Friday, September 30, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #11

#11 - KG's Redemption

"This ain't golf, this ain't tennis. It ain't about me. It's about us. It ain't about nothing else I'm doing. I'm just one of the pieces. It ain't about what I'm doing, if what I'm doing ain't enough to get us wins."

"I do give a lot man, I give two cent. Cuz I got to. I came out the womb, that's how I am. I'm built like this. You don't play ball cuz you got to, you don't run sprints cuz you got to. I don't have to go into the gym and put up extra shots because I got to. I ain't got to do that. This is how I'm built. This is me. This is how I'm built. It's me."

"I just don't like to lose. If we sat here playing dominoes, playing cards, running back and forth and you kept beating me--whatever we were doing. I hate to lose, I hate to lose. I don't care what it is, that's my biggest problem. I can't accept losing and I won't ever accept losing. Ever. No one will ever be able to call me a loser to my face and stand there. You know? Never. Never."

-- From Kevin Garnett's sit-down interview with John Thompson during All-Star Weekend.

Minnesota was 27-27 when this interview took place, a far cry from where many experts predicted the Timberwolves to be at the All-Star Break. Garnett was averaging a 'modest' 22.1 PPG, 13.9 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 1.4 BPG. And here KG was, literally weeping to the NBA's resident Grandfather, 'Big' John Thompson, in front of a national television audience. It wasn't a Kobe act, where you question the sincerity behind every single word and emotion coming from him. KG was for real. This guy just couldn't come to grips with mediocrity, especially not after he had a taste of high society the year before. Can you blame him? Garnett pours everything into his play, each and every time he steps foot on the hardwood. If you want to know what it truly means to be passionate about the game of basketball, just watch a Timberwolves game. In October, January, April-- it doesn't matter, just spot out #21.

I want to make this clear-- when I say 'KG's redemption', I'm not talking about him increasing his averages or suggesting a return to the annual MVP discussion because that's not what he's about. Garnett is the epitome of a player who genuinely puts the team before himself. The second biggest knock on him throughout his career has been that he's often times too unselfish. As if continually sacrificing personal accolades and always trying to make your teammates better is a bad thing. The obvious and most repeated criticism of KG has been his inability to lead Minnesota out of the first round of the Playoffs more than once in his career. So naturally, a redemption for Garnett would not merely be a return to the Playoffs for the Timberwolves, but rather a trip to the NBA's Elite 8 and beyond.

Since most experts are predicting Minnesota will miss the cut for the Playoffs entirely, it could very well take an MVP-like season from their star to even get there. If you're seriously doubting that KG is about to have his best season ever, you're just plain wrong. There, I said it. There isn't a guy out there who's playing for more than Garnett this season, not even AI. You think that has anything to do with why KG enjoyed his summer running up and down the beaches of Malibu as a way to build strength in the sore knees that bothered him all of last season? Or why he spent countless hours in the weight room, adding an extra 15 lbs of muscle to his lanky frame so he can play more in the post this year for the betterment of the team? He wants it. He's ready. LET'S GO KG!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #12

Fantasy Basketball

Sitting down to compile all of the reasons why I love fantasy basketball was more difficult than I thought. If I got too detailed I may lose your attention. If I’m too cut and dry then I’m pretty much Eric Karabell without the glasses. At first I was going to give my top-30 reasons why I love FB (I don’t really call it FB, because that could possibly be the most pathetic acronym on Earth), but instead I trimmed it down to a much more manageable ten. In the end it turned out to be more of a fantasy guide, but hopefully one you will enjoy. Here goes…

10. Team Names

Selecting a good team name is extremely important. Remember that this is how your opponents are going to view you for the entire season. More often than not however, managers fail to come up with anything creative or original. Here are the three categories of team names as I see them:

LAME: DWadeFavPlaya3, BullzRool23

These names would be fine if we were in the 8-12 age group. But I’ve seen selections like this from people already graduated from college. Jesus man, put in 30 seconds of thought. No one cares who your favorite player or team are, trust me.

THOUGHTLESS: Shaq’s Free Throws, Reefer Alston

Names like this usually come from the kid who “did sick in his basketball league last year” and was granted new entry to yours. Oh yeah dude, who did you play with? “My cousins and some buddies.” Translation: kids who would take Andrew Bogut in the first round and consider Esteban Batista a sleeper. That’s no big accomplishment bro, but keep on thinking Reefer Alston is hilarious while the rest of us hammer you on the message board (coming later).

