Thursday, May 31, 2007

LeBron Gets It

Cavaliers star LeBron James makes the game-winning layup in Cleveland's 109-107 double-overtime victory over the Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

I'm not sure how I should write this post. About an hour ago LeBron James turned in one of the greatest individual performances in playoff history. In a 109-107 double-OT victory over the Pistons in Auburn Hills that will become a part of NBA lore, the King played 51 minutes, scored 48 points (on 18-of-33 shooting), grabbed 9 rebounds, and dished out 7 assists. He made his team's last 11 field goals and scored 29 of their last 30 points, including the last 25. He made huge basket after huge basket, some tough fallaways mixed with a few strong drives to the basket that he capped off with even stronger finishes. On the game-winner, he drove right through the heart of the Pistons defense and finished with an acrobatic layup. He was unstoppable. He was not going to let his team lose this game.

I wasn't even alive when Magic did what he did sans Kareem at the Spectrum in the '80 Finals, or when Michael gave Boston 63 at the Garden in '86, but I know everything about those games and I've seen parts of both of them on ESPN Classic and NBA TV. And this performance is right up there with those two. All things considered, this one may be even more impressive. I mean, think about it: LeBron is 22-years old. He's in his fourth year out of high school, the savior of a traditionally bad team. He has a terrible coach and a very mediocre supporting cast. Even Kobe has more help (at least he has Phil and the occasionally brilliant Lamar Odom; LeBron has Mike Brown and Larry Hughes). The Cavs are the very definition of a one-man team. More than that, he's under more pressure and scrutiny than any 22-year old that's ever played the game; Cleveland's successes and failures rest directly on his shoulders, and when they lose, he is criticized more than any player in his position ever should be. Magic was on an excellent Laker team that, even wihout Kareem that night, still had Coop, Norm Nixon, and Jamaal Wilkes (who finished with a forgotten 37 that night). And while I would never compare this Pistons team to the 1986 Celtics, they're still a veteran, battle-tested, title-worthy club that's famous for for their big-game swagger, a very formidable foe. LeBron won his game; Michael didn't.

More than just this game, I'll remember the last five days as the time it all clicked for LeBron. Bashed after the first two games of the series for a lack of agressiveness and some shaky end-of-game decisions, he learned on the fly, playing games 3-5 with the kind of assertiveness and killer instinct that only Kobe, Wade, and A.I. can match. After the two losses in Detroit, I seriously wondered whether or not that last quality could be learned; afterall, if you look at any of the great money players of the last 25 years, they were all sharks from the beginning of their careers. From Magic to Bird to Michael to Kobe to Wade, they were all fearless and unshakable from day one. It's inborn. Kobe airballed those three threes at the end of those playoff games against Utah his rookie year, but even at 18, he still thought the next one would go in and wasn't afraid to shoot it. His confidence in himself never wavered, not even for a second.

Up until Game 3, LeBron seemed to be lacking that self-assurance. And I sincerely doubted if he had it in him. I was ready to write him off as the next A-Rod.

Over the past week and especially earlier tonight, he made me out to be a fool.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Let Him Free

All the Hollywood madness is back again. Kobe just announced today his desire to be traded. He lost his trust. It is no longer the condition of the roster. It is trust. You don't mess around with a man's trust. Especially one of Kobe Bryant.

This is Hollywood. There is more.

Then Dan Patrick got Kobe to lighten up a bit when he brought up Jerry West. Kobe backed away from trade talks. This is hard typing. We are talking about a frustrated World-Class Athlete, who wants to win. La ciudad is not giving it to him. As Shaq said, I believe Kobe 100%. The revelation of an already planned Shaq trade, a false promise of immediate team improvement, and a false promise of a championship.

This is where it hurts. Because of the lies, we have this terrible Lakers squad. I realize now that it was not ego that ripped our dynasty apart. It was the lies and false promises. It amazes me how the little things really bring about big consequences. I never... EVER... want Kobe Bryant to be in the same situation as a Kevin Garnett or Allen Iverson. He is about to be. He is reaching his 12th year in what seems like a career with not a single championship ring. Did you feel that vibe as this Kobe-era progressed?

Kobe; for once in the eyes of all criticizers and Kobe-haters, is not the selfish one here. Kobe Bryant is not selfish for wanting to be traded from an organization full of lies and no order.

