Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Posted: April 9, 2013 by dontbeskerritt in College Basketball, Games, Hockey, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NHL
College Basketball's One Shining Moment

College Basketball’s One Shining Moment

I won’t start this post with a glowing tribute to college basketball.  Before the masterpiece that was the National Championship game, college basketball looked to be in big trouble.  Poor play, awful officiating, coaches kicking players, it was not a good time to be a college basketball defender.  The tournament, with the exception of Florida Gulf Coast and a couple of games here and there, was a clunker.  Even the Michigan-Syracuse game became a letdown, limping to finish behind spotty decision-making on the floor, on the bench, and by the refs.

But then Monday night happened and showed us the best of basketball.

Suddenly this time of year, from the middle of March to June, was shoved back to the forefront as the best time for sport fans.  Forget the beginning of football season, college and pro, or December to February.  This time is the time for sports fans and Monday night reminded us of that.  The game between Michigan and Louisville had athleticism, talent, and coaching all at its best.  A rocking dome, with the Fab Five in attendance added frosting to the cake.  A movie like performance by Spike Albrecht, who came off the bench averaging 1.6 points per game, then proceeded to drop 17 points easily in the first half, then MOP Luke Hancock bringing his team back with 4 straight 3s (and Phil Jackson’s commentary on twitter about momentum).  Then the 2nd half, with Allen Ive- I mean Trey Burke bounce up and down off the canvas trying to push his team to victory (Burke easily was the best player on the court and it wasn’t even close).  Peyton Siva, with an all-world performance in the battle of some of the best backcourts in the country.  In the end, Louisville’s mental toughness won out over Michigan’s youthful exuberance.  The only thing missing was a last-second shot opportunity to cap it off.  What a treat to the sports fans, at least those that were able to stay up and watch.

Even Mascots Love This Time of Year

Even Mascots Love This Time of Year

But this is just the beginning of this glorious time of year.  Baseball started last week, and the storylines are already forming with the Battle of LA, Cano signing with Jay-Z, the Yankees and Red Sox being trash, the Big Red Machine, the two nice Upton Brothers, Washington’s Rise, and the Astros and Marlins competing for being the worst team ever.  This week the Masters starts, and Tiger Woods has his life together seemingly, because he has his game back.  Later this month, the NHL starts their playoffs, which is arguably the most dramatic games of the year, especially if and when the game goes to overtime.  Not to mention the Kentucky Derby at the beginning of May if you like to participate in America’s greatest pastime; gambling.

Finally, in two weeks, the greatest basketball players in the world start their tournament, in what projects to be the another fantastic NBC playoffs.  The West looks wide open, from the number one seed down to the five.  Yes, I included Memphis because not having Rudy Gay makes them better.  Heck, if the Lakers get in (and even me, the diabolical Laker hater wants the purple and gold to get mollywhopped in the playoffs) that could be intriguing at least.  In the East, let’s not pretend we are not dying for a Heat-Knicks showdown in the Conference Finals, especially with Carmelo hitting the B button 7 times, then going up, Y, B before each game.  Just to hear that Madison Square Garden organ in meaningful playoff games (and wins, they’ve only had 1 in 12 years), is life for NBA fans.

From the great sports on TV, great weather outside to turn into a weekend warrior, Iron Man 3, and the return of the sundress, this is probably the greatest time of year for the Mancave  Now if we can get Phil Jackson to tweet all about it to make it even better.

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Opportunity Costs

Posted: December 13, 2012 by dontbeskerritt in Just Turrible, NBA
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Washington Wizards v Houston RocketsBy now, if you are one of the few Wizards fans that haven’t blown their head off, you may have heard about the trade that wasn’t.  As reported by the Washington Post, the Wizards were offered James Harden just for Bradley Beal and Chris Singleton.  The reason the trade was nixed was because Ted Leonsis, the owner, refused to give Harden a max deal which is around 5 years/$80 million.  Now all of these rumors could very well just be hype.  There were rumors of Harden coming to Washington during the draft.  Other teams were also in the mix like the Pacers and Warriors.  And in reality, the package that the Rockets offered the Thunder was better than the Wizards’ so who knows if the Thunder would have signed off on it.  But hear me out on this.

