Redeem Recap: How USA Almost Lost The Gold… And How They Ultimately Won

26th
Aug
2008

Why Team USA Almost Lost….

 

 

Defense: Going into these Olympic games, there were a few basic concerns for Team USA on the defensive end.  How would an undersized US team defend the post with only one and a half centers (Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh) and how would they effectively defend the perimeter against hot shooting European or Latin American teams?  In the gold medal game against Spain, Team USA’s defense was horrific.  While it seemed this team had gotten progressively better defensively throughout the Olympics, Team USA allowed Spain to shoot over 60% from the floor in the first half.  Marc Gasol was having his way on the inside.  Spain repeatedly ran alley-oop, pick and rolls which the U.S. was unable to stop.  Juan Carlos Navarro scored at will with running jump shots, breaking down whoever was covering him.  And future NBAer Rudy Fernandez, 7-13 from the floor, looked like he could have started for the Americans.  In the final game, rather than rely on their defense, which to date had been their staple, Team USA counted on their offense to bail them out.

 

Kobe Bryant:  Kobe Bryant, arguably the greatest player in the league, was saddled with foul trouble, picking up two fouls in the first quarter against Spain.  In the second half with the game on the line, Kobe, rather than driving the lane, more often than not relied on his perimeter jump shot.  While Kobe’s box score might not necessarily reflect a poorly played game, there were several times late in the game when Kobe settled for ill-advised jump shots.  Long ones.  While he ultimately proved to be the hero by hitting key baskets late, those could easily have gone the other way. 

 

 

 

Size/Rebounding:  Late in the game, Coach K opted to play Chris Bosh over a relatively ineffective Dwight Howard.  Late in the second half, Marc Gasol shoved the considerably lighter Bosh to the ground like a rag doll without a foul being called.  Team Spain easily out-rebounded the Americans 37-31 and was much more effective on the interior.  Going in to the games, the U.S. knew size would be a problem.  Dwight Howard, who looked like the second coming of Patrick Ewing in this year’s playoffs, was held scoreless in the first half against Spain.

 

Jump Shooting:  As noted earlier, Kobe Bryant often took some ill-advised jump shots.  LeBron James did as well.  Despite a shorter three-point line, Team USA was relatively ineffective from the perimeter in the Olympic Games.  When the US drove to the basket, a la Dwyane Wade in the gold medal game, then kicked it out, they shot a much higher percentage.  Team USA had 28 three-point attempts in the final game.  Had they made any fewer than 13 of those, Spain would have been breathing down their necks more than they already were.  The three-pointers were much more effective off dribble penetration, not off isolation play.

 

Isolation:  Team USA relied upon their athleticism to best their opponent.  While the Spaniards ran a more motion-oriented offense, setting pick and rolls, resulting in easy baskets, the Americans would go possession after possession after possession without even setting a screen.  Their final game was in many ways emblematic of what’s wrong with the NBA.  Too many isolation, take-your-man-off-the-dribble plays, too little passing and too few pick and rolls.  The Americans’ one-on-one game nearly cost them the gold.

 

Spain:  Team Spain was good.  Very good.  And although Bill Walton pointed out that of the seven NBA players on Team Spain would not have made the US roster, Team Spain was still loaded with talent.  They played as good as could be expected, almost good enough to beat Team USA.  Rudy Fernandez will add a nice element to an up-and-coming Portland Trailblazer team and 17-year old Ricky Rubio will eventually be an welcome addition to whatever NBA team drafts him when he becomes eligible.  Team Spain’s coaching staff had a great game plan against the Americans.  With Jose Calderon out to do injury, their backups repeatedly broke down Team USA’s perimeter defense.  They narrowed the American lead to only two points in the fourth quarter.

 

 

Why Team USA won…..

 

Dwyane Wade:  One blogger (mistakenly) listed Wade as one of the top five most overrated players in the league.  This is the same Dwyane Wade who only years ago won Finals MVP in leading the Miami Heat to a title.  Coming off the bench, Wade kept Team USA in the lead when Bryant and James were on the bench in foul trouble.  Wade drove the lane allowing that to set up his perimeter game.  He is arguably the third best player on this team.  While Bryant received much of the glory with his late-game performance, it was Wade who led the team in scoring with twenty-seven points.  When it mattered most, Wade kept the Americans in the game, scoring on his first seven attempts.  Saddled with injuries for much of the 2007-8 season, Wade proved he’s back to form and one of the toughest covers in the league.  Miami will gladly welcome him back this year as he proved he’s one of the best players in the game.

