version of the "Harlem Shake" video. The topic evolved from whether or not it was appropriate for the NBA champions to be involved in a silly video, to the idea that Miami's title is less legitimate because they did not win it "the right way". Leaving aside questions of Miami's legitimacy for a moment, let's discuss the bigger question here. What is the right way to win an NBA championship?One of the best things about sports is that it is almost always a meritocracy. You can't win in sports by kissing up to the boss or having a rich father. Except in rare situations where cheating is blatantly obvious or participants don't get an equal opportunity to compete (like in college football), winners are determined by direct competition. The 2012 Miami Heat are NBA champions after winning four playoff series, just like every other NBA champion since 1985. The team on the court won the NBA title the right way because there is technically only one way to win an NBA title. Those looking to discredit the Heat for the way they won their championship on the court will hit nothing but a brick wall, because direct competition with the league's other best teams bore out a true champion. The Heat won the title because they were better than everyone else. There are no issues of right and wrong ways.Usually, when the question of whether or not a team "wins the right way" is posed, what is actually being asked is whether or not the team was constructed the right way. Challenging the fact that a team won is difficult, so it is much easier to question whether or not it is right that the team exists in the first place. LeBron James and Chris Bosh both left their own teams to join Dwyane Wade in Miami as free agents. The Heat didn't have to give up any assets for either player, and both took less money to play with more talent so that they could stack the deck in their favor. The Heat built a superteam. Is it fair to say that they did not construct their team in an honorable manner because they "bought" their title?There is a general fear from NBA fans about players controlling their own destinies, for reasons we'll get into in a moment. But the teams that are seen as being constructed "properly" are those that draft their own players, watch them develop into stars, and then win with that talent. San Antonio and Oklahoma City are the best current examples of that model.But there is a logical flaw in praising teams that are built this way. In order to build your team through the draft, you have to be some combination of lucky and terrible. The Spurs "earned" the right to draft Tim Duncan by having David Robinson and Sean Elliot get hurt and miss the same season, leaving San Antonio with a 20 win team that was given the first pick in the draft. Oklahoma City traded away their best player (Ray Allen) in the same season they drafted Kevin Durant, ensuring they would be terrible enough to land the number four draft pick the following season, Russell Westbrook. Even with those two players, the team was too young and not quite ready to win, allowing them to be terrible enough to "earn" the third pick in the draft, James Harden. The real problem is that the NBA draft is a form of welfare, rewarding teams for poor performance by giving them the opportunity to draft better players than more successful teams. The balance is tilted even further because of a rookie pay scale that allows general managers to pay young stars far less than their worth, making them even more valuable to teams. Furthermore, the draft system is a form of indentured servitude, because each player drafted can only sign with the team who drafted him. Every season, there are a number of teams that don't seem to be competing or try to construct legitimate teams and fail miserably, only to be rewarded for it. Why have we decided that this is the right way to win?Let's take a look at a couple of other successful NBA franchises. The Boston Celtics won a title in 2008 after trading for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, two superstars at or near their prime. Critics have argued that the Celtics built their "big three" from without, in a manner similar to the Miami Heat. But Celtics fans will point out that Ainge acquired assets for several seasons with the specific intent of trading them for players that could win a title while Pierce remained in his prime. There are two problems with this. One is, as previously discussed, some of the assets involved in the trades were "given" to the Celtics as a reward for being terrible (the #5 draft pick specifically). The second problem is that Pat Riley also set the Heat up with expiring contracts ahead of time with the intent at making a run at James and Bosh. To embrace the Celtics' method of building a team while criticizing the Heat is essentially making the argument that it is fine when the team (or GM) makes the decision to create a "superteam", but it is wrong when players have agency in their own lives and make decisions that benefit themselves, rather than the team. It is perfectly acceptable for Danny Ainge to discard a player he drafted (Al Jefferson) if he feels like making a trade, but it is always considered the height of disloyalty when a drafted player (LeBron) chooses to leave his team when he is finally given a choice. There is an inherent hypocrisy in that mindset.Does that mean the Celtics didnt win the right way? Compare their path to victory to The Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have won five titles in the last twenty years, more than any other franchise. They have drafted higher than 17 only twice during that period, receiving Kobe Bryant with the 13th pick through a draft day trade and getting Andrew Bynum at 10th in a year in which Bryant missed the majority of the season. They have made consistent attempts to give their fans a winner and have never once stripped their team of talent or payroll. They have never bungled or mismanaged their team enough to earn a draft pick any higher than 10th. And yet, they have tremendous advantages. They operate in the entertainment capital of the world and consistently boast one of the league's highest payrolls. Buying talent is a lot easier when you have a lot of money and talent consistently wants to play on your team. Is it fair to even compare a team like the Lakers to one like the Spurs?Ultimately, there is no "correct" way to construct a winner. While the NBA draft might be an inherently unfair system, it is necessary to counteract the natural advantages certain NBA teams possess. Every team should do what it can in order to win as often as it can. That is the only right way to win.
