NBA 2014-15 – Week 3

OPENING TIPOFF
Oft-injured Bulls guard Derrick Rose found himself at the center of a media and Internet firestorm with these words about sitting out several games this season to rest his ankles: “I’m good, man. I felt like I’ve been managing myself pretty good. I know a lot of people get mad when they see me sit out or whatever, but I think a lot of people don’t understand that … when I sit out it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball. Having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to, I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. [I’m] just learning and being smart.”

Here’s why I think so many fans and some in the media are upset with what Rose said: most of the most part, they’ve never played a game for a living and they simply can’t understand why some of those who do, don’t profess an undying love for the game or sport. We’ve been spoiled over the years, particularly in the NBA, by players like Magic, Jordan, Bird, Isiah Thomas, et al who not only vocally expressed their “love of the game,” but played through illness, injuries and pain during the season and more importantly, in the playoffs when it mattered most.

But, in defense of Rose, most players have never come back from the injuries he’s suffered and maybe he’s still in love with basketball, but maybe that love has gone from that of a teenager in love with the idea of love to that of a maturing adult who’s more practical about that love. Like it or not, it may be a game and entertainment to the fans, but to the players, it’s really just their job and how they make a living.

Teams use up and then get rid of players all the time and the media and fans shrug their shoulders and say, “Too bad, that’s just ‘business in the _______.’ He made ________ millions of dollars and should be fine.” But here’s the thing: fans tend to believe that with any kind of a lucky break, that could have been them out there making millions for playing a game and when they don’t think an athlete is giving his (or her) all for the “love of the game,” they project their misguided and lost dreams onto that person. And because millions of dollars are involved, that somehow takes away from that athlete’s being a human being with all the emotions and foibles of one. Also, playing in the same city and for the same team that one Michael Jeffrey Jordan did is not helpful to Rose in this situation either.

Me – I’ve got ZERO problems with what D-Rose said. Z.E.R.O. I just wish more players cared about their futures like he does about his.

48 MINUTES
Column sympathies to Laker Wayne Ellington Jr whose father, Wayne Sr, was shot and killed in Philadelphia last Sunday.

Wizards off to best start in years

Veteran NBA/Bulls.com writer Sam Smith reported on Monday that rumors persist that should the Cavaliers fall short of the Eastern Conference Finals, Kevin Love will exercise the opt-out clause in his contract and look to signing with the Lakers. Yeahhhhh, sign with the Lakers for the last year(s) of Kobe Bryant while hoping Julius Randle makes a full recovery from his rookie-season ending injury and hope for another premier free agent to take big money from Jeanie, Jim and Mitch. BTW, the last premier free agent to sign with the Lakers in his prime: Shaquille O’Neal in 1996.

Speaking of Kobe Bryant, he’s apparently gotten tired of people saying he should have done as Tim Duncan and taken less money Kobe-Bryant-on-the-difference-between-Tim-Duncan’s-contract-and-his—it-s-a-different-market–man and at least one writer believes it’s time to just sit back and relish the Kobe Bryant Show for what it is.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban, formerly known as David Stern’s biggest pain in the ass, continued in that role for new league commissioner Adam Silver this week when he openly wondered why the injury-riddled OKC Thunder don’t just “tank this season” in hopes of getting a high lottery in next June’s draft. Others openly wondered why Cuban spends so much time talking about what other teams should do.

Many fans mocked Kobe Bryant’s passing John Havlicek this week to set a new record for missed shots in a career, but to paraphrase the great Eddie Murphy, one doesn’t have as long and successful career as Bryant’s had without taking a lot of shots. And if you take a lot of shots as Bryant has, you’re going to miss more than you make. By the way, others in the top-six on this list include Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who if memory serves me correctly, had pretty good careers.

The Grizzlies are a really good team and especially tough to beat in the FedEx Forum in Memphis even with .03 on the clock.

3-POINT SHOT ATTEMPT
Adam Silver: Bring sports gambling into the sunlight

FLAGRANT FOUL OF THE WEEK
Ronnie Price’s take-down of the Pelicans’ Austin “Son of Doc” Rivers.

