Thursday, July 29, 2010

The National Basketball..Association...Game

Shaquille O'Neal: Unique

 Never before have we seen a player like this, on and off the court. Shaq is probably the most charismatic player in NBA history. Who could forget the brilliant cinematography in "Kazaam?"Shaq has been a marketing dream and a front court nightmare. The NBA simply did not have an answer for him for a solid decade. He was the most dominant big man, if not player, in his prime that I have ever seen. Wilt has a similar status, and Dwight Howard wishes he did

Dwight Howard: Jester

A phenomenal talent, with unmatched potential. Very charismatic, maybe too charismatic. He is Shaq without the "it," quality. We all love him, and there isn't anyone in the league who could physically take over quit like he can. But he seems content with only entertaining us. No rings now and no rings later. Sorry Dwight, clowns don't win championships.

Kevin Durant: Inevitable

2009-2010 was his coming out season. With his streak of 29 consecutive games with 25 points or more (second to Jordan himself) and leading his Thunder to a playoff birth, eyes were opened and then needed shades because of how bright Durant's star was shining. After Kobe retires in the next 3-4 years, the Western Conference will belong to the Durantula. He is an absolute scoring machine, if only he could put a little weight on..

Rasheed Wallace: Disenchanting

'Sheed did have an impressive career, on several great teams, however his career numbers simply do not match up with his talent. Portland was the closet he ever got to being a star player, and on the following teams he was more of a role player. When most people reminisce about Wallace, they only want to associate him with technical fouls and overly dramatic reactions. He was a player who had offensive capabilities that could have placed him in several MVP races. He remains an enigma with most NBA insiders, we look at him and can only think of the career that could have been. Also see Josh Smith.

Tim Duncan: Bland; also see: Vanilla Ice Cream, Missionary

An incredible talent no doubt, but he will not get the recognition he deserves once he's out of the league. Let's face it, he is boring, which is fine. Duncan along with his associations above, leave you saying "Yeah that was great, but I'm still a little unsatisfied." In his prime, it was a safe bet to lock him in for 25 and 12 every night. But I'm afraid for Mr. Duncan, that he will always be overshadowed by his gaudier peers.

Kobe Bryant: Emulator

We'll spare the accolades and get to the point. Kobe is the closest thing from MJ that we will ever see. They are physical carbon copies of one another. Kobe loves to indulge himself in comparisons to His Airness, however, not matter what, he will always come up a little short. Kobe has tried to create a signature facial expression (the under bite thing or whatever the hell it is) like Mike (tongue wag). Kobe also comes off as disingenuous in his interviews, like his responses have been manufactured at times. When Kobe is asked a question is seems as if he has to check his WWMJD band before he answers. Jordan is the better player, but not by much. They share the same competitive attitude, although MJ was slightly more sadistic. It seems like Kobe has modeled his entire career after Michael. To an extent, he has essentially achieved equivalent results. The biggest difference being that MJ was and absolute monster in the playoffs, and Kobe while great, has yet to reach that same plateau. There will never be another Michael Jordan, but Kobe Bryant will go down in history as being the next best thing.

Steve Nash: Omega

Is he really the last white superstar? Yes, we know he's Canadian, but its close enough right? Dirk, a seven foot German hybrid, is by all means, an anomaly. Is Nash's heir apparent really David Lee? Or how about Cole Aldrich or Gordon Heyward? Unlikley. It appears that Steve Nash will be the last game altering, MVP racing, dime-dishing, white superstar; at least for the next decade or so. Regardless of race, Nash has been fantastic, winning two MVP's and many hearts in Phoenix. Nash has brought a spark and an element of creativity that can hardly be rivaled by anyone in the league.

Joe Johnson: The Last Airbender, Alexander, The Sourcerer's Apprentice.

"But those are movies, NBAblogjob!" Ah, yes they are. They are movies with monstrous budgets and even bigger box-office failures. The return on investments for these flicks have the film's producers waking up and playing a game of Russian Roulette every morning. Over the 6 year course of their contracts, Joe Johnson will make $10 million more than LeBron James. Good luck earning that paycheck, Joe. The Hawks will continue to be a mid-level seed who will never get over the hump. So to the Hawk's front office; enjoy being "almost good enough," for the next 6 years.

Lebron James: Showstopper

In ESPN's Lebron Loveftest this summer how many eyebrow-raising dunks and come from behind swats did we see? Any time a NBA player can make an announcer say something like "Lebron James with no regard for human life!!!", you know you are putting on a show. Lebron loves to dazzle us, but is he more concerned with that than he is his legacy? His decision this summer bolsters that claim; if he had gone to New York and built a winner, he would have positioned himself to fulfill that enticing Jordan catch phrase of "Become Legendary." Instead, he shied away from the chance to be the lone alpha dog on a team and has buddied up with two other stars, leaving him to save his energy for those highlight reel plays and to be on both ends of many many alley-oops.

Shawn Marion: Straitjacket

That's what his jersey might as well be, the way he shoots...

Lamar Odom: Letdown

Is it a little harsh to call a key player on a two-time championship team a letdown? Maybe so, but Lamar Odom could have been, and still can be, so much more. A 6'10'' player capable of bringing the ball up the court and playing 4 positions should be a match-up nightmare, but Odom has been so inconsistent or unwilling to shine throughout his career. Anytime Odom's importance to the Lakers is brought up, his potential to have a bigger impact is almost always coupled with that. When Odom comes to play and is agressive, the Lakers are unbeatable (see the first 2 games of the 2010 Western Conference Finals). And as if he has been a letdown on the court, he has also disappointed in his personal life, settling for the least attractive of the Kardashian sisters.