 

 

 

 

Coaching:  While Coach K and staff may not have been overly effective in encouraging his players to run the pick-and-roll, they did preach team unity.  Coach K openly ranked the honor of coaching USA basketball over his three national titles with Duke.  As Wade pointed out, the coaching staff reminded them that the name on the back of the jersey was not as important as the three letters on the front.  He convinced Team USA to put their egos aside, not an easy thing to do among NBA athletes.  His rotations and substitutions were consistently appropriate.  While Chuck Daly led the original Dream Team to a gold medal without ever calling a timeout, in 2008, international talent has clearly caught up to the modern American game.  Coach K was unquestionably the right man for the job.

 

Unity:  Seeing Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo, Wade and Dwight Howard giggle gleefully after the victory told fans everything they needed to know about the makeup of this team.  They put aside NBA team rivalries, understanding that they were on the court as one nation, eager to prove that the NBA’s brand of basketball was the best on the planet.  Seeing them all step up to the gold medal podium, arms intertwined, is a credit to both them and the coaching staff.  They kept their eyes on the prize and represented their country with class, pride and dignity. 

 

 

 

Composure:  Team USA knew Spain (and Argentina) would stoop at nothing to get inside their heads.  Spain was extremely physical.  Marc Gasol was a terror on the interior.  The game got chirpy to say the least.  While Spain did their best to disrupt the American’s game plan, Team USA maintained their composure and it paid off in gold.

 

Depth:  In what world would Dwyane Wade and Deron Williams come off the bench?  Not even on the interplanetary team would Chris Paul not start at point guard.  While international teams went to their bench to inferior talent, Team USA simply reloaded.  It showed when Wade came in and scored at will while James and Bryant were forced to sit against Spain. When Carlos Boozer and Michael Redd get limited minutes, rest assured that was a deep team.

 

Kobe Bryant:  While Kobe may have settled for ill-advised jump shots late in the game, he ultimately showed why he is the fiercest competitor in the NBA.  Kobe’s late game heroics were largely responsible for US gold.  Throughout the games, Kobe defended the opposing teams most skilled guard.  His four-point play against Spain simultaneously fouled out Rudy Fernandez while sealing the gold medal.  He scored 20 points and added six assists in the final game.

 

Determination:  Dubbed the ‘Redeem Team,’ these twelve Americans were not going to be denied.  They wanted to put USA basketball back on the map as the best in the world.  After a loss to Spain, the NBA would have lost a great bit of luster.  Team USA would not let that happen.  So Kudos to all those who committed to USA Basketball for the past several years for reminding all us basketball jones that we proudly boast the best players on the planet.

GO USA!!!

How David Stern And Michael Jordan May Have Destroyed The Game

20th
Aug
2008

When the original Dream Team tore through the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, it was like the Beatles reunited.  With the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Clyde Drexler suiting up, the team touted so much star power that opposing teams didn’t mind getting drubbed by over forty points a game.  Although a gold medal for Team USA was a forgone conclusion before the games even began, the team was still a joy to watch.  It was arguably the greatest sports team ever assembled. 

 

It became clear to marketing wizard David Stern that the NBA could significantly expand its fan base, and revenue, by actively promoting itself overseas.  As fans worldwide became more enamored with the game, the NBA soon found out that young Americans were not the only ones who wanted to ‘be like Mike.’

At that point, international competition paled in comparison to the American version.  In the 1980s and early 1990s, foreign players in the NBA were few and far between.  There was Detlef Schrempf, Drazen Petrovic, Rik Smits, Sarunas Marciulionus and of course, Hakeem Olajuwon.  While these players were all talented, Hakeem was the only foreign player to have a significant impact on the league, having won two NBA titles with the Houston Rockets in the mid-1990s.

Fast forward to the present-day NBA and find a dramatically different league overrun with international talent.  Three of the last four MVP award-winners were foreign-born (Nash in 2004-5; 2005-6 and Nowitzki 2006-7).  Tim Duncan, born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, has four NBA titles.  Manu Ginobili (Argentina) and Tony Parker (France) were alongside for three of them.  Andrew Bogut (Australia), Andrea Bargnani (Italy), Michael Olowokandi (Nigeria) and Yao Ming (China) were all number one draft picks.

