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

 

 


2016-17 NBA Western Conference Preview

Written by :
Published on : October 27, 2016

 

The NBA season is underway. I’ve already given you my forecast for the Eastern Conference, so let’s head to the Western Conference and see where it stands. There are some new faces in new places that may alter the pecking order of the conference.

 

15. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are a team without a clear leader or direction. Head coach Michael Malone has a tough task ahead of him to get some production from often injured stretch 4 Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari has been viewed as a player with the potential to be one of the best shooters in the game. He has yet to live to the hype. Kenneth Faried has been in the rumor cycle for years and has yet to be traded. This year would be the best year to start a total rebuild with second-year player Emmanuel Mudiay and rookie Jamal Murray developing chemistry in the backcourt. Nikola Jokic has shown promise and received votes for rookie of the year last year.

 

14. Los Angeles Lakers

walton coach

 

Head coach Luke Walton has several pieces with which to implement the scheme he learned from the Golden State Warriors. Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell were selected number two in the past two drafts. Russell is expected to lead the team under Walton’s system. Once the team trusts in Walton and Russell they will start to vie for a playoff berth. It may take a few seasons but the team is young and athletic. Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle will help keep the team competitive. The best outcome is a year to let this current roster gel and build through the draft.

 

13. Phoenix Suns

A team with a ton of young talent at nearly every position. Also a strong Kentucky Wildcat presence with four former players on the roster. The team has NBA Champion Tyson Chandler on the team and he has always been respected as a leader in the locker room. Devin Booker was the youngest player in the league last year and his post All-Star break stats were great. If he can build on his rookie season and new coach Earl Watson can learn quickly on the job, this will be a very competitive team. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of offense Watson will implements with rookie Dragan Bender in the lineup.

 

12. Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs benefited last year from a top-heavy Western Conference. The team was not good and squeaked into the playoffs. Now with various players moving to different teams within the conference (including former Maverick, Chandler Parsons) it will be very hard for the Mavs to make it to the playoffs again this season. Dirk Nowitzki is in the final years of his Hall Of Fame career. Unfortunately, the roster is void of a star player to lessen the load on the aging Nowitzki. The team paid Harrison Barnes a max salary to become the focal point of their team. Unless he becomes the next Kawhi Leonard, that money will become another example of the Mavs wasting away the years of Nowitzki.

 

11. Sacramento Kings

demarcus cousins

 

This team is so dysfunctional that I have to be equally crazy to give them a ranking this high. The Kings could very well be the worst team in the league even with DeMarcus Cousins. The saving grace is that I believe they picked up a good coach, in Dave Joerger, that willed a depleted Memphis Grizzles team to the playoffs last year. Cousins is becoming legendary for his coach killing ability. At some point, he will be held responsible for all the bodies that were laid to rest on his watch. The team does have some good veterans as well as some intriguing young talent. It could make for another interesting year in “Boogieworld.’

 

10. New Orleans Pelicans

Aside from the horrible team name, this team should be better under second-year head coach Alvin Gentry. The main issue is the health of Anthony Davis. If he is healthy, this is a team that could contend for a playoff spot. Without him they’re looking at a top 3 draft pick. Another team with some good veterans to go with some talented young players. Will Buddy Hield become the scorer they’ve been looking for?

 

9. Utah Jazz

I had Jazz fans coming for my neck last season because I picked them to be last in the conference. I do feel head coach Quin Snyder is on the hot seat this season if he does not get this team to the playoffs. Gordon Hayward is regarded as one of the most underrated players in the league. If he can bring his level of play up this season I think this team may sneak into the playoffs.

 

8. Memphis Grizzles

mike conley

 

A veteran team that got annihilated by the injury bug last season. They went into this offseason with a new coach (David Fizdale), gave Mike Conley the richest contract in history, and acquired Chandler Parsons in free agency. This team, when healthy, is easily a contender for the Western Conference Finals. The Grizzles still have to acquire someone who can score on the perimeter and create his own shot. Having Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the frontcourt has proven successful but at some point, the style of play of their competitors will make the two big men nonfactors.

 

7. Minnesota Timberwolves

The death of Flip Saunders last year possibly derailed this team from making it to the playoffs. I’m very intrigued by this team and the hiring of new President of Operations/Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. This team will make the playoffs. A few years ago Anthony Davis was expected to become the premier big man of the league. Due to injuries Davis has since been supplanted by DeMarcus Cousins and Timberwolves center Karl Anthony-Towns. Anthony-Towns is the reigning rookie of the year and a franchise talent. Add in former rookie of the year Andrew Wiggins, Slam Dunk Champion Zach LaVine, and point guard Ricky Rubio, this team has the legs to endure the push of Thibodeau’s system.

 

6. Houston Rockets

Moving James Harden to the point guard position and adding Mike D’Antoni to coach the team will be a fun car wreck to watch. The uptempo system of D’Antoni will surely help put Harden in the MVP race. While the team will suffer defensively, they will be able to run a tempo that will rival that of the Golden State Warriors.

 

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell-Westbrook-Desktop

 

Russell Westbrook or die. That sums up the roster. Head coach Billy Donovan does not seem like a good fit for the NBA but he would be wise to just let Westbrook go to work. They do have two quality big men in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter that can cause problems for opposing teams. Victor Oladipo may be the shooting guard this team has needed since the departure of James Harden. Westbrook will put up amazing stats but the team will have to monitor his health over the course of the year.

