Tag Archives: dwight howard

The Dwight Howard Horror Show Continues

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Enough Dwight Howard already… Enough!!!

I’ve had it, I’m sick of it and I wish that it would go away preferably by cannon fire.

This saga has made the plights of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony seems like fairy tales. We had somewhat of a clue as to what their plans were but the saga of Howard has been one big roller coaster of uncertainty.

At this time last year all signs were pointing to Howard going to the Lakers. Then it was Chicago, then Howard wanted Dallas, then Brooklyn, then the Clippers (that’s right, someone actually wanted to play for the Clippers. Crazy right?), then Orlando, then the Knicks became an option, then Stan Van Gundy said Howard wanted him fired, then Howard denied it, then Howard scratched his opt out clause saying he wanted to stay in Orlando, then he wanted out of Orlando again, the SVG got fired, then Brooklyn had a four team deal on the table, Orlando said no, now it’s the Lakers again…

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

MAKE IT STOP!!!!

In 12 months Dwight Howard has gone from one of the games most fun and endearing players to a sissy and a chump. Countless people have complained to me about Howard and his flip flopping and how it’s upsetting them as fans.

Can you blame them? We’re in the big 3 era of the NBA like it or not with players positioning themselves like dominoes to fall into place with the right team. However, in the case of Dwight Howard this goes far beyond positioning, this is whining, crying and bullying at its worst.

Howard is like your little daughter who wants everything her way and stomps her feet, screams and throws fits to get it. At least you can tell your child no, in the case of Howard you can’t do anything right.

Orlando has tried and tried to make both team and player satisfied but to no end. They unjustly fired Van Gundy who did nothing but lead them to their second finals appearance for Howard only to have him ask to be traded again. They’ve tried to trade Howard everywhere only to have him or the team involved say no. They have upset fans, confused players and the entire league staring at them wondering what’s next.

What can they do? They have the great new problem in the NBA, a player who wants everything his way on his terms and doesn’t care who he hurts to get it.

It happened in Cleveland, Denver, New Orleans and almost in Utah before they told Deron Williams to step off.

Now it’s happening in Orlando and they really can’t do anything about it. The best deals on the table are for teams Howard doesn’t want to go to (hi Houston) and the teams he wants to go to don’t have the assets for him.

This saga could spread into the upcoming season with his free agency a torturous 365 days away.

Hopefully both sides can come to some sort of agreement to get Howard out of Orlando and out of the headlines. This thing has dragged on long enough and needs to end soon.

Who knows what Howard will ask for next. Maybe a trade to FC Barcelona?

Thanks a lot LeBron and Carmelo. Look what you guys started.


An Awkward Moment For David Stern

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That awkward moment when Chris Paul walks into training camp today in New Orleans when he was supposed to be a Laker yesterday.

That awkward moment when Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol walk past Mitch Kupxhak who just tried to trade them yesterday.

That awkward moment when Luis Scola and Kevin Martin walk into Houston’s locker room and try to act like everything’s normal when it’s not.

That awkward moment when Danny Ainge gets back on the phone trying to trade for Paul with Rajon Rondo walking into his office looking for apology that Ainge would trade him in the first place.

That awkward moment when Amar’e Stoudamire tries to act like he’s not getting traded when there was mention of his name in a possible trade for Paul.

That awkward moment when any free agent or trade prospect gets nervous when they hear the Cleveland Cavaliers as a destination knowing that they have to work for Dan Gilbert. You know the guy that dissed LeBron in comic sans script. He was one of the men behind the killing of Paul trade. More on that later.

That awkward moment when the Magic start getting nervous that they won’t get anything in return for Dwight Howard since they are about to lose him.

That awkward moment when reports of Dwight Howard going to the Nets surface and both the Magic and Nets wait for rejection letters from the commish…

Way to make things uncomfortable like an Egyptian heat wave David Stern.

His veto of the Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers has turned a solution of three teams problems to a problem for thirty teams.

Here’s the scoop: the Hornets can’t keep Paul and they know it, they work out a with the Lakers to send him there and work in the Rockets as a third party. The Lakers get a point guard that they desperately need, the Rockets get an actual center in Pau Gasol, and The Hornets get Martin, Odom and Scola to make them a deep competitive team. It works out for all party’s especially the Hornets who look like the big winners…

Except it didn’t work out that way.

Reportedly several owners despised the trade and sent E-mails to Stern expressing their dissatisfaction. The ring leader was apparently Dan Gilbert who made the point that he thought the point of the lockout was so that players could bully GM’s into getting their way and so that superteams wouldn’t be formed, which would keep the competitive balance.

Truthfully Gilbert had a point. As a fan, a Knicks fan at that, I would like a more competitive balance around the league. If there are only 6 teams worth watching then what’s the point of watching.

However, if this were Gilbert years ago and he knew LeBron James was leaving (he did though his naivety got the best of him) Gilbert would’ve done the same thing. He would’ve traded James and got as much for him as he could. So why is it a problem to him that the Hornets are trying to get the best value possible for a fleeing star?

This is going to be an issue going forward for a handful of teams that need to move players that will leave in the future. The Magic come to mind first with the Dwight Howard issue.

Reportedly they are having heated talks to send him to the Nets. Will Stern veto that trade too? What about when the T-Wolves want to move Kevin Love, or when the Clippers or Warriors are trying to get Paul again? Will he veto those deals as well?

Stern just opened up Pandora’s box by not allowing the Paul deal to go through because he has to kill those other deals. If not then the Hornets, Lakers & Rockets will be hotter than the sun and they’ll have a right to be.

