Sunday, March 6, 2011

Play Boring, Play to Win

Winning 50 Games In Style

While checking out ESPN on my phone this morning I noticed an NBA milestone just reached by the Spurs that is nothing short of remarkable. After beating Cleveland (obviously not that remarkable) the Spurs have improved their record to an NBA best 50-11, giving them their 12th straight 50 win record. The only other franchise to match a streak of this duration is the Lakers, who achieved it between the 1979-80 and 1990-91 seasons.
Not to take anything away from a Lakers team that at the time included multiple hall-of-famers and won multiple championships, but in today’s NBA a streak like this is much harder to accomplish. For one thing, it is rare that premier players stay on one team anymore and the biggest key to the Spurs success in this era has no doubt been Tim Duncan. While most players either look for the max contract in a big NBA market or attempt to leave their original teams to join forces with other all-stars, Duncan won a championship in his second season with the Spurs and never looked back. Another big reason the Spurs have been able to produce so many winning seasons is their supporting cast. This franchise has done an incredible job of finding talent where others don’t look, both overseas and here in the United States. Obviously, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli are two of the greatest international players to ever join the NBA but the Spurs also have an incredible ability to find talent that other teams overlook. The fact that ignored players such as George Hill, Chris Quinn and Matt Bonner make consistent contributions to a championship contender is a credit to Greg Popovich and the Spurs coaching staff and a big reason why they have been able to keep their franchise players healthy and continuously have such winning records.
Other NBA franchises should look to San Antonio as the example of how to win consistently and be successful in the league. Their ability to retain their big talent players and keep them healthy, utilize their supporting cast to the fullest of their abilities and win NBA championships all while remaining drama-free and maintaining a strong fan base make them the premier example of a successful NBA franchise. Even though they have been playing some of the most boring basketball to watch over the last 10 years, this milestone is the gold standard that every team should aim for.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Called It!

It’s a shame that two posts in a row will be about Carmelo, but it is necessary. He has just negotiated a contract with the Knicks and I’d be more than happy to walk you through the intricacies of what is no doubt a pretty complicated deal.
After analyzing the update from (and reading it about seven times) it appears to look like this:
The Nuggets Give:Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman
The Nuggets Get:Timofey Mozgov (I don’t know who that is either), Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, New York’s first round pick in 2014, two of Golden State’s future second round picks and some cash
The Knicks Give: Timofey Mozgov, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, a first round pick, Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry’s contract to Minnesota
The Knicks Get:Carmelo Anthony , Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Corey Brewer
The Timberwolves Give: Corey Brewer
The Timberwolves Get:Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry’s expiring contract
To me it seems like New York really gave up a lot to get Carmelo. Gallinari, Chandler and Raymond Felton are all playing really well and have a lot of potential, but if you want Melo you have to give up a lot and the fact that they’re also getting Chauncey Billups really makes this seem like a win-win situation, especially considering Denver is having their franchise player leave them. Carmelo was going to leave, which the Denver front office eventually accepted, and because of it the team won’t be completely barren like Cleveland was after LeBron left. Even the Timberwolves won a little bit by trading up from Corey Brewer to Anthony Randolph just by paying out Eddy Curry’s contract. I’m very excited to see Carmelo on the Knicks with Amare and Chauncey and I think they have a very good shot at the Eastern Conference finals this year.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Won't Call This Post "Melo Drama"

