Monday, February 28, 2011

Miami Heat: Losses to Chicago and New York Can Be a Good Thing

Whenever I see an empty cup, I immediately think to myself: “that cup has the potential to be half-full.” It has the ability to be empty, as it is right now, but there is a positive outlook for this cup if I can get it to, at least, a half-empty state. Cups are continuously filled across this great planet of ours. Some even have the most popular tournament in the world named after it- the World Cup.

Similarly, if I come across a half-full cup, I immediately think to myself: “poor cup, it was full at one point, but then it was deserted, left to be disposed of along with the other half-full, half-empty, and empty cups.” Clearly, someone filled this cup with a loving flow of the sweet nectar of mother earth, will all of its diverse flavor and form, and after determining that this nectar, when combined with this cup, did not fulfill the pallet with the energy and force with which she is accustomed, left it alone in pursuit of a better, more satisfying cup.

The Miami Heat’s cup was overflowing last summer. Everyone in the organization-owners, players, and fans alike- celebrated the cup and dreamt of the joy it would provide a town whose true roots are on the gridiron, but whose passion extends equally to the glitz and bling, bright lights and shining stars that normally accompany a Pat Riley led franchise. The Heat became more than another Miami sports team when Chris Bosh and LeBron James decided to take their talents…to join Dwyane Wade. They became the symbol of better things to come, a team whose exploits on the court would parallel the revival of the city off the court. While the Big Treat collected gold trophies, the magic city would cash in on the momentum of this newly found and unprecedented hype and exposure. Yes, Miami was again the center of the universe, or at least the NBA, and the future was bright.


When examining the Heat’s current situation, it is easy to suggest that the glass is half-empty. In less than a week, Miami has squandered double-digit second-half leads against two of its main Eastern conference competitors while allowing both to record bold statements that will resonate until playoff time.

The Bulls, fresh off Joakim Noah’s return to the lineup after missing two months due to a thumb injury, showed the Heat that they have all the makings of a Finals team. While Miami is still adjusting to the arrival of its two new stars, Chicago moves along without missing a beat. The Heat must maintain their slight conference lead and beat the Bulls in Miami in order to counter the Bulls’ claim. A win at home, along with home-court advantage in the playoffs, would shift the pendulum in the Heat’s favor.

The Knicks, fresh off their blockbuster acquisition of Chauncey Billups, showed the Heat that they can adjust to new surroundings quite quickly, and chemistry can be produced at a faster pace with the addition of a little point guard savvy. Is there any reason why the Knicks should not feel that they are better than the Heat right now? Unfortunately for Miami, they cannot dissuade any opinions concerning this matter until the post-season, a series that could signal the official dawning of a new era in the NBA.

Beating Boston was supposed to be the last hurdle. It didn’t necessarily matter what the other teams were doing as long as the Heat could continue to harness the energy formed by the combination of three of the most athletic and versatile talents in the game and channel it correctly. This natural process would eventually allow Miami to form an identity which would be powerful and tested enough to down the Celtics when it mattered most. Now it seems as though the road to the Eastern conference crown will be more crowded than originally thought.


The playoff dinner table is getting tighter. There is only so much food left, only so many statements that can be documented.

With the next ten games versus playoff teams, including eight at home, Miami can record a statement now that they can deliver in April.

There is plenty of concern about the Heat’s record versus +.500 teams (14-15), and for good reason. The concern can be discarded as overreaction because the true tests will come in the playoffs, but in order to alleviate any doubt among the organization, the team must take a playoff attitude from here on out. The lack of playoff experience is a major perceived flaw, and this stretch will be as close as it gets to simulating a playoff atmosphere, similar to the one last night at home vs. New York.

These two recent losses can be described as a blessing in disguise, as long as the Heat now realize that lackluster efforts will only lead to agonizing defeats.

Sometimes that needs to be reinforced.

I like a free refill as much as the next person, but I’m not finished with this glass. There’s still half a cup left.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Three Concerns After Heat's Loss to the Bulls

The Miami Heat continue to disappoint against the beasts of the East, namely the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics, against whom the Big Treat are now a combined 0-5. The silver lining for Miami is that they were competitive in every game, including the first ever game together for the Treat on the road against the defending conference champs to start the season and the first meeting in Chicago when LeBron was sidelined and Bosh suffered a knee injury which kept him out the rest of the game.

Excuse me? Bosh did not play last night either, you say?

While the Heat will be fine come playoff time, when beating them four out of seven times will be similar to hiking halfway up Mt. Everest, there are three reasons for concern after last night’s letdown.

Chris Bosh

The third wheel has performed quite admirably for a being a former superstar. He is still capable of lighting up the scoreboard and cleaning the boards all night, but if he cannot conjure up the will to go hard to the hole against the likes of Boozer and Noah, Bynum and Gasol, or Shaq and Garnett, then the Heat will be reduced to a super duo-- a duo that may need to wait until next season to hoist a championship banner.

Bosh has done the best he can to shed the ‘soft’ moniker, hopefully he does not digress.

Who takes the last shot?

Mike Miller had a wide-open three-point look at the end of the game against Boston a couple of weeks ago. A well-run play that did not result in a made basket. Last night, LeBron chucked a three with more than 15 seconds left in the game. A poorly run play that ended appropriately.

If Miami is in the situation where it needs a quick shot, a situation where the only play call is” inbound it to him and get out of the way” (a situation they were NOT in last night), then the ball must be passed to Wade, as he is clearly more adept at creating the necessary space to get his own shot.

Chemistry issues

There is legitimate concern surrounding the Heat’s ability to put all the pieces together in time for a title run. Mixing this many new ingredients into a dish will surely require tinkering.

But why is it that the Bulls seemed like they have been together all season when two of their main clogs, Boozer and Noah, have only played a handful of games together?

2011 NBA Playoffs Predictions

Miami Heat president Pat Riley has orchestrated many a blockbuster deal in his day, including the largest trade in league history in 2005 involving 5 teams and 13 players that sent Jason Williams, Antoine Walker, and James Posey to Miami, providing the final components necessary to secure the Heat’s first title in franchise history in 2006. This is not to mention the magic wand he waved over the city last summer by securing the services of the superstar trio I like to call the Miami Treat: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

Miami, as expected, did not pull the trigger on any trade deadline possibilities. While the Heat will explore options to improve the PG and C position in the future, any movement of Mike Miller or Udonis Haslem or any other player who was considered a key piece to championship success when the season began would be an admission. An admission that the Heat is not as dominant as the realistic goal of five championships in five or six years would suggest. Riley is not in the business of admissions.

What was he thinking yesterday while he watched many of his protégés hard at work?

He was probably thinking the same thing we all should be thinking--the real season starts tonight. The major overhaul that has swept the NBA landscape leaves many teams hoping to build the required amount of chemistry necessary for deep playoff runs.

There is something fresh in the NBA today. And it’s refreshing.

Western Conference

Round 1

1 San Antonio vs. 8 Memphis:
San Antonio is on a mission this year. Memphis will be dangerous next year. SA 4-1

2 Dallas vs. 7 Portland:
See above. By acquiring Gerald Wallace, Portland can be a title favorite next season. DAL 4-2

3 Oklahoma City vs. 6 Denver:
Denver gives the Thunder all they can handle in this skill vs. will match-up. Oklahoma is too deep. Denver can be a dark-horse next year if they remain intact and go through a full training camp. OKC 4-2

4 Los Angeles Lakers vs. 5 New Orleans:
Unfortunately for New Orleans, they are paired with the only team they cannot beat in the first round. Even with the unheralded, yet significant addition of Carl Landry, the size down low is too much for the Hornets to overcome. LA 4-1

Conference Semifinals

1 San Antonio vs. 4 Los Angeles:
Winners of nine of the last twelve NBA titles, this old rival delight the world with a classic seven-game slugfest marathon. The Spurs run out of steam. LAL 4-3

2 Dallas vs. 3 Oklahoma City:
The most exciting series in terms of highlight plays, OKC stamps their seal on the West for years to come. OKC 4-2

Conference Finals

3 Oklahoma City vs. 4 Los Angeles:
The changing of the guard can be swift and severe. The Thunder have improved in the front-court significantly with the addition of Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed, while the Lakers are a year older. OKC 4-1

Eastern Conference

Round 1

1 Miami vs. 8 Indiana:
The Pacers have played the Heat tough all season. MIA 4-0

2 Boston vs. 7 Philadelphia:
Boston is one injury away from being an older Philly. The 76ers future is bright, but the Celtics have waited all year for this time. BOS 4-2

3 Chicago vs. 6 Atlanta:
Atlanta is one center away from being a title contender. Chicago is already there. CHI 4-2

4 Orlando vs. 5 New York:
Remember those blockbuster trades Orlando made early in the season? Me neither. NY 4-2

Conference Semifinals

1 Miami vs. 5 New York:
An appetizer for things to come. New York will be a true force next season. In the meantime, the Heat are absolutely peaking at the right time. MIA 4-1

2 Boston vs. 3 Chicago:
A series that could rival the intensity of their first-round tilt in ’09. Noah called Chicago native Garnett “ugly..” and ..”mean..”, I recall? Had the Bulls enjoyed a healthy first year with Joakim and Boozer, things may have been different. They will be next year. BOS 4-3

Conference Finals

1 Miami vs. 2 Boston:
Boston has had Miami’s number thus far. However, the Heat are rolling at this point. The league is starting to accept the fact that the LeBron, Wade, and Bosh has only just begun. Luckily the rest of the teams are doing the best they can to avoid a seven-year run of Heat supremacy. That will have to wait until next year. MIA 4-1

NBA Finals

1 Miami vs. 3 Oklahoma City:
Lakers-Celtics will be back again. It may be another five or ten years, but the two staple franchises will battle for history some time in the future. For now, it is all about the Heat and Thunder. If they both keep their core intact, these two may find themselves in this same position two, three, or four more times in the coming years. As for Round 1? Heat 4-2

Finals MVP: Dwyane Wade

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NBA Action is Fantasyastic: Perception vs. Reality

Perception is reality is a fantasy. If a tree falls in the woods and no one knows about it, it still falls. Similarly, if the personal trainer at the gym smiles at you, it does not necessarily mean that she wants to work up a sweat with you, at least not the kind you are hoping for.

In other words:

If a tree (2) falls (2), then (=) there is a fallen tree (4). That is reality. If she smiles (2) at you (2), then (=) she must want to workout with you (4). That is perception, possibly reality, probably fantasy.

While a fallen tree must mean a tree fell, a smiling hottie does not necessarily mean a hot date is in store. She probably noticed you (2) staring her down for the past ten seconds (2) and just wanted to make sure you knew (2) that she knew (2) that you are a sad, creepy individual (2). She does this (=) by smiling (10).

These perceptions ultimately evolve into opinions, which are then offered and accepted without resistance by a large majority because more often than not, the numbers do not lie. Two plus two always has, and still does, equal four.

Without getting too deep, and in an effort to avoid a philosophy lesson, let’s just say that there are a lot of perceptions in sports.


The NBA trade deadline, along the major moves that have occurred recently with Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams changing zip codes, provides a stage for varying opinions to flourish. Who got the best of the deal? How well will these players adapt to their new surroundings? How does my hair look?

Unfortunately, other than hindsight and a mirror, there is no dependable instrument that can answer these questions correctly. This is why we then turn to the numbers, the statistics. The numbers do not lie, right?

Oh but they do.

I have a choice between two PGs.

The first one averages 17.1 pts., 9 assts., 3.6 rebs., 1.8 stls., and 1.6 made 3 ptrs. per game while shooting 42% from the field and 87% from the stripe.

The second one sports averages of 16.6 pts., 5.4 assts., 2.5 rebs., 1.0 stls., and 2.0 made 3 ptrs. per game on 44% FG shooting and 93% FT shooting.

17 and 9? I’ll take PG #1 every day of the week. The shooting %s are similar enough and I get over a rebound and almost one more full steal per game. Where do I sign?

I agree. Give me PG #1. He’s obviously the better player.


I need a PG. I have a choice between Chauncey Billups and Raymond Felton.

Felton is a talented bulldog of a floor general whose collegiate success has yet to translate to professional dividends. He’s having a breakout year while he hopes to join the conversation of ‘best PG in the league’, but his leadership may leave something to be desired.

Billups is a Finals MVP who is as much a coach on the court as there is in the league. His Detroit Pistons were the class of the Eastern Conference for the middle part of last decade. He has led his squad to the conference finals seven of the past eight seasons, including seven straight from ’03 to ’09.

Felton is the young gun while Billups is the cagy vet.

I have championship aspirations with two bona fide superstars who combine to create possibly the best 1-2 scoring punch in the league, and I can choose Billups or Felton to lead them? Give me Chauncey every day of the week. The future is now (or next season), and Billups doesn’t need to be Mr. Big Shot anymore, just Mr. Big Brother. Where do I sign?

I agree. Give me Billups. He’s obviously the better player.


If I am putting together a fantasy team, give me Raymond Felton. However, in the real world with a real team that is ready to win now, give me Chauncey Billups.

Chris Paul? That would be a real fantasy.

At least that’s my perception.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


After ordering a meatlovers stuffed-crust pizza with extra cheese, cheesy bread with extra sauce, and a 2-litre Diet Coke, I decide to pick it up rather than wait for the delivery driver.

I was in a hurry to eat, so getting in the car, turning on the ignition, reversing out of the driveway, stepping on the gas pedal, turning the steering wheel, yielding to traffic, parking the car, and walking into the pizza shop was not too much to overcome. I wanted to finish dinner before the big game.

There are several of us out there, however, that cannot perform this simple task without being called for a technical foul, unsportsmanlike conduct, or receiving a yellow card for dangerous play.

Driving is as much a sport as any sport you can think of. As such, the act of driving is just as athletic as competing in any sport you can think of.

The problem is that a lot of us take for granted our driving skills. We get in our respective vehicles, comfortable in the driver’s seat, safe from outsiders (we control a thousand pound marvel of technology, one that can travel up to a 100 miles per hour, what are we afraid of?), ready to conquer the road. Heaven help the poor soul who gets in our way.

Some of us, as confident behind the wheel as Peyton Manning is in the pocket, multi-task while we’re navigating the streets. Phone call? No problem, I’ve been driving for years. I can take a simple phone call. Text message? I got it. I’ve been doing this for half my life. Food, cigarette, conversation? Sure, let’s engage. I can drive with my eyes closed, man.

This valiant attitude is fine. It is better than the alternative, which is millions of driver’s behind the wheel dodging oncoming traffic while feeling overwhelmed at the task of making that left turn onto the street with no median. We must drive with proper confidence.

However, there is a correct strategy to driving, and it does not involve catching the draft from the car in front of us while inching toward the far left lane in hopes of speeding by each and every car in sight.

This strategy is called defensive driving. If you’re faced with the decision of speeding up to change lanes, or slowing down to allow another car to merge into your lane, defensive driving suggests slowing down.

Our egos, though, get in the way. There is a transformation from regular person to King of the Highway the second we turn on the ignition. Our innate competitive juices start to flow the second someone wrongs us on the streets.

Unfortunately, there are no do overs with a driving accident. There’s no second down, overtime, or extra innings.

A bad driving accident results in life-changing physical injuries, if you’re lucky. Anyone on the open road is a potential target of a late hit, the likes of which cannot be corrected by 15 extra yards.

I believe that I am the best driver in my city, probably my state, and quite possibly the entire world. I amaze myself with the simple and subtle, yet invaluable, intricacies of safe and efficient driving which I exhibit on a daily basis. I can literally drive with my eyes closed, man.

I also amaze myself with some of my moves on the basketball court. I realize, however, that there are some players on the court that may not understand that you should not undercut someone while they’re in the air.

We should all realize, no matter how great of a driver we consider ourselves to be, that there are plenty of drivers who should not be allowed to touch a set of car keys.

The rest of you? You are that horrible driver to whom I am referring. Just know that we know that you’re out there. And please take the time to learn how to handle your boat on wheels, yield to oncoming traffic, use your blinkers, accelerate when you make that right turn rather than wait for us to get 100 yards of you before you decide to make that right turn, step on the gas when the light turns green, anticipate, stay aware of your surroundings, and play a little defense.

Sounds simple enough. You know we know you know how to do it. Just do it.

Because people may die if you don’t. It happens every day.

NBA: Are There Any Teams Left in the League?

Carmelo Anthony has officially flexed his star power muscle, effectively forcing the Denver Nuggets to trade away its face of the franchise to the New York Knicks for a package of players, picks, and cashola.

The initial reaction is anxious excitement. The Knicks are now a threat to make a serious run in the playoffs, joining Chicago and Miami as teams that have remodeled their rosters with legit superstars.

The other, deeper thought is: How is it that these players have control over their respective teams to the point where they can determine when and where they will be traded? And is it good for the league to have these friends around the league plot and devise plans to join forces, rendering more than half the league void of a superstar, and therefore creating a league of six or seven dream teams and twenty-plus fill ins?

I do not pretend to know the answer to the first question, nor do I care. They just do.

The answer to the second question, however, is easy. Yes. Yes, it is good for the league to have super teams. Goliaths, if you will.

When LeBron took…He joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, forming the latest and possibly greatest trio in NBA history. Of course, this remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that three number 1 options deciding to call the same city home, in the prime of their careers, is unprecedented.

The Knicks are now primed to create the latest super trio. It is no secret that Chris Paul would love to go north and become a Knick when he is eligible for free agency in 2012. While he may be the first name that comes to mind, there are other stars around the league that would surely jump at the opportunity of playing in the Mecca of basketball alongside two other studs while battling Miami’s Big Treat and the D-Rose led Chicago Bulls for years to come.

We fans would surely benefit from witnessing this renaissance. Heat-Knicks. The rivalry from the ‘90s is about to get interesting again, and all fans, Miami, New York, or otherwise, are surely looking forward to it.


There is another side of this perceived David vs. Goliath, haves vs. have nots, dream team vs. average at best, pre-determined playoffs league that the NBA is gravitating toward with superstars naming their destination and deciding who will join them. There is another side which is just as exciting as anticipating an all-star game in conference finals clothing.

What about these other teams, these have nots? Why should they play a game when it is painfully obvious that there is not a realistic chance of winning anything, not without any superstars?

The Nuggets seemed to make out like successful gold-diggers. Rather than losing Anthony for nothing in return, Denver has a nice, young core to build around, and they might not be done dealing.

While losing Chauncey Billups is a big loss, he is not the future. The Nuggets have a potential starting line-up of Raymond Felton, Aaron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and Nene. The bench is now a little deeper: Ty Lawson, J.R. Smith, Al Harrington, Chris Andersen, and Timofey Mozgov. Add Danilo Gallinari to the mix, assuming he is not dealt to another team before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Certainly, this roster does not inspire images of poppin’ bottles in June, but why not?

The team will be guard-heavy, which would be their strength. The bigs will defend and rebound for you, but the scoring will come from the backcourt. The two point guards are champions, if only in the college ranks. This team’s only problem is that it lacks a superstar.

But what about Team?

While superstars run the league, the game of basketball is the ultimate team game throughout the course of the game. Sure, football and soccer have more moving pieces. Football in one play, and soccer also throughout the game, but the team aspect comes in spurts. In basketball, all five players must be on the same page every second of the game. Even if that just means a role player getting out of the way to create space for the scorer to attack the rim.

The Houston Rockets of ’09 are the most recent example of a true basketball Team lacking a true superstar. The season started off with expectations that were out of this world, yet seemingly attainable. Yao Ming was the centerpiece, and Tracy McGrady was finally healthy. Unfortunately, both stars suffered season-ending injuries, forcing the rest of the Rockets, including Ron Artest, to learn how to play Team basketball.

In the end, the eventual world champion LA Lakers eliminated this pesky crew in the conference semi-finals. But it wasn’t until Game 7.

Before these Rockets, the 2004 Detroit Pistons showed the world why and how Teams can still rule this league. Facing the big and bad Shaquille O’Neal led Lakers, along with Kobe, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone, the Pistons and Billups simply played lockdown defense and ultimate team-first offense, more often than not each player touching the ball at least once per possession. Detroit dominated the Lakers, clinching the title in five games.

That title in ’04 is the ultimate validation for Team basketball. Of course, the teams with superstars that play Team basketball will fare the best. Boston and San Antonio are the best examples of this.

With the league seemingly entering a superstar or bust mode, it is now time for teams to become Teams.

And that is exciting, too.

1-2-3! Team!

NBA All-Star Break State of the League Pt 2/2

In part 1, we agreed that a 53-game season is plenty of time to state your case as an NBA team. After this regular season is complete, fans are treated to a weekend of slams, jams, and thank you ma’ams, also know as All-Star Weekend.

We now have three months with which to stage a brand new, better than ever, call in sick to work (even though the games will still be played at night and on weekends), put the children to sleep, lace up the loafers, winner-take-all, hoop mania, baller, shot caller, UEFA Champions League-style NBA postseason.

The UEFA Champions League is probably the best league/tournament in the world. To make a long story short, the champion of each European country’s soccer league is invited to play in a 32-team, 6-month long tournament to determine the best team on the continent, and for all intents and purposes, the best team in the world, since the best club teams in the world are in Europe.

We are not going to duplicate their format entirely, but there are some principles we will apply.

Now, which teams will qualify for the postseason?

Answer: all of them, of course.

Money is the ultimate motivating force. There is no way to expect owners to agree to losing 29-games without making it up some way.

While college basketball lays claim to that exhilarating one and done postseason tournament which captures the attention of campuses around the country called the NIT tournament, the NBA will now be able to sport its own version of a tournament in which no team really wants to participate.

However, the NBA NIT will be quite meaningful. Draft position will be at stake.

More importantly, which teams will qualify for the championship tournament?

Instead of the top 8 teams in each conference advancing to the playoffs, we will take the top team from each division, along with the ten (10) best teams remaining in the entire league. No longer will a sub-.500 team waste our time by maybe squeaking out 1 win in Game 3 of a playoff series on the way to the all too predictable 4-1 series loss.

There are six (6) automatic bids, and ten (10) wild cards.


I love a bracket as much as the next guy, or gal. I like they way it looks even with no teams yet inserted. It has a nice shape.

I really get the blood flowing when the teams are inserted and possible match-ups loom. Whether it is a single-elimination or best of 7, a tournament bracket is one of the more beautiful sights in sports.

But there are no brackets to speak of just yet. We have 16 teams, a perfect number for braketology, but this is the new NBA postseason, not the NBA playoffs that we know and love, but whose time has come and gone.

No, we still have plenty of basketball to play, and it’s not going to be against just one team.

The new NBA postseason will still consist of four rounds:

First Round

Four groups, four teams each. Each team will play every team in its group four (4) times for a total of twelve (12) games. The top two (2) teams advance to the next round.

Second Round

Two groups, four teams each. Each team will play every team in its group four (4) times for a total of twelve (12) games. The top two (2) teams advance to the next round.

Third Round

One group, four teams. Each team will play every team four (4) times for a total of twelve (12) games. Top two (2) teams advance.


NBA Finals. Best of 7.

Groups will be made up by seeds.

Group A will consist of the number 1 overall seed and three wild cards.

Group B will consist of the opposite conference’s 1 seed and three wild cards.

Group C will consist of conference 2 and 3 seeds and two wild cards.

Group D will consist of conference 2 and 3 seeds and two wild cards.

The top 2 teams from Groups A and C will combine to form one group while the top 2 teams from Groups B and D will form the other second round group.

Group is starting to sound like a foreign word at this point.

Pretty simple stuff, isn’t it? What if the postseason started today? How would the groups look?

Group A

San Antonio, WC2 Orlando, WC3 Atlanta, WC10 Phoenix

Group B

Boston, WC1 Dallas, WC4 Portland, WC9 New York

Group C

Miami, Chicago, WC5 New Orleans, WC8 Memphis

Group D

Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, WC6 Denver, WC7 Utah

The schedule is a toe-curler as well. The higher seed has home-court advantage each game throughout group play. This means the 1 seed will play every game at home, while the lowest seed plays every game on the road. The second seed will play eight home games and four road games and the third seed will play four games at home and eight games on the road.


A more meaningful and shorter regular season. Potential group match-ups changing daily. Intraconference contests and no heads-up meetings until the Finals. Three 12-game mini-seasons, each eliminating half the field.

I like it, even if it’s just because it’s new.

Oh, and for the remaining 14 teams?

The two teams with the worst record receive a first-round bye in a best of five, four round playoff which will determine what teams receive the first four picks in June’s draft.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NBA All-Star Break State of the League Pt 1/2

The NBA is currently at the 2/3 break of the season, a time when those who matter gather for a weekend of parties and skills contests.

This hiatus offers teams a chance to get healthy while evaluating their prospects for the remainder of the season.

Teams can be placed in one of four groups: Championship contenders, playoff locks, on the bubble, and wretchedly bad. Of course, “wretchedly bad” in the NBA is used to describe teams that are only a move or two away, or simply a year or two away because of young talent, from being playoff locks…..and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Are we good enough right now? Should we make a trade? Do we give our rookie more time on the grill, or let him marinate and try to make a playoff run this season, despite the fact that we’ll be swept by the Heat? How does my hair look?

Questions surround every team, and it is time for some answers.


While front-office executives and coaches ponder the state of their franchises, players embrace this getaway from the daily grind that is the five month marathon of an all-you-can-eat buffet, 82-game, in-your-face season. It’s good to see some of your friends around the league-- old college buddies and the like.

After the pleasantries are over, when players reconvene with their respective teams, playoff races will start to heat up as teams look to secure the best seed possible. Home court is the name of the game.

Identities will be reinforced while statements are made, and recorded. Cheap shots will be thrown, retaliation will be inevitable, reputations and legacies will be on the line.

It’s Amazing.

But it can be so much better.

The NBA season is too long. At this point in the season, we know who the contenders and the pretenders are. We know which players are hoopin’ and which are poopin’. We know, if we’re an NBA team, how we must play in order to win with this particular group of players. We’ve stated our cases.

Let’s get the postseason started now.


In the immortal words of Chris Rock, “If it’s not new, it’s through”.
While the cartoon-faced character of a comedian was referring to marriages, he could very well have been describing everything. Things that get old are just that-old. While people ‘age’, buildings become ‘old’. Relationships ‘grow’, however, bread becomes ‘old’, hence the term ‘mold’. I think.

It’s time to renovate the old building and throw out the moldy bread.

All-Star weekend can go along as planned.

The league has a great relationship with the fans and this weekend is an integral part of that dynamic. We are within ear shot of our hoops heroes, some fans who sit courtside are within nose shot.

There is more of a connection among players and fans since players are exposed for the world to see: jersey, shorts, sneakers, and talent, and nothing else in between. The All-Star game strengthens this relationship and it should continue.

But it should take place at the end of a 53-game season, right before the start of the ‘postseason’.


Excuse me?

That’s 53 games. College teams rarely play more than 35 games a season, including the Final Four.

In 1999, teams played a 50-game NBA season due to a work stoppage, one that possibly looms again. There is no reason that 53 games cannot provide enough of a proving ground for determining which teams will advance to the postseason.

Many times it is a fact that ‘less is (indeed) more’.

In order to arrive at this magical number of 53, all we must do is eliminate one game against each team. Instead of two games against the other conference, there will be only one. That eliminates 15 games.

While the home and home series between opposite conference foes provides every NBA city at least one show with every star the league has to offer, one game every two years is ample time to reserve tickets for your favorite out of town squad. Miamians will still see Blake Superior every other year and Salt Lake City will still host Miami’s Big Treat every two seasons.

We can also eliminate one game versus conference opponents. Removing one out of 3 or 4 games against a given opponent is not going to reduce the effort needed to succeed during an NBA regular season. Just as removing 29 games from an 82-game season will not minimize the dedication needed to win a division, conference, or league title.

Games will carry more importance, even with a postseason, despite what some may say about a college football playoff possibly marginalizing regular-season games (Justin Case: the BCS system is gross). Your record during the season will still determine whether you keep playing, or go home saying. Just saying. Nothing else. Just saying things.

This leaves us with a fast-paced, three-and-a-half month, 53-game, 400-meter sprint professional basketball season.

Identities can be formed and statements can be made. However, they are more meaningful now. There is less time to make them.

Boston’s statement has been recorded, and the Heat have a copy on their desk.

San Antonio’s statement was delivered early and continues to resonate. The Lakers have record of it.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top 7 Reasons Why There May Not Be a Heat-Lakers 2011 Finals

Congratulations to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers for their Super Bowl triumph over Pittsburgh on Sunday. It cannot be understated, nor should it be ignored, how talented, disciplined, and focused an individual must be in order to star on the sitcom The Office AND lead an NFL team to the championship while earning MVP honors.


It is now time, I’m happy to say, to turn our attention to the most exciting NBA season in some time. While the Western Conference features the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, along with six or seven other conference contenders, including the league-leading San Antonio Spurs, the Eastern Conference is ripe with four teams that have legitimate Finals championship aspirations. And one trade can make it five teams.

The impetus of this league-wide alteration was the much-hyped 2010 free-agent sweepstakes. Much like the top prize of the class, the drama matched the hype, and we all witnessed the decision LeBron made when he took …

The backlash toward LeBron, and more specifically the Miami Heat, has morphed into a national phenomenon, a collective conscious feeling betrayed because the most talented player in the league decided to head to one of the most hated cities in the country, not because he “betrayed” Cleveland. Not because he joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Cleveland fans have a right to feel this way, but every other city cried foul because:

“Okay, he didn’t sign with Cleveland, no big deal, but how could he go to Miami!?!”


“He’s going to Miami?! I HATE that place!”

New York may be the more infamous city, but if LeBron decided to grace the Big Apple, the backlash would focus on New York, not just James, and certainly not with the same venom.

Most of the critics, “haters” if you will, of this year’s Heat would blush at how great it is for the NBA for the Knicks to be relevant again. The anticipation of a Lakers-Knicks Finals encounter would have the league abuzz at all times, especially with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer in Chicago and Wade and Bosh in Miami on improved teams with their own expectations.

Just imagine the feelings of anxiousness, mixed with concentration, peppered with some anger, wrapped in awe, which have undoubtedly crept into your personal space during this season. Now put it in a blender, add some sugar, and serve. This is what you would get:

“Yeah he left poor Cleveland, and I can’t stand New York, but boy, this is great for the NBA!”

“Knicks-Lakers is gonna be awesome!”

What if he decided to fly into the Windy City? Would it be as patriotic to boo and hiss the Bulls with the same sense of togetherness and no purpose as it is currently accepted to loathe the Heat this year?

The answer, of course, is no.

This year’s critics and haters would be floating in their loafers. Lakers-Bulls. Inspires images of Magic-Michael. Kobe-LeBron. Reaction would be similar to this:

“(laughing inside just a little bit) I can’t believe Cleveland’s poor luck. First the Shot, and now he’s going to Chicago? Wow, the Bulls are stacked. This is great for the NBA!”

“I can’t wait to see Bulls-Lakers. It’s gonna be awesome!”

Yeah, it would be great for the NBA if the king descended upon these teams, but it’s quite a different story when you talk about MeAmi, I mean, Miami.

The truth behind this tidal wave of unguided, unbridled, and expected negative emotion toward LeBron has everything to do with Miami as it has to do with the Heat and/or LeBron.

Everyone loves South Beach, but no one likes Miami. That’s a fact.

Make no mistake, though. The Heat, and yes, the city, love this animosity.

While the team was initially taken aback by the hostility they encountered when the season started, LeBron, D-Wade, Bosh and Co. have embraced their villain status. And all I can say is, “I feer sowwy foe yo muvver.”

Now, the Heat vs. Lakers, or more appropriately, the Kobe vs. LeBron, long-anticipated Finals match-up is closer to reality. While both teams have significant work to do in order to secure this ratings booster, the smart money is on this being an epic summer.

Smart money, however, isn’t always smart as it is sometimes wise. And no one likes a wise-ass.

The Top 7 Reasons Why There May Not be a Heat-Lakers 2011 Finals Match-Up

7. Mark Cuban

There is no person in the entire world that would cringe at the sight, sound, or feel of a Heat-Lakers Finals. The Heat is the team that supposedly stole his championship in 2006 and the Lakers are…the Lakers.

This is not to suggest that Cuban will lace ‘em up and take the floor during a game, although I would not put that past him, but he will put more of an emphasis on making the Finals this year than any other year.

Whether it be through another roster-shifting trade or a team-wide ultimatum, from the last player on the bench to the first executive in the front-office to the valet parking attendant at the practice facility, making this post-season a Finals or bust summer, Cuban will not stand for Phil Jackson, Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and Pat Riley receiving the championship attention.

The Mavs beat the Heat twice this season, but in order to flip the script on David Stern and NBA nation, they will have to find a way to beat their nemesis in the West. I thought they would do it last year, but a year later and one more season under their belt, Dallas can easily crash the party.

6. Chris Paul

New Orleans started the season as the darling pick to emerge from the West. Along with the formidable frontcourt of Emeka Okafor and David West, Paul and the Hornets have the core to be a successful NBA contender.

While Paul was a top scorer in the past, he has improved upon his already stellar play-making abilities, sometimes playing too unselfishly, in an effort to enhance a team first mentality among his teammates.

This effort cannot be overlooked since they do not have a player who can consistently dominate a match-up every night. In order for the Hornets to put a thorn in the side of all that is expected, CP3 must continue to strike the balance of a Rajon Rondo play-maker and a Derrick Rose scoring threat.

5. Jeff Green

Oklahoma City was the sassy pick to challenge the Lakers in the West. With the core of a team that took the eventual champs to a six-game series in tact, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Co. faced expectations that seemed a couple of years away from being realistic.

The Thunder, however, have not disappointed as they continue to display the athleticism that caused problems for the tall, bulky, and aging Lakers last season. Durant and Westbrook have increased their production, but Jeff Green seems to have hit a wall.

If he can accept his now number three role in the offense, and continue his pestering defense, he will be the difference between Oklahoma City striking like lightening or sputtering like a drizzle.

4. Orlando’s 3-point shot

The comparisons of the Hakeem Olajuwon-led Houston Rockets of the mid-nineties and the current Dwight Howard-led Orlando Magic are fair. Except that the current Magic squad is more similar to the Shaq-led Magic that was swept by these Rockets in the ’95 Finals.

Surrounding a superstar scoring Center with deep sharpshooters can be a solid blueprint for success, but this is only the case when the shots are falling.

Dwight Howard is nowhere near the offensive force as the Dream, not yet at least, but he is capable of commanding the double-team, which is the one weapon that allows this formula to work. Since Orlando does not posses the slasher it thought it had in Vince Carter, a la D-Wade with Shaq, the Magic are handicapped by their ability to shoot the deep ball.

No matter how inconsistent they may be the rest of the regular season, Orlando just needs to heat up at the right time in order to beat ANYONE in the playoffs.

3. Boozer and Noah

Derrick Rose is a popular pick for MVP this season, and for good reason. The Chicago Bulls sport the third-best record in the top-heavy East, and they have yet to experience an extended run with their complete roster.

The Bulls are the Hornets of the East, on steroids.

The offensive-defensive presence of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah down low, along with the Chris Paul-Dwyane Wade hybrid that is D-Rose roaming the outside, is as scary as it is perfect for a deep playoff run.

Add Luol Deng and a live person at the 2, and you have as good a starting five as there is in the league.

If Boozer and Noah can play enough games together to mesh in time for April, the entire NBA, not just the East, better take heed.

2. Boston

If Kevin Garnett was healthy in ’09 and Kendrick Perkins didn’t shred his knee in last year’s Finals, we may easily be referring to the Celtics as the three-time defending NBA champs.

That’s a lot of ifs, and not that many, all at once.

Entering last year’s playoffs, the regular-season allergic Celts were not expected to do much. Some analysts had them losing to the Heat, sans LeBron and Bosh, last season in the first round.

But Boston showed us why they call the playoffs the second season, the real season. They also showed us flashes of their ’08 championship run which was fueled by their shutdown D.

Adding depth along the front line in the form of the “O’Neal Twins”, Shaq and Jermaine, along with the unquestioned arrival of the fourth wheel of the now Big 4- Rondo- has the Celts as the consensus best team in the East, if not the entire league.

If the Heat expect to advance to this summer’s super series and a shot at the pot of gold, they must find a way to ruin the luck of the Irish.

1. San Antonio

Like a favorite piece of clothing you cannot find the nerve to burn, the Spurs are still relevant.

Sure, the headband around the neck made a fashion statement on the court a few years ago, and it will surely make a comeback sometime in the near future, but you just don’t want to take a chance at embarrassing yourself by picking that headband out of the back of your underwear drawer and risk never being picked to play a pick-up game again.

We all see the Spurs atop the standings, yet no one has the gall to declare them a serious threat out West. How could a team whose core won a championship as early as ’03 (and, of course, ’05 and ’07) still pose a threat to the top teams of today?

As San Antonio continues to defy the odds, their confidence continues to rise. You would think that a veteran group with three rings led by Coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t necessarily need a psychological boost, but if you saw the end of last weeks’ contest in the Staples Center, where Pop ak chewa lee cracked a smile after a buzzer-beating tip-in to win the game, you can tell that these Spurs feel as if this is their year, again.

That hasn’t been the case the past few years, when Boston’s Big 3 was formed and Pau Gasol arrived gift-wrapped to the Lakers.

While the depth of the West and the presence of the Lakers may be too much to overcome, do not tell that to Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl XLV "Pre-Review": Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay

1st Quarter

Green Bay kicks the ball into the end-zone for a touchback, meaning Pittsburgh will start at the 20 yard line.

That one sentence settles 13 prop bets, and forces a quarter of the audience to simultaneously barf half of their beer burgers 95% of the way to a full-fledged hurl, stopping only at the edge of infamy, and swallowed without incident.

Before the aftertaste settles in, the Steelers are forced to punt after 3 plays net 3 yards.

Pittsburgh punts.


Budweiser encourages us to call-in sick to work tomorrow through clever subliminal messages designed to create a day after the Super Bowl holiday. The message is clear when Donald Trump “fires” a supervisor who did not attend the office super party at the secretary’s boyfriend’s three-story mansion located next door, instead deciding to call the police. The chief shows up, and who is it other than the Donald himself.

After hearing the drunken half-hearted pre-determined laughter, I proceed to barf-hurl.

Green Bay takes over at their 29 yard line.

Aaron Rodgers and the Pack move the ball with some success through the air, opening some holes for the running game.

After Troy Polamalu disrupts a third down pass attempt, Green Bay kicks a 36 yard FG with 8:11 left in the quarter.


Dr. Pepper convinces us that a diet cherry version of this already flavorful beverage tastes just like the original, assuming you believe Venus Williams’ skimpy body suits are the same as no body suit at all. The images are too compelling to ignore. I love Dr. Pepper. I am now convinced, however, that Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper is the best soft-drink ever made.

Pittsburgh takes over at the 20 yard line after another touchback.

The Steelers gain some traction while Rashard Mendenhall steamrolls for 27 yards on 6 rushes.

After some short passes to Hines Ward and Heath Miller, Pittsburgh finds themselves at Green Bay’s 8 yard line.

The Packers defense tightens up, and Clay Matthews chases Big Ben down on a third and goal pass attempt. The Steelers kick a FG, tying the game with 1:03 left in the quarter.

End of 1st: Green Bay 3-Pittsburgh 3

2nd Quarter

Green Bay continues their steady, consistent march down the field. Rodgers finds John Kuhn for a 24 yard screen pass to put the Pack at the Steelers’ 26 yard line.

A couple of runs for short gains put Green Bay in a third and long situation.

With 10:45 left in the half, James Harrison gets the Steelers’ first sack while causing the game’s first turnover by clubbing the ball out of Rodger’s hand.

Ziggy Hood recovers.

During the commercial break, Joe Buck makes a derogatory comment about Pam Oliver’s outfit. This humorous observation somehow finds it way on the air in parts of the country.

While Mr. Buck escapes this embarrassing moment unscathed, Troy Aikman’s reputation takes a dive as his response will go down in Super Bowl history lore, surpassed only by Janet and Justin’s epic episode during half-time of SB XXXVIII.

Joe Buck: “…talk about a Whiskey Sour! (followed by a high pitch, sharp giggle)”

Troy Aikman: “I prefer Buttery Ni??les! (followed by a whole-hearted, breathtaking gasp of a laugh)”

Pittsburgh scores a TD on a reverse pitch to Hines Ward who passes to a streaking Mike Wallace with 7:33 left in the half.

Green Bay struggles to gain yards and punts after gaining one first down.

Leading 10-3, the Steelers get Mendenhall rolling.

After a play-action pass to Heath Miller puts Pitt on Green Bay’s 23 yard line, Roethlisberger connects with Ward in the middle of the end-zone for a 17-3 lead with 4:20 left in the half.

Neither offense can advance the ball as the half comes to an end.

Halftime: Pittsburgh 17- Green Bay 3

3rd quarter

Green Bay’s Sam Shields returns the second half kick for a TD.

Cowboys Stadium suddenly transforms from the site of the biggest circus in the world to the home of a championship FOOTBALL GAME.

Pittsburgh hopes to get Mendenhall rolling. A few short gains move the Steelers from their 33 yard line to Green Bay’s 37.

On first and 10, Antwaan Randle El takes a quick screen pass down the sidelines for what looks to be a momentum changing big play.

As he fights for extra yardage and a touchdown, Charles Woodson comes from behind and swipes the ball out of Randle El’s grasp.

B.J. Raji recovers the loose ball after hustling a down a quarter of the field, never giving up on the play.

During the commercial break, nachos and cheese are consumed at a record pace. I wash mine down with Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper.

The defenses step up as neither team can sustain a meaningful drive.

After exchanging punts, Green Bay looks to level the game. On first down from their 22 yard line, Rodgers finds Greg Jennings across the middle of the field after a superb play action fake.

The catch and run brings the Packers to the Steelers’ 35 yard line with 2:02 left in the third.

With Pittsburgh’s defense on their heels, Brandon Jackson is able to grind the ball inside the 15. This allows a play action pass to Kuhn, who rumbles and stumbles in for a game-tying TD with 0:49 left in the third.

End of 3rd: Pittsburgh 17-Green Bay 17

4th quarter

The party continues, but the game itself starts to rear its ugly head.

Even the most nonchalant fan understands what is taking place on the field.

With 15:00 left until history is made, we receive a report from none other than Pam Oliver.

Visibly upset and a tad shaken, Oliver gives us insight into her interview with Coach Mike Tomlin between quarters.

Pam (sporting a beige/yellow dress with green buttons along with a St. Patrick Day green and beige scarf): I spoke with coach Tomlin, and he says that in order for the Steelers to win the game, they are going to have to outscore the Packers.

Pittsburgh gets the fourth started with a healthy dose of Mendenhall. His ability to not only find space, but bully his way through would be tackles, is taking a toll on the Packer’s defense.

His running also allows Big Ben to connect with Heath Miller in the middle of the field on play action passes.

After milking 6:09 off the clock, and knocking on the end-zone door, the Steelers run out of steam when Clay Matthews gets his second sack of the game at the 24 yard line.

The Steelers settle for the 41 yard FG, taking a 20-17 lead with 8:33 left in the game.

Green Bay’s offense, on the sidelines since the end of the third quarter, looks a little rusty while two plays net 0 yards.

The next play, however, is a complete reversal of fortune. On third and 10 from the 23 yard line, Aaron Rodgers reads a zone-blitz from Polamalu, who is picked up in the backfield by Brandon Jackson, which allows Jennings to get past the corner and in front of the safety. The connection nets 14 yards and gives Packer Nation a reason to cut some more cheese.

With the considerable weight of Wisconsin on his shoulders, and images of a smirking Brett Favre piercing through his subconscious, Aaron Rodgers leads the Pack on a memorable drive.

Trying to protect a three point lead, the reeling Steelers defense tries one more blitzkrieg, but the poised Rodgers escapes the initial pressure and rolls toward the sideline.

After gathering himself, he finds a wide open James Jones on the opposite sideline for an 18 yard TD and a 24-20 lead with 2:19 left in the game.

The Steelers, and Big Ben, find themselves 77 yards away from football euphoria. The setting is familiar.

Setting up in the shotgun formation, the Steelers connect on a couple quick button routes.

The clock continues to click as Pittsburgh is in no-huddle mode.

Facing second and five from the 48 yard line, Big Ben pump fakes to Ward and switches his body to face a streaking Mike Wallace. Wallace is blanketed by the Pack defense, which forces Ben to check down to Miller in the middle of the field. As he sets to rifle the ball down the field, he senses pressure from his new buddy, Matthews. Able to elude his grasp, Big Ben buys more time by spinning out of the pocket. As he heads toward the left sideline, he directs Ward toward the corner of the end-zone. Unable to gather himself, he must throw a dart across his body. However, he doesn’t realize that Matthews’ motor didn’t stop running.

As he prepares to release his desperation ‘Hail Mary’, Clay Jr. collides into Roethlisberger, this time leaving no doubt about the outcome while forcing and recovering a game-sealing fumble. The replay reveals that Big Ben may have permanently damaged his shoulder, unfortunately.

While there is no significant injury to speak of, the city of Pittsburgh feels the pain of coming up short in the biggest game of the season.

Final Green Bay 24-Pittsburgh 20


Cheese heads across the country celebrate as Aaron Rodgers is cast into Green Bay Packer legendary status, while Clay Matthews, Jr., gets the last lock.

Notable stats:

Green Bay

Rodgers- 24-34, 278 yards, 2 TD 0 INT

Jennings- 6 catches 79 yards
Jones- 3 catches 56 yards, 1 TD
Kuhn- 7 catches 49 yards, 1 TD

Clay Matthews- 8 tackles, 2 sacks, FF, fumble recovery


Roethlisberger- 19-35 221 yards, 1 TD 1 INT

Ward- 5 catches 99 yards, 1 TD, 1 passing TD
Wallace- 6 catches 87 yards, 1 TD

Mendenhall- 24 rushes 103 yards

Friday, February 4, 2011

Banned From TV: Inside the NBA

Ernie: Hi and welcome to Inside the NBA. Alongside Kenny the Jet Smith (Kenny Smith proceeds to “raise the roof”), Charles Barkley (Chuck has a blank stare on his face, which is focused directly on Chris Webber), and Chris Webber (C-Webb has a “why are you looking at me, Chuck?” grin, and then nods to Ernie Johnson as if to say, “I don’t know why, but you intimidate me, Ernie” or, more likely, “I would love to imprint ‘Spaulding’ on you’re forehead. Just one time….I miss you, Tyra….), I’m Ernie Johnson. We have a great set of games to-

CB: Ernie! Hold on a second. Why are you-(CB turns his attention to KS)- you know, Kenny and I have a bet (he looks in to the camera)- now hear me out, I don’t mean a casino bet-(looks back at EJ)- but I have to ask you a question, Ernie. Kenny and I have a bet. (refocuses) Why? I mean, what made you decide to-

KS: Easy now, Chuck! (starts to crack a smile)

CB: No, no, Kenny. Ernie, what made you decide-

CW: (he leans forward in his chair, rubbing his hands together, cracking a smile himself) I want to hear this.

CB: (looking at CW) Well, you would know-actually (looks at Kenny) I think C-Webb should have to answer the same question-

KS: Now, Chuck, you know we had to pick one or the other (KS is turned toward CB and motions his open hands left and right as if he was trying to inbound a basketball), one or the other because (he turns his attention to EJ) Ernie, I know you have a good rea-

CW: (leans back in his chair, visibly concerned about what the “bet” is and why he was a possible candidate for answering the question) Hey I don’t know (shrugs his shoulders for emphasis, tries to crack a smile, eyebrows raised) what the bet is, but my answer is probably the same as Ernie’s (he does a fake embrace of EJ’s shoulders, close enough to get his point across but far enough to make sure he doesn’t touch EJ)…(straight-faced and leaning forward in his chair again)

EJ: (looking at C-Webb as if to say “You’re not so baaad. I bet I could take you”, in a basketball game, a fight etc…now looking in to the camera, taking control of the show) Unfortunately, we have some basketball games get to (KS “raises the roof” in the background). I am anxious, as I’m sure our audience is as well, to answer whatever question you have in order to decide whatever bet it is you have with Kenny. But we’re gonna have to put that on hold. For now-

CW: (steadily smirking, head slightly tilted toward and pointing at CB, eyebrows raised) I know you aren’t gonna ask what I think you’re gonna ask because (his palms in the air, directed at EJ), like Ernie said, -

KS: (slowly shaking his head in disbelief and disgust) Ernie didn’t day anything. (turns to CB and quickly says/asks, with the same disbelief but not the same disgust) Ernie didn’t say anything?!

CB: All I know is, (wags finger toward EJ and says, in his best Ricky Ricardo voice) you got some splaining to do..

A half second of uncomfortable silence pierces through the set.

EJ: (slightly grinning and slightly irked, taking control of the show again) Wizards-Clippers! John Wall and Blake Griffin are not only key contributors to their respective teams, but are most people’s top picks for rookie of year. More on that when we return to Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai.

(Familiar music takes us away to the commercial break)


CB: Pau can’t hold Marc’s jockstrap.
KS: Is jockstrap one word or two?
CW: (slight giggle) I think there’s a hyphen. (looks at Ernie) Right, Ernie?
CB: A hymen!? Why in the wooorld….

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Top 7: NBA Players by Position

There are, at last count, 233,377 possible combinations of NBA starting fives that contain the necessary attributes for championship success. Passing or scoring point guard? Defensive or shooting small forward? I prefer a passing PG (Magic), scoring SG (Jordan), defensive SF (Artest), scoring PF (Duncan), and a defensive/rebounding C (Okafor), while you may prefer a scoring PG (Rose), defensive SG (Dumars), defensive/shooting SF (Bruce Bowen), defensive/rebounding PF (Rodman), and a scoring C (Shaq).

Eight of those ten players have rings, ak chewa lee.

While NBA teams spend months, years even, to find the correct ingredients, the recipe is the same: scorers, defenders, rebounders, passers, and role players.

The following list contains the top players at their position right now:

(Justin Case: Some players may be officially listed at other positions, but any baller worth his salt can play more than one position…LeBron played four positions in one game recently!)

The point guard position requires leadership and selflessness. Of course, many great point guards can score the ball as well. The correct mix of passing, scoring, and on-the-floor coaching is essential to be an elite PG in the NBA.

1. Deron Williams
2. Derrick Rose
3. Chris Paul
4. Steve Nash
5. Tony Parker
6. Chauncey Billups
7. Russell Westbrook

The shooting guard position has been forever defined as “Michael Jordan”. You want to know what skills the prototypical SG should possess? Take a look at the career of his Airness.

1. Dwyane Wade
2. Manu Ginobili
3. Monta Ellis
4. Kobe Bryant
5. Joe Johnson
6. Ray Allen
7. Tyreke Evans

While my ultimate starting five would consist of a lockdown perimeter player in the mold of a Ron Artest, NBA small forwards are the most versatile players in the league. Any of the following players can bring the ball up the court or throw down an alley-hoop on Mark Eaton.

1. LeBron James
2. Kevin Durant
3. Carmelo Anthony
4. Paul Pierce
5. Danny Granger
6. Rudy Gay
7. Jeff Green

Big men can be divided into two categories: scorers and defenders, or power forwards and centers. The best PF can be counted on to get an easy bucket or get to the free-throw line when the offense has become stagnant.

1. Dirk Nowitzki
2. Blake Griffin
3. Carlos Boozer
4. David West
5. Pau Gasol
6. Chris Bosh
7. Kevin Love

If the power forwards are the scorers, then the centers are the defenders. My favorite PF/C combo would have to be Tim Duncan and David Robinson. The best centers should protect the basket and grab the loose rebounds; however, scoring should not be underestimated (see #3).

1. Dwight Howard
2. Amare Stoudemire
3. Andrea Bargnani
4. Al Jefferson
5. Emeka Okafor
6. Andrew Bynum
7. Andrew Bogut