There should be a more fair and balanced league, but when a trade happens and it’s fair to the teams involved it should go through. Stern should’ve realized that, now he has a mess on his hands that could and will be bigger than the three teams involved.

If you think life is awkward for the players involved in this deal just wait and watch the next few weeks. The NBA had a wild offseason but the drama of the regular season might be even bigger.

And it all started with a no from David Stern. If he doesn’t fix this problem his next few headaches will be much worse.


What Could’ve Been For Yao Ming

Yao Ming retired today after 9 injury plagued seasons.

When Yao Ming retired this afternoon after 9 injury-plagued seasons in the NBA I couldn’t help but think of what could have been.

 

When he arrived on the scene Yao was an instant hit. On the court he was a mammoth specimen with unlimited potential. At 7’6” and 280 pounds Yao was one of the biggest men to ever play the game of basketball and also one of the most skilled men at his position.

 

He wasn’t as big in terms of girth like Shaquille O’ Neal nor was he as nimble as the man the roamed the paint in Houston before him in Hakeem Olajuwon. But Yao had the moves to out maneuver some of the best big men in the NBA and the smarts to guide him through each game.

 

In his early bouts against Shaq it was a tale of two centers. One who was an immovable object in the paint that intimidated his opponents with his large mass and unbelievable power, the other which even at age 21 was cunning enough to force his opponents into foul trouble and break them down with his prowess and ever evolving game. Yao got the better of Shaq in the win column during those as he was able to overcome those slights in power and speed and guide the Rockets to victory via his wit.

 

That was Yao, he was a new breed of center. In an age where the center was supposed to be a relic he was on the verge of making it the most ballyhooed position in the league again and start a revolution of the position.

 

He was skilled on the block as well as the outside. Yao could hit 16-foot jumpers just as easily as he could back Michael Olawakandi down in the paint for layups. He was an exceptional passer who could find shooters with ease and made life for defenders hard whether they were guarding him or watching the perimeter.

 

In the paint on defense he was becoming an emerging shot blocker who altered shots with his large frame and made life hell for driving guards as well as big men who were trying to score over him.

More than basketball however, Yao was changing the game with presence off of the court.

 

In his nine years Yao made the All-Star team 8 times thanks to a large fan base from his home land of China that rule routinely made him one of the top two vote getters. His impact helped the league grow exponentially in China as it now regularly sends reporters to the NBA’s main events. Since Yao’s arrival, China now regularly hosts numerous NBA players in the offseason such as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant to hold camps in the country and help raise interest of the game.

 

Yao Ming gave us glimpses of what couldve been versus Shaq.

Yao had a documentary about his arrival in the league, and a string of commercials that introduced him to the American population and showed off his funny side. He was truly the league’s first true international star and was on his way to being one of the brightest stars that the game has ever seen.

 

Then came the injuries.

 

After his first three seasons where he only missed 2 games, Yao missed 25+ games in each of his final 6 seasons including all of the 2009-2010 campaign. Whether it was his big toe or a forever broken left foot Yao couldn’t stay on the court. It prevented from having as dominant of a career that was foreseen by so many people from scouts to fellow players.

 

In 2006-2007 Yao was averaging a career high 25 PPG and looked like a surefire MVP candidate before his foot began to give him problems. After the injury he could never reach the potential that was seen in that season and in glimpses in the next few years. His lower body robbed him of what could have been a stellar NBA career and robbed the fans of a superstar that could’ve shined as bright as Michael Jordan, Julius Erving and the other big names before him.

 

Yao Ming was an exceptional player. He was an All-Star, one of the best centers of his class, and was a cultural force that transcended the Eastern and Western Hemisphere.

 

Unfortunately thanks to injuries we never truly got to see what Yao was made of. He could’ve been an all-NBA selection, a finals champion, league MVP and a possible hall of famer. We saw shades of it when he played Shaq and Dwight Howard and other excellent big men down in the paint. We could’ve been watching one of the best players of our era.

 

But we will never know.


And We’ve Only Just Begun

Alex Burrows series winner was one of the great moments from the first round of the NBA and NHL playoffs.

The first round of the playoffs are never interesting. There are your 1 versus 8 matchups that are usually over in a week, a slightly more interesting 2 vs. 7, a deceptively tough 3 vs. 6 matchup and the 4 vs. 5 is always the most evenly matched series but can swing either way.

All of the series normally run too long and in the past I’ve complained about how the playoffs need to be shortened. After the last two weeks, I’ve changed my mind at least for one year.

The NHL and NBA playoffs first round action was so compelling that it was hard to keep up with every series even though I tried my hardest. If Alex Semin wasn’t scoring in overtime to save the Capitals in game 1 versus the Rangers it was Derrick Rose carrying a sloth-like Bulls team to a come from behind victory against Indiana. If Chris Paul didn’t have a throwback game 1 against the Lakers, then Teemu Selanne looked a 24 year old instead of a 40 year old versus Nashville.

There were so many ridiculous occurrences that it made my head spin. Here I am at Eddie George’s trying to watch the Yankees-Orioles game and Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday are knocking down huge threes to keep the 76ers alive versus Miami, and as soon as I turn my head Daniel Briere and Ville Leino are forcing a game 7 versus Buffalo after scoring late goals to keep the Flyers alive.

It’s like the NHL and NBA are trying to one up each other… I like it.

Think about each series for a minute. Let’s subtract the Red Wings-Coyotes series and the Orlando-Atlanta series because Detroit dominated the Coyotes and no one cares about either Orlando or Atlanta.

After this first round exit, Dwight Howard's future in Orlando is now in question.