Greg Oden: Agonizing

Rewind to June 2007. The Blazers are struggling between taking the potential franchise center in Oden (when they already had an above-average big man in Aldridge) or the flashy Durant, who had captivated us all in his freshman year at Texas. As a 15 year old at the time, even I knew this pick was a no-brainer: you take the unstoppable scorer over the injury-prone center who looks 55. Three years later, Durant is destined for stardom and Oden is struggling to stay on the court. While I'm sure couplig Oden with Aldridge was quite tempting, how good do Roy and Durant together sound in the backcourt?  Unless Oden is suffering from Benjamin Button syndrome, Blazers fans will be suffering unbearbly when Oden gets hurt again and Durant's star shines brighter and brighter. Adding to the pain of Blazers fans is that Oden's most prominent contribution so far in his career has been the nude picture he took of himself that found its way to the internet.

Darko Milicic: The Challenger

The Challenger, as in the space ship that blew up. Poor Darko had to go pro the same year as Lebron James and the superstars the Pistons picked him over...Melo, Bosh, and D Wade in case anyone has forgotten. However, our sympathy for Darko is limited, as he just signed a $20 million contract, so he has been well-paid fodder for jokes on the Pistons 2003 draft and draft busts everywhere.

Ron Artest: Maverick

As we were all reminded in the 2008 elections, John McCain is a maverick, but the maverick of the NBA is unquestionably Mr. Artest. Would anyone else in the history of the NBA have dared to go in the stands and hit a fan (limited sympathy for the fan who provoked him; we are on Ron-Ron's side) besides Artest? But that was years ago, and during this past year, Artest has continued to be independent in his thoughts and actions, from having "defense" cut into his hair in 3 different languages or having Craig Sager shout "Queensbridge!" during his post-game interview. And of course there is his his interview after winning the NBA championship, in which he as to be the only player ever that has thanked both his 'hood and psychiatrist in the same breath.

Derrick Rose: Pioneer

That word may seem a little strong at the moment, but just wait a few years and we will be further validated. Rose is the first of the new NBA point guards and new brand of superstars; he is big, quick, athletic, and coached by John Calipari. It was Rose in '08, Tyreke Evans in '09, and John Wall in '10; all fit that category, 2 out of the 3 were number one overall picks, and all signs point to the three of them being stars for a long, long time. The apparent heirs to these three are already in place: Brandon Knight in '11 Marquis Teague in '12, so we are proud to say our home state is the birth of this blog and the next generation of NBA superstars.

Derek Fisher: Professional

No flashy skills or highlight reels, D-Fish is just solid. As he played college ball at Arkansas-Little Rock and has been overshadowed by his more talented Laker teammates, Fisher has not gotten the spotlight he has deserved, although I'm sure the Magic are completely aware of Derek Fisher's presence. Throughout his career, Fisher has been a solid role player, a clutch shot (especially in the playoffs), and just a good, classy person. So, Drek, ESPN may not give you the love you deserve, but NBA Blog Job has your back. Hats off to Mr. Derek Fisher. See also: Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince

Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol: Endangered

As in endangered species, as they alone of their make have had a successful NBA career. It seems every year in the NBA draft, scouts are drooling over skilled European big men. Remember how much hype surrounded such names as Danilo Galinari, Andrea Bargani, and one Darko Milcic? They were the numbers 6th, 1st, and 2nd overall picks, respectively, and none of them has lived up to their expectations. And only a die-hard NBA fan would remember Nikoloz Tskitishvili, the Nuggets 5th overall pick in 2002, selecting him over Amare, Caron Butler, and Tayshaun Prince. Nikoloz averaged a whopping 3 ppg and 1.8 rpg for his career and Bill Simmons labeled him as the “worst-case scenario for any foreign pick.” So let this be a lesson for you NBA GM’s: almost always take the athletic star college player over the European big man whose supposedly wide skill set does not translate across the seas very well.

The Miami Heat: The Expendables

Yes, the soon to be released meat-head movie that is guaranteed to be mediocre. This cast is full of former action heros looking for one shot of glory. Bruce Willis, Stallone, Governor Arnold, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Randy Coture, and thank God, Ivan Drago. This movie is appealing only to Americans who have limited brain function. It is hard not to parallel this movie to what has been going on in South Beach. Wade: "Hey guys as of now, this team is painfully bad. How about you guys come here and we can build a super team?"  Sly Stallone: "Hey yo fellas, I'm the only out-of-my-prime action star on this cast, how about you's guys come join me? And yeah, Stone Cold is already on board." The comparison is too easy, and we couldn't leave it alone. The Heat will have more success (I hope, because an "Expendables," box office hit, would be a microcosm to how moronic the American public has become) considering they have 3 of the top 10 players in their prime.

Dwyane Wade: Neglected

D-Wade is a well known superstar in the NBA, but we feel like he is under appreciated. He was overshadowed in his draft class by guys like LBJ, Melo from a national championship winning Syracuse, and even the next international sensation in Darko. Critics want to water down his championship ring because he was coupled with Shaq. He was teamed with an aging Shaq, and if you really watched that Mavs/Heat series, Wade single handedly won that ring. Look at the recent years. Wade has been on a miserable Heat team, but has somehow managed to keep them playoff relevant. To put him into perspective, the 2010 Heat took the 2010 Eastern Conference champs (Celtics) to 6 games. "Yeah, but they still lost." Yes, they did. But that series had no business going 6 games. The fact that D-Wade took 2 from Boston is only a testament to his greatness. It is disheartening to know that we will never see the same D-Wade again. Now he has LBJ and Bosh to share the load, and his days of being a playoff behemoth (at least statistically) are done. Wade may win several more rings but the media and fans will always say, "Good work, but you had Lebron." Please don't compare Wade/Lebron to Jordan/Pippen and try to justify Pippen's superstardom. LeBrade is a couplet like we have never witnessed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Lakers Perspective: Part Deux

With 5 of the last 11 championships, one would expect the Lakers to be the focal point of all NBA Off-Season conversation. Yet as this has been the craziest NBA summer ever, the Lakers have been hidden by the 6’8” shadow that somehow has covered the 2,348 miles between Miami and Los Angeles. The Lakers have dominated the past decade at two different times with two very different teams. The first of course with the 320 pound Shaq carrying the team with the help of the budding superstar in Kobe Bryant. A haircut, a dropped rape assault, a few tattoos, and a number change later, Kobe leads this second edition with no signs of slowing down within the next few years. Kobe hears the MJ comparisons; he hears even if he wins more than Jordan he still cannot be mentioned in the same breath as Jordan. Long gone is the drive to win one without Shaq, same to the one to defeat the arch-rival Celtics; Kobe is gunning for Jordan , and only he has the nerve to do so, thus substantiating his position as the NBA’s coldest killer.

