Saturday, July 10, 2010

Miami - Public Enemy Number 1?

Could this be possible? Can this three do it? Can Bosh never stop looking like a velociraptor? Could the Miami Heat now be the most hated team in the NBA? More than the Lakers or Celtics?!?!

Think about this: 5 teams were pretending that airplanes in the night skies were shooting stars, and wishing upon them that LeBron would come to their team: Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles Clippers, and of course, Cleveland. LeBron chose Miami and fans are upset. Know this--that if LeBron chose Cleveland, no one would resent him and he'd go on to continue his career as one of the best players in the history of the game. The five potential cities for LeBron would be disappointed, but they wouldn't be angry. Every Miami away game at these five cities, he will be booed. The Miami Heat will be booed. Chants will arise including "O-VER-RAT-ED!! CLAP* CLAP* CLAPCLAPCLAP*," COP OUT! CLAP* CLAP* COP OUT! CLAP* CLAP*" and "MVP" chants for their teams' best players at the free throw line and the usual booing and distractions for the big 3 in Miami.

But who else will hate them. Well for sure Toronto will as their franchise player left and it was well known with his twitter updates that he simply couldn't wait for July 1, 2010. The Los Angeles Lakers fans will transfer their Kobe>LeBron hatred toward Cleveland, especially if Derek Fisher (WHAT!?) signs with them.

Sidenote: If Fisher signs and starts for the Miami Heat, Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Raymond Felton, Derrick Rose, and Brandon Jennings are gonna run circles around him in the East (that's about 20 games). Don't get me started on the point guard situation in the West (Nash, CP3, Westbrook, DWill, Tyreke, Baron, Kidd, Brooks, Parker, STEVE BLAKE...) plus relentless booing from Laker and Jazz fans. And if they pay Fisher the reported 10 mil for 2 years, then Miami are the true losers in all of this.
I'd have to feel that the Celtics would hate them as well. The defending eastern conference champions who always seem to be playing with a chip on their shoulder will again be not expected to make it to the finals. The Heat become the automatic favorites. But I can't help feeling that whatever lame point guard situation they have at the start of the season, Rondo will be able to easily pick him apart and continue to take his game to another level.

Along with the addition of Jermaine O'neal, the rebounding swings in the Celtics' favor as well. As old as O'neal is, he's still more of a physical presence than Bosh, and if Bosh finally gets his wish and plays power forward, whatever lame center situation the Heat have, Jermaine can surely overmatch him, especially if it's Joel Anthony.

The Orlando Magic must feel some kind of angst toward their cross state rivals. Again, the Heat will be the favorite to win the East. Magic fans will proclaim that their star didn't need superstar help to make it to the finals and that Dwight was the unquestioned leader of that team. Magic GM Otis Smith has already come out and put LeBron on blast saying he thought James was "more competitive than that."

And pretty much any fan who feels sorry for Cleveland must feel some anger toward the Miami Heat. LeBron disrespected his hometown and is probably never welcome there again. He knew it. He hired security to protect his home when he went on his ESPN LeBronathon. Fans burned their Cavs jerseys and are back to being at the bottom of the eastern standings. I know I feel bad for them. The already watered down league just got a little more watered down. Cleveland and Toronto will both be vying for that #1 draft pick next summer.

A couple notes I've taken away from this:

First of all I'm absolutely shocked.
  • As a basketball fan, I'm disappointed. I like to see superstars lead their own teams to see epic battles in the playoffs. Instead of seeing LeBron take on Wade and Bosh, we'll probably see those three take on... Brandon Jennings and Drew Gooden? Joe Johnson and Josh Smith? Gerald Wallace and Tyson Chandler? Not quite must see TV.
  • As a Laker fan, I'm honestly not worried. I don't thing this big three will make it to the finals (at least this upcoming season) and I think the Celtics are still a better, deeper team with more cutthroat players than LeBron is. Lebron, by joining Wade, proves that he needs a Jordan-esque type player while he plays second fiddle. Absolutely shocked.
  • As a Kobe fan, I'm ecstatic. Pretty much half of the Kobe haters were wiped out. No longer can people say, Kobe needed Pau and Kobe needed Shaq, LeBron did it all by himself. I'm relishing in all of the comments that writers and bloggers are posting saying Jordan and Kobe would have never joined another superstar.
  • As an sympathizer, I feel sorry for LeBron. If he wins, everyone will say "He couldn't do it without Wade, and Wade already did it without LeBron." If he loses, everyone will say, he couldn't even do it with Wade and Bosh."
  • Also as a Laker and Clipper fan, I like how the west just got a lot easier. Western Conference finalists Suns got weaker by losing Amare. Semi Finalists Jazz got weaker by losing Boozer and Korver. Miami Heat are interested in Portland back up forward/center Juwan Howard.
  • I like this quote from Bill Simmons' article 12 hours before the hour long ESPN special:

