Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Do Nice Guys Finish Last? #6

(Yet again, my weekly column from The Love of Sports. Follow along as my fantasy basketball experiment continues. This team is composed of nothing but upstanding citizens. The table manners of a perfect English gentlemen. The hushed tone and demeanor of an elderly librarian. The honor and courage of a U.S. Marine. The height and strength of a mythical Titan. Roll all of these things into one sleek package - or, rather, 12 sleek packages - and you'd have my team.)



Week 6 of the fantasy basketball season came and went with few surprises. My team, "The Centerfolds", won our weekly match-up for the fourth time, this one by a score of 6-3. We again dominated in rebounds, blocked shots, and points scored. And our only deficiencies were shooting and free throw percentage, as well as a narrow loss in the 3-pointer category.

"Now wait a minute Scott," you may be shouting aloud to your computer screen right now, "didn't your team lose last week in a close competition? If I recall correctly, the score was 5-4, and you seemed concerned that your players weren't really 'bringin' the noise and bringin’ the funk' as the teenagers like to say nowadays."

Yes, that's true. I was concerned about my team…..For about one minute. Then I took a good look up and down my roster and noticed nary a weak spot. We're rock solid top to bottom, and left to right. Front to back and side to side. And....Well, you get my point. I knew that these guys could bounce back from their near victory of 2 weeks ago - and bounce back they did.

Kevin Durant, Andrew Bynum, Yao Ming, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Andre Miller provided the points, rebounds, blocked shots and assists. Ray Allen and Shane Battier again provided "The Centerfolds" with the necessary veteran leadership. Yi Jianlian did nothing, but more on that later.

If one were to ask in regards to my fantasy team, "What are your weaknesses?" I'd respond just like I do whenever I'm asked the same question in a job interview: "I have no known weaknesses." But every time I answer that question, I know in my heart of hearts that I'm lying just a little bit. Everyone - and every fantasy team - has a weakness or two. My own personal weakness is that I have no discernible weaknesses. Oh wait. There I go again. Actually, I'm a bit of a procrastinator. There, I said it. Now you know my weakness.

But in the case of "The Centerfolds", that weakness is a bit easier to locate and define. His name is Yi Jianlian.

Yi's a nice guy, don't get me wrong. In many ways he belongs on this team: He translates when Yao gets too excited and can only speak in Mandarin. He's great at making balloon animals. He cooks a mean Belgian waffle. The list goes on and on. But there are also a few things that he doesn't do, such as: score points; rebound; block shots; have fun.

My number one rule is "If you're not having fun, then you're not helping anyone." And this doesn't just apply to fantasy basketball. Come on, people. Life is a game.

Once I recognize your lack of fun-having, your days are likely numbered on my fantasy team. I knew it from Yi's shallow breathing and furrowed brow. He slouched during fantasy team meetings. He wouldn't even crack a smile at one of Yao's hilarious Barbara Bush impersonations. I didn't think it was worthwhile explaining to him why he was being dropped from the roster. He had to serve as an example. So I sent him a fantasy email, and told him to clean out his fantasy locker. A new player would be taking his place in the morning.

That new player? By his name alone, you'd assume that this guy couldn't possibly be a member of the nice-guy-infused Centerfolds team. He sounds more like a James Bond villain than a basketball player. However, after a look at his stats - and a quick FBI background check - I picked up Travis Outlaw and plopped him directly into Yi's old spot in the lineup.

It turns out that Travis is as nice as guy as you'll ever hope to meet, or have on your fantasy team. He'll help with the dishes, score 20 points and grab 12 rebounds, and then pick the kids up from soccer practice. Definitely an upgrade in the power forward position.

Sorry Yi Jianlian. There's a new kid in town. And his name is way cooler-sounding than yours. Travis Outlaw, welcome to “The Centerfolds.” I hope you make yourself comfortable and stay a while - and a score a massive amount of points and grab an insane number of boards while you’re here.

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