A letter from the Spurs and a simple crime

Written by :
Published on : June 24, 2017

 

In 2004, the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Championship. They had an awesome squad featuring Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. I was 19-years-old at the time and it was my freshmen year of college. My brother and I were both living in Chicago and we watched every Finals game together.

 

The Pistons played a Lakers team featuring hall of fame talent in Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Peyton and Karl Malone. The sporting world didn’t think we stood a chance but Detroit won the series in a commanding 5 games. I can remember being at my brother’s apartment for game 5, I went to the fridge and saw Miller High Life. AKA the champagne of beers. Like champagne as in championship. I saw the golden bottles and got nervous. I asked my bro about it but he cut me off. As if to say, “don’t jinx it”. But we won. We drank those beers and it was one of the best memories I’ve have.

 

2004 pistons

 

Flash forward to 2005, the Pistons make it back to the NBA Finals, this time against the San Antonio Spurs. We’re talking Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen, Brent Barry, Robert Horry and Manu Ginobili. Plus a deep bench of quality players and the master, Greg Popovich, at the helm. This time around, Game 5 was a heart breaker. Robert Fucking Horry. No one guards the inbound man and Horry gets the ball back and sinks a huge 3 with just seconds left. San Antonio steals the game and ends up winning the series in 7. Destroying the hope of a Detroit repeat. Needless to say, I was salty. The Spurs were officially on my shit list.

 

Jumping forward again. It’s the summer after the Pistons lost to the Spurs. I’m home visiting the family in Michigan. My brother was also in town. He wants to take me out for a drink and starts listing off places he thinks won’t card me (I was 20). It’s Detroit, so the list is long. I silence this line of questioning by pulling out my flawless $75 fake Indiana Driver’s License. Complete with hologram. Which I bought from some shady kids in Chicago. The ID looked great because these guys had a real professional rig. They had a macbook, a scanner and even a printer. The forgery was made in photoshop so you could claim any info you wanted. I’m now 23 and an organ donor. It was a quality fake with my very own picture. More importantly, it worked everywhere.

 

My brother and I settle on local spot since I’ve got the fake. We roll in and meet meet my bro’s friend. We get drinks at the bar. Bartender asks for everyone’s papers. A quick glance and we all have beers. Cheers. A few rounds later and the social lubricant is glistening. A round of  whiskey shots to clear our heads. Then, I spot it. The letter. My blood boils. My jaw locks. And I just point until the crew notices. Finally, my brother glances over. His eyebrows jump, as he reads a few lines.

 

2005-Game-5-Robert-Horry

 

Now, I wish I had a picture of the letter but this was way back in 2005 and I didn’t get a cell phone until the next harvest. But even then, that camera was really, really bad. So let me just summarize. The letter was on official San Antonio Spurs stationary. It went something like this:

 

“Thank you so much for your hospitality during the Spurs 2005 championship run, we found the city of Detroit overall, to be very hostile, but your bar and restaurant was an oasis to our franchise. Blah, blah, blah. Slurp, slurp, slurp. Blah, blah, slurp, blah…”

 

After another round and tons of shit talk. We, as a group, decide that the local bar shouldn’t show off memorabilia of teams that beat us in the championship. Then, someone says “we should steal it.” I grab the frame and realize that it’s bolted down. As if this wasn’t the first time someone has tried to take it. Plan thwarted. For now. We keep scheming and we land on the idea that we cannot, in good conscience, leave this document in the possession of the bar. It’s our duty, to the city of Detroit and its fans.

 

Our plan goes into motion. All three of us working like a swiss clock. It’s straight, Ocean’s Eleven. I grab the frame and violently rip it from the wall. It makes an awful sound. An extra yank (yeah, I said it) and the letter comes free! And just like prison, I pass the contraband off to someone else (my brother’s friend). He takes the prize, puts it under his hoodie and bee lines for the exit. I walk the other way and disappear out the front like Keyser Söze. All while my brother sits and drinks from a lookout spot across the dining room. Genius.

 

keyser-soze

 

We lost the 2005 NBA Finals but we stole the Spurs stupid thank you letter. A real lost the battle but won the war scenario. Maybe now that Italian joint in the suburbs of Detroit will think twice before displaying their little love notes with the enemy. That should be the lesson here. Don’t sellout your city just to rub elbows with some celebs. It’s a trash move. And if you are going to do it, at least don’t brag about it or hang trophies of your betrayal in places I go drinking.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Bruno Tysh

 

 


Inter-sport Trading: The Dream of the Hometown Fan

Written by :
Published on : May 19, 2017

 

While there certainly are some exceptions, for the most part I think sports fans grow up rooting for their local teams, riding out the highs and lows while sticking with those teams no matter how bad the tough times can get. I mean, take it from me, I’ll devote every season to my Detroit Lions even after their disastrous 0-16 season.

 

I would venture to guess that most fans are like me in that sense. Growing up here in the Metro Detroit area, we are fortunate to have a franchise in all of the four major sports, and each one is the team I stand behind. If it’s the fall you can spot me wearing that Matt Stafford #9 jersey, in the winter months there I am hoping for the return of the glory days for my Red Wings and Pistons, and come summer you can find me enjoying a cold one while sitting behind home plate looking at a re-surging Detroit skyline while rooting for arguably the greatest hitter of my generation, Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.

 

 

Being a Detroit sports fan has blessed me with a lot of great memories as I have been able to witness and celebrate multiple championships courtesy of the Red Wings and Pistons, and have been along for the ride on some close calls with the Detroit Tigers in recent years. However, I think the dream for any sports fan is for all of their teams to be at the top of their game every season, or at the same time, and with that wish came an idea that I envisioned many years ago — the idea of inter-sport trading.

 

Now, understand this about the idea, I do realize it is essentially impossible given the fact that these teams don’t in fact belong to the cities they represent. Owning a sports franchise is a business and all businesses of course are in the business of making a profit. Therefore, even though Detroit has four franchises, they are not owned by the same individual and therefore they would more than likely never be interested in my idea. However, we all can dream right? So here is my dream, the dream of the hometown fan.

 

With the NBA Lottery complete, the Boston Celtics are on the clock with the #1 pick and are in a prime position to remain a contender for years to come. Currently, the Boston Celtics are heading into the Eastern Conference Finals as the #1 seed and therefore in a great place going forward building around guys like Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. Also in the Boston area, you have a perennial power in the New England Patriots, and even the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins have enjoyed recent success. All four franchises have won the championship in their respective sports in the past decade which is something to be really excited about if you are a Boston fan, and something that fans of other cities may wish to experience themselves.

 

 

In this example, seeing as how the Celtics are in a great spot contending for an NBA Championship, the Patriots are coming off a Super Bowl season and look to be ready to contend for another this season, and the Red Sox early on are hoping to be in the World Series conversation come October but currently find themselves in 3rd place in the AL East. If inter-sport trading were a thing, I would bet many Red Sox fans would definitely entertain the idea of being able to dangle that #1 pick that the Boston Celtics may not have much use for and trade it to another NBA franchise who could desperately use that #1 pick. Now the question is what’s the return for a Boston fan in this deal? Well, suppose the NBA team that receives the #1 pick is the Chicago Bulls. Chicago is rumored to be possibly facing a scenario where they move Jimmy Butler looking to shake their roster up and therefore a #1 pick would help that process. In return, coming off a World Series title, the Chicago Cubs are loaded with talent and perhaps could afford to lose a spare part in their rotation or lineup to give to the Boston Red Sox.