 

4. Los Angeles Clippers

This team has one more year to make a championship run or it will possibly start over. There have been trade rumors for years around Blake Griffin. This season may be the year that he and Chris Paul could be moved in order to start over. Team President and head coach Doc Rivers has yet to deliver on championship promises despite having a pretty stacked roster. It’s put up or shut up time for Mr. Rivers and Co.

 

3. Portland Trailblazers

Last year, everyone wrote the Blazers off (including myself). They were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league. They overachieved and made it to the playoffs with one of the youngest rosters. This year they’ve added some veterans and re-signed some of their own to contract extensions (Allen Crabbe and C.J. McCollum). Damian Lillard is out to prove he’s one of the best point guards in the game after being snubbed of an All-Star berth last year. They’re young and athletic. Most of all, they’re coached well by Terry Stotts. This team will shock a lot of people and possibly upset the Spurs or Warriors.

 

2. San Antonio Spurs

kawhi-leonard-1

 

Life post-Tim Duncan. No one knows how it will unfold but Kawhi Leonard looks as if he is ready to take over the franchise. He’s only 25 years old and they’ve added superior front court help in consecutive seasons (Lamarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol). The most boring yet consistent team in league history will continue to give people fits.

 

1. Golden State Warriors

Last tear this team won 73 games. It is now a league record. They lost in the NBA Finals after being ahead of the Cavaliers 3-1. They let the majority of their role players leave via free agency (including Harrison Barnes). Then they added Kevin Durant. Stephen Curry took the summer to get healthy after battling knee problems during the playoffs. Oh and they still have Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Head coach Steve Kerr will probably scale back the minutes to preserve his players for a long playoff run. This should be the first of a few championships for the new look Warriors.

 

 

There you have it everyone. That’s how the NBA Western Conference will shake out come playoff time. Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy some basketball. Drop a line in the comments and tell me where you think I’m on point and where you think I’m way off.

 

 


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.

 

 


Oklahoma City should trade Russell Westbrook

Written by :
Published on : July 7, 2016

 

 

Kevin Durant chose to leave a title contending Oklahoma City Thunder team to form a Big 4 with the Golden State Warriors. Typically when a team loses a player of Durant’s stature it leaves the team reeling in mediocrity for years. Luckily, the Thunder have an All-NBA point guard in Russell Westbrook. He led the league in triple-doubles last season. The year prior he willed the team to the playoffs without Durant (Durant had surgery on his right foot causing him to miss most of the season). The team built around Durant and Westbrook, adding skilled big men and floor spacing shooters. With Durant gone, the Thunder could continue to add players to keep Westbrook in playoff contention.

 

Or they would be wise to trade Westbrook now.

 

The team gambled with Durant during free agency, hoping that his loyalty to Westbrook and the OKC fans would stave off the allure of winning a championship next year. Even though the Thunder had the Warriors down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals and were within minutes of going to the NBA Finals, Durant clearly decided that his union with Westbrook had reached its peak.

 

Apr 23, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) and guard Russell Westbrook (0) react at the end of the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

 

With that in mind, we must consider Westbrook as a trade asset in order for the Thunder to start a rebuild. Here are some deals I believe the Thunder should take a look at to upgrade their roster:

 

1. The Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram or D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle. Protected 2017 1st round draft pick

 

This trade would benefit both teams immediately. The first priority for the Thunder is to see which teams would Westbrook commit to long term. I see the Lakers as a potential fit, as Westbrook is a Los Angeles guy (he played for UCLA). The Thunder would have to decide if they want Russell to be their future point guard or Ingram as the next Durant. The Lakers can’t totally gut their team because they need pieces around Westbrook to be competitive. The key to this trade scenario is that the Thunder have to wait until right at the trade deadline. They have to let the Lakers accumulate as many losses as possible before Westbrook arrives, so they can get the best use of the draft pick they would acquire.

 

d'angelo russell

 

For the Thunder, a team with D’Angelo Russell, Victor Oladipo, Julius Randle, and Steven Adams is a pretty good start to a rebuild. Once they add a player from a 2017 Draft that is rumored to be one of the best in recent years, that is quite a rebound from the heartbreak Durant inflicted on the franchise.

 

2. Minnesota Timberwolves

Timberwolves Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, and Ricky Rubio. Minnesota 2017 and 2018 first round draft picks.

 

Now on paper this looks like a steal for the Thunder. They would be getting a young, proven wing player in Wiggins, a freak athlete in LaVine, and the draft picks are a nice throw in. There may be room for Rubio on the roster but the team would be better served it they traded Rubio for another wing player. The Timberwolves would be loaded with backcourt talent, with rookie Kris Dunn and Westbrook. Pairing those two players with Rookie of the Year Karl Anthony-Towns would give the Timberwolves a pretty good team. Also, head coach Tom Thibodeau would get the best out of Westbrook defensively and give him the freedom to create for himself offensively.

 

karl-anthony-towns-andrew-wiggins

 

Although Andrew Wiggins has shown improvement his first two years, there are no signs pointing to him being a superstar. I have his floor at Rudy Gay and ceiling at Vince Carter. He’s still young but giving him a new start in OKC with LaVine could possibly unlock his full potential as he would undoubtedly be the face of the franchise.

