"Happy birthday to me, yeah." (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Need a break from your BRI's and MLE's and NBPA's and your FU David Stern's? 

Whhoooooo-weeeeeee ladies and gentlemen gather around and let us discuss a basketball player who is actually playing basketball!  

It was Gani Lawal's 23rd birthday on Monday, and what could be a better birthday present than to receive high praise from your coach and the national media about your dominating level of play?  How about receiving high praise from a foreign coach named Tomasz Jankowski and the national media of Poland - a country that had no idea who you were six 4 months prior?  That's kind of cool eh?

Okay - so a better birthday present would be to receive that kind of praise from the likes of Alvin Gentry, and the national media of the US, who cover that one league that's really popular everywhere in the world and not just in Poland... but given the current circumstances of the NBA, that's a pipe-dream to be wished upon a star that even the Blue Fairy of Pinocchio couldn't bring to life.  

The reality is - with the NBA locked-out - this is as great of a compliment a young player could get and we should be proud as fans of Lawal's achievements.  Gani plays in the Tauron Basket League in Poland for a team called Zastal Zielona Gora, and currently he is sporting an impressive stat-line of 16.9 ppg and 11.7 rpg. 

Coach Jankowski refers to him as "the top big in the league" and as "a Dragon" in the paint.   We once had a Dragon, and now we have another...  So how do you train your dragon?  Because we traded our last Dragon away after giving up on his progress.   Let's figure it out after the jump.

Apparently the Dreamworks film was on to something (On a side note - I recommend this movie to all, definitely a good wholesome animated movie that will make you laugh).  You see in the movie, we're shown your dragon has to become injured before you can acquire a trust with it to a point where it will take instructions and open up emotionally and perform for you. 

Gani blew out his ACL early last season - and while injured, a bigger fire burned deep within him mentally and emotionally - his focus on recovery and improving his game was heightened (not to mention his NBA team turned around this year and lottery drafted some competition for him at PF in Markieff Morris).   We are now seeing the results in his play for TBL. 

My friends - unlike our familiar Dragon of the past, Gani Lawal can bite.  This is not only evidenced by his brawl in a League scrimmage earlier this year but also attested by his Phoenix Suns teammates - especially Channing Frye who I've personally heard call Gani a 'dirty' player in practice (all with a smile of course).  That's the kind of Dragon in the paint we want, a bludgeoning fire-breather.

Now let's have a little fun.  I'm guessing Gani won't like the nickname 'Dragon' as he prefers to be called "G"... but our community here at Bright Side of the Sun is always in need of multiple nicknames and whatnot for our players.  Let's take a look at some famous dragons and if they represent G properly and maybe we can find a good meaningful pet name for G.

First up -

Name: Toothless

Story: He's the dragon in the Dreamworks film "How to train your Dragon" that the main character Hiccup catches and tames.  He's a Night Fury dragon - one of the most feared by the Viking people and one of the most intelligent dragon species out there.  In the movie it turns out that once tame - Toothless is a softy at heart but a warrior when it's time to do work.

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Euty-take: Gani fits the role... he got injured like Toothless, he's a soft-spoken and humble guy on the outside but a warrior when it comes to throwing down a dunk or fighting for a rebound.   I'm not sold that anyone would want to be called 'Toothless' though...

Name: Spyro

Story: Spyro's a dragon in the 1998 video game Spyro the Dragon, the Legend of Spyro. Spyro is a young, purple Dragon with large curved horns, a spiral-shaped spike on the tip of his tail, and spines resembling a mohawk.

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Euty-Take: Nah.  Too cartoony and kind of dumb.  Just wanted to take all you gamer Bright Siders out there on a journey back in time. 

Name: Hydra of Lerna

Story: Oh baby, the Hydra is a Greek Mythology dragon that had lot's of heads, and when you went to cut off one of the heads - two would grow back.   This bad boy would come out of the swamp - eat entire herds or flocks of animals and just drop absolute terror and the vicinity of Lerna.  So what happened?  Dude Heracles traveled to the swamps, drew the beast out of it's lair by shooting flaming arrows at it... sliced off a bunch of it's heads and burned the bloody stumps so more heads wouldn't grow back, then he cut off the main head - said to be immortal - and he buried it deep in the ground and covered it with rocks... and the Hydra's bellowing screeches can be heard to this day... 

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Euty-take: Hydra would be a pretty cool nickname, if Gani ever develops a jump shot or a back to the basket game we could say his game had many faces, or many heads and he really could be like the Hydra... 