In the past, there were few, if any, Latin players.  And zero Asian players.  Now the league features possibly the most recognizable athlete in the world in Yao Ming.  International competition has proven it is currently on par with the Americans.  The game has truly become global.

To date, the league has benefited from the influx.  Until now.

The NBA has recently seen one of its players leave overseas.  Former Atlanta Hawk Josh Childress recently made news when he announced he was signing with the Greek professional team, Olympiakos, for three years and twenty million dollars.  While Childress is far from a big name and has largely failed to live up to his potential, other athletes of note have also opted for international waters.  University of Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings decided to join the Italian professional league instead of going to college.  And during the recent Beijing Olympics, both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have hinted that they would at least entertain the idea of playing overseas if the offer was on the table.  There was talk of international teams dangling as much as $50 million to top tier athletes to woo them overseas.  

The NBA has a rich tradition and is currently in great shape.  Despite still struggling with image issues, this year’s Lakers-Celtics Finals garnered the highest ratings in recent memory.  The league’s talent and star power are arguably at an all-time high.  The NBA still features the greatest basketball players in the world.  That being said, could the league survive an exodus of one of its biggest names?

This is not the first time the NBA faced competition from a rival league.  In the 1970s, the ABA gave the NBA a run for its money.  The ABA was able to pay more for college athletes and landed such big names as Rick Barry, Louie Dampier, George Gervin, Connie Hawkins, Spencer Haywood and of course, Julius Erving.  Since the ABA was able to throw more money at young college stars, the NBA had difficulty competing for the nation’s best college athletes, often losing out.  Many considered the ABA’s talent  on a par with, if not better than, the NBA.  Ultimately, the NBA won over and forced the ABA to merge.  Yet, the ABA offered players something the NBA could not.  International leagues may be poised to do the same.

The NBA’s salary cap, which is adjusted every year, does not allow for a team to sign one player anything close to what certain international leagues are rumored to be offering.  The entire team salary cap for the 2008-9 season will be $58.68 million, nowhere close to the purported $50 mil Olympiakos wants to offer King James.  And while most star athletes make up for their (lack of) league salary through endorsements, what’s to say those same deals would not exist abroad.  After all, McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Nike all do fairly well overseas.

 

 

 

While players like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James might yearn to be considered the best to ever play the game, accomplishing that feat now means having to win six NBA titles a la Michael Jordan.  Accomplishing that with the parity in the league these days is a near impossibility.  Most scoring titles are out of reach as well.  Kareem Adbul Jabbar is the league’s leading scorer after playing for twenty seasons.  He also holds six MVP trophies.  Both those records are likely unattainable considering LeBron hasn’t won one yet and Kobe just won his first.

 

So what is a player’s incentive to remain in the NBA?  The league’s rich tradition?  The hopeless quest to chase the legacy of Michael Jordan?  Dealing with a commissioner who won’t allow them to wear a hat backwards or play basketball until completing two years of college?  Kobe and LeBron owe the league nothing.  If anything, the league owes them for its success.  Remember, even Michael took two years off from the league to pursue other endeavors.  Television ratings dropped as a result.

 

The league potentially has a serious problem on its hands.  Forget Brett Favre leaving the Packers.  If Kobe Bryant were to leave the NBA, that would be the sports story of the decade.  We’re not talking about a veteran player opting to finish his career elsewhere.  We’re talking about one of the greatest talents the game has ever seen thumbing his nose at the league in his prime.  It would serve as a harsh reminder to most ethnocentric Americans that our brand is not the best, or at least we can’t afford it.

 

 

 

 

David Stern will soon be faced with some difficult choices.  It is now Stern who will have to make adjustments, and the NCAA and/or multinational corporations may have to be involved.  Athletes are free to do as they please, unless they’re locked in to a contract, which LeBron won’t be in 2010.  This is a huge bargaining chip for the players’ union.  While the NBA has pushed for a franchise overseas, Stern may have to take a closer look at how the league now interacts with rival international leagues, possibly doing so on its own terms to ensure it does not cost them an exodus of talent.  Although the Association is currently thriving, it can likely not cope, if even survive, if Kobe and/or LeBron James leave the league.  Take a look at how PGA television ratings and attendance drop when Tiger Woods isn’t on tour.  While the NBA has more balanced star power and a more exciting product than the PGA, losing its biggest name(s) would undoubtedly have a devastating impact.