 

So in this scenario, you have the Boston Celtics still playing at a high level with salary cap space and perhaps not much need for a high draft pick at this time and the Red Sox would boost their roster via the return from the Cubs. If you’re a Chicago fan, you just gained a #1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft and potentially still have a very deep roster where such a move wouldn’t affect the World Series chances for the Cubs.

 

 

However, this scenario does pose a difficult issue considering Chicago is one of many cities or states where two or more franchises reside in the same city or state. For example, South siders and North siders may both love their Bulls but will have very different opinions of the Cubs with the White Sox also having loyal fanbases in the area. Therefore, half of the city would not be in support of inter-sport trading.

 

In another scenario that ultimately inspired the idea for me, we have to go back to 2003. My beloved Detroit Pistons were on the cusp of greatness vying for an NBA Championship with a core group that featured Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince. The lottery balls that year fell in Detroit’s favor landing them the #2 overall pick. However, with LeBron James going #1, the Pistons faced a dilemma of who to take with that pick. Hindsight is of course 20/20 but they definitely struck out with their selection in the long run, but in the short run it may not have been the worst thing in the world.

 

The Pistons went on to select Darko Milicic, and he rarely saw the court during his tenure in Detroit but during his rookie campaign, that may not have been the worst thing. The Pistons had a great starting five and a good group of role players off the bench that seemed to form a perfect team, and it’s possible that even with future superstars in Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony available in that draft, their best chance to win an NBA title in 2004 was with a guy like Darko who didn’t get in the way by stealing minutes from the other Pistons.

 

Darko-2003-NBA-Draft

 

In the short run therefore, drafting Darko may have not been a horrible option, while in the long run it of course looks like one of the worst draft picks in this history of the NBA as Darko Milicic went on to retire from basketball at age 27. However, I think the best scenario would have been to trade the pick because quite frankly, the Pistons just didn’t need it. This is where I drew the inspiration for my idea of inter-sport trading. The Pistons could have found a suitor in the NBA who would have jumped at the opportunity to get guys like Wade, Bosh or Melo and in return another franchise in Detroit could have reaped the benefits from it.

 

Prime example being the Indiana Pacers. The Pistons went on to beat Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals that year thanks in part to the block heard round the world when Tayshaun Prince ran down Reggie Miller swatting him at the rim. With Reggie set to retire, Dwyane Wade would have been a perfect replacement in Indiana had they traded for our #2 pick. Or imagine the frontcourt of Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal with Ron Artest at the small forward position. Just down the road in Indiana, the Indianapolis Colts were riding high with Peyton Manning winning 3 straight NFL MVP’s from 2003-2005 and went on to win 12+ games in seven straight years beginning in 2003. The Colts went on to win the Super Bowl in 2006 and perhaps back when the Pistons could have traded that #2 pick the Colts would have been willing to ship their #1 and #2 or a pro bowl quality player to the Detroit Lions.

 

Again, the idea of inter-sport trading would never work, I get it. Unless teams became property of the cities themselves or owners bought the rights to every pro franchise in that particular city, no owner would sacrifice his own business by helping another business. But a sports fan can still dream right?

 

 


Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson: Someone has to go

Written by :
Published on : February 17, 2017

 

 

 

To say that this year’s Detroit Pistons have underachieved compared to what everyone expected prior to the season would be an understatement. As we enter All-Star weekend the Pistons have a 27-30 record and currently sit in the 8th seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. That’s right around how they ended last season when they entered the playoffs as the 8th seed and got swept in the first round by the eventual champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Right now they seem to be headed for a similar fate and most people think that the team will make some kind of trade to shake things up on the roster and try to jump start a playoff run.

 

The NBA trade deadline is next Thursday, February 23rd at 3 p.m. ET. The Pistons won’t play another game before then so it’s possible that this roster as it is currently assembled may have played their last game together. In a year when this team was supposed to take the next step towards competing for a championship it would be a giant disappointment to the players and the fans to see the season end the same way it did last year. There’s no doubt that this team needs a spark, but from where should that spark come?

 

Many people think it should come from trading away a marquee player in order to obtain multiple pieces that fit into coach Stan Van Gundy’s system. The two players who would seem to garner the most interest, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond, are also two of the more controversial players among fans of the team. Both players are young and have a ton of potential so they should be able to get a big return in a trade but both also have some flaws and have disappointed this year.

 

 

These two should be the cornerstone of many a successful playoff run but instead the team seems to be worse with both of them on the court. The Pistons defense ranks 11th in the league but sadly this is coming almost entirely on the backs of the bench players. When Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson are on the floor together the Pistons are giving up 110 points for every 100 possessions and when it’s Drummond alone on the floor that number only drops to 108 points. Clearly they both shouldn’t be on the team but less clear is which one should go.

 

When Andre Drummond came into the league in 2012 he was a physical freak with a ridiculous amount of potential. His game was raw and there were concerns about his offensive skills and his overall effort. He couldn’t shoot the ball and couldn’t hit a free throw to save his life. He was a project to be sure but in the mean time could be a great asset in the interior defense and rebounding department. And he was. But his growth has not been what many people had hoped it would be.

 

There are still times when he looks lost on the offensive end and ever since he signed a 5-year max deal last summer it seems as though is effort and attention to detail have tapered off. Sure, he’s only 23-years-old and players like him don’t usually blossom until 25 or older, so there’s a good chance that the Pistons are going to want to hang on to him. It also helps him that there isn’t a huge market for players like him right now.

 

 

Reggie Jackson on the other hand could net some really good value in a trade and many people, including myself, would say that the team was actually better before he returned from his early season knee injury. Back up, Ish Smith, has played well all season and with Jackson off the floor the offense moves much more smoothly. Jackson is only 26-years-old and has the ability to take over a game on offense, but for some reason it hasn’t worked this year with the Pistons.  There’s a good chance he is still working back to 100% from the knee injury that kept him out for the beginning of the season but coach Van Gundy could be under pressure to improve this roster immediately and start putting together more wins.

 

The time to make a move might be right now and while I think that trading away Drummond could be better for the future, trading away Jackson could provide more substantial immediate returns. If the team does make a move before they return to action next Thursday against the Hornets it seems much more likely that it will be Reggie Jackson who is wearing another jersey. We are a society of instant gratification and trading away Reggie could provide just that. The right deal could provide an addition-by-subtraction type boost and help the Pistons obtain a higher playoff seed, thereby avoiding another first round exit at the hands of the Cavaliers.

 

Sorry Reggie, but your time in Detroit might be over. And that might be best for everyone.

 

 


The Pistons are going back to Detroit!

