Category Archives: NBA

Andre Iguodala: Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye

On the heels of a very strange 2011 NBA Draft there is only certainty; that it is one of the weakest draft classes ever. The projected number one overall pick, Kyrie Irving from Duke, is a freshman whoonly played in 11 games in college.  The number two projected overall pick, Derrick Williams from Arizona, is considered by NBA analysts as a “tweener” because no one’s sure whether or not he is a small or power forward. Rumors have it that the Philadelphia 76ers are offering Andre Iguodala for the 2nd overall pick which would be Williams.  The rest of the draft is full of foreigners and mediocre talent where the top players in the draft may wind up as solid sixth men if picked by the right team (Like Jimmer Fredette to a run-and-gun team allowing a lot of shots and fast breaks.).  And yet, me being from Philadelphia, that all sounds better than having to endure another season with Iguodala.

Yeah I know, Philadelphia is full of a bunch of uneducated, belligerent drunks who taunt opposing fans, Taser minors who run on the field, and put innocent Giants fans into comas on Opening Day (Wait that was Los Angeles) so what do we know? We just force stars out of our city like Donovan McNabb with analysts saying “He is still a top 10 quarterback in the NFL, Philadelphia doesn’t appreciate him!” (I agree on the latter, but he got benched for Rex Grossman)  But they won’t apologize for that nor will they mention the Vancouver riots where Olympic athletes were setting police cars on fire. But I’ll ignore our image because one thing is for sure, Philadelphia wants Iguodala gone.

 Well for one, Iguodala is not the superstar that he thinks he is. He is a solid number two with his rebounding ability and is without a doubt a top 10 defender in the NBA.  He is the 76ers standard for who will defend a team’s best player.  But he can’t be a number one because he doesn’t have the scoring ability (or killer instinct that has defined stars like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant) when it comes to crunch time.  Countless times Iguodala has driven the lane only to be blocked off so he plants and does a turn-around fade-away that more than likely ends in a CLANK! CLANG! Or my favorite, the air-ball.  Yes, the 76ers don’t have another star to which they can give the ball to down the stretch but at least Lou Williams CAN hit a big shot.  Through so many games this year Bean (who has been mentioned enough to where I won’t say “my friend” anymore) have texted or called each other starting with the sentence starting with the following sentence, “Why does [Doug] Collins keep giving Iggy the ball in the last two minutes?” Yes, the best player on the team should be taking all the shots in the clutch, but if they have proven that 100% of the time, their shots won’t go in then something needs to be done.

The 76ers have tried making a splash on draft night by offering up Iguodala for a trade.  The Los Angeles Lakers are reported to have offered Lamar Odom and Ron Artest for him, but we don’t want them. Odom and Artest are both known for just give up and go through the motions when they are in a situation they don’t like.  This leads to the aforementioned trade for the second overall pick and Derrick Williams. The 76ers could use a big body down low who can also do what Iguodala can’t, shoot.  They’ll be sacrificing their best defender but 14 points a game from their best player is ridiculous. Good riddance, ANNNNNDREEEEEE IGUOOOO-DALA-DALA-DALA!

 

Dirk has Slayed the King, Long Live Michael!

LeBron haters, Michael Jordan lovers, and Magic Johnson advocates rejoice! Scottie Pippen supporters head for the hills! LeBron James, King of the Dragons that have destroyed our villages and terrorized our citizens, has been vanquished by a German knight, Sir Dirk Nowitzki! With his blonde locks that flow from underneath his charcoal colored helmet and a stature that is God-like, he brandished his sword knowing that James had recently eaten Sir Paul Pierce and Sir Derrick Rose, knights from Boston and Chicago. Desperate, King Jordan pleaded that King Cuban send his best because he was his last hope to keep his legacy and empire in-tact! Sir Dirk stood looking at the James, sword unsheathed with no fear in his eyes.  He sliced and stabbed and flailed his mighty Excalibur at James, who accepted defeat and disappeared from the kingdom (or the fourth quarter). King Michael celebrated because his empire was saved and he blinded and banished the traitor Pippen from his kingdom of Chicago, where he will wander aimlessly forever!

