Tag Archives: russell westbrook

The Summer Of Durant

Kevin Durant has welcomed and dispatched all challengers this summer.

So, what have you done this summer? Gone on vacation? Went to a few shows? Drank a few beers and partied? Yeah sounds like a normal summer where everyone is happy that the winter coats are away and the only thing that matters are warm vacations on beaches and being lazy as hell.

Kevin Durant could’ve spent his summer doing the exact same thing as all of his, instead he’s been too busy becoming the new face of the NBA and quite possibly the most popular, and best basketball player on the planet.

Durant’s summer has been a constant highlight reel that has showed him dropping threes by the bucket, dunking from every possible angle and drawing more ooh’s and aah’s than the circus.

Durant has been the man of the summer in any sport. His acrobatics and mind-numbing performances have overshadowed the bleak outlook of the NBA lockout, the MLB playoff races and any other headline that has graced ESPN.

It’s been silly to be honest with you. First there was the 66 that he dropped at Rucker Park earlier in the month where a pull up three for a heat check turned into a YouTube phenomenon. Durant made the crowd erupt with every pull up bomb to the point where fans rushed the court after he hit a fourth consecutive three. Even the on court announcer lost his marbles as Durant stood and posed with the mob of fans with nothing but a screw face signifying “yeah, I’m nice.”

they'll be talking about the Rucker game for a long time

He’s put on shows at Dyckman park, toured China and the Philippines, balled out in gymnasiums all around the country and this past weekend in a matchup of D.C. and L.A. ballers it was Durant’s star that shined the brightest with 44 points in a win for his D.C. area Goodman League team over the L.A. based Drew League squad (led by OKC Thunder teammate James Harden coincidentally). It was a game that had a ton of hype coming into it thanks to Durant’s presence and that of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and other ballers who came out. While everyone came to play it was Durant that controlled the action most and made the crowd of over 1500 stand in awe.

Not bad for a 22 year-old who’s coming off of his first conference finals appearance this year.

What I like most about this entire turn of events is how eager Durant is to go out there and show just how dominant of a player he is. There were times in the Dallas series where teammate Russell Westbrook stood in his way and wanted to take all of the big shots while Durant stood back helpless.

In these situations it’s just Durant and his opponent. He has the respect of his teammates at the Rucker, Goodman or any other spot so when he gets the ball they just clear out and let him do him. It’s done wonders for his game and his brand.

Whenever the NBA starts up its next season how can the league not make Durant its most focal piece? He’s always been known as a genuine guy with a quiet demeanor and a big heart, but now it looks like his game is reaching new heights.

With LeBron James’ hara kiri of his personal appearance to others in the league Durant is the perfect fit to replace him as the face of the league. Kids, adults, college ballers and the streets adore Durant from coast to coast. He cares about his image to the point that he puts his tattoos on one unseen area of his body so that he won’t mess up any marketing for himself, however he’s nowhere near as vein as James.

Durant is always active on Twitter and is eager to communicate with fans at all times. He always showcases other people on his page and is not afraid to let his guard down for a little bit of fun.

What really separates him from LeBron is that he wants to improve… and wants to fight for his respect. That’s the main reason why Durant is in Harlem, D.C., and L.A. balling on the courts against great pro and street ballers, he wants respect from all forms of the game and not just the league.

Going back to the Rucker Park game just look at his facial expressions. Look at how with every shot he takes and makes he slaps fives with fans, chest bumps rappers and plays with a killer mentality. He’s honing himself for the next time he takes the court and he’s staring Carmelo, LeBron or Kobe in the face and the game is in his hands. While LeBron finally tries to find a low post game in year 9 and is still searching for his killer instinct, Durant is getting his as we speak.

Live from New York its Kevin Durant.

