Archive for February, 2013

NBA RANKINGS – All-Star Edition

February 17, 2013

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The Times’ NBA rankings
Heat moves into top spot after big win over former No. 1 Thunder

By Ben Bolch
February 16, 2013, 8:37 p.m.
Times NBA writer Ben Bolch ranks the league’s teams:

STEALING THE SHOW AT TOYOTA CENTER

1. MIAMI (36-14) LeBron James cataloging Birdman’s tattoos: “Not one, not two, not three …” (2) I swear that some of Birdman’s tattoos have tattoos!

2. OKLAHOMA CITY (39-14) Maybe that Finals rematch with Heat wouldn’t be so compelling after all. (1) Maybe they should have maxed-out “The Beard” after all.

3. SAN ANTONIO (42-12) Gregg Popovich can fix Bryant-Howard mess, if just for a weekend. (3) Either that or he excaberates it in hopes of completing destroying the Lakers’ season. “Psst, Dwight; Kobe said you’re a pussy.”

4. CLIPPERS (39-17) Partying like it’s 1992-93 after clinching season series with Lakers. (4) I can’t remember back that far. Were they good back then?

A WEEKEND IN TRANQUILITY PARK

5. NEW YORK (32-18) Carmelo Anthony’s security detail could teach him art of defense. (5) Melo couldn’t fight through a screen if it was on the window of his own house.

6. DENVER (33-21) Kenneth Faried is no longer a rising star. He’s here, dreadlocks and all. (6) He should change his name to something easier to pronounce. You know, like Kenny.

7. MEMPHIS (33-18) Lionel Hollins spends All-Star break dusting off old Rudy Gay footage. (7) And debating whether to use crack or heroin to ease the pain.

8. INDIANA (32-21) Danny Granger’s impending return means Pacers could be back in title hunt. (9) Whoever that is. Oh wait, is that the guy who built his own Batcave at his New Mexico house?

9. GOLDEN STATE (30-22) David Lee plays “Wish You Were Here” on iPad to honor Stephen Curry. (8) The Great White (American) hope.

10. CHICAGO (30-22) Floors of Hancock Center closed after Derrick Rose says he may not return. (10) The difference between Adrian Peterson and D-Rose? Rose has a guaranteed contract.

11. BROOKLYN (31-22) P.J. Carlesimo learning that the honeymoons are never permanent here. (11) Somewhere in Milwaukee, if he can afford TV after feeding his family, Latrell Sprewell is saying, “Didn’t I kill somebody named PJ in Oakland?”

12. ATLANTA (29-22) Josh Smith trade gossip so rampant he may end up on cover of Us Weekly. (12) Or still on the Hawks this time next week.

AT THE HOUSTON ZOO

13. UTAH (30-24) Jazz fans make goodbye cards to prepare for trade-deadline possibilities. (13) They’d better have a lot of them ready.

14. BOSTON (28-24) This may be Kevin Garnett’s last All-Star game, if Anthony has his way. (14) KG is the only player I think who could get thrown out of an All-Star game for general a**holeness.

15. MILWAUKEE (26-25) Follow-up question to Brandon Jennings saying he wants to stay: Why? (15) Because he has no clue?

16. HOUSTON (29-26) No defense will be played, as usual, Sunday in the Toyota Center. (16) I have to agree.

17. LAKERS (25-29) Suggested reading for Pau Gasol in next two months: The Book of Exodus. (18) Wait a minute! Are you trying to tell me that adding a 39 year-old point guard with a bad back, a center coming off serious back surgery and firing the head coach after only five games isn’t working out for the guys in purple and gold?

18. PORTLAND (25-28) Maybe Aldridge, Batum and Lillard aren’t enough. (17) Sounds more like a law firm that a team’s “Big Three.”

19. DALLAS (23-29) Will be a lot of thick beards since Mavs won’t shave until reaching .500. (20) Has any other team been this bad only two years after winning a Larry O’Brien trophy?

20. PHILADELPHIA (22-29) Here’s guessing Andrew Bynum didn’t visit old Westchester neighbors. (19) Hey, he really could use handicapped parking now.

HOBBY CENTER FOR THE UNDERPERFORMING ARTS

21. TORONTO (21-32) Rudy Gay trade provides hope for small-market teams in two countries. (23) Hope is just another way of saying, “We can’t win a title.”

22. DETROIT (21-33) Jose Calderon averaging fewer assists exclusively as a starter. (21) Maybe, but I hear his tequila is quite tasty.

23. MINNESOTA (19-31) Any more discord and Kevin Love will start wearing a He Hate Me jersey. (22) Somewhere Kurt Rambis is saying, “Hell, I could have lost this many games.”

24. NEW ORLEANS (19-34) Hornets ask Superdome officials for tips on staging power outages. (24) But wait until next year when the Pelicans win the title right after Tyler Perry wins a Best Director Oscar.