Regardless of how ridiculous that analogy was it gets the point across. Yes, Dirk has finally won his championship. Yes, Dirk has earned his status as one of the best shooters in NBA history. Yes, it was against LeBron, the most hated man in sports. Yes, he deserves all of the credit that will be coming to him. Yes, he knew what was at stake and would not be denied. Yes, Jason Terry’s bold idea of getting the Larry O’Brien Trophy on tattooed on his arm turned out to be a motivational blessing than a disaster. Yes, Jason Kidd, one of the top point-guards ever, has finally endured enough failure in the Finals and deserves the title. Yes, Tyson Chandler was the player that helped put the Mavericks over the top because he was the tough inside presence that clogged up the lane for opposing players.  Yes, Rick Carlisle (My friend Steve said he looks like Jim Carrey and now when I see Carlisle I want to scream “LIKE A GLOVE!”) out-coached a useless Erik Spoelstra and adjusted to put the matchup in his favor. (Believe that Spoelstra is a decent coach? It took him 3-and-a-half series for him to realize Mike Bibby is terrible.). Yes, Scottie Pippen’s drug test came back positive. And yes, the Mavericks will not get their due credit because the most pressing question about the NBA Finals is: What the hell happened to LeBron James? Continue reading

Remember Me? It’s Dwyane Wade

Welcome to James’ Kingdom! Wait…that doesn’t sound right.  Welcome to Bosh City! No, that still isn’t it.  Oh wait, I got it now. Welcome to WADE COUNTY!

I believe LeBron James is the best player on EL HEAT, but it is Dwyane Wade’s team.  However, the way they are both playing now best player on the Heat and in the Finals has been Wade.  There’s an argument for Dirk Nowitzki playing through a torn tendon and 102 fever but as for overall, D-Wade has it. (At first I didn’t see the big deal about Dirk having a sinus infection until my friend Bean texted me and said “Dude you have a stuffy nose and a sore throat and you say you’re sick as sh**.” Good point.)

Wade is willing the Heat towards a championship, but the big story is LeBron only scoring eight in game four. (In six Finals appearances, Michael Jordan’s lowest game high total, 22.  Seriously, give me what Pippen is having.) If you turn on ESPN you’ll see LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron LeBron. A montage about LeBron, questions on if the minutes he played are finally taking affect and quotes from anchors like “LeBron can’t win even if he wins.” Also you have the likes of Adam Schefter saying that LeBron is going to put up 38 as a redemption game.  If you turn on ESPN you’ll see Dirk Dirk Dirk Dirk Dirk Dirk Dirk, but he has earned it.  He is responding to criticism and basically doing the damn thing.  All he has been getting is praise and love and rightfully so. He hasn’t played better in his career. They’re polar opposites right now.

So why have we basically forgotten about D-Wade? Ironically, it’s because he’s already done it before.  He has a ring AND a Finals MVP and if the Heat win he’ll have two rings and two Finals MVPs (The play that sealed his Finals MVP award was him blocking Tyson Chandler’s dunk then running the floor and making a tough layup.). But he has been overshadowed by two superstars trying to start and solidify their legacies.

It’s been the story all playoffs; LeBron trying to finally fulfill our aspirations of him being the next  Jordan and the constant debates of whether or not he can come up big in the fourth quarter.  He did in the Boston and Chicago series but hasn’t against the Mavericks (the biggest stage). He’s been logging more minutes than anyone in the playoffs and it looks like it’s finally catching up to him (Jordan once played with the flu and dropped 38.). As for Dirk he is trying to finally end the criticisms of him coming up small and being mentally weak in big moments.  This is his last shot to win with this team because of their age so it’s now-or-never.

And yet, where does Dwyane Wade fit in with his glory? He’s the player that most associate with Jordan because of his defense, size, and ability to take over games. He is one of the best defensive guards in the NBA and gets to the basket at will. He has proven that he is a winner with his single-handedly winning of the 2006 Finals against the same Mavericks team. A series in which he averaged 35 points a game and has been rewarded with the greatest Finals performance ever. All he has done in the 2011 Finals is make us feel dumb for forgetting about him, even if it was for a second (Admit it, we all did at one point because he did struggle and LeBron had been lights out before the Finals.).  All he has done this series is average a mediocre 30 and has been the go-to-guy when Bron-Bron did his best Ramona Flowers impression and just disappears. 

The difference between their games right now, LeBron quits and D-Wade steps up.  In game four, LeBron stayed out of the way. Think about it, this isn’t a trend LeBron wants; this is the second time in as many years that he gave up like this.  He is so strong, if Wade can get to the basket, he can.  Who called for the ball, took the ball, drove the lane fearlessly, moved without the ball, and kept the Heat in the game? Dwyane Wade.  Who yelled at Udonis Haslem for bad defense that gave the Mavericks the lead? Dwyane Wade (Tonight when you watch LeBron’s pregame speech to his teammates, listen to the emotion in his voice, it almost sounds forced.).  Whose team is it? Dwyane Wade. Who is playing both sides of the ball better of the two? Dwyane Wade. Who is the Finals MVP if the Heat win? Dwyane Wade.  James is a great player and deserves the credit he will receive, Wade just deserves more right now.