 

3. New York Knicks

Knicks Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Derrick Rose

 

This is the biggest gamble of all. Westbrook for Rose may seem like a crazy trade. However, if you follow Westbrook you know he is into bright lights and big cities. The move would cater to his modeling and fashion vices. It would also give him a better team than what he’s currently on when you account for Carmelo Anthony, Kristap Porzingis and Joakim Noah. Getting Westbrook to commit to an extension after the season may not be as difficult when you consider Anthony’s contract will be off the books in two years and Porzingis can be a building piece going into the future. Rose would ultimately be the loser in this scenario but he would have a young team to play with for a season to prove he can return to MVP form. Sharing the spotlight with Porzingis and Anthony is more cumbersome than playing with Enes Kanter and Oladipo. Maybe the Knicks attach some future draft picks to sweeten the deal but the Thunder have to make a move on Westbrook soon.

 

 


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.

 

 


The Locker Room Recap with Patrick Harrell: UConn, RG3 and more…

Written by :
Published on : March 30, 2016

 

 

What’s going on ScoreBoredSports family? It seems like I’ve been away from you all for too long! I have a lot going and I’ve never been too good at multi-tasking. Even though I haven’t posted much lately I have been keeping up with the sports world. Let’s take a trip into the Locker Room and see what’s been happening.

 

 

Luigi Auriemma IS Women’s College Basketball

 

Yes, Geno’s birth name is Luigi. The Connecticut Huskies head coach has received some criticism for his team’s greatness. This past week I was at work and glanced at the television. The Huskies were beating the Mississippi State University Bulldogs by 60 points. It looked as though the team was trying to win by 100 points, as they had star player Breanna Stewart playing in the late stages of a lopsided contest.

 

As much as I can’t stand Auriemma for fielding an unbeatable team every year I must also state the obvious; there aren’t many great female basketball players. Once in about every five years, there is a player that the media brings attention to that is not a UConn player. For every Candace Parker, Brittney Griner, and Skylar Diggins that escape the recruiting grasp of Auriemma there’s a Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, or Diana Taurasi to lead the charge. Let’s face it, there aren’t enough great female basketball players to go around. If we’re seeing, on average, one impact player enter the WNBA every five years then it’s safe to assume that the talent pool isn’t too deep. I can’t recall a time where I have seen an ESPN broadcast about where the #1 female high school player will attend college. There’s no Signing Day coverage. You may see on the sports ticker who was the #1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. Maybe.

 

Geno has mastered the world of NCAA Women’s Basketball but seeing another team challenge the Huskies would be great.

 

 

RGIII as a Cleveland Brown

 

I’ll call it the way I see it. It’s about to be the Jacksonville Jaguars situation all over again. The Jags said before the 2014 season that they were essentially redshirting their rookie quarterback, Blake Bortles. Veteran Chad Henne started the year but before the season ended, the team put Bortles on the field and he has started every game since. I foresee the Browns using this strategy. Robert Griffin III is in a winning spot with a losing franchise. It’s actually a win-win for both parties. RGIII will get the preseason and maybe half a regular season to show other teams that when healthy, he can be a competent option at quarterback. The Browns, being the quarterback graveyard it has been for two decades, can slowly ease their rookie quarterback  into the system. Browns are expected to select North Dakota State University quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick.

 

RGIII is getting the chance he’s desired. The Browns have a chance to change the fortunes of their franchise by handling this situation correctly. I think anyone with a semblance of a soul can root for the Browns to get this right.

 

 

Golden State: they are who we thought they were

 

The Warriors are simply plowing through the league this year. I thought that they would end up being the third-best team in the Western Conference. Just think about this, the San Antonio Spurs have not lost a home game this year (the Warriors haven’t either), Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has 16 triple-doubles this season, and Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James is having emotional meltdowns every week. Yet, the NBA world is watching the Warriors as they can possibly eclipse the 1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72 wins in a season. I clearly was wrong about this team and I’ll be watching the next two weeks to see if they can make history.

 

 

Mamba Out

 

Kobe Bryant has roughly two weeks left in his illustrious basketball career. He’s been celebrated at every arena and praised by every player. Kobe has improved his play since the All-Star break despite the horrible production by his teammates. He has done his part to fill arenas, put up points, and play sparingly enough to ensure the Lakers will have a chance to retain their top three protected draft pick. As a die-hard Kobe fan, I will be sad to see him go. The team looks like they will be embracing the Philadelphia 76ers ideology of how to build a team. It’s going to be a tough five years for us in Laker Land.

 

 

Quarterback Contracts

 

The Houston Texans signed former Denver Bronco Brock Osweiler to a four-year deal worth up to $72 million. The league is void of high-quality quarterbacks and it seems that if you have played a few games, you have hit the jackpot. There’s no way Osweiler is worth that much money. I call it Matt Flynn Rules. Remember him? He’s that guy that had one amazing game against the Lions and got rich from it, but even Matt Flynn said that the Osweiler’s contract was bananas. This year’s draft class of quarterbacks looks underwhelming so I can’t totally blame the Texans for reaching.

 

 

 

Well that’s my opinion on the happenings since you last saw me. Be sure to check back soon for my next article.

 

 

 


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.