(Actually I lied. There is an interesting dynamic from the Orlando series; Dwight Howard won’t be playing for the Magic much longer. I can’t envision him staying with a team with no backup big man; a roster of shook players and no real consistent shooters around him. This series loss was almost the last draw for Dwight because when he played well he lost and when he played terrible the magic won, which I can’t understand at all. Dwight is probably sick of being in Orlando and hearing Stan Van Gundy in ear every two seconds and being ripped by everyone for not exceeding his talent level. Picture Dwight in L.A. or New York or maybe even Boston in a year or two. Yikes.)

Starting in both Eastern Conference matchups, The Bulls-Indiana series should’ve been a washout. Instead Darren Collison and company put heavy pressure on the Bulls for 4 of the 5 games and could’ve easily won the series as they lost it.

Why didn’t they? Derrick Rose.

To hell with PER rating and things like that, Rose was the best player on the floor at all times and packed the Bulls on his back leading them to victory in the first three games of the series. His acrobatics and constant driving to the hole was amazing. He was undaunted, vicious and would not lose. If you had doubts on the MVP then you didn’t after this series.

Miami versus Philly was mostly a wash except for game 4 when Philly had one last gasp and the Wells Fargo Arena went nuts thanks to Williams and Holiday’s heroics… and LeBron’s inability to close again.

LeBron James could’ve easily beaten the 76ers with a drive to the rim late in the game, but he stopped short, threw up a bad shot and Philly escaped. Thanks for the new material LeBron. We’ll be watching you closely throughout the playoffs again. And I have a feeling that you might be screwing up again.

The Celtics-Knicks series should’ve gone 7 games, if: Amar’e Stoudemire got the ball in the last 5 minutes of game 1, Carmelo Anthony got any help in game 2, and if the Knicks had any reliable players besides those two at all.

Truth be told the Celtics were only impressive in game 3 when they crushed the Knicks at The Garden. However, in the other 3 games they looked terrible. Sure the Big 4 lead them to victory by taking turns in handling the majority of the scoring, but they cant come out cold like they did in games 1 & 2 and they cant give up a huge lead like they did in game 4. If they do then Miami will eat them for lunch, unless LeBron has the ball late.

Derrick Rose's acrobatics put the Bulls in the second round of the playoffs.

In the NHL the Caps-Rangers series could’ve went both ways. The Rangers could’ve won games 1 & 4 if not for a late goal by Alex Ovechkin in a hard-fought game 1 and if they didn’t choke away game 4.

The Caps fans had to be thinking “here we go again” as the third period of game 4 started and they were down 3-0. Another Washington collapse after they had an early 2-0 series lead had to be in the back of their minds . Then Alex Semin and Marcus Johansson led a charge that sent the game into overtime where Jason Chimera effectively ended the series with a fluke goal that gave them a 4-3 win.

Instead of concerns of another early exit, the caps pulled it together and won the series in 5.

The Sabres and Flyers series was fun and head scratching at the same time. The Sabres chased a Flyers goalie in 3 of the games in the series, had a 3-1 lead in game 6 at home and had the series in their hand… and lost.

Philly’s goaltending has been bad since Bernie Parent retires it seems, but in this series it was a cluster****. If not for Daniel Briere’s timely offense and Ryan Miller’s ineffectiveness in net for Buffalo then the Flyers would’ve been toast. Instead they move on and Buffalo has another postseason horror story.

Speaking of fans saying “Oh no not again” how do you think Boston Bruins fans felt after losing the first two games of their series at home after the playoff collapse to the Flyers last year?

Boston showed incredible resilience by taking the next two games in Montreal before winning a pair of overtime games at home, including a raucous game 7, to win the series.

It was a classic rivalry that seesawed between both sides and was a thrill to watch (even though the Spurs were clinging to their lives versus Memphis. More on that later.)

Finally Tampa Bay continued its revival of a season by coming back from 3-1 down to Pittsburgh to win in 7 games.

First off this wasn’t a collapse. The fact that Pittsburgh was almost in the second round without Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin is a shock to me. What else was a shock was how dominant Tampa looked in games 5,6 & 7.

Nathan Horton and the B's finally got rid of the Habs.

They were a different team from the first 4 games. They were flying around without a care and just took it to the Penguins. Steven Stamkos and company looked like a Stanley Cup contender than a team in the middle of a grand rebuilding plan that took a huge leap this year. There 1-0 game 7 victory was even more impressive because of their defensive play that they hadn’t had all year.  Are they for real? Maybe, but it’ll be fun to watch it play out.

(Ok, halftime. I told you these playoffs were nuts. And we’re not even into the West yet. Ready and break.)

Now the Western Conference where arguably the best series in each sport took place.

The Thunder vs. Nuggets was interesting for one reason and one reason only, the possible alpha-dog fight between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Let’s be clear about this… THE OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER ARE KEVIN DURANT’S TEAM PERIOD!

Yet in game 4 Westbrook took it upon himself to take every big shot when the game got down to the wire and he also made every big mistake. It was like watching a train wreck. Westbrook chucking up bad shot after bad shot while Durant just stood there calling for the ball and not getting it.

In the end the Thunder lost and Westbrook took 30 shots to Durant’s 18. Scott Brooks probably wanted to ether Westbrook on the spot.

Sad part is that it was in the process of happening again in game 5. Westbrook was making more bad plays late in the game and was putting the Thunder behind the eight ball again. Then Durant said enough.

