By Vincent Thomas, for NBA.com
Posted Sep 1 2009 11:56AM
You might not believe me, but, combined, my Blackberry phonebook and Gmail address book can rival Diddy's or the fictional Ari Gold's. I could get Nelson Mandela and Madonna on a three-way call right now if I wanted to. Don't believe me? Check some of these texts and e-mails from celebs, hitting me up for hoops insight ...
B.B. King, American music icon, blues god
Q: Vince -- I'm sitting here at my club on Beale Street, listening to "Back Door Man," eating some good ol' Memphis barbecue (you know, the sticky kind where you use your cornbread instead of napkin to clean your fingertips). Anyways, my nephew keeps telling me that this Iverson kid might be playing here this season. What's that mean for Memphis?
A: It means buzz. O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay are two of the best young cats in the league, but not enough to fill an arena. If A.I. rolls through the Bluff City, he'll be an attraction -- at least for a while. "Blues, BBQ, B.B. King and Bubba Chuck." That would be the city's new slogan. If I'm a Memphis fan, I want this to happen.
Too $hort, Oakland rapper, progenitor of West Coast rap
Q: Wassuper, player? What's this I hear about the homie S. Jax flashin' on The Bay? Ask anyone, he got mad love around here -- we think his game is dipped in butta sauce.
A: $hort Dog. What's good? If I'm translating that Bay-area slang correctly, I think what you're saying is that you hear Stephen Jackson wants to leave the Warriors and go play for a contender, which rubs you the wrong way, since he's so popular in the Bay area and you think his game is really dope. Am I right? Cool. Here's the thing: Can you blame him? I think Jax is an underrated winner. His temper has gotten the best of him on probably too many occasions, but at his core, homeboy is a winner. He plays winning basketball. He might jack a few too many treys and can be overall undiscerning with his shot selection, but he's tough as project bricks, super-versatile, driven and a team soldier. He's also 31 and doesn't want to play out the four remaining years of his contract (a very reasonably salaried one, might I add) with a franchise that seems destined to be in shambles for the next few years. I can't speak for everyone. I just know that I want to see Jax in the playoffs. If you haven't noticed, he's a big-stage player. He was big-game dude in 2003 on the championship Spurs and he definitely was that kinda dude for the 2007 Warriors, who slung the 67-win Mavs out of the playoffs with a first round upset. And I have the perfect home for him -- New Orleans.
Tom Brady, three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the New England Patriots
Q: I'm back, so the Pats are back. If KG is back, does that means the Cs are back?
A: Tom -- By "back," I assume you mean "back to winning a championship." The cautious answer is that both of your teams have as good a chance as any to win the whole thing. But I'm gonna go ahead and just say, "No." Boston is going ringless in 2010, just like 2009. Sorry, folks.
Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner and owner/mastermind behind Cowboys Stadium
Q: Howdy, Vince. I know you know I dun built the largest domed stadium in the world, right? And I know you know it's the site of the 2010 NBA All-Star game, right? But did you see how everybody was busting my chops for that huge high-def TV I hung in the middle of the dome? Like that sucker is anything other than awesome! I'm not moving it ... tell the punters to move their punts! No chance that interferes with All-Star festivities, right?
A: Not in a bad way, Jer. But I want to be the first dude, however, to publicly implore Dwight Howard to use that huge hi-def TV as some kind of props during the dunk contest. And if he out-dunks LeBron for the trophy, I want part of that check he cashes. I know you don't want guys slinging Spaldings into your $35 million boob-tube, but think about the creative possibilities that it would open up. Absurd, yes. But it would be great for art's sake.
Carrot Top, muscle-bound, orange-haired, prop-wielding, weird-looking comedian that has somehow stayed on the fringe of relevance for two decades
Q: Hey. I'm on my way to a Comedy Central Roast of Geraldo Rivera. But I wanted to run something by you while I was thinking about it. Somehow, my agent scored me courtside seats for the Lakers-Spurs game in April. What kind of prop should I bring?
A: Geraldo? Word? Tell his mustache that OJ says wuddup from prison. At any rate, bring some type of portable device to administer intravenous therapy and give it to Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, so he can use it on the sidelines during timeouts. Kobe ain't gettin' any younger and, contrary to what everyone wants to believe, Phil won't be able to keep No. 24 under 35 mpg. So, by the time that huge, nationally televised game arrives, you'll have a tired Kobe trying to lead the Lakers against a squad that'll probably be battling them for the top seed in the West. Yeah, a portable IV -- bring that.
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State's head football coach and performer of one of the great press conference rants of the new millennium
Q: We have an enormous game against the Sooners on Thanksgiving weekend. I'm hoping it's for the Big 12 title. Meanwhile, I've been hearing good things about this upstart Thunder squad, too. What did they win, like, 20-something games last season? What's the likelihood that, just a month into their season, they'd have as many as wins as us in late-November?
A: Coach, you're the man. You're 42. Sorry. Had to do it. But, let's look at schedules, here ... OK, I have you losing your season-opener to Georgia and your Halloween slugfest against Texas. So coming into your season-ender against your cross-state rivals, I have you guys with nine wins. On the flip-side, I have Oklahoma City going 8-8 during that same span. So, no, the Thunder will be a shade under your win total. Although, for a young squad, with a good amount of games against probable playoff teams to open up the season, going .500 would be one of the bigger NBA stories of November.
John Stockton, Hall Of Famer, short-shorts torchbearer
Q: Man, just think, if I weren't getting inducted along with MJ, maybe some of you writers would be analyzing my career and recognizing just how great I was. Instead, I'm a sidebar. But think about me through the prism of this question: What do we have a better chance of witnessing in the next 25 years -- another MJ or another American-born white player getting inducted into the Hall of Fame?
A: First, I want to acknowledge that you're the only point guard I'd even consider putting over Isiah Thomas in that No. 2 spot (No. 1 is obvious). And that won't change unless Chris Paul makes a couple Finals appearances. But let's talk about that question you posed, Stock. OK, for there to be another Jordan, we'd have to see a kat be the unquestioned best player in the game for at least an eight-year period, win about four to six championships and also be the most recognizable athlete on the planet throughout that duration. As far-fetched and impossible as that sounds, it is possible that LeBron could have started that eight-year stretch last season and I would not be surprised if there's some little precocious savant in the 3rd grade that will rule the 2020s. But will there be an American-born white player that will slide into Springfield between now and 2035? Sure. I mean, come on, right? There will have to be at least one. At some point, a white kat will come along and be HoF-worthy. The fact is, however, that nobody playing since Stockton retired seems to be on that path, which means we will see, at a minimum, a 15- to 20-year drought of American-born white inductees. I hope I'm wrong. I really do. Come on, Kevin Love -- make it happen!
Jay-Z, arguably the greatest rapper of all-time; set to release The Blueprint 3 next Tuesday
Q: What has to happen, this season, for LeBron to end up in a Nets jersey this time next year? And, oh yeah, my new joint drops Sept. 11th.
A: This is real simple, Hov. It's not happening. Oh, and by the way, I already heard an Internet leak of the new album. I'll put it like this: It falls somewhere between Reasonable Doubt and Kingdom Come.
Vincent Thomas writes "The Commish" column for SLAM Magazine and is a contributing commentator for ESPN. His "From The Floor" column appears weekly on NBA.com. Vince invites you to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/VinceCAThomas.
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