Written by :
Published on : November 23, 2016

 

 

For the first time since 1978, the Detroit Pistons will play basketball in the city of Detroit. The team announced on Tuesday that they would begin playing games within city limits beginning next season. It’s a big win for citizens of the city and basketball as a whole. All four of the Detroit’s professional sports franchises will be located in downtown Detroit, a mere stone’s throw from each other. The team will share the Red Wings’ new home, Little Caesars Arena. The inclusion of the Detroit Pistons in the state of the art arena and entertainment complex known simply as, The District, means that downtown Detroit will be popping almost every single day/night of the year.

 

Not everyone is thrilled about the idea, however. Though it may seem like a no-brainer that the Detroit Pistons should maybe actually be located in the city they are named for, there are some people who think that the move is just a money grab for team owner, Tom Gores. So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of the Pistons’ move to Detroit.

 

Pros

Pizzarena
                                                                                  Home Sweet Home

 

– The first pro is one that I’ve already touched on. The Pistons will now call Little Caesars Arena home and will be located in less than a mile from both Comerica Park and Ford Field. This will be an premier destination for people in Southeast Michigan and the entire state and will be a centerpiece of downtown Detroit.

 

– The major pro here is that the Detroit Pistons will now be located in the actual city of Detroit. Since 1978 they have played at The Palace of Auburn Hills, almost 30 miles from the city that the team claims to represent. It’ll be nice for the team to stop lying about what city they are from. It just makes sense to come back home.

 

– Team owner, Tom Gores, has pledged that the team will be committed to helping the city of Detroit grow and prosper. He has highlighted a 10-point plan that will underscore the team’s commitment to the city. This plan including funding for the construction of 60 community basketball courts over the next 6 years, providing 20,000 free tickets per season to Detroit youth and residents, and employment of Detroit residents in the construction of the team’s new practice facilities in the city, among other things.

 

Cons

Owners
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Ilitch Holding CEO Chris Ilitch, Pistons Owner Tom Gores and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

 

– The Pistons will be leaving behind a perfectly good and beautiful facility in Auburn Hills. The Palace was opened in 1988, relatively new as far as modern arenas go. It’ll be a shame to see it go. There was a time not so long ago when the team sold out 235 consecutive games, during the Pistons’ last dominant run with Chauncey Billups and co. The Palace used to be one the most rocking basketball venues in the game. Thankfully the arena will be quickly demolished and redeveloped, avoiding a fate similar to that of the Pontiac Silverdome, which still sits vacant since the Lions left in 2002.

 

– The major con that I see for this move it that somehow Tom Gores convinced the city of Detroit’s downtown development authority to foot the $34 million dollar bill for converting Little Caesars Arena from a hockey only venue to a hockey/basketball venue. I’m sure the city sees it as a good investment considering the amount of money that will come in with having another major sports team, and they’re probably right. But that just adds on to the already enormous amount of public funding that the new arena has received (a couple hundred million at least), and helping to pay for billionaire’s stadiums never seems like that good of an idea.

 

 

There are always going to be conflicting opinions when something like this happens. The Detroit Pistons’ move from Auburn Hills to Detroit will be sure to help some people and hurt others. But with the renaissance that is currently happening in downtown Detroit, the time is ripe for the team to move back to its original home. After years of losing citizens and resources, people are finally starting to flock back to the city. It’s only right that the last holdout of the flight from Detroit (at least as far as sports teams go) comes back home and bring some truth to those famous words…

 

Deeeeee-troit Basketball!!!!!

 

 


All Joke NBA Free Agency Tracker

Written by :
Published on : July 12, 2016

 

In the wake of the trillions of dollars already spent in this madness known as NBA free agency, we bring you a satirical look at the current free agent market with our All Joke Free Agency Tracker. These are jokes people, so don’t get all butt-hurt. Well, until they come true.

 

– President Barack Obama signs with the Washington Wizards. When asked about the 4yr/$83 million contract, the small forward said “I love the city, I love the game but I told them it’s gotta be a four year deal, with an option for four more years.”

 

-Air Bud joins the New York Knicks. Listed as a power forward, how will Bud fit in with Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah and Kristap Porzingis? More importantly, can Air Bud stay out of legal trouble in the big city (lots of cars to chase if you know what I mean) to earn his massive 3yr/$61 million dollar contract?

 

Air_Bud_Header

 

– The Los Angeles Lakers finally get their big man of the future in Dwight Howard. But before Dwight can sign his 6yr/$153 million dollar deal, he is informed at he has already signed with the Atlanta Hawks and that he already came to LA and it didn’t work. Bummer.

 

– LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh all opt out of their deals to join the Toronto Raptors at the veteran minimum. Sources say Bosh only ever agreed to go to Miami if the Big 3 would eventually go to Toronto to finally bring home a championship to Canada. As rapper Drake requested.

 

– While at a Brooklyn Nets charity event, actor/comedian Adam Sandler is mistaken for a pro hooper because of his basketball shorts and athletic physique and offered 1yr/$8 million deal. Nets need another ball handler and scorer but Sandler is not the solution. Thankfully for the Nets, Sandler turned down the deal stating “I can take a crap in a red envelope and send it to Netflix and they pay me $80 million dollars. Shabadadooooo!” 

 

sandler hoops

 

– LeBron opts out of his Toronto deal and announces he is “coming home” to Cleveland. Again. To help restore the city back to its 2016 glory. Because in those few minutes he was gone, fans set his jerseys on fire and those flames spread downtown and destroyed most of the skyline.

 

– Reggie Miller comes out of retirement to give the Indiana Pacers another quality shooter to help star, Paul George, get into the playoffs. The offer is a reported 2yr/$17 million. After hearing details of the contract, sister Cheryl Miller works out for the Pacers and is quickly signed to a 3yr/$27 million sheet.

 

– Ice Cube had at least four teams including Golden State, Houston, Dallas and Detroit interested in him after he “messed around and got a triple double” but it has been revealed that those stats were inflated. Cube did record 21 points, 11 rebounds and 23 blocks in one game, but he was playing one-on-one with Kevin Hart. At this time no one is offering Cube a deal, other than TBS. But that’s for a family TV show.

 

cube hart

 

– Trickshot experts Dude Perfect sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. The amount is undisclosed but I’m not sure the front office understands that they are a crew of guys and not just one player. Either way, Dude Perfect should bring some much needed three point shooting and entertainment to the Clip Show.

 

– And the last thing off the Free Agency Tracker isn’t a major contract but some juicy breaking news. It is being reported that NBA analyst, Stephen A. Smith, has lost his cell phone. Please help him find it. It’s a black iphone 4S with a cracked screen and Buzz Lightyear case. He needs it for work so please help. Until it shows up, just message him on Facebook.

 

That’s all for now. Keep your ears to the hardwood for more news, gossip and bullshit from the All Joke NBA Free Agency Tracker. Who knows who will be on the move the next? Only God and Larry Bird know for sure.

 

Track, don’t stalk.

 

 


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: NBA Logos

Written by :
Published on : June 21, 2016

 

 

 

We’re back for the newest edition of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and this time we are focusing on NBA logos. This is a pretty difficult one for the simple fact that almost every NBA logo is some variation of a basketball. I’m going to have to get pretty creative with my reasons here, but it will probably revolve around the fact that I hate your teams colors. Here we go…

 

The Good

HeatLogo

 

Miami Heat- The flaming basketball going through the hoop is totally badass. He’s on fire!