(Side note: if you think Kobe doesn’t recognize Durant balling extra hard then you’re a fool. Why else would Kobe be at a Drew league game balling in a gym with 5 rings? Because Kobe competes, he sees Durant doing his thing, he saw the 66 in Harlem and thought to himself “I have to get out here and see what’s up.” He knows Durant is trying to position himself for the crown and Kobe still wants to match Jordan and isn’t satisfied himself just yet. Kobe didn’t ball in D.C. for the Drew-Goodman game, he didn’t have to. He proved his point already that he’s still around and he can still bring.

You know I used to really hate Kobe, but the older he gets I love him more and more.)

The question now is what happens when the summer ends and NBA players are heading overseas to make money during the lockout? Where will Durant go and what will he do?

Is Turkey an option, Russia? He’s rumored to be staring in a movie about basketball that will start shooting when NBA training camp would start. Durant’s stock is higher than any other player in the league right now. Everyone wants to know his moves, his thoughts and everything that has anything to do with him right now.

And he has this summer to thank for it all. His games at Rucker Park, Trinity, Dyckman and everywhere else that he has played in the last month and a half have dropped our jaws and made us look at him in a different light.

He’s scored a lot of points, wowed a lot crowds and has made himself the number one player to watch in the league whenever it starts up again. Kevin Durant has moved up the NBA’s pecking order and it doesn’t look like he’ll be coming down for awhile.

I think his summer turned out just fine.

Random Thoughts Vol.2

Hit me... I dare you.

It’s been a month… time for more random thoughts.

I’m pretty sure that even if Dontrelle Willis’s improbable comeback as a pitcher fizzles out, he can be a DH or first baseman with that bat.

The Pirates are now dead… I knew it couldn’t last.

FC Barcelona losing to Chivas USA is the equivalent of Michigan losing to Appalachian State.

Justin Verlander might throw 6 more no hitters this year… I’m not joking about that either.

The U.S. Women didn’t choke.

(I mean did you watch the game? Japan never died. They kept fighting back and took advantage of the opportunities that were given to them. Sure the U.S. missed chances in penalty kicks where the Japan goaltender all of a sudden looked like Ken Dryden. However, you can’t say that they choked the game away when Japan played well in the face of adversity. Sometimes teams give games away but most times teams pull victory from the jaws of defeat. That’s what Japan did.)

Isn’t it funny that Ben Roethlisberger provided good off-season news for the Steelers as opposed to everyone else?

I’m surprised Steve Williams didn’t rip Tiger Woods even more than he did.

The Red Sox have not had a solid starting staff for the entire season with bullpen issues… yet have been in first place since June. And you think Adrian Gonzalez doesn’t deserve MVP?

Randy Moss aint done… seriously.

Are Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand the more extreme version of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter?

Seguin and Marchand are really enjoying winning the Stanley Cup.

I hate Merrill Hoge… but he was right about Tim Tebow…

And LeBron James would back him up wouldn’t he.

(My least favorite basketball player who shrinks in the moment defending the most overrated athlete not named Jimmer Fredette… god has a sense of humor.)

Kevin Durant dropped 66 at the Rucker… somewhere Russell Westbrook was seething.

Nice to see that Shea Weber got $7.5 million in arbitration… he’ll get that when he’s a Red Wing next year too.

The most aggravating rotation in baseball would consist of A.J. Burnett, John Lackey, Barry Zito, Edinson Volquez and Zach Greinke… with Burnett leading the league in headaches.

(I hate A.J. Burnett.)

The Eagles are the new Heat.

Osi Umenyiora can talk about a new deal all he wants. However, if he follows up another big sack season with a small sack season… kick rocks.

Ocho and Brady… Jesus.

What do you think Carson Palmer will do with all that money now that he’s retired?

Kyle Orton has lost his starting jobs to Jay Cutler, Rex Grossman and Tim Tebow…if he went on a 12 month bender I wouldn’t judge him.

Oklahoma is no.1 in the coaches’ poll. The last team to start the season no.1 and finish it as such… 2004 USC… good luck Boomer Sooner.

Strasburg is coming back… *giddy face*.

Shaq and Barkley on TNT… I need my cable back and fast.