25. SACRAMENTO (19-35) NBA beat writers pulling harder for Kings’ relocation than Seattle fans. (25) Seattle instead of Sacramento? That’s like asking if you’d rather go out with Beyonce or Whoopi.

26. PHOENIX (17-36) Just when things seemingly can’t get worse, Charles Barkley rips Suns. (26) Sir Charles could make the Suns right now.

27. CLEVELAND (16-37) Kyrie Irving should put on the old man suit if Kobe Bryant guards him. (27) Oh you know Kobe’s going to switch every chance he gets.

28. WASHINGTON (15-36) Ari Gold to settle dispute between John Wall’s agent and David Falk. (28) And after Ari fails, they’ll turn it over to those guys who brokered the current Middle East peace treaty.

29. ORLANDO (15-37) Trip to Disney World during All-Star break can’t even make Magic smile. (29) Turns out you can’t do Magic!

WHY IN SAM HOUSTON ARE YOU STILL HERE?

30. CHARLOTTE (12-40) Bobcats are an utterly forgettable 5-35 since that 7-5 start to remember. (30) Well, things are going to get better just as soon as they get an owner.

POPE CHUCK THE FIRST

February 17, 2013

Please support my independent campaign to win the hot new reality show, “The Next Pope!”

Frankly, as an outsider running against tradition, I have a few obstacles to overcome such as 1) I’m not Catholic (but I know how to stand and kneel upon command and make the sign of the Cross), 2) I’m not a priest and/or Cardinal at this time but I’m willing to go through emergency training, 3) I like women and having sex with them as often as possible, 4) I look terrible in red robes, and 5) I’m not Catholic nor have I ever been.

However, because like most black people, I’ve always dreamed of living in a big house, having some nice jewelry and clothes and shoes, and riding in a fly car – I LOVE the “Popemobile” – I’m willing to make some sacrifices (just not the sex with women thing) to help the church out in a tough time like this.

Pope Chuck the First. That has a nice ring to it, don’t you agree?

MJ @ 50

February 15, 2013

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Once a moment has passed, it’s gone forever, never to return.

There will never be another Ali, another Aretha, another Larry Bird, another James Brown, another Earth, Wind & Fire, another Magic, another Martin Luther King, Jr, another Oprah and there won’t be another Michael Jordan.

Michael Jeffrey Jordan turns 50 this Sunday (the 17th) and no one will ever come into the NBA with his pedigree because unlike Carmelo Anthony and Anthony Davis who won NCAA titles as freshmen and promptly turned pro, Jordan went back to school for TWO more years after doing so. And unlike Davis who was just on the 2012 gold medal winning Olympic team, Jordan was the star of the 1984 team.

Think of the Hall of Fame coaches he played for: Dean Smith at Carolina, Bobby Knight and Chuck Daly in the Olympics and of course, Phil Jackson with the Bulls. He helped Smith get his first NCAA title, Knight and Daly their Olympic championships and it’s safe (and fair) to say that he made Jackson’s illustrious NBA coaching career possible.

When Jordan entered the NBA, the talent was staggering – go back and look at the teams when he played and look at the all-time greats he played against – and he dominated from the moment he played his first game. And then he got better.

Michael Jordan changed the way the game was played, how players looked and played, how they wore their uniforms and how America viewed the NBA. And he did it not playing in either New York or Los Angeles, the nation’s two biggest cities and media centers. No, he did it from Chicago and laugh if you will, but I dare say that without Jordan’s blueprint for success from a Midwestern city, we may not know Oprah Winfrey today. Following in his footsteps, Peyton Manning later became the face of the NFL while playing in Indianapolis, Indiana of all places.

But, he didn’t do it alone. No, Jordan had the good fortune of entering the NBA at a time of transition after Magic and Bird “saved the league.” Cable TV was just beginning to boom and because WGN was a “superstation” available on over 90% of basic cable packages and offered almost every Bulls game, home and away that wasn’t on CBS’ national schedule, for the first time in sports history, a player’s games became a television series that everybody could see. Add in the blossoming of ESPN who repeated his highlights ad naseum after games and the undeniable appeal and power of NIKE and voila, “the age of Jordan” was upon us. Then, just as the Bulls were going for their first three-peat, NBC took over the league’s national TV package, the league created NBA Entertainment and Ahmad Rashad became Jordan’s personal mouthpiece in the media and both Magic and Bird exited the league.

Greatest of All-Time? Hard to say when you realize how difficult it is to compare players from different eras. And no one, not even Jordan, played against more Hall of Famers and great players at his position than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in their career and dominated as he did. But here’s what sets Jordan apart from everyone else: he hasn’t played in the league in 10 years and we’re still talking about him with awe, envy and downright reverence. And then there’s this simple irrefutable fact: no one, not Kobe, not LeBron, not Kevin Durant; no one, sells as many sneakers or inspires as many words and tributes as Michael Jeffrey Jordan does.

And none of them ever will.