 

Detroit Pistons- It may be simple but it’s a classic. The red, white and blue is perfect for the city that built America. I talk a lot of trash about teams with simple basketball logos in this piece, but my hometown team gets a pass here. Sorry, not sorry.

 

Golden State Warriors- Not normally a fan of the color yellow, but for the Golden State Warriors it works. And the silhouette of the bridge is just beautiful.

 

Celtics Logo

 

Boston Celtics- This logo features a totally chill leprechaun spinning a basketball on his finger while smoking a pipe. I hate the team, but I love this logo.

 

Chicago Bulls- Another team I hate that has a logo I love. Pissed off bull with no basketball in sight. Once upon a time this was the most feared logo in sports.

 

Memphis Grizzlies- Imposing grizzly bear. Love it.

 

San Antonio Spurs- This logo turns the ‘U’ in the team’s name into a spur, which is the team’s name. Genius. And the black and silver colors are tough as hell.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves- That wolf looks meaner than fuck! That alone wins me over.

 

The Bad

Rockets

 

Houston Rockets: What’s going on here? It’s uninspired and boring. Just change it to a silhouette of James Harden’s beard already.

 

Utah Jazz- One of the NBA logos with mountain in the background. Nothing to do with Jazz music. Fail.

 

Sacramento Kings- I guess there’s a crown there, and some lances crossed in the background. And the purple makes me think of Prince, not a king.

 

Portland Trailblazers- I really like the colors red and black, but that’s about all I like about this thing. What is it, and how does it relate to blazing trails?

 

Los Angeles Lakers- Just a basketball with the name. And the colors of gold and purple are hideous. Sorry Mr Johnson but there’s no magic here.

 

Pacerslogo

 

Indiana Pacers- Hey guys, what if we make the logo the letter ‘P’ with a basketball in the middle!?! Piss off…

 

Denver Nuggets- Another team with a logo featuring a mountain. I think they could have done better here. Give me a grizzled old prospector holding some gold nuggets or something.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers- Once again, you guessed it, a basketball. But this time with a sword going through it. It’s red and yellow but they try to class it up by saying “wine and gold.” Who are they fooling?

 

Brooklyn Nets- The simple black and white looks pretty clean but other than that it’s another lame ass basketball logo.

 

washington_wizards_2015_logo_detail

 

Washington Wizards- The old Wizards’ logo featured this weird looking wizard. I would much rather have that than this oddly phallic current version featuring the Washington Monument.

 

Atlanta Hawks- The old logo was a Hawk with a basketball clutched in its talons. Not bad right? The new logo fails to impress.

 

Phoenix Suns- Another color scheme that doesn’t really jive with me. Plus this thing looks a lot more like a shooting star than a sun.

 

The Ugly

Clippers logo

Los Angeles Clippers-  The newest edition of the Clippers logo blows. Its a ‘C’ with the ‘LA’ inside. Great.

 

Milwaukee Bucks- The Buck kind of sucks. And the colors are garbage.

 

New Orleans Pelicans- A pissed off pelican featuring the colors red, blue and gold. They should have been called the New Orleans Dogs, because this thing is ugly. Woof!

 

Thunder logo

 

Oklahoma City Thunder- How do you make a visual representation of thunder? I have no idea and neither do the Thunder.

 

New York Knicks- These colors are hideous. Enough said.

 

Philadelphia 76ers- Red, white and blue, and some stars. And and awful basketball team. The logo is kind of ugly but not as ugly as the product they put on the court every year.

 

Dallas Mavericks- Another basketball with a weird looking profile of a stallion inside of it. No thanks.

 

Raptors logo

 

Toronto Raptors- Another team that totally fucked up by ditching their old logo. It used to be a totally rad, basketball-playing, cartoon raptor. Now, it’s a weak basketball with three claw marks going through it.

 

Charlotte Hornets- Sure, the old Hornets’ logo was pretty cartoonish but it was far superior to what the team has now. This attempt to looking threatening falls far short of scaring anyone. Except for those colors. Those are pretty awful.

 

Orlando Magic- Nothing magical here.

 

I would have to say that overall, I think most NBA logos kind of suck. There’s just too many basketballs. We know you’re a basketball team, why don’t you be more creative with your logo. Props to those teams that do have something cool going on, and feel free to tell me why you think I’m full of shit down in the comments section.

 

 


SBS Remembers: Malice at the Palace

Written by :
Published on : April 15, 2016

 

I still remember exactly where I was when it all went down. It was freshmen year and I was in my dorm room at Central Michigan University. Underage drinking was probably involved. Then the phone rings. I can’t recall who exactly was on the other end, but they told me I needed to go to the TV immediately and turn on the Pistons game.

 

When we found the appropriate channel, it was clear that there was something big going down. Players were in the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills fighting fans. Fans were on the court getting annihilated by players. By the time we were tuned in, all hell had broken loose. It later became known as “Malice at the Palace” and it was NBA pandemonium unlike anything the world had never witnessed. Let’s take a minute to remember an event that the league would rather forget.

 

The Kindling

 

The Malice at the Palace featured a Detroit Pistons team that was in the midst of a pretty heated rivalry with the Indiana Pacers. The date was November 19, 2004 and it was the first time that the two teams had met since the Eastern Conference Finals the previous season, when the Pistons defeated the Pacers in six games en route to their first NBA Championship since the ‘Bad Boys’ were a thing. These teams were familiar with each other and there wasn’t a lot of love lost there. Both played the game hard and psychical, and in a manner that lent itself to frustrating the opposition. The Pistons were down big in the game and it was all but over. Yet for some reason, the starters were still on the court, even within the last minute. That would prove to be a very bad idea.

 

The Spark

 

The Pacers were up 97-82 with 45.9 seconds left in the game. Ben Wallace was fouled hard from behind by Ron Artest (now known as Metta World Peace), who slapped Wallace across the back of the head on his way to the basket. There’s no reason that the faces of each franchise should be on the court still in a game that is so far out of hand, but they were. Big Ben, in all his glory, retaliated by shoving Artest in the face with both hands.

 

MaliceAtThePalace

 

The result was a bit of fray in the middle of the court as the two players got in each other’s faces and the rest of the players tried to separate them. No big deal right? This kind of thing happens all the time in sports and it’s usually over as soon as it begins. But this time Artest went over to the scorer’s table, laid down and put on a headset in order to talk to some radio folks. Those same radio folks later said that the headset wasn’t live because they knew Artest and that would be crazy to let him on the airwaves when he was all wound up like that.

 

Anyways, all of this went on for a few minutes and the refs were getting ready to eject players who wouldn’t calm down. Wallace threw a towel at Artest, causing him to stand up briefly before returning to his more relaxed position on the scorer’s table. Then it happened. Some moron named John Green threw a Diet Coke at Ron Artest, hitting in him the chest. Instead of calling on the security to escort the man out like an adult and professional, this maniac ran into the stands and set off perhaps the greatest (or worst, depending how you look at it) brawl in sports’ history.