It’s rare that you see what the price would be to make a trade.  For example, remember when there were Gilbert Arenas for Kobe Bryant rumors during the Smush Parker years out west.  At the time, many Wizards did not want to make that trade because they felt Arenas was ascending and Kobe was descending in superstardom.  Looking back now, if the Lakers had really offered that trade, if they even picked up the phone just to kick some ideas, every Wizards fan would jump on it!  That’s called opportunity cost.  What is the price of the next best alternative.  So going back to this Harden trade, to be fair, most fans in October (including myself) would say that Leonsis was right that Harden was not worth the max, especially coming off the Finals.  Also, Beal was suppose to be the next Ray Allen and a lot of people in the organization loved him. But today?  I would throw in Stadium Night Club, mumbo sauce, and some Nike Boots, anything to get Harden on this team.  That’s what makes this news hurt, if it is true.  Because opportunities like this don’t come around.  And opportunities like this cost.

Who knows who leaked this information.  It may be a disgruntled Ernie Grunfeld, who has loved Harden for a long time.  He may have had the trade with the ink drying, and just needed the owner to sign off.  And the owner would not pay for the opportunity.  So this hurts because this goes into what I have been saying for a long time now; what’s the plan?  How can you extend the Arenas shackles with the trade for bums like Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, but not be willing to put out for one of the best shooting guards, if not one of the top 10 best scorers in the league?  And he is only 24! 

I know Leonsis has valued building through the draft.  He did it with the Caps; that team has yet to make it past the second round of the playoffs.  So he is trying it with the NBA.  Doesn’t work my brother.  This is a star driven league.  It is a league where you need at least one max guy; it used to be two until Dallas won in 2011.  But you have to spend money to win championships, unless you get lucky.  And with Grunfeld, you can’t get lucky because you don’t put yourself in a position to get lucky when you draft Jan Vesely with the 6th pick.  And don’t say you can’t get lucky with picks 6-15.  The Golden State Warriors are the eternal late lottery picks.  They are wrecking the league this year!  With Harrison Barnes (7th; Wizards picked Beal #3), Draymond Green (35; Wizards – Satornasky -32!), Klay Thompson (11th; Wizards Vesley 6), and Steph Curry (7th; Wizards traded the 5th pick for Mike Miller and Randy Foye), the Warriors stuck with an actual plan, got knuckleheads (Monta Ellis) off the team and got a coach to build them up.  That’s why they are having early success this season.  However with the Wizards news, we are reminded that the front office are throwing stuff at the wall hoping it would stick.  We’re shedding contracts one minute, we’re trying to lure big ticket stars.  We’re going for youth, we need solid vets.  But what is the true plan to win?  What are the Wizards, especially the owner, really want for this team?

That’s what makes this frustrating as a fan.  Did I expect Harden on this team? Not really.  Did I expect Beal to be better than he has been? Yes.  Am I worried about John Wall? Absolutely.  Do I believe that the front office can do what it takes to put a consistent winner on the floor? I don’t know.  Because great opportunities in the NBA cost; they cost an arm and a leg.  And the Wizards, so far in this new ownership group, have proven they are not willing to put forth the money (and time and energy) needed to acquire it.

The Magic Has Run Out

Posted: November 28, 2012 by dontbeskerritt in Just Turrible, NBA
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Yeah John, I Can’t Watch Either

I attended the Wizards double-OT torture session on Saturday night against the Bobcats.  My anything but lovable loser squad sunk to 0-11 that night, and now sit at 0-12.  That night, the Wizards wasted away multiple opportunities to win the game and to sink back into an irrelevancy that avoids being mocked by the Inside the NBA crew.  First, the having the final shot in regulation,  the Wizards ran a…actually I have no idea what the play was when Jordan Crawford missed badly from the top of the key.  Then in OT, Chris Singleton gets bailed out by the refs on a 3-pt shot down 2, only to miss one of the free throws to keep the game tied.  I don’t think I was shocked, after being tortured for so long, you get used to the pain.  Then, the entire double-OT session was a big clusterf***.  The Wizards, with a 2-pt lead, playing not to lose, shooting terrible shot after terrible shot, until Reggie Williams, who I have never heard of, ended the misery and hit a 3 to put the Bobcats up for good.  I won’t even describe the last-minute of double-OT.  I don’t want you to feel the pain I feel after every Wizards game.