This better not be the fault of Kobe Bryant. It is because of this Hollywood world where everything has to become public. Trusted insiders turned their backs. Hey, newsflash. This man who "ran-out-Shaq" probably is the only reason this organization still exists.

If and when Kobe is traded, there should be no hard feelings. Personally we all owe our sports lives to this man. Right now, Kobe isn't this selfish baby many see him as.

I planned on showing our fans some trade possibilities for Kobe, but I decided to rant instead. This is wrong of us to treat Kobe negatively in his time of sadness. Let us all lighten up on him. Let's show him support. A Laker by the start of the season or not, we owe it to him.

To be continued...

What the hell is going on with Kobe?

Does Kobe want to be traded, or doesn't he?

My grandmother, J-Dawg, uses the medical term "bipolar" to describe anybody that she deems to be a little "off," like bipolar is the general term for a crazy person or something. Someone used it incorrectly in a phone conversation with her one day, and she took that baby and ran with it. In the dictionary, it's defined as "any of several psychological disorders of mood charracterized by usu. alternating expressions of depression and mania."

Now, Kobe may be depressed because of the Lakers' current roster situation, but he can't be blamed for that. Anyone would be sad if they had to carry that collection of zombies. And he might go on maniacal city-to-city scoring outbursts like a serial killer goes on a tri-state killing spree, but that's a good thing (the scoring sprees, not the killing sprees). But he's definitely being a little moody lately. After three years of smiling for the cameras and appearing to be on the same page as the front office, he completely changes up after their first round losss to Phoenix and starts expressing his frustration with the lack of improvement that management has made to the team. A couple days ago, amid reports that he might ask for a trade, he stated that he does not want to be traded, only for his team to get better, and to get better immediately. Then I wake up this morning, take a look at ESPNEWS and notice that the "Breaking News" signal has been activated again. Kobe Bryant wants to be traded. He went on Stephen A. Smith's radio show this morning, talking about broken trust and private meetings and setting records straight and, most importantly, his desire to be traded. He put it all out there.


First of all, I'm going to give Kobe credit for being a team player. He took the bullet for the Shaq trade even though he was just an innocent bystander, then shielded the organization for three years by never criticizing the front office for their incompetence. Promised by Ol' Doc Buss that the team would be rebuilt to title status right away, he waited patiently as the Lakers went in an entirely different direction, drafting seventeen year-old Andrew Bynum with the no. 10 pick in the 2005 draft. According to Kobe, they balked on bringing in Baron Davis, Ron Artest, and Carlos Boozer. And at the trade deadline this season, they passed on Jason Kidd because they didn't want to part ways with Bynum. Through all of this, he never lashed out or complained. Instead, at post-game press conferences or chats with reporters after practice, he stressed that the Lakers were a "young team," and that they were maturing, and that it was all a process, bla bla bla. In the meantime, he just went out there and played his ass off, doing the best he could with the teammates he had.

But now, he can't wait anymore.

And he'll no longer hold his tongue or put up with anymore of this nonsense. He's already let the truth be known about the Shaq trade and exposed Dr. Buss as a liar. And he's not standing for team "insiders" slandering him, either. He's had it. Kobe Bryant wants to be traded and there's nothing the Lakers can do to change his mind.

(Of course, about twenty-five minutes ago, I visited's TrueHoop and learned that Kobe had spoken with Greg Anthony and told him that he will rescind his trade request if that "insider" is fired. Now he's gone on another radio show and taken it back altogether. Can we get this guy some medication?)

(Clarifications: That last little paragraph was a tad bit inaccurate and poorly written. Kobe didn't really take the trade demand back altogether, but he did ease off of it quite a bit after having a phone conversation with Phil Jackson. And that radio show he went on was Loose Cannons on KLAC 570-AM in Los Angeles; I assume he talked to GA on the phone. If Greg Anthony has a radio show, I don't know about it. Also, he first started his moonwalking on The Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio, sometime in-between the interview on Stephen A.'s show and the chat with the Cannons. Just wanted to clear that up.)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kobe's Ultimatum

Kobe wants a couple more of those gold balls, and he's upset that Lakers management isn't helping him in his quest.