Name: Bahamut

Story: Bahamut also known as "the King Dragon" is the beast of all dragon beasts in both Dungeons and Dragons and also the very popular Final Fantasy video game series.  Not too sure what the Dragon's role is in D&D, but I know I can speak for FF when I say that Bahumut was a Dragon familiar that could be summoned by your characters to absolutely poop all over your opponents.  Just watch this clip and you'll get the idea.


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Euty-take:  Bahumut is by far my favorite dragon, he's just beastly.  I think this one takes my vote, I can imagine the Leander call - "G-man with the Slam and boy can he bomb it like Bahumut - that's why they call him the Dragon" 

Alright enough of this... now that I've exposed my extremely nerdy side to you all I want you to comment and make this post have more comments than Alex and EBR's lame lock-out posts because it's like a bajillion times cooler.

Poll
Which Dragon best fits Gani Lawal?

  155 votes | Results




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NBA Lockout Talks Keep On Plugging, And We Keep On Waiting

The next time someone complains about how boring the regular season can be, remind them of the NBA lockout. Also: why the players are fighting so hard against limits on the use of the mid-level exception.

By Tom Ziller


In hopeful anticipation of the NBA lockout coming to an end, let’s revisit one of last season’s major themes: super teams. LeBron made his “Decision” and formed the Heat’s version of the Big Three...

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NBPA President Derek Fisher speaks at today's press conference in NYC

The NBPA's Executive Committee met with player representatives today to discuss the league's latest CBA offer, which commissioner David Stern has publicly stated will be the best deal offered and that their next proposal would be even more favorable for owners. Stern issued an ultimatum that if the players didn't agree to this proposal by 5PM EST tomorrow, the next round of negotiations would begin with owners offering a lesser deal.

Players rejected the proposal and don't appear intimidated by Stern's threat. However, union president Derek Fisher did indicate that the 50/50 basketball-related income (BRI) split would be acceptable to players, if they could get some more favorable terms on other system issues (mid-level exception and luxury tax among them).

Said Fisher, as per Howard Beck of the New York Times:

"We’re open-minded about potential compromises on our number," Fisher said, referring to the revenue share for the players. "But there are things in the system that are not up for discussion, that we have to have, in order to be able to get this season going again."

It might seem alarming that players announced rejection of this deal in the face of Stern's deadline and chatter of union decertification among some players, but nothing else could really have been expected. Of course they weren't going to announce that they would accept the owners' proposal outright. That would be unconditional surrender, and there's still another day for the union to try to wring something else from the owners. And that's if we're taking Stern's threat seriously; more time if not. There's nothing special about Wednesday, November 9 except that Stern chose this arbitrary date to set his deadline.

UPDATE 11/9/11 10:40AM PST : According to several reports, owners and players are meeting in NYC hotel today for negotiations.

UPDATE II 11/9/11 2:02PM PST: Stern's 5PM EST "deadline" passes, sides still meeting. Real deadline is at the end of today's session.

More......

That the union seems willing to accept the 50/50 split is reason for optimism, depending upon how much separation still truly exists on those system issues. There was also reportedly little to no discussion of decertifying the union, a move that would throw the process into chaos and legal purgatory, in today's meeting.

No meeting between owners and the union is scheduled yet for tomorrow, but it's hard to imagine there won't be one. And it's possible the owners throw the players some small bone on the system issues and, by this time tomorrow, we're all celebrating that NBA basketball will be back by mid-December.

However, I don't think that will happen. Even the current "best offer" from the owners, the one that the players rejected today is not enough of a victory for some hard-line owners, tweeted ESPN's Chris Broussard. According to Broussard:

The owners on the call included Michael Jordan, Paul Allen and Herb Kohl. They are hoping the players reject the offer, sources said...The owners fear the player reps meeting in NYC Tuesday will push for approval of the deal. David Stern was not on the conference call. The hard-line owners prefer the alternative deal that will go into effect Wed if players reject 50/50 - 47 pct, flex cap, contract rollbacks

More posturing from the owners? Perhaps. But it seems like there is at least a decent-sized chunk of owners who really won't mind losing a lot of, or maybe all of this season. Even this "almost" deal we have here is unacceptable to the hard-liners on each side. Maybe I've just been burned with dashed hopes too many times before, but I don't see this settlement happening tomorrow. (Oh, by the way, am I  the only one who was relieved not to see Robert Sarver mentioned in that Broussard tweet?)

Poll
Will NBA owners and the players union agree to a handshake deal by 5PM EST tomorrow?

  217 votes | Results


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