Tweet Tweet

Great article on SI.com by Steve Aushburner: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/steve_aschburner/03/26/twitter/index.html

Twitter, welcome to the NBA. Lately, halftime ‘tweets’ have become the trendy thing to do, in a league that picks up such statements rather quickly. First, Charlie Villanueva, of the Milwaukee Bucks wrote a ‘tweet’, which is an online status, on his twitter. The gist of what is said was: I sucked this first half, and I’m going to step it up this second half. He then went and fulfilled his prophecy, helping charge the Bucks to a win. Quickly, his hard-nosed coach Scott Skiles admonished Villanueva, and told him and the press that such things shouldn’t happen.

The press this time decided, ‘No this is great!’ and wrote about how halftime tweets, put on the internet via mobile phones, were no different than a quick one minute interview for national television which is normally done every game. Then, Shaquille O’Neal sent a tweet during halftime, a very quick ‘shhhhhhh’. He had meant this towards the fans, he would say later in an interview, as if telling them ‘I’m going against league rules by tweeting, and don’t get me in trouble for it.’

NBA players are notorious for quickly catching onto trends, and making them even trendier. Gilbert Arenas wrote a blog, which single handedly pumped up NBA.com readers. Then there are the T-Mobile ‘Fave 5′ commercials featuring current star Dwayne Wade, and former star Charles Barkley. Another star is Baron Davis, who co-founded ‘Ibeatyou.com’ which is a website where people from around the world can challenge the world to some type of contest; such contests could be a ‘who can go longest without blinking’ style contest. Also, there is Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who took advantage of making Nike a big company in his hayday, and parlaying that into a lucrative company of his own, called Jordan, a subsidiary of Nike.

Personally, I love this new trend, as it puts the players closer to the fans. And it really is just harmless fun, which everybody could use around now. So I say ‘Tweet away NBA!’

baron-davis-twitter

B-Diddy tweets

shaq-twitter

Shaq-daddy tweets

(shaq) http://laist.com/attachments/la_tim/Shaq%20twitter.jpg

(baron davis) http://laist.com/attachments/la_tim/Shaq%20twitter.jpg)

Checking the Mail

So I have a few points to say in this post. They range from the usual to do with basketball, then ranging to some other sports. So lets get to it:

1) Comments: Keep them coming! It’s great to see casual commenters, as well as those who are consistently commenting throughout the blog. I also have responses to some of them. Those who say I ‘underestimate’ Hasheem Thabeet from my Bracket Busters post, I looked over his stats, and found that I called that one correctly. True, he has major numbers for rebounding and blocks in the tournament, but zero offense. He averages around 6 points per game, and when watching highlights I found that the team doesn’t even look for him on the offensive side of the ball. Also, for those who commented on the MVP race post, you were adamant on my under appreciation of Kobe Bryant. First, here are the points made by Kobe supporters: His team is going to top 65 wins, he is statistically having a great season, other players placed above him either have better teams or those teams are having worse teams (all of this with the exception of LeBron James, who all agree should be number 1). Now, here is my main requirement for MVP, and it will show how the Most Valuable Player award should truly go in the order of my current list. I believe that the Most Valuable Player should not have his team be able to survive if he went down. Obviously LeBron and the Cavaliers would be destroyed without him, and Dwayne Wade showed what the team is like without him last year (15 wins). Then Dwight Howard, when taken away, would have an all perimeter team, with literally nobody in the paint, unless Tony Battie is your idea of a ‘great’ center. Then come Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant. Paul has David West and Tyson Chandler, who would handle the team, though there would be a drastic drop without Paul. However, if Kobe left, how badly would the Lakers fare? Maybe not first in the Western Conference, but with their skilled Bench Mob, rising stars in Trevor Ariza and Andrew Bynum, along with trusted veterans Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Derek Fisher, I have good reason to believe they could easily contend for a top spot in the league. This single-handedly should prove how Kobe doesn’t deserve the MVP award, or even in the top 2, as he did last year.

