Adding It Up for Addie

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Please don’t tell the Normal Mormon Wife, but I have tender feelings for another woman.

Well, she’s not so much a woman as a girl, really. Now before you hit the panic button and think this is some crazy R. Kelley meets Governor Sanford post that I’m typing from a beach in Rio de Janiero, let me explain.

The girl I am speaking about is named Addie.

Addie is not an exotic, eloquent Argentine beauty with an affinity for South Carolina governors like the one we have been recently reading about. In fact, Addie is still mastering basic skills like walking and speaking, let alone composing love letters and dancing the rumba.

That’s because Addie is only three years old and was has battled cerebral palsy with epilepsy since birth, causing developmental delays in crawling, standing, walking and speaking. Addie is in my ward and it always makes me smile to see her snazzy Sunday hairdo’s, bright smile, soft handshake, and watching her ramble down the hall as she develops her ability to walk. Knowing what a special little girl Addie is made it nearly impossible for me to comprehend a phone call I received from a ward member last April:

“Addie almost died today. She had prolonged seizures. Her heart stopped beating. She is in the ICU....”

How grateful I am to a loving Heavenly Father who, in his tender mercy, allowed Addie to regain her strength and begin the recovery process. She was able to return home to the loving care of her father and mother, Tom and Kelly. And, I’m happy to report, Addie is back at church and smiling and shaking hands and rambling down the halls just like she used to.

And that is what is most important. Addie is back home and progressing. She will still need a lot of care and attention, but she is on the road to recovery.

But the care and attention Addie received in the ICU came at a cost. Addie’s seizure happened while she and her mom, Kelly, traveled from North Carolina to Utah to visit family. All of the medical care Addie received was out-of-network and the bills are more than the family is able manage. Almost anybody reading this post would be in the same predicament if this emergency had happened to us.

It has been inspiring to see how members of our ward have given Christlike service in rallying around Addie and her family. Donations, fund raisers, yard sales, and service projects have been held in the family’s behalf. Tom bore his testimony earlier this month in sacrament meeting to express the family’s gratitude for the love they have been shown. It was one of the most touching testimonies I have heard in a long time.

Tom and Kelly are very similar to those of you who read this blog. They are both college educated. They both work hard to support their young family, Tom full-time and Kelly via home-based businesses called Vinyl Expressions and Lil' Boo. They both love the Lord and serve in demanding church callings. They are both RM’s. And, just like each of us in our own ways, they are experiencing the trials of life.

I have set up a fund to collect donations to give to the family for Addie's ICU bills and for her care going forward. Based on the number of regular visitors to this blog, the NMH community could quickly raise several hundred dollars if modest contributions in the $5-$10 are made. You can contribute more if you are able, but even small amounts will be a blessing. Contributions can be made via a quick Paypal transaction by clicking the "DONATE" logo below. If you have felt inspired to help, please do so today. You will be a blessing to this sweet little girl and her wonderful parents.

I can envision the day when Addie, as a beautiful young woman, gets a snazzy hair-do, puts on a formal dress, smiles widely, and heads off to her first high school dance.

I bet she’ll even dance a pretty mean rumba by then.

Thank you for helping.



<- Click to help Addie!

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Riot Squad Announced! (Now Go Burn Something...)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

As promised as a follow-up to my last post - What a Riot! - the three-person Official NMH Riot Squad has been selected based on what they will overturn, loot, and burn to celebrate upcoming events in their lives. Congratulations are in order for:

-Chad
-Sandy
-Julie

Way to go, guys! You must be delighted to know that you are the three most likely to end up with felony convictions among the hundreds of people who read this blog.

Here is what they said to win this prestigious honor and a few comments about why their submissions were so great:

Chad: I am celebrating the recent announcement of the remake of Red Dawn.
Overturn: a 1997 Cuban Peso
Loot: Some AK-47 ammunition from my fathers gun safe.
Burn: A red plastic 3 inch army guy.
NMH's Comments: Red Dawn is one of the greatest movies in the history of film. The Wolverines could totally kick the crud out of any other movie on the AFI Top 100 list. Citizen Kane? Eat a bazooka rocket! Lawrence of Arabia? Puh-lease! I'll take the Wolverines tank over his camel any day.

I have had fantasies about living in the mountains and battling commies since the day I saw Patrick Swayze and C. Thomas Howell pop out of the ground like angry, underground Jacks-in-the-Box and mow down the enemy. Plus, my high school mascot was the Wolverine and we used to watch C. Thomas Howell yell, "WOLVERIIIIIIIINNNNNEEEEES!" at our pep rallies. It still gives me chills to this day. And don't even get me started on my Leah Thompson crush...

