Thursday, February 19, 2009

Neverland Ranch Liquidation Sale!

By Rob


In an article on Guardian UK, Chris Campion writes: "The contents of Neverland are officially up for auction"

This article is around 1,000 words and I'd suggest reading it if you have the same perverse curiosity in Michael Jackson's estate as I do. At the very least you should check out the highlights:

"In April, an extraordinary auction will provide an unprecedented look into the private world of Michael Jackson. More than 2,000 items, ranging from personal effects and costumes to pieces from Jackson's private art collection as well as fittings and furnishings from his Neverland ranch, will be up for sale at a four-day public auction at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.

...This new auction seems to mark Jackson's severance from Neverland, his Xanadu and a symbol of his success as well as his largesse. The ranch opened as a private amusement park in 1988, with its own zoo and Ferris wheel, roller coaster and bumper cars. It was named after Peter Pan's fantasy island where children never grow up, and for years children would arrive by the busload, invited to play freely in its grounds. But following the 2005 child molestation trial - which saw Jackson acquitted of all charges - the singer never returned to the 2,800-acre property in the Santa Ynez Valley, 130 miles west of Los Angeles. There were stories of him pitching up in Dubai, Dublin and Las Vegas before he started renting a seven-bedroom mansion in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, earlier this year. The 50-year-old star was said to be defaulting on payments on vast loans, and while he is thought to retain an interest in Neverland through his involvement with a private investment company, Colony Capital, he has said that the police investigation of the premises "violated" it in his eyes.

...Before it was recently renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch, and at Jackson's request, Darren Julien and his team were brought in to scrutinise the ranch. What they found inside was the most astonishing collection of objects these experienced auctioneers said they had ever seen in a celebrity home. "It seemed as if everything he owned was made of bronze and marble and gold," says Michael Doyle, who catalogued the sale items, as well as determining their value.'"

Does he still own the rights to a significant portion of the Beatles catalog? I couldn't find any recent articles on the status of the catalog -- at least not from credible sources. Anyone?...

Anyway, it should come as no surprise that Neverland is full of some of the most "extravagant" or... "fucking crazy" stuff you'll ever see. Of the 29 items that Chris Campion takes a look at, here are my top 3 favorite:

#1. A portrait of Michael Jackson dressed as a king, oil on canvas, signed and dated 1995 and housed in an elaborate gold frame. Guide price $4,000-$6,000

#2. An electric cart featuring an image of Jackson as Peter Pan on the bonnet and Peter Pan cushions. Guide price $4,000-$6,000

#3. A painting on stretched canvas featuring iconic figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein wearing Jackson's trademark sunglasses and glove. Guide price $1,000-$2,000

You can see the rest here.

King James for a season or C-Webb for 15?

By Rob


In my most recent post, I embedded a video: NBA TV's Top 10 Plays of Chris Webber's Career

Overall it was OK. I really liked #3 and I LOVED #2, but the rest was surprisingly underwhelming. It got me thinking about some of the other Top 10's I've seen on NBA TV and, well... I think Lebron James' Top 10 Plays of 2007 is cooler than C-Webb's Career Top 10 Plays.

Now let me establish a couple things:
1). I don't believe that NBA TV actually showed the top 10 plays of C-Webb's career. A few of the bottom 5 were on par with a half court buzzer beater to end the first half of a regular season game (a little wordy but I think you get it) and I can't fathom them being among the best plays of his career. C-Webb played in 831 games over 15 seasons.. c'mon, NBA TV! Dig a little deeper into the archives.
2). It's likely that NBA TV has compiled a more impressive single-season Top 10 for an individual player than the one for Lebron in 2007.

That being said, have a look at Lebron's '07 highlight reel:

LBJ's dunk in the Eastern Conference finals is nasty... Click here to check out C-Webb's highlight reel.

Is C-Webb Hall of Fame bound?

By Rob


NOTE: All statistics were recovered using Statistics are accurate as of Feb. 16, 2009. Certain statistical categories were not kept track of until later into the game's history.

Is Chris Webber a Hall of Famer? It's hard to say. Webber was drafted first overall in the 1993 NBA draft, voted the 93-94 Rookie of the Year, and made the All-Rookie first team. In 14 seasons that would follow (13 seasons if you choose not to count the 9 games he played in 07-08 season before calling it quits), Webber would make 5 All-NBA teams and play in 5 All-Star Games.

