Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Slight Change In Plans.

Well you've probably noticed that I haven't blogged here for some time.
There's been a slight change in structure. I've started blogging again, but I've started a tumblr blog called By Duane Watson over at Over there I'm writing about whatever comes to mind, as well as basketball related stuff too. I'll re-populate the hoops content over here as well, or you can just migrate yourself over there.

Just wanted to keep you abreast of things.


Saturday, April 10, 2010


Marcus Thornton gets a good one on Gerald Wallace... I mean G-Dub hits the ground so hard on this one. Jeez

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Bad Luck Bucks.

I don't get what kind of curse the Milwaukee Bucks have incurred upon themselves.

First, Michael Redd, has a season ending injury.

Recently, Carlos Delfino takes a nasty fall.

Now, Andrew Bogut...

Two words stand out from this clip "Theisman category."
It's a shame, they were having a great season too.

Friday, April 2, 2010

No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson.

ESPN's awesome sports documentary, 30 for 30 series continues with a film on the enigmatic Allen Iverson. But the story here is his life in Virginia pre-Georgetown, pre-NBA, when one night changed a high school athlete's life and the after effects surrounding it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Secret Behind Nike Air.

I love a good a commercial, or in 2010 we'll say viral video. This one breaks down the science that behind all of the air in the air bubbles, of your air max, zoom air, etc, is the actual (breathing) air of Nike athletes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Toronto Media All-Stars Bounce For Youth.

The fact that I'm considered a Toronto Media All-Star is somewhat funny I admit, but that doesn't stop me from getting my game on and representing. Especially when it's a good cause, the first time I played with this squad it was to raise funds for relief support in Haiti, this time it's for the community.

(Brampton, Ontario) Popular media and sport personalities bounced for youth this past weekend with an exciting all star basketball game against local high school players at Fletcher's Meadows Secondary School in Brampton.

With 33 seconds left in the game, the Youth Leadership Team representing One Voice One Team had 4 attempts to drain threes only to come up empty before an ever-excited crowd enabling the Toronto Media All Stars to pull out a 59 - 55 victory. Mike Kennedy, a personal coach and local TV basketball analyst led the way with 22 points while Matte Babel of CP24 and AOL - Sway Magazine writer Duane Watson chipped in with 10 points apiece. Contributions from Toronto Argonaut players Tyler Scott and Matt Black, WNBA bound 6'6 forward Katie Ward and Dana McKiel of Rogers TV rounded out the scoring. Darren Thomas, a Rogers TV colour analyst while rehabbing from a knee injury was on the bench in a coaching capacity.

The game was a pinnacle of a very active day for One Voice One Team, a youth leadership development organization founded by former CFLer Orlando Bowen which featured key note speakers and legendary football stars Chuck Ealey and Pinball Clemons. Among other recognizable faces in the crowd included ex-Argo all stars Clifford Ivory and Adrion Smith as well as Elite Model's Stacey Coke.

The game concludes the Toronto Media All Star season while assisting local school, community and charitable organizations with donations in excess of $240,000 since 1996.

Editors note: I dropped like 15 pts, 6 rebs and 7 assts in this game. There was no scoresheet, and the point that I was playing against high school kids means nothing, LOL.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meet The New Owner of the New Jersey Nyets.

Mikhail Prokhorov is the Russian tycoon that everyone is talking about and the man who will be getting the Nets to Brooklyn. With his cash infusion of a cool $200 M, he'll have an 80% stake in the worst team in the league, inheriting possibly the worst record in NBA history, (the Nets 9 wins, are currently tied for the lowest wins ever). Congratulations Mikhail.

Anytime you're on the Forbes list (#40), people are aware of how you earned your money, and likely even more interested in how you've been spending it. A recent story on 60 Minutes profiled Prokhorov and didn't really glean anything that you couldn't find online. Not that I'm knocking 60 Minutes, but what I really want to know is what he plans to do with the Nets, particularly with all their flexibility under the cap, how he plans on drawing free agents, a coach and possibly a GM. After being behind Euroleague Champions CSKA Moscow, the 6'8 oligarch can't really employ the money talks strategy to buy a team's success. The NBA has a salary cap... and David Stern will take your money, but he won't take any bull.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March Madness for Chill Magazine.