For those of you who need to get goosebumps, take a look at this (it gets really, really AWESOME at the 1:30 mark if you want to skip ahead.)



Just watching that clip forced my body to sprout chest hair in areas that were previously barren. Chad, your never-say-die, take-no-prisoners Red Dawn mentality is exactly what our Official NMH Riot Squat needs. Now go get yourself a few commies!

Sandy: I live in Wyoming, where we never need an excuse to be on the other side of martial law. On a regular day in my town, you can:
1.Overturn cows. And sheep.
2. Loot the local dump. It's like Wal-Mart out there (and 200 miles closer).
3. Burn your trash in your backyard, because the garbage dump is for shopping.
NMH's Comments: In all honesty, the "...because the garbage dump is for shopping" line is one of the funniest comments I have ever read. It killed me. Not "killed me" as in the Red Dawn way (i.e. in a hail of blood-spattered machine gun bullets), but in the good, funny way. Every riot squad needs that person who can come up with a good one-liner as something explodes in a ball of fire in the background.

For example, if the Jazz won the 2010 NBA Finals and the Official NMH Riot Squad took to the streets to celebrate, I'm pretty sure Molotov cocktails would be involved somehow. Instead of just throwing hers, Sandy would do her best impersonation of Hot Rod Hundley and say, "A gentle push, a mild arc, and the Molotov cocktail hits home!", just as her concoction explodes against a building.

Julie - Event: Thursday Night
1) Overturn garbage can, toy boxes and utensils drawer, just so the toddler doesn't get to have ALL of the fun.
2) Loot through the fridge, looking for something to eat that I don't have to cook.

3) Burn ants with a magnifying glass, just because it's awesome.

NMH's Comments: Every riot squad worth its salt has a completely insane person like Julie who does totally crazy things like burning ants with a magnifying glass just for fun. For example, let's say the Riot Squad is having a planning session to do something destructive - like knocking down some street signs - it is Julie who storms in and says something nuts like, "Forget that! We're burning down the Guatemalan embassy! Yeeee Haw!!!!!" and then starts firing a pistol at the ceiling. Julie brings the edge. You don't mess with Julie.

So, winners, go out and celebrate the best you know how. Burn an army guy. Loot a dump. Ignite some ants.
Give me your email addresses if you want and I will send you a certificate of some sort (email me at nmhusband @ hotmail [dot] com.)

Just stay away from my house when you celebrate. Far, far away from my house.


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What A Riot!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There have been many instances in my life when I have had cause to celebrate.

For example, the Normal Mormon Wife and I took a relaxing Caribbean cruise to celebrate our 10th anniversary. After graduating from BYU I bought myself a 1923 Babe Ruth baseball card as a “Way to go champ!” to myself. My wife and I celebrated the births of each of our children by screaming, “What do you mean it’s too late for an epidural!!!!!!!” at several different anesthesiologists.

A number of other important events in my life have been commemorated by fancy dinners, thoughtful gifts, and parties featuring Mormons eating no-bake food storage cookies and sipping on Martinelli’s (with milk also provided for LDS party-goers who think Martinelli’s violates the whole “avoid the appearance of evil” philosophy. As for me, I’d hook up a Martinelli’s IV if I could.)

In short, I love to get jiggy.

Or at least to get as close to “jiggy” as a freakishly tall, mid-thirties, white, LDS father of three with a herniated disc in his lower back can legally, morally, and physically get. But I realized last week that I must be doing something wrong in my celebratory jiggy-ness, because at no point in my life have my celebrations included the following:

· Rioting
· Looting
· Burning random stuff
· Overturning cars
· Felony convictions

Now keep in mind that I grew up in West Valley City, Utah, were my high school had an AP class called “Burning Random Stuff” (formerly called “AP Chemistry”) and my guidance counselor encouraged me to attend Salt Lake Community College where I could major in “Looting.” And I am fairly certain my guidance counselor had multiple felony convictions for overturning cars. Yet despite my heritage, I never managed to incorporate senseless, irresponsible destruction into my celebrations.

And then my beloved Los Angeles Lakers won the 2009 NBA Finals.

My initial celebration was to exchange a few “Yeah boyyyyyyyyyy’s!” and “Yeeeee haws!” with the NMW, who is also a loyal Lakers fan. We just had to make sure that our euphoria was quiet enough so as to not wake up our three sleeping children. I thought my victory celebration was complete.