With the Thunder down 9 with 4 minutes left, Durant hadn’t yet scored in the quarter. Once he got the ball that changed. In an instant the lead for Denver went from 9 to 7 to 5 to 3 to 1 and then OKC was up. Durant had a Jordan blackout moment. No one could stop him at all. He drove to the lane, hit from three, from 18 feet, hit floaters, right-handed and left-handed. He was unstoppable and led the Thunder to victory.

I run OKC... got it?

Hopefully Westbrook learned his lesson but I don’t know. This is going interesting to watch over the next few weeks.

Dallas had a message for everyone that picked Portland in their series, kick rocks, barefoot.

Despite Brandon Roy’s heroics in two wild games in Portland, Dirk Nowitzki guided Dallas to Victory in a series that no one had them picked to win. At this point in his tenure in Dallas the Mavs are more than ever Dirk Nowitzki and a bunch of parts. His 28 a game and 33 in the clincher paced the Mavs and his cool demeanor weathered any storm that Portland gathered up for Dallas and led them to an impressive series win.

The Lakers-Hornets series was a throwback series. We saw glimpses of the greatness of Chris Paul’s past with his 33/17 performance, we saw how Andrew Bynum can alter the play of any game when he’s healthy, and we saw Kobe go HAM with a dunk over Emeka Okafor that brought us back to when Kobe had all of his hops 5 years ago.

It also showed that the team to beat is still the L.A. Lakers. Despite the problems of game 1 the Lakers dominated 4 of the next 5 with their size and defense even without a dominant offensive output from Kobe or anyone. The West is still theirs especially now that…

…San Antonio is gone thanks to the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies. How great was this series as a fan?

Memphis didn’t even have Rudy Gay, arguably their best player, and still mashed on San Antonio like they were ants. Zach Randolph has gone from an NBA outcast to the leader of a team of young lions that are making lots of noise and looking for respect.

The Grizzlies were animals in this series. Tony Allen brought some of that Boston toughness out, Mike Conley looked like an all world point guard and Marc Gasol looked like the Gasol that plays in L.A. only a lot tougher.

Zach Randolph and The Grizzlies are having a good time in these playoffs

They pounded the smaller and older Spurs and except for an aberration of game 5 where Gary Neal hit a game tying 3 with no time left, the Grizzlies were the better team all series long.

As great as the Grizzlies and their crowd were, you have to wonder about the future of the Spurs.

This has to be the end of a great run form one the leagues best franchises of the last 12 years. Tim Duncan is getting older, Manu Ginobli is breaking down and the Spurs have no real front line depth to battle with any team in the Western Conference. This might have been the last of the Spurs dynasty and if so then the shift of power in the Western Conference has already begun to shift.

As we shift to the NHL and the Nashville and Anaheim series there were three things about this series I hated. 1. I was thinking that these two would meet in the West Finals because no one team could stop the Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf line, 2. Because no one was going to score on Pekka Rinne and 3. Because they were the two hottest teams going into the playoffs.

And of course I loved the series, well, except Bobby Ryan trying cut someone’s foot in half with his skate.

It was a seesaw battle that showed the each team’s strength at its best form, and that every game was intriguing.

The MVP’s of the series were Jordin Tootoo for the Preds who was a monster by setting up the game-winning goals in games 5 & 6 and by just being a pest and getting under Anaheim’s skin all series long, and Teemu Selanne who scored 6 goals and kept Anaheim in each game if the series… and he’s 40.

(Side note: people think I’m crazy for picking Nashville to go to the Stanley Cup Finals but why not? They have arguably the best goaltender in the playoffs in Rinne, the best defense lead by Shea Weber, and even though they don’t score a lot of goals they score them when they need to. I’ve seen weirder things happen, but a hockey team from Nashville in the Stanley Cup Finals? It could happen.)

The Predators in the Finals... why not?

If you want another reason as to why I still will never pick the San Jose Sharks to win a Stanley Cup then look at their series versus the L.A. Kings:

Game 1: back and forth battle between two very good teams ending with Joe Pavelski winning the game for the Sharks in OT.

Game 2: L.A. embarrasses them 4-0. Unacceptable.

Game 3: L.A. jumps out to another 4-0 lead, Antti Niemi gets pulled, L.A. has the win in the bag and somehow San Jose ties it at 5 at the end of the second period and win 6-5 in OT. Gutsy but still, how do give up 8 straight goals in the playoffs?

Game 4: they dominate the Kings and roll 6-3. Impressive.

Game 5: Kings jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first period on the road and win 3-1. Terrible.

Game 6: The Sharks overcome a raucous crowd and another OT to win in L.A. and clinch the series.

You call them gutsy I call them soft. Until the Sharks consistently beat teams in the manner that they should I will not take them seriously as a Cup contender. Period.

But none of these series NHL or NBA matched the Vancouver Canucks-Chicago Blackhawks. Vancouver was the leagues best team in the regular season with the leagues top offense and was a favorite to win the Stanley Cup. However in the last two postseason’s the Blackhawks owned them in the playoffs.

This was Vancouver’s main nemesis, the number one roadblock to the Cup even though it was a first round matchup. The Canucks had to slay this dragon to reach its destination and through three games it looked like it was easy as 1,2,3.

Then game 4 happened, 7-2 Blackhawks. Ok no problem. They don’t want to lose at home, sort of a last gasp effort no biggie. Then game 5 happened, 5-0 Hawks… in Vancouver. Uh-oh.

Panic spread, Alain Vineault sat Roberto Luongo for game 6 in Chicago, which was the biggest knee jerk reaction I had ever seen a coach make to two bad losses. I mean the guy won you 38 games during the season, why pull him just because of two games?