Coach Randy Wittman, one of the few refreshing things about this garbage pail of a season, says he doesn’t have the answers.  I admire his honesty; even though he is pretty much saying that he is not a good coach.  He gets his team to play hard; they don’t run plays but they play hard.  He hasn’t had a consistent starting 5 or rotation but hey, the team makes valiant comebacks after being down 20+ on some nights.  I mean we could have had Jerry Sloan or Nate McMillian but I guess it’s easier to have a scapegoat on the bench instead of a real coach.  So there’s that.

No Randy, you don’t have the answers on the court.  That is because the organization doesn’t have the answers off the court.  Bradley Beal, our 3rd pick in the draft looks every bit of a 19-year-old rookie, from not being ready to catch and shoot which is why we drafted him (multiple times on Saturday he dropped the pass preventing an easy spot-up 3).  Jan Vesely, our 6th pick in 2011 has 30 fouls and 29 points so far this season.  There’s nothing that I have seen that justifies him being a draft pick.  He would make a great undrafted free agent.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he was out of the league in 5 years. I wish I was joking.  John Wall, our first pick in 2010, is hurt and who knows when he’s coming back.  Who made a decision on these guys?  Someone that doesn’t have all the answers either.

It’s the same guy who gave Gilbert Arenas a $100+ million dollar contract despite being injured with a bad knee.  It’s the same guy that hung onto assets for too long when the ship was sinking so he couldn’t get the most bang for his buck.  It’s the same guy who brought in Nick Young, Javale McGee and public enemy #1 Andray Blatche.  It’s the same guy who made the brilliant move to trade Arenas for Rashard Lewis, freeing up money for free agency sooner rather than later, only to trade that asset to get back the money shackle in the form of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza until 2014.  It’s all explained here.   This was all in the name for veteran leadership this young team desperately needed to grow. Guess where Okafor and Ariza was in the critical moments against the Bobcats?  On the bench next to the coaches.  So much for that veteran leadership.  Oh yes, we could have had Elton Brand (coming off one of his best seasons), Omer Asik (one of the better rebounders right now) or Dorell Wright (shooter extraordinaire).

No, Randy you don’t have the answers.  But you are not alone.  The architect of this wandering in the wilderness doesn’t either.  And the owner, who allowed him to stay another season doesn’t.  Well, on his blog he has one answer.  Ted Leonsis said that his two point guards (A.J. Price and Shaun Livingston) had 0 assists.  In 58 minutes, our two point guards combined for 0 assists!  Nene had 3 by himself! But who gave our two point guards contracts?  Who is supposed to put them in the best position to get assists?  One of the guys, Randy Wittman, admits he doesn’t have the answer.  The other guy has proved for years that he is clueless himself.

Tonight, my Wizards play the Blazers, probably our last chance to avoid 0-18; the standard for ineptitude set by the Nets a couple of years ago.  We get to see Damian Lillard, one of the great rookies right now.  We get to see Nik Batum another free agent the Wizards could have snagged with the Ariza/Okafor money.  We get to see another team organized better and coached better than the Wizards.  On the court and off the court the magic has run out on everyone in this organization.  I hope that the man pulling the strings can find the right answers.

06 Things We’re Looking for This NBA Season

Posted: November 14, 2012 by dontbeskerritt in NBA
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For the first time ever, this mancaver is getting NBA League Pass as soon as the free trial ends as soon as the NFL season winds down as soon as he gets his money right.  This is a breakthrough for me because I always thought a one minute highlight on Sportscenter was enough to get a good jist on the goings on in the league.  Well since ESPN went Tebow on me, I can’t count on them for quality NBA breakdowns.  Besides, the league product has never been better!  Every night, from coast to coast will be a blockbuster night, even a random Golden State vs Houston game.  Besides, it’s better than being in misery just watching my Bullets play.  With this new anticipation for the season, here are the top 6 things I am looking forward to this NBA season.