2) Injuries, Injuries, Injuries: There is an injury bug going through the NBA. This year’s injured team of the year is the Golden State Warriors, who have had over 40 different starting lineups, thanks to a multitude of injuries. Then, here is what the ‘all-injured’ team would be, if those who are out for 2-months or longer where on this team (no specific talent-order):

PG – Deron Williams, Gilbert Arenas, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Jameer Nelson

SG – Monta Ellis, Caron Butler, Michael Redd, Leandro Barbosa

SF – Corey Maggette, Mike Dunleavy, Tracy McGrady

PF – A’mare Stoudamire, Kevin Garnett, Carlos Boozer, Al Jefferson, Elton Brand

C – Andris Biedrins, Greg Oden, Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler

Wow, I would take that team for fantasy basketball or for real, and definitely would be crowned champion.

3) Baseball: Great Article in ESPN by Howard Bryant talking about how there is another Yankee, for what seems to be the billionth year, who has been signed for major millions and expected to help like Reggie Jackson did years ago.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=bryant_howard&id=4013015

Revolutionaries

Throughout the blogosphere, in casual conversation, and even on television ‘experts’ of all kinds feel the need to compare players. And there are always two types of comparisons:

1) Current Player to Current Player

2) Current Player to Former Player

I feel that right now, the revolutionary changes that are happening to the true greatest game on earth, mean that we need to take a break from that second type of comparison. No more ‘Chris Paul is like Magic Johnson’ or ‘Lebron James is Michael Jordan’ or even ‘Dwight Howard is a better Patrick Ewing.’ For some reason its become the popular trend to compare current to former players, without truly understanding what these statements mean. Call me when Dwight is declared one of the top 50 greatest of all time, or when Chris Paul plays center in an NBA Finals game, or when Lebron wins multiple MVP awards.

But instead, why not appreciate what we as fans are watching unfold right before our eyes. The game is becoming quicker, more athletic, stronger. The three-point shot means more and more, as teams are finding it can swing the momentum entirely. Players like the aforementioned Paul are finding ways to pass the ball, while on the move, which just mystifies the defense. Howard is pushing the limits of physical strength, as is James.

Other players are finding new moves. Baron Davis has an unstoppable fade-away sideline jumper. Monta Ellis can stop on a dime for a mid-range jump shot, and Tony Parker can finish lay-ups with his body being pushed and fouled in all ways.

Even some of the elder statesman, like Kobe Bryant, are finding moves. He said that over the Olympics he was stealing everyone’s moves and putting them in his game, like Chris Paul’s court vision on a pick-and-roll play. Along with the Olympics, the nations were able to see first hand, the amazing dribbling prowess and passing ability of 18-year old wunderkind Ricky Rubio, who was immediately compared to ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich.

We can see a new Youth Movement, were the former greats are being usurped, and their replacements are filling in rather well. So, lets calm down on these ‘Paul is Magic/Rubio is Pete Maravich/James is Jordan’ talk, and began afresh with ‘James is deadly within the paint/Paul can tear defenses apart with his passing/Howard can truly post-up any big man in the game right now.’

lebron_nike

Let's watch the maturation of the New Revolution, instead of comparing them to Hall of Famers

(photo credit: http://api.ning.com/files/WKqwCyAi1sAeu73GHpUL3g8Taei5n6o6IO-ZaHXS9b8_/lebron_nike.jpg)

Blind Hope

Rick Reilly, a great writer and author of multiple books, has found another amazing story

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3967807

Sometimes I find that things are just taken for granted. I complain about my contacts hurting, or joke about how ‘horrible’ my eyesight is with my glasses. Then this type of story comes up, and I realize what true pain is.

Matt Steven wants to be just like you and me, yet sadly he was born with both eyes having permanently detached retinas. This means he was born blind, and had to have is left eye operated and removed in fifth grade, and the same operation done on his right eye in the sixth grade.

Many people would be destroyed by this, having to go to a school for the blind, when all you want is to not be placed in that group but instead Matt went straight to his brother, and best friend, Joe. ‘Can I play on your basketball team?’ How do you say no to your best friend? So on comes Matt, with nobody having an idea how to work this out. And then the amazing began to happen.