 

 


Dwight Howard Still Can’t Play Nice

Written by :
Published on : December 19, 2015

 

It seems like every year, Dwight Howard has a problem with his current situation. Whether it his teammates, coaches or the organization as a whole, the guy just can’t seem to get along with anyone. Let me start by saying that all rumors about Howard’s displeasure with the situation in Houston are, as yet, unsubstantiated. But let’s be honest, is it really all that hard to believe? For a guy who has never won a title he continually comes off as a diva who turns on his team when things don’t go his way.

 

It started in Orlando, where he had his most successful years, going as far as the 2009 NBA Finals before losing to the Lakers in 5 games. Towards the end of his tenure with the Magic he demanded trades to contenders, accused his organization of not trying hard enough to win a championship and tried to get his head coach, Stan Van Gundy, fired. I don’t care how much of a star you are, that’s never a good look.

 

 “I hate you Stan!”

 

In 2012, Dwight got his wish and was traded to the Lakers. Man, was that a disaster. The team was not very good but still managed to make the playoffs, only to be swept out of the first round. The entire thing seemed like an obvious case of “be careful what you wish for,” after Howard got his trade to one of his preferred destinations and it turned out to be a complete joke. The next year he opted for the Houston Rockets in free-agency.

 

And that bring us to the present day. Since his arrival in Houston, the Rockets have been good, but not great. They sit just under-.500 and it’s now being rumored that Dwight Howard wants out of town and is demanding a trade. Surprise, surprise.

 

I’m beginning to get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, Dwight Howard is the problem and not his team or organization du jour.  When these things repeatedly happen in different places, with different people, then that can only be the case. Even if he isn’t demanding a trade, it’s being said that The Rockets expect him to opt-out of the final year of his deal next summer, and with the way things have gone with his last three teams, I can’t wait to see the next suckers that throw cash this guy’s way.

 

 But they look like they’re having so much fun together…

 

I think Dwight Howard needs an entirely new approach. Maybe he should go the Stephon Marbury route and head overseas. I bet a star of his caliber could be the owner, GM, head coach, and entire starting 5 on a team somewhere in China. They could be the Chengdu Howards or the Guangzhou Dwights, or the Wuhan Whiny Babies. Imagine that Dwight, you could do it all!

 

Who would you be able to blame then? Nobody, that’s who. Because it surely can’t be your fault that the team is no good and not performing up to your standards. So there you have it, Dwight Howard’s plan for free-agency next year. He’s going to make his own way in the Chinese Basketball Association. You heard it here first.

 

Sadly, I’m sure this won’t happen but I really wish it would. I’m sure many of you, like me, are tired of hearing about how this guy is fed up with his current team. I’m sure his current team (whichever one it might be at this point) is tired of hearing about it too. I heard just last week he got into an argument with James Harden’s beard, and poor James just had to sit there and listen to them go at it. So I say we start a petition to send Dwight Howard to China. With the lack of top-tier basketball talent, I bet they would put up with his shit for at least 2 years.

 


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.

 

 

 


Fishing for Trouble: The Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes Drama

Written by :
Published on : October 29, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Buddy!

 

I have enjoyed meeting your family and being allowed in your home over the years. Remember when we played ball together? That was pretty cool. We’ve have been spotted out on double dates with our wives. It’s the kind of camaraderie that brings a locker room together.

 

It’s unfortunate that you and your wife have hit a rough patch. I know filing for divorce is hard and the most difficult part is shielding your children from the controversy. It’s not like your wife is a stranger to social media or reality television so clearly this is a private matter that is in clear view of the public. Having just concluded a divorce proceeding myself, I can empathize with your trouble and as a brother, I will be here if you need someone to talk to.

 

If you need me, I’ll be at your house with Gloria. I’ll make sure that our private parties are away from your boys and that they are in their rooms during the festivities. The best way to get over a divorce is to par-tay! So I’ll make sure she’s doing right by you in your house. I got you Matt! You’re my boy Blue! Did I forget to mention she makes a bomb Margarita!?

-Big Fish


 

 

I’m sure if New York Knicks head coach, Derek Fisher, had at least written the preceding (satirical) letter to former teammate, Memphis Grizzles SF Matt Barnes, that Barnes would have been more understanding of Fisher’s relationship with his estranged wife and reality tv star, Gloria Govan. The former couple have been married since 2012. Multiple media reports state that they separated last October and that Govan and Fisher have been dating for months.

 

It all came to an abrupt halt in early October when (depending on whom you believe) Barnes drove to his home after FaceTimeing his kids and finding out the Fisher was there with his wife. His sons said their mom was with her “friend Derek”. Some reports have Barnes driving 95 miles to his home. Allegedly, Barnes entered, found the party, and physically confronted Fisher. He is also said to have spit in Govan’s face.

 

Matt-Barnes-Derek-Fisher-fight-details-sports-1008-1
The cast of the NBA’s newest soap opera.

 

Regardless of who you believe, the damage has been done. Barnes described Fisher to ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne as a “good friend”. As long as I can remember, my friends and I operated by one unbreakable rule when it comes to women; Bros before (females). In high school this was the mantra as we navigated the hallways and girlfriends parent’s homes. If I liked a girl and my friend liked the same girl, she chose her suitor and then the odd man out had to move on. If one of us would develop feelings for a girl after a friend had dated her then it was understood that you kept those feelings bottled up. It was a considered a “No Fly Zone”.