 

The Fire

 

As Artest ran into the stands and attempted to seek out the fan who had thrown the offending sugary soft drink, he grabbed the person he believed to be responsible. Of course, it turned out to be the wrong person but that didn’t really matter at that point because all hell had broken loose. Artest didn’t actually throw a punch at this point but was grappling with the same person as another fan threw another drink in his face. That’s when Stephen Jackson, who had unwisely followed Artest in the stands, laid that fan out and then shit really got out of hand.

 

Players and fans were trying to hold Pacers players back as other, less intelligent fans were punching Pacers players. A couple of morons actually went down onto the court where they were swiftly dispatched by members of the Pacers. Like these two idiots seen below who decided it was a good day to get thier faces re-arranged by multiple NBA players.

 

 

It was utter chaos as security, team officials and broadcast professionals all tried to break the brawl up. There was no precedent for anything like this ever happening in pro sports and people were lost as they tried to defuse the situation. Eventually the Pacers were escorted from the court as drinks and debris rained down on them from the fired up fans.

 

 

Once in the locker room, police tried to enter in order to arrest Artest but the other Pacers players got him onto the team bus and refused to let the police enter. The police decided to safely see the Pacers out of the building and review the game film before bringing up any criminal charges.

 

In the end, multiple fans were charged with crimes in addition to five members of the Pacers. Ten players were suspended for varying amounts of time, including the rest of the young season for Ron Artest, totaling loss of salary in excess of $11 million. The incident led to a reexamination of the close to the action nature of NBA games. Players around the league expressed concerns for their safety should anything similar ever happen again and the league instituted restrictions on the amount of alcohol that could be sold at games. People who were present describe the moment as terrifying and nothing on that level has been seen since. I would never want something like this to happen again and I don’t condone violence, but you have to admit it’s some must-see TV. Watch the full brawl below and judge for yourself.

 

 

 


NBA MIDSEASON REVIEW

Written by :
Published on : February 20, 2016

 

 

Boy, was I wrong about a few teams and players in my 2016 NBA Preview (East & West).

 

I missed the mark, much like Kobe Bryant is missing three pointers, free throws, and dunks this season. After watching a lackluster All Star Game, arguably the BEST dunk contest ever, and a little more than half a season of NBA Basketball, I’ve come to eat my crow in front of you all.

 

The Lakers REALLY Stink

 

My favorite team sucks. Where did we go wrong? Perhaps giving Kobe a two year deal that has handcuffed their salary cap is a start. Also, letting Kobe’s influence drive Dwight Howard away is another point. Overall, they should not be confused with the Philadelphia 76ers; at least they have a plan. With only eleven wins on the season and fighting desperately to lose as many games as possible to secure their top three NBA draft pick, the only thing to look forward to is the countdown to Kobe’s last game. I’m sure I’ll cry as he walks off the floor for the last time as a player, but by June I HOPE the Lakers start the rebuild they’ve been holding off for three seasons.

 

I Underestimated the Will of a Champion

 

I thought that the Golden State Warriors would suffer from a championship hangover. I picked the Los Angeles Clippers to be a better team and have a better record than them. Well, clearly I was wrong with this one. Other than the San Antonio Spurs (whom I picked to be the best team in the league this year) there’s not a team that can challenge the Warriors. The Clippers aren’t a bad team as they have 35 wins thus far. Blake Griffin has had a hand (pun intended) in the team’s success thus far. The Warriors and Stephen Curry have a chance to make major history as the team is en route to a league record in wins for a single season and Curry can become a MVP in consecutive years. I am sorry Based God Chef Curry.

 

Why would I believe in these teams?

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks had the makeup of playoff contenders. The Timberwolves have Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns as the face of their franchise. The Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker in tow to lead theirs. Both teams are 13th in their respective conferences. Both teams have dealt with absences by a head coach but for different reasons. Flip Saunders, formerly the head coach of the Timberwolves, passed away shortly before the season began. Bucks head coach Jason Kidd has missed games due to health issues. Perhaps with those two coaches at the helm the teams would be better at this juncture. That’s not the case and hopefully the teams can fulfill their potential next season.

 

Will the Cleveland Cavaliers make it to the Finals?

 

There is no team in the Eastern conference that can stop the Cavaliers when fully healthy. By keeping their core intact and going to an up-tempo offense, the Cavs may make a deep run into the playoffs. The one concern is that the team is working with another rookie head coach in Tyronn Lue. Whereas injuries played a significant role in not getting a championship last time, this year the assertive Lue and LeBron must be on the same page. Former coach, David Blatt, was merely a minutes and timeout specialist. Will Lue have the respect of LeBron to make the important decisions to get the team its first NBA championship?

 

The Detroit Pistons…might actually…be good this year?

 

I’ve been in a constant back and forth with one of my best friends over the current state of the Pistons. I do not believe in the team nor do I believe in coach Stan Van Gundy. My friend however thinks that the Pistons have a legitimate shot to go to the playoffs. He likes that Van Gundy has started to build the team around Andre Drummond. I hate to admit it but my friend may be right. Van Gundy is making the team in the mold of his Orlando Magic tenure. Getting players that can space the floor and shoot is what will propel this team in the top 8 in the Eastern Conference. They’ll likely get swept by the Cavs or Toronto Raptors but they are an improved team.

Quick Predictions on NBA honors

 

Rookie of the Year: Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves

 

The kid is getting better as the season progresses. He is a double-double machine and he is getting more comfortable with his mid range shot. He is even taking 3s. I don’t know if we’ve prematurely crowned Anthony Davis of the New Orlean Pelicans as the next great big man. Anthony-Towns seems to be just as skilled and may have the more talented team in the long run. He’s definitely worth watching out for.

 

MVP: Stephen Curry

 

I don’t think I have to make much of a case for Curry. The sad part is he’s sat out roughly 15 4th quarters thus far this season. Even if games get more competitive for the rest of the season he’ll likely increase his already league leading scoring average. Sick! I will throw LeBron James and Chris Paul in the mix as potential MVP winners but it’s Curry’s trophy to lose at this point.

 

Defensive Player of The Year: Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors

 

This is a tough one to call. I think the voters will lean toward either Green or San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard. Leonard won last year despite Green receiving more first place votes. With both teams having not reached double digits in losses thus far, this award may be decided by team success. Whichever team has the better record may be able to catapult their DPOY candidate to the honor.

 

 


SBS Stadium Series: Chauncey Billups’ Jersey Retirement Night at The Palace

Written by :
Published on : February 13, 2016

 

 

Wednesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills was a very special night for the Detroit Pistons, their fans, and for me personally, with the jersey retirement of former Piston Chauncey Billups. Like all of us here at SBS, I am a diehard sports fan, but I’m also a hometown guy who roots for his hometown teams. Born in 1986, and growing up in the Metro Detroit area, I was two years too late for the Tigers’ World Series in 1984 and too young to really remember the Pistons going back-to-back in the Bad Boys era. Certainly, since then I have enjoyed a handful of Stanley Cups brought home by my Red Wings, some near misses from my Tigers, the Lions made the playoffs a couple times, which given their history is as good as it gets. However, with all of those accomplishments from my hometown teams, my favorite teams, none were as fun, or as memorable, as the ride my beloved Pistons took me and the rest of the fanbase on in 2004.