DOPE: Nenad’s Gonads (Paul’s), Alonzo’s Dialysis, Blatche’s Bullet, Taking a Viktor Khryapa (Simmons’ I believe)

It’s really not that hard to come up with something. Sure, maybe two of these are a little over the edge, but who cares? It’s fantasy. I’ve seen much worse, trust me.

9. Sleepers

Every year there are a handful of guys ready to burst on the scene who are worthy of a 4th-6th round pick. The problem is figuring out who these players are and exactly when to select them.

Here’s what to do:

--Do your freakin’ RESEARCH. Don’t listen to James Quintong, look shit up yourself

--Base your selections on how players fared last season (or this preseason), especially during the final month or so

--If you’re going to take rookies, it’s best that you don’t reach no matter how tempting it may be

--Stick to rookies who played well in college or high schoolers on the LeBron/Howard level

--Only label a guy a sleeper if you know for sure that he’s starting or getting 30+ minutes

Here’s what NOT to do:

--If there’s a proven center ready to nab in the 5th, then don’t take a chance on guys like Fabricio Oberto. Players like this will more than likely be available at the conclusion of your draft

--Don’t take 2nd year players too early. But if there’s say an Al Jefferson sitting around and the PF crop is dwindling down, of course take that chance. But on the contrary, don’t take a Dwight Howard in the first round of a 10-team league. It’s just foolish. There are plenty of better players out there, guys that have actually proven something.

--NEVER, EVER tell one of your buddies about a sleeper you discovered. Not only will he take this guy 1 or 2 picks before you’re ready to, but he’ll rub it in your face all season especially after that guy goes for 37 and 11 in the first week of the season. Trust me, you’ll want to kill yourself.

8. Drafting

There is nothing on Earth I’d rather do than take part in a fantasy basketball draft. Sifting through dozens of sheets with player projections, stats, rankings, etc. not only will put a smile on your face but it will also infuriate anyone in your house not involved in the draft. I recommend a beer or six during the process to ease the pain of those nitwits taking the full 2-minute allotment for every pick. Another good idea is to queue up a few players to prepare for your next pick. There are always some sleepers sitting deep in the rankings that other managers will foolishly forget about. Don’t be that guy. Remember that players you end up selecting from the 5th round on could prove just as valuable as your initial picks. I beat a kid in the Playoffs last year without Duncan or Maggette. You know who my unsung hero was? Yup, none other than Nick Collison. Never underestimate your late round picks.

7. Who goes 1?

More important (and enjoyable) than deciding between Garnett and King James, is fucking with the guy who has that initial selection. Fire starters include:

--“Yo Freddie, just so you know they said KG might elect to sit out the second half of the year if Minnesota isn’t in the Playoff chase”

--“Have you thought about Kobe at all? I sure would…”

Now if “Freddie” has any intelligence whatsoever he probably won’t believe a word you say. But nevertheless you’ll definitely make him start to second-guess that pick. If all goes well he’ll respond with, “Dude SHUDDDDDUP, I’m taking LeBron.” Then you give the mandatory: “Oh you are? You sure about that one?” Trust me, you’ll have him losing sleep, fucking up at work, questioning his manhood, etc. It’s really a lot of fun, unless of course you’re that guy picking first.

6. Posts/Message Board

In the Yahoo! Leagues and I’m assuming mostly every other league, the main page provides the managers with a message board. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without this. I love making kids look foolish and starting wars with managers I don’t even know just because I’m bored one afternoon. Saying things like, “Yo, Rip’s Nips, nice job picking up Randy Livingston. Your girlfriend even told me last night what a bad pick that was.” Sure it’s low, but chances are you’ll never see half of these guys anyway. Be ruthless, I always am.

5. Being a GM

If you love sports, how could you not dream about being the General Manager of a professional franchise? Making trades, signing free agents, decided whom to cut—It would be a dream come true. Well, for most of us (and when I say most I mean all) that dream is dead. The closest we’re ever going to come to running a team is fantasy. So make sure when your pulling off a blockbuster with Dikembe’s Donkey Dick, you don’t give away Dwight Howard for Ian Mahinmi. Be smart, realize that every move not only dictates the next week of play, but also how the entire season plays out. After all, this is your only chance to see how you would fare if you were really handed the reigns of a pro team.

4. Accumulating NBA Knowledge and Using it to Your Advantage

Another great thing about following the NBA on a regular basis is that you gain knowledge to almost everything going on. You know how many Iverson dropped last night, who’s in first in the Atlantic, who shattered their femur last Tuesday, etc. So when some asshole at a bar thinks he’s an NBA god, you can quickly put him in his place.

Chip (moron at the bar): “Dude, did you see Amare last night? 41 points, 13 boards, and 7 blocks! Sick huh?”