The Lakers are poised again for a serious championship run. They have the most talent, best player/best closer, most length, and the best coach. Kobe may be slightly past his prime, but he refuses to be usurped as the NBA’s best player; he has and will continue to capitalize on that ever-closing window to win championships. Phil Jackson is coming back for a shot to win his unprecedented 12th championship and complete his 4th three-peat (apparently he has the vaccine for the infamous Disease of More). If the Lakers fail to win a championship, their whole season will be considered a failure; the Heat are the only other team that even approaches the Lakers with these through-the-roof expectations. The expectations are probably more for the 6 years their 3 stars are under contract for, rather than this year alone, for excuses have already been prepared for the Heat: “they just need a year to gel;” they are experimenting with everyone’s roles, especially Lebron becoming the facilitator.” As they will be the media’s darling, the media will go out of their way to make excuses for them this year alone; the Lakers, however, must go out and win again with no shield of pretenses protecting them from criticism.

Nobody is enjoying the current wave of attention flowing from South Beach all the way to Bristol, Connecticut more than Kobe Bryant. Two rings without Shaq, five in total, yet he is getting as much attention this summer post NBA finals as DJ Mbenga. During the hoopla surrounding the recruiting visits, the summit in Miami, and the endless coverage on “The Decision,” you know Kobe was viewing from the side with a smug grin on his face, as he found more and more motivation to refine his game and to tweak his rat-like scowl to produce a maximum under bite. Finally, he is getting time to heal his knee and finger, and will be fully healthy come late October, a scary prospect for the rest of the NBA. Let’s look at the upper seeds in each conference to see who has a shot at challenging the Lakers:

Dallas Mavs: Still reeling from the defeat by the Warriors a few seasons ago…never going to happen with the current team

Phoenix Suns: Who is there replacement for Amare?...Hakim Warrick? Scratch them off the list

Denver Nuggets: They would have an up tempo, high-scoring affair with the Lakers and the Lakers have many more offensive weapons than them. Artest is also the perfect defender against Melo

Utah Jazz: Out of all the teams mentioned so far, they pose the biggest threat. They lost Boozer, but Al Jefferson was a great pick up. Williams and Jefferson make a solid tandem, and throw in a healthy Okur and Kirilenko and you are looking at a legitimate threat, but who guards Kobe and who slows down the big men of the Lakers?

Oklahoma City Thunder: They were the Lakers toughest challenge in the Western Conference playoffs. They are quick, young, and athletic. Their time will come, but it is not now

Cleveland Cavs: Please, we are guaranteed to see them in the lottery next year. How would you like to have this as your starting line-up:

Mo Williams

Anthony Parker

Jamario Moon

Antawn Jamison

Anderson Varejao

Not only is that terrible talent wise, but they do not have a single mildly intriguing player there

Orlando Magic: They are good, really good, but not as good as the Magic team the Lakers have already beaten in the finals

Atlanta Hawks: No explanation necessary

Boston Celtics: The Celtics stumbled into the playoffs, but caught lightning in a bottle and took the Lakers seven games in the NBA finals. But they are a year older, and of course lightning does not strike twice

Miami Heat: Ah, thought we’d never get there; this intriguing matchup deserves a closer look.

PG: Derek Fisher vs Mario Chalmers

They both averaged a little over 7 points a game last year, but Fisher’s points were a luxury, where as Miami was desperate for any points that came from someone without the number 3 on the back of their jersey. Fisher is a wily veteran, who comes through in the clutch. Edge: Lakers

SG: Kobe Bryant vs Dwayne Wade

These two are very similar, both can slash, post-up, and knock down shots from anywhere on the floor. D-Wade is more explosive as Kobe has been in the league since 96, but Kobe is craftier. These two carry that Jordan-esque killer instinct trait more than anybody in the league right now. However, we’ll take the man with 5 rings over the guy with one. Slight edge: Lakers

SF: Ron Artest vs Lebron James

Not much to say here. Ron is a great defender, but Lebron is Lebron. We saw Artest harass and slow down Kevin Durant in the playoffs, but he also had about a 50 pound weight advantage, which does not apply to this freak athlete he matches up with here. Big edge: Heat

PF: Pau Gasol vs Chris Bosh

We admit we have not seen Bosh play much, as he has been wasting away in Canada for the first seven years of his career. His numbers are legit: averaging a 24 and 10 last year is no joke but that was when he was the center of the team and now he has been relegated to the third best player. But Bosh has problems against big power forwards/centers and Pau has the skills to exploit this match up. Slight edge: Lakers

C: Joel Anthony/Big Z vs Andrew Bynum

With Bynum finally healthy (and let’s hope he stays that way), he has a great chance to exploit this matchup. Anthony does not have near the size Bynum has, and Ilgauskas is a big, lumbering oaf with not much to his arsenal except for a surprisingly decent mid-range game. Edge: Lakers