Ok, I wrote all of that a couple of days before the NBA season.  Because of other duties, problems, general laziness, etc., I have been unable to complete this post until today.  So I will do a two-week update of all the notes I had written down before the season started.

1. “As his hairline has retreated, his game has completed.” – That’s what Walt Frazier said about LeBron James.  Anyone else excited/anxious/nervous about LeBron’s ceiling now that he has blown away the money off of his back with his phenomenal 2012? As a general basketball fan, whose team is out of it before the season begins, I’m in the first group; I know a lot of Celtics and Lakers fans who middle in the 2nd and 3rd group.  Any which way you stand, we will all be witnesses.
Update: A ho-hum start in South Beach. The Heat are 6-2, Lebron is averaging 23.7 PPG (5th), 10.0 RPG (10th), and 6.1 APG (22nd).  Ray Allen has hit a game-winner and Rajon Rondo has tried to take out Dwyane Wade.  It’s like last season never ended.

2. Does It Really Never Rain In Southern California? – I honestly don’t understand how the Lakers, with all of their cap problems at the end of last season, could enter this season with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.  Oh yeah they only gave up Andrew Bynum and picks.  So I guess, we’ll see a Heat-Lakers finals?  That will be fun, but I kind of want a surprise at the end.  And the Clippers can give us one.  Chris Paul is back and healthy alongside Chauncy Billups.  Blake Griffin was banged up this offseason but should be fine now.  Getting veterans Grant Hill and Lamar Odom, and even the jacker Jamal Crawford makes them intriguing.                                                                                                                                                       Update: Lakers start 1-4 and the world explodes.  Charles Barkley uses the Lakers to deliver the quote of the year “I’ve always said I want my accountants from Princeton, not my offense.” Mike D’Antoni will try to pretend to coach defense.  Clippers lead the Pacific.  Did I mention the world exploded when the Lakers started 1-4?

The Beard God has a new Temple

3. How the West Will Be Fun – This year’s Western Conference is the very reason to get League Pass.  There are a lot of intriguing teams out there.  The reigning conference champs, the Thunder, are an afterthought, even when they dealt James Harden to the Rockets.  The Nuggets are still dangerous with better perimeter defense and athleticism.  Dallas has made some subtle moves, and Memphis is still a solid squad with guys who they hope will have improved their game.  Utah and Golden State are interesting.  If Minnesota can get back Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love; they can really become the NBA’s Great White Hype.  And of course I forgot the Spurs, who is just bore everyone to 50+ wins and home court in the first round, again.                                                              Update: Utah and Golden State are awesome squads that will fall apart by January.  Minnesota is 5-2.  Kevin Martin is actually pretty good with the Thunder.  San Antonio has only one loss, but who really cares. And we may have to add Houston to this list, despite the small sample size.  Jeremy Lin is so lucky.

4. “We’re doing it every way you can do it. If we were a sex manual, it’d be a best-seller.” – This was actually Jim Carrey Rick Carlisle talking about the Dallas Mavericks.  But I’m going to use it for my Wizards.  Last year, they lost in every way possible.  Giving up, blowing leads, running back on defense when they team was on offense, the basics.  But my beef is with the front office, because it seems that the team is building in every which way you can, the last 7 years.  After great successes through 2004-08, the franchise never took the opportunity to get better, thinking that a Arenas/Butler/Jamison nucleus could really win a title.  They thought Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas could really help them in May and June.  After that plan fizzled with Arenas’s knee, the team went young with projects alongside veterans.  That didn’t work.  Then the team went super young, with a coach that was here to coach veterans.  Andray Blatche got fat.  Now the franchise is back with bringing in more professional NBA players, alongside promising young players.  I really wish that my team would stick with one plan and roll with it until the end. While I cannot stand Ernie Grunfeld, this is a team that could contend for an 8th spot if John Wall turns from solid NBA player to a superstar, and Bradley Beal can bring his shooting touch.  I will be watching.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Update: The Wizards are 0-6.  Wall and NeNe are still hurt.  I haven’t watched a full game from start to finish yet. Javale McGee shrugs.