Matt was fond of shooting, and Joe would take a cane and rattle the rim of the hoop. Then Matt, stationed at the free-throw line, would shoot free throws, nailing nearly 50 to 60 percent of them each time. So what did the team do? They went to the league and asked if Matt, who attends every practice and game, could be designated ‘shooter’ of all free-throws for the team. And, going with the theme of ‘where amazing happens’ the league said yes. Then the referees agreed. Then the opposing teams agreed.

Imagine the happiness which went through Matt and Joe’s mother, when nonchalantly they walk in with big grins on their faces. Their Mom asks: what happened?; Joe answers: Oh nothing, except Matt was chosen designated free-throw shooter of our team!

Now, end the story here and it could become the next feature-film in your nearest AMC theatre. But instead, fast-forward to St. Lawrence (Joe’s team), against St. Philomena. Down 8 points with a minute left, St. Lawrence makes a brilliant comeback and is down only 1 point with 10 seconds left, thanks to a great full-court press. Senior Ryan Haley hurtles all 6′ 4″ of his body into the lane, drawing a foul on his layup with 3 seconds left. Now, as the team captain and best player, wouldn’t he plan on taking the game winning free-throws? Wouldn’t the team want him to? No, without even thinking, Haley walked over to the bench and subbed himself out for Matt.

Now, Joe standing under the hoop rattling the rim, Matt stands at the free throw line. For probably the first time, the opposing fans are rooting AGAINST Matt, as the will to win is extremely strong. Some might say that Matt was ‘helped’ by his inability to see, as it reduced the pressures around him. I wholly disagree, as he would be able to hear, understand the situation, and realize how much rides on his shoulders. I’m even willing to say its worse, because he can’t see the faces of all those people rooting for him to win.

The cane clanks and clanks against the rim. Matt lets go of the ball, it floats through the air. Slam, it hits the backboard. Swish, it flutters into the net, sinking down like the Titanic. Tie ball game. The world is agog. Matt has a chance to win the game now. Clanking cane, slamming backboard, fluttering net, Matt just gave St. Lawrence the lead. The crowd is beyond speechless, they’ve gone into frenzy mode. People are screaming, Matt’s father has run onto the court, his brother is still standing under the hoop, and (unless some people forgot) there is still 3 seconds left in the game. St. Philomena did not forget, they threw the ball in, with Matt standing at the free throw, his father on the court, his brother on the court, and Ryan (the captain) on the court. It was a 8 man defense for St. Lawrence, and of course, St. Philomena missed the game-winning three.

Through the chaos, the St. Lawrence team mobs a crying father, brother, and the one boy who brought everyone together. Matt, now a school and team hero, has built up the courage to pursue anything, despite his impediment. How can you back down from anything, when he has a legitimate excuse and doesn’t?

matt-stevens

Matt Stevens, he can fulfill his dreams, stopping at nothing until he reaches them. Now, will you?

(photo credit: http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3967807)

Bracket Busters to Lottery Winners

In the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, better known as the 64-team March Madness, players and teams have plenty on the line. Teams are trying to gain national attention, hoping to either be the year’s ‘Cinderella’ and exceed all expectations, or prove their ranking correct, and win their way into the Final Four. Players also are looking to win for their team, their personal pride, and improving their draft stock in the minds of NBA teams. There are multiple players who are considered ‘on the bubble’ to be chosen, or chosen in the first round, or even chosen in the lottery (top 14 picks). Along with saying what my predictions are for the remaining part of March Madness, I’ll also try and predict those who will make a great name for themselves in this years tournament, along with those whose draft stock will free fall.

First, I think that Arizona. will be able to beat Cleveland State, and cement itself as the Cinderella of this year. Also, I still don’t see how everyone remains on the Oklahoma bandwagon. Though they have probable first-pick Blake Griffin (more on his body of work later in this post), but beyond him and point guard Willie Warren I don’t believe they have enough depth to make a strong push in this lengthy tournament. My picks for the rest of the tournament go as follows:

Elite Eight – Pitt v. Duke; UNC v. Syracuse; Memphis v. UConn; Louisville v. Michigan St.

Final Four – Pitt v. Syracuse; UConn v. Louisville

Championship Game – Pitt v. Louisville

National Champion – Louisville

And now the players I have hand-picked to tear up this tournament, making it their personal ‘Hello!’ to the NBA draft gurus, and soon to become lottery winners.