What a great weekend for college hoops, the excitement and unpredictability is why we watch the tourney. I haven't filled a bracket out in a while and with good reason, sometimes its just too hard to call. Part of my assignment writing this story was to provide my Final Four picks as a sidebar the end of January! I really wanted to go with 'Cuse instead of Villanova, but I didn't... now look at me, just as dejected as the Jayhawks and Wildcats. Two of my Final Four picks are already eliminated, but it's some great ball regardless. I also spoke with Chicago Bull and Syracuse alumni Hakim Warrick and Raptor PG and Georgia Tech grad Jarret Jack for some insight on their Final Four experiences. Peep it here and flip to pages 36 - 38.

Also, check out a great piece by one of my favourite writers Dave Zirin on NCAA and former UCLA standout Ed O'Bannon as the lead plantiff in a lawsuit to force the NCAA to pay royalties to its former players.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jay Triano for Chill Magazine.

I recently interviewed Jay Triano for Chill Magazine. My goal was to get a little more insight on the man behind the bench, who is the first and only Canadian coach in the league. With the Raptors recent slide, this season is definitely proving to be a disappointment for many. While Triano has graded himself a "C" on the season, he is still focused on bringing an NBA Championship to Canadian soil. Check out the story here and flip to pages 32 & 33.


The ABDB Archives: EA Games - The Live Effect.

Further to my previous post, I'm continuing my hoops video game stories that I dusted off. Over a year ago, I wrote a couple of stories for handle magazine out of Australia. Unfortunately, the magazine folded just as the issue was to be published, and the stories have been in my archives until now. But inspired by the recent return of NBA Jam, I'm sharing the story of NBA Live and an interview with the game's Producer Sean O'Brien.

Thirty years ago, Atari introduced arcade patrons to a black and white, 2-D, polyphonic tone scored video game, with two non-descript characters ingeniously named Basketball,. In 1983 a small developer named Electronic Arts released One on One which pitted Dr. J against Larry Bird with better graphics, a truer game experience on both sides of the ball and backboard shattering dunks, much to the dismay of the potty mouthed janitor who cleaned up the mess. This would be the beginning of EA setting the sports gaming world on it’s ear.

In 1998, One on One was succeeded by Jordan vs. Bird: One on One, which delivered better gaming intelligence, animation and added Slam Dunk and 3 Point Contests. EA debuted NBA Playoffs, their NBA licensed five on five game in 1989, which would then evolve into the most successful basketball video game of all time, selling over 20 million units to date… NBA Live.

NBA Live producer Sean O’Brien shares his introduction to the seminal game. “I went to college in Vancouver and played basketball,” he says. “My coach at the time was Jay Triano, (Toronto Raptors, interim head coach), who had a really good relationship with the Live production team. In 1996, my point guard and I were the first motion capture talent for NBA Live, which was for Live ’97. That was the first time motion capture was introduced into sports games. We spent 3 or 4 weeks that spring and I think they paid us $8 an hour and went back and did the same thing next year.”

Despite EA’s innovations, NBA players felt that the game hadn’t entirely done them justice. “We get feedback all the time,” O’Brien says. “When the Grizzlies were in Vancouver, Mike Bibby who’s a huge gamer, was choked that he couldn’t dunk in Live 2002 or 2003, and was telling me he can dunk and was quite serious about it, ‘I don’t do it in games very often, but I can throw down a one hander or a two hander.’ He went on this very serious discussion about why he should have a dunk rating in NBA Live and he was disappointed he couldn’t do it. Delonte West two summers ago was complaining about the same thing, but he took it a step further when he was dong motion capture in our studios. He was actually showing us he can dunk, which made it a little harder to argue when you see it first hand. We hooked him up a little bit.” NBA Live has once again taken steps to deliver a true to life gaming experience this year with the inclusion of Dynamic DNA. Synergy Sports Technology works with 25 of the 30 teams in the league providing hard current data on NBA players, teams and their tendencies. This information will be constantly updated online to give an accurate and up to the moment reflection of the league within the game itself.