So that’s 4 edges for the Lakers to the Heat’s one. Admittedly, it is a huge edge for the Heat and the Lakers have 2 slight edges, but we have not even touched upon the bench. Whoever the Heat raid from former players turned analysts on ESPN and TNT will not be able to match up with Lamar Odom. While Mike Miller was a good addition, he is not enough for the ragtag crew sure to join him on the Miami bench to overcome Odom, Steve Blake, Vujacic, Shannon Brown, and Walton. Oh, and the Lakers just added Matt Barnes, a tough defender (but he still couldn't make Kobe even blink: see below) and a threat from the three point line; they also added Theo Ratliff, a solid back-up for Bynum. The Lakers biggest problems last year were their 3 point shooting and their bench, and they have definitely diminished these weaknesses in the recent weeks.We haven’t even mentioned the Lakers coaching advantage yet either; Jackson has been involved in the NBA longer than Erik Spoelstra has been alive. The Heat are sure to negate this advantage by having Riley supplant Spoelstra as coach after they have locked up a playoff spot though. Before doing this article, Miami’s starting lineup seemed like a basketball version of the Murderer’s Row, but not so much now. Don’t get us wrong, those three superstars in that line up will certainly wreak havoc upon the NBA at times during the next 6 years. However, we are not ready to anoint them yet. But they will certainly be intriguing to watch, adding to the anticipation for that late October night when they are sure to kick off the 2010-2011 NBA season. And at 10 30 ET on opening night, the Lakers will likely be on, still in the shadow of the Heat, as they begin their title defense yet again.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Laker Perspective Part I:

Part I: Historical Implications

Before this article gets started, let’s get one thing straight: Kobe Bryant is not better than Michael Jordan, and never will be. Even if Kobe goes on to win two more rings giving him seven, one more than MJ, he still falls short in comparison. There will never be another Michael Jordan. The legacy he left will never be matched and it may be taboo to even compare with another player’s. Winning was not enough, he had to bury his competition. Do not let Kobe’s glare/under bite growl fool you, it is a front, and an attempt by Kobe to patent a facial expression like MJ’s tongue wag. Let us please squash this debate before some people begin to take it seriously. Kobe is not better than MJ, however, his Lakers may just be better than Jordan’s Bulls.

Blasphemy! Erroneous! Right? Maybe I am being sacrilegious, but drop the dogmatic defense down for a moment and hear me out. On several lists the 95-96 Chicago Bulls have been rated the best NBA Championship team in the history of the world. Jordan’s 91-92 Bulls are close in comparison, but let us work with the 95-96 Bulls for the remainder of this piece. The stage is set, 2009-2010 Lakers v 95-96 Bulls.

Let’s break down the rosters:

09-10 Lakers                                                  95-96 Bulls

(57-25)                                                           (72-10)

PG: Derrick Fisher                                         PG: Ron Harper
Age: 34                                                         Age: 32
Height: 6-1                                                    Height: 6-6
PPG: 7.5                                                       PPG: 7.4
APG: 2.5                                                      APG: 2.6
SPG: 1.1                                                      SPG: 1.3
RPG: 2.1                                                      RPG: 2.7
3P%: .348                                                    3P%: .269

Edge: Lakers, barley. It is remarkable how similar the numbers are, the biggest difference being Harper’s height and Fisher’s 3P%. Although 5 inches taller, Harper did not rebound much better. Fisher is more of a true point guard even though his assist numbers are not impressive. When we think of Fisher it is hard to not remember him knocking down clutch trey-balls, he also is a good defender. His intangibles outweigh Harper’s, he is just a consummate basketball player.

SG: Kobe Bryant                                         SG: Michal Jordan
Age: 31                                                       Age: 33
Height: 6-6                                                  Height: 6-6
PPG: 27.0                                                   PPG: 30.4
APG: 5.0                                                    APG: 4.3
SPG: 1.55                                                  SPG: 2.2
RPG: 5.4                                                    RPG: 6.6
3P%: .329                                                  3P%: .427

Edge: Bulls, Bulls, Bulls. Kobe is a great player, easily in the Top 10 All-Time Greats discussion, but this is Michael Jordan. The man Kobe fell asleep as a child hoping that he could one day be as great as him. I was shocked to see that MJ shot 43% from beyond the arc that puts him into a clearer perspective in this whole Kobe/MJ debate. Jordan was a better defender and shooter. MJ had a killer instinct that will never be matched; he had a sadistic competitive nature. Kobe has a similar trait, but it does not approach His Airness’s. Think about the defining moments MJ had; The Shrug, The Flu Game, Byron Russell. MJ absolutely owned the Finals. Kobe’s moments have not been near as bright on the biggest stages. Exhibit A: In his playoff career Kobe has averaged 25.5 per game, while Jordan averaged 33.4. However, the two shooting guards do tie in one category; they were both probably equally hated by their teammates, (well documented). Michael Jordan changed basketball, and his greatness will continue to transcend through generations for the duration of history.

SF: Ron Artest                                         SF: Scottie Pippen
Age: 30                                                    Age: 31
Height: 6-7                                               Height: 6-8
PPG: 11.0                                                PPG: 19.4
APG: 3.0                                                 APG: 5.9
SPG: 1.38                                               SPG: 1.7
RPG: 4.3                                                 RPG: 6.4
3P%: .355                                               3P%: .374

Edge: Bulls. There is no consensus on where Pippen ranks all time, he maybe 73 on one list and 29 on another. One thing that can be agreed to, is that Scottie Pippen would not have the reputation he has without Michael Jordan. Either way, Pippen was a great NBA player. Artest is bigger, stronger, and a better defender, but not by that much. Pippen was a very complete player, he did everything exceptionally well. Artest is no slouch however; he can get to the rack and shoot from the perimeter. Yet, his biggest addition to the 2010 Lakers, was his toughness. He added an element of gutter, grit, and grind to that team, this cannot be ignored. But Phil Jackson would tell you that he’s taking Scottie over Ronnie A every day of the week.