 

Chauncey was signed by the Pistons way back in the summer of 2002 and was one of the first building blocks to team president Joe Dumars’ championship club. At the time, Chauncey was joining his sixth team in his first six years, but Joe was confident in Chauncey’s ability and said, “The fact that Chauncey chose Detroit as his home validates our feeling that this organization is headed in the right direction. We feel he is a player that can come in and make an immediate impact on our team.” Boy was he ever right.

 

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In Chauncey’s first year with the team, the Pistons reached the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the New Jersey Nets. The 8 playoff wins that year was equal to the amount of playoff wins the franchise had in the past ten years combined. With Chauncey on board, the culture had changed. Joe Dumars put together these misfit toys that no one wanted and gave the reigns to a guy considered to be a journeyman at this stage in his career, a guy that many considered a two-guard and not a true point, and built it into a perennial contender, and eventually a champion.

 

After having the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths all offseason, the Pistons went back to work the next year determined to bring home a championship to the Motor City. Coined the “Goin to Work” era, and led by public address announcer Mason and his constant shout of “Deeeetttroooooittt Baaaasskeetbaaallllll! Detroit was a blue-collar town, entertained by athletes with a blue-collar work ethic feeding off of each other making for some very memorable nights at the Palace, and Chauncey Billups was the team’s leader.

 

Midway through the 2003-2004 season, Dumars added another misfit toy by acquiring veteran Rasheed Wallace in a deal at the trade deadline. A skilled big man who mastered the stretch-four position while being able to bang in the post on both the offensive and defensive end. He had all the tools in his game but was thought to have a couple screws loose, with a hot temper, and a short fuse. According to Chauncey, it took just one practice for this well oiled machine to take on its new component and at that moment he thought no team in this league should be able to beat us. Much like Joe, boy was he right.

 

starting5

 

That summer, the Pistons went on to defeat the star studded Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games in the NBA Finals. Led by who other than Chauncey Billups, “Mr. Big Shot.” Billups would dominate the Lakers going on to win NBA Finals MVP, helping the Pistons bring home their first NBA Championship since 1990. Over the next four years, the Pistons would continue to dominate the Eastern Conference advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in each of those four years and losing to the San Antonio Spurs in a 7-game NBA Finals series in 2005.

 

While another title would have been great and would have really bolstered their case for any dynasty talk, that six year run of watching my beloved Pistons was possibly the greatest stretch of time as a fan. I am not sure I was ever as invested emotionally in a team than I was with that team. That collection of guys, what they stood for and represented, to actually embrace that they were all just pieces to a puzzle that needed each other to make the final vision complete was so refreshing to see, and it all started with their floor general–Chauncey Billups.

 

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As always in sports, good things must come to an end. For the Pistons, it was a rather abrupt end within a few years of winning their championship in 2004. Free agency began to lure the core away and some business decisions had to be made as players began to be dealt away. The Pistons currently haven’t been back to the post-season since the 2008 season, and attendance at the Palace has gone from the peak years when Detroit was “Goin to Work” to now looking more like a place hard hit by unemployment.

 

However, the memories and the proof that champions once filled these walls are a pleasant reminder when you look up to the rafters. Isiah Thomas said on Wednesday night that when he first got to Detroit there was no tradition, and he would dream that one day he and his teammates would fill this place with championships and retired jerseys. He mentioned that when he and his teammates passed the torch to the next core of guys, it was their responsibility to carry on the tradition before then passing it to the next core of guys. Well add some banners to the rafters they did, not to mention the amount of memories they provided to countless Pistons fans, including myself.

 

So as we honored you on Wednesday Chauncey, let me just say that I appreciated all that you did for the community while you were here, the way you conducted yourself on and off the basketball court, and for so many other reasons, you are my favorite Detroit sports athlete of my lifetime. Wednesday was your night, Chauncey Billups Night at the Palace, but believe me, for myself and I’m sure thousands of Pistons fans that night, it was incredibly special for us too. You will always be a Detroit Piston to us.

 

 


Champ and Chump: Week 8

Written by :
Published on : November 7, 2015

 

As we reach the halfway point of the NFL season, and the first college football playoff rankings are revealed, we crown a true champion in this week’s Champ and Chump. The World Series is over, the dust has settled on the infields soon to be covered by snow in many parts of this nation and we bid farewell to America’s past-time for 4-5 months. This week we welcome a couple first timers to our Champ and Chump section, but also see a familiar face. Spoiler alert: My Detroit Lions are the definition of “Chump”. Alex always said in his NFL Spread picks, “Always bet on the Packers”, well you might as well always bet against the Lions. But before I go on a 6-page tangent that goes through all the feels, six beers, and a box a Kleenex, I’ll just cut to the picks for Champ and Chump this week.

Champ: Kansas City Royals

The Royals getting hype in the 9th inning of their series winning game 5 matchup with the Mets.

 

Not too much of a surprise here. Let’s face it, if you win the World Series, or any championship for that matter, you have a great shot at finishing as my Champ of the week. A year after losing Game 7 of the World Series to the San Francisco Giants, the Royals had one goal all season long, and for the most part they played pretty consistent baseball to get there. As a Tigers fan, I know all too well how good these Royals are and have been the past few years. Often described as a gnat, or pest, that just won’t go away, they battle for 9 innings, and most times end up on top. They made great moves at the trade deadline, and I declared them winners there, and a few months later, those moves paid off. A quick 5 game dismantling of the New York Mets gave the Royals their first World Series title since 1985. Hats off to them.

 

Honorable Mention:

Drew Brees- 39-50 for 505 yards with 7 touchdowns. 91.7 QBR and a passer rating of 131.7 begs the question, “Is this a video game?” Big win over the Giants and Eli, mentioned below

Eli Manning- Weird to have a loser from a game in the same “Champ” category but what else could you have asked Eli to do vs the Saints? 30-41 for 350 and 6 touchdowns with zero turnovers. QBR or 94.1 and a passer rating of 138.2, insane.

Andre Drummond- Pistons fans haven’t had much to cheer about the past six or seven years but they have an absolute star in the making at center. Through four games, Drummond is averaging 20/20 a game following a monster performance vs Indiana where he scored 25 and ripped down 29 boards.

 

 

Chump: Minnesota Golden Gophers’ late 4th quarter clock management

Because of the terrible clock management, Michigan once again holds the Little Brown Jug.

