NBA REVIEW, WEEK 4

LeBron James, Rudy Gay

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“They don’t run, they strut…I’m surprised they’re in shock that everyone is not loving them.” – TNT’s Charles Barkley on the self-esteem of the Miami Heat.

New York’s Amare Stoudemire, telling teammates how they did it in Phoenix: “We don’t have that sense of urgency. It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter. That’s something I’m not used to. I try to instill the fact that we have to play with sense of urgency.”

Pete Vecsey of the New York Post, on canceling a game against Orlando after debris containing asbestos fell in Madison Square Garden: “… After the success of Asbestos Night vs. the Magic, the Knicks have designated Dec. 15 vs. Boston as Mold Night and Dec. 17 [vs. Miami] as Lead Night.”

ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy, on their Washington-Atlanta, Sacramento-Clippers doubleheader on Thanksgiving: “Can we do a redo on those Thanksgiving games? Clippers? Kings? Wizards? The combined records don’t match the Hawks.”

“I think guys should definitely look at that and look in the mirror,” Pistons guard Ben Gordon said. “Phil Jackson is a great coach. … So that coming from him says a lot. I’m taking that and I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen again for me if he was talking about me” after Lakers coach Phil Jackson, known for his verbal jabs, said of the Pistons after his team’s easy win in Auburn Hills on Wednesday night: “It looks like some of their guys aren’t playing hard right now.”

“If it was me [Brent Barry], I’d go to the airport, buy a ticket and go to a Spurs road game. All the ushers and security know me, so I could get back to the players’ area. About 25 minutes before game time, I’d find out where Tony Parker was, then I’d walk up to him and blacken his eye. That’s what I’d do.” – Former NBAer and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose talking about rumors that Parker may have had an affair with Erin Barry, the wife (so far) of former Spurs teammate Brent. Do I really need to mention that Rose is from Dee-troit? 

PUTTING THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE

“You guys kill me,” a laughing Phoenix Coach Alvin Gentry said after Sunday night’s game, incredulous at being asked about the Lakers’ attitude and defense.

“Like the season is over for them now? C’mon, give me a break. It’s one game! You guys going to analyze this team? Let’s see what happens at the end of June, OK? You guys kill me, though. It’s one game, We made 22 threes and we had to hold on to beat them (121-116). I think they’re OK, OK?”  True story: I worked as an usher at Staples Center when Gentry “coached” the Clippers and one night, the Clips were up by 10 (I forget the opponent but it really doesn’t matter) with about 5 minutes to go in the game. There was a time-out and one of my regulars, “Persian Mike” (I called him that to differentiate him from “Black Mike”) was coming back from the restroom. The Clippers were in their huddle, Gentry was “clipboarding” his way throughout the timeout and Persian Mike said, with utter seriousness, “Look at Gentry. From here, you’d never know that he’s about to snatch defeat from victory.” We both laughed so hard, other fans started looking at us. Oh yeah, the Clippers lost. Be honest, you kind of knew that was coming. But, here’s the best part: as Persian Mike and the very lovely but sort of slutty in a classy Westside way Mrs Persian Mike left the arena, he said to me, “Clipper basketball, it stinks but at least it’s not the WNBA. Yet.”

The league’s latest PR fiasco – remember the new ball a few seasons ago? – Respect for the Game, which is aimed at cutting down on players whining and demonstrative gestures and actions after foul calls or non-calls in the case of the Lakers’ Lamar Odom during Sunday night’s loss to the Suns, is stupid, petty and awful. Other than that…

IT’S GETTING U.G.L.Y. IN D-TOWN

Prince, Kuester argument becomes heated  I think my favorite part of the story is that the coach asked arena security to remove Prince, one of his own players, mind you, from the bench. Can’t see this ending any way but badly.

Am I the only one who’s noticed that not one of his NBA peers has come to Isiah Thomas’ defense?

Watching the Lakers dismantle the Pistons Wednesday just reinforces how fortunate Laker fans here in Los Angeles and around the world are to have had Dr Jerry Buss as team owner these last 30 years.

By winning in Milwaukee Tuesday night, the Lakers have still lost three games in a row only once since obtaining Pau Gasol from Memphis in February 2008.

DIVORCE, NBA-STYLE

Athlete-Hollywood celebrity couplings always seem doomed to fail, Tony Parker’s impending divorce from actressEva Longoria only the latest casualty. 

BRON BRON NEWS

LeBron James, who recently suggested that he was playing too many minutes, is averaging about three minutes a game fewer than he did with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season…In his defense, he didn’t go to college.

