Shav Randolph & Wal-Mart

January17/ 2000

… Continuing our recent tradition of disjointed mini-vignette commentaries; today we shine the Swagger laser beam on (1) the Shavlik Randolph situation; NOT just another K-Konspiracy, and (2) is Wal-Mart even worse for America than the WNBA and aluminum bats?  There seems to be increasing concern over the Bentonville behemoth.  A BobLee buddy supplies vital intell from The Port of Long Beach. 

    When Shavlik Randolph first announced he was going to “test the NBA waters” I jumped in like everyone else with the skinny Duke white boy jokes.  I still think my “Sean Bradley will finally have someone he can beat up” was the best line anyone came up with, but I am biased.

    The latest development is, of course, that he IS going to enter the draft.  He did not opt out at the June 20th deadline.  He is sticking by his original “I have a dream” rationale.  That’s cool, I have a dream too that my book will magically appear on the NY Times bestseller list next week.  Both Shav and I better have back-up dreams.

   Kid has chums who knew Shav at Broughton High.  I have talked at length with them and never heard even the slightest “but” about the young man as to his sterling character, sincerity, and general Boy Scout qualities.  If he were 6’2” he would be entering his senior year at a good school and weighing post-graduate opportunities to join some bank management trainee program and/or to squeeze one more hideaway “grad school” year on campus before engaging that unforgiving beast known as “life”.  But he is 6’10” and a former McDAA that means he is “different”.

    Two weeks ago I was checking out a “24” DVD at our local Blockbuster and Chuck Nevitt walked in (True Story).  He must be mid 40s by now and is still 7’ 4”+ and maybe 220 with a cinder block in each pocket.  He also has a couple of “rings” for holding down the far end of the Lakers bench back when Paula Abdul was gyrating for Kareem, Magic, and James.  He is proof that “just being really tall” CAN be enough in the right situation in the NBA.  I suspect Shav would take a Chuck Nevitt 10+ year NBA career right now.

    I hope Shav “makes it”.  I’m pretty sure any success he might enjoy will not derail Ol’ Roy’s plan for world domination.  My sources say Shav’s decision was motivated by an unfortunate family situation.  If that’s true, and my sources are pretty reliable, then even at an NBA minimum deal or a Euro deal, he can help out back home via basketball more than any other way.  No one ever questions when black kids claim family financial needs … can’t white families have money issues too?

    Have you noticed that the same area fans who spent three years contriving hollow excuses for Rashad McCants’ non-stop jackass behavior are the same ones ripping Shavlik Randolph?  Despite a college career that was disappointing by any standards, he never made excuses or embarrassed himself or his school.  Not one pout, not one scowl, not even one throat slash or an enigmatic tattoo.

    Shav’s realistic NBA future might be in the Kris Lang, Serge Zwikker, Josh Powell category; but 10 years from now I’m betting the young man is making a solid contribution to his community.

    The Franklin Street Slander Factory will twist and distort Shav’s situation to squeeze the maximum K-slime out of it because that is what the Franklin Street Slander Factory does.  Its 95% obsession with Coach Krzyzewski (and 5% for Amato) is its raison d’etre.  Darth K’s well-documented in-your-face F-bomb coaching style was probably too extreme for Shav; as it would be for most folks.  Of course anyone who thinks Ol’ Roy’s temperament is much softer doesn’t know Ol’ Roy.

    Whatever Fate and Destiny have in mind for Shavlik, like Nevitt, he will always be “tall” and 20 years from now a naïve clerk at a Blockbuster will crane her neck and say “I bet you play basketball?” which is at least better than “how’s the weather up there?”


    I am locked in some mysterious Sam Walton Is The AntiChrist overload zone.  I’m seeing all these documentaries on “Is Wal-Mart Good/Bad For America?”  Watching too many of these things is like reading Tri-Lateral Commission stories, or a Fruitcake Freddie “Kennedy Assassination” message board bloviation.  Ya reach a point where you grab your tin-foil hat and a shotgun and go shoot the first old sumbitch you can find wearing a blue vest with a smiley face.