 

Even as an adult, I know there are things you don’t do and places you don’t go. If a woman considers herself separated, estranged, married, or if her significant other is in the military and deployed; under no circumstance would I allow myself to get involved with her. Maybe my upbringing is different than Fishers’.

 

There is no excuse for him to be in the home of a NBA player, let alone date the wife of one of his ex-teammates and friends. As a professional athlete and coach, Fisher could garner the attention of a totally different class of female than I’ve ever had access to. He doesn’t have to make an account on Tinder. He doesn’t have to hit the club every weekend. He doesn’t have to try speed dating.

 

Derek-Fisher-Matt-Barnes-1
You were supposed to be boys.

 

There are plenty of women that are just as beautiful Govan. Maybe there is an intellectual or spiritual attraction that Fisher and Govan share. However, when a man considers you his friend you have no business “house sitting” for him when he is going through a divorce. If anything, as a friend, I am trying to to help you move on. I’m going to try as much as I can to help you get through it. We are going to be campaigning and champagning until you find another muse.

 

Then again, I am not Derek Fisher. The way he chose to recover from his own divorce was to further complicate his friend’s ongoing divorce. There are a lot of women out there, Fisher. A lot of fish in the sea.

 

 

 

 

 


2015 NBA Western Conference Preview

Written by :
Published on : October 19, 2015

 

For my second installment of the 2015 NBA Season Preview, I’ll be going through the Western Conference. As with the Eastern Conference, several stars will be making their return from season ending injuries. The most anticipated return is Oklahoma City small forward, Kevin Durant. There is concern that Durant’s foot injury will be a chronic ailment for the rest of his career. Nonetheless, with free agency looming and a new coaching regime intact this will be a season where he must stake his claim as the best player in the world. The Los Angeles Lakers are in transition mode as they prepare to enter life without shooting guard, Kobe Bryant. Bryant is in the final year of his contract and he is also returning from a torn rotator cuff injury. With a few coaching changes and notable key additions to rosters, the West looks to continue its championship dominance. Seven of the last ten NBA Championship teams have come from the Western Conference. Six of those ten years the Eastern Conference team has been led by current Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James. Without James, it is safe to surmise that the Western Conference would have more teams hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

 

15. Utah Jazz

Can the Jazz get the band playing in tune?

 

There’s not much to like about this team. A young coach with a young team and no sense of direction for the future. The team has not been successful since parting with former head coach Jerry Sloan. Also, the team is frugal in terms of spending money on free agents, not to mention Salt Lake City is not an ideal free agent destination. Former first round pick, point guard Dante Exum was hurt late last season and must take a leap in production for this team to be competitive. Power forward Rudy Gobert is a fascinating player but must put all his athletic gifts together with improved shooting and shot selection. It is an ideal situation for 2015 NBA Draft pick PF Trey Lyles to get significant minutes as a rookie. Head coach Quin Snyder has to teach this team fundamentals before they can contend for a playoff berth.

 

 

14. Phoenix Suns

Here’s another team with a plethora of young talent, especially at the prized point guard position. Head coach Jeff Hornacek employed a three guard set last season, with mixed results. PG Eric Bledsoe was given a hefty contract after playing sparingly with Los Angeles Clippers. He is now the leader of a young team and must co-exist with PG Brandon Knight, who is also a ball dominant guard. The addition of Center Tyson Chandler is a great pick up for the defense as well as the locker room. I’m interested to watch the maturation of SF T.J. Warren. Warren has a good inside-outside game and can complement the two PG backcourt of the Suns.

 

 

13. Portland Trailblazers

It’ll be the Damian Lillard show in Portland this year.

 

The Trailblazers 2015-16 season will be an individual showcase of PG Damian Lillard. The team lacks a secondary scoring option and depth. PF Noah Vonleh is a player that could benefit from a change of scenery after playing little minutes with the Charlotte Hornets. PG C.J. McCollum can score in bunches, but will he get lost in the shuffle while Lillard is forced to play hero ball? Lillard is one of the leagues best fourth quarter scorers, and with his team set to be behind in many games, that will have his teammates missing valuable touches. Lillard will have MVP numbers but this team will take a giant step back in the Western Conference hierarchy.

 

 

12. Los Angeles Lakers

For one of the storied franchises in the world, this will be another year of rebuilding. The return of Bryant will make them a tough team to beat but they will also feature several rookie players at key positions. PG D’Angelo Russell is being groomed to become the face of the franchise. However, he is in a conference with some of the elite point guards and will struggle mightily in his first season. The return of PF Julius Randle will bolster a suspect front line but he is undersized compared to his positional peers. C Roy Hibbert has the opportunity to resurrect his career after two subpar seasons with the Indiana Pacers. Overall, head coach Byron Scott has to manage Bryant’s minutes and ego, Metta World Peace, and a roster full of young talent. Can he survive the season unscathed?

 

 

11. Denver Nuggets

This is Faried’s team.

 

The Nuggets would be near the bottom of my list if not for the return of SF Danilo Gallinari. He’s a great shooter and a willing slasher. He was missed last year as the team floundered under former head coach Brian Shaw. The team drafted PG Emmanuel Mudiay and he has the physical makeup of a NBA all star. His ability to get to the rim as well as his length will allow him to have a better transition to the pros than most guards. PF Kenneth Faried is the unquestioned leader and will benefit from having more structure under new head coach Michael Malone. This team is a SG and a capable C away from sneaking into the playoffs.

