Posts Tagged ‘ NBA ’

Olbermann vs. The State of Indiana

 

This morning I came across this video laying out the situation in Indiana with their newly passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. How I did not hear about this (probably because it Indiana) blows my mind. But this is ridiculous. How a state in 2015 thinks that they have the right to protect expression of religion, by allowing businesses to refuse sservice to another person based on religious grounds is absurd. This seems eerily close to the Jim Crow laws of over 50 years ago.

But more importantly, Olbermann and even Charles Barkley, have said that the NFL, NBA and NCAA need to vacate the state of Indiana. This would include events such as the NFL Combine, this years NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and next years NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four. But the real issue is, will the respective heads of the major leagues in sports including the NCAA make the powerful move to boycott the legislation. Last year the NFL made a great step by standing up to the state of Arizona when they were poised to do something similar. So now all of these leagues are forced with a decision. BOYCOTT NOW! No human being should ever be discriminated for what their religion, skin color, general beliefs or appearance. It is 2015, we all at some point need to realize that the world we live in is evolving and that while traditional beliefs are what got us to this point, but at some point those beliefs evolved just like we as humans have.

Your move NFL, NBA, and NCAA. I am watching closely. It may be too late for this year’s Final Four. But a serious stance can be made going forward. Make the right decision.

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The King Returns & The Fallout

comeback

Today, the everything in the sports world was put on the back burner. Four years after leaving Cleveland, LeBron James announced he would be returning back to his hometown Cavaliers. How crazy is this?!?! But more importanty, what does this really mean.

LeBron James becomes the first player to go to 4 straight NBA Finals, and leave in free agency. He returns home to his beloved Cleveland, to right the wrongs of what happened 4 years ago and play for his hometown Cavaliers. He also seems to want to right the wrongs for what happened 4 years before when he bolted for South Beach.

So what does this mean for the remainder of the artists formally known as the “Heatles.” Originally Chris Bosh was headed to Houston to sign a 4 year/$88 million dollar deal, but a few days later, it seems as if Bosh will return to Miami to be the man. As for Wade, his fate seemed to be the fame. He flirted with returning to his home state, and then ended up staying in Miami on a 2 year deal, similar to the one LeBron signed.

Carmelo Anthony however, made a completely different proclamation. He was presented with the most options. He could have chosen Chicago, which would have given him the best chance to win now. Headed to Houston to team up with Dwight Howard and James Harden in Houston to form a dynamic trio, only problem is that it would be in the loaded Western Conference. He spurned Los Angeles, after there had been reports that the Lakers were serious contenders in the Carmelo sweepstakes. But in the end, he decided to return to New York, to make it work in the town he forced a trade to just 3 short years ago. Carmelo gets a chance to be the man, in a fresh start with a new young coach (Derek Fisher) and a GM with a knack for making any situation a winning one (Phil Jackson).

***

LeBron left 4 years ago ‘To take his talents to South Beach’ and it ripped the heart out of everyone in Cleveland. Even I was one of those people who was bashing him, calling him names and even saying I hate him. But 4 years later, I get it. Yes, I understand why Lebron left and so should everyone else.

LeBron has been Cleveland’s great hope since his days at St. Vincent- St. Mary High School. He was drafted number 1 overall in 2003 by his hometown Cavs, and he never had a chance to grow as an individual outside of Cleveland. Not just from an NBA standpoint but his global brand and his NBA resume. At the time, the Cavaliers could not give King James the ring he so desperately chased. So like any businessman, he ‘took his talents’ elsewhere to get what he wanted. After 4 years, and 4 straight NBA Finals appearances, LeBron returns to his roots, but this time, as a 2-Time Champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, and one of the biggest stars in the world.

But don’t get too excited. LeBron only signed a 2 year deal. He will get paid handsomely for those 2 years, but you have to wonder why he signed such a short deal. One word, Leverage. The NBA salary cap is set to increase in 2 years, and if the Cavs haven’t materialized into a contender by then, LeBron can take more money elsewhere to chase more rings. LeBron really wants to make this work in Cleveland, but you can tell he isn’t ready to forgive Dan Gilbert just yet.

But in the short term, the Cavaliers will be an exciting team to watch. We can see Kyrie Irving develop, playing alongside the best player in the world. Andrew Wiggins hasn’t even played a game in the NBA, and now it seems like this kids ceiling has risen even further. With what he is already doing in the summer league, it is safe to say I am excited to watch the Cavs play, or even play with them in this years NBA 2k15. Let’s just hope this team can develop, because if not, the summer of 2016 will be a very interesting one with the likes of Kevin Durant also being a free agent.

The Bright Lights of New York City

What is it about playing in New York City?