The Red Sox traded for Erik Bedard to help their rotation… his ERA at Fenway is near 7 lifetime… I’m starting to feel ok that the Yankees didn’t get anything before the deadline.

Ryan Howard in his last 3 games has 3 home runs and 6 RBI, yep it must be August.

Michael Irvin on the cover of a gay magazine to promote equality of all people. Don’t know if I would’ve done it but very gutsy.

I win... again.

Duke being investigated for violations in recruiting… told you that no one is clean anymore.

When is Verlander’s next start again?

(We’re at a point with Verlander that he is must see TV. Verlander throws harder than anyone else in the league and his location has improved to the point where now he is close to pinpoint accurate. If you play the Tigers and Verlander is up on the mound then you might as well take it as a loss. He’s currently baseball’s best hurler and he hasn’t even hit his prime yet. Imagine this guy in 4 years… scary.)

Yani Tseng is the most dominant athlete in the world right now. And I am well aware that she is a 22 year-old female golfer and not many people watch women’s golf, but you should watch her.

Dan Uggla has a 25 game hitting streak… yet is batting .213… ummm?

NFL players like talking smack about how bad Roger Goodell is in the media, yet the signed this new CBA like everything is ok. Either take action or shut the hell up.

Is it wrong that I’m more excited for Syracuse football than Ohio State football? Keep in mind that I’m an OSU grad though I grew up with the ‘Cuse.

When A-rod retires there will be no specials on his greatness, no lauding over his accomplishments… hell there maybe a party thrown just for the fact that we never get to hear his name again.

(I haven’t been on A-Rod in a while but he’s like a bad ex-girlfriend he always finds a way to drive you crazy.

Really A-rod… illegal poker rings? And you still go after MLB and the Yankees tell you not to?

The Yankees are in a pennant race, one game back of Boston with the biggest part of the season approaching and you decide to blow a few thousand in front of low lifes, coke users and violent outcasts.

Eat your heart out Red Sox Nation.

I always say that I’m over A-rod but I really mean it this time. If this is true and A-rod did violate MLB policy then the Yankees should find a loophole in his deal, drop him like a bad habit and let Eduardo Nunez go through his growing pains at third.

I’m over the A-rod drama, I’m over the fact that there is always something with him and I’m ready to move on from him. Hopefully the Yankees brass feels the same.)

Kate Upton’s a Yankees fan, thank you God.

Had to end it off positively. Have you ever seen Kate Upton? That would make anyone feel good even when your third baseman is a perennial screw up.

A Sad Night In OKC

This about sums up OKC's collapse.

As far as collapses go, last night in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was pretty heavy.

I know about the 1992 Houston Oilers, the 2004 New York Giants and last year’s Boston Bruins. Those meltdowns were elongated and gradually moving over time.

The Buffalo Bills come back began almost immediately in the second half against Houston. The San Francisco 49ers had 20 minutes of clock left to come back. The Philadelphia Flyers gathered themselves in about a whole week.

The Dallas Mavericks decimated the Oklahoma City Thunder and left them for dead in less than 5 minutes.

How in the world did this happen? Kevin Durant had just hit a three-pointer to put the Thunder up by 15 points with 5:04 remaining. The Mavericks were outrebounded 48-22 at the time; yes you read that right, that is a differential of 26 in rebounds during a playoff game. The Mavs were shooting a ton of threes and not making many of them. Their offense was flat, the crowd was intense, the game was so far out of reach to the eye that my buddy Mike decided to hit the hay and get ready for work and left immediately after that Durant three.

Then somehow Dallas pulled themselves out of the grave… correction, Dirk Nowitzki pulled them out of the grave.

After watching Dallas look absolutely abysmal for 3 plus quarters, Nowitzki piled the gang on his back and carried them over the final 5.

His shot making was spectacular, no matter what Nick Collison did (and by the way, Nick Collison played tremendous defense on him) Dirk just kept hitting shots.