Well, about 20 minutes after Kane posted the previous blog, I walk into my room and notice that the "Breaking News" signal at the bottom right-hand corner of the ESPNEWS screen has been activated. It reads: Kobe asks for Jerry West back or a trade. I'm shocked. I run into the living room and flip to channel 256 on Time Warner to show my grandmother; then Ric Bucher shows up on the screen and explains it all. He says that Kobe took the weight of the blame of the Shaq trade on his shoulders with the promise by Lakers management that they would build a championship team around him. He doesn't want to be traded; his wife is fond of the city and he would like to spend the rest of his career here. But they made him a promise that has not been fulfilled in the three years since they made it, and the roster has to be upgraded, and Kobe has demanded that West be brought back to do the job. At least this is what Bucher said.


I was floored by the news. Obviously, Kobe voiced his frustrations after the Lakers lossed to Phoenix in the first round of this year's playoffs. And in today's LA Times, Mike Bresnahan reported that he had a phone conversation with Bryant in which Bryant continued to express his frustration. And Bill Plaschke wrote a piece in which he states that the Lakers should trade him. But as impatient as Kobe sounded, I never imagined that he would ask for a trade. It just never crossed my mind that he really would.

The guy's been here for eleven years. He's won championships here. He's broken records here. He's played some of the most brilliant basketball anyone has ever seen here. He's become a man here. And he loves the city and it's fans.

Just not as much as he loves winning.

Initially, my reaction was, if Kobe wants to be traded, then trade him. Afterall, Allen Iverson played 10-plus years in Philly with the same problems before finally asking to be dealt. And KG has been in Minny for twelve seasons and has never demanded a trade (although he has expressed his disappointment in management on more than one occasion.) So you're telling me Kobe, who already has three 'chips, is ready to go after only three years? Come on. Quit whining.

But after listening to Bucher, my mind was changed. Ric reminded me that the real reason Shaq was traded was because Doc Buss didn't want to give him the monster extension he was looking for at 32-years old. Everyone convenienly forgot about this because they were so hell-bent on blaming Kobe. It amazes me how easily people completely ignore the facts and continue to fault Kobe for what happened. Oh, well. Anyways, Kobe took on a huge backlash from the media and fans that he didn't deserve, paying the price for something he had nothing to do with. Over the past two seasons, Kobe's played at such a high level that all most people can focus on is his transcendent ability as a basketball player; the abuse has definitely subsided. But it still lingers; that's why he's singled out by the league like he is (how can the NBA ever be taken seriously again when LeBron only gets a flagrant foul for whacking Chris Webber during Game 1 of the East Finals in the exact same way that Kobe was suspened for when he clocked Manu and Marko Jaric this season?). The point is, he carries that weight for them because he really wants to retire a Laker, and they haven't lived up to their end of the deal. Remember, Kobe could have easily gone across the hall to the Clippers and taken a lot of fans and revenue with him; if he had, the Clips probably would've won the whole damn thing last year, and they would've been contenders again this year and for years to come. But he didn't do that. He believed in them.

And by bringing back West, the legend with extensive experience in building title-worthy Lakers teams (and you know Jerry would come back in a heartbeat if it meant keeping his greatest career achievement in the purple-and-gold colors he's bled for more than forty-five years now), they would be rewarding him for his faith.

The Change Could Be Bryant

As Kobe Bryant said this, I wondered about the suprise loss in the NBA finals against the Detroit Pistons. Isn't just so ironic that Shaquille O'Neal uttered almost the exact same thing? With this call for change from O'Neal, changes did take place. He left. He left the team that was called a dynasty. With him moving to Miami, Bryant got a chance to show the world that he could be the man of the team. It was his turn now.

As we see the result of the Kobe Bryant era, we see reasons for change.

Kobe Bryant is now in his prime, and it will fade soon enough. The team appears stuck now as Lamar Odom recovers from shoulder surgery, and Kwame Brown will now be dealing with a possible reconstructive ankle surgery.

Now what is next? Mitch Kupchak needs to do something now. For his job. This is Kobe's team, and his need for change should cause a lineup facelift. The Kevin Garnett trade seems gone now with Odom and Brown already losing value.