While some NFL players are ducking the opportunity to be on the cover of Madden due to it’s history of cover athletes succumbing to injury, Live has NBA players lining up. O’Brien explains his theory why, “It’s kind of like the new age Wheaties box. The idea of back in the day seeing Jordan or your favourite Olympic athlete on the Wheaties box is pretty cool, and now the same thing holds true for video games. It’s an acknowledgement that they’ve arrived.” But don’t think just because you’re an NBA All-Star or because you can “whip anybody’s ass at NBA Live” you can make the cover, there are a number of different criteria. “Of course, how hot they are right now, how well they are playing and popularity is factored in. Often times we try and get ahead of the curve, if there’s an up and coming guy who may not have put in his 7 or 8 years in the league and received the accolades, but is someone to watch, that’s always good too. Ultimately, you really want someone who wants to work with you. Whether marketing and promotion is involved, you want a player who believes in your product, and knows a little bit about the space and understands his role in how to promote it.”

For quite some time the reputation of the brand promoted itself. NBA Live monopolized the basketball gaming world on the Play Station, Genesis, Dreamcast, Nintendo, Super NES and PC platforms, but things changed when NBA 2K came on the scene in 1999. Offering an alternative, the video game giant suddenly had stiff competition, many feel NBA Live has yet to recover. “Competition is always a good thing, it’s healthy, I like to know that there’s someone else out there that’s trying to kick our butts,” O’Brien says. “We both took two very different strategies when the 360 and the PS3 came about. Essentially, we rewrote a bunch of technology that is going to set us up for the future, we hope more so than 2K. They basically ported a lot of their tech and upgraded a lot of their art, and have done a great job and that’s why you’ve seen a more consistent offering in quality of game play over the last couple of years. I think when NBA Live ’10 ships this October we’re going to reap the benefits of all of the technology upgrades we’ve done. I hope that the trend moving forward is that Live is back and where it should be and gets stronger in the years coming.”

With EA’s short term strategy for a return to greatness, will the backboard shattering dunks make a comeback in NBA Live? “It was a pretty fun thing,” O’Brien says. “I don’t think the league is too pumped on us doing things like that now. I don’t know this for a fact, but the idea behind us showcasing deficiencies in a product that the league is partnered with is frowned upon a little bit.” So while the NBA are being bureaucratic killjoys, Live continues to strive to develop the most authentic gaming experience out there. “Just like anything, you get used to something one year, you want it better the next. When you get 10 plus years into something, the expectations have obviously grown tenfold,” O’Brien says. “When we started it was: ‘Hey it’s kind of cool that I can play a sports video game.’ To: ‘Hey I really want my sports video game to do everything I expect a sport to do.' Whether it’s a player in the sport or the options within it. We’ve come a long way in thirty years."

The ABDB Archives: NBA Jam

A year ago, I wrote a couple of stories on basketball video games for handle magazine out of Australia. Unfortunately, the magazine folded just as the issue was to be published, and the stories have been in my archives until now. But as I'm excited about the return of one of the best video games ever, NBA Jam, I decided to bring them out.

It's actually an intro, but I feel the trailer for the new Jam game speaks for itself.
In the early 90’s the acquisition of the NBA license, with the inclusion of team names, logos, uniforms and player likenesses took video games one more step towards realism. NBA Jam and NBA Live pioneered arcade and console gaming respectively, opening the floodgates for others to follow.

Midway’s NBA Jam in 1993 was the first licensed NBA arcade game, offering a superhuman animated experience of sky high dunks and spectacular shots, with the only hold barred being goaltending… everything else was fair game. With two-man rosters of all the NBA teams, (minus Michael Jordan), the characters you controlled actually resembled the athletes, while the colour commentary, particularly, “He’s on fire”, was permanently ingrained into the basketball lexicon. Generating over 1 billion dollars in its original run, it crystallized basketball and video games’ rich history together.

If Jam was the pre-season, NBA Live was the Finals. EA Sports set a new standard for console gaming in 1995, building on the platform of 1990’s, Lakers vs. Celtics, with better graphics and game play. NBA Live ‘95 started the iconic franchise which has sold over 20 million copies globally, and offered all of the league rosters, players, and signature moves, becoming the truest five on five basketball simulator out there.