5. ESPN on the Screen – I’m not just a sports geek.  I’m a sports media geek.  I don’t usually say that because being a sports geek is one thing; being a sports media geek means you probably have a lot of lonely Saturday nights watching west coast NBA basketball.  Anyway, I’m excited for what they are going to do at ESPN for their pregame shows.  Jon Barry and Chris Broussard are gone.  They could have stopped right there.  Now they are bringing in Bill Simmons and Stan Van Gundy.  Now I’m excited.  Then they dumped Van Gundy and brought in Jalen Rose.  Fist pump!  ESPN won’t be TNT, but theit studio show won’t be a torture chamber listening to Magic Johnson speak.                                                                                                                                                                            Update: The first gem from Jalen actually came while he was on Sportscenter.  Keep it real, brother.  Oh yeah, here are some great NBA follows on twitter this season; @WojYahooNBA, @JaValeMcGee34, @JonesOnTheNBA, @ZachLowe_NBA, @mcuban

6. Last Men Standing – For the Eastern and Westen Conference Finals I got Miami and Boston again, and the Lakers and Thunder.  For my finals matchup.  I got….damn it don’t matter, I got Mr. James hoisting the trophy again.                                                                                                                       Update: If the Mayans don’t end the world, the Lakers being under .500 at Christmas and giving up close to 100 points per game will.  So you have nothing to worry about LeBron haters.

NBA Offseason: It’s Fan-Tastic!!!

Posted: August 14, 2012 by dontbeskerritt in NBA
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If You Cry Long Enough, You Get What You Want

I wanted to hold this piece to see where Dwight Howard would end up.  After about a week of Orlando being in standby mode, I was going to just go ahead and send this out with Howard still in Florida.  Good thing I have some patience.  In the heat of the Olympics, as the weekend approached, twitter blew up with the 4-team bonanza that would give the Lakers 4 Olympians in their starting lineup.  The capped off a riveting offseason with All-Stars being traded, mediocre teams making power moves, mediocre teams making self-destructive moves, and the world champs getting better by grabbing one of the best shooters of all-time from their archrivals.  And most basketball fans were glued to the internet to follow it.  I never remembered an offseason like this where people paid so much attention to free agency.  It usually went NBA Finals, NBA Draft, then see you in October, unless you were hardcore and you watched Summer League.  So how did this new era come to be.  I’ll start this 3-point play with the answer

“I Knew What I Was Doing the Whole Time”

1) The Decision Strikes Again – LeBron James keeps winning doesn’t he?  It’s because of his announcement 2 years ago that we keep our eyes on the NBA all-year long.  As super teams are created (and destroyed), fans look to see how their teams keep up with the Joneses (or should I say Heatles).  As we say the Lakers do this week, it makes for amazing speculation, adoration, and pontification (ironically, a Stephen A. Smith word) as rumors for trades and signings spread.  So no matter what you think about LeBron, he keeps on making this league more and more fantastic.

2) Gotta Make It Happen – I’ve been getting into arguments with Renzuno about strategies the 99% of teams in the NBA that are doomed to perpetual mediocrity as the same 6-8 teams are in contention and 2-4 can actually win the whole thing.  You have to have a top 10 player to even be in the running.  So teams like Denver, Brooklyn, Houston and Philadelphia that are stuck in mediocrity had to make a move because 8th seed in the playoffs every year just sucks.  3 of those 4 teams got richer this offseason, 1 died trying.  Denver’s new GM is a genius to get a hyper-athletic defenseman in Andre Iguodala to go with that fun crew out in the mountains.  Iguodala is really a homeless man’s LeBron, being able to affect play on the entire length of the court.  That’s why he usually is on the top of the list in triple-doubles and is an all-world defender.  Philadelphia got the 2nd best center in the league and the best center in the East.  Too bad he is a knucklehead, and his personality won’t work in the city of Brotherly Love, but Philly just got really interesting.  Even Brooklyn went from having Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband open the new arena on Flatbush, to having a potential 4 or 5 seed team for the next couple of years. Now Houston, well you can’t fault them for trying.  Except for the fact they swapped Kyle Lowery for Jeremy Lin and cut Luis Scola only to sign Omer Asik, I admire their offseason.  Ok, admire is a strong word, but in this NBA you got to take some risks to get yourself in the pool for the title.  It’s the American.