PF: Pau Gasol                                        PF: Dennis Rodman
Age: 30                                                 Age: 35
Height: 7-0                                            Height: 6-7
APG: 3.4                                              APG: 2.5
PPG: 18.3                                             PPG: 5.5
BPG: 1.74                                            BPG: .04
RPG: 11.3                                            RPG: 14.9

Edge: Lakers, by a lot. We knew Rodman could rebound, but we presumed that his block total would be a little more impressive. He is also below average in size and would be totally overmatched by Pau. There would be times when he may frustrate the Spaniard, but more times than not, he would get dominated. Gasol brings an impressive arsenal to the table, he can shoot from the perimeter, turn his back to the basket, pass, handle the ball, and has touch around the rim. He does not get enough credit for his rebounding ability and it appears he began to receive credit for blocking shots in the 2010 playoffs. Gasol is a match up nightmare for the Bulls. They could replace Rodman with Bill Wettington, (who probably would not be in the NBA today) who did not score (2.4) or rebound (2.5). Back then each NBA teams seemed to have to fill a quota of two big worthless white dudes on the roster. Maybe Toni Kukoc could do the job, but he seldom started (20 games) and he was considered to be offensive fire-power off the bench. It would be a revolving door to defend Gasol. Which may in turn, be beneficial for the Bulls, considering they could put three relatively fresh bodies on him for the game. That point may be mooted by the fact that Pau shoots 80% from the line. Is Rodman really going to stay out of foul trouble for 48 minutes every game?

Let's be real folks, I remember Rodman having 4 fouls at the half just a clearly as I do him snatching 18 rebounds a game. Look at the stats from the Bull's playoff run; they had complications in the frontcourt. Shaq had a pretty good series as the only constant Orlando brought.  Ewing was below his par, but still was good for about 20 a game, while the Bull's did not hamper Charles Oakley from getting his standard 13-16 a game. The Heat's Alonzo Mourning was just OK, but he never had been considered an exceptional offensive force. Please do yourself a favor and check out what Shawn Kemp did in the '96 finals. He was an animal, regardless of who was guarding him. Rodman could bang away in the paint, but a game like Gasol's poses a serious problem for Rodman and the Bulls.

C: Andrew Bynum                                 C: Luc Longley
Age: 22                                                 Age: 27
Height: 7-0                                            Height: 7-2
BPG: 1.45                                             BPG: 1.4
 PPG: 15.0                                            PPG: 9.1
RPG: 8.3                                               RPG: 5.1

Edge: Lakers. Neither is terribly athletic, but Bynum shows more dexterity. With Rodman averaging 5.5 PPG and Longley averaging 9.1, the Bulls have considerably less of a low post presence compared to the 2010 Lakers. Longley did not rebound well, (probably has something to do with The Worm being a ball hawk) he just was a big body to have in the paint. Wettington was there for back up, but we’ve already covered his applicability. Bynum had a developing post game that would been light years ahead of a Longley’s who was already 5 years older than him. This one is pretty easy. Nothing in the realm of possibility can explain a favorable frontcourt match-up for the Bulls. Every night Bynum or Gasol are going to get their's, and it is hard to say it would never happen in unison either.

Laker Bench:                                          Bulls Bench:

SF/PF: Lamar Odom:                             SF/PF: Toni Kukoc
Height: 6-10                                           Height: 6-10
Age: 29                                                  Age: 28
PPG: 10.8                                              PPG: 13.1
RPG: 9.8                                                RPG: 4.0
APG: 3.3                                               APG: 3.5
3P%: .319                                             3P%: .403

PG/SG: Shannon Brown                        PG/SG: Steve Kerr
Height: 6-4                                            Height: 6-3
Age: 24                                                 Age: 31
PPG: 8.1                                               PPG: 8.4
APG: 1.7                                              APG: 2.3
3P%: .328                                            3P%: .515

PG: Jordan Farmar                               C: Bill Wettington
Height: 6-2                                           Height: 7-0
Age: 23                                                Age: 33
PPG: 7.2                                              PPG: 5.3
APG: 1.5                                             RPG: 2.5
3P%: .376                                           BPG: .02

Edge: Push. Kukuc and Kerr are a slightly better combination of Odom/Brown. But where things even out is the relevant play of Farmar, where Wettington isn’t much more than a wet noodle on the floor. He is big, yes, but he doesn’t rebound or play defense, so he is big for nothing. Kukuc and Kerr are absolutely lights out from the three point line. When Kerr, Pippen, and Jordan were on the floor together Kerr feasted on open shots. But that was his role, Brown is obviously not the same threat from distance, but probably a more complete player. Kukoc and Odom share a remarkably similar role. They were guys that played enough to be starters, but found more comfortable roles as the 6th man. Their games also paralleled each other, Shooter/Slasher, with Kukoc being a better shooter and Odom being the better slasher. Kukoc was essentially a ghost defensively, and only had a minimal say so in the rebound department. Kukoc averaged more points that being the case because those buckets had to come from somewhere considering Rodman simply did not score. Odom plays better D and is the better rebounder. Lamar Odom is a very underrated NBA player. However, he seems to be satisfied with keeping a mediocre career. He is a guy that can play 3, maybe 4 positions on the floor. He has above average size and handles the ball exceptionally well. I really believe, that if on any other team, Lamar Odom is a perennial All-Star. The dichotomy between the benches here is extremely small, if there even is one. If you like offense then the Bull’s Bench is your choice. If defense is your thing, then your choice is the Laker’s Bench.

Paths to Championship:

Lakers:                                                                        Bulls:

Thunder (4-2) Durant, Westbrook, Green.            Heat (3-0) Mourning, T. Hardaway, Gatling.
Jazz (4-0) Williams, Boozer, Millsap.                    Knicks (4-1) Ewing, Mason, Starks.
Suns (4-2) Nash, Stoudimire, Hill, Richardson.      Magic (4-0) O'Neal, A. Hardaway, Scott, Anderson
Celtics (4-3) Pierce, Allen, Rondo, Garnett.    Sonics (4-2) Kemp, Payton, Schremph, Hawkins.