His baseline, off-balanced, one-legged prayer was the stuff of highlight reels, his head fake and patented one-legged fade away brought Dallas to within 4, he kept making play after play to bring Dallas closer to a tie and all Oklahoma City could do was watch.

The Thunder went from a well-oiled machine to an anemic one. Shots that were once falling couldn’t find the net. Durant panicked and chucked shots, Thabo Sefolosha couldn’t connect, Collison couldn’t get a rebound and Russell Westbrook raised more questions about his shaky decision making with a couple of ill-timed turnovers and shots of his own.

It also didn’t help that Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd and the rest of the Mavs defense buckled down and made life hell for everyone of the Thunder players on the offensive end of the floor.

Dirk worked his magic again.

Once Dirk Nowitzki hit those two free throws near the end of regulation to tie the score you could see the dejection and anguish on the faces of almost every one in the arena that wore Thunder garb, including the players.

The young guns who were free slinging and playing out of there minds for the first two rounds all of a sudden looked like a bunch of lost souls. They were scared, timid and searching for answers, Dallas on the other hand looked rejuvenated and hungry.

They came into the overtime period with the same ferocity that carried them throughout the end of regulation. Marion and Kidd were like blankets that Durant couldn’t shake. Their defense was one hell of a back-story to Dirk’s heroics.

(The funny thing about all of this is Jason Kidd’s transformation. 3 years ago before he came to Dallas; Kidd was a mediocre defender that couldn’t hit a jumper. Then last night you saw Kidd doing his best Bruce Bowen on Durant and Westbrook coming up with gigantic defensive plays and hitting the eventual game-winning three. As much as you have to praise Dirk you have to recognize Kidd’s brilliance in reinventing what kind of player he is and raising his game to the next level with a championship so close at hand.)

Throughout all of this the Thunder still had a chance to win this game after Serge Ibaka knocked down an 18-footer. But once Dirk found Kidd for the go ahead three to make it 108-105 you knew that it was over.

A few Durant misses later the meltdown was complete. Dallas had won a game where it was outrebounded by 22, allowed 18 more points in the paint and was down by what seemed like an insurmountable margin with 5 minutes left.

Kevin Durant missed his last 5 shots; the Thunder finished with 25 turnovers and will probably bow out with a game 5 loss at Dallas to drive a stake through their already torn hearts.

The good news is that they can take solace in their defeat by looking at what the Bruins have accomplished. After their epic meltdown last year Boston finds itself a game away from the Stanley Cup finals.

The Thunder can replicate what the Bruins did in part because of a declining Western Conference that they would seem to have an edge in being the favorite next year.

But it won’t take away the sting of this defeat. OKC’s failure to close out game 4 will go down in history with some of the most gut wrenching defeats that we have ever seen.

And we will be seeing it over and over again for a while.

The Russell Westbrook Saga Takes A Turn

Russell Westbrooks dramatic postseason took a weird turn last night.

Russell Westbrook sat down on the bench with less than a minute left to go in the third quarter replaced by Eric Maynor.

The Oklahoma City Thunder were down by three points and had blown a six point lead earlier in the period. Westbrook was frustrated with a botched play call and vented his frustration on the bench.

Seconds later James Harden hit a three and was fouled by Jason Terry.

He hit the free throw to put the Thunder up by one and they never trailed again.

During this time Westbrook never left the bench.

Russell Westbrook has been the NBA playoffs best drama not named the Miami Heat. His overzealousness and self-indulgence in wanting to be the man have tainted the amazing run that the Thunder have had thus far.

Last night it took a turn that I felt should’ve happened earlier in the playoffs yet the timing couldn’t have been better.

Think about how much of a genius Scott Brooks looks like right now. He sat Westbrook at a point in the game where the Thunder were struggling offensively and needed a boost. In came Maynor in addition to sticking with reserves Harden and Nick Collison while starters Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka sat on the bench. Brooks stayed with all of them for the entire period and the move paid off.