Game 6 was played on pins and needled by the Canucks. Sure they led 2-1 and 3-2 but they looked tense all game long. It seemed like the pressure to close out was getting to them. Then when Cory Schneider injured his groin during Michael Frolik’s game-tying penalty shot things got real tense. Luongo came in and did a decent job in relief… until overtime when he allowed Ben Smith to grab a rebound off of a Marian Hossa shot to send the series to a game 7.

Put Vancouver on a suicide watch at that point.

Vancouver-Chicago might’ve been the greatest game 7 in the early stage of the playoffs ever. It was fast paced throughout with Luongo (hey! He’s starting again) and Blackhawks rookie Corey Crawford standing on their head throughout the game. The series looked like it was in the bag for Vancouver as Duncan Keith hooked Alex Burrows for a power play that was surely then end of Chicago’s season. Until Hossa had another shot at Luongo that just missed, but it came right to Jonathan Toews who had a Canuck on his back while he was falling down, and he still put it past Luongo to tie the game.

I still dont believe in San Jose, no matter how mentally tough Joe Thornton and company seem.

Rogers Arena was ghostly quiet. I mean like someone died quiet.

Another overtime, more anxiety and the possibility for more heartbreak. When Burrows took a penalty for holding Keith you could see the Canucks fans beside themselves. Could it really end like this? Could we really lose to this team again and in this manner? Burrows himself must’ve been losing his mind in the penalty box. When that penalty ended you could hear a collective sigh of relief from the 20,000 in attendance.

Two minutes later you could hear joy from those same fans. When Chicago’s Chris Campoli tried to clear the puck form his zone, Burrows pounced on it, moved in and fired a rocket past Crawford that gave Vancouver a 2-1 win and sent Rogers Arena into a frenzy.

The Canucks mobbed Burrows and it looked like they won the Stanley Cup. The demons were gone, the suicide watch was over, Vancouver had finally beaten Chicago.

What a series, what a first round. Can it get any better than this? Can Dallas-L.A., Miami-Boston, Boston-Philadelphia and Detroit-San Jose match the craziness of what we saw in the last two weeks of April?

Hopefully so. As great as round one was, I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the best that these playoffs have to offer just yet.


Dark Days In Miami (NBA Preview)

Lebron James... welcome to the darkside.

So… anything interesting happen in the NBA since last June?

Unless you’ve been under a rock then you know about the Miami Heat trying to buy their way to a championship. Sorry if I sound a little bit bitter while writing this. Keep in mind I live in Ohio now and in case you haven’t been attention again these people aint happy LeBron James dipped out on them to Miami. Of course I didn’t care about it much, I’m a Knicks fan WE GOT AMARE STOUDEMIRE IN THE GREAT SUMMER OF 2010… (Crickets chirp).

Back to James and Cleveland and everything in between. The controversy surrounding the decision and what was said in the aftermath I have already covered, the funny thing about it is how it continues to linger as Miami rises to the top of everyone’s list and Cleveland is in the running for Harrison Barnes in next year’s draft.

Cleveland number one has to get over it. It’s happened, there’s nothing you can do about it. LeBron is the new Art Modell a get that, but LeBron didn’t do anything for you all other than block some shots, dunks some balls and have a puppet. He hit one game-winning shot in his entire career and that was against mighty Golden State. In other words you had the new age Dominique Wilkins playing for you. I know the Q won’t be the same on game nights but you gotta let this go.

As for LeBron… well… he needs a new PR guy. I think I’ve learned that LeBron, the attention hog that he is really isn’t that smart when it comes to the media. The GQ interview where he stated that no one in Akron like Cleveland, fail. The reposting of hateful tweets, fail. The promise that he’s taking mental notes and it’s pushing him harder than before (until he gets to the playoffs and fizzles again), fail. I can’t believe this but we’ve actually found a sensitive athlete who cares more about perception of himself than anything to replace Alex Rodriguez.

First off this whole monster was his creation. From not being honest about free agency from the jump, to The Decision, to that interesting commercial that was just released where he goes off on everyone and says he won’t be what you want him to be. I’m sorry LeBron that all we wanted you to be was the media hyped sensation that you created by taking Jordan’s number, calling yourself “The Chosen One” and then fleeing to Miami with a big middle finger to the 216. See the bitterness is still there and I’m not even a Cavs fan.

(Side note: LeBron’s “Rise” commercial, and Tiger Woods’s commercial after his return from the incident that he still refuses to discuss were the most uneasy, uncomfortable and biggest ego stroking moments of two athletes who aint too well liked right now. What’s next? The Ben Roethlisberger commercial where he confesses some of his missteps in the last year? Nike, just sell some damn shoes.)

Sick of them yet? I am.

LeBron isn’t the only star than played a city, While Chris Bosh has about as much affiliation with Toronto as I do with Baltimore the way he put on a dog and pony show in front of them reeks of discrepancy. It’s not like Bosh ever won anything either, Bosh is a mid-level star who just so happened to be in the same draft as his two new teammates James and Wade. Bosh couldn’t carry the Raptors to the playoffs let alone carry himself to elite status so he decided to join forces and be Ringo to James and Wade’s Paul and Lennon. The whole thing was plotted ever since they won gold in the Olympics and the last two years they’ve been doing things to hide the scent of their obvious trail. The scenario wreaks of jealousy, greed, sloth and lust…ITS EVIL I TELLS YA!!

I actually had a Facebook status about this awhile ago just as a joke, think about this for a second; three men sign 6 year deals…. To play for the Heat… leave two cities in destruction… all for their own greed and purpose…get it? 3 guys, 3 headed monster, 6 year deals 666? Heat, hell fire? Greed? Destruction? IT’S THE TEAM OF SATAN!!!!

