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League Office | Public View

Jon Loomer: Me again. In case you missed it, All-Star festivities took over Vegas for the past week. I was there. Therefore, once again I put in a request for a substitute deep within the bowels of the PFC. Last week, Justin Esposito of the PFC Bucks took the bait and wrote an article. This week, it's Ben Swets of the PFC Kings.

Bring it on home, Swets.


by Ben Swets of the PFC Sacramento Kings

Every year, I play in a fantasy basketball league with a group of old friends, brothers of old friends, friends of brothers of old friends, and casual acquaintances of friends of brothers of old friends. I consider the league to be of the highest grade, not because of the quality of competition, or the savvy moves of the virtual GMs, but because of the quality of discourse between the GMs on the league’s message board. The board is usually full of inane banter. Rarely is this banter nice, decent, or respectful, and almost none of it is suitable for publication on a family site like NBA.com. And you know what? The message board is the cultural lifeblood of the league. It’s why we all keep coming back. Fantasy sports message boards seem to fill some void in the everyday lives of the men of my generation—it’s a place to express oneself using a mix of middle-brow pop cultural references, ironic, unfounded chest-thumping, and sophomoric, scatological insults.

The last two years, NBA.com has published season-long profiles of the NBA Cares Celebrity Fantasy League. This year, the league includes such luminaries as Meatloaf, Dean Cain, proud Michigan native Kid Rock, and of course…Adam McKay. I enjoy those profiles of the Celebrity league because they answer an important question for miserable schmoes like me: “What do successful, beautiful, rich, talented and/or lucky people sound like when they choose to communicate with each other on fantasy basketball message boards?” I have been happy to discover that the glitterati do what many people do on fantasy basketball message boards: They bust each others’ chops.

The aim of this profile is to answer a question that is slightly different from the one posed above: “What do some of the biggest fantasy basketball geeks on the planet sound like when they choose to communicate with each other on fantasy basketball message boards?” When the PFC began, it was this question that I wanted answered more than any other. In particular, how long would it be before randomly directed, mean-spirited trash talk would start to feel natural in such a large group of global strangers playing fake basketball? What I found, in short, is that it didn’t take long for us to start busting each others’ chops—except we pushed our glasses up our noses, nasalized our voices, and called it “metaphorically fracturing one another’s mandibles!”

Back in September, before we even drafted our teams, former Lakers’ GM David Byrd issued the following prediction on the message board:

I WILL WIN. LAKERS OUT.

The league response?

Is that LAKERS OUT in the first round or out of the playoffs completely? I hope it is the latter. Vlad Rad is on your team. I hope he braids his hair again so he can make friends with Kwame.

The tone had been set. Sadly, Byrd later withdrew from the competition, depriving the league of the one manager who would make boastful, chest-thumping claims of league dominance without any performance to back those words up.

One thing the PFC message board has going is a strong analytical component. Like most leagues I’ve been in, there’s lots of chatter about trades (Who got the better end of the deal, should we veto, etc.), pickups (“$70 was too much for Millsap!”), and sometimes, interesting matchups. But what separates this league from others is that our managers will post statistical breakdowns of how our teams are performing, presented in ways that illustrate with painful clarity how awful my team is compared to other teams. Mathematical simulations of playoff scenarios, links to Excel spreadsheets with calculations showing how schedule-based luck has favored some teams over others...I guess this is what happens when you ask mathematicians, physicists and professors to get in a fantasy basketball league together.

The dork factor shows up in other areas, as well. This is just a hunch, but I would guess that our league is well above the worldwide mean for number of Lord of the Rings references on its message board. Take this recent post from Atlanta Hawks’ GM Ruey Yen, commenting on the possible return of Scottie Pippen:

After seeing the success that fellow Hobbit, Luke Ridnour, has had in the NBA, I guess Pippin is considering playing in the NBA…Personally, I think Frodo or Merry would make better NBA players than Pippin but more power to him if he can latch on to a contender and get that special ring.

One thing this league lacks is earnest boasting from the top contending teams. Portland’s GM Tom Jones has been dominating this league like Wilford Brimley in the playground hustle scene in Cocoon. But do we ever hear about it? Never. He is a frequent message board contributor, and his contributions are funny and sarcastic. But when talking about himself, the sarcasm turns inward, into self-deprecation. Before the last vote to fire one of our GMs, he had this to say:

Vote me out. I deserve it. I have not made a good move to make my team better yet…You have to keep Westerdale (Detroit’s GM) as I would really like to see a fellow nerd win this thing and he looks like he has a good shot. Atlanta looks good as well, but as of right now those Heat are looking great.

But clearly, not everyone in this league is in favor of the type of deprecating banter that many of us have grown accustomed to (all punctuation and spacing below are sic):

…I'm sick and tired of the few rotten apples that make this league(especially the message board) a pain in the [expletive deleted]. Portland,Atlanta,Minnesota and Sacramento in particular, get some respect for me and i'll respect you.I wish you were more like Miami(decent and respectful).Thanks.