But then I saw on the news how the hard-core Lakers fans were celebrating and immediately realized that my jiggification was sorely lacking. I needed to step it up.

Even though the Lakers’ series-clenching victory happened in Orlando, many of my Lakers bretheren took to the streets of downtown L.A. and rioted, looted, burnt stuff, overturned cars, and ended up with felony convictions. And I wished I was there. Here is what I missed out on by being cooped up at home in North Carolina instead of celebrating in the streets of Los Angeles:

So, in honor of my proud Lakers heritage, I decided to stage a mini-celebratory riot by overturning cars, looting, and burning stuff:

Overturning Cars:
I tried to topple my neighbor’s minivan, but it was just too heavy and I didn’t have the combined muscle of a drunken mob to help me out. I had to settle on overturning my daughter’s Little Tykes Crazy Coupe instead. I hope she has insurance. That’ll teach that irresponsible little 12-month-old!

Looting:
There are no nearby convenience stores, so the only place I could loot was my food storage pantry. I managed to get a bottle of ketchup, canned beans, and a box of Life cereal before the cops showed up. (NMW – if you’re reading this, please know that I took the cans from the front to ensure proper food storage rotation. I may be a reckless looter, but I’m not crazy or anything.)

Burning Stuff:
As a trained and registered Boy Scouts of America leader, I had to find the most complicated way of accomplishing this otherwise simple task. Instead of creating flame with a lighter or matches, I used a real man’s tool - steel and flint! I also followed BSA guidelines and made sure there were no combustible materials near the flame. I then burned the paper scrap remnants from our paper shredder. But hey, a senseless fire is still a senseless fire.

I can honestly say I have experienced more fulfillment and satisfaction over the Lakers’ title now that I have celebrated it the right way.

I also thought this theme of not-so-crazy LDS celebrations could be an entertaining discussion topic for the NMH community. So please pick an upcoming cause to celebrate in your life (graduation, wedding, anniversary, statute of limitations expiration, etc.) and answer the following questions:

What is the event?
1) What will you overturn?
2) What will you loot?
3) What will you burn?

The top three submissions will earn the writers the proud distinction of being named members of the Official NMH Riot Squad. I will send you a congratulatory email and everything. Winners will be announced in a few days, so the sooner you submit yours, the better.

Which poses another question – how will the Official NMH Riot Squad celebrate winning such a prestigious honor?

Uh-oh. I can smell the celebratory fires already.

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Fatherhood and Tommy Boy

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

(Note: The good people at Mormon Mommy Blogs wanted a few prominent male LDS bloggers to provide their perspective on fatherhood as we approach Father's Day. Unfortunately, the "prominent" male bloggers were unavailable so they asked me to contribute, which is how this post started. Click here to read this post at Mormon Mommy Blogs.)

Thomas R. Callahan III, I know how you feel.

Those of you who have seen Tommy Boy probably remember the moment when Tommy is forced to quickly grow up after his father unexpectedly passes away. In the blink of an eye, Tommy has to give up cow tippin’ and Darth Vader impersonations for a life centered on drumming up enough sales to make payroll for his family-owned business.

For many men, our “Tommy Boy Moment” happens the day our first child is born. Responsibility increases. Decisions become more complicated. Priorities shift. And as we experience the highs and lows, joys and pains,happiness and frustration of fatherhood, sometimes we can only sit back, take it all in, and exclaim:

Holy schnike!

In the spirit of the “Tommy Boy Moment” I will use some of my favorite quotes from the movie to guide my thoughts about being a dad.

**********************************
“Fat guy in a little coat”

One of my favorite moments is when Tommy (Chris Farley) stuffs his massively chunky body into Richard’s (David Spade) tiny suit coat. The coat is so restrictive that Tommy cannot bend his arms, like an older, fatter version of Randy on A Christmas Story.

Just like a fat guy in a little coat, fatherhood is restrictive. This is particularly challenging for males as many of us have a biological urge to leave society behind and live in the mountains eating only what we kill with our bare hands. Like Survivorman. Or Quentin Tarantino.

Being a responsible father often means your free time and energy are no longer yours, but your family’s. Instead of coming home to relax after a stressful day at work, many of us go straight to little league practices, FHE, dance rehearsals, or Scouts.