So is Kobe Bryant our package player? No news of a trade is out, but this could be the only hope for a lineup change. Look for a point guard to be added, but nothing much else.

Los Angeles is a city of championships. If any trades are out there with Odom and Brown down, Kobe might have to be down for an exit from Los Angeles.

To be continued...

Thanks go to Anthony Wilson for inviting me into Wilson's World.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

2007 Draft Lottery: Celtics Bad Luck Continues

The Celtics won't be getting either one of these future superstars.

Just finished watching the 2007 NBA draft lottery on ESPN, and I have to say, it's quite exciting, especially once it gets down to the last few picks. It came down to Seattle (represented by Lenny Wilkins), Atlanta (repped by Nique), and Portland (represented by R.O.Y. Brandon Roy). The Grizzlies (25 percent chance) and the Celtics (19.9 percent) ended up getting the fourth and fifth selections, respectively. Crazy the way it played out. Somewhere out there, Bill Simmons is repeatedly banging his head against a wall, and I don't blame him: there are two franchise players in this draft and Boston will get neither, just like they missed out on TD ten years ago. It's been a looooooooong twenty years for the Celts, and what happened this evening will only make it seem longer.

And now that we have that settled, it's time for my 2007 Lottery Mock Draft, which takes into account the teams' current rosters and their free agency situation:

1. Portland Trailblazers: Greg Oden, C, Ohio State. Initially in this space I wrote that Portland should take Kevin Durant and explained my reasoning as such: they were set at every position except his and they already took a center (LaMarcus Aldridge) at no. 2 last year. I was just about to move on to the next pick when I had an epiphany: basically, that Aldridge is faaaaaaaaaar from being Greg Oden and if it came down to it, they could just trade Aldridge (to someone like Philly for Rodney Carney and the Sixers' no. 11 pick). Even better, they could trade Zach Randolph to Chicago for Ty Thomas, Chris Duhon, and their pick (no. 9). Then go with a young nucleus of Jarrett Jack, Brandon Roy, Ty Thomas, LaMarcus Aldridge, Oden, Duhon, and whoever they get with the number nine pick. That's a nice future. They would still need a shooter, sure, and there aren't many in this draft, but hey ... I'm doing the best I can here.
2. Seattle Supersonics: Kevin Durant, F, Texas. This is an easy choice. Durant is a talent for the ages. If they manage to resign Rashard Lewis, they could go with a starting five of Luke Ridnour and Ray Allen at the guards, Durant and Rashard Lewis at the forwards, and Chris Wilcox at center, with Nick Collison, Earl Watson, and Damien Wilkins off the bench. Then they could just play like Golden State and run, gun, and shoot threes. And even if they don't re-sign Lewis ... they still got Durant !!! The Sonics matter again, for the first time since GP was throwing alley-oops to Shawn Kemp back in the mid-90s.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Mike Conley Jr., G, Ohio State. They're gonna get it right this time, I know it. I can feel it. They aren't gonna pass up on three star point guard prospects in four years. It's not gonna happen. I have faith in Billy Knight. (Now that's a statement you don't hear often. 4. Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Wright, F, UNC. I've never bought into the Wright hype - there just seems to be something missing with him. Something's not clicking. But scouts hype him as the next Chris Bosh and he won't last past this pick. If he turns out to be what people say he could become, the Grizz will have themselves a star.
5. Boston Celtics: Yi Jianlian, F/C, China. I don't think this is who Simmons was hoping for.
6. Milwaukee Bucks: Julian Wright, F, Kansas. Needs to assert himself more offensively, but he's 6-8, he's athletic, he can handle and he has great court awareness. Compared to Boris Diaw (the good Boris Diaw).
7. Minnesota Timberwolves: Al Horford, F, Florida. Could I see Big Al taking some pressure off of KG, and helping him man the boards and bang bodies down low? Yes, I could.
8. Charlotte Bobcats: Corey Brewer, G/F, Florida. I love this guy. He's a winner and a star. He's like a 2007 version of Michael Cooper mixed with the 1994 Latrell Sprewell. (Really, he should be the guy going fifth to Boston, ahead of Julian Wright, just like Big Al should go ahead of Brandan Wright and Jianlian. But the way these things usually go, the proven commodities ends up going after the unproven ones, instead of the other way around, and we end up looking back at it and laugh at the general manager's for being so dumb. And the GM's never seem to learn.
9. Chicago Bulls: Spencer Hawes, C, Washington. Only 19 but can score around the hoop. They could use someone like that, although he probably won't play right away.
10. Sacramento Kings: Joakim Noah, F/C, Florida. This team needs a spark. Maybe Joakim could rejuvenate Mike, Ronny and Brad with his energy and hustle. Aside from that, he's a good rebounder and defender and is a very unique big man offensively. Maybe he can't score posting up, but he can handle, pass, and run the floor as well or better than any seven-footer to enter the draft in a long time.
11. Atlanta Hawks: Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown. Seven-footer with some skills.
12. Philadelphia: Al Thornton, F, Florida State. He can score and would complement Iggy well.
13. Charlotte Bobcats: ?. I have no idea.
(I had a little brainfart last night when I put down Charlotte as having the number 13 pick when in actuality it belongs to the Hornets'. You know, they used to play in Charlotte. My bad. So just ignore what's written above. I think New Orleans will take Nick Young, the 6-6 wing from USC, with this selection. He's a guy who kinda came outta nowhere. I didn't even know who he was before the tourney. Anyways, he's skilled and a great athlete, kind of a Richard Jefferson-type, minus the NBA body. He'd make a very nice backcourt with Chris Paul).
14. Los Angeles Clippers: Acie Law, G, Texas A&M. Insurance policy in case Saun Livingston doesn't recover well. And a future replacement for 37 year-old Sam Cassell even if he does.
(P.S. I like Jeff Green and think he will be a good pro. I just couldn't fit him into the top-14).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tim Duncan: Remember The Name