FREE THROWS
TNT studio show remains the gold standard of TV. Meanwhile, ESPN should just stop airing theirs and just go straight to the game announcers.

Bill Simmons is a great writer, but he is painfully awful on ESPN’s Grantland Basketball Hour.

Kobe Bryant is getting closer and closer to erupting and going full-bore “Kobe Bryant” as the Lakers keep losing.

Rajon Rondo is the most non-traded traded player in recent memory.

Name one Laker other than Kobe Bryant; I dare you.

WHAT THEY SAID
“It’s not going to happen…I have a no-trade clause…Jeanie [Buss] and Jimmie [Buss] aren’t sending me anywhere…I’m so loyal to this organization, there’s not a chance [of him leaving]…I’ve been really fortunate to win a lot of games here, a lot of championships here.” – Kobe Bryant after finishing with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists against the Hornets in the Lakers first win of the season last Sunday.

“I keep saying, we just didn’t execute down the stretch. We just didn’t function well down the stretch. That’s one of the things I’m learning about this team.” – Clippers coach Doc Rivers after the team’s collapse late in the fourth quarter at home against the Spurs Monday night.

“I don’t think I’m going anywhere…I mean they love me here. I like the organization, and if it was up to me, I want to finish out with one team like a lot of great players have done, to stay with one organization their whole career and just be loyal to that. You never know. We’ll see what happens next summer, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be in a Spurs jersey for my whole life.” – Kawhi Leonard discussing his future in San Antonio after the Spurs win over the Clippers in Los Angeles Monday night.

“Yeah, neither did I…Just in my head.” – Thunder center Kendrick Perkins joking about hearing M-V-P chants from the home crowd during Monday’s game.

“Clearly, they’re still learning the triangle. I still don’t understand it. But they’re learning it. But that’s what the game is all about.” – Commissioner Adam Silver responding to a question about the Knicks’ season so far.

“I wasn’t so humored by the commissioner actually jumping in on top of that, too. He doesn’t need to get in on that. There’s enough focus on [the] triangle. It’s not anything. It’s a system. It’s simple basketball. Just play the game. We’re over the triangle; let’s get to business and play the right way.” – Knicks president Phil Jackson’s response to the Adam Silver comment. Keep in mind that after the commissioner’s remarks, the Knicks lost three games in a row and there is recent history between the two men: Silver fined the Knicks $25,000 for tampering in June, after Jackson publicly made comments about then-Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher, who would go on to become the Knicks’ head coach.

“He’s an athletic Pau Gasol. That’s the best way I can put it. He can be one of the greatest power forwards who has ever played.” – Kobe Bryant on Anthony Davis of the Pelicans. I’m guessing Davis liked Bryant’s comment but, I’m not sure how Pau Gasol feels about that comparison.

“I didn’t feel too good…but I’m used to playing through that…It’s tough…Tonight was one of those nights where it makes me really remember the challenge of being 36 and being 19 years in…And the body just won’t respond…And you’re sick…And you’re used to trying to fight through those things…And it just helps me really remember what I’m facing…It’s tough.” – Kobe Bryant after Friday’s 93-80 home loss to the Spurs in which a flu-weakened Bryant made only one out of 14 shot attempts.

“Going to the Lakers, I don’t know where that came from.” – Cavs forward Kevin Love responding to reports of him opting out of his contract and signing with the Lakers next summer.

WHAT I LEARNED THIS WEEK
Many fans and media really don’t care about the athletes they root for or cover. The overwhelmingly negative reaction to Derrick Rose’s comments about why he’s sitting out certain games now proves that clearly. We’re at the point where making millions of dollars for playing a game diminishes at best and negates at worst an athlete’s humanity. Also, Steve Nash has quickly become the Poster Child for everything that’s wrong with the “Jim Buss Era.”

GAME OF THE WEEK – WEEK 4
San Antonio at Cleveland: Wednesday, 4pm PST on ESPN
One can only hope that Pop brings all of his players to C-Town for this early season potential Finals preview and I’m fairly certain ESPN hopes so too.

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