    In May, after the Cavs were ousted in the conference semifinals, I wrote that LeBron was facing one of the greatest sports decisions ever: "winning (Chicago), loyalty (Cleveland) or a chance at immortality (New York)."

    I never thought he would pick "HELP!"

  • Also from that article, Simmons pointed out that these three will have to play upwards of 40 minutes a night for 100 or so games. If one gets injured for an extended period of time, this team will not make it to the finals.
Best LeBron jokes I've heard so far via forwarded texts, facebook statuses and twitter:
  • Dear Lebron, You can run to the south.. But your mom is still riding west!
  • LeBron James apparently furious about Dan Gilbert's rant. His camp already pitching one-hour special called The Response
  • Last time LeBron/Wade/Bosh/Miller paired up they won the Bronze medal in the '04 Olympics... just saying.
  • Apple just announced that they're coming out with a Lebron James iphone, but it only vibrates, because it has no ring at all
  • Lebron woke up this morning as a young Jordan n is going to sleep tonight as Scottie Pippen

Monday, July 5, 2010

Don't give up on Allen Iverson

20 minutes ago, Allen Iverson used five tweets to get this off his chest:
I will be in my hometown of VA for Camp Crossover 2010 (July 6-9). I am going there to work with kids and to give back to my community. I want to return to the NBA this season, and help any team that wants me, in any capacity that they feel that I can help. I'm disappointed, and I owe my fans more than what they have seen of me the last couple seasons. However, now that my family is healthy and rock solid, I can concentrate fully on doing what I do best! At the camp, I will help teach kids some of what it takes to be successful in life. On and off the basketball court.
Around this time last year, AI was a free agent wanting to sign with a team that he could help win a championship. However, he didn't want to just piggy back on a team and play as a backup. He wanted to start and got his wish for the Memphis Grizzlies. He didn't start though and threw a fit and was released and signed with the 76ers. He started but then family troubles got in the way and he kinda vanished after that.

Well, here he is. Making it public that he still wants to play and wants to help any team that wants him. I'm sure there are a few teams that could use him, but it remains to be seen if he'd be willing to be a bench player or if he'll hold out to be a starting PG again.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Steve Blake will be a good back up to D-Fish? WHAT!? START THIS GUY!

Ever since I saw Steve Blake play for the Clippers live, I've been so high on him. I argued that he ran a better offense than Baron Davis. Twice. I wanted the Clippers to trade Baron Davis for a good post player and hand over the reigns to Steve Blake. He's a great personality. Works hard even for the lottery bound Clippers, even as a back up PG. Yes it was a contract year, but Steve Blake has always been known as a good character guy and good professional.
Gut reactions to the signing:

He's a pass first guy and that will work well in the Laker offense:
  • Fact. He is a pass first, almost to a fault. He barely looks at the basket and is always looking around to find open men. But he's so much more than that. He's a GOOD passer. If it wasn't for Kobe and Shannon Brown's hectic ability to grab errant lobs, a lot of those high low passes from Pau at the free throw line and Luke Walton from the 3 point line would have sailed out of bounds. Steve Blake throws a GREAT lob pass, in transition and in half court sets. Granted Shannon will probably leave for more money, Andrew Bynum is a good target to pass to on the lob.
  • Steve Blake is a great pick and roll passer. And with his ability to knock down a jump shot, if teams cheat and go under the screen set most likely from Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum, he'll make you pay for it. Granted most all pick and roll situations come from Kobe Bryant, this will probably rarely happen. But if Blake plays with the 2nd string players, depending on who else they sign, it adds more to the Laker offense arsenal.
  • To sum it up, he makes the right pass, but in addition, that right pass is a GOOD pass in the receiver's comfort zone, making him able to finish the play correctly.
He's a good shooter.
  • Fact. Albeit he's more of a spot up shooter. He can create his own shot but mainly off of screens but he's a good catch and shoot shooter, from 3 point line and midrange.
He's a good defender.
  • Depends who you ask. He's a pesky defender but if an oversized point guard posts him up, he'll need help. He's got a small frame at 6'3 172 lbs (compared to Fisher 6'1 210 lbs). But he does have the ability to keep his man in front of him.
  • However, he is a smart defender. He knows how to rotate on defense and isn't afraid (on the Clippers at least) to tell people quickly where they need to be on defense while the ball is in play. If he plays with Lamar, I have a feeling the other 3 guys on the floor at the time will always know where they're supposed to be as Lamar takes a lot of pride in team defense as well.
He's got a high basketball IQ.
  • Fact. Refer to what I said about his passing.
  • But also, he knows basketball situations. He knows how to use his fouls, knows how to foul to stop a fast break. Knows where his teammates are going to be and knows how to play basketball the right way.
  • The way I see it, he's a poor man's Chauncey Billups playing for Larry Brown on the Pistons. Except he's playing for the rich Lakers and still took a pay cut due to their payroll to the Laker core.
Final argument. Look, Fisher did great this playoffs. He was the MVP of game 3 in the Finals. But you cannot, YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT, ignore the 82 game season. Fisher was a liability on defense and shot poorly compared to his last couple of years (38% FG, 34% 3pt). The argument for Fisher is that he's clutch. Ok, yeah, he's clutch. But do you need a clutch player who hits big shots for 82 games of the season when you have so many other weapons and are probably going to/should be winning games with a comfortable lead with the players the Lakers have? No.

However, during the playoffs, you will need clutch performers and Fisher is exactly that, which is why the Lakers should still keep him. He needs to be relegated to the bench so that he can save his legs for the playoffs. He needs to do what is best for the team as Lamar did in 2008 and was benched for yes, Vladamir Radmanovic. Later that season, Lamar was still benched in favor of yes, Luke Walton. Luke Walton later told Jackson he should be starting Trevor Ariza. Lamar did what his team asked him to do and it ended up in a championship. Fisher needs to do what Ron Artest did for the Lakers this season, took a pay cut to chase a ring and took a lesser role as not the number 1 option on offense but still performed. He did what his team asked him to do and it ended up in a championship.

As a Laker fan, and a Steve Blake fan, I'm so happy right now. I just feel that if they do sign Fisher and he starts, somewhere in the middle of the season, there will be talks of who should be starting at point guard. Why can't we just sidestep all of that and start Steve Blake at the end and have Fisher be the hero during the playoffs?

Regardless of what happens, here's to you, Steve Blake. I hope you get a championship ring and thank you taking less money.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

World Cup Soccer Gude For NBA Fans (PART 1 of 2)

I'll admit it, I got the World Cup Fever, too bad my team lost already (USA) but I'm still watching. I've been asking my co worker who's a soccer fanatic questions about the game, rules, notable players, notable teams etc. and came up with the idea of comparing the best world cup players to NBA players so I could get a sense of who I was watching.

So basically, we'll be saying: (SOCCER PLAYER X) is the (NBA PLAYER Y) of the World Cup.

We'll start off slow:

Diego Maradona and Pele (constant argument to the extent of the "Michael Jordan or Kobe" argument) are the Michael Jordan(s) of Soccer. Back in the day they ruled the game and were leaps and bounds ahead of their peers.

David Beckham is the Reggie Miller of Soccer. A sweet shot that no one can quite explain. Not that great of an all around player but will go down as one of Soccer's best players.

Ok you get the point. Using ESPN's 50 best players of the World Cup (written in March before the World Cup started, by the way), my co worker and I discussed who was the NBA comparison so that an average sports fan just getting into soccer could better comprehend the players he or she was watching at ungodly hours of the morning due to the time difference.