A very slight edge here goes to the Lakers, in terms of better competition. The '10 Thunder were powered by a phenom in the name of Kevin Durrant, a scorer who wasn't present on the '96 Heat. However the presence of Mourning in his prime, leads to a draw. The '95 Knicks were far better than the '10 Jazz. That Jazz team was incredibly shallow and lacked enough talent to really compete in the playoffs. The '10 Suns and the '96 Magic is where the most intriguing comparison is found. Essentially they are the same team; A upper echelon big man surrounded by shooters. Remember, Shaq was not in his prime here, at this time he still had yet to develope touch in his baby hook. My gut says the Suns were a better team, considering how freakishly good Nash is. However, I cannot find enough conclusive evidence to be able to stand by that opinion, and thus, a draw. There is no doubt in my mind that the '10 Celtics were better than the '96 Sonics. Kemp and Payton are a great start, but their talent drops off after that pair. The Celtics did everything they could to beat the Lakers. They forced a game 7 (on the road, but they were a great road team) and actually jumped out into a 13 point second half lead. The '10 Celtics are by far, the best team of the eight above defeated clubs. They pushed the Lakers like no other team, and may go down as one of the top rosters to ever lose an NBA Final.

Conclusion: Automatically, people may write off any comparison to the '96 Bulls. They had MJ, went 72-10, and breezed through the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Very impressive, I must concede. How can a team that only won 57 games even be in the same discussion? Well, if you look into a handful essential factors, then the debate becomes not only legitimate, but threatening.  Kobe played only a handful of games when he was healthy, including the playoffs. Bynum missed the last 1/3 of the season, and probably played in the playoffs when he shouldn't have. Not to mention the fact that 2010 was a stronger league than in 1996. The talent now is definitely more evenly distributed, where as in '96 the league was more condensed.

So what team is better? Who wins in a series? Chew on this; would the '96 Bulls beat the 2010 Celtics if Jordan were to play like Kobe did (6-24) in Game 7? The fact that the Lakers won that game with the way Kobe played  is a testament to how talented that team actually was. Jordan is better than Kobe, but they are equally important to their team as far as production and intangibles go, so I think they would cancel each other out. Now the question is whether a Kobe-less Lakers are better than a Jordan-less Bulls. The Kobe-less Lakers are the better team. The size dilemma they present to the Bulls cannot be overstated. Although the Bulls are considerably better from beyond the arc, the definitive line is drawn in the front court.The dichotomy between talent and production is glaring. Odom, Bynum, Gasol v Longley, Rodman, Wettington or even Kukoc, is a match up that the Lakers would win every day. Jordan and Kobe go blow for blow, Ronnie A hampers  Pippen, Gasol or Bynum would have a feast every game pending on who was double-teamed, and Lamar comes off the bench and gives you 15 and 10. Lakers in 6. The two wins for the Bulls come from classic MJ games, but in the end, the Laker's bigs are too much for the Bulls.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Top 10 Un-Coolest NBA Players

J and L are proud to present the NBA's Top 10 Un-coolest Players. By "Un-Cool" we are not saying the players we hate the most, although that certainly factors in to our decision. One of our most important criteria for our list is that the player would NEVER be mentioned by a Hip-Hop artist in their song, but lack of talent, appearance, body type, etcetera also heavily influence our choices. From an NBA Finals MVP, to a man protesting showers, and to an entire team roster, we list the players who, outside of their die hard fan base, would not sell a single jersey. Feel free to comment on our list and make your own. Enjoy.

                                              Number 10: Tim Duncan
Arguably one of the best big men to ever set foot on an NBA court. Unfortunately for him, no one outside of San Antonio finds him appealing. With a nickname like the "Big Fundamental," he has lulled NBA fans to sleep for his entire career. He patented move? How about a turn around 12 footer off the glass? Now that is sexy. His defense is ferocious, check out this passive attempt to keep the LeBron Locomotive from an easy 2 points; (please check the link to the right to see this facial). If Tim Duncan is your favorite NBA player in all liklihood you probably enjoy plain yogurt, own no less than 6 "Now," CD,'s and have a vertical leap under 9 inches. Duncan is a great player, but tremendously boring, and thus he makes number 10 on our list.

Mr. Duncan tries the "pencil," technique to alter LeBron's shot. He failed.

                                                 Number 9: Pau Gasol

While the Lakers versatile big man makes the short list of the NBA's top power forwards, he also makes our list of the Un-Coolest athletes. He and Kobe may make a great tandem on the court, but could you ever imagine seeing them together outside of a basketball related event?  A determining factor for Pau's appearance on this list has to be his hygiene; how smelly do you think this guy is after a game?...he looks like a hosed down shaggy dog. He has got to be either very high or very low on Old Spice's selection for a spokesperson. While his passing and jumpshots are crisp and attractive, his blotchy skin and movement reminiscent of the putties from the "Power Rangers" are far from that. Yet Pau's talent remains unquestioned, so his skills and his roar that eerily reflects one of a velociraptor save him from dropping lower on this list.

                                              Number 8: Paul Pierce

He can flat out play, otherwise he'd be higher on our list. That's where our compliments stop. The word "flop," is automatically associated with Paul Pierce, whether one is referring to his defensive tactics or his breasts. The mouthy Bostonian shooter seems to take pride in having the worst muscle definition of all NBA swing men. Pierce credits his facial hair choice to Dave Chappelle's epic character of Clayton Bigsby. He has toed the line of arrogance on several occasions. While running a camp in Madrid the following self indulgent quote was collected; "Q: Is Kobe really the best player in the world? Pierce: 'I don't think Kobe is the best player. I'm the best player. There's a line that separates having confidence and being conceited. I don't cross that line but I have a lot of confidence in myself.'" He has called himself the best three point shooter in the league, and shouted "We aint comin' back to LA," after a a Game 2 win against the Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals. Unfortunatley for Paul, they did come back LA, where Pierce and the Celtics blew a 13 point second-half lead in Game 7 to lose the Finals. (Check link on right for one of Pierce's shining moments)

Stripped, Slipped, and Slammed on by the ugliest dude in the league.

                                         Number 7: Sheldon Williams
If we had an NBA's "Smallest Ears," list, he would undoubtedly be number 1. Since we don't, we figure he settles in nicely in the Un-Cool Ranks. He was vital in the Celtics' 2010 playoff run by contributing a whopping 1.6 points per game. Whatever momentum Williams gains in his NBA, it will be canceled out by the fact that his wife, (Candace Parker), can out ball him. Is it good that an NBA player's wife has more dunk highlights than her husband? We were obligated by the NBA’s Department of Swag to place at least one former Dukie on the list. Either way, Parker and Williams will probably deliver a basketball phenom. Let’s just hope it won’t have Sheldon’s ears. (Check link on left for "highlight," of Sheldon Williams.)