Now don’t get me wrong. The restrictive nature of fatherhood is a good thing. The Savior teaches us that, “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” My belief is that making sacrifices as fathers is in harmony with this doctrine. Though restrictive, the responsibilities of fatherhood can make men more selfless and generous. Fatherhood has helped me to find joy by looking beyond myself and overcoming selfish tendencies. While my free time may be limited, I would not trade anything for little league games, dance recitals, first steps, and good-night kisses.

Sure, you can call me a fat guy in a little coat during this stage of my life. But hey, I’m a happy fat guy.

**********************************
(Tommy’s date, Michelle, has had enough from a group of rude boys…)
Michelle: “Listen up, you little spazoids! I know where you live and I've seen where you sleep. I swear to everything holy that your mothers will cry when they see what I've done to you!"

The average man’s veins are full of three important liquids – blood, testosterone, and Taco Bell mild sauce. While I appreciate the life-sustaining properties of both blood and taco sauce, it’s that dang testosterone that gets men in trouble. You see, when men encounter difficult people our testosterone-influenced brains give us five options:

1. Punch him.
2. Kick him.
3. Atomic elbow him.
4. Calmly reach an agreeable solution with him.
5. Even if #4 works, punch him anyway.

Children can be difficult, and fatherhood teaches restraint. Appropriately disciplining my children has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. It is almost impossible sometimes to correct unacceptable behavior without being completely unreasonable and overbearing with my kids.

As a father, I am learning to discipline my children in love. There are times when I am more successful at this than others. During my parental journey I have come to better appreciate the forgiving nature of my Heavenly Father and his eternal patience with me. After all, I am an adult, I hold the Melchizedek priesthood and made temple covenants, but I still make daily mistakes. Yet my Heavenly Father showers me with blessings despite these imperfections. In a strange way, my own visible shortcomings as a father have strengthened my testimony of God’s love for me.

I just need to do a better job at emulating Him and not Michelle sometimes.

***********************************
(After Tommy spills M&M’s all over the interior of Richard’s car…)
Richard: “Great. Melted chocolate the size of dice melted on the dashboard. That really ups the resale value.”

Children break things. And by “things” I mean “everything.” Fatherhood reminds men that stuff is just stuff and to not overreact when it gets destroyed. Or scratched. Or stained. Or lost. Or eaten. Or lit on fire.

The Normal Mormon Wife and I bought a Little Tykes Cozy Coupe for our daughter’s first birthday a couple of weeks ago. A well-intentioned member of our family decided to give our daughter a ride inside the house, which has hardwood floors. A few days ago the sunlight reflected just right off the hardwood and the NMW said, “Look at the scratches all over the floor.” Whoever pushed the car around left some pretty nice doughnut-shaped permanent gouges in the hardwood.

Neither of us got angry. We just looked at each other and said, “Well, we’ll have to buff that out when we sell the house someday.” We have not talked about it since. No big deal. Fatherhood has helped me relax when unforeseen problems arise, because they happen all the time in a young, growing family.

***********************************
I am grateful to be a father and to experience the ups and downs of parenthood with a loving, supportive, understanding wife. My children bring more happiness and purpose into my life than I ever imagined possible. Sure, there are frustrating and challenging moments, but they pale in comparison to the blessings.

One day when my kids are grown I will probably look back on my experiences as a young father and, quoting from Tommy Boy, say in quiet reflection:

“I swear I've seen a lot of stuff in my life, but that... was... *awesome*.”

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A Follow-Up Dunk on the Shawn Bradley Post

Monday, June 08, 2009

Bill Simmons, thank you.

A few of my readers wanted ESPN's Bill Simmons to get a copy of the Defending Shawn Bradley post I wrote to prove he was a solid NBA Center to begin his career, not one of the all-time busts like Simmons and others make him out to be. Bill Simmons is my favorite sports writer, the unquestioned star of ESPN.com, and quite possibly the most popular sports media personality in the United States right now. The probability of Simmons actually reading my Bradley post was as remote as Hurley turning down a Ho Ho, but it was sent along to him anyway.

Well, not only did Simmons ready my post, he Twittered about it to his 160,000+ followers. In his quick "tweet" Simmons paid me a small compliment ("nicely done") and offered a rebuttal to my post. Getting props from Bill Simmons for something I wrote was both unexpected and very cool, like when Brad Pitt gets run over while crossing the street in Meet Joe Black.