 

 

10. Sacramento Kings

I think most NBA fans are looking for drama more than basketball with this team. With new head coach George Karl, C Demarcus Cousins, PG Rajon Rondo and SF Rudy Gay, this team has too many egos to co-exist for an entire season. There are already reports of a rift between Cousins and Karl. Rondo’s game has deteriorated over the past few seasons, yet he is a good fit as a guard that’s not ball dominant. His ability to get the ball to open players such as Gay and SG Ben McLemore will lead to more wins than projected for this team. The team drafted C Willie Cauley-Stein and I believe that moving Cousins to the PF position could elevate this team to a playoff berth. If the Kings can come together and co-exist this could be the surprise team of the NBA, especially playing Karl’s style of offense.

 

 

9. Dallas Mavericks

Can Carlisle shout his team into the playoffs?

 

The victims of Deandre-gate will miss the playoffs this season after making a great effort to improve their roster in free agency. SF Chandler Parsons will become the number one option after PF Dirk Nowitzki. Parsons is an all around polished offensive player and will be able to provide balance for the offense. The acquisition of PG Deron Williams adds a veteran presence as the floor general but his contribution will depend on what type of player he will be. Will he be the Williams that was once in discussion as the best PG in the league or the injury riddled player that toiled away on the Brooklyn Nets? With the healthy return of SG Wesley Matthews, head coach Rick Carlisle has a team that could sneak into the playoffs but does not have the depth to escape the first round.

 

 

8. Minnesota Timberwolves

I really like this team. It has depth at every position. It also has a great mix of both young talent and proven veterans. Being in a stacked western conference is the lone factor placing this team at #8 in my rankings. Not long ago, the team started rebuilding after they gifted the Boston Celtics a championship hungry PF Kevin Garnett. Soon after, they took PG Ricky Rubio and also drafted Jonny Flynn and Ty Lawson. It is still remembered as one of the bizarre draft nights in NBA history. Should I mention that they passed on PG Stephen Curry, twice in the same night? Nonetheless, this year’s Timberwolves team may sneak into the playoffs and give a top seed some problems. Second year SF Andrew Wiggins will look to improve on a stellar second half of the season last year when he averaged 20 PPG. Combo guard Zach LaVine became an overnight celebrity after a sensational performance at the 2015 NBA Dunk Contest. If he can provide relief for SG Kevin Martin, I believe they have enough scoring to match their opposition. Garnett will be an on court mentor for #1 draft pick C Karl Anthony-Towns. He is a gifted defender and his rim protection will help this team begin its rise in the tough Western conference.

 

 

7. New Orlean Pelicans

Will Anthony Davis continue his meteoric rise through the ranks of the NBA’s best?

 

Despite a horrible name change, the Pelicans have arguably one of the best players in the league in PF Anthony Davis. In new head coach Alvin Gentry’s system, Davis will be able to roam near the 3-point line more and he will be the focal point of the offense. Combo guard Tyreke Evans will be asked to facilitate the offense which suits his skill set best and will hopefully bring him near the production from when he was named Rookie of the year. PF Ryan Anderson will get plenty of opportunity to shoot in this offense as ball movement and spacing is paramount to the success of Gentry’s scheme. With PG Jrue Holiday and C Omer Asik the team has enough tools to compete in the West.

 

 

6. Memphis Grizzlies

As much as head coach, David Joerger tried to get away from the “Grit and Grind” mentality the team has adopted over the years, it’s what allowed them to remain in the hunt in the West last year. The team acquired SF Jeff Green last season to help incorporate some offensive firepower. The team is constructed to wear teams down in the paint with C Marc Gasol and PF Zach Randolph, and they didn’t make any significant changes this offseason. In a league where every team is trying to win the possession and pace war, the Grizzlies look set to slow the game down and chip away at teams. This approach will keep them in the championship hunt at least one more season but it would be wise to address the lack of depth and offensive talent.

 

 

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

Will the return of Durant be enough for a team with other holes?

 

On paper having two top ten NBA players at their disposal would leave most fans scratching their head at why I have this team ranked so low. PG Russell Westbrook and SF Kevin Durant have become the top duo in the league. The problem with this team is the transition from former head coach Scott Brooks to new coach Billy Donovan. Donovan is coming straight from the college ranks. It will be interesting to see how quickly he acclimates to the pro game with numerous egos and contract disputes (see David Blatt). C Enes Kanter gave the team an another offensive option when Durant was injured. How will all these pieces mesh now that Durant is back in the fold? Defensively, I believe this team will struggle to stop some of the top teams in the West. PF Serge Ibaka is a help defender but was exposed last year by several opponents for suspect individual defense. Overall, this team will be in transition and with Durant’s free agency looming, there are changes on the horizon before this team can stake a claim as championship caliber.

 

 

4. Houston Rockets

The Rockets are a good team but they fade in clutch moments. SG James Harden was sensational last season, narrowly missing his first MVP title. C Dwight Howard recently admitted he played last postseason with a torn MCL. The team also lost starting PG Patrick Beverly to a hand injury which placed too much ball handling responsibility on Harden. Head coach Kevin McHale has the players at his disposal to challenge for the right to represent the Western conference in the NBA Finals. His star players must be available and able to deliver in key moments. The team drafted SF Sam Dekker and he will provide a similar game to former Rocket, Chandler Parsons. This team will go as far Howard and Harden will take them.