Me (overhearing this idiot and subsequently chiming in): “Actually bro, that was last week and Amare had 49, 16, and 8.”

Chip: “Oh yeah, I think you’re right…”

Meanwhile I’m feeling on top of the world for making this douche bag in the pink button-down look like a fool, he’s feeling a bit less cocky, and every girl sees what a pompous loser he is. Yeah, and I’m sure I look really slick knowing how many blocks a guy recorded in a game last week. So remember, if you want to be the man and show off your statistical knowledge fine, but just make sure there are NO chicks around.

3. Box Scores

I don’t know about you, but when I get to work the first thing I run and do is check last night’s box scores. I can’t wait to see how many rebounds Mario Kasun had and if I actually have a shot at taking assists this week. Sure I’m a loser and should be working on my TPS reports, but fantasy comes first. Plus, checking the box scores is an excellent way to track players you might want to pick up. For instance, if your 7th round pick of Chris Kaman isn’t working out (big surprise), perhaps it’s worth taking a chance on Channing Frye. I can’t believe I’m actually admitting to these things.

2. Ripping on Fantasy geeks

Now as much as I love fantasy, I can’t help but clown on all of the fantasy geeks on ESPN, CNNSI, Yahoo!, etc. You just know that for any one of these guys, a dope Friday night consists of pulling off a sick trade that might net him 0.8 more APG the rest of the way. Or it’s immediately nabbing Nene when Kenyon Martin goes out with a thigh contusion, then calling his buddy and condescendingly saying, “Dude you hear about Kenyon? Yeah, too late bro, I already got him, sorry.” No, this is not an actual conversation between Vincent Huang and Tristan Cockcroft. Well, actually it might be. Anyway, always keep in mind that there’s a fine line between having a hobby and an obsession. Know your limits.

1. Taking money from friends

Everyone likes making money, but it’s always more fun when you beat your buddies and they have to hand over a nice chunk of change. They have no choice but to be a good sport about it, but inside their blood is pumping like liquid magma. Inside your head there is a private circus going on with chimps and lions doing summersaults and playing hopscotch. At the end of this exchange you MUST give a small conniving grin just at the chance that one of your buddies loses it. There’s absolutely nothing better than a brawl over fantasy sports. The next morning the asshole that started it realizes what he did and has no choice but to shy away from the group for weeks at a time. On that note I’m going to go get a life. Enjoy your 2005-06 Fantasy season.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #13

The Rockets and the Suns are two of the early favorites to reach the Western Conference Finals, and subsequently get smoked by the Spurs.

#14 - The Search For San Antonio's Kryptonite

I'm doing my best to avoid making any predictions during this 30 day countdown, but I think I can come right out with one forecast that probably won't come as a shock to most of you-- the Spurs are going to repeat as Western Conference Champions. Actually, scratch that. The Spurs are going to easily repeat as Western Conference Champions. There, I said it. The writers and analysts won't let you believe this during the season. After all, how much fun can a conference race be when there's little suspense? The Spurs might not blow away competition during the regular season, but they know damn well by now that nothing truly counts until the Playoffs begin in April.

On the other hand, there's not a team out West other than San Antonio that can realistically look beyond the 82 games, and that's why the Western Conference is going to be a lot of fun this season. Although there's a handful of squads that should prepare themselves for a season that extends into May, the West is overwrought with depth this season. Every team but New Orleans/Oklahoma City and Portland are thinking Playoffs right now, and each can make a legitimate case for having the firepower to get there. There's also fives teams that can make a strong argument for being the best club not from San Antonio-- Dallas, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, and Sacramento. At least one of these teams has to pose a problem for the Spurs this year, right? Let's take a closer look to see which of these teams matches up best with San Antonio, because in essence, isn't that the question we should be asking when examining the Western Conference? Not who can beat San Antonio, but who can even challenge them?

Yes, it's true. Finley now plays for the "other" team.

Dallas (1-3 vs SA in 2004-05)
-The loss of Michael Finley to (of all teams) the Spurs has to be an emotional blow for a team that has been trying to get over the hump for the last half decade. Not only was he arguably the team's most consistent player, but he was also the backbone of this franchise for a long time. And to lose him to the rival Spurs? That has to hurt more than we can realize. The Mavs also did little to improve this offseason (Doug Christie and DeSagana Diop were their only significant pick-ups), instead hoping that their younger guys (Daniels, Harris, Howard) can take further strides forward in their development. There is reason for optimism however-- though it was barely noticeable in the Playoffs, Avery Johnson had this team playing tougher defensively once he took over as the permanent head coach. Avery will continue to try to embed a defensive emphasis on the Mavs, I'm just not sure the team has the make-up to play the type of defense it's going to take to battle San Antonio in a 7 game Playoff series. From a depth standpoint, Dallas is still one of the more loaded teams in the NBA. But put their frontline next to San Antonio's, and they're finished.
Odds of taking down the Spurs: 10 to 1

