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.

 

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”