James tweeted today, “Now or Never!!”  If he drops 30 or 40 tonight then he can claw his way back into the minds of basketball fans as a great.  But if he continues down the path he’s been for two years, everyone will abandon his corner, “take their talents” to D-Wade’s and exhale because Jordan’s throne will be safe.

LeBron and Dirk: Who Needs This Ring More?

It should be easy right? LeBron James is the second coming of “His Airness” and needs a championship as soon as possible if he has any shot of fulfilling his nickname of “King James,” right? That is unless you’re Scottie Pippen then you think LeBron’s already better than Michael Jordan. (He hasn’t even past Kobe’s body of work yet so “You can take that to the bank.”)  LeBron also has to win because of the expectations that were placed on him after he went to Miami to join up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. LeBron has to win to finally shut up every tired argument of him abandoning Cleveland and needing a super team to win (MJ’s team was not as good as LeBron’s team is and will be because players are going to join LeBron to try and win a ring. It’s like when you were a kid playing Madden and your starters were Peyton Manning, LaDanian Tomlinson, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens.). Well that was easy; LeBron needs this championship more than Dirk. Not so fast.

Think about the Miami Heat with this in mind; it’s the worse team they’ll ever have while James, Wade, and Bosh are there.  The way the Heat meshed throughout the end of the season and the playoffs and the contracts that expire after this season will open the door for solid free agents to join them. Their defense is suffocating and that’s with stiffs like Mike Bibby and Mike Miller on the team.  All they need is a point-guard and a big man who can score for them and they’ll have everything that is needed to become a dynasty, as long as LeBron doesn’t call Wade, Bosh, and himself the “Three-tles.” (Calling themselves the “Three-tles” finished on the list of “Embarrassing Things I Shouldn’t Have Said” along with Liam Gallagher’s “We will be as big as the Beatles, if not bigger” and Bryon Russell telling Jordan in ’94 “Why’d you quit? You know I could guard you. If I ever see you in a pair of shorts …”) Basically, this year is Dirk’s best chance to win.

No one can deny how well the Dallas Mavericks are playing.  They swept those bum Lakers and handled the Thunder without a real problem.  In Dirk’s last trip to the Finals in 2006, he was a great player but earned his reputation of soft and cracks and under pressure.  In 2011, he added a post-game and is officially unstoppable and I can’t stress it enough, he’s seven-feet-tall, his shot can’t be blocked.  His old reputation has been forgotten because Dirk hasn’t played better in his career.  Jason Kidd, once known as “Ason Kidd” because he had no “J,” has been knocking down threes and hitting daggers.  He’s a good defender and had no problem checking Kevin Durant in the Conference Finals.  He’s the veteran influence that has helped put the Mavericks over the top. Their bench that includes Jason Terry, JJ Barea, and Peja Stojakovic has been the catalyst to their success.  Terry, their sixth-man, is averaging 17 points for the playoffs and 46% (inhuman) from three.  Stojakovic has hit a few threes and contributed and Barea is so quick that he gets to the basket with no problem because of the adjustment from slow Kidd to Barea. (Think of it like a baseball team that is thrown pitches at 75 mph for six innings and then gets thrown pitches at 96 for the last three.)  However, the players that got them there are a bunch of 30-somethings on the downward end of their careers.  Kidd is 38, Stojakovic is 33, and Terry, their second best player, is 33.

With all of these factors, LeBron needs a ring badly, but in the scope of things Dirk needs this more.  He is going to go down as one of the best shooters in NBA history and a ring would just solidify and improve his standing on everyone’s “Best Ever” list.

Dirk Nowitzki is a Baaad Man

To describe Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA Playoffs, especially the Western Conference Finals, as awesome, amazing, spectacular, and exciting are just understatements.  From his ridiculous free-throw percentage to his one-footed-fall away jumpers in the post to his two 40 point games against Oklahoma City can’t be justified by words.  Everyone needs to watch and just enjoy something the NBA has never seen from a seven-footer.  It’s the best story of the playoffs because Dirk finally re-established himself as a top player in the NBA and one of the best shooters all-time. (If you said LeBron and the Heat are a bigger story, disagree. Remember, they’re just playing to expectation.)