Mark Cuban, during a radio interview, reveling in the Miami Heat’s struggles: “Hallelujah, boys, is that great or what? … My buddy Dan Gilbert is smiling all the way too.”

Critical of LeBron James, Esquire’s Scott Raab Loses Credentials for Miami Games  

Greg Oden just can’t catch a break, out for the season – Ball Don’t Lie  

Roy’s knee is the one that scares Blazers  

Bill Simmons: NBA Western Conference retro preview – ESPN

Bill Simmons: Los Angeles Lakers top team in West – ESPN

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP

The Celtics have spanked that Heat a** twice this season; once at home on opening night and again in South Beach last week. BUT, they lost at home to a Kevin Durant-less (sore ankle) OKC Thunder on Friday night.

In the event that David Stern goes through with his threat of contracting a few teams, I say he should just combine the best players on the Clippers and Kings (all four of them)and then disperse the rest to whatever teams want them.

DUNK OF THE WEEK – COURTESY OF VINCE “HALF-MAN, HALF-AMAZING” CARTER

Vince Carter Slams Absurd Up And Under Dunk Against Suns (VIDEO)

WHO RETURNS FIRST – Andrew Bynum, Greg Oden or Jesus? I’m going with 1) Bynum, 2) Jesus and 3) Oden, which of course, by then, it will be too late. Or, maybe he’ll play in the “New World” NBA. Either way, we’ve seen the last of him in the NBA that we know and love.

Chad Ochocinco, Evelyn Lozada engaged: NFL star pops the question with 10-carat diamond ring You’ve got to give Lozada credit; it’s not often that you see a gold-digger willing or smart enough to change sports when the former “Sugar Daddy”, in this case, the bankrupt Antoine Walker, goes broke. Maybe this is the start of a new trend: LaQuisha says to herself, “Damn, let me go learn about some hockey!”

Bryant not amused

Bryant didn’t want to discuss the simmering controversy stemming from his appearance in a TV commercial for a warlike video game.

Bryant has been criticized in some circles for briefly appearing in the “Call of Duty: Black Ops” spot, peering around a corner and firing a rifle.

He snapped at a reporter who asked about it Friday.

“That’s a silly question,” he said, raising his voice. “Next question.”

He declined to talk about it after a follow-up question, repeating that the topic was “silly.”

Bryant has been criticized by some media members for promoting violence by appearing in the spot. Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel was also in the commercial. And I for one, am not “amused” by Bryant or for that matter, Kimmel’s involvement in this deplorable spot. Let me go further: I don’t think there’s any place whatsoever for this ad to run in the so-called “family viewing period” and I hope that in the future, the major sports leagues, just as they have done in the case of alcohol products, will prohibit their “active” athletes from appearing in such commercials or endorse these types of products. 

It might be a fresh start for the Minnesota Timberwolves  

Looking ahead in the NBA: Heat travel to play Magic on Wednesday

THE WAY THEY ONCE WERE (CUE: “MEMORIES”)

I ask you, if a half Black, half French point guard and a Chica actress from Texas can’t make it, then dadgummit, what hope is there for the rest of us? RIP TonyEva.

You probably haven’t noticed but the Clippers, off to a 1-13 start after Saturday’s home loss to the Knicks, are on pace to break the NBA single-season futility mark of 9-73 set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers.

I can’t help but wonder if Sidney Dean can still play. After all, he’s got a three-year bid to do and he’s going to need to find a way to pass the time. I just hope Billy Hoyle drops in from time to time and puts a little something on the books for his old running buddy.

RANKINGS! WE’VE GOT RANKINGS! (My comments in italics)

Mark Heisler’s NBA rankings

Lakers jump back into top spot; Thunder on the move

November 20, 2010

Records and statistics through Friday (last week’s ranking)

1. Lakers 11-2 (2): Not bad while getting Kobe up and running and waiting for Andrew Bynum. “Waiting on Bynum” has become a franchise movie in LaLa Land.

2. Hornets 10-1 (3): Led by 10 in fourth quarter at Dallas before taking first loss. Talk about going to extremes to keep CP3 happy and in town.

3. Celtics 9-3 (1): Nice offense: No FGs in last 10:34 in home loss to Thunder without Kevin Durant. This would NEVER happen if Shaquille O’Neal were still alive and playing for the Celtics…What’s that? He is and he does? Really? Oops. My bad.

4. Spurs 10-1 (4): If schedule aids best start ever, they have wins in OKC, Utah. And now that Tony Parker is free to openly date/text teammates’ wives, the sky’s the limit.

5. Thunder 8-4 (9): Averaging 24-5-8, Westbrook is 1A to Durant’s 1, or vice versa. Youngsters learning how difficult it is to win once teams start taking you seriously every night.