When trying to decide what the big NBA story is this morning, I realize that it is already February and that can only mean one thing. As the trade deadline quickly approaches, some superstar must be in the middle of several rumored, blockbuster deals. This season the star in the spotlight is Carmelo Anthony and the proposed deals are numerous, complicated and of course, still rumors. Let’s outline the most intriguing possibilities being thrown around:
L.A. Lakers: It has recently been proposed that the Lakers are the frontrunner in acquiring Melo. Although Ron Artest has been reportedly asking for a trade out of Los Angeles, the proposal has the Lakers giving up Andrew Bynum instead. To me this trade seems unlikely. Even though the Lakers haven’t been as dominant this year as people expected, giving up a 7-footer to acquire another long-distance, rapid-fire scorer to play next to Kobe doesn’t exactly set the Lakers up for an easy road to a championship. In any case it is reported that Carmelo intends on playing for the Knicks in the ’11-’12 season, so any deal with the Lakers would probably just be for the remainder of this year.
New Jersey Nets: Early on last summer, when Dwyane Wade, LeBron and Chris Bosh were among the All-Star players who had to make big decisions about their contracts, the Nets were seemingly one of the frontrunners to acquire a franchise superstar. Again the Nets are in the discussion as a possible home for Carmelo for the same reason they might have gotten LeBron back in July, they have a lot of money and really, really need a good player. Carmelo seems a little too smart to pick a team based simply on the money he could make and in the modern sports era where players are constantly thinking about their lasting legacy, Melo must want to play somewhere he can win a title. That place is not New Jersey.
New York Knicks: The Knicks are the strongest candidate for Carmelo’s new home and have been since before this season even started. They are playing well, the Nuggets would be able to send him away to the Eastern Conference and there has even been a fairly feasible three team trade proposed. The Knicks would acquire Carmelo Anthony, while sending Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry (who luckily has an expiring contract) to the Timberwolves and Wilson Chandler to the Nuggets, who would also get a first round pick and Corey Brewer from Minnesota. Furthermore, Carmelo would be a great piece for New York (where he’s already won a national championship with Syracuse) adding a slasher and three-point threat to the already lethal combo of Stoudemire and Felton that could take the East by storm.
Denver Nuggets: Let’s not forget that it is quite possible a deal won’t work out in the next two weeks and Carmelo could stay in Denver, at least for the rest of the season. Luckily it seems like both sides are dealing with this situation cordially and both sides have been continuing with business as usual in the NBA.
One of the great things about the NBA is how drastically a single player can affect the outcome of a game, a season and even a franchise which is why professional basketball is the most exciting sport in February. Hopefully we will be seeing Carmelo on the move, giving a new look to a franchise and creating a new NBA powerhouse in the process.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Where Is The Love?

"When I Open My Eyes I'll Be in Dallas"

The All-Star game sucks. It has particularly sucked for the last five or six years, but in general it’s always just been a showcase for dunks and unrealistically long range shots, which is kind of awesome, but only up to a certain point. Every year I lose interest about halfway through the second quarter, but the game does serve a captivating purpose. The All-Star team selections serve as a midseason milestone to remind us of the elite players and fan favorites within the NBA. This is an interesting method of marking history in the league and the system in which fans choose the starters and experts choose the reserves creates a balance that usually results in the best representation of top players. This system, however, is flawed. For one, players like Yao Ming, Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson have been named to too many All-Star teams simply because they are popular, not necessarily because they are having a good season. This is generally ok because those that choose the reserve players judge performance alone, but when elite players are overlooked because they are not necessarily popular and then also denied a bench spot, the only thing that redeems the All-Star process is lost. Let’s look at who is supposedly leading the NBA this season:

Eastern Conference

LeBron James – Miami
Amare Stoudemire – New York
Dwyane Wade – Miami
Derrick Rose – Chicago
Dwight Howard – Orlando
Ray Allen – Boston
Chris Bosh – Miami
Kevin Garnett – Boston
Al Horford – Atlanta
Joe Johnson – Atlanta
In my opinion the Eastern Conference has a pretty accurate breakdown, probably because there is less talent to pick from. There are only a few teams represented here which is unfortunate but the truth is there are only a few good teams in the Eastern Conference to choose from. I don’t know what they were thinking with the West though:

Western Conference

Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City
Carmelo Anthony – Denver
Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles (Lakers)
Chris Paul – New Orleans
Yao Ming – Houston
Tim Duncan – San Antonio
Manu GInobili – San Antonio
Pau Gasol – Los Angeles (Lakers)
Blake Griffin – Los Angeles (Clippers)
Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas
Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City
Deron Williams – Utah
I don’t care how much of a national hero he is, Yao Ming needs to be banned from the voting at this point. There’s no way he’s going to play in this game and frankly I almost forgot that he is even still an NBA player. Most notably, the reserve selectors made a huge error in ignoring Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. How could they possibly give Tim Duncan the spot over Aldridge who is averaging 21 and 9, let alone Kevin Love who is averaging 21 AND 15 REBOUNDS. If that isn’t All-Star caliber play, I don’t know what is. The selectors have done more than just ignore a great player in Love (who will probably get a spot when Yao Ming decides he can’t play) but have left out a player who might not be that popular but more than deserves the recognition that comes with an All-Star spot. They have failed to perform their role in the only even semi-important aspect of the All-Star game, a roster of players who represent the best and most popular players from the season and will be remembered as the top performers of 2010-11.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Nothing Can Really Make Protective Goggles Not Goofy Looking

"These Are Protective I Swear"