Prediction: Tim Duncan will take this picture again at some point next month.

One game and one victory into the fifth conference final appearance of his 10-year career (in a Western Conference that's been consistently loaded over that span), it's time we reflect on the accomplishments of the great Tim Duncan. Bill Simmons touched on this recently but it's worth rehashing (since nobody seems to be listening.) In a decade in the NBA, Tim Duncan has won three championships with three finals MVP's; he has been MVP of the regular season twice (and should probably win it every year); he has been selected to nine All-Star Games (there was no game in 1999) and won the game's MVP in 2000. He is a nine-time All-NBA first team choice and a seven-time All-Defensive first teamer. He holds career regular season averages of 21.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2.5 blocks on 51% shooting, all of which would be higher if he had even the slightest bit of selfishness in him. He has never missed more than thirteen games during the regular season, playing 80-games last year with plantar fasciitis (whatever that is). His only weakness is his relatively weak foul-shooting, only 68% for his career (and that's a mental thing more than a skill thing; we know this because he shot 80% his first MVP year and consistently hits fifteen-foot jumpers). He ups these averages to 24.1, 12.7, 3.6, and 2.7 during the postseason (that's heading into this year). This spring he's averaging 24.1, 12.1, 3.3, and 3.4, his Spurs now seven wins away from officially becoming a dynasty (if they aren't already).

Aside from numbers, Duncan is great at all of the little things that don't show up in the stat sheet. This is what most seperates him from the equally talented Kevin Garnett (well, other than the obvious advantages Tim has had in teammates and management) : the intangibles. For example, Tim never disappears from games for long stretches at a time; he always makes an impact in some area. He's a great leader and has a positive impact on his teammates that goes beyond drawing the double-teams that get them open shots; I can't even explain what it is, I just know it's part of the reason the Spurs have never won fewer than 53-games in a full season during his career. And he always asserts himself in crunch-time, the most reliable low post scorer in the league.

Only 31, Duncan's place as one of the greatest players in the game's history is secure. If he were to fall down a flight of stairs two seconds from now and break both of his legs Joe Theismann-style, and never play another game again, he'd still have to be in the top-10 of anybody's list. He's obviously the best four-man of all-time, but you could also make an argument that he's the greatest forward ever, small or power (even over Bird, because of his superior defensive abilities and the fact that Bird's teams were much more talented; on the other hand, Larry played in the greatest era ever and it was harder for him to win his rings; then again, Timmy had to go through some excellent Lakers teams that would've competed for the title in any era just to get to the Finals; on the flip side ... you know what, before I get carried away with that topic, I'll just stop and finish the main idea of this one. Tim deserves to have today's space all to himself. We'll save the Duncan vs. Bird debate for another day.) And personally, I think he's the best all-around big man that ever played the game.