 

Of course, this could all just be talk.  Those offers might not be on the table.  Today’s player might have a change of heart and realize that the NBA is where they belong, for it made them into the stars they are today.  After all, there’s loyalty in business, right?  In the end, all it will take is one big signature on the dotted line to reverse all the good that Stern’s international impetus has brought to the NBA.

Brushes With Sports Greatness, Volume One: Doc Rivers

14th
Aug
2008

Back in the day, when I used to reside in the City of the Rat, I had a friend that ran a local radio station.  Let’s call him Brotha E.  Now as a result of his high-standing in the community, and the fact that his radio station aired Orlando Magic games, Brotha E would often score free tickets into the pre-Dwight Howard O-Rena.  These were the T-Mac days, always entertaining since you never knew when Kid Auburndale was going to go off for 40.  Plus it was always enjoyable to see if Grant Hill’s ankle boot and crutches matched his $3,000 Armani suit.

 

As we were generally granted media passes along with our tickets, Brotha E, the Don Calvino and I would strut in through the back hallways of the arena and walk around like we owned the place, sneaking from bar to bar to ensure we were properly liquid-aided throughout the evening’s festivities.  The Magic were competitive back then, but as we now know since T-Mac has still never led his team out of the first round of the playoffs, how competitive could they be.

 

We must have gone to about twenty home games that year, watching most of them in the lower bowl and wagering with other Magic fans as Bo Outlaw (career 52% free throw shooter) would ceremoniously brick both attempts from the stripe.  

 

 

Well, one night late in the season, the Magic were looking to make a playoff push and needed a veteran presence on the perimeter, so they decided to sign Dee Brown to a 10-day contract.  This was obviously before his San Antonio Silver Stars and ESPN analyst days.  That night, Dee came off the bench and gave the Magic the boost they needed to win the game, hitting some late, clutch three-pointers.

 

 

All of Orlando was in good spirits, as were the Treacherous Three as we were eight whiskeys in, but who’s counting.  Since we still had our media passes, we decided to check out the post-game press conference.  Doc Rivers was still coaching the Magic at the time.

 

Considering the Magic had just won the ballgame, the press room was surprisingly morose.  Rivers, giddy from the victory, sat in front of the cameras and reporters waiting for someone to ask a relevant question, yet the press failed to oblige.  The press room was morgue-like as if the Magic had just been defeated. That was until Brotha E, standing at the back of the room, Jack and Coke in hand and press pass dangling unevenly around his neck, shouted out “Coach!  Dee Brown!  Quality minutes!” 

 

 

 

A smile instantly came to Doc’s face as if this was exactly the question he’d been anticipating.  He proceeded to spend the next ten minutes elaborating on what an acquisition Dee had been, what big shots he hit and how he was just what they needed.  After all, Dee did help win the game.  Perhaps the press hadn’t been paying attention.  The Don, already nervous about sneaking into the press conference, looked on in amazement as Brotha E, as if sprinkling fairy dust with a single statement, had brought the Magic coach to life.  Brotha E has that effect on people.  It was much like those Coors Light commercials where the guys standing in the back of the room ask coaches questions that they give canned answers to.  If only we had thought of that first.  Oh wait, we did.

LeBronze No More: The Redeem Team’s Quest For Gold

14th
Aug
2008

The 2008 Beijing Olympics is upon us and decorated swimmer Michael Phelps is not the only recognizable American hoping to return home with gold.  There are twelve other American athletes, the men who comprise Team USA Basketball, who this time travel to China with a chip on their shoulders, for they are no longer considered the best in their sport.  On August 10th, Team USA Basketball officially begins their quest for Olympic gold, a shot at redemption and the right to once again proclaim that America’s brand of basketball is the best on the planet. 

 

Over the past eight years, Americans have been flat out embarrassed in international competition.  Team USA finished sixth in the 2002 World Championship.  They finished 3rd in both the 2004 Olympics and the 2006  World Championships.  Despite underachieving recently, Team USA is once again considered the favorite to win the gold medal.  By all accounts, they should live up to those expectations.  This team and coaching staff, under the guidance of Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, was assembled differently than in years past, embracing a team concept over emphasis on the individual superstar.  While this current ‘Dream Team’ still features Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, only one player on this roster, Jason Kidd, owns a gold medal, hopefully leaving eleven more with the desire to join him in that honor.