If I was to say, “There are two players in the history of the NBA that are once-of-a-kind, freakish, and athletic anomalies. Name them.” Your first answer wouldn’t take long and you would scream LeBron James, but who’s the other? You might say it’s Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlin, or Shaquille O’Neal. You might say it’s Tim Duncan, Bill Russell, or Julius Irving. You might even say it’s Larry Bird or Jesus Shuttlesworth, but you would be wrong on all accounts.  The other guy…is Dirk Nowitzki.

Is Dirk better than all of them? No, and calm the noise to the whole comparison to Bird because his game is nowhere as complete as Larry’s (Bird’s passing, defense, and post-game were too solid.). However, Dirk is something that the NBA has never seen before. As a former hater of Dirk I couldn’t get past my hate to appreciate how good he is.  He can drive the lane, post-up, pull up, knock down threes, run the floor, and he’s an excellent free-throw shooter. Basically, he plays as a 6’4 shooting guard, but don’t forget, HE’S SEVEN FEET TALL. (I hate him, but I really just want to be like Dick Vitale and scream ARE YOU SERIOUS!?).Think of the other top big men in the NBA.  LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Gasol come to your mind? That’s ironic because Dirk embarrassed them in the first two rounds of the playoffs and has torched more solid defenders in Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison in the Western Conference Finals as the Mavericks beat them in five. (He also hit the dagger three-pointer that finished the comeback and gave them the win.) He started off the series going 12-15 from the field and 24-24 from the free throw line, breaking Paul Pierce’s record for most consecutive free throws made in a game. Of the 39 times he touched the ball, he made 36 shots (Dicky V one more time); His total for game one, 48.

 After the Mavericks came back in game four from a 15-point deficit with five minutes left and Dirk dropped another 40 against the Thunder, the talk about the more popular Chicago Bulls-Miami Heat series has become a whisper compared to the screams about Dirk. His playoff performance has been so amazing that Magic Johnson went from saying that James is his playoff MVP to changing his choice to Dirk only four hours later. If the NBA had an official playoff MVP, it’s hard to disagree with Magic and pick against him. He’s averaged 32 points a game in the West Final and 28 for the playoffs.  Now that the West’s representative is the Mavericks, they’ll wait to see if EL HEAT can close the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bulls tomorrow.  If so, the solid and suffocating team defense will have its work cut-out for them because of the bad matchup against Dirk. Who will be checking Dirk most of the series? Probably Chris Bosh, who is a more finesse player and doesn’t bang in the low post, something Dirk fed off of in Gasol.  Regardless, appreciate what Dirk is doing and be ready for the Finals because it’s going to be awesome, amazing, spectacular, and exciting.

LeBron Didn’t Silence Critics, Yet

(For the record, the Miami Heat are still Dwyane Wade’s team especially since he has a ring aaand ya know, it’s called “Wade County.”)

                LeBron James has been through a lot in the past year. Let me rephrase that. LeBron James has put himself through a lot in the past year. The timeline includes the series against Boston in which he “quit” on the Cavaliers, then through the entire 2011 season filled with the controversy that started with James tarnishing his legacy by “taking his talents to South Beach”. There he started a trend of creating “super” teams that contain three stars instead of the traditional two . (It also started a trend with teams trading for expiring contracts to free up cap-space so they can recreate what the Heat did.) This was followed by the questioning of his ability to close games. (It’s where he gained the title of “Best Player For the First 46 Minutes.”) For a while, James lost his privileges as the closer and Dwyane Wade became the go-to guy and had basketball fans saying that he was better than LeBron.  Most say all of this was James’ fault and he deserved it because of what he did to Cleveland by having a television show where he officially announced his intentions on leaving the Cavaliers and joining Miami. Through all of that, after Wednesday night, James is one step closer to arriving and officially silencing the critics.

                The criteria to silence them: 1. Come up big in the clutch 2. Apologize for “The Decision” 3. Apologize to the Cleveland fans for ruining their only chance at winning a championship (I don’t see the big deal with the show nor with him leaving.  If you just said, who asked you? Good point.)  4. Win multiple championships, especially after that speech. Numbers 2 and 3 sort of came after game five of the Celtics series, however Cleveland fans still feel abandoned . Number 1 needs to happen more often than one time, especially when that is a specific criterion for a good player to transcend to greatness. As for number 4, it’s self-explanatory.