Simmons wrote to his Twitter followers, "Out of nowhere, a spirited defense of Shawn Bradley! Nicely done. Here's my rebuttal:" and then posted a YouTube video montage of Bradley getting repeatedly posterized. I got a good chuckle out of the video, but it does as little to discredit Shawn Bradley's career as this one diminishes Dikembe Mutombo:



I guess the YouTube clip showing each of Shawn Bradley's 2,119 successful blocks could not be located.

Just as the children's book Everyone Poops teaches us that we all...uhhh...poop, all shot-blocking NBA Centers are going to get dunked on every once in a while. It's just a law of nature. Heck, even the best NBA columnists (ahem, Simmons, looking at you right now...) are going to get journalistically posterized on occasion as well. You know, like when they compare the drafting of Yao Ming over Jay Williams to Bowie-Jordan or call Orlando "dumb" for drafting Dwight Howard. I am willing to look past Bill Simmons' occasional flubs because he consistently cranks out great column after great column. I can do the same when I hear the "Bradley got dunked on all the time!" argument. (So does this make Bill Simmons the Shawn Bradley of ESPN, or Shawn Bradley the Bill Simmons of the NBA?)

Thanks to Simmons over 12,000 people read my Bradley column within 48 hours of his Tweet. The additional exposure generated some good discussion about Bradley's career and I think a few of the comments deserve a little more attention. Here are a few of the common responses from people who read the post:

"Huh. Bradely was better statistically than I realized..."
The majority of the commenters either supported my argument (i.e. Bradley was better than people give him credit for) or said they were surprised to see Bradley's solid numbers over the first eight years of his career. My purpose in writing the post was to show that Shawn Bradley was solid - not great, but definitely not a bust - when he was healthy and getting minutes. It looks like the message got out. To celebrate I have hung an enormous "Mission Accomplished!" banner in my living room to show the Bradley debate is over! I win! Hooray for me!

"You're manipulating the data, you evil data-manipulating data manipulator!"
No, I'm not. I simply used honest, factual, objective data to support my view that Bradley was an above average Center for the first eight years of his career. Now matter how you slice and dice it, Shawn Bradley's stats compare more favorably to Vlade and Camby than to Darko and Kwame. And for those of you who are still not convinced about Bradley's solid stats, take a look at this nugget:

In the five seasons between 1994-1998 only eight NBA Centers averaged at least 11.0 PPG and 8.0 RPG every single year (supporting data):

-Shaquille O'Neal
-Hakeem Olajawon
-David Robinson
-Dikembe Mutombo
-Patrick Ewing
-Alonzo Mourning
-Vlade Divac
-SHAWN BRADLEY!!!!!

(Swallow hard, Bradley haters. It might take a few times to gulp that one to go down...)

No, I'm not saying that Shawn Bradley's career was anywhere near as accomplished as the rest of the players on that list. But this unmanipulated, pure-as-the-clear-driven-snow data shows that Shawn Bradley was a statistically solid Center for a good portion of his career and not an all-time bust, which was the point I was trying to make to begin with.

"Bradley's stats were okay, but he never played hard."
Based on what I read from his former coaches, teammates and fans, this criticism seems to have some merit. At certain points in Shawn Bradley's career it would have taken Arnold Schwarzenegger's flamethrower from Predator to light a fire under the guy. But "passion" is subjective and cannot be quantified (except for by measuring how far Kobe sticks out his bottom jaw in big playoff moments, that is. Even as a Lakers fan all I can say is, "Ugh.")

But hey, there is one LDS returned missionary in the NBA who has passion - Mark Madsen! Madsen oozes passion. He bathes in it. Eats it for breakfast. Took it to Vermont to try to marry it. But in the end I would rather take the 7'6" Mormon guy's stats over the more "passionate" 6'9" Mormon guy's numbers in a heartbeat. Bradley may have lacked passion at times, but he still produced when he was on the floor.

"Who cares about who Bradley's Point Guards were?"
I think this is more important than people realize. When looking at Bradley's relative lack of offensive output (10.1 ppg, 45% FG) over his first eight seasons, I pointed out that the assists leaders on his teams included two Shooting Guards (Jeff Hornacek and Micahel Finley) and Robert Pack (twice). If Bradley was as lucky as Vlade (w/Magic), or Ilgausksu (LeBron) or Smits (Mark Jackson) he would have had better offensive numbers.