 

Under the leadership of head coach Mike Krzyzewksi, several factors, if used to their advantage, set up nicely for an American return to dominance, yet Team USA must not take any opponent lightly.  Not only will anything less than a gold medal be a tremendous disappointment, it will also serve as a glaring reminder that the United States is no longer the epicenter of the basketball world.

 

 

Rules:  While international rules are generally the same as the NBA, there are a few subtle differences that Team USA should be able to use to their advantage.  International play is more physical than in the NBA.  Hand-checking, long banished from the NBA, is allowed.  Team USA will have to adjust to more physical play on the defensive end, particularly on the perimeter, while learning what is whistled and what is not.  A return to perimeter hand-checking should help a stronger USA team if they practice it properly.  They also can’t get frustrated when covered in that fashion.   While many American players may still be able to use their star power to warrant a foul call,  Olympic officials will not stand for the temper tantrums for which most NBA players are known.  Team USA must also be aware that traveling as it exists in the rule book will be strictly called.  The extra step (or two) allowed by many an NBA referee will not be tolerated.  Offensive goaltending, which is illegal in the NBA, is allowed in international play.  If NBA players can become accustomed to reacting quickly to put-backs, not only can they take advantage of this rule, but emphatic dunks, in addition to the two points, will have a secondary effect of mesmerizing and demoralizing the opponents.  Dwight Howard could have a heyday.

Jump-Shooting:  The international three-point line is considerably closer to the basket than in the NBA (20 feet, 6 inches as opposed to 23 feet, 9 inches).  This is enough to make jump shooters like Michael Redd salivate.  Most anyone on Team USA can shoot from the perimeter.  That being said, they must not fall in love with the jump shot.  While undersized (Team USA features no seven-footers), the Americans must still use their strength and quickness to their advantage.  While Team USA only has Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard in the post, they should still be able to work the inside-outside game to their advantage.  A cold shooting Team USA that settles for jumpers will lead to fastbreaks and if that’s the case, Team USA better have their transition defense in order.  Team USA shot 66% from the floor in their warm up against Canada, by blending a nice mix of post-up and perimeter play.  While it’s unlikely that the US can shoot that high a percentage from the floor against the remaining Olympic competition, a number relatively close to that should guarantee a gold medal. 

Point Guard Play: Jason Kidd is the only current player on this U.S. team to have a gold medal on his mantel.  While many pundits questioned his invitation, his veteran presence has allowed him to become the team leader.  As one of the game’s premier point guards over the past decade, he has earned the respect of his teammates.  While he’ll likely not log the minutes of his more capable backups, Chris Paul and Deron Williams, it will be Kidd who starts the games and sets the tempo.  Much like a starting pitcher sets up shop for the closers, Paul and Williams should close out what Kidd has started… with flair.  Against Canada, Coach K played both Paul and Williams at the same time.  That lineup could definitely work, particularly against the speedier teams in competition.  Paul and Williams have proven they are the next generation of NBA point guards and should be a load for any opposing perimeter defense.  Paul and Williams must also play competent ’D’ to shut down opposing playmakers such as Spain’s Jose Calderon.  Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James might also likely see some time handling the ball. 

Desire:  If USA basketball’s recent international woes are not enough to motivate this team, nothing will be.  In 1992, when the original Dream Team of Michael, Magic and Larry took the floor, opponents were awestruck.  Competitors were too busy asking for autographs to be concerned that they were being beaten by an average of fifty points per game.  While scoring discrepancies of that magnitude are unlikely in this Olympics, the US team should be motivated enough to humiliate its opponents.  After all, Team USA has been humiliated over the past eight years and turnabout is fair play.  Team USA should have their game faces on.  Anything less will be a total disappointment. 

 

 

 

 

Coaching:  Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has assembled a talented group of coaches to assist him in bringing home the gold.  Current Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni was an obvious selection because of his international experience.  Portland Trailblazers coach Nate McMillan and Syracuse University coach Jim Boeheim are also great basketball minds.  These coaches should do fairly well at keeping this young team’s eyes on the prize.