 

A little over a week ago, Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill had to resign due to health reasons. In a very sad press conference, Kill was emotional as he knew that coaching the game he loved was taken away from him far too soon. Kill was building a very successful program at Minnesota, a tough feat to achieve. From a 3 win season in his first year, to coming one win shy of a Big Ten West title last year. He led the Gophers to a 4-2 start before having to say goodbye. Tracy Claeys, an assistant under Kill, took over the job as interim head coach and figures to have a legitimate shot to become the long term replacement. After an emotional week, the Gophers and Gopher fans were ready to “win one for the gipper” as they say. They welcomed the Michigan Wolverines for a game on Saturday night. A back and forth game had Minnesota driving deep into Michigan territory, down 3 with under a minute to play. Then with 19 seconds left Minnesota thought they had it, a touchdown pass to win the game, but it was reviewed and called down. Minnesota had the ball, first and goal at the 1-yard line. Apparently, Minnesota spent no time drawing up a play just in case their touchdown was reversed because they got to the line, the ball was spotted, the clock began and they went on to waste a dozen seconds before even snapping the ball. Minnesota’s quarterback then ran around and threw the ball away leaving them 2 seconds left. They called timeout (yes they had a timeout) and ultimately opted for a quarterback sneak which came up short, and they lost. Two things really bothered me about this complete mismanagement of the clock: For one, call timeout as soon as the play is reversed and you would have four cracks at it from the 1-yard line, and secondly, you’re down 3, kick the field goal and force OT. Michigan was down to their backup quarterback due to an injury, so trust that your quarterback can outduel him in overtime. Also to quote Brian Piccolo from the famous Brian’s Song, “When you dedicate a game to somebody, you are then supposed to go out and win it, idiot. Pat O’Brien never said let’s blow one for the gipper.”

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Detroit Lions- Congratulations to the Lions as they now suck on two continents, a tough feat. Falling to 1-7 across the pond to the woeful Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 45-10 has led to the firing of their President and General Manager, a week after firing a couple coaches. Cheers Lions fans, it literally cannot get worse (we’ve already achieved 0-16), so hang your hat on that.

Los Angeles Lakers- The Lakers and NBA fans couldn’t wait for Kobe Bryant to return this season, and in what may be his final season he is far from riding off into the sunset on a high note. Sitting at 0-4 Kobe’s $25 million per year contract is easily the worst contract in sports right now… well, aside from Bobby Bonilla still getting paid in New York. The guy is shooting 32% from the field, and just 20% from 3-point land, averaging just 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game. To make matters worse, first round pick Deangelo Russell appears to be struggling compared to a lot of the other top-10 picks from this past draft.

Chelsea Football Club- In England’s Premier League, Chelsea has enjoyed much success in the 21st century and have done so while having some of the most loathsome creatures take the pitch in their all blue kits. Being a Manchester United fan, there isn’t much I enjoy more than seeing Chelsea completely crumbling right now. Currently sitting in 15th place in the table, just four points from relegation, has Chelsea frantically clawing to stay above the cut. While I am sure they will avoid relegation, it is still a bit satisfying to watch them struggle.

 

 

 


2015 NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEW

Written by :
Published on : October 13, 2015

 

Fall is by far my favorite time of the year. We get football, the October Classic in baseball, and now NBA Basketball. What’s more is that we’re only about 2 weeks from Opening Tip Off! Last season was great in terms of team play and the evolving spread-the-floor/”3 and D” tactics. Although there was no major shifting of power between the two conferences, the Eastern conference hierarchy changed with the relocation of LeBron James from South Beach to Cleveland. The conference was also hit hard with injuries to their stars in comparison to the West. Assuming everyone is coming back at full health, here are my preseason Power Ranking for the Eastern Conference.

 

*Note: This is not an indication of playoff seeding

 

15. Philadelphia 76ers

Coach Brett Brown has his work cut out for him but will be given time to make it work.

 

“Trust The Process” is the slogan in the City of Brotherly Love. The team began that process roughly three seasons ago, trading away All-Star PG Jrue Holiday. Since then the team has drafted big men in three consecutive drafts, while acquiring draft picks to build their team cheap, while staying away from free agency. With Joel Embiid on the mend, the team drafted Jahlil Okafor 3rd overall in the 2015 Draft. Paired with Center Nerlens Noel, Okafor stands to see significant time at the power forward position. With a “replacements” cast around him and Noel, they will be a sub-20 win team for yet another season. Coach Brett Brown has a long leash that many coaches don’t get due to the rebuilding process. Hopefully, the process ends sooner than later for all parties involved.

 

14. Orlando Magic

A lot of young talent on this team with no coaching to spearhead their development. Shooting guard Victor Oladipo came out of college with Dwayne Wade comparisons. He is a good player but has to take his game to the next level for the team to crack the top 8. Elfrid Peyton meanwhile has the make up of a young Rajon Rondo, sans the attitude. This team will be competitive in many games and may even win 30. However, coach Scott Skiles must take advantage on his 3rd opportunity to lead a team. With no veteran presence I think this is a bad fit.

 

13. Brooklyn Nets

Will the Nets continue to squander Joe Johnson’s talent?

 

The fire sale is just getting started. With PG Deron Williams gone, the team must decide what to do with SG Joe Johnson. He has thrived in great offensive systems in Atlanta and Phoenix but has struggled in Brooklyn. He is not a clutch player and is too mild mannered to lead a team. Center Brook Lopez has struggled to stay healthy and most of his work comes underneath the basket. Coach Lionel Hollins of Isley Brothers fame (ok, I couldn’t resist! He does look like he will do a spin and sing ‘For the loveee of you!’) is a good coach but he needs his own players. When in doubt pass the ball to Andrea Bargnani, said no one ever.

 

12. Charlotte Hornets

When an injury to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist during the preseason is breaking news it says a lot about the lack of talent on your roster. Think about this; the Hornets acquired Jeremy Lin this summer. I could end my analysis there but I digress. Center Al Jefferson has been a solid player in the league since coming out of high school. He is an offensive force and I would argue that if he had not gotten hurt last season, the Hornets would have made the playoffs. I do like the addition of Nicholas Batum and the draft pick of Frank Kaminsky. It does not help to have Kemba Walker as your starting point guard and I think that will keep them out the postseason.

 

11. New York Knicks

With Carmelo at the helm, this ship will continue to sink.

 

I’ll make this one brief. Unless Phil Jackson can turn water into wine, make that roster into the 12 Disciples, and make Carmelo Anthony into a person slightly interested in defense, this team will be taking trade inquiries for Anthony by Christmas. There’s no way this team, as currently constructed, will make the playoffs with Anthony as the primary player.

 

10. Detroit Pistons

Coach Stan Van Gundy is making this Pistons team in the image of the Orlando Magic team that he led to the NBA Finals with a young Dwight Howard at center. Andre Drummond has unlimited potential as a defensive force in this league. Whereas Howard had limitations offensively that were masked by putback dunks, Drummond will have time to develop as Van Gundy places offensive weapons around him. Van Gundy still has to acquire more 3-point players to create the spacing needed to have the team where he would like it. PF Marcus Morris is capable of shooting mid range shots but Van Gundy must get a true stretch 4 in the mold of a Ryan Anderson. This team is on the cusp of being in the playoffs this season with some more roster movement.

 

9. Indiana Pacers

Can Paul George coexist with Monta Ellis?

 

There’s a lot to like about this team. Small forward Paul George will come back a more efficient player after that devastating leg injury. Although there’s speculation that he will play more 4 this year, he is best suited to defend the 3 position, as well as facilitate the offense from the perimeter. The team drafted Myles Turner but it will take time for him to develop into a solid center. I have never liked George Hill as the primary ball handler and point guard. He is not remotely close to a competent point guard and the team has failed to address that position. The addition of SG Monta Ellis will give the team another scoring option but how will that mesh with George’s touches? This team can be supplanted by The Pistons or Hornets if it fails to address the point guard and power forward positions.