 

 

3. Golden State Warriors

It’s going to take a lot to repeat but the Warriors have the talent.

 

The 2015 NBA Champions will have a target on their back as they didn’t make many friends on their journey to the championship. The team boasted the best record in the NBA last year with 67 wins. The team also benefited from an odd season in which some of the top stars on rival teams were injured. The Warriors coaching staff did a phenomenal job in managing minutes and constructing a roster with players that complemented each other. 2015 NBA MVP PG Stephen Curry had a healthy season and averaged only 33 minutes a game. Curry is considered one of the most humble players in the league but his contract may become an issue as he is the 5th highest paid player on his team. The obstacle this team must overcome is staying motivated after a great season last year. SG Klay Thompson had a pedestrian performance in the final two rounds of last year’s playoffs. He is one of the best two way players in the league and if he can continue to thrive next to Curry this team will make another run at a championship. It will be interesting to see how much last year’s success was due to the the tutelage of former associate head coach Alvin Gentry or the innovative style of head coach Steve Kerr.

 

 

2. Los Angeles Clippers

On paper this team is loaded at every position and it has one of the best head coaches in the league. This team pulled an O.J. Simpson on Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Cuban appeared to have stolen C Deandre Jordan from the Clippers. Then out of nowhere Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Paul Pierce alongside head coach Doc Rivers “broke” into Jordan’s home. From there they held Jordan hostage until he agreed to sign a contract with the team, leaving the Mavericks in crisis mode and Cuban allegedly driving around Houston looking for Jordan’s house. After retaining Jordan’s services, the team acquired combo guard Lance Stevenson in a trade, signed PF Josh Smith to a one year deal, and signed Paul Pierce. With this collection of talent to pair alongside Paul, Griffin, and J.J. Redick the question now becomes is it too many good players? Although he is terribly erratic, Stevenson plays better with the ball in his hands as a facilitator. Smith has an awful penchant for shooting 3’s even if his low 30 shooting percentage suggests he should play near the paint. Pierce has never been a quick player but he is extremely crafty. Will he slow down Lob City? This is why Rivers is the President of Basketball Operations. If he can get players to buy in to less minutes and more importantly less points (see Golden State Warriors) he has the artillery to win the championship.

 

1. San Antonio Spurs

It’s all about Tim and Gregg.

 

Tim Duncan. Gregg Popovich. The narrative of why this team is number one in my preseason power ranking could end here but they’ve added some great pieces to an already formidable group. PF Lamarcus Aldridge is the bridge between the past decade of Spurs dominance and life post-Duncan/Popovich. Aldridge will benefit being in a system that will allow him to stretch the floor and let other bigs do the dirty work in the paint. Playing with Lillard must have pushed him closer out the door as there is no guarantee on how long Popovich will remain head coach. The opportunity to be in championship contention the next few years landed Aldridge in San Antonio. PF David West gives the Spurs depth at both front court positions in a league where quality big men are scarce. PG Tony Parker and SG Danny Green will benefit from pick and rolls leaving them open for 3’s or a clear lane for layups. SF Kawhi Leonard will continue his charge up the NBA superstar hierarchy as the clear defensive ace of the Spurs. The Spurs are flawed in terms of depth at the PG and SG positions but as a whole this team will be tough to beat in June.

 

 

 


Kobe vs T-Mac: Was McGrady the Better Player?

Written by :
Published on : September 25, 2015

 

 

Recently I brainstormed looking for a topic for a new article. I put up a “status” on FaceBook asking my friends what should my next article be about. Someone mentioned that I should do a piece comparing the careers of Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and Vince Carter. One person went a step further and stated that if McGrady had not been injured so early and often in the prime of his career that he would have been the best player of the three.

 

It led to this reaction; “What the #%$#? It ain’t no way in hell T-Mac, or Vince Carter, was better than Kobe! F#$% outta here!” I was completely beside myself in disbelief that someone I have respect for would utter such a blasphemous statement about THE Black Mamba. As the days passed I had to consider my fandom a hindrance to me being unbiased and objective. I have to preface my piece by being forthright with you all. I am a Kobe Bryant Fan Boy.

 

Now that we have that out the way let’s get into some facts. After really digging into this topic I came away rather astonished at how close T-Mac was to Kobe, in terms of per game production. Kobe clearly benefited from sticking with a world class organization like the Lakers for his entire career. McGrady, on the other hand, toiled between several teams, which could be a valid reason why he never advanced to a Finals appearance. Also worth noting, McGrady never had a healthy co-star on his team to help with the work load. Kobe enjoyed great coaching and a franchise big man to elevate his team to seven Finals appearances. Here is a summarized breakdown of T-Mac’s career.

 

The Rise

McGrady was selected as the Toronto Raptors 9th overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. He was part of the high school to pros boom of the late 90s. After Kevin Garnett and Kobe headlined the previous draft classes, T-Mac followed with a different athletic profile. Whereas Kobe was viewed as a project player, T-Mac was viewed as more polished at the time of his draft. McGrady was also more gifted physically as he was listed at 6’8″ and sometimes at 6’9″. Kobe on his best day is 6’7″. It may not make much of a difference to some, but a few more inches of height and overall body mass goes a long way in pro sports.