According to the results of a recently released survey in Forbes Magazine, Kobe Bryant is the second most disliked NBA player and ninth most disliked athlete in America, with an approval rating of 27 percent. Kobe was also on this list in 2011, appearing behind only Kris Humphries and LeBron James. The one man in the league who inspires more disgust from the people in this country happens to also play on Kobe's team. His name is Metta World Peace.Which means that, despite the long, arduous battle between Dwight Howard and the Magic that included lying to the media and fans, the undermining of coaches and management, the childish passive-aggressiveness, and the bad pun "Dwightmare" nicknames that have been served up to the public since 2011, at no point has Dwight Howard ever been reviled to the degree that Kobe has consistently felt, including this supposedly less controversial stage of his career. And, much as it has always been, Kobe could not care less.Of course, just because Kobe doesn't care about public (or private, for that matter) perception doesn't mean it hasn't been a problem. It was public perception that he prematurely broke up the Laker dynasty of the early 2000s by shipping Shaq out of town, despite insistence from the Buss family that this was not the case. This turn of events facilitated a skewed vision of Kobe as the ultimate selfish player, interested only in the accumulation of assets to reflect his personal greatness. Virtually every decision Kobe has made on the basketball court has been viewed through the lens of questioning whether he was doing it for the team or his own glory. In reality, his mindset has been far more consistent, in that he only really cares about winning. He simply has had his own passionate ideas about the best ways to make it happen. And he doesn't care what you think about it.Dwight Howard is another story entirely. He cares about whether or not we knew that he hated his former coach. He cares whether or not we find him amusing on the Ellen DeGeneres show. And most importantly, he cares about whether or not the public views him as soft for lacking the ability to play through a torn labrum injury. Kobe Bryant is acutely aware of Howard's sensitivity to public perception, which is why he made the statement publicly in the first place, putting Howard in a corner that would force him to play if it matters what people think. And he is aware that this Lakers team, with their backs against the wall, cannot withstand too many more games without Howard regardless, if they have any hope of making the playoffs. But Dwight Howard has his own agenda. "I want to play," he told ESPN. "I mean, why wouldn't I want to play? But at the same time, this is my career, this is my future, this is my life. I can't leave that up to anybody else because nobody else is going to take care of me. So, if people are pissed off that I don't play or if I do play, whatever it may be, so what? This is my career. If I go down, then what? Everybody's life is going to go on. I don't want to have another summer where I'm rehabbing and trying to get healthy again." That quote makes it pretty clear that his priorities are with the upcoming free agency period and the continuation of his career. That is not necessarily evil or even unreasonable. As much as we like to pretend that loyalty, pride, and glory in sport stand above all else, the reality is that professional sports is a business that athletes perform in primarily for financial incentive. There is nothing wrong with that. But Kobe is never going to be able to adapt to that mentality. Not because he is desperate to win a sixth title in the twilight of his career, but rather because he has been desperate to win a title every year of his career. He believes that Howard should play through his torn labrum because he didn't miss any time with the exact same injury in 2003, without even bothering to take Dwight's priorities into account. It all boils down to the reason why Kobe will never completely relate to Dwight Howard, the same reason why he will never motivate Dwight to be the player Kobe thinks he should be, and the same reason why Kobe will never be a successful NBA coach. The only way that Kobe Bryant knows how to win is to be Kobe Bryant. And he doesn't care what Dwight thinks.  