A few of you said the Magic-Vlade comparison was weak because they only played together for two of Vlade's first eight seasons. Ditto on Ilgauskus/LeBron and Smits/Jackson. But even these examples prove my point when illustrating the impact a good set-up guy has on a Center. Take a look at the FG% of Vlade, Big Z, and Smits for the two years they played with the people I mentioned versus the two years before (Big Z) or after (Vlade, Smits) playing with them:

Vlade w/out Magic ('91 & '92) - 49.0%
Vlade w/Magic ('89 & '90) - 53.2%
Difference....+4.2%

Ilgauskus w/out LeBron ('01 & '02) - 43.3%
Ilgauskus w/LeBron ('03 & '04) - 47.6%
Difference....+4.0%

Smits w/out Mark Jackson ('94 & '95) - 51.0%
Smits w/Mark Jackson ('92 & '93) - 52.4%
Difference....+1.4%

In summary, Vlade, Ilgauskus and Smits saw their collective FG% improve from 47.8% to 51.0% by playing with Magic, LeBron and Mark Jackson. This is significant. During the first eight years of his career Shawn Bradley never played with a good penetrate-and-dish guy to feed him with easy dunks. This in part explains Bradley's weak 45% field goal percentage.

There were even two examples of Smits and Vlade playing half of a season with their set-up guy and the other half without him. Mark Jackson was traded back to Indiana from Denver on 2/23/07. Rik Smits only played 52 games that year due to injury. Before Mark Jackson's return, Smits had played 22 games and was shooting 47% from the field. In the 30 games he played with Mark Jackson his FG% improved to 49.5% during the same season.

The same improvement happened with Vlade Divac in 2005 when Magic made his ill-fated NBA comeback. In 41 games without Magic, Vlade shot 50.3% from the floor. In 38 games with Magic his FG% improved to 52.3%. Even an old, fat, slow, disease-infected Magic Johnson could have helped Bradley get closer to the 50% FG mark more successfully than the Shooting Guards and cast-offs he was unfortunately stuck with to begin his career.

The whole Defending Shawn Bradley post and subsequent follow-up has provided me with some of the more enjoyable blogging experiences I have had. Thanks to the exposure from Bill Simmons I no longer feel like a lone man preaching the value of Shawn Bradley in the wilderness. The message has been heard. The truth is out there. The Bradley legacy continues. My life's work has been accomplished.

So to quote Bill Simmons:

"Now I can die in peace."

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Defending Shawn Bradley (Swatting Bill Simmons)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Bill Simmons, I've finally had enough!

While Bill Simmons is my favorite sports writer and I usually enjoy his 7,000-word columns and 90-minute podcasts on ESPN.com, the time has come for me to stand up and tell him to --

STOP HACKING ON SHAWN BRADLEY!

Despite the fact that Shawn Bradley retired in 2005, Bill Simmons and many other like him seem to have some compulsive biological urge to rip on the big guy a couple of times every year. Somehow Shawn Bradley has turned into the tallest human pinata since Andre the Giant got pummeled by The Dread Pirate Roberts.

And since nobody else is doing it - I'm sticking up for my boy Shawn Bradley!

Bill Simmons started this argument so I am going to pull a page from his playbook and write a column that rivals the length of a Dostoevsky novel and nearly blew up basketball-reference.com while I researched it. But before delving too deeply into the details there are a few big-picture points I want people to remember about the first eight seasons of Shawn Bradley's NBA career when compared to other Centers of his era:

1) Defense - Shawn Bradley blocked as many shots per game as Alonzo Mourning (3.1).
2) Rebounds - Bradley (7.6 rpg) was as good on the boards as Zydrunas Ilgauskus (7.7).
3) Offense - Shawn Bradley (10.1 ppg) was as good offensively as Marcus Camby (10.7) and comparable to Arvydas Sabonis (12.0) and Vlade Divac (12.5).
4) Lottery Pick - Shawn Bradley was arguably statistically better than every other lottery pick Center drafted between 1993-2000. (Yeah, I was surprised by that too, but the stats don't lie.)

Sure, you could argue that by only focusing on the first eight seasons of Shawn Bradley's twelve-year career that I am trying to cover up his last four unproductive seasons, like a Chris Farley fan reveling in his SNL and Tommy Boy days while completely avoiding Almost Heroes and Beverly Hills Ninja. (Okay, I'm guilty on both charges.) The fact that Chris Farley's career ended badly doesn't mean that Tommy Boy and his SNL appearances are any less funny. The same goes for Shawn Bradley - his frustrating, injury-prone, relatively unproductive last four seasons do not cancel out the eight solid years he put together to begin his NBA career.