 

carter_mcgrady-640x360
How good could these two have been together?

 

The beginning of both Kobe and T-Mac’s careers started off with them being understudies. Kobe was relegated to the bench to begin his career. He came into his own as the the Lakers began their championship run of the early 2000s. Looking at the first 5 years of their respective careers, they have nearly identical per game averages. In Kobe’s first five seasons he averaged 19 PPG, 4 APG, and 5 RPG. In comparison, T-Mac averaged 17 PPG, 3 APG, and 6 RPG. T-Mac spent the first seasons of his career with newly discovered distant cousin Vince Carter, who was coming into his own fame as a NBA star. The Carter-McGady tandem was more of a partnership that went awry due to self-preservation. Kobe’s rise collided with the dominance of Shaquille O’Neal. It was not a partnership at all. It was a kid that was staking his claim and a man that wanted control over his team. Kobe clearly got more out of his situation as he won 3 NBA Championships within his first 6 years. Meanwhile, T-Mac started his dominance right as Kobe started collecting trophies.

 

The Peak

Both players peaked at precisely the same time. Kobe had to adapt to finally being the alpha male on his team, T-Mac had grown accustomed to it. It was not planned for McGrady to push his Orlando Magic team to the playoffs alone. The Magic also acquired former Detroit Piston Grant Hill to co-anchor the team back to prominence. The pairing proved to foreshadow the premature ending of both McGrady and Hill’s promising careers. During his tenure with the Magic, and the beginning of his time with the Houston Rockets, T-Mac was must see tv. He was putting up LeBron like numbers before LeBron. In his sixth season, T-Mac had 32 PPG, 7 RPG, and 6 APG. If you add in the 2 steals and 1 block per game he contributed defensively, I would say that McGrady had one of the better seasons in NBA history.

 

T-Mac was killin’ the game during his prime.

 

He was fourth in MVP voting that 2002-2003 season. Tim Duncan took home the honors for a second consecutive year. At the time the league was a big man’s league. Kobe finished 3rd  in voting that same season, posting similar overall per game averages but 2 points less per game than McGrady. Over the next five seasons both players would be at the top of their respective individual game. During the 02-03 season and the following four years, T-Mac averaged 27 PPG. At this juncture is when Kobe began to separate himself from his fiercest competitor as he averaged 30 PPG; including a 35 PPG, 5 RPG, and 5 APG season in 2005-2006. Kobe finished fourth that season in the MVP voting to 2x MVP Steve Nash. Tracy McGrady was not in the top ten of voting in a list that included Elton Brand, Chauncey Billups, and Shawn Marion. This is despite of having averages of 25 PPG, 7 RPG, and 5 APG.

 

The Fall

Sadly, McGrady’s career unraveled quickly. He battled and played through various injuries, and played on talent-poor teams. The tandem of McGrady and Rockets center Yao Ming had basketball fans salivating at the prospects of a dynasty but never quite panned out. By the 2007-2008 season McGrady was a shell of his former self. The once high flying offensive assassin began to deteriorate at the age of 28. After posting an eight year low of 21 PPG that season, he went on to decrease his PPG average by 5 points each season. By age 30, he had been traded to the New York Knicks. He floundered around the league for three more seasons before retiring, playing minor league baseball, competing for a championship with the San Antonio Spurs, and retiring again, all by the age of 36.

 

These two never became the unstoppable force that fans imagined they might be.

 

Kobe would never post 35 PPG again but he went on to win two more championships, finally win a MVP award, and would continue to pour in points. Kobe averaged 27 PPG in the same time frame that T-Mac would score a career low 12 PPG, including a 5 PPG average in 2011-2012. Tracy McGrady’s career came to an unceremonious close during a taping of ESPN “First Take”. A year younger than Kobe, he bowed out gracefully, albeit not at his own wishes. Kobe meanwhile is in the final year of his current contract at age 37. He is undecided if he will continue playing after this year. There aren’t many career feats that he can realistically accomplish. Having recently surpassed Michael Jordan for 3rd all time in career points, and he would need several seasons of good health to unseat Karl Malone for 2nd all time. The Lakers franchise is clearly in rebuilding mode and Kobe’s chances of getting a sixth championship are slim. It is not clear if he would play for another team to get that championship but as it currently stands Kobe will finish his career as an all time great.

 

Tracy McGrady’s career was beset by injuries and undermanned rosters. In my opinion, if McGrady had a great team or comparable talent to the Lakers he would have had a longer career. The Sacramento Kings was a team that always seemed on the cusp of going all the way. McGrady was always a player or two short from winning a championship. The two could have been a perfect match. It just never happened.

 

As a six time All Star and a NBA scoring champion, McGrady will one day make it to the Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame. During his inception speech he should note the following about himself:

 

  • Top 25 All Time in Single Season Points Per Game Average
  • Tied Top 15 in NBA History in Points Scored in a Game (62 points on 20-37 shooting against Washington Wizards March 10 2004)
  • Scored 13 Points in 33 seconds to beat the Spurs 81-80 on Dec 9, 2004
  • Despite career ending relatively soon he averaged 20 PPG, 6 RPG, and 4 APG for entire career
  • Kobe gave T-Mac the highest honor by stating that McGrady was the toughest person he had to play against

 

 

McGrady should conclude his speech by humbly saying “and I’m still not better than Kobe”.

 

 


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