Not only did Maynor do a great job of running the offense but Harden was a beast as well knocking huge shots and finishing with 23 points and Collison did what no other Thunder could do in game 1, stop Dirk Nowitzki.

Collision forced Dirk into a few turnovers and never gave him a clean look at the basket. His feistiness and aggressiveness led to good looks for the Thunder on the offensive end and eventually led to a ten point advantage and a 6 point win.

Eric Maynor did a great job in place of Westbrook last night.

But the main story is Westbrook.

There are two sides to this story: one is that this benching should finally prove to Westbrook where he is on the alpha dog totem pole in OKC.

His internal struggle with trying to be the man over Kevin Durant has made for some good TV and lots of talk for everyone watching. We all know that Durant is the real man in charge but the message needed to be relayed to Westbrook. This was that message.

While Brooks would say that he kept his bench players in for the whole quarter because of how well they played, he can’t just overlook the fact that at some point he had to humble Westbrook. Yesterday he did that in a backhanded sort of way.

Westbrook coming out in the third quarter wasn’t a benching; it was his normal rest time. He normally checks back in at the 7 or 8 minute mark to lead the offense down the stretch. However, with the team playing so well he decided to keep Maynor in the game and leave Westbrook there to sit and wait… and wait… and wait… until the clock struck zero and he was high-fiving teammates after the win. The Thunder won while Westbrook sat and learned. Two birds, one stone.

The other way to view this is that maybe Brooks was right in his words when he said that Westbrook sat only because the bench was playing so well and not due to his poor play in key stages in the playoffs.

Last night wasn’t a mark against Westbrook; rather it was a bonus for the depth of the Thunder. For so many reserves to play in such a key stretch and stand tall is something that could last well past this series and into the finals. Now Durant and Westbrook for that matter have about a good 6 or 7 complementary guys that can step up in any situation and do what’s asked of them. Miami, Chicago or Dallas do not have that same luxury.

Throughout this whole drama Westbrook hasn’t let it get to him. Of course he was frustrated on the bench when his name wasn’t called, I mean wouldn’t you be too after being named all-NBA second team? Instead of letting his ego get the best of him he cheered for his teammates, was the first guys to hand out dap during timeouts and didn’t let reporters get to him with questions after the game.

He said that he was “good” and didn’t care as long as they won the game. A great bit of humbleness from a player who to most was letting his ego get in the way.

Now the question is what happens to Westbrook now?

Will Brooks yank him again if he goes against the game plan? Will he sulk and get upset if his number isn’t called? Will he chick up more terrible looking shots like he has done throughout the playoffs? Or will he play the type of basketball that makes him a top 3 point guard in the NBA?

Just know that every move that Westbrook makes will be looked at even closer than ever before, and if he can’t handle it then we know Coach Brooks will have no problem going to Eric Maynor again. It’s worked once before, Westbrook saw it firsthand.

A Classic Night For Dirk Nowitzki

Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, a.k.a. The Dirk Show.

2: Dirk Nowitzki knocks down a jumper off of a Jason Kidd feed.

4: Nowitzki drives into the lane to draw a contact foul on Kendrick Perkins. He drains both free throws

6: after Russell Westbrook misses a jumper (one of many in a horrid night for the brash young point guard) Kidd pushes the ball and Dirk drives into the lane untouched for another deuce.

8: Dirk pulls up over Serge Ibaka for an easy deuce

10: after Kevin Durant drains a three, Dirk abuses Ibaka (it happened a lot last night) and buries a 17 footer.

Thus far 4-4 10 points 2-2 from the free throw line. He sits at the 6-minute mark of the first before re-entering at the 1:13 mark.

12: Peja Stojakavic finds a cutting Dirk who rolls it in.

14: Dirk lures Ibaka with one of his many pump fakes and draws a shooting foul. Hits both free throws.

16: Nowitzki shakes Ibaka a drains a 18 footer. (And yes he’s still perfect if you were wondering.