I can't think of a player who presents a HOF case as interesting as C-Webbs' -- it's teetering on the edge.

The Pros:
He averaged 20-10 (20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds to be exact) over his career -- a feat achieved by few (see below). Career averages of 1+ blocks and 1+ steals per game aren't as unheard of (C-Webb averaged 1.4 in both categories) but to do so in addition to 20-10? That's incredibly rare. (see slightly further below)

The Cons:
Before you begin to talk about if/how he performed in the clutch or what his post-season play was like (he's mssing some jewelry), there's another, more prevailing hurdle to be faced. I think Webber personifies the NBA superstar transitioning from the 90s to the 2000s. Not because he played roughly the first half of his career in the 90s and the latter half in the new millenium (although that is a cute touch) but because he was a very unique kind of supertstar -- at least statisically speaking. He wasn't quite a traditional 90s PF (like Malone, Sir Charles, David Robinson, etc.) nor was he the jack of all trade's SF/PF/C we're accustomed to today (KG, Shawn Marion, Lebron, etc.). He was in an "in-betweener".

He averaged 20-10 but he was never an overwhelming force on the boards or a big-time shot blocker (although his game appeared to be headed in that direction in the strike-shortened 98-99 season). He averaged 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block per game but he shot just 65% from the foul line. He's not an easy guy to label, and I think that hurts him more than almost anything else.

Well, I'll leave the rest to you. I don't want to look too closely at his post-season play, or how he performed in the clutch, because I don't think that's what people associate C-Webb with. Sacramento's championship aspirations were dashed more than once by some unbelievable L.A. teams (most notably when the Kings fell to LA in Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference finals) but I don't know if the voters think about the [very] GOOD teams you were on or the times you ALMOST made it... He wasn't a NBA champion and he's better remembered for calling a time out at the end of the NCAA championship game than for any positive clutch moments as a pro. His best bet for enshrinement are his numbers.

Chris Webber's career stat line:

ALL-TIME RANKS, AVERAGES: 20.7 PPG (45th all-time), 47.9 FG% (235th), 64.9 FT%, 9.8 REB (55th), 4.2 AST (140th; great for a big man), 2.8 TOV, 1.4 BLK (49th), 1.4 STL (42nd)

ALL-TIME RANKS, TOTALS: 76th for POINTS, 63rd for REBOUNDS, 48th for BLOCKS, 75th for STEALS

And just how exclusive is the 20-10 club?...

Sorted by Points Per Game

1. Wilt Chamberlain* - 30.07, 22.89, 51.1%
2. Elgin Baylor* - 27.36, 13.55, 78%
3. Bob Pettit* - 26.36, 16.22, 76.1%
4. Karl Malone - 25.02, 10.14, 74.2%
5. Shaquille O’Neal - 24.91, 11.35, 52.7%
6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar* - 24.61, 11.18, 72.1%
7. Larry Bird* - 24.29, 10.00, 88.6%
8. George Mikan* - 23.13, 13.4, 78.2%
9. Dan Issel* ~ 22.56, 9.1, 79.3%
10. Charles Barkley* - 22.14, 11.69, 73.5%
11. Bob McAdoo* ~ 22.05, 9.45, 75.4%
12. Hakeem Olajuwon* - 21.77, 11.10, 71.2%
13. Tim Duncan - 21.55, 11.75, 68.5%
14. Bill Cunningham* - 21.18, 10.36, 79.6%
15. David Robinson - 21.06, 10.64, 73.6%
16. Patrick Ewing* ~ 20.98, 9.81, 74%
17. Elvin Hayes* - 20.96, 12.49, 67%
18. CHRIS WEBBER ~ 20.68, 9.78, 64.9%
19. Moses Malone* - 20.68, 12.26, 76%
20. Spencer Haywood – 20.27, 10.28, 79.6%
21. Kevin Garnett - 20.22, 11.11, 78.2%
22. George McGinnis – 20.20, 10.97, 66.4%
23. Walt Bellamy* - 20.08, 13.65, 63.2%
24. Bob Lanier* - 20.07, 10.11, 76.7%
25. Elton Brand ~ 19.99, 10.14, 73.6%

* - indicates NBA Hall of Famer
~ - indicates that player falls slightly short of 20 points per game and/or 10 rebounds per game

The '20-10 Club' put into perspective:

77 players have career averages of at least 9.00 rebounds per game.
46 players have career averages of at least 10.00 rebounds per game.