LeBron James started fulfilling Number 1 Wednesday night when he scored the Heat’s final 10 points in a 97-87 win over the Boston Celtics in game-five in the second round. He came up big and finally got over the “Boston hump;” hence the celebration at the end where he was seen kneeling and praying (is it excessive? Possibly, but remember that the Celtics beat LeBron so badly the past two years that he quit on the Cavaliers. You can’t be too surprised at him showing some sort of emotion.). Now before we anoint the self-anointed “King James” as the best player in the world, let’s make it clear that those two shots aren’t taking Kobe’s top spot (let this play sum it up), but he made an advancement.  With the perimeter game as a weaker aspect of his game, it caught the basketball world by surprise when he pulled up for those threes late in the fourth quarter, both with Paul Pierce’s hand in his face. Sure he’s absolutely capable of it, but the way he’s been in the clutch this year, it wasn’t expected (hence the blogosphere blowing up with its irrational and sudden conclusions that LeBron is now clutch. That’s like saying Joe Frazier is the best boxer ever right after he beat Muhammad Ali when you knew they were going to fight again.).

  On Sunday, “El Heat” will face the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. Here’s the second test in LeBron’s first journey to silence all the critics.  The Bulls enter the series coming off a 20-point win against the Atlanta Hawks in game-six.  They have the current NBA MVP, Derrick Rose, their star point-guard which poses a problem for the Heat because through the entire season, a fast and good point guard has destroyed them (they were 0-3 against Chicago (Rose), 1-3 against Boston (Rajon Rondo, if he doesn’t dislocate his elbow, it’s a different series), and split with a mediocre New Orleans (Chris Paul) in the regular season.  If LeBron wants to solidify his place as an NBA great it started with Boston and will end with a championship or bust. The irony of it all is, expectations are that high that if they win, it’s expected, but if they lose then all hell will break loose. Their next two series can determine how teams approach free agency for years to come (refer to Dwight Howard and Chris Paul in 2012).

Melo and Deron Williams Finish Power Shift, Thanks to…LeBron?

I thought about the NBA’s current situation and came up with this, LeBron James is responsible for the NBA power shift from the Western Conference to the Eastern.  Before you criticize, think about it.  Who were the most active teams during LeBron James’s free agency? (Before he took “his talents to South Beach.” You know what he should’ve done was make an hour program preceding his choice of who he’d like to play for and donate all the proceeds to the “Boys and Girls Club of America”…wait.) They were the Knicks, Nets, Heat, and (because I have to mention them) the Cavaliers.  They each spent years basically throwing seasons and trading away contracts in order to prepare for the ultimate 2010 free agency goal: LeBron James.  Well, only the Heat got him and while the Cavs burned his jersey (Note: Cleveland can burn jerseys and cause mayhem without consequences but if Philadelphia did it, then Skip Bayless would be calling us rude and crude), the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets went to their fall back plans.  Enter Carmelo Anthony (who was plan C behind Amar’e Stoudemire) and Deron Williams (to the Nets, who wasn’t plan A or B, but is a very good plan C)

First, I want to introduce you to Bryant Collins (BC).  To paint a picture of him, think of a Mos Def look-alike, with the vernacular of T.I.  Starting off every sentence with “Let me tell you something about (insert player/team name)…” he has no problem expressing his opinion in a series of big rants and I love it. BC is probably the biggest basketball fan I know so  when I told him the news about Carmelo Anthony getting traded to the New York Knicks (which dooms the 76ers for a most likely 7th seed and a first round playoff matchup against the Miami Heat) his first response was “Whaaaaaaaaat, Chazz you serious?”  He left for a few minutes, getting briefed on the trade and came back with a good argument. Continue reading

Andy Reid Should Watch Collins and Laviolette (Part 1)

Andy Reid is one of the most disliked sportsmen in Philadelphia. Is it really hatred or just exhaustion?  Hatred for his cooperation and energy during national interviews but the opposite towards local media (Disclaimer: I can’t be held responsible for what I do next time he starts an answer with “Uhm, listen…”) and his self-depricating fat jokes to circle his way around answering questions. Or is it from exhaustion with the “broken record” like approach he has every.single.year.? Andy Reid supporters would say, “But look at his wins! Look at how good his teams are ever year!” Yes, I understand that he is 2nd only to Bill Belichick (who is a top 5 coach all time) in wins for active coaches.  However, those wins only count for the regular season, where we get fooled into thinking alot of things (like the Chiefs being good).  I also understand how consistent he’s been.  BUT, his lack of adjustments and clock management skills have led him to be outcoached in situations to where fans are just tired of it. 1-4 in NFC championship games is unacceptable. What Andy Reid (it just doesn’t seem fit to call him just Reid, it’s like a sub-conscious tick that makes me have to identify him everytime) needs to do is look across the street towards the Wells Fargo Center where two coaches are doing what we have wanted Andy Reid to do for a long time. Adjust to the game and get better.  In part one of this, I look at Doug Collins and the job he’s doing with the 76ers. Continue reading