Armen Gilliam died Tuesday. He was 47 years old. He died where he was most comfortable, on a basketball floor. He had a massive heart attack while playing in a pickup game in Pittsburgh.
Gilliam was a standout All-American at UNLV and later became the No. 2 draft pick overall in the NBA Draft, but never really reached that potential. He bounced around the NBA for 13 seasons, including a stint with the New Jersey Nets.
That's where I got to know Armen, who changed his name from Armon while he played pro basketball. ''The Hammer,'' who got the nickname from the baking soda, get it, Arm and Hammer, was a happy guy, a great teammate who was loved by all who played with him. He was always available to the media, never once refusing a question or turning away from a request.
In fact, Gilliam was one who I looked forward to seeing when I covered the Nets, because he was such a nice guy.
I will forever remember being in an outdoor bar in South Beach, Florida, with some of his Nets teammates, including the wonderful and troubled Jayson Williams, spending hours laughing and trying to guess what color the next gumball would be that came out of this circular machine. They must have spent 20 dollars in quarters and collected 200 gum balls. "Ok, this one's red, no blue, no green.'' It was hysterical.
I will also remember the time a writer who was not a regular asked Gilliam a very personal question. His teammates took offense to the question, but Hammer just shrugged it off and handled it with grace.
Rest in peace, Hammer. You were truly one of a kind and a special man.
The Roger Clemens perjury trial begins this week and it's going to be nothing short of a circus, with the list of potential witnesses being called to the stand a cavalcade of stars, ranging from his former teammate and best friend Andy Pettitte to his former mistress, country star and "Celebrity Rehab" grad Mindy McCready.
Even John Daly's ex-wife, who also apparently had a relationship with Clemens, is on the list. We never knew that the Rocket had a fling with the Wicked Stick's woman.
It's not just Clemens' criminal charges that will be addressed this week. So will his credibility, because he has maintained all along that he never did any type of performanc-enhancement drugs, even if every piece of evidence against him seems to prove otherwise.
So Clemens will stand trial for perjury, but he's also standing trial in the court of public opinion, where he's probably already been convicted of being a cheater and a liar.
But the testimony in this trial could be damaging enough to keep Clemens from ever being a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He maintains that he doesn't care if he gets inducted, but let's face facts. What baseball player doesn't crave immortality and his just place forever with the all-time legends?
I've always believed that steroids or not, Barry Bonds and Clemens were Hall of Famers. They were Hall of Famers even before they shot themselves in the butt with drugs. I don't think a guilty verdict in this trial should keep Clemens out of the Hall. Nor do I think Bonds should be excluded. As much as I despise both, they are Hall of Famers.
But this trial should at the very least be interesting. It's a shame that TruTV cannot broadcast this trial, because it would be a complete circus, with Clemens hearing his friends testify that they knew he was doing it, with his paramours getting dragged up there, his wife and the chief witness, former trainer Brian McNamee, who has claimed all along that he was the one to inject Clemens and actually kept the syringes and gauze to prove it.
All along, Clemens has been full of doo. He insisted he didn't intentionally throw at the Yankee hitters like Paul O'Neill and Derek Jeter when he was a member of the Blue Jays. He claims he wasn't throwing the bat at Mike Piazza in the World Series, when the shattered bat came back to the mound and he flung it at Piazza, who owned Clemens like his own personal slave. Clemens actually told the press that he thought that the shattered bat was the ball. Well, if he really thought it was the ball, why didn't he throw it to first base, instead of at Piazza?
Clemens is a known liar and now will get a chance to prove that he didn't lie to a federal investigation committee from the United States Congress. Good luck with that.
Speaking about trials, how in the world did this Casey Anthony get off for killing her daughter?
She lies about nannies, makes up fictional people, lies about working at Disney World, doesn't report her daughter officially missing for over a month, goes out and borrows a shovel for no reason and returns it an hour later, concocts a story about some people of other races kidnapping the kid, shows no remorse whatsoever while the daughter is missing and is spotted drinking her ass off and getting tattoos and there was a foul stench coming from the trunk of her car.
And she's found not guilty? Excuse me?
And now, it's believed she'll get a book deal, a movie deal, even a television contract out of it?
It's also amazing how television covered this trial, like Entertainment Tonight and Extra covered it. HOW IS THAT ENTERTAINMENT???? It's not a movie opening or a concert, for God's sake.
That little girl was butchered and now no one pays? That was no swimming accident.
What a great country we live in, no?
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