3) The 1% – Well, the Lakers went from old and slow, to 4 Olympians. That’s right, 4.  Even Oklahoma City and Miami only has 3.  Speaking of Miami, they get Ray Allen, because teams with 2 of the greatest slashers and scorers in the league don’t need one of the all-time great shooters.  James Harden and Russell Westbrook got to refine their game with the US Basketball team, which Oklahoma City hopes will affect them the way it affected Carmelo and Chris Paul in 2008.  Boston was able to let Ray Allen go, but pick up Jason Terry and steal Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger in the draft.  The Knicks stay relevant with a decent pickups in Marcus Camby, Ray Felton and Ronnie Brewer.  Chicago gets Kirk Hinrich back.  Meanwhile my Wizards are throwing out Emeka Okafor, a guy I haven’t heard from since 2009 in Trevor and have less cap flexibility than when they had the corpses of Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis.  Is there some conspiracy to keep the big market teams on top? Or do they know what they are doing more than the other guys?  Whatever is going on in the NBA, David Stern loves it, because his sport has turned into a 365-day show.

When I saw LeBron James take off his dishtowel, or whatever type of headband he had on, I knew that we all had crossed a threshold.  As this article so eloquently put it, it’s all about basketball now.  No more ringless King comments, the clutch gene has been removed from our sports biology books.  Even hairline jokes now become a little hollow.  All of commentary about LeBron that had now become noise during a playoff run where he averaged 30.3 pts, 9.7 reb, and 5.6 ast, could now be sopped up by that headband, tossed aside, and be replaced with the 2012 NBA Crown.  Even as a LeBron hater, especially last year, I found myself wishing he could just win the title (or at least hit a game winning shot) just to end the boring insults that James constantly gets despite superhuman performances night in and night out.  For LeBron, you can see that what people say won’t matter too much anymore; you have receding hairline, so what?  You are the greatest basketball player on the planet and now an NBA champion.

It’s back to basketball now.  We can talk about Miami’s great defense against an offensive juggernaut in the Thunder.  We can talk about how reports of Dwyane Wade’s demise were greatly exaggerated.  We can talk about the Thunder showing their youth in this entire series, looking a lot like what the Heat did last year against the Mavericks.  We can talk about the defiant stare Kevin Durant gave the camera after he wept on his mother’s shoulder.  We can talk about Russell Westbrook, and how he is the Fire to Durant’s Ice, a man who when the chips are down, will still compete with a will to win like none other.

Let’s talk about Pat Riley (“the greatest leader of Black Men” – Chris Rock) and his vision for this day 2 years ago.  How he trusted Erik Spoelstra and the Heat even though everyone else said that Spoelstra would be gone and the team broken up while they were still playing playoff games!  Let’s talk about the role players who finally came through, making Game 5 look like a cakewalk.  Mike Miller has been saving those shots since he was a Wizard!

Finally, we can talk about LeBron James.  Not about sports psychologists or his mom or whatever else used to be cool to talk about.  Let’s talk about how he may have been the most underappreciated athlete of all time, in an era when we have the most access to athletes.  But for the majority of us now, that changes.  Because everything else doesn’t matter anymore.  It’s just basketball from here on out; and it’s about damn time.

Actually, I have to say one thing.  Chris Bosh what are you doing here?  What a minute, you know what?  You just won the NBA Title.  Just be yourself and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise lol.

We picked this Finals series and picked Miami to win earlier in the year so we’ll stick by our guns.  Heat in 7, LeBron James finally gets the monkey (namely Skip Bayless) off of his back.  But what we truly are rooting for is a great, hard-fought series.  What we fantasize for is the birth of a new decades-old rivalry between Kevin Durant and LeBron, similar to the 1980s rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.  What we anticipate is basketball at its best; not worried about clutch genes, being a closer, and other made-up media storylines which take away from the fan’s enjoyment of the game.  What we predict is an electric two weeks of ball.  See you on twitter at 9pm.