I also think he's gonna win a fourth chip next month. Detroit will be tough as always in the Finals, but I think San Antonio will pull it out in seven, partly because they'll have the home-court advantage, mostly because they'll have Tim Duncan.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Barksdale vs. Stanfield: Who ya got?

Do yourself a favor and watch this show.

Well, the process of uploading my old files onto the blog as promised proved complicated and I wasn't able to do it. Maybe some other time. So instead, here goes a little something I wrote a while ago on my favorite TV show, HBO's The Wire, hailed by critics as the best show on television and by some as the best television show ever. If you've never seen it, you're doing yourself a huge disservice. The fifth and final season is coming. Catch it while you can. (Well, I guess you can always get it on DVD).

The lineups:


Druglord: Avon Barksdale. King of West Baltimore's drug scene up until the end of Season 3. He put it best: "I'm just a gangsta, I suppose." Ruthless, vengeful, wants his corners. But he's undylingly loyal to his family, even when they don't return the love. Avon understands that blood is thicker than water. Currently in prison.
Underboss: Stringer Bell. A thug in a suit. Wants to legitimize the drug trade. Looks for a peaceful solution to problems first, though he's had more than one liability offed to ensure the safety of the organization. Dead now.
Top Soldier: Wee-bey. Respected on the streets for taking the fall and shielding his crew by confessing to multiple murders, including some he didn't commit, Wee-bey is the perfect soldier (if there is such a thing). His name carries a lot of weight outside of those prison walls. Loves his pet fishes.
Others: D'angelo Barksdale. Crew chief, wanted out the game, snitched out Wee-bey's hiding spot, changed his mind, looking at 20 years, behaving a little dicey, like he could flip at any moment, String had him killed and the death to made look like a suicide. Avon's nephew.
Bodie: Moved up the ranks through the series, killed his friend at Stringer's orders, smart aleck-kid, loyal, never backed down from anyone, down for whatever, went down shooting. R.I.P.
Maurice Levy: Moral-less lawyer
Slim Charles: Took Wee-bey's place. Just like Bey, in a lot of ways. Shares a little wisdom with his boys now and then, would probably make a good boss. Works for Prop Joe, currently.
Poot: Fun to have around. Other than Levy, only person from the first-season Barksdale crew not dead or in jail. Working one of Marlo's corners now.



Druglord: Marlo Stanfield. Even more coldhearted than Avon. Just a stoic, callous S.O.B. Marlo just don't care. About nothing. He's the scariest man on television, bar none. Currently control's the entire West Bodymore drug trade. All of his rivals seem to end up either serving time in a penetentiary or dead in an abondoned building.
Underboss: Chris Partlow. Like String, his boss' best friend and trusted advisor. Unlike String and Avon, he and Marlo are always on the same page. Doing what he does best: having Marlo's back 100% and ...
Top Soldier: Chris/Snoop. ...killing people. Chris and his young female protege Snoop are the most feared prolific Baltimore duo since Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. They may be a little too violent, though, even for HBO. They kill everything that has a pulse, for Christ's sake. Then they hide the bodies in vacant houses.
Others: Monk. Marlo's friend and lieutinet. Allerted him that Bodie might be snitching. He was. Now he's dead.
Michael. Quiet youngster with a heart who turned to the darkside. One of Marlo's baby-faced killers. *Sigh* He's like 14! Someone save him from this life!
Old Face Andre. Worked as a front for Marlo until he messed up and changed up on a lie Marlo told him to tell. Brought some humor to the show. It's hilarious to see him have a conversation with Marlo. He always looks like he's about to piss his pants. Last seen walking off into the night with Chris and Snoop, about to be shot two-to-three times in the head. Pleaded with them to kill him in his house instead of one of the vacants so that his people could give him a "homegoing."
Verdict: There hasn't been a more lopsided or devestating end to a war since the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Marlo KO'd the Barksdale crew and is now the undisputed champ of B'more. With that said, the Barksdale's were about ten times more likable. At least they have some redeeming qualities; Marlo and company don't have any that I've seen. (Some would say that Marlo's love for his pigeon coop humanizes him, but to me it just makes him seem like more of a psychopath that he cares more for pigeons than he does for human beings). Hopefully, his empire comes crashing down in Season 5.
Winner: Barksdale, in a landslide.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rebounding: The Sweet Science

Why aren't these two better rebounders?