Ok not really but you have to think someone’s not happy about and already the Heat have injury problems from Wade’s hammy to Mike Miller’s injury that has him out until January. So the “Yes We Did” machine has slowed considerably in Miami.

Yet the NBA championship is still the main goal of this team. While they have some competition for the crown, it aint much. The NBA has turned into a 5 team league  with a bunch of exciting players that will wither be like LeBron and join forces with another player to build a contender, or do it the Kevin Durant way, do it yourself like all of the legends did.

While everyone is so excited about the start of the season I could honestly care less. The league isn’t anything special until after the all-star break. Except for LeBron’s return to Cleveland in December I could care less about this season. it’s like my feelings on La Liga, I have to be interested in more than two teams to care about a league, and in the NBA there’s only 5 teams out of 30 that matter, Orlando, Miami, Oklahoma City, Boston and the Lakers (apologies to Dallas but you’re not their yet). While to some it makes for appealing basketball I’m more into the middle tier of teams Chicago, Milwaukee, Portland and the Clippers… yes Clippers I said it.

Come on Blake Griffin is back from injury, Eric Gordon is looking to continue his momentum from a great World Championships  and the team looks like it can be competitive enough to make the playoffs. The Gordon-Griffin combo is especially exciting to watch because of the possibilities  of what could become of these two, just keep in mind, these are the Clippers, anything can happen.

I’m also intrigued by Sacramento with Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins leading a young team that could be the next Oklahoma City. There is a ton of young talent in the league in places that they can build up to challenge some of the guard within the next few years. There are some special things brewing in Milwaukee as Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut lead a team that would be a Eastern Conference contender if not for the constant attention given to Miami.

Another team that looks intriguing is Minnesota. Granted they won’t come near the playoffs but they’ll be interesting with a new up tempo style of play and do it all wingman Wesley Johnson flying all over the place.

Kobe aint the only reason to watch games at staples this year

Yeah it sounds nice to give the little guy some pub, but  it is all about the Heat and since Satan’s squad is getting all of the pub here are some angels that could rescue the NBA from the on court Armageddon.

DWIGHT HOWARD

In case you haven’t noticed the Heat have no inside presence at all. Bosh can’t guard any athletic big men, let alone the best center in the game. This has to be the year where Howard stops being so nice and turns into an animal. Even Superman knew when it was time to stop being a Good Samaritan and beat some ass. This is Howard’s time. Florida has been his state for the last three years and he and the Magic are on the verge of being overtaken. If Howard’s offseason workouts were really serious and he did get better then the Magic could make a run back to the finals.

KEVIN DURANT AND OKLAHOMA CITY

I really, really want them to take it to L.A. this year but they are still one year away. Durant is the real deal beyond a shadow of a doubt. He’s the guy that really wants to be the man in the big situation and doesn’t shy away from attention. It doesn’t hurt that he has Russell Westbrook breaking ankles at every turn and Jeff Green doing everything at both ends. With the King settling for becoming a prince Durant is now the man to beat for MVP and the next in line for the title of best in the league.

BOSTON’S BIG THREE

Don’t tell me that they don’t want a shot at Miami’s big 3. Boston might be old but the old legs still have life in them as well as Rajon Rondo running the point. If they stay healthy they get to finals due to their depth, if they break down then Danny Ainge may want to start the rebuilding process.

CARMELO ANTHONY

Did you hear Carmelo wants out of Denver? If you saw what that team was like you would too. Carmelo desperately wants to be a Knick along side of Amare with the possibility of Chris Paul joining them. Now that’s a big three.

But back to Melo for a minute. In that class of 03 with Wade, James and Bosh, Melo always seems to be the forgotten man. He’s t he best pure scorer in the league who whopped LeBron in Cleveland last year with a game winner at the buzzer. Carmelo has the potential of being the best in the league but he needs help more than anyone else. If he becomes a Knick with that much talent and possibly Paul following him than Carmelo may be the man to beat for the next few years.

DERRICK ROSE AND JOAKIM NOAH

Not Batman and Robin, just two dudes who back down from nothing. Come playoff time they’ll bruise the Heat inside and out.

KOBE BRYANT

Yeah, um, I'm still here incase you forgot.

 

Yeah… him… he’s still walking around. Injured or healthy there’s no one better that will bring it night in and out. Who would’ve thought five years ago we’d be talking about Kobe in a better light than LeBron. Kobe is the old-school player that we all admire. He wants the ball late, he plays the best offensive player on the floor, and he fears nothing. He’s also one ring away from matching the man that we all compare him to, Jordan. He knows this. He knows that his time is limited for as long as he’s played and the injuries that are piling up. You also know that none of this mattered as soon as he saw James, Wade and Bosh standing together and saw the entire world claim them as title favorites.

Kobe is a monster. He never forgets anything, ask Shaq. His motivation right is winning a title and if the Heat get in the way then destroy them. Kobe is still the best player in the league no matter who is walking around be it Durant, CP3 or Prince James. He’s also got (in no particular order) Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and a cast of shooters and role players that once again make the Lakers the real team to beat. Betting against Kobe is not smart, no matter whom Miami just acquired.

So sorry Miami for all of your hype, antics, controversies and other offseason craziness you’ve built up you won’t win the NBA title this year. That will once again go to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers will save the NBA from Satan’s minions and keep the promise of good basketball alive for another year. However, you know evil never sleeps and anything can happen. I just hope it doesn’t involve the Heat in any way possible, they bring the anger out of me as a writer. Guess they’re doing Satan’s work well.