Denver (3-6 vs SA in 2004-05)
-A lot of people (including Anthony) thought the Nuggets could take down the Spurs in the 1st Round of last year's Playoffs, especially after they slugged out a rugged Game 1 victory in San Antonio. Ultimately, the Nuggets just proved to be too young and inexperienced for the Spurs, and were wiped out of the Playoffs in the next four games. The Nuggets bring back everybody and also welcome the return of Voshon Lenard, and the additions of Julius Hodge and Linas Kleiza via the draft and Earl Watson via free agency. More importantly, they'll have an entire training camp to fully adapt to George Karl's coaching styles, which could lead to anything considering how dramatic his influence was on the team when taking over last winter. On paper, this team matches up better with San Antonio than any other. With Watson added to the backcourt, they have a defensive-minded point guard that should frustrate Tony Parker. They also have plenty of depth at every position, mainly in the frontcourt where Camby, Nene, and Martin can dictate the physicality of any game. And best of all, the Nuggets can really switch it up. We saw them run teams out of the building on numerous occasions last year and they could defend in the halfcourt when they were pressed into a situation. They were one glaring weakness was their ability to score a basket during crucial moments down the stretch of games. George Karl is definitely going to address that this off-season, probably by trying to instill the utmost confidence in Carmelo Anthony. If you want to beat the Spurs, you need to have a guy that can take over for you down the stretch. 'Melo has to step it up.
Odds of Taking Down the Spurs: 5 to 1

Things won't be so lovey dovey in Houston once the Rockets run into the Spurs in the Conference Semifinals.

Houston (2-2 vs SA in 2004-05)
-The Rockets are a lot of people's pick to be the second best in the West this season as the T-Mac/Yao duo enters year two. Houston had an outstanding off-season, scooping up highly sought-after free agents Stromile Swift and Derek Anderson, drafting the underrated Luther Head, and keeping vets Jon Barry and Dikembe Mutombo in tow for another season. Jeff Van Gundy now has one of the deepest backcourts in the NBA and a sidekick for Yao in Swift that should thrive playing alongside the big fella. GM Carroll Dawson has also done a terrific job surrounding T-Mac and Yao with seasoned veterans who are concerned only with winning. The hope is that they can all accept their roles and aid the young stars' quest to understand what it takes to be a champion. Nevertheless, Houston still should have problems with San Antonio. For starters, Swift is going to prove to be a terrific weakside defender and an even better finisher on the offensive end, but there's a lot of questions concerning his toughness and desire to put all his talent together for the better of the team. I'm just not sure a Swift/Yao combo is ready to take on an Horry/Duncan combo during crunch time. The latter will do whatever it takes to win-- Swift and Yao don't yet know what it takes to win. Ultimately T-Mac should be the difference in whether the Rockets provide a test for the Spurs. I thought he was ready to take the Jordan-esque leap last year in willing his team to a series victory against the Mavs, but he simply couldn't push the team beyond their limits. If he seriously elevates his game to the next level, I think he can carry the Rockets with him. A series victory at this point would be a tremendous (yet necessary) accomplishment for T-Mac. Taking down the defending champs is probably too much to ask right now.
Odds of Taking Down the Spurs: 6 to 1

Phoenix (2-7 vs SA in 2004-05)
-Phoenix dominated the regular season last year, amassing 62 wins in securing the NBA's best record. Then as everyone expected, they ran into a San Antonio team that they just did not match up well with. Sure enough, the Suns quickly flamed out of the Western Conference Finals without much of a fight. This summer Bryan Colangelo and Mike D'Antoni made the bold decision to retool a 62-win roster, mainly in part to combat the Spurs. Gone are Joe Johnson, Quentin Richardson, Steven Hunter, and Jake Voskuhl. Into the desert come Kurt Thomas, Raja Bell, Boris Diaw, James Jones, Briant Grant, Eddie House, Lucas Tischer, Pat Burke, and Dijon Thompson. Colangelo has addressed the Suns' need for depth, rebounding, and defensive-minded players. Yet he's also simultaneously taken away parts from a team that were necessary to run the of style play that suits his two best players, Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. What identity are the Suns going to have? Though they improved in the areas they needed to, they still don't have the talent the Spurs do. Or the experience. Or the chemistry. Or the depth. Or a chance.
Odds of Taking Down the Spurs: 11 to 1