The reason for focusing on the first eight years of Shawn Bradley's career is because there is an incorrect notion among NBA fans that Bradley was one of the biggest busts in league history. The Dolly Parton of the NBA, as it were. The reality, however, is that for eight years Shawn Bradley was a solid NBA Center. Not spectacular, but definitely not one the the all-time busts like Simmons and other make him out to be.

Speaking of Bill Simmons, it was his 5/11/09 BS Report podcast that prompted me to finally write this post. While he was discussing the unfortunate fate of many big men 7'2" and taller, Simmons said that Manute Bol was, "Supremely underrated!" and "Unbelievable!" He sounded as giddy about Manute as the Sham-Wow guy gets about unexpected kitchen spills. Yet when Shawn Bradley's name came up Simmons dismissively said that, "Ahhh, he was hurt within three years," as if Bradley never had any semblance of an NBA career.

In reality, not only did Shawn Bradley have a solid eight year run to begin his career, but the three-year stretch between 1995-1996 and 1997-1998 were pretty remarkable. Even Tommy Boy and the "one and a-half percent of his brain" that he uses can understand that the following Bradley stat is pretty impressive:

Between 1996-1998, Shawn Bradley was the only Center in the NBA to average at least 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds while appearing in at least 64 games each season (click here for the basketball-reference.com supporting data.)

Keep in mind that a number of Hall of Fame Centers were in the primes of their careers during that time - David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O'Neal, Patrick Ewing - yet none of them accomplished what Shawn Bradley did during that three-year span. The only non-Centers in the NBA to pull off the 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 64 games during those three seasons were Karl Malone, Shawn Kemp and Anthony Mason (click here for supporting data.)

Over the past several years Bill Simmons has also called Shawn Bradley a "colossal bust", a "project", a "dunking test dummy", and that picking Bradley during a fantasy basketball draft elicited more laughter than passing gas. In his ESPN columns, Bill Simmons has compared Shawn Bradley to NBA busts like Kwame Brown, Darko Milicic, Jim McIlvaine, Calvin Booth, Michael Stewart and William Bedford. When putting together a list of non-NBA players who could challenge a WNBA team, Simmons recommended putting together a team of "marginal male players (ex-high school jocks, gym rats, Shawn Bradley)..."

Come on, Simmons, you know the NBA better than that! I expect more from you than those lazy, inaccurate comparisons.

When you compare the first eight years of Shawn Bradley's career to the first eight seasons of the "Other Guys" listed above (Kwame, Darko, etc.), you get the following:





In other words, Shawn Bradley put up eight years worth of stats that were twice as good as the Centers that Bill Simmons - and many others - normally compare him to.

Instead of lumping Shawn Bradley into the Darko and Kwame group, a more educated NBA observer would compare the first eight seasons of his career to solid NBA Centers like Zydrunas Ilgauskus, Vlade Divac, Rik Smits, Arvydas Sabonis and Marcus Camby. Take a look:










Pretty surprising, isn't it?

In fact, when you look at Shawn Bradley's first eight seasons compared to the averages of the first eight years of the "Solid Guys" listed above, you get the following:





Sure, each of the "Solid Guys" except for Sabonis went on to have careers that were better than Shawn Bradley's. But over the first eight years of their careers, which, by the way, is a long time in NBA years (wouldn't you be happy if your favorite NBA team's next draft pick is a solid contributor through the 2016-2017 season?), Bradley's productivity was on par with some of the stronger Centers in the league.

While Shawn Bradley was slightly less effective offensively from the rest of the "Solid Guys" (more on that later), his numbers were identical when it comes to games, minutes, rebounds and steals. With the exception of Marcus Camby, Shawn Bradley's goofy big white guy quotient was right up there with the rest of the group as well. Defensively, Shawn Bradley dominated this group - and most of the NBA - as a shot blocker.

But before you kill Shawn Bradley for not being a better offensive player, keep in mind that he played with terrible Point Guards for the first eight years of his career. Vlade had Magic Johnson setting him up for easy dunks followed by awkward man hugs. Ilgauskus benefited from tremendous set-up guys like Andre Miller and LeBron. Rik Smits started off with Scott Skiles and ended with Mark Jackson running the point in Indiana while Reggie Miller stretched the defense.

Shawn Bradley's 10.1 ppg average isn't all that bad when you consider his teams' assist leaders during his first eight years in the league:












Just digest that for a moment. In Shawn Bradley's rookie season the assist leader in Philly was a 30-year-old Jeff Hornacek! The Point Guard with the highest assist average on Bradley's teams was Kenny Anderson, who is not really known for being a pass-first kind of player (or pass-second, or third, or fourth...) How many points would Vlade have scored with the Hornacek/Barros/Anderson/Pack/Finley/Young Steve Nash combo trying to get him the ball? Six? Four?