 

Size/rebounding:  Team USA only features one true center: Dwight Howard.  Chris Bosh will also share time on the low blocks, as will Carlos Boozer.  Team USA will be undersized when they face Yao Ming and Team China in their opening game.  Dwight Howard is still recovering from a fractured sternum, though by his accounts, he’ll be ready to play.  An aggravation to that injury, however, will leave Team USA center-less.   Boozer, Bosh and Carmelo Anthony should all help with the rebounding load, and LeBron has been known to pull down his fair share.  But Team USA will be at a disadvantage if opposing teams are successful pounding the ball inside and getting Team USA into foul trouble.  Players are allotted five fouls only in Olympic play, not six as NBA players are accustomed to.  The team USA frontcourt will have to learn how much physicality they’ll be able to defend with while not getting themselves into foul trouble.

 

LeBron’s health:  The chosen one, LeBron James, is nursing a bum ankle but should likely be 100% come tournament time.  Can Team USA win gold without a healthy LeBron?  Likely.  Will Team USA be much more entertaining to watch, as well as more intimidating with LeBron on the floor?  Unquestionably. 

 

Competition:  Several teams should pose at least somewhat of a threat to Team USA.  Team Germany features former league MVP Dirk Nowitzki.  Team China features Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian.  Team Australia boasts 2005 top draft pick, Andrew Bogut.  Andrei Kirilenko suits up for Russia.  But the Americans should be able to dispatch these teams with relative ease.  The stiffest competition should come from either current gold medalists Argentina with Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni or Team Spain with Jose Calderon and Pau Gasol.  Regardless, no team will have the depth and talent of Team USA.  A well-coached and properly motivated American team should reestablish its international dominance and bring home the gold to its rightful owners. 

I remember finding out about you! Mike D’Antoni

10th
May
2008

Well it’s official. The Knicks have landed Mike D’Antoni as there coach. I grew up on the Knicks, watched and hurt through the 90′s as Jordan destroyed us year after year and could hardly watch in the 00′s as Isiah led the team to be one of the sloppiest looking bad news bear bunch of misfits ever assembled. But now like the NBA’s Keven Garnett commercial New York Knicks fans can rejoice. I predict that Knicks fans will talk about this day for a long time to come. The day the Knicks were saved from a boring unbelievably bad team to one of the most exciting, fun teams to watch and in a year or two, even winners! For one of the top coaches in the league a proven regular season winner who plays high octane basketball Mike D’Antoni is a deal for the Knicks. The players and fans love him for his style of play, he is the anti-Isiah. In my mind the Knicks could not have made a better addition, player or coach wise, then this for next year.

Hopefully the Knicks can land a premier point guard in the draft like DerrickRose, or Jerryd Bayless. But even with out here is my run and gun Knicks line up utilizing the current roster.

Player G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF TOT APG SPG BPG TO A/TO PF PPG
Jamal Crawford 80 80 39.9 .410 .356 .864 0.5 2.1 2.6 5.0 1.0 0.2 2.4 2.1 1.8 20.6
Stephon Marbury 24 19 33.6 .419 .378 .716 0.7 1.8 2.5 4.7 0.9 0.1 2.0 2.4 2.4 13.9
Nate Robinson 72 17 26.1 .423 .332 .786 0.7 2.4 3.1 2.9 0.8 0.0 1.4 2.1 2.6 12.7
David Lee 81 29 29.1 .552 .000 .819 3.0 6.0 8.9 1.2 0.7 0.4 1.2 1.0 2.6 10.8
Quentin Richardson 65 65 28.3 .359 .322 .682 0.9 4.0 4.8 1.8 0.7 0.2 1.1 1.7 2.4 8.1
Wilson Chandler 35 16 19.6 .438 .300 .630 1.1 2.5 3.6 0.9 0.4 0.5 0.8 1.2 2.4 7.3
Renaldo Balkman 65 0 14.6 .489 .083 .432 1.3 2.0 3.3 0.6 0.7 0.5 0.6 1.1 2.0 3.4

Then you anchor them down with Eddy Fatty or Zach Randolf (your not as good Shaq and Kurt Thomas)

I am sure they will make some moves though to get an even better bunch of guys but if not Mike will be able to get this group to play better then they ever did as Knicks before. Maybe more like they played before they were Knicks.