19: in the midst of a crippling 13-0 run late in the second quarter, Dirk drives the lane bounces off of Ibaka drawing the foul and one.

(Side note: 5 years ago when Dirk went off for 51 against Phoenix he turned Boris Diaw into a crash test dummy. I immediately thought of this while watch the 6-10 super athletic Ibaka just get mauled by the bigger, stronger and more cunning Nowitzki. What I really remember was how me and my buddies made the joke that Boris Diaw in French meant Dirk Nowitzki’s B****. Insert Ibaka’s name and Swahili for the same effect.)

OKC got tired of seeing this last night.

21: Dirk drains a 12-footer, sorry Ibaka was on the bench.

First half: 21 points, no shots missed. Three’s, two’s, one’s, nothing.

As the second half began Scott Brooks decides to give other guys a crack at guarding Dirk like Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden… what do you think happened?

23: Dirk draws a foul on… guess who? Hits both.

24: Dirk gets a freebie from an illegal defense.

26: Dirk draws two consecutive fouls on Kevin Durant, one was suspect, but the even better question is why is Durant covering Dirk in the first place?

28: Sefolosha falls for the head fake Dirk hits two.

29: another illegal defense, dirk connects.

31: Dirk in the low block, over Sefolosha, no chance.

33: Dirk in the low block, over Sefolosha, no chance.

(At this point it’s becoming clear that not a single living being is going to stop, contain, slow down or… anything Dirk. If you face him up he’ll drive by you or shoot over you. If he has his back to the basket then he’ll pound you down. The Thunder had no answer for Dirk at all.

Coincidentally neither did Dallas for Durant. Loss in Dirk’s classic performance was Durant who was carrying the Thunder while Westbrook couldn’t hit Cowboys Stadium and Perkins couldn’t stay on the floor. Watch Durant and Nowitzki go at it offensively was like watching a clinic. Both knew their spacing, both knew when to drive and when to shoot and neither could be stopped. If game one was any indication of how this series is going to go then it’s going to be a good one.)

34: Dirk hits a tech.

36: Sefolosha goes for the fake, again, Dirk hits both.

38: Sefolosha can’t handle Dirk’s size and is called for clutching and grabbing. Dirk hits both.

(At this rate Scott Brooks needed a hug.)

Dirk misses his first shot of the game, and Jesus wept.

After three: 38 points. Perfect from the line and half of the Thunder wondering how in the hell they are going to stop him.

40: James Harden falls for the head fake, Dirk hits both. At this point the Thunder should’ve just stopped jumping.

You wanna try stopping me? Bring It!

We interrupt this Dirk Nowitzki report to bring you breaking news… Jose Juan Barea is pretty much the nastiest player in this series not named Dirk Nowitzki.

When he entered the game the whole dynamic changed. It wasn’t just about trying to stop Dirk, now you had to worry about a 6 foot locomotive that moved in fifth for practically his entire time on the court.

I couldn’t tell you how many times that Barea drove past Thunder defenders for an easy layup. He killed Eric Maynor, entered the lane at will and killed Nate Robinson’s ankles on his last layup.  It’s like someone fills his tank with nitrous oxide and says let er’ rip before he enters the game.

No wonder Andrew Bynum tried to break his ribs.

After Durant and Ibaka bring the Thunder within 5, the ball just so happened to find its way into Dirk’s hands again.

42: Ibaka falls for the head fake. Dirk hits two. I’m really tired of writing that.

44: after Westbrook hits a layup, Dirk answers with a 16- footer over Ibaka.

46: after Durant nails a three, Dirk answers with an 18 footer over Ibaka. (Serge Ibaka in Swahili means what again?)

48: with the Thunder clinging to what hope they have left, Westbrook fouls Nowitzki and he hits both.

To summarize: 48 points, 12-15 from the field, 24-24 from the line breaking Paul Pierce’s playoff record of 21-21, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks, and possession of Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka’s soul.

Not a bad night wouldn’t you say?