It is the stage where players can make a name for themselves. Ever heard of Linsanity? Just ask Kemba Walker. Reggie Miller, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James were all established stars who had their brightest, non-championship moments in New York City. Do you know who Mr. October or November is? Let’s revisit some of the highlights of greatness in New York City.

Today February 28th, marks the 1 year anniversary of the latest star to make a splash here in the Big Apple. Stephen Curry last year lit up the Knickerbockers for 54 points, hitting a Madison Square Garden record 11 3-pointers. It may not have been the record for points for the Garden, nor did the Warriors win the game, but it brought Stephen Curry out into the limelight. It showed the rest of the world why Dub Nation likes to call him Steph “Wet” Curry. Just check the video below if you don’t believe me.

Lighting up the Garden is no new thing. As recent as 2 years ago, Jeremy Lin went from no name back-up, to sending “The City that never sleeps” into a frenzy. Since then, Lin has parlayed that into a hefty multi-million dollar contract and become an inspiration for Asian-American athletes. Heck, he even is coming out with a movie!

But before Lin-sanity and before Stephen Curry lit up the Garden, other stars have broken out here. Whether it was Kobe Bryant and LeBron James lighting up the Garden within 3 days back in 2009. Kobe dropping 61, which was a Garden record until this year, and then James dropping 50+ and getting a Triple-Double (which was later overturned, but who cares). What also we forget to talk about that week, is the defending World Champion Boston Celtics were in town. There just wasn’t a noteworthy breakout performance there.

Obviously, Madison Square Garden has had its fair share of moments. We can also reference the days with Michael Jordan tormenting the Knicks or the Reggie Miller vs. Spike Lee saga. But when we broaden the spectrum of what New York means on a larger scale, we can look at baseball moments.

There is Josh Hamilton lighting up the Bronx for Home Run Derby the last season of the old Yankee Stadium. Hamilton had recently returned to baseball, after years away battling drug addiction, and that summer night in the Bronx was his definite coming out party. He hit 28 first round home runs en route to the victory in the 2008 Home Run Derby.

Rewind 5 years before, Josh Beckett turns in a performance for the ages in game 6 of the World Series. Not only was this a David vs. Goliath performance, but it also was in the WORLD SERIES. Since then, Beckett has won a second title, that time with the Red Sox, but it was this game and that series that truly put him on a bigger scale.

See the recurring theme? It’s not about being an athlete who plays for one of the storied New York franchises (with the exception of Jeremy Lin). It’s really about not being afraid to step your game up when under the bright lights. We see players come to New York, chasing the money and big contract or for the glitz and glamour of playing in the Big Apple. But why not play somewhere else? Focus on the trip to New York and use it as a coming out party on the big stage. Obviously breakout performances come here and there. And usually they are never planned, but just food for thought. Pressure as a visiting player in New York is never anywhere close to what it is as a anyone who dons the NY on their jersey. So maybe, just maybe we can use that as a barometer of where future breakouts may come.

 

Mike D’antoni, not Phil Jackson, hired in Hollywood

Mike D’Antoni was hired this morning as the next Lakers coach

What just happened? I thought it was going to be “Phil Jackson and the Lakers” part 3. This morning the Lakers announced that Mike D’Antoni would become the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The jury is still out on how I feel about this new signing. But as a Lakers fan, I have to assume that the Lakers brass made the right decision. There were many rumors over the weekend about the head coaching vacancy being “Phil Jackson’s to turn down.” Maybe it was the fact that Phil was asking for too much control of the team, but was this the right decision?

While many disagree with the hiring, I think it could be the boost that this Lakers team needs. D’Antoni features a explosive offensive attack, something that can boost the Lakers, because this offense has the talent to dominate the Western Conference. I think Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant’s familiarity with Coach D’Antoni will pay dividends.

But there are drawbacks. D’Antoni is a proven winner in the Regular Season, but hasn’t been past the Conference Finals. Getting elminited there during his peak while coaching the Suns. Another huge flaw, is that he doesn’t preach defense. But with all the talent on this squad, they can possibly get away with an average defense, with Dwight Howard protecting the paint.

It is still early in the season and the change to D’Antoni’s system should be seamless. But will it be enough to put the Lakers over the top in the Western Conference? The first game is tomorrow night against the San Antonio Spurs, a good immediate test for the Lake Show.

Mike Brown FIRED!

Later Mike Brown.

Today it was announced that Mike Brown was fired as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Surprised? I sure am not. There was much speculation last season with the tumultuous relationship between Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant on whether or not he would be a long term option in LA. He didn’t do himself any favors this season by guiding the Lakers to a 1-4 start, along with a winless preseason.

