Albert Belle Gambles

Albert Belle Gambles

Sparked by Deadspin's recent athlete run in stories as well as ESPN's Page2 question of whether Albert Belle belongs in the Hall of Fame:

Hall of Fame ballots were delivered last week and among the usual
difficult decisions, there is the Albert Belle riddle. Where does one
of the most feared hitters of the '90s fit? He had more home runs
(389), RBIs (1,239) and a higher OPS (933) than Kirby Puckett, who was
a no-brainer first-ballot. But does Albert belong in? Do the math -- a
score of 100 is necessary to get to Cooperstown.

It was February of 2003 and I was in Vegas for the first time ever.  I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino due to it's close proximity to the Thomas & Mack Center where I was seeing a few concerts coupled with the fine scenery at the Hard Rock.

It was early on Friday probably around 2 pm and I wandered into the casino to throw some money around.  I kind of hate blackjack so I sat at a Caribbean stud table with a 5$ minimum.  The casino was pretty empty but there was a rather large black guy sitting at the table I sat down at.

As soon as I sat down I thought the guy playing next to me looked really familiar but I couldn't put a name to the face.  He was all buddy-buddy with the pit boss and dealer like he was in there 5 days a week.  The pit boss walked over at one point and said, "Hey Al, anyone else reach the 50-50 club yet?"  Even then it took me a minute to figure out that Al = Albert.  At that point I said something to the effect of "I didn't think anyone ever reached the 50-50 club?"  Then Albert kind of fires back all defensive that he did it in HRs and doubles.  I didn't even know they counted that as some sort of milestone?

He wasn't all that friendly, but I did chat him up a little bit.  Apparently he lived in Scottsdale or some random city out there.  Once I realized who he was I was kind of shocked he was playing at the 5$ table AND betting the minimum every single hand.  Hopefully he will make the Hall of Fame for the sole reason I would be able to say I played poker with a Hall of Famer.  The only other famous poker run in I've ever had was the cook from Under Siege 2 at the Mirage.

Sorry, I didn't say it was very exciting.

 

Tim Quarterman: Ben Simmons at PG will 'work out well' for Sixers

Tim Quarterman: Ben Simmons at PG will 'work out well' for Sixers

There are only a handful of people who have played basketball extensively with Ben Simmons, given he has been sidelined thus far into his rookie season with a foot injury. Those who spent Simmons’ freshman year at LSU with him have firsthand insight into the NBA player he has the potential to become.

“He's definitely a team player,” Tim Quarterman said. “He's a pass-first person. He wants to see his teammates do well. I think when he comes back to play, that's what he'll bring to Philly. He's not one of those people who just tries to go out there to get a 100 points. He's a good teammate.”

Quarterman was the Tigers’ point guard during Simmons’ only season in college. Quarterman left school after his junior year and earned a spot on the Trail Blazers' roster. He and Simmons have different stories: Simmons was the first overall pick; Quarterman went undrafted. Simmons has has been out since training camp; Quarterman, while playing sparingly, has experienced live NBA action. Still, the two have shared in the journey of life in the league. 

“It's a cool process going through our rookie season together,” Quarterman said before the Trail Blazers faced the Sixers Friday. “Even though he's not playing right now, he's working to get on the court. I'm sure he'll do great when he gets back out there. I got a chance to talk to him last night. Everything's been good so far.”

The Sixers got a small glimpse of Simmons during training camp before he suffered a Jones fracture on the final day. He recently began participating in 5-on-0 drills. Simmons also has been putting up shots after practice and doing light courtwork during pregame warmups. 

Brett Brown has said he intends to start the 6-foot-10 Simmons at the one spot when he returns. As part of his multi-faceted rehab, Brown has been giving Simmons written tests in which he has to navigate various in-game situations as the point guard. Simmons played point-forward at LSU, where he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists. 

“He'll be able to space the floor,” Quarterman said of Simmons at the point. “He can see over the defense and make passes that some little guards can't. He can defend. He can move his feet well. I think it'll work out well.”

It remains to be seen when the former teammates will both be suited up in the same NBA game. There is no timetable set for Simmons’ return. The Sixers face the Trail Blazers for their second and final meeting of the regular season on March 9 in Portland. 

“It's cool for both of us to be making the best of our opportunity,” Quarterman said.