  1. As I said, this list was prepared in March, way before the World Cup had started.
  2. Soccer is quite different from basketball. Great soccer players know how to dribble and shoot and pass. So it'd be easy to just compare them all to the point guards of the league. I tried not to do that.
  3. I'll be comparing styles of play and/or popularity and/or personal characteristics and/or career similarities, NOT ALL FOUR. This is just for the NBA fan to get a better grasp of what kind of Soccer player so and so is. I'll explain the choice in a few sentences, plus the scouting report from the ESPN website of the Soccer player.
  4. If you disagree, let me know about it! I'm still a rookie soccer fan.
Without further ado:

1. Lionel Messi, Argentina Forward - LeBron James, TEAM UNKNOWN
This is if you're from the LeBron James is the greatest basketball player. Lionel Messi is simply the best soccer player in the world right now. He isn't scoring out of his mind because his coach (Maradona/"Jordan") has him playing out of position. "Can break down any defense off the dribble and conjure something out of nothing."

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal Midfielder - Kobe Bryant, Lakers
One of the best in the world, plus he is considered selfish, arrogant and cocky. The team is all about him etc. I'll admit I'm biased but Kobe Bryant will always have that tag and for the most part it was true a couple years ago (and flashes here and there including game 7 of the finals!). "Prolific goal scorer, specializes in long-range free kicks and can shoot from anywhere."

3. Wayne Rooney, England Forward - Brandon Roy, Blazers/Ron Artest, Lakers
Powerful build and a great scorer with good intelligence. He also is temperamental so that's where the Ron Artest comparison comes from. "Complete striker who can play anywhere across the front three."

4. Kaka, Brazil Midfielder - Kevin Durant, Thunder
Another great scorer, just not at the level of Ronaldo or Messi. He's older than Durant so he doesn't have the upside but right now, he's the Kevin Durant of the World Cup, on a team that's predicted by most to win the World Cup. "Artistic playmaker who can break down defenses via dribble (or pass)."

5. Xavi, Spain Midfielder - Chris Paul, Hornets
Great field vision and great passer. Can pass from long range or up close. "The pulse of the Spanish team" as is Chris Paul is for the Hornets. Can also control the ball and isn't turnover prone.

6. Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast Forward - Lamar Odom, Lakers
Remember my disclaimer? Am I saying Lamar is the 6th best player in the NBA as Drogba is the 6th best Soccer player? No. Similarities, great player, just doesn't always bring it. He can score any kind of goal as Lamar can post up, hit a 3 or drive the lane... when he puts his mind to it. Also think of Baron Davis from around 2006. "Practically unplayable when he puts his mind to it."

7. Andres Iniesta, Spain Midfielder - Rajon Rondo, Celtics
Straight up playmaker. Even has a cool nickname: "El Illusionista" (The Illusionist). He's not that tall but has great ball control and vision of the field. Can take players off the dribble and always looks to pass, sometimes to a fault. "Very difficult to dispossess and can also run at defenders and take them off the dribble."

8. Fernando Torres, Spain Forward - Pau Gasol, Lakers
Good all around player with good technique. But regarded as soft and tries to avoid contact. "Can sometimes be thrown off his game if defenders dish out the rough treatment and the refs are lax in calling fouls." Pau may have shaken that "soft" tag these past couple years but he can still fall prey to overzealous defense if the foul isn't called.

9. Steven Gerrard, England Midfielder - Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves (early 2000s)
Aggressive tackler with good offense. Dynamic player who can play all over the field. "Struggles at times to shed man markers." Can't take a player off the dribble like KG couldn't. Don't get me wrong, KG could go on one but he would use his post moves, no cross overs.

10. Michael Essien, Ghana Midfielder - Allen Iverson, 76ers (2000-2003)
Great offense but also great defense. "Covers an incredible amount of territory with boundless energy." Essien was injured before the world cup even started so that's why you haven't heard much about him. Ghana is still in the tournament though.

11. David Villa, Spain Forward - Dwyane Wade, Heat
Great player who can flat out score. Finds openings and has the speed to get into the holes in the defense. Great finisher, won't miss too many shots from up close. "Predatory goal scorer who constantly finds openings in the defense and penalty box."