But wait, the Lakers made some huge roster moves this offseason so there is always the possibility that the team has not gelled together yet. Brown also changed the offense, trying to get the team to buy into this “Princeton Offense,” which emphasizes constant motion, passing, back-door cuts, picks on and off the ball, and disciplined teamwork. Well apparently Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash & Company never got the memo. An 0-8 preseason, followed by a 1-4 start to the regular season ultimately spelled his demise.

Was this the stare that got Mike Brown fired?

As a Lakers fan, this season has been very frustrating to watch. Well, at least what I have seen so far. I missed the 1st 2 games due to Hurricane Sandy, and was forced to watch the Lakers/Clippers matchup on my laptop because the cable wasn’t back. From what I saw in the first 3 games, I was not impressed.

I generally thought the Princeton Offense would never be a fit for the Lakers, primarily because it would change roles of the majority of the Lakers players, roles which won them all sorts of accolades, including multiple MVP’s, All-Star appearances, Defensive Player of the Year and even NBA Titles. While I think Mike Brown is a good guy and not a terrible coach, he just wasn’t the man for the job. He crashed and burned in Cleveland with Lebron James, did the same with the Lakers.

Here’s an excerpt from an article written by Chris Bernucca via Chris Sheridan:

“At its roots, the Princeton offense uses several basic tenets. It de-emphasizes the notion of true positions such as point guard and small forward. It opens the area beneath the basket by using a high post player who should be a good passer. It relies on constant movement, off-the-ball screens and back cuts, ideally breaking down defenses with patience and precision. Think about the overwhelming personnel on the Lakers and ask yourself if this sounds like a good fit.

“It de-emphasizes the notion of true positions such as point guard. Nash has won two MVP awards – one more than Bryant, by the way – as a true point guard. At 38, he remains one of the most effective playmakers in the game because his dominance of the basketball is belied by his selfless willingness to surrender it at the ideal time.

“Nash also is one of the best pure shooters in the game, making him virtually unguardable in the pick-and-roll. And with the Lakers, he can have twice the fun in Howard and Pau Gasol, both of whom are strong pick-and-roll big men in their own ways. But Jordan’s offense calls for an overt sharing of the ball, which minimizes Nash’s effectiveness.

“It opens the area beneath the basket by using a high post player who should be a good passer. Gasol is an ideal fit for this role; he is among the most intelligent and best-passing 7-footers in NBA history. He also is a threat to knock down an elbow jumper.

“The Lakers also have Howard, generally regarded as the most dominant low-post player in the game. The offense moves him away from where he is most lethal – providing unexpected relief to opposing defenses – and puts him at the high post, where his effectiveness is somewhat limited to the initiation of the pick-and-roll. And while years of facing double-teams has made Howard an acceptable passer, no one would ever confuse him for a good passer, which also makes things easier for opposing defenses.

It relies on constant movement, off-the-ball screens and back cuts. Does constant movement sound like a good idea for a lineup with four players 32 or older? Should Bryant only be getting the ball after a precision back cut? Should clearly defined positional players such as Nash and Howard be screening away for Metta World Peace, who stops the ball as often as he moves it?

Where do the Lakers go from here? Do they try and hire one of the big names off the Free Agent coaching board? Names like Mike D’Antonio, Rick Adelman, and Jerry Sloan are a few that are out there. But the real question is, will the Lakers reach out to Phil Jackson for Round 3 with the Zen Master? The triangle offense would do wonders with this team and a veteran coach would be perfect for this veteran squad. If that fails, the other man who could run the triangle, Brian Shaw, was allowed to leave by Lakers management before last season. Who knows. All I know is that something needs to happen soon. I’m not looking for any repeats of 2004 when the Lakers assembled a great veteran squad only to lose in the Finals to the Pistons. Get it together fellas!

Hurricane Sandy, the Aftermath

A photograph of Manhattan during the blackout courtesy of New York Magazine

Wow. What a week it was last week. I mean let’s just say I was one of those people who COMPLETELY overlooked all of the Hurricane Sandy hype. Alright, maybe hype is the wrong word to use, but nonetheless I was not buying it. Maybe it was me being the California kid at heart or that Hurricane Irene from the summer before did absolutely nothing, but I was not scared.

I spent Sunday, my last ful day with power, enjoying some of the NFL games, the lull of the World Series (more on that later) and primarily wondering what would actually happen. Mayor Bloomberg had prepared the city for a major disaster, and I for one am very happy he did. He shut down the subways and bus lines, also all lines of transportation in and out of manhattan.

Well Monday night, the madness came. While watching movies on Netflix, go figure, the lights started to flicker on and off. Around 8:30 pm, the lights finally went off. Followed by a few rumblings, later followed by a boom. I’m not sure which actually came first, primarily because once the power went out, things started to change. The first night was not too bad, but worst was ahead.