His wife would have at least taken a charge..

                                              Number 6: Cole Aldrich
Let us go ahead and tip our caps to Cole, for he has not played a minute in an NBA game yet he still makes our list. How has he already established a strong enough Un-Cool aura to already be here? being a big goofy white guy that also happens to be missing his front tooth. I mean, come on, he was goofy enough already and then he had to go and lose a tooth? Aldrich is a lock to take up the lofty mantle of such NBA stars as Greg Ostertag, Rik Smits, and Arvydas Sabonis, but we think he may end up surpassing all of his predecessors in terms of their goofiness. What aggravates us about Aldrich is that he is on a young, fun to watch team that is quickly becoming everyone’s darling in the Oklahoma City Thunder. We think it would be better if he were marooned on the Pacers where he could be placed in white guy purgatory alongside Tyler Hansbrough, Troy Murphy, Josh McRoberts, and Mike Dunleavy. But while it may be painful to watch him on the basketball court, it would be even more painful to watch him eat corn on the cob.

                                          Number 5: Aaron Gray
The former Pitt big man is one of the few 7 footers in the NBA who lack practical applicability. In the 09-10 season Gray spent time in Chicago and New Orleans where he played the role as an ultimate intimidator averaging 0.3 blocks per game. If he weren't an NBA player, he would undoubtedly be a librarian. When running the floor, Mr. Gray looks like he’s on stilts (either that, or he’s missing several knee ligaments) as he hustles just enough to be on the wrong end of a three point play. One positive for any coach that may have Gray, is that every night he will be allotted 6 fouls. After scouring the internet for Aaron Gray info, we found that he owns one of the best nicknames in the league; the “White Panther”. Surely it was dubbed facetiously, either way, we thought the “White House Cat,” was more appropriate.

A Pair of the White House Cat's Highlights:

                                         Number 4: The Utah Jazz
Yeah yeah, we know the list says Un-Coolest Players but this is our blog so we can break the rules. If we had to pick just one member of the Jazz it would undoubtedly be Andrei Kirilenko, with his spiked hair and bitter bulldog face and 6’10” 210 pound frame. Yet we figured it would be advantageous to go ahead and blast the whole Jazz franchise. First off, Utah Jazz? The name should have been changed when the franchise moved from New Orleans, and the matter becomes more pressing when the team nickname has connotations of smooth and cool, a stark contrast to the players on the team. In our short lifetime, the Jazz have never been cool; we grew up in the Jordan Era, and of course everyone loved the Bulls back then, so some of our earliest NBA memories were Jordan against The Mailman and his hipster shorts wearing sidekick. But take a look at their current roster and it is filled with goofy Europeans: Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur, Kosta Koufus, and Kyrylo Fesenko, with Kirilenko and Fesenko combining to make a 14 foot tandem of former Soviets. The talent of Deron Williams and the loss of Ashton Kutcher…I mean Kyle Korver… saved them from going down a spot or two, but they remain firmly entrenched in the middle of our list.

                                            Number 3: Anderson Varejao


Being and athlete from Brazil, one would think that Mr. Varejao's first love was futbol. Well since it seems he lacks dexterity, finesse, and raw athletic ability, it is easy to see why he chose basketball. He actually has found a decent role within the Cav's organization, decent enough to for the Cavs to throw a ridiculous amount of money towards him. A bad investment? In all likelihood. Consider the fact the Cavs offered him as the main piece in a potential sign and trade for Chris Bosh, and the Raptors acted as if the Cavs were sending the E-Bola virus. A positive for Varejao, anytime WWE's "Carlito," needs a stunt-double for a steel chair shot to the face, he should be a believable replacement. One thing Varejao will always be remembered for is being on the wrong end on one of the nastiest posterizations in league history. There was no way this footage was not going to be on our site:

                                            Number 2: Delonte West

If he were actually good, he would be the player we would hate most in the NBA, so he will just have to settle for top three on our Un-Cool List. His appearance alone is enough to merit him a place on this list, he looks like he could star in “Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood” (frequently airing on BET, so check it out) or perhaps he is the enigmatic Leprechaun in Alabama (although I’m not sure he matches the amateur sketch). Although he was found with several guns hidden in a guitar case, possibly earning him a potential spot in a rap song, one glance at his appearance dashes any hopes of that. Delonte must be awfully confused about his identity: a black man with red hair and leprechaunish features yet he slings guns like Antonio Banderas in El Mariachi.

Delonte may also be known as the man that drove James out of Cleveland. A bold statement? No, for besides being a goofy looking mediocre player alongside James, rumors are circling that West was having an affair with James’ mother, who ultimately found out during the playoff series against the Celtics. ESPN (so I’ve heard) remains reluctant to report this, and J and L willingly reveal this bit of NBA truth. So the lesson learned from this story: do not have sex with the golden boy of the franchise’s mom especially when he is a pending free agent!

