Posts Tagged ‘NBA’

By Phil Bausk

All-Star weekend in Los Angeles and all eyes are on an LA Clipper?!?!?! Donald Sterling is rolling over in his grave…Well maybe not yet,but I am sure a lot of Clips fans have already combined funds to buy him a cemetery plot as far away as LA as possible.

Blake Griffin will be the main attraction this weekend in Saturday night’s Slam Dunk Contest, though the buzz around Justin Bieber’s Celebrity game debut may overshadow all news, including that revolution going on somewhere in Africa. (I say the over/under on “Never Say Never” commercials tonight is 8.5.)

Griffin, who has been spoiling fans with highlight reel dunks all season long, will be going against himself Saturday night. Serge Ibaka, Javale Mcgee, and Demar Derozan do not offer much competition (though maybe someone can sneak a W past him), and Griffin is expected to perform a one man show, as The Akron Scammers of the league continue to shy away from the Dunk contest (Lebron, remember when you said you guaranteed you were going to be in it? We should’ve seen “The Decision” coming from that point on.)

While the Dunk Contest has struggled in recent years, mainly because Gerald Green is playing somewhere in Russia now, there is still a certain amount of excitement that surrounds it. While odds are nothing crazy is going to happen, there is a certain theatricality that we hope to experience when it comes in each Saturday night of All-Star weekend. Dwight Howard offered us with some excitement for a bit, but then he claimed he was done with the contest as well, yet he still contends he is a better dunker than Blake Griffin. So let me ask you Dwight, How are you NOT in  this year’s contest to prove your point? I don’t care about the dunk counting graphic ESPN throws up once every few weeks. I would much rather see you prove your point on the floor Saturday night. Sure you have won a dunk contest, but again, the competition wasn’t too stiff.

Either way, our expectations as fans for Blake’s performance tomorrow night are extremely high. Will he meet those expectations? Who knows, but the fact that there is enough excitement to generate interest in this year’s dunk contest is definitely a step in the right direction. Maybe Blake will ask Timothea Mozgov to come help him with a dunk, where Blake ends up breaking Mozgov’s face and spirit, and Griffin is standing triumphantly on top of the backboard being showered with roses. Either way, now that the spotlight is off of Kobe Bryant in La La Land, I am sure he can cheat on his wife without any repercussions. (Does that huge diamond ring he bought her in Colorado a few years back count as a repercussion?)

Outside of the Dunk contest, there are a few other intriguing events that will take place this weekend. Tonight, there is the Celebrity basketball game followed by the Rookie-Sophomore game. I think the time line of events for those things unfold pretty predictably. Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Simmons, the two coaches for this game, will get thrown out for being super annoying, while Justin Bieber brings in the 12-17 year old demographic to cheer him on every time he touches the ball. Michael Rapaport will do his best Brian Scalabrine impersonation, missing corner three pointers, and annoying everyone who comes within 20 feet of the basketball court. The final score of the game won’t matter, but the fact that we will get to see Jason Alexander stand right next to Bill Walton will give the older crowd a flashback of that Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger flick, “Twins.”

Moving forward we have the Rookies against the Sophomores. This game is a pick up game with some of the most athletic guys in the league and has created some exciting moments. I remember Jason “White Chocolate’s” Williams’ elbow pass to Raef Lafrentz, and no Nuggets and Celtics fans, Lafrentz didn’t dunk the ball, and I am pretty sure he never has dunked a ball in his adult life. Kevin Durant’s performance a couple of years ago was memorable, as well as David Lee’s 14-14 from the field exhibition. I expect to see a lot of nice alley oops with the amount of talented big men in the game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if John Wall doesn’t break a few ankles on the way to the MVP award for the game.

Saturday night is really where the fun beings. Due to the fact that the team shooting competition is really just a time filler, I am going to move on to the Skills Competition, brought to us by the classy people of Taco Bell. I love this event because it tends to have the most overall talent than all of other competitions. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Russell Westbrook will square off against one another, going through an obstacle course that would probably take players like Sebastian Telfiar and Howard Eisley the entire weekend to complete. I believe Stephen Curry is going to come out on top of this one because his team has the nicest jerseys, and his eyes can make you forget all about life’s troubles (It doesn’t hurt that he could be mistaken for Miles Austin’s son).

Up next is the 3 point competition, where defending champ Paul Pierce will try to fend off teammate, and new 3-point King, Ray Allen and repeat, which would put him in a class with the infamous Jason Kapono, something I am sure Pierce has been spending his entire career trying to do. Also participating is Kevin Durant, along with James Jones, Dorell Wright, and Daniel Gibson. Gibson may be auditioning for other teams this weekend, while Wright and Jones may just be looking for a little more cash to spend at the strip club. At the end of the day, I think Ray Ray will take it, as this has been his year so far, and in a year where he passes Reggie Miller for the most 3-pointers of all time, how can he not win this event?!?!?

Last, and certainly not least, is the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Now the easy thing to do would be to just pick Blake Griffin, put the bet in on sportsbook.com, and forget that you even made that simple of a bet. Well I think Blake, who has everything going for him, is going to LOSE tomorrow night’s contest. I think Washington Wizard’s Javale Mcgee is going to pull off the upset, and be the Justin Morneau to Blake Griffin’s Josh Hamilton in the 2008 Home Run Derby.  Mcgee plays for the Wizards, a team that clearly doesn’t spend much practice time going over plays and defensive assignments. Mcgee, an athletic 7 ft Center out of the Dwight Howard mold, has probably been practicing a few dunks, and will have John Wall there to assist him. I think Mcgee will surprise everyone by  taking this contest, and then much like past champion, and former high school crush Gerald Green, he will be forgotten about as soon as March rolls around.