This post was written this past week by the Philadelphia 76ers’ GM , Montreal native and cream soda connoisseur Mark Pion. Mark is arguably the most prolific contributor to our message board. His posts bring a unique flavor to the PFC that I have never experienced. They reflect a desire for decorum and kindness among the league members. However, we might be rubbing off on him. Here, he responds to a post that I had just made in which I ribbed another GM for misspelling Ben Gordon’s last name as “Gorgon” (all punctuation and spacing again sic):

Sometimes I question Swetsy's judgement, but Gorgon for Josh Smith ?! First of all, the joke's not funny to some GMs in the PFC.Secondly,it's a bad trade.

Fair enough. It certainly isn’t a stretch to suggest that Gorgon humor would fail to appeal to a number of goodly, kindhearted people. And in retrospect, not many people watched as much HBO between 1981 and 1988 as I did—I should have realized that Clash of the Titans stuff was never going to work. And in fact, sober reflection reveals that giving up Josh Smith for a mythical, snake-haired beast would, in fact, be a massive strategic error. Philly, congratulations: You have busted my chops! Welcome to the horizon-expanding world of disrespectful message board banter.

So, that’s what the dorkiest geeks in civilization talk about on fantasy boards. Hobbits, gorgons, and Excel spreadsheets. Now, I have to take care of the secondary purpose of being in this league: trying to win it. Apparently, the winner gets to awkwardly split a deli sandwich of his choice with league commissioner/NBA.com writer Jon Loomer and Celebrity League participant Dean Cain. PFC Winner pays.

Snarky Comments about the Week’s Transactions

Notable free agent pickup:

A week after dropping Darrell Armstrong to pick up J. J. Redick, Milwaukee dropped Redick for Washington’s Andray Blatche. Seeing this not only caused me to yell “BLATCHE!” at my laptop screen, but also reminded me that J. J. Redick has been passed around this league more than a doobie at a hippie party.

Trades:

The surprisingly-early PFC trade deadline passed this week with only a couple deals going down. Perhaps more deals would have taken place if the deadline had been at the end of the day on Saturday, as many managers assumed would be the case, rather than before the day began. (Futile message board postings to clarify this issue were left unanswered by league commish Jon Loomer, who was in Sin City covering All-Star events/at a Celine Dion concert/eating buffet pudding.)

In a somewhat controversial deal, Utah sent Andre Iguodala to the PFC-powerhouse Bobcats for Ricky Davis. Apparently, Utah made the deal because manager Haiwei Wang had promised Charlotte he would make the deal if he couldn’t find a better one by the trade deadline. Haiwei kept his word (much to the detriment of his team, many owners believed). In his defense of the trade, Haiwei cited a favorable playoff schedule for Davis as the main reason for the deal.

The other deal saw PFC journeyman and 3-point specialist Raja Bell moved from San Antonio to Atlanta for forward Ryan Gomes. I don’t have any snarky comments about this trade, so instead I will offer a movie recommendation: Slam Dunk Ernest. Alternately titled Ernest Performs the Dunk Shot in some circles, this film is required viewing for the subset of human beings who are both basketball junkies and Jim Varney aficionados.

Gorgon will take over the world!
(Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images)

PFC Quick Facts
The PFC is a global fantasy basketball competition with 30 of the world's best players vying for the title.
More than 9,000 people worldwide applied for the opportunity to compete.
Each participant is the fantasy general manager for an NBA team. Each GM picked a franchise player from their assigned team and built their roster - with players from any other NBA team - from there.
Every general manager has selected eight players for their fantasy squad.
Participants run the risk of losing their spot in the competition should they underperform. The public votes who will lose their job, and another top applicant will take over as a new GM.
For more in-depth information on the PFC, read here.

Overall Records

Eastern Conference

CENTRAL W L T
Indiana Pacers 65 60 3
Detroit Pistons 65 60 3
Milwaukee Bucks 66 61 1
Cleveland Cavaliers 61 65 2
Chicago Bulls 47 76 5

ATLANTIC W L T
Toronto Raptors 72 55 1
Boston Celtics 68 57 3
Philadelphia 76ers 60 62 6
New Jersey Nets 51 71 6
New York Knicks 32 92 4

SOUTHEAST W L T
Miami Heat 91 34 3
Charlotte Bobcats 72 53 3
Atlanta Hawks 73 54 1
Washington Wizards 72 56 0
Orlando Magic 65 59 4

Western Conference

NORTHWEST W L T
Portland Trailblazers 87 37 4
Utah Jazz 77 50 1
Denver Nuggets 70 54 4
Minnesota Timberwolves 66 59 3
Seattle SuperSonics 55 69 4

PACIFIC W L T
Phoenix Suns 60 66 2
Sacramento Kings 56 67 5
Los Angeles Lakers 54 70 4
Golden State Warriors 53 72 3
Los Angeles Clippers 49 76 3

SOUTHWEST W L T
Dallas Mavericks 72 52 4
Houston Rockets 62 62 4
San Antonio Spurs 55 70 3
Memphis Grizzlies 50 76 2
New Orleans/OK Hornets 47 78 3