Amare Stoudemire, back tonight after that lame one-game suspension, is averaging twelve rebounds a night this postseason, but during the regular season, he has never averaged more than the 9.6 he averaged this year. This outrages me. Likewise, Yao Ming has never averaged more than 10.2 during the regular year. This also causes my temples to pulsate. Amare gets all of his rebounds because of his chiseled physique and stellar leaping ability, while Yao gets his simply because he's 7'6 and plays around the basket. Those 10 rebounds a game pretty much just fall into his hands. So why haven't these two physical specimen with such vast boarding potential become the dominant rebounders they should be? Because they haven't mastered the art of the skill (or the skill of the art, whatever).

By my count, there are four types of rebounders: A. Those who get boards because of their size. B. Those who collect them because of athleticism. C. The fundamentalists, if you will. D. And those who grab them because of pure desire. (I was going to include instinct before deciding that all great rebounders have great instinct.) Here goes a list of some of my favorite rebounders, past and present, in no particular order (except, of course, the order in which they randomly popped into my head) :

Shaquille O'neal: (A, B) Now 35, Shaq Cousteau is not the boarder he once was. But he still holds a career-average of nearly twelve per game, with a career-high of 13.9 his rookie year. At 7-1 and anywhere from 300 to 375 pounds at different points in his career, Shaq had such a massive figure (and such long arms) that he couldn't help but pull down twelve to thirteen "ballboards" (shout out to Oscar Robertson) a night. His legs are almost gone now, but in his youth, he was as athletic a big man as the game had ever seen. Put it all together and you have a true Chairman of the Boards.
Charles Barkley: (A, B, C) A real master. Charles was only about 6-4 1/2, but he weighed anywhere from 250 to 300 pounds during his career. Much like Shaq, he had a giant rump and used it to his utmost advantage. You didn't put a body on the Chuckster, he put a body on you. He was also a ridiculous leaper for his body-type (he had a body-type all his own), and nobody wanted it more. "It's all desire," he once stated in explaining his rebounding prowess.
Dennis Rodman: (B, C, D) Inch-for-inch, pound-for-pound, era-for-era, no one has ever been better. A 6-7, 228 pounds power forward, he averaged a career-high of 18.7 boards in 1992 (he averaged 18.3 the next year). Led the league in rebounding seven times. The Lakers picked him up off the free-agent market as 37 year-old in 1999, and he averaged 11.2 in 23 games. Then he got released for coming to practice one day barefoot (maybe he had on socks, I'm not sure) and telling Kurt Rambis he couldn't find his shoes. After that he took some time time off to, I don't know, do Dennis Rodman-type stuff, then returned with Dallas in 2000 to average 14.3 boards in 12 games. Great leaper, great determination, always boxed out, and got rebounds all over the court (the opposite of an "area rebounder"). Turned rebounding into an artform and made it cool. If K.C. Jones in the Hall-of-Fame for playing great defense and winning a bunch of titles, then Dennis Rodman should be voted in for playing great defense, winning a bunch of titles, and being the Greatest Rebounder of All-Time.
Bill Russell: (B, C, D) Solid springs, obviouly he had great fundamentals (the guy damn-near invented rebounding), and wanted to grab 25 rebounds literally every night.
Wilt Chamberlain: (See O'neal, Shaquille)
Kevin Garnett: (A, B, C, D) He's now led the league in rebounding four straight years. I'll give KG a four-for-four.
Tim Duncan: (A, C) Seven-footer who's nickname is the "Big Fundamental."
Dwight Howard: (A, B, C, D) Only 20, he's averaged 12-plus the last two years. Might be Rodman in David Robinson's body.
Alright, I'm done for today because I'm tired of typing. In the coming days I'll be posting some old stuff I did before I started this blog that's completely irrelevant now. Got a couple semester essays for college due next week that I have to work on. *I wonder if anybody is actually going to read this thing*