T-6. Heat 8-4 (8): Favorable early phase of schedule ends Wednesday at Orlando. And now with Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr nursing an injured wrist suffered during Saturday night’s loss to the Grizz, pre-season talk of breaking the Bulls’ single-season record of 72-10 fades even further into the background.

T-6. Magic 8-3 (7): OK, who are you really? Now for rematch after Heat bombed them in Miami. Wednesday can’t come soon enough for the Magic.

8. BULLS 7-4 (14): Most underrated Trojan Taj Gibson now most underrated power forward. Can you still be “underrated” if you keep getting press about being “underrated”?

9. Mavericks 7-4 (5): Team claiming to be No. 2 in West scores 83 in home loss to Bulls. Read my lips (so to speak): You CANNOT win a championship if Dirk Nowitski is your #1 option.

10. Jazz 8-5 (6): Oops: After amazing trip, came home and lost to Thunder and Spurs. Two things I don’t understand: the fascination in this country with the British Royal Family and why the Jazz haven’t changed coaches in over 20 years.

11. Trail Blazers 8-5 (11): Gritty if cursed: Oden out for season, Roy sits, Matthews gets 30-20. Google the word cursed and the Blazers’ logo comes up.

12. Hawks 8-4 (10): Josh Smith priced to move. Both he and Hawks regret big new deal. But not on the first and 15th of the month on Smith’s part.

13. Warriors 7-5 (17): So much for new regime: Personnel director is owner’s kid. I didn’t know Jerry Jones had purchased the Warriors.

14. Pacers 5-5 (19): Hibbert averaged 7.1 as rookie, 11.7 last season, at 16.5 now. Who?

15. Nuggets 6-6 (12): Melo averaging 24-9 in MVP start — except for trying to desert. I don’t know about you but I’ve grown weary of the whole “will he stay, will he go” Melodrama. He’s starting to make Brett Favre seem decisive.

16. Suns 6-6 (16): Road to nowhere: Just lost by 27 in Miami, 16 in Orlando. Steve Nash thought he had the award for weirdest thing for a Western Conference point guard to do locked down with his unprecedented “file for divorce the day after your wife gives birth to your 3rd child” move until Tony Parker topped him this week.

17. Grizzlies 4-9 (13): Highest scoring starting lineup, averaging 84, just went 0-5. Then they beat the Heat Saturday night on Rudy Gay’s last-second shot.

18. Bucks 5-7 (15): Last season’s over: Just allowed 118 to Lakers, lost to 76ers. Scott Skiles THIS close to kicking everyone’s ass.

19. Cavaliers 5-6 (18): Forget Gilbert’s promise, I thought it would be years to ever be .500. Byron Scott can coach. I can’t wait until Bron Bron and the Heat hit C-Town on December 2.

20. Knicks 5-8 (25): Already sorry: Amare says he’d have stayed if Suns offered same deal. If you listen closely, you can hear the echoes of Stephon Marbury after he forced a trade from the T-Wolves to the Nets because he was jealous of KG’s record-breaking (at the time) $100 million plus contract. And wait until the winter weather kicks in.

21. Nets 4-8 (20): Kris Humphries, starting over Murphy, Favors, averages 15-12 over five. I have absolutely no idea who any of these people are.

22. Bobcats 4-8 (22): Hold disaster scenarios: 3-2 since 1-6 start. 4-8 ISN’T a “disaster” for a team owned and coached by Hall-of-Famers?

23. Wizards 4-7 (29): Good old days: Arenas averages 18 as they go 2-1 with Wall out. Yawn.

24. Kings 4-7 (21): More young guys than Cousins showing issues with temperament. Oh yeah, this ends badly.

25. Rockets 3-9 (23): Like last season with Yao out for two weeks, except for record. Yao who?

26. Timberwolves 4-10 (24): Oh my gosh, he’s a monster: Beasley at 25 a game, 31 in last six. Don Rileyone having second thoughts in South Beach about trading him this summer?

27. Pistons 4-8 (26): Sale stalls as Ilitch drops offer from reported $350 mill, appropriately. If not Ilitch, then who? Or is that whom?

28. Raptors 4-9 (28): Won two in row for first time this season. Over/under was zero. So, it wasn’t all Chris Bosh’s fault.

29. 76ers 3-10 (29): See ya: Igoudala missed six games in career, now at four and counting. It’s the “Elton Brand Effect”.

30. Clippers 1-12 (30): Human Layup Line allowed 109 per game in last eight. Blake Griffin already planning his future as a “former Clipper”.

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