 

8. Toronto Raptors

Despite having one of the best fan bases in the league this team will take a fall in the hierarchy of the East, but I still feel it’s a good team. The problem is that all their star players have reached their ceiling. PG Kyle Lowry is what he is now, a pitbull defender and an emotional leader. There is no improvement on the offensive end of the floor and I think the ball is glued to his hands at times. SG Demar Derozan is another player that has reached his peak far too early in his career. He is a solid 20 point per game player but does not offer much more than that. Outside of a 51 point game last season, SF Terrence Ross is merely a slasher. Collectively, this team has had chances the past two seasons with injuries on opposing teams to make a charge for the Finals and failed to do so. Coach Dwane Casey has to be exasperated with the lack of talent he has to work with. Anytime you trade one number 1 bust pick (Bargnani) with another (PF Anthony Bennett) you are in a world of hurt.

 

7. Milwaukee Bucks

Jason Kidd has a very young and talented team. Now he just has to lead them.

 

Coach Jason Kidd has to be the luckiest son of a gun ever. He walked in to an abundance of riches in talent and potential. His starting lineup last season had an average height of 6’6″, best in the league. The average age of his team is 25. This is without having arguably his best player in SF Jabari Parker. With his team intact, I think they can land from 3 to 8 in playoff seeding. They’re scary good. In a league where offense is the focus, his team was near the top in several defensive rankings. The length of his team starting with PG Michael Carter-Williams, SG Giannis Antetokounmpo (6’11”), and the addition of C Greg Monroe will make this team a tough matchup. Monroe is an underrated low post passer who will create more opportunities for the offense. Overall, if not for inexperience I’d have them in my top 4. They’ll be that good this year.

 

6. Boston Celtics

This team’s ranking is because of one man, Brad Stevens. Making the playoffs last year, albeit with a losing record, says a lot about the coaching of this young team. Whereas the Bucks have a talented roster and sufficient coaching, the Celtics have great coaching and decent talent. Acquiring PG Isaiah Thomas was a good pick up and the ongoing development of PG Marcus Smart will make for an interesting pairing in the back court. I am curious how Stevens will foster a good front court between PF Jared Sullinger and C Kelly Olynyk. SG R.J. Hunter is an intriguing draft choice and he fits Stevens profile for a scorer. If this team makes the playoffs it will be a credit to the coaching staff as there is no Alpha Dog on the team speak of. Maybe Evan Turner can truly blossom this year and live up to his 2010 2nd overall draft pick status.

 

5. Chicago Bulls

Jimmy Butler is making the Bulls his team.

 

I prefaced this article by stating my rankings depended on players remaining healthy. At time of publishing, former league MVP PG Derrick Rose will be on the mend from an orbital fracture injury. SG Jimmy Butler benefited most from former head coach Tom Thibodeau’s tutelage and he’s a hard nosed two way player. There’s reports that Butler is not enthralled with Rose’s work ethic. Butler is primed to become the unquestioned leader of new head coach Fred Hoiberg’s team. Center Joakim Noah is the same kind of grit and grind player and will eventually become his counterpart over Rose. Hoiberg will allow young players to do what they do best. SF Doug McDermott and PF Bobby Portis will get enhanced roles on the team and will likely lead to the departure of fan favorite PF Taj Gibson. This team will go as far as Butler will take it. Hopefully, Rose will follow.

 

4. Atlanta Hawks

Owners of the conference’s best record last year, the Hawks will take a step back to familiar territory this season. The Hawks have been a perennial playoff team but not contenders. Coach Mike Budenholzer impact has San Antonio Spurs written all over it. The team spreads the floor and plays unselfish ball. They were the first team to lead the conference in wins without a 20 PPG scorer. Absolutely amazing results last year. This year they’ve added some role players to a team of role players. PG Jeff Teague and C Al Horford will lead this team to playoffs again but there’s no player that can match wits with the top three teams of the conference. Coach Bud caught a lot of teams by surprise last year sadly by just playing team ball. This year with several roster changes and players coming back from injury the Hawks will go back to what they know best, a team that’s good but not good enough to win it all.

 

3. Washington Wizards

John Wall and the Wizards will pick up where they left off last season.

 

The back court of this team can rival any in the league. PG John Wall and SG Bradley Beal are growing together and I think will come to fruition this season. Beal was hurt for an extended time last year which led to some losses that otherwise would have propelled them to a better seeding in the playoffs. SF Otto Porter is turning the corner from being a potential bust to a solid contributor on this team. Having former teammate Paul Pierce for a year seems to have stoked his competitive fire and may lead him to a better role on this year’s team. Coach Randy Wittman has to demand more front court depth. The East isn’t deep with prominent front court players but having the depth may put the Wizards over the hump. Definitely keep an eye out for SF Kelly Oubre Jr as he gets minutes behind Beal and Porter.

 

2. Miami Heat

The Heat are by far the deepest team in the Eastern Conference. They’ve kept most of their team intact from their championship run. This year PF Chris Bosh will be healthy after a life-threatening blood clot ailment. PF Josh McRoberts is coming off a season ending injury. C Hassan Whiteside has gained nearly 15 pounds of muscle over the summer. PG Goran Dragic signed a new contract over the summer and the team still has SF Luol Deng, C Chris Anderson, and PG Mario Chalmers. Add the addition of draft pick SF Justice Winslow and you have a very deep roster. The success hinges on the health of SG Dwayne Wade. He showed flashes of “Flash” last year while playing a good number of games. If he can remain healthy and if there is any slippage of the #1 team in my ranking, the Heat will advance to the NBA Finals. They have one of the most underrated coaches in the league in Erik Spoelstra. He has done a phenomenal job of working with the talent he has regardless of the circumstances. If he has a healthy team come June then he has the tools to shock the world.

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

It’ll be Lebron’s conference to lose once again.

 

The Cavaliers returning to the Finals has everything to do with one thing, chemistry. The same core players are set to return. The competition shouldn’t differ much from last year. The underlying issue at hand is the chemistry and cohesiveness of it’s Big Three. LeBron James, PG Kyrie Irving, and PF Kevin Love have been great when on the floor together. Although Love has griped about his role in the offense, he can contribute in other ways than he’s accustomed to. Love is an excellent spot up shooter. When LeBron played with Bosh, Bosh was better when he expanded his game outside the paint. It provided LeBron more opportunities near the basket and allowed Bosh to pick and pop for easy 18 footers. It would behoove Love to follow that model. Irving simply has to remain healthy. Many people are quick to write him off as injury prone. Those detractors said the same about PG Stephen Curry when he battled ankle ailments early in his career. Irving must also facilitate the offense and not hog the ball. LeBron is better as a primary decision maker but Irving is a better ball handler. Add in PF Tristan Thompson, SG J.R. Smith, and PG Mo Williams and you have a championship quality team. They have a championship caliber coach in David Blatt (albeit with only international experience) and would be wise to trust in his in-game strategy. If James and Blatt can marry their philosophies they will win the championship this season.

The Eastern Conference will go through Cleveland, Ohio again. Maybe some Heat and Wizard-ry can derail a James 7th Finals appearance.

 

 


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