Reminiscing With Ratke: The 2013-14 Ratke All-Star Team
And more importantly, welcome to the first annual “Kyle Ratke All-Star Team” column! A FANTASTIC SURPRISE, I KNOW!
What is the Kyle Ratke All-Star Team you ask?
Good question, imaginary reader. Very good question indeed. Every basketball fan has a list of players that they grow fond of. Some of this has a lot to do with skill. For example, pretty much everyone loves or at least respects Kevin Durant. It would be stupid not to. Except if you’re a fan of the Wolves and he ripped your heart out at the Target Center a few weeks back. Then maybe you don’t like the Slim Reaper. That’s understandable. But you respect him.
What about someone like Mike Dunleavy, though? Is there any love out there for him?
Growing up, my favorite players were Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Grant Hill and LaPhonso Ellis. Yes, Laphonso Ellis.
Ellis had an interview that I watched while I was at my grandma’s house during the 2000-2001 season. I don’t know what he said. I was 10 or 11 years old at the time. I was eating Dunkaroos and chugging Kool-Aid. I don’t know what he did. But Ellis instantly became a favorite of mine. Now that I think of it, it’s probably because his name was LaPhonso. I was 10. I’d probably never heard that name before.
It’s not like we really have any control over what basketball players we live to keep track of. It’s kind of like how a group of people all have different tastes in their significant others. Luckily, I have a girlfriend that is fine with me wearing gym clothes everywhere I go. Other people might consider me homeless. It’s the life I live.
This is a list of players that have grabbed my attention on or off the court this season. Maybe by their talent. Maybe by their lack of talent. Maybe because of personality. Maybe it’s because they asked me for pizza in the lockeroom. Hopefully by the end of the column, you’ll understand why I chose these players to be on the team.
Attention to players: You will receive your “Kyle Ratke All-Star” trophy in the next two to three weeks. It might look like my 2004 Little League trophy. It’s not. Don’t pay attention to the player and the bat. It’s a “Kyle Ratke All-Star” trophy.
This column will be two parts. Today, I will start with my Western Conference players. On Tuesday, I’ll give you my players from the East.
Western Conference Kyle Ratke All-Stars
Point Guard: Goran Dragic, Suns
I fell in love with Dragic during Phoenix’s 2010 playoff run. The Suns made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals and Dragic was a huge part of that. I think I fell in love with the guy because he was a bit of an unknown and a wildcard.
He was only playing about 20 minutes per game during that run, backing up that Steve Nash fellow. We thought it was his coming out party… Then we waited… And waited. For the last three years, Dragic has been an average point guard. He’s always played with that Nash-like flair. He plays like he knows what he’s going to do before the play even starts. Very few players play like that.
This season, Dragic made a giant leap, which was pretty shocking considering that it was Eric Bledsoe who was supposed to be the star of that backcourt.
This season Dragic is a big reason why Phoenix is in position to make the playoffs. And he’s been a blast to watch. At 27, he’s hitting the prime of his career. The next five years should be fun to watch.
In related news, I just traded Luke Ridnour and a first-round pick for Dragic in NBA 2K14. Flip, if you need an assistant GM or something, you know where to find me. Well, probably not. My desk is by the cooler. You did give me a mini donut once. Thanks for that. It feels like we just became best friends. I’ll send you an email later.
Shooting Guard: Nick Young, Lakers
Swaggy P (http://instagram.com/swaggyp1), he is truly one of a kind. He’s one of very few NBA players that make me cover one eye because I’m scared that my basketball IQ will take a giant hit. My other eye is wide open for the entertainment factor. What will Swaggy P do tonight? Airball a reverse layup? Dribble it off a fan's head and then shoot it? Ride a camel? Start playing Monopoly while eating cheese curds with a cheerleader? Nobody knows. I love this guy!
And in all seriousness, Young is actually playing pretty well this season. He’s averaging 17 points, mostly coming off the bench. The Lakers have been pretty bad this season, but Swaggy’s been a bright spot on and off the court.
#Yolo #beyourself #blessed #swaggyp
Small Forward: Wilson Chandler, Nuggets
Just when I thought I had thought I found my calling as a sports writer, Wilson Chandler had other ideas. Chandler had bigger dreams. Chandler thought of me as a pizza boy.
Folks, let me tell you a quick story about the Denver Nuggets and their locker room on Nov. 27. I had plans of chatting with guard Nate Robinson a bit before the game to chat with him about his recent “Uncle Drew” appearance with Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore.
That’s when Wilson approached me. Here’s what went down at 6:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the teams were going to run really fast up and down the court.
Chandler: “Hey man, you think I could get a pizza?
Kyle “Pizza Boy/Writer” Ratke: “Well, I guess there is 30 minutes. I’m sure you could probably eat a pizza in 30 minutes, sure. In fact, I’ve seen my friend Ish eat a pizza in less than 30 seconds.”(I was really confused at this point.)
Chandler: “Pepperoni and sausage?”
KPBWR: “Yeah, I’m sure you could probably eat that.” (What did toppings have to do with this? Where the heck is Nate?)
Chandler: “You think you could get me one?
Kyle sits in silence, his hands start to sweat and he looks at his feet, not wondering what’s going on. Kyle says nothing. Wilson looks at Kyle funny. Wilson walks away. Kyle pretends to text even though his phone is dead.
Just seconds after that, Jordan Hamilton grabs a to-go box full of nachos covered with cheese and chicken. Hamilton looks at me and goes, “Hey man, you want one?”
Of course I wanted one, but after not getting Chandler his pizza, I’m not sure if that was the best move.
Eventually I chatted with Robinson, but the locker room already viewed me as a failure for not getting the pizza. In fact, I felt like a failure. I disappointed so many people.
I felt like a failure, until I read this: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1884044-brian-shaw-rids-denver-nugget...
Muahaha, the pizza boy strikes again!
Welcome to the team, Wilson.
Power Forward: Kevin Love, Timberwolves
I’m a biased because I work for the organization, you say? Maybe, but man, Love’s first two months of the season… Holy moly. There were times when fellow web guy Mark Remme and I would look at each other and say, “Love already has 20 and 10? Unbelievable.”
Plus, his outlet passes are amazing. Can you imagine Swaggy P cherry picking and Love launching full-court passes to him? Wilson would just sit there eating pizza and Dragic would be… Well, get back to me on that.
Regardless… LET’S MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Center: DeMarcus Cousins, Kings
In my opinion, Cousins is one of the most talented centers in the NBA. He’s beast inside. He’s 348 times stronger than I am. That’s not saying a whole lot, though. I don’t think I have more than five pounds of muscle on my entire body.
Back go Boogie. A lot of people have said that Cousins has matured this season and maybe he has. I’m putting Cousins on this team hoping he hasn’t because I need an enforcer. If Swaggy upsets someone, I need someone to go in and be my Bill Laimbeer. DeMarcus, will you be my Bill Laimbeer?
6th Man: Nikola Pekovic, Timberwolves
Pekovic was asked once after a game, “where his performance came from?”
“It come from me.”
Welcome to the team.
Coach: Greg Popovich, Spurs
Greg Popovich smiles and laughs and gives the "thumbs-up" sign - one of my favorite YouTube videos ever: http://t.co/jF9W1gkwh1— William Bohl (@BreakTheHuddle) May 15, 2013
Mascot:Anyone But Pierre The Pelican
Exclusive look at the re-designed and less scary Pierre the Pelican: pic.twitter.com/oegnVQk7dZ— Kevin Yeung (@KevinHFY) January 23, 2014
Expect the Eastern Conference All-Stars to be announced tomorrow.
As always, thanks for reading. Stay warm.