1) Eric Devendorf – If you haven’t heard of the point guard from Syracuse by now, you definitely will when he outperforms UNC point guard extraordinaire Ty Lawson in their Elite Eight matchup. He can drill 3-pointers in crunch time, loves to drive the lane, and is really connecting with his teammates which makes for some nice assists. His teammate Jonny Flynn might be the only other guard which can threaten Devendorf’s blast onto the national stage, but I believe Syracuse would love to see both their star guards lighting it up in front of a national audience.

2) Blake Griffin – Superman? Not yet, wait till he has to post-up against Dwight Howard, but you can definitely see where this Oklahoma power forward gets that nickname from while making plays like this

3) Connor Atchley – Kansas power forward, who gets triple doubles. There’s not much more  to be said, because this Kansas team is extremely balanced, and yet this man is still finding ways to get such gaudy stats.

4) Earl Clark – I might be having a power-forward love fest right now, with 3 of my 4 rising stars being of that position, but each of them has been different. Griffin is a super-athletic, freak of a man of the Carlos Boozer-Dwight Howard mold. Connor Atchley has seemed like a slightly shorter version of Dirk Nowitzki. Earl Clark is a whole new breed, a better version of Boris Diaw, or better yet a big version of Stephen Jackson (minus the technical fouls). He is a point-forward, who can bruise downlow but can shoot a pretty arcing three-pointer which really spreads the defense.

earlclark

Earl Clark - One of my Rising Stars. Louisville - Will be lead by Clark and become National Champions.

(photo credit: http://playingthedozens.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/earlclark.jpg)

Ranking the Best

As has been proven multiple times, MVP’s don’t always win the NBA championship. But, even though there are few tangible benefits to winning the award, everybody understands the importance once chosen as the Most Valuable Player in the NBA (and basically the world). So without further ado, here is my top list of MVP candidates, with reasoning:

lebron

(photo credit: http://i.a.cnn.net/si/2006/writers/82games/04/13/mvp/t1_lebron2.jpg)

1) LEBRON JAMES

Top player, on the top team in the league. He’s leading the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team which probably not have made the playoffs if he wasn’t on their team, into home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. The scariest part is, this man started lifting weights just 2 summers ago, still doesn’t have a legitimate jump shot or three-pointer, and he still destroys competition day and night.

wade

(photo credit: http://www.bballcity.com/images/2006/dwyane-wade-4-med.jpg)

2) DWAYNE WADE

I talked extensively on Wade in my post Dwayne Wade = Beast, but here is the clincher of him being in a two-horse race for the MVP with LeBron: He has done even better since that post. He has routinely been winning games late, putting up multiple 40 point games, taking over whenever the team seems to be faltering, and doing everything possible to win. He is single-handedly carrying his team (which won only 15 games last year, when he was injured all season) into a possible home-court advantage situation in the playoffs.

dwight

(photo credit: http://sportsmaven.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/dwight-howard.jpg)

3) DWIGHT HOWARD

This might not be the ‘sexy’ pick, as many will put in Kobe Bryant here. And while Kobe has as much of a star-studded supporting cast as Howard, Dwight is averaging nearly as many points (21), while having much superior rebounding and blocks.

kobe-and-cp3

(photo credit: http://assets.espn.go.com/photo/2008/0325/nba_g_kobe_cp3_580.jpg)

4) CHRIS PAUL & KOBE BRYANT

The decision between these two was so close I had to keep them even. Kobe has incredible help, with Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and the rest of the Lakers. But, Paul has just as much, with David West, Tyson Chandler, and his own supporting cast. Kobe has more points, and a stronger killer instinct. But, Paul is the game’s best point guard, and has shown he can be cool-blooded to end games as well. Though neither will win the MVP, there’s plenty of reason to at least place them on the ballot.

Nearly There: Paul Pierce (his stock is rising as the Celtics played well without Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett), Brandon Roy (leading one of the youngest teams in the league into ‘Western Conference Powerhouse’ territory), Devin Harris (stock dropping after his knee injury), Tony Parker (fought hard, and kept the Spurs as the second best team in the league, through the injuries to Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili)

Where does it lead?