After a long layoff of seven days, Mark and Carlos are back to break down your favorite sports topics. They'll be discussing the NFL action over the weekend, like what this loss means for Parton Mourning's legacy and what the win means for Mark Ryne, whether or not the Certics deserve two all star starters, and Louis Armstrong's taped confession to Orpah. You can find the guys at Blogtalkradio.com's CLNSRadio page or call in at 347-215-7771 at 9 ET. See you there!
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 18:23

Careless Whispers Special Time at 10 ET!

Due to prior obligations, Matt Rury and Calvin Chamberlain have been forced to schedule a special, late night version of Careless Whispers at 10 pm, the witching hour. Late night? These boys can go all night. Matt will have his sax bumping with smooth jazz as he and Calvin go over their preseason NBA predictions so they can figure out which one of them is large and in charge. They'll also be discussing the latest news with the Celtics and Lakers, the return of NHL hockey, and which one of them takes better care of their ladies. You can give them a call anytime, baby, at 347-215-7771 or just whisper their names in the right ears. The streets are heavy with their names.
Matt Rury might be "The Ladies Man", but he is more than just a pretty face. Rury and Chamberlain have some serious thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his murder/suicide. They've also got less serious thoughts on the other people included in the heading, and perhaps Rury will romance a few ladies. If you're looking for a good time, call 347-215-7771 or listen to the show on Blogtalkradio's Careless Whispers page.
CLNS Radio personalities Matthew Rury and Calvin Chamberlain are going to talk to you about sports and stuff tonight at 9 ET. We could tell you more, but frankly, we're too engrossed in shooting stuff in the new Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. So we'll be phoning this show post in. But we wont phone in tonight's show! Tune in and find us on the CLNS listen live page, or call in at 347-215-7771 to talk Lakers, Celtics, football, basketball, or anything else!
Last night's Celtics/Nets game got a little testy late in the second quarter, when Boston's Leandro Barbosa appeared to have an easy look at a basket in transition before being grabbed by Brooklyn's Keith Bogans from behind. The play appeared to be an obvious candidate for a flagrant foul call, which turned out to actually be the way it was called on the court. Both announcers on the TNT broadcast were calling for a flagrant as well, further solidifying that idea in the minds of the fans watching. At that point, there was no reason to believe it would not be a flagrant.But there is a rule in the NBA that directs officials to use video evidence to review and confirm any potential flagrant foul calls. Once the slow motion replay provided a clearer picture of what actually happened, it became obvious that the call would be overturned.This might be a little boring, but a quick refresher on NBA rules is necessary to understand exactly what criteria the referees were using. There are automatic technical foul clauses written into the NBA rulebook for thrown punches and elbows above the shoulders, but contrary to popular opinion, the official rule on flagrant fouls is vague and open to interpretation. This is the entire rule. If contact committed against a player, with or without the ball, is interpreted to be unnecessary, a flagrant foul--penalty (1) will be assessed. Yep. That's it. That is the entire rule. Anytime somebody tells you, "the rules say ___________ is a flagrant foul", they are incorrect. The official NBA rulebook is non-specific on flagrants and leaves it up to the officials to determine what "unnecessary" means. There is a more specific criteria that the league office uses to determine flagrant fouls after the fact, which includes such factors as unnecessary contact, intent to injure, injury result, and altercations resulting from the play. But league policy is to make the rule intentionally vague to leave it to the discretion of the official to determine what "unnecessary contact" is. With that in mind, take a look at the first thing the officials saw when reviewing the Bogans foul.At the point at which contact occured, this image paints a clear picture of exactly where and how Bogans fouled Barbosa. His right arm is holding Barbosa's right wrist. Is this contact necessary? It is most certainly a foul, but it is necessary to grab his wrist to prevent him from getting off a potential shot attempt. The wrist grab is a common intentional foul in the NBA and is almost never ruled a flagrant. The left arm of Bogans is wrapped around the chest of Barbosa. Is this contact necessary? It is important to note that the point of contact is not the head or neck, but the chest. If Bogans had grabbed the right wrist of Barbosa without attempting to hold him up with the other arm, with Barbosa rising at the angle his body appears to be in this picture, the play certainly results in an extremely hard fall for Barbosa with a high probability for injury.Unfortunately for Barbosa and the uninitiated watching at home on their televisions, when they think about the play, all they can see is this:If you only saw this image, perhaps you would be inspired to write a sarcastic catch phrase over it and think that it was an obvious flagrant foul. But go back to the first picture. Bogans has his arm wrapped around Barbosa's chest, but the angle of Leandro's body and the space between them makes it obvious that Bogans does not have physical control over where Leandro will land. He has two options. He can either simply let go and let Barbosa have a painful fall, or attempt to keep him up, and perhaps not be entirely successful. Even in the picture above it is obvious that Barbosa does not have his legs underneath him. It's unfortunate that Barbosa's head ended up in that position, but that was the result of gravity and momentum more than any unnecessary action Bogans might have taken. And thus, we have yet another correct call that will fan the flames of conspiracy wingnuts.