Suns, Spurs Game Two

22nd
Apr
2008

Can game two live up to the excitement of Game 1? Probably not but it definitely is going to be a fun to watch battle. Here is what I will be watching for.

Shaq to avoid fouls better – If he can do this and play the type of defense he has been on Duncan including swatting him with five fouls in Game 1 this alone could be the difference maker.

Grant Hill – He’s hurting with a groin injury. In my opinion they should use him sparingly if Shaq and Amare stay out of fould trouble.

Bowen – I am betting Bruce has a better game tonight. Let’s see if he also gets into the Suns minds with his dirty plays.

For Suns Fans check out this great video of their somewhat depressing history

http://www.2bdfilms.com/suns.html

Top 5 Players to Watch this Playoffs

18th
Apr
2008

1. Kobe Bryant – Kobe wants to stand on his own like MJ did in the 90′s and he finally has his Pippen and Horace Grant in Gasol and Odom as well as his old friend Derek Fisher. Kobe is the most flashy player in the NBA that really isn’t trying to be flashy. We can look forward to plenty of clutch shots, double pumps, deep three’s and nasty crossovers. The “Black Mamba” is likely to match up against Shaq’s Suns and that will just make watching him play more fun. Anytime Kobe drives and Shaq is under the hoop you have to ask yourself what is going to give.

2. Kevin Garnett – It’s all for nothing if he doesn’t at least bring the conference championship back to Boston. KG who is has been so intense the whole season will be a man possessed. Watching KG go crazy on every end of the court and win will be very enjoyable to watch. He should abuse the front line of the Hawks in the first round.

3. Shaquile O’Neal – Shaq is made for the playoffs, that’s why his teams have one 5 of them. As a matter of fact Shaq is batting .333 percent when it comes to winning championships. I think he gives the Suns the same odds this year, which is pretty darn good when they are just 1/16 teams in this contest. Shaq is hell a fun to watch because of the hussle, his experience, his big heavy dunks and the occasional no look pass. Oh and just watch his facial expressions they are hilarious.

4. Allen Iverson – Poor Iverson may not have much of a chance of making it out of the first round according to ESPN. I would never count AI out though. If you ripped his heart out of his little body I’m sure you would find it is just as big as KG’s. I predict at least one game were AI just goes nuts against the Lakers and you want to be watching to see it. The crossovers, the fadeways and the dives to the hoop AI’s game is ageless. When Wade is a hurting unit after few seasons AI takes a licking keeps on ticking.

5. Dwight Howard – He’s still young, and he’s still getting better but he is something to watch right now. The man that can dunk like superman will certainly be throwing down the most dunks in these playoffs. We will see him mature and play in some great matchups vs. Bosh and if he wins hopefully KG.

Bruce Bowen Elbows Amare Stoudemire

10th
Apr
2008

Bruce Bowen elbows Amare Stoudemire as Amare sets a pick on him. From my opinion he saw Amare there and then raised his elbow but I am sure the Spurs fans will have a different opinion. Here’s the video on youtube. Based on the comments most people think it was dirty. Bowen was suspended last month, one day, for kicking Chris Paul and is just further increasing his reputation as a dirty player who goes after the other teams best players.

Will David Stern suspend Bowen longer this time. This could have easily lead to the ugly brawls he dreads and give the game a bad reputation. Kudos to the Suns and Amare for retaining their cool.

Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash Guitar Video

6th
Apr
2008

What great guys.
Dirk wore Bradley’s jersey for fun. They are singing about their friend Simon Ibell who suffers from a genetic disorder called MPS

Gilbert Arenas pay cut

6th
Apr
2008

 Gilbert Arenas is a team player, at least when it comes to salaries.

“Just sign Antawn first and then I’ll take the pay cut, to keep the team intact,” Arenas said.

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Gilbert Arenas

Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Gilbert Arenas says he will give up money to keep the Wizards intact.
Reporter: You’ll take a pay cut?

“Yeah.”

Really?

Yeah.

How much?

“It depends how much [Jamison] wants,” Arenas said.

“We’ve been together six out of my seven years. I told him, whatever he wants, give it to him, and I’ll take the pay cut.

“I know what he does, I know he’s part of my success. We have this 1-2 combination that we use, and it’s effective in this league. We know we make each other better. Someone has to sacrifice. This might be one of his last contracts, so I’ll have to sacrifice and hopefully I’ll get another one at the end of the day.”