                                      Number 1a: Tyler Hansborough

He was a buzzer beating addition to our list. Originally left off, (mainly because we didn’t even want to acknowledge that he was in the league) we decided there was no way we could make an Un-Cool List without placing this guy on here. Where to begin? Well watching him play is a horrendous site. No one has ever made the game of basketball look harder. His moves in the paint look more like seizures than skills. In the years of basketball we have watched, there has not been a more awkward player in the NBA. We still cannot grasp the laws of physics he bends to get the ball in the hoop. He looks like a 10 year old kid who’s trying to use creativity instead of skill to win a game of HORSE. It’s just ugly. Needless to say, Tyler Hansborough has only strengthened  the “white-boy,” basketball stereotype. He was born Nov 3, 1985, and has only used one facial expression during his time on Earth. Gawking eyes, gaping mouth. No “Blue Steel,” that’s all he has in his arsenal. He may be a bright kid, but he looks unbelievably stupid. He’s only had a handful of interviews thankfully, most reporters would rather question a water cooler. By the graces of the Basketball Gods, he landed in a small market so we will never hear about him. He does hold one record however, Tyler is the only player in NBA history to have been recorded to blink less than 5 times in a regular season game. At least he plays “Texas-Style Ping-Pong,” and we all know how cool that is…

This celebration negates any progress made towards the "white," steroetype, thanks Tyler:

                                     Number 1: Brian Scalabrine

Unlike Mr. Hansbrough, Scalabrine has been planned all along to take the cake in this most glorious competition. First off, how perfect is it he is on the Celtics? With his bulging beer belly and red hair, he looks like he could serve as either the mascot (although I think Delonte West would be better off for that), or a perfect replica of the stereotypical Celtics fan. Despite topping off this list, there are several people who can’t help but to be jealous of this fat redhead; he has signed a $15 million contract, won a championship ring, yet he played one more minute in the 2010 NBA playoffs than we did. But all signs point to Scal being a really fun guy, evident in the video below in which he jokes about his insignificant contribution to the Celtics’ championship run. However, we have condemning evidence for why Scal headlines in this list in the other video below, in which he goes 0 for 2 in attempted high-fives with his teammates. We also presume that shower time in the Celltics locker room is a very awkward and uncomfortable moment for Scal. Furthermore, Scal’s use of a headband looks about as appropriate as a Muslim woman wearing Lady Gaga’s bedazzled lingerie in public. Yet antics like these have probably led to the almost cult following Scalabrine has developed. Sadly, Luke Harangody has been dubbed as Scal’s replacement upon the Celtics bench, but nobody can take away his position as number one on J and L’s top 10 Un-Cool List.

Kiss the ring, Lebron. Scal has won just as many championships as the “Scheme Team” in Miami combined

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Moment of Silence...

For the Cleveland Cavaliers. The beleaguered city of Cleveland took another devastating blow by the loss of King James, and despite the optimism tweeted by Mo Williams and the now infamous letter from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, this franchise is looking at a gloomy future. James scored or assisted for 48 percent of the Cavs offense in the 09-10 season. 48 percent! The Cavs have nobody who has the ability to pick up the slack on the pure basketball spectrum, let alone the highlight reels and revenue James brought in (maybe Mo Williams can leave us all dumbfounded after a dunk again though; see link on the right side of the page).

Dan Gilbert sure made an idiot out of himself on all fronts. He insulted the best thing that city has had in a while and foolishly predicted the Cavs would win a championship before the Triumvirate does in Miami. Sorry Dan, but the Cavs will not support the Ewing theory (for full explanation on the Ewing theory, go here: Be grateful, Cleveland, for the 7 years of attention and relevancy LeBron brought to your city. Without LeBron, the franchise’s leading scorer would still be Brad Daugherty, who is now seen on ESPN as the lone black guy interested in NASCAR. And if the 2003 ping pong balls had bounced a little differently, the Grizzlies could have gotten the number one overall pick (instead they got the number 2 pick and had to give it up to Detroit), leaving the Cavs to settle possibly for…Darko Milicic!

I also want to use this moment of silence to pray for Byron Scott. He could have easily guided the Cavs to their third 60 win season in a row with LeBron on the squad, but now Scott is left with a roster capable of being the NBA version of “The Replacements.” Scott’s comment on Gilbert’s letter clearly displays his uncomfortable position; he knows his boss made a fool out of himself yet he cannot insult him in fear of losing his job, leaving him to settle for “(Gilbert) showed his passion to win last night.” If he just waited a year, he could have vied for the Lakers open coaching spot in 2011-12, but instead he is left to dwell on his unfruitful team from October to April. Cleveland: where heartbreak happens.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oh LeBron...

I guess by now the rumored cabana party is full go. LeBron arrived in Miami early this morning with Will Smith's unofficial Dade County theme song ingrained in his head. The "Miami Thrice," has become reality and it appears that the Eastern Conference has found its representative in the Finals for the next decade. Or so it appears. At this point in time, and probably up until February, this is nothing more than a multi-million dollar experiment. The Heat have become the most intriguing team in the league, but they deserve no crown. With four players on the roster (five if you count a pending Mike Miller) they are nothing more than a consummate Rucker Park pick-up team. With limited talent lurking in the mid-level exception category, composing a "team," will be a challenge for Coach Riley. "Coach Riley?" Yes. This is his baby and you think he's not going to want to take control? Eventually there will be unrest within that team, (like all teams), and Riley may use that as an excuse to take over and manage his purchased egos. But look for the Heat to be a perennial Eastern Conference juggernaut.

Back to Lebron. Why not Chicago? No experiment in Chi-town, that team is ready to win. Rose blowing up next season seems imminent, not to mention Boozer. Gibson is a nice player off the bench and Deng can play. And Joakim Noah...the talking heads at ESPN jocked him hard for the past three months. Aside from looking and playing like a crack addict he doesn't bring much to the table. ESPN advertised him as a premier paint man, although he is only a poor man's Rodman. However, you gotta like the guy. He plays hard every night and brings intangibles that most players don't have (like Strahan sized gapped teeth.) Either way, the Bulls are built for LeBron to fit in perfectly. He can still amaze us in Chicago, but more importantly he can win.

LeBron's move to Miami creates an element of ambiguity. We have a man who has basked in vanity for several years, yet seems fine with possibly being a second option on a team. How is it that LeBron deems it necessary to have his own prime time televised "decision," but he is also willing to take a pay cut? Why didn't Lebron announce his South Beach intentions with Wade and Bosh? It may be about winning, which is something to be commended and admired. LeBron's legacy will definitely take a hit, even if he wins 10 titles. The comparisons to Michael, Bird, Magic, and Kobe (yes, Kobe) will cease to exist. But that seems to be fine with LBJ. If this really is a selfless act by a superstar athlete, then it is to be applauded. Stay tuned because this situation is bound to get juicy one way or another.