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By Aaron Tobinhess

Thursday night, February 3, 2011, the NBA All Star reserves were named before the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic contest.

No real surprises for the Eastern Conference as all four Boston Celtics deserved to be selected; even the biggest tool and third wheel in the league deserved a nod as well. I am a big Knick fan but any one who really thinks that Raymond Felton is more deserving than Joe Johnson is crazy. Look at Felton’s numbers for the last month. To quote Denise Green, he is who we thought he was. (an average point guard whose numbers look better playing in D’antoni’s system).

After a commercial break, the Western Conference reserves were named. Manu Ginobili, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams,  and Dirk Nowitzki were all very deserving. That leaves only three spots left.  Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan. WTF? Really? No Kevin Love? Is that a joke? The only guy since Moses Malone to average 20 points and 15 rebounds a game (that happened 25 years ago by the way) not being selected by the coaches? Really?

Now I understand that teams with the best records will get multiple All-Star selections. Teams should be rewarded for having great seasons and, in the end, sports are all about wins and losses.  Shitty teams will not get recognized at the NBA’s mid season classic. That’s just the way it is. However, when a player, no matter how garbage his team may be, does something so extraordinary, he must be rewarded. This season, that man is Kevin Love. He is averaging 21 points and 15 rebounds a game and has had a double-double in every game since early November. In addition, he is shooting 40 percent from three-land this season; just ridiculous.

The Western Conference is loaded with talent this season, and guys like Monte Ellis, LaMarcus Aldridge, Steve Nash, Tony Parker and Zach Randolph are all having great season and would have been all-stars in the Eastern conference, but Kevin Love is having a better season than all of them. His biggest problem is that he plays in Minnesota, the Siberia of the NBA, according to Bill Simmons. The team is so bad, and the fact that he goes out and busts his ass every night for a shit team that has no chance to win is pretty amazing. It is not his fault his GM drafted two point guards back to back in the draft; neither of which were Steph Curry or Brandon Jennings and signed Darko for 20 million dollars (the outrage). It is not his fault that his second best player is a druggie castoff exiled from Miami. It is not his fault that his team can not seem to play a full four quarters and actually close out a game.  It is not his fault the Wolves have about 6 average small forwards on the roster that can not hit threes. What Kevin Love is doing this season is remarkable.

The only argument against Love is that he gets sick numbers for a bad team. That might be true for scoring numbers, but definitely not rebounding numbers. Rebounding, something that I am allergic to, is all about smarts and hustle. He would put up monster rebounding numbers on any team.  He would grab 12 rebounds a game if he played for the Lakers. His rebounding numbers since he has gotten into the league have been off the charts (over 13 rebounds a game per forty minutes each of his first two years where he didn’t get nearly enough minutes). Lastly, why doesn’t that argument hold true for Blake Griffin?  The Clippers suck too and Love has better numbers than Griffin (for the record, I think Griffin is the one of the five best power forwards in the NBA and definitely deserves to be in the game, but so is Love).

In addition to his sick rebounding stats, his offensive game has gotten better. He has nice post moves and has a great pick and roll/ pick and pop game. Did I mention he is hitting forty percent from three this season?  He has three 30 point-20 rebound games. No one else in the league has one, and still this guy isn’t an all star?  In Reggie Miller’s voice, are you kidding me?

Love’s candidacy begs the question, who on the Western Conference should you knock off? The Spurs are 40-8 going into tonight’s game so they have to have 2 guys right? Parker loses out because the plethora of great points guards in the West, even though he is the second most deserving Spur.  Tim Duncan doesn’t even play 30 minutes a game. He is averaging 14-9 this season.  He is not an all-star this year; and I don’t care how good the Spurs are this year and how great Duncan has been over his career. You can make the argument that the Gary Neal, DeJuan Blair, George Hill combo is just as valuable as Duncan this year (I do not believe that but still). Anyone playing under 35 minutes a game isn’t an all-star.  As Charles Barkley says, “this isn’t a lifetime achievement award”.  Cynics would then argue, but KG and Duncan have the same numbers and no one questions KG’s selection. KG ISN’T BLOCKING A GUY AVERAGING 20+-15 FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1982-1983.

The second guy I would question is Pau Gasol.  Let me be clear, Pau Gasol is tremendously skilled.  He has all the tools, but he is so grossly overrated this season. He plays like such a pansy and disappears in the fourth quarters of games.  Gasol defenders will claim that Kobe dominates the ball way too much. Watch the tape of the most recent game against the Celtics. Gasol was getting pushed around by Kevin Garnett all afternoon.  If you are a superstar, you don’t get pushed around in a big game.  Superstars impose their will and are aggressive.  If Gasol was really a superstar, he would demand the ball late in games.  And, this is for all the Celtics fans out there; if KG doesn’t get hurt 2 years ago (an injury that takes two full years to heal) and Perkins doesn’t get hurt in game seven last year, The Celtics could have easily gone for a three-peat, which means Gasol is just another talented, all-star level player and not a “superstar” (which he has proved he isn’t). Plus, he hasn’t been the Lakers second best player this season.  That honor goes to Lamar Odom; another all-star snub. Back to Love though. There is no doubt he would still grab 11-12 rebounds a game if he played for the Lakers or the Miami Heat.  Now if he played with either of those teams, he would not get as many shots and score as many points, but he would still average 17 a game. 17-12 is better than Gasol and Chris Bosh this year.

The reality is that Yao Ming was voted by the ten million Chinese people who don’t watch basketball and is out with an injury.  That opens a spot for another All-Star selection. David Stern can rectify the situation by selecting Kevin Love as a replacement and start Duncan (legacy) at Center. NBA, please show this man some Love.