The list of names in the title are subjects for discussion on tonight's Careless Whispers with Matt Rury and Calvin Chamberlain. But what are the topics to match them? Is Mitt Romney the new coach of the Lakers? Will we be discussing the Milwaukee Bucks bench play for the Celtics? Was Mike D'Antoni suspended 2 games by the league for arguing with a Spurs announcer? Find out by checking into CLNS's listen live page tonight at 9 ET, or call the guys at 347-215-7771 with a topic of your own.
Sunday, 11 November 2012 18:56

Mike Brown: No More Mr. Nice Guy

[caption id="attachment_46619" align="aligncenter" width="301"] Utah, Gimme Two[/caption]By all accounts, Mike Brown is a great person. Oh, what a wonderful guy he is, and an amazing family man. He is the hardest working man you know and he loves his players and family. He's a peach! And none of that factored in even the slightest respect toward whether or not he could hold on to his job.What is the difference between a religious leader and a cult leader? Respect. More than any other reason, Brown was fired as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday because of a lack of it, from players and just as importantly, from the organization.There are plenty of other legitimate reasons why Lakers management might consider removing Brown as coach. After all, the team did bring in a nuclear armada of talent in the offseason, talent that was expected to compete for a championship and shoot right out of the gate looking dominant. And Brown did bring in the Princeton Offense, which seemed to neutralize the talents of several players on the team, Steve Nash in particular.Great, all of that serves to look spectacular in an explanation on some Laker PR flack's twitter feed. But the Lakers were 7th in the league in offensive efficiency, running a system that nobody had mastered yet, and Brown's explanation that he wanted the Lakers to learn an offense that did not come naturally for them in order to make them more versatile made plenty of sense. To people who were actually willing to listen.Which, as it turned out, was almost no one. Not the players, who wanted one of Phil Jackson's acolytes to replace him as coach and found themselves with a "video editor" (Metta World Peace's words) instead. The same players ignored his in game play calls to institute their own offensive plans and suffered no consequences. Not management, who met to discuss how many more poor games to continue to allow Brown to coach the team and simply decided, why not fire him now? Not the fans, who lit up the airwaves with their Fire Mike Brown campaigns as soon as early into his first season.So inertia took over and Brown was fired, only five games into his second regular season, after injuries kept that starting corps apart for the entire preseason. It wasn't fair. It wasn't nice. But the Nice and Fair would make a great name for a grocery store. In reality, Brown was fired simply because nobody wanted him around. Phil Jackson will likely be the next coach precisely because everyone wants him around. If he instituted an offense that didn't seem to mesh well with his players on the court (say, the triangle), I'm sure he would get the leeway and time that he needed to perfect it, even if the team was under performing. Because that is what respect gets you.
Tired of voting for candidates with big, empty promises? Tired of cheap election puns and references? We arent! And we promise nothing. Absolutely nothing! Tune in to the CLNS listen live page tonight at 9ET and listen to us talk about whatever we like. Perhaps we'll break down slow starts for the Celtics and Lakers and discuss how America is for us.Vote with your ears. Or with your mouthes, by calling Matt Rury and Calvin Chamberlain at 347-215-7771. Or dont vote for us, if you're unpatriotic. Just know that Kanye West and other celebrity dilettantes will be disappointed!
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