Sacramento (1-3 vs SA in 2004-05)
-Chad Ford let the cat out of the bag a couple weeks ago when he predicted the Kings would finish #2 in the West. It's a bold prediction, but he could very well be right. Geoff Petrie continues to work wonders in Sacramento, reeling in Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Bonzi Wells, Jason Hart, and Francisco Garcia this summer. The Kings now boast arguably the best combination of talent, experience, and depth of the five challengers-- three components that are major strengths for the Spurs. They also have a go-to clutch player in Mike Bibby. Problem is, the Kings are still lacking in the department where the Spurs excel the most-- defense. Can you see this team locking down San Antonio in the last five minutes of a crucial Playoff game? As we learned with the Suns last season and actually the Kings themselves in the last 5 or so years, you can't simply outscore teams come Playoff time.
Odds of Taking Down the Spurs: 12 to 1

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #14

The Jelling of the New Miami Heat

Let’s face it, operating with a plethora of personalities works for certain groups better than others. In the acting world, sometimes the more diverse a team, the better their show/movie/act turns out. Look at Saturday Night Live which has thrived off of their collection of assorted comedic personas for years now. The same can be said of the cast of Seinfeld, Friends, Melrose Place-- even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for God’s sake. The one place however, where a group of diverse characters does not necessarily thrive in, is sports. Look at the New York Yankees, who think adding a slew of high-priced has-beens/emotional head-cases is the answer to winning their 27th World Series. The New York Rangers employed the same foolish mentality for years and missed the postseason for eight straight seasons (and counting). Team chemistry is essential in sports and while actors don’t necessarily need to get along behind the scenes, professional athletes almost certainly do. There is however one exception, that being Shaquille O’Neal. Don’t forget that Shaq won three championships with Kobe Bryant despite their well-documented, malice-laden relationship. Having been accustomed to a team with conflicting personalities, perhaps O’Neal can be the hand that guides the way for this Heat ball club. But with veterans like Gary Payton, Antoine Walker, and Jason Williams all eventually colliding at some point during the year, Miami could also face the ‘Perfect Storm’ of personalities.

Adding GP, J-Will, and 'Toine to any basketball team looks excellent on paper, but quite the contrary from a team perspective. All three have been known for their blowups, blowouts, tantrums, selfish play, egotistical nature, etc. Let’s take a quick look at each.

Last year in Boston, Doc Rivers allowed Payton to run the show. If he wanted to slow down the pace fine, as long as he took the time to tutor the young point guards on the team. Well, here we are one year later, Payton’s gone, and the Celtics’ point guard situation is no better than it was a summer ago. So essentially all GP did is come in and slow down a group of young players who would have been much better suited as a running team. But that’s Gary. He bitched and moaned for weeks after being traded to Boston then told Ainge and Rivers that he’d come and play but that it was his way or the highway. Well his way got the Atlantic Division champs bounced in the first round of the Playoffs. Add to it that his bad back prevents him from even touching iron from 3 and you basically have a stubborn 85 year-old grandfather vying for starting PG duties in South Beach.

How much would you pay to be sitting on the bench next to J-Will and GP when Payton first discovers the tattoos across Williams’ fingers? I bet it would go something like this:

GP: What the fuck does that say? White Boy?

J-Will: Yeah, what’s the problem?

GP: That shit's stupid kid, we can all see you’re a white boy. You don’t see ‘Black Guy’ across my knuckles

J-Will: Shut up old man, who’s backing me up this season?

GP: (Sound of a punch)

Shaq: Oh, damn!

Stan Van Gundy: (Looking for Pat Riley over his shoulder)

Add to it that Williams has a new hair color every week, historically shoots under 40% from the field, and tries to make the 'And One' pass at least three times a game, and this battle for point guard duties could become a physical war. Plus, these two guys couldn’t have more conflicting games. Williams likes to run, razzle-dazzle, and knock down the 3. Payton likes to play at a turtle’s pace, post up defenders, and hasn’t hit a 3 since ’94. I cannot see this playing out well for anyone.

Perhaps the most frustrating player to watch in the history of the sporting world. He has redefined the words “chucker,” “gunner,” “choker,” “bastard,” and “son of a bitch.” The guy has the shot selection of Ray Charles with a loaded rifle. But just after he misses five 1-foot finger rolls in a row, he’ll hit a three-pointer from 40-feet to win the game. I don’t know if he’s bi-polar, schizophrenic, retarded, or just a mediocre ball player. Miami fans laughing at this, please stop immediately. This is no joke. No one will frustrate you more than Walker. Think your mom or girlfriend pisses