ATLANTIC- BOSTON

CENTRAL- CHICAGO

SOUTHEAST-MIAMI

PLAYOFFS- ORLANDO, ATLANTA, MILWAUKEE, NEW YORK, INDIANA

NORTHWEST- OKLAHOMA CITY

SOUTHWEST- DALLAS

PACIFIC- L.A. LAKERS

PLAYOFFS- UTAH, PORTLAND, CLIPPERS, SAN ANTONIO, HOUSTON

ECF- MIAMI VS. ORLANDO

WCF- LAKERS VS. OKLAHOMA CITY

FINALS- LAKERS VS. ORLANDO

MVP-KEVIN DURANT

6TH MAN- TY LAWSON

DPOY- JOAKIM NOAH

MOST IMPROVED- JRUE HOLIDAY

ROY- BLAKE GRIFFIN

COACH OF THE YEAR- TOM THIBODEAUX


The Magic Move On But With One Big Problem

Orlando can beat Charlotte in four straight games the way it did all they want. You don’t need Dwight Howard to ball hard against a team with no real inside scoring presence nor defensive presence.

If the Magic want to win they need D-12 out of foul trouble.

You can chuck up all of those threes if you want, let Jameer Nelson be your go-to scorer, all five foot ten of him. The fact of the matter is that if the Magic want any shot at winning a NBA championship they need Dwight Howard on the floor and not in foul trouble. If he can get pushed around and coaxed into foul trouble by Tyson Chandler, Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace imagine the problems he will encounter with King James, Josh Smith and Al Horford.

The Magic won this series basically with hot shooting from Nelson, Rashard Lewis and others as Howard never saw 30 minutes in any game in the series. In fact Howard’s series was beyond abysmal. He averaged 9.8 points per game and 9.3 rebounds and shot 13-35 from the free throw line. That’s half of his point per game total in the regular season and four boards less. What did skyrocket were his foul totals. Howard committed 22 fouls in the four game series while fouling out twice. It got so bad that teammates bestowed a new nickname on Howard, “Foul on You.” Talk about a name fitting of someone.

“It’s been frustrating, but everything happens for a reason. That’s the only way I look at it,” said Howard after a morning shoot around. The bright side for him and the Magic has been the play of his supporting cast.

The aforementioned Nelson averaged a team high 24 points a game in the series while Vince Carter and Lewis chipped with close 16 per game a piece. While scoring and staying in games was an issue for Howard defense most certainly wasn’t. Howard averaged 5 blocks per game including 2 games with seven plus. Yet still the focus has to be on Howard’s ability to not have himself removed from a game in key stretches due to foul trouble. “We watched, I think, nine clips, maybe 10 clips, just trying to get an understanding of what’s going and what their strategy is in the whole thing,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a very smart guy, but you’re in very difficult, very physical situations out there. He’s got to take a lot of hits and a lot of grabbing and holding. Obviously, he has to handle that in the right way.”

Which is very true, Howard is stronger than most players in the league and his aggressiveness does tend to get him in trouble. One problem could be the Magic’s lack of a true power forward to help take some of the physicality away from Howard. At the same time Howard should know his surroundings and play with a little more brains than brawn.

The MVP candidate that he and coach Stan Van Gundy have both pumped up have to return to form in the next series whether it’s the Hawks or Bucks. If Howard can’t stay out on the floor for more than 29 minutes against teams with more experienced personnel than the Magic won’t get back to the finals this year or beyond. Superman has to return and hope “Foul on you” doesn’t keep interfering.


The Great NBA Playoff Unknown

The matchup everyone wants might not be the one that they get.

Don’t believe everything that you have read, heard, or even seen.  Don’t believe the little playoff simulators, the odds makers, trends, blah blah blah.

The NBA second season has officially arrived, and everyone thinks they have it all figured out. Cavs-Lakers, Cavs-Mavs, Magic-Lakers… honestly you don’t know nothing.

The reality is that the last three weeks of NBA basketball was not only boring and uneventful, but it lulled everyone to sleep and has given fans, players and writers a false sense of security. Once the top 8 clinched in the west, teams were “jockeying” for position when in reality it didn’t matter who was playing who in the first round as long as it wasn’t the Lakers. The Jazz, Nuggets, Spurs, Suns, Blazers and Thunder could’ve finished 3-8 in any order and it wouldn’t have mattered (and still doesn’t, it’s either the Lakers or Mavericks in the finals). No team is dominant; they have issues somewhere and won’t stand a chance in the Western Conference finals… see that’s what you are supposed to be thinking right?

Ok I’ll stop messing with your heads and get down to it… ANY TEAM CAN WIN THE TITLE THIS YEAR! THERE IS NO FAVORITE! No team is truly dominant, every team has a big problem, anything can happen, whether your coach and GM get into an MMA fight, or your center and alpha dog two guard are beefing (again) or you’re just counting the days until your star players bolt for greener pastures (ahem Miami, Cleveland) there are concerns on every team that could eventually kill their chances.

There are chemistry issues in Chicago and Los Angeles, concerns about lack of experience in Oklahoma City, questions of age in Boston and San Antonio, injuries in Portland, Denver, and Milwaukee, and teams that may put too much pressure on themselves knowing that things could be different next year in Cleveland and Atlanta.