61 players have career averages of at least 19.75 points per game.
58 players have career averages of at least 20.00 points per game.

Now to narrow it down a little further...

As I said before, C-Webb averaged 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game over the course of his career. Of the other '20-10' club members, only the following averaged at least 1.37 steals per game: George McGinnis, Hakeem Olajuwon, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Kevin Garnett. And of those 7, only Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Kevin Garnett have career averages of 1 or more blocks per game.

58 players have career averages of at least 1.3 blocks per game.
55 players have career averages of at least 1.25 steals per game.

C-Webb also averaged 4.24 assists per game. The only '20-10' members with averages of 4 or more assists per game are: Billy Cunningham (4.29), Kevin Garnett (4.31), Elgin Baylor (4.31), and Wilt Chamberlain (4.4).

154 players have career averages of at least 4.0 assists per game.

What's "G"?... Wait, what's a "Jabbawockee"?

By Rob


I'm sure by now everyone who owns a TV is familiar with the recent Gatorade ad campaign, "What's G?" It's simple, mildly clever and seemingly effective.

The format is simple. Lil' Wayne narrates as the camera scrolls past athletes shot in black-and-white, from the waist up, before eventually landing on the "G" logo. There are a few versions of the commercial, starring different athletes, and some are stronger (in terms of featured talent) than others.

There's a great streak of cool athletes in this particular ad, and I don't know if it can be beat. In order, we see the following:

Derek Jeter: "Mr. November"; captain of the New York Yankees; perhaps one of the most recognizable athletes the sport of baseball has ever had... Jeter has 4 well-deserved World Series rings and is, with 9 All-Star games, a clear fan favorite. He's a Hall of Famer. Nice pick, Gatorade. Let's move on...

Bill Russell: Synonomous with the word "champion." In a 13-year career, Russell was an 11-time NBA Champion, 5-time NBA MVP, 12-time NBA All-Star, the first African-American NBA coach (2 NBA championships as a player-coach), and more... He won two NCAA championsips at San Francisco and a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics. He's a pro and college Hall of Famer. I never grow tired of seeing the big guy donning a big smile. Thanks, G.

Muhammad Ali: "The Greatest"... "The Champ"... Ali was a 3-time heavyweight champion of the world, a gold medal winner in the 1960 Olympics, and was named Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Century". When you talk about recognition in sports, there's Ali and Jordan, and then there's everybody else. Bill Russell then Ali? Is this a dream? Where can I buy whatever it is you're selling? Is this enough? (dumps out wallet)

Chaz Ortiz: He's a push. Yes, he's the skateboarding prodigy (at age 14 he's the youngest person to ever win a pro contest) but where was, say, Tony Hawk or Shaun White? Too expensive? Locked up with another drink/soda? Well, admittedly, it's nice to have "the future" represented.

So OK guys, that's the commercial. Pretty neat, right? My next post will be--

Wait, what?...

There's someone else?...

The what? ...Who are the Jabbawockeez?...

A dance troupe?! Wasn't Muhammad Ali like right before them? But.. he beat up people for a living...

What is Gatorade trying to do by putting them in this? What new market are they trying to crack? Derek Jeter is a respected athlete and has dated most of the Maxim Hot 100 list. Bill Russell was one of the greatest athletes of the past century. Ali is Ali. And sure, Ortiz was questionable but he's like the next Tony Hawk. These are rising talents, true sportsmen, icons... What do the Jabbawockeez bring to the table? How very, very strange

Movie Links!

By Rob


Two cool links coming from Heath McKnight at

DreamWorks Dumps Universal For Disney

It’s official: DreamWorks has entered into an exclusive distribution deal with Disney, while leaving its deal with Universal in the dust. All of this was tied to the $250 million DreamWorks needed to keep their deal with an Indian entertainment company alive.
How Is The Economy Affecting Movie Studios?

With things looking bad worldwide economically, why are movie studios hurting even though box office, TV ratings and DVD rentals are all up? Why is the big DreamWorks/Bollywood deal about to go south? With ratings up, why are networks still hurting for money? And finally, why are DVD sales being affected (aside from Netflix cannibalizing them)?