12. Frank Ribery, France Midfielder - Steve Nash, Suns
Known for making plays for his teammates who simply works hard. Takes over as France's franchise player after Zidane as Nash took over from uhh, Stephon Marbury? "Clever playmaker... loves to run at defenders and get to the byline."

13. Samuel Eto'o, Cameroon Forward - Manu Ginobili, Spurs
One of the older players and has maybe lost a step or two, but can still bring it every game. "Often glides into the box and finishes calmly. Presses defenders high all across the field." Fourth world cup at 28 years old because he played his first one when he was 14! Ginobili can still take over games this late in his career and moves swiftly through defenders.

14. Luis Fabiano, Brazil Forward - Jason Richardson, Suns
He's a streaky "explosive" player who "can score in bunches" but he's inconsistent. This reminds me of Jason Richardson who on any night can light a team up for 30 points but is usually going to average around half that.

15. Iker Casillas, Spain Goalie - Dwight Howard, Magic
Didn't see that one coming, did you? Our first defensive player goes to the top defensive player in the NBA. Maybe not quite as physical as Dwight but "possesses superior reflexes and positioning. Composed and deals solidly with aerial crosses" so perhaps there's a little Tim Duncan and Emeka Okafor in there, but regardless, best goalie therefore, Dwight (Defensive player of the year 2 years in a row).

16. Cesc Fabregas, Spain Midfielder - Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
He's a great player and he demands the ball. Good all around game but "can be a little careless with turnovers at times." Carmelo has averaged 3+ turnovers a game for 6 of his 7 year career (2.7 TOs per in 05/06) but still one of the game's best players.

17. Gianluigi Buffon, Italy Goalie - Tim Duncan, Spurs
Ok so the next defensive player goes to one of the best defenders, but here's why. He's 32 and still playing at a high level. "Veteran with sound positional sense. Solid shot stopper, rarely makes a mistake." That sounds very Tim Duncan to me.

18. Dani Alves, Brazil Defender - Rashard Lewis, Magic / Amare Stoudemire, Suns
A defender compared to Rashard and Amare? Hear me out, like my disclaimer said, these aren't fool proof. He's a defender, but he's a scoring defender. "Superior set-piece delivery" and "defensively vulnerable at times and can be caught out of position or muscled off the ball." Great player with those defensive asterisks, sounds like Amare with a Rashard jumpshot to me.

19. Nemanja Vidic, Serbia Defender - Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz (2004-2006)
Takes pride in keeping his man in front of him as Andrei did when he was the best player on the post Stockton/Malone Jazz. But he was also well rounded enough to be a force on offense and could pretty much fill a box score up. "Owns the box with his aerial ability, both defensively and on offensive set pieces. Can be vulnerable to pacy forwards with strong dribbling skills."

20. Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands Midfielder - Deron Williams, Jazz
Short player with good vision and can shoot from distance, prefers to be a playmaker. "World-class passing game does provide the glue that will hold together the 10 players surrounding him."

21. Maicon, Brazil Defender - Trevor Ariza, Rockets
Well rounded player. Defender who can play offense as well, but primarily a defender (Ariza on the Lakers, I suppose). "Strong defensive play with powerful surging runs down the right flank. No real weaknesses."

22. Frank Lampard, England Midfielder - Tony Parker, Spurs
Can score and pass off to teammates for assists. Impressive finisher for a midfielder as is Parker with his teardrop runner over bigs. "doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well but is above average in all areas."

23. Andrea Pirlo, Italy Midfielder - Chauncey Billups, Nuggets
Playmaking midfielder who can "control the tempo of a game and generally delivers superb set pieces." Not so much a scorer like Chauncey, Pirlo looks to set up other teammates but can hit from long range as Billups can.

24. Carlos Tevez, Aregentina Forward - Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Big ball of energy. I debated putting Leandro Barbosa here but he has fallen off a little bit from prior years. Tevez can score some spectacular goals as Westbrook can throw down some game changing dunks. Both are scorers and both have speed and hustle.

25. Robin Van Persie, Netherlands Forward - Danny Granger, Pacers
A good scorer with some well rounded abilities but needs work "on his heading ability but possesses every other tool in pace, finishing and long-range shooting." Reminds me of Granger because although he's the face of the Pacers right now, he's got some work to do to become a franchise guy.

26-50 in the works!