Here are some logical yet crazy situations that could happen over the next two months:

Oklahoma City can beat the Lakers. Even though Phil Jackson just mind-bleeped Kevin Durant. The concern is youth for the Thunder, but what about the dysfunctional family that is L.A.? Are they focused enough to repeat with Kobe chucking up shots again, Pau Gasol spewing venom at Kobe and Ron Artest fading late in games. Couldn’t you see Russell Westbrook and Eric Maynor off of the bench going hog wild into the paint and creating havoc? This isn’t a chip in for the Lakers, the Thunder are Hungry and ready to jump on whoever is in their path. Plus this is the most underrated defense team in the league, Jeff Green and Thabo Sefolosha will give Kobe fits.

Boston could get to the Eastern Conference finals. Everyone has them left for dead due to age and health. They won’t be together past next year as Ray Allen looks to be gone and Doc Rivers may leave. I just have a feeling that the Celtics have been playing dead for months. They got off to a hot start then hit the cruise control button and had some questionable losses to horrid teams. Yet last week when they played the Cavaliers you saw the fight come out in them, KG cursing up a storm, Allen dropping 33 and just an all-around gutsy performance. They understand that 60 of the 82 games of the season are pointless and the real season is the postseason. Maybe after game 30 they just said you know what, we’ll get a top 4 seed just let everything fall into place. Crazy, but not out of the question.

They're well rested and ready to roll.

San Antonio could win the NBA championship. See Boston. Just in reverse

The Nuggets could pull it together and make a finals run. The first 40 games of the season this was the true life scenario of the NBA: Carmelo was MVP, the Nuggets were neck and neck with the Lakers and no one team in the NBA could matchup with them. After Carmelo’s injury here’s what happened: George Karl gets cancer, Kenyon Martin gets injured (again) and goes batty on a trainer, Ty Lawson gets injured, Chauncey Billups gets injured, and the Nuggets fell apart. The Mavs, Suns and Jazz all past them in the standings and left the Nuggets for dead. Yet they have home court in round one and seem to be in good health, plus we know how iffy Utah is even with a MVP-like season from Deron Williams. It’s possible that they can regain some steam and make a run even past the Lakers.

The Jazz, Suns, Mavs, and Hawks could all get bounced in the first round. The Jazz are terrible on the road, the Blazers can keep up with the Suns even without Brandon Roy. The Hawks and Mavs are interesting and here’s why:

  1. Both teams are versatile at all five positions and off the bench.
  2. They have superstars that put up numbers, but have a reputation of fading in close games.
  3. They both had great runs from the midseason on, Dallas through the Caron Butler trade and Atlanta finally coming together after years of playing together.

Yet I don’t feel secure in trusting these guys in their first round matchups at all. Dallas draws San Antonio in the first round and Atlanta draws a scrappy Milwaukee team without Andrew Bogut, both Scott Skiles and Gregg Popovich are better coaches than Mike Woodson and Rick Carlisle and most importantly… ITS DALLAS AND ATLANTA! They’re underachievers! They may get to the second round and that’s it. I have no faith in either of these teams, especially Atlanta which is highly combustible and Joe Johnson may have a foot out of the door already.

Chicago could beat Cleveland… in 5 games. Don’t laugh. I know Vinny Del Negro and John Paxson almost beat the crap out of each other a week ago. I know you couldn’t get a lick off of that bench. I know there isn’t a being on earth, let alone on Chicago, that can guard Lebron James, but in 3 of 5 positions on the floor, Chicago is better that Cleveland. Consider this if you will, did you watch Cleveland without Lebron down the stretch? Terrible. Awful. Without James they are a 36 win team period. Mo Williams can’t guard Derrick Rose (and will go into hiding around game 3), Big Z, Shaq and Anderson Varejao will get housed by Joakim Noah, it’s almost amazing how quickly we’ve forgotten the motor on this guy. When the games get tougher, Noah steps his game up. He’s been a big game player since his days at Florida and its finally coming out in his third year in the league. The biggest piece though is Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich has almost been dealt 85 times in the last 3 years and has been shuttled in and out of the lineup the last two years. He’s now playing off guard and guarding the opponent’s best shooter and making their lives hell. If Delonte west, Boobie Gibson or Jamarrio Moon can’t shake Hinrich, then Lebron could be making plans for New York sooner than we think.

Orlando will win the title. They’re angry. Dwight Howard led the league in blocks, rebounds, and technical fouls. Stan Van Gundy is chipping away at other stars credibility. Matt Barnes is grilling Kobe Bryant and picking fights with other team’s big name players. J.J. Redick has grown an angry new do… okay so some things are more fearful than others. The Magic still made a bad deal in essentially letting Hedo Turkoglu and Courtney Lee go and thinking that Vince Carter is a go to guy this late in his career (and that its Vince Carter, he normally mails in it around February). Yet this team of any in the league is the most complete and the most focused. There is no chatter between Howard and Stan Van Gundy, no crazy side story involving an injured point guard, no big injuries, no nothing. Their quite normal compared to everyone else in the playoffs. They beat L.A. at home in a rough and tumble game that saw the fight come out of the Magic. They’ve only lost three times since March all to three playoff teams. They’ve been the most consistent team all year long save for losing 7 of 9 early in the year. You go into Magic games knowing what to expect from minute one to forty-eight, Redick giving you points off of the bench, Mikael Pietrus shutting down the opponent’s best player, and no one getting anything inside on Dwight Howard. They’re the model of consistency that most teams crave to be and want, and it should carry them to a title…

Or Los Angeles could win, or Dallas could prove me wrong, or Cleveland will whip Chicago. Who knows, just be glad that the slow crawl to the end of the regular season has past and that the real season is about to begin. Just don’t be surprised by whatever happens until June. You think you know what’s going to happen. Keep in mind, you don’t.