I like what they're doing with their site.

Jimmy Kimmel on

By Rob


The video is very old (it was posted on YouTube in April 2007) but the faces made by Emily Gould, editor of, transcend time and space. I hate the paparazzi as much as anyone, but I'd be consider boycotting Google if this lady was representing it.

She looks genuinely surprised by every remark made contrary to Gawker. I'm interested to know what her expectations were prior to going on the show. Didn't Gawker have anyone else they could have sent? Even if the only other person working on the site is this guy, I'd take my chances with him over her any day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lane Kiffin's Remarkable Rise to the Top

By Rob


2007-2008 NBA Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant won every award imaginable as a freshman at Texas, signed a Nike deal in 2007, has a salary of $4,484,040 for the 2008-2009 season and, at 20 years old, is something like 4-6 months younger than me. As for myself... I know someone who wears Nikes; I know that 4,484,040 is a number; and I like to watch basketball when I'm not doing homework or at my part-time job.

I now know what it's like to watch someone who's younger than you make a fortune and re-write the record books. But this is expected of athletes. It's inevitable. The next batch of great athletes are breaching 'greatness' far sooner than the 'greatest' did. Coaching, however, is fairly static. Yes, there are more coaching changes now than there were in the distant past, but the long and somewhat tedious climb up the coaching ladder has been an established expectation for some time. As the title of this post indicates, there is one extraordinary exception whose climb is of endless fascination to me... Lane Kiffin.

You wouldn't be too far off if you thought Kiffin made a name for himself overnight. It was only 10 years after graduating from college that he became the head coach of a NFL franchise.

A Miniature Timeline:

1975: (May 9) Kiffin is born (approx. 0 years old)
1994: graduates from high school in Minnesota (19 years old)
1994: enrolls in Fresno State University where he plays basketball, baseball and backup QB for the Fresno State Bulldogs (19 years old)
1997: gives up playing football his senior season; becomes a Student Assistant Coach at Fresno State (22 years old)
1998: graduates from Fresno State (23 years old)
1999: works as a Graduate Assistant at Colorado State University for one year; works with the offensive line
2000: works with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a Quality Control Assistant for one year
2001: hired as a Tight Ends Coach at University of Southern California (USC)
2002: becomes the Wide Receivers Coach at USC
2004: becomes Passing Game Coordinator; retains Wide Receivers Coach position at USC
2005: is promoted to Offensive Coordinator at USC and becomes Recruiting Coordinator; retains position as Wide Receivers Coach
2007: (January 23) hired as the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders; the youngest Head Coach in NFL history. (age 31)
2008: (September 30) Lane Kiffin is fired as Raiders' Head Coach.
2008: named Head Coach of the Tennessee Volunteers football program (age 33)

He surpassed many of his former bosses in his quick climb up the coaching ladder. For instance, when he was a Student Assistant Coach at Fresno State, his position coach was Jeff Tedford, current Head Coach at the University of California.

From '93 to '97, Tedford was the Offensive Coordinator at Fresno State where he coached Kiffin. Then from 1998 to 2001, Tedford helped build Oregon's football program as its Offensive Coordinator. Meanwhile Kiffin was in the fast lane: he worked with a pro team and was hired by Pete Carroll to work as a Positions Coach with the best college football program in the country.
Since 2002, Tedford's been the Head Coach at Cal, and has won two Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards, so I don't mean to undermine his success. However, Tedford was in his early-40s when he won his first Coach of the Year award, and that's entirely my point.

At age 33, Kiffin will be the youngest Head Coach in Division-1 football. I'm not saying he'll be a great college coach (although when he was the Recruiting Coordinator at USC the team had the #1 recruitment class all 3 years) but I think he's capable of turning around an already talented Tennessee team (ranked 18th in preseason polls last year) after a shocking 5-7 finish last season. He's positioned to haul in a SEC Coach of the Year award in the near future, and he will do it in his 30s.

Resume Summary:
1997–1998 Fresno State (Positions)
1999 Colorado State (Positions)
2000 Jacksonville Jaguars (Asst)
2001–2006 USC (Positions/OC)
2007–2008 Oakland Raiders (Head Coach)
2009–Present Tennessee (Head Coach)