As everyone can notice, I am a devoted Warriors fan. I personally believe that I can be called die-hard, and I find myself calling the Warriors ‘my team’ and I say ‘we’ when referring to them. And that’s why I’m taking personal offense to what is going on in the hallowed grounds of Oracle (Roaracle to all who have seen the crowds shake that stadium) Arena. Don Nelson, as great of a coach as he is, is back to his team controlling ways. Team President Robert Rowell has assumed full control of the team, and usurped well-respected GM Chris Mullin from leading the team. Money is being doled around left and right for no reason, and there is very little understanding throughout the league about where this is leading. ‘There is no plan’ one rival team GM has stated when interviewed by San Jose Mercury news reporter, Tim Kawakami. So let me re-hash everything that has happened in this whirlwind tour of questions

1) Off-season: Warriors are coming off a 48-win season, the highest win total to not make the playoffs. Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins re-sign for 5 and 6 years respectively, and the core of the Warriors seem intact. Then, Baron Davis stuns the world by turning down 20 million dollars and opting out of his contract, leaving the Warriors. We have now found that this is the moment President Robert Rowell has ‘taken over’ the team, basically stripping all power from GM Chris Mullin, as Rowell refused to resign Davis even though Mullin and Davis had a previous contract ready. Then Ellis rips his ankle in Mississippi, and Matt Barnes leaves for Phoenix. Warriors sign Corey Maggette, as a knee-jerk reaction to Davis leaving, and Ronny Turiaf. They draft Anthony Randolph and sign undrafted rookie Anthony Morrow.

2) Trades: Al Harrington requests a trade, as he has finished being in Don Nelson’s doghouse, and Rowell quickly trades him away to the New York Knicks for pg/sg Jamal Crawford. GM’s have openly stated they have stopped dealing through Mullin, as Rowell has now fully grabbed control of the team. How is this happening, and how has nobody noticed what is going on?

3) Power-thirsty: Captain Stephen Jackson, still with 2 years left on his contract, gets an extension of 2 more years from Rowell. Rowell then fires Mullin’s chief assistant Pete D’Allisandro, a very well respected assistant GM in the league, and promotes Nelson’s right hand man, Larry Riley. Are Rowell and Nelson now taking over? Owner Chris Cohan, as he has been for years since buying the franchise, doesn’t interfere and gives all power to Rowell.

4) Jamal Crawford: The player the Warriors just traded for is now being pushed aside by Nelson. An unprecedented move, which is being blasted within NBA league circles, Nelson is openly telling Crawford and the media that Crawford MUST opt-out of his player-option for next year, which is worth 9 million dollars, or the Warriors will trade him away. Now firstly, this is NOT Nelson’s choice, its the front office’s, unless Nelson has that much control upstairs. This is beginning to prove the Rowell-Nelson power. Also, its Crawford’s option on what to do for next year, and as a true professional, Crawford is saying he will look at all options, and would like to keep his affairs with the coach behind doors. Crawford is acting with extreme class, while Nelson is definitely not.

5) Rewind: This has happened before. Nelson was coach of the Warriors, who led the team deep into the playoffs in the 1980’s with Chris Mullin (yes, the GM being thrown away right now), Tim Hardaway, and Mitch Richmond (another assistant GM being tossed around by the loving Warriors) leading the way. This team was dubbed ‘Run TMC’ for their free-wheeling, fun style which entertained all. This is an exact translation to the ‘We Believe’ Warriors of 2006-2008. Then, in the 90’s, the Warriors drafted Chris Webber, who led the Warriors to the playoffs, won Rookie of the Year, and then fought with Nelson (more blatantly than Crawford), and was traded. This began the Warriors streak of 15-years of non playoff basketball. Is this streak starting again?

Yes, this is a serious situation for the Warriors. They are young, ready to learn, led by a solid group of veterans, and have improved through out the season. As I have stated in my previous post, the Warriors are EXTREMELY close to being a strong team, not unlike a faster-paced Portland Trailblazers or New Orleans Hornets, who are both championship contenders in the Western Conference.  Yet, this WILL NOT be possible, unless the Warriors stop being pushed around by egos and back-handed dealings, and instead work hard, play smart, and start acting like a true professional basketball team.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.