A.K.A. VANILLA SKY
This is an article from the July 7, 2008 issue
The Bucks draftpick out of West Virginia was born in Taiwan and speaks Mandarin.
Dan Patrick:Where did the nickname Vanilla Sky come from?
Joe Alexander: Ifirst heard whispers of it around my sophomore year. I didn't even know that itwas my nickname, I just heard the term.
DP: But you'renot really vanilla.
JA: I'm sure it'sa reference to me being white.
DP: (Laughs.) Oh,you're white, Joe? I didn't know that.
JA: It mightscratch off, but....
DP: Best benefitof having parents who worked for Nestlé?
JA: We did have alot of chocolate around the house.
DP: Will you doendorsements for Nestlé?
JA: Only if theymake me a taste tester. And make a Vanilla Sky bar.
DP: What kind ofreaction did you get when you were first showing your freakish hops?
JA: Just a lot ofoohs and aahs, and people asking me what dunks could I do.
DP: What's thedunk that you'll play back for your kids 20 years from now?
JA: Sophomoreyear, against South Florida, on the nation's Number 1 shot blocker. He saw mecoming, and he was anticipating a finger roll, I know that he was.
DP: Have you everhit your head on the rim?
JA: Yeah. I wasexperimenting, I didn't think that I could actually do it.
DP: You wereexperimenting hitting your head on the rim?
JA: Just to seehow high I could get.
DP: (Laughs.)What is your vertical?
JA: It was tested38 1/2. But I suspect foul play.
DP: Has speakingMandarin ever helped pick up a woman?
JA: Oh, all thetime. First, I approach slowly, and then I say, "Nee-how-may," whichsounds grotesque, but it actually means "You're very beautiful."
DP: So she says,"What did you say to me?"
JA: Right, andthen I say, "Nee-how-may" again. The kicker is that I do this, but itdoesn't work at all.
DP: Oh, so youwant to fail, just to be a sympathetic figure?
JA: That's what Ihope for, but in the end I usually just fail miserably.
DP: That shouldbe your catchphrase on SportsCenter, when you dunk they go"Nee-how-may." You're beautiful.
JA: You're verybeautiful.
DP: Thank you,Joe.
HAVING THE No. 1pick in the draft just isn't what it used to be. Not long ago a middling Number1 was a guy like Glenn Robinson, who was solid if no Shaq. Now for every LeBronwe get mystery picks such as Kwame Brown, Andrew Bogut and Andrea Bargnani (aB-list if ever there was one). When I look at Derrick Rose (above), whomChicago took with this year's top pick, I have questions about his range; evenBulls G.M. John Paxson said to me, "He's going to have to improve hisshooting." This is what I find telling, at a time when everyone wants afranchise point guard: I asked Paxson if he considered trading the pick, and hesaid it wasn't an issue, because no team made him a serious offer.
WHEN THE NETStraded Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons, the instantanalysis was: It's about clearing cap space for 2010 so Jay-Z's Nets can signpal LeBron James when the team moves to Brooklyn. But half the teams in theleague—including the Knicks—will be clearing cap space, so landing LeBron willtake more than that. It may push tampering limits, but Jay-Z should do a CD inwhich he rewrites lyrics of his biggest hits to send a message to LeBron. Thetitle could be subliminally capitalized KINGdom COME, after Jay-Z's 2006Kingdom Come (above); here are some potential cuts.
• What More Can IPay? (Max Contract Remix)
• Girls, Girls,Girls (Cavs Roster Breakdown)
• Show Yi WhatYou Got
• Hard Knick Life(Anywhere but There)
• I Got 99Problems, but I'll Only Have 98 If You Come Play For the Nets
No More TallTales
WHEN CHARLESBarkley came into the NBA, he was said to be 6'7"—not the 6'4" you heartoday. Now we have Michael Beasley, who has already lost two inches fromcollege. Here's what we need on draft day: Picks go up on stage, shake thecommissioner's hand, take off their shoes, and then a bar descends from theceiling that gives us a true measurement. We get a public snapshot, and thematter is settled, once and forever.
THE FINE PRINT:Just wondering: When the city loans the Yankees more money for their newstadium, does Mariano Rivera have to be at the closing?
Go toDANPATRICK.COM for more from Joe Alexander and other recent interviews, andhear live audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m. to noon ET, Mon.-Fri.