High winds, heavy rain, trees being ripped from their roots, and complete destruction was ahead. Oh not to mention, lower Manhattan became the dark zone. Something straight out of the movie ‘I Am Legend’ which coincidentally was based in Manhattan. But that was the tip of the proverbial iceberg. No cell service for about a mile, no running water, and also no heat. Initial reports said a few days with no power, but my thoughts were that we would be missing power, heat and cell service indefinitely. On a bigger scale, it would mean that I would miss the World Series aftermath, the start of the NBA season and possibly the Presidential election.

I didn’t miss much with the World Series. It was short, uneventful, and definitely something I was not upset I missed. Not so much the fact that the Giants won again, very disappointing for Athletics Nation, but the fact that the Detroit Tigers did not put up much of a fight. Once Pablo Sandoval went all Ruth/Jackson/Pujols with his 3 home run performance in Game 1, the series was all but over. But due to Hurricane Sandy, I was not able to really get immersed, especially with every commercial break during the actual World Series cutting to some preview of the devastation that was coming.

Baseball wasn’t the only sport affected by the Hurricane. The NBA season tipped of Tuesday night, the first full day of no power in Lower Manhattan, and was to be followed Wednesday with the New York Knicks traveling to Brooklyn to face their new crosstown rivals. Well thanks to Hurricane Sandy, there would be none of that. The devastation was too much for the city to handle at the time. But come Friday, the defending champions the Miami Heat would be coming to town. Luckily, the Knicks were playing for more than themselves that night. They came out and manhandled the Heat, led by Carmelo Anthony. It was a good sign for the city, one that needed to come back from all the devastation the week before.

Mayor Bloomberg even went as far as to cancel the NYC Marathon. At first he had stated the Marathon would go on as planned, but that was before the full extent of the damage to the city had been assessed. But after much scrutiny, he decided to cancel the Marathon, citing it would take many of the cities resources away from the relief effort.

Not only did Hurricane Sandy ruin a whole week at minimum for many people living on the East Coast, but it also has affected the sports world, along with the political race. Something to think about for the future, LISTEN to the weather! First the Hurricane, then Nor’easter that came yesterday. It was one hell of a 10 days. Let’s just hope I never have to go through it again!

Los Angeles lands Superman

Last night while watching the Olympics, I read a silly rumor on twitter about the Lakers getting close to a deal for Dwight Howard. My first reactions were that, no more rumors please! I am tired of this never ending soap opera. What was even worse that I heard they would be giving up Andrew Bynum AND Pau Gasol. So as I scoured the internet and twitter-sphere, yes I made that up on the spot, I looked for details on this trade.

Then I finally heard the final details.

“A source with direct knowledge of the talks told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein the Lakers will receive Howard, the Denver Nuggets will acquire Andre Iguodala, the 76ers will receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, and the Magic will get Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and one protected future first-round pick from each of the three teams. 

The Lakers also will acquire Earl Clark and Chris Duhon, a source told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard. Draft picks the Magic will receive are the Nuggets’ (2014), 76ers’ (2015) and Lakers’ (2017).

In addition, the Magic will be getting other pieces, including 76ers first-round draft pick Moe Harkless, a source told Stein.”  -(via ESPN.com)

Trade details here. 

Christmas has come early for Laker fans. Especially since the Lakers didn’t have to give up Pau Gasol or even absorb an expiring contract or overrated player. Looking back at the overall picture, the Lakers were able to improve in a position they were already strong in, and by not having to give up Pau Gasol, boast one of the strongest starting 5’s in the NBA.

There are going to be a lot of “haters” after this deal goes final, but many should remember one philosophy about the Lakers, they don’t rebuild they reload. With all the concerns about Andrew Bynum and his future, did you really think the Lakers would stand pat after 2 disappointing exits in the 2nd round. Mitch Kupchak has now put his name in the hat for executive of the decade with this deal.

So moving forward, the Lakers have now moved themselves into the conversation for contenders for the 2013 NBA title. Even crazier is they got better without giving up anything at all. They added Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Antwan Jamison, Earl Clark, and Chris Duhon without giving up much at all. They gave up Bynum and Josh McRoberts (who?) in the Howard deal, and a bunch of future first round picks (which will not be lottery picks knowing LA) and the trade exception from the Lamar Odom deal.

If I didn’t like the Lakers there would be no way I would be writing this article. I would have probably thrown the laptop, my phone or some electronic device that I had used to read this and been swearing off sports. Instead, I actually am looking forward to seeing Dwight Howard in purple and gold, and it should be an exciting season. With all the memes and instagram photos coming out in the next week, my excitement can only grow from here on out.

I can get used to seeing this group of guys in purple and gold next year!