   If I have learned anything about the “mainstream media” in this country, it is that it cannot be trusted on much of anything.  Every journalist and every media source has a biased agenda.  Hell, even The Daily Planet’s Lois Lane was just in it to land Superman.  MAYBE Kolchak The Night Stalker was legit (special Swagger Stumper – who played Kolchak?).

   The basic Wal-Mart documentary involves 

  1. b-roll video of Bentonville, Arkansas, 
  2. innocuous interviews with Wal-Mart execs who come across like sedated Scientologists, 
  3. Wal-Mart associate pep rallies,  “Gimme a W … gimme an … …”
  4. b-roll of Chinese factory workers assembling dolls and toilet brushes earmarked for a Wal-Mart DC in Omaha, 
  5. interviews with out-of-work plant employee in Circleville OH whose $20/hour union job is now being done for $5/week in Shanghai.

   My buddy Will, on the scene at the Port of Long Beach, tells me the degree of trade imbalance just related to Wal-Mart is staggering.  Giant container ships arrive daily loaded with Wal-Mart bound merchandise from China.  The containers are dropped onto train and truck flat beds and shipped to mammoth Wal-Mart distribution centers that are the size of super Super Domes.  The same containers are then sent back to China either empty or partially filled with recyclable waste or grain.  The logistics are fascinating and scary as hell.

   Wal-Mart squeezes its suppliers down to the fractions of a penny eventually “forcing” them to go off-shore for cheaper production costs, ergo the potential Wal-Mart shopper in Circleville OH is unemployed.  Yet Wal-Mart continues to build SuperCenters in every former cow pasture across America.

   What I can’t figure out is who is behind this giant scheme.  Sam Walton has been dead for 10 years +.  His successor David Glass now owns the worst team in Major League Baseball, The Royals. The current CEO, Lee Scott, looks and talks like a CVS pharmacist.  I mean no disrespect to CVS pharmacists but America’s great corporate moguls like Harold Geneen and Jack Welch don’t look like that.

   This Lee Scott is not even the New Millenium geek mogul type like a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.  Apparently the mindset that Sam put in place decades ago still pervades their MO (like Chairman Mao?).  I keep remembering that Sam’s niece (Bud’s daughter) married that jackass in Columbia Missouri that had the Paris Hilton wannabee skank daughter that screwed up the Univ of Missouri arena (even worst than Quinn Snyder did).  Remember “Paige Arena”?  Check our archives for last November.

   I’ve always been a free market guy believing that market forces will eventually prevail; but we might need some Teddy Roosevelt tough trade policies before Bentonville Arkansas becomes the center of the economic universe; if it’s not already.  If China is producing most of our consumer products doesn’t that put us at a bit of a risk … what do we do … “send us more Ipods and shower curtains or we’re gonna … we’re gonna … we’re gonna break Yao Ming’s thumbs … yeah, thats what we’ll do”

   If some of you can ever get beyond your 24/7 fascinations with the pretend machinations of Mssrs Krzyzewski, Amato and Baddour; there are some REAL shenanigans afoot that really do matter.


 Swagger’s Stumper

Who were 

Maurice Podoloff, Walter Kennedy and Lawrence O’Brien?


   Those four ABA surviving franchises are San Antonio, Indiana, Denver, and New Jersey.  Not, as many guessed, Utah.  The Jazz and their nickname moved from New Orleans.  The woods and SwaggerSays reader ranks are full of ABA trivia buffs.

   Could BobLee be the cyber “Kolchak” and my zombies and ghouls are “the Internet howler monkeys”?  I need a straw hat and an Instamatic!

    Do you think poor Tim Duncan will be trying those Rick Barry underhanded free throws Thursday night.  If he was playing Shaq and The Heat, the two of them would be laying enough bricks to turn The Riverwalk into a boulevard.  Never up never in Tim … at least get the ball past the front of the rim.

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