OK, maybe DWade's goggles aren't this stupid looking, but they are unnecessarily stylish and I think this is becoming a trend in the league.
Dwyane Wade is the prime example of an NBA player that has done everything he can to transcend the role of athlete and influence social trends and fashion. First there was the armoresque spandex and undershirts, which I was willing to believe had some sort of actual in-game use that warranted the ridiculous iron-man look that it gave him. DWade was also at the forefront of the leggings movement that rose to popularity a couple of seasons ago, in which premier players began to wear spandex under their shorts that went all the way down to their socks, giving Kobe a Peter Pan look every time the Lakers wore purple.
But then, in the beginning of the end, Dwyane Wade was seen wearing a customized Band-Aid under his eye at the All-Star game. I might be out of touch with what’s “hot in the streets” but I know enough to realize that unnecessary bandages as accessory hasn’t been cool since Nelly’s “Must Be the Money” was number one. This brings me to the point of this article: Dwyane Wade’s new goggles are just another fashion statement masked as necessary athletic accessory. Let’s go over the facts.
In last night’s game Wade wore protective eye goggles, something players in the NBA have been doing for decades, but pseudo athlete/celebrity that he is, he felt the need to wear a tinted, “fashionable” version. The original design was banned, because defenses couldn’t see his eyes, but he still got away with wearing fairly trendy, sunglass goggles.
Ultimately, I don’t really have a problem with players taking an extra step to look stylish on the court, but when it trickles down and high school players unnecessarily wear full leggings and buy $50 nike shooting sleeves it seems as if players are trying a little too hard to stand out and seem fashionable, especially when their accessories don’t really help any aspect of their game.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm Back... Well, At Least For One Post

This Is Still the Bulls Comeback, Not the Wizards One

If anybody is still reading this, which would be a huge surprise considering my last post was over two years ago, I’ve got good news for you: my triumphant return to blogging has arrived. Now, a lot has happened in my absence, so let’s quickly review.
1) The Lakers won back-to-back championships. This represents my least favorite thing about the NBA and what I think is the main reason some are losing interest in it. The Lakers, Spurs, Celtics and Magic are among the perennial winners in the league and they are also (probably not coincidentally) the most boring teams to watch. It’s not that good basketball has to be boring, i.e. the current Thunder, but it almost seems like David Stern, TNT and ESPN are all conspiring together to give the dullest teams the most exposure. It’s unfortunate for most fans that this is the case, but it does give us all the opportunity to watch Adam Morrison ride the bench like a consummate professional each season.
2) Some big name players have changed teams and a few franchises have undergone some serious personnel and image changes (luckily Chris Paul is still on the Hornets so I won’t need to update my banner). The biggest move that comes to mind, and one that promises to go down as one of the biggest blockbusters in NBA history, is LeBron’s move to Miami. He was accompanied by Chris Bosh, but at this point in the season it’s becoming clear that in order to be considered a relevant All-Star Bosh would have to remain on a mediocre team. Until the playoffs arrive and we see how far the Heat are able to go, all discussions about LeBron’s arrogance, betrayal and legacy are pointless, but to me the true “move of the offseason” is the new face of the Knicks. Even though Amare will probably never be able to lead a team single-handedly deep into the playoffs, it is clear from the play of Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari that Stoudemire has brought with him an attitude that the Knicks desperately needed.
3) The dunk contest remains lame and will continue to be lame until Chase Budinger wins (see video at bottom). The NBA also needs to institute a rule banning stupid costumes and props.
In short, it seems the NBA has been able to continue business even in my absence, but with the rebirth of GRG a new golden age will undoubtedly begin in professional basketball.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Big Fraiser Hopes To Become Big GM?

"What Does GM Stand For?"

In the few exciting days before the NBA season begins, one question is on everybody's mind. Would Shaq make an effective General Manager?
If you haven't already heard, Big Fraiser plans on purchasing the Orlando Magic with fellow washed up Phoenix Sun, Grant Hill. The fact that people don't actually know that Shaq would be the worlds worst GM is the only thing that makes this story actually interesting. Sure, he's been in the L for about 35 years and he's on a first name basis with pretty much every player that has been in the NBA in that time, but frankly... Shaq is an idiot. I hate to say it, but it's just my opinion. He was the most dominant college and professional basketball player to play in the last 20 years and he has more rings than most people could ever imagine but I just don't think he has been able to learn the intricacies of running a professional sports franchise in between becoming a certified deputy sheriff and the semi-serious commitment of playing 82 basketball games a year.
I may be wrong in assuming that Shaq thinks the job of General Manager entails hanging out with Grant Hill and going to the Dunk Contest once a year, but I honestly don't think he quite understands what he's getting himself into. It's great that Shaq wants to continue to be involved in the NBA, and no one is happier than I am that he wants to end his painfully dwindling career as a player, but I'm predicting a failure. You heard it here first.