If Shawn Bradley had played with the Magic/LeBron/Skiles/Mark Jackson combo to begin his career like some of the "Solid Guys" did, he would have been a much better offensive player and probably scored in the 12-13 points per game range like the rest of the group.

But enough about offense. With Shawn Bradley, it's all about defense.

Yes, Shawn Bradley looked goofy. Yes, he looked like a hang man stick figure that my 5-year-old daughter would draw. And, yes, sometimes he looked as coordinated as a new-born giraffe that somehow managed to enter the world on a sheet of ice. But in the end, Shawn Bradley was one of the most dominant, prolific, get-that-weak-junk-out-of-here shot blockers in the history of the NBA. Over the first eight years of his career, Bradley was a better shot blocker than many of his All-Star peers:











After some thorough research at basketball-reference.com I found only four players who finished in the Top-5 in blocked shots per game in each of his first eight seasons since the statistic was first recorded in 1973-1974:

-Hakeem Olajawon
-Dikembe Mutombo
-Tree Rollins
-Shawn Bradley

Some of the all-time blocked shot leaders either suffered injuries (David Robinson) or saw their defensive performance slip (Mark Eaton, Patrick Ewing) over their first eight years and did not make this exclusive club. But Shawn Bradley did, and he was one of the best shot blockers to patrol the paint over the last 35 years.

At the end of his career, Shawn Bradley finished 10th in the history of the NBA in blocks per game (2.5) and 11th in career blocks (2,119).

Remember, Bill Simmons called Manute Bol "Supremely underrated!" and "Unbelievable!" on his BS Report podcast, which in part prompted this lengthy post. So how many blocked shots did Manute average for the first eight years of his career? Five? Six? Nope. Try 3.4, which is not much higher than Bradley's average of 3.1. Throw in the fact that Bol couldn't score (2.6 ppg, 41% FG) or rebound (4.3 rpg) and it is hard to figure out why he was "Unbelievable!" and Shawn Bradley was somehow a "Colossal bust."

Some people put the "bust" label on Bradley because he was drafted second overall by Philadelphia in the 1993 draft. True, Shawn Bradley was drafted too high, but he was far more productive than nearly every other lottery pick (top-14) Center drafted between 1993-2000. While Shawn Bradley had a very solid, productive eight seasons to begin his career, the same cannot be said for the vast majority of the lottery pick Centers who followed:

1993 - Shawn Bradley (2nd overall)
1994 - Eric Montross (7th), Yinka Dare (14th)
1995 - Bryant Reeves (6th), Cherokee Parks (12th)
1996 - Marcus Camby (2nd), Lorenzen Wright (7th), Eric Dampier (10th), Todd Fuller (11th), Vitaly Potapenko (12th)
1997 - Adonyl Foyle (8th)
1998 - Michael Olowokandi (1st), Michael Doleac (12th), Keon Clark (13th)
1999 - Aleksandar Radojevic (12th), Frederic Weis (13th)
2000 - Chris Mimh (7th), Joel Pryzbilla (9th)

When you compare the first eight years of Shawn Bradley's career to the first eight years of the rest of those lottery pick Centers, you can see how much better off Philly was by drafting Big Shawn when compared to other lottery teams who drafted Centers:





Believe it or not, but the first eight years of Shawn Bradley's career were much more productive than the average lottery pick Center who followed him. When you examine the stats of all 17 of these lottery picks there is only one who ranks in the top-3 in all five categories:

Shawn Bradley.










Among all of the lottery-pick Centers drafted between 1993-2000, only Marcus Camby has gone on to have a better career than Shawn Bradley.

So what does all of this mean?

In short, it means that Bill Simmons and the rest of the Shawn Bradley haters out there are wrong. Statistically speaking, Shawn Bradley played for nearly a decade with respectable scoring and rebounding averages while dominating the league in blocked shots. Between 1995-1997 Shawn Bradley was one of the most productive, consistent Centers in the NBA. Philly got a lot more value out of its Shawn Bradley pick than most lottery-bound teams who selected Centers in the seven years that followed.

So, Bill Simmons, the next time you want to take a shot at Shawn Bradley, I've just got one thing to say to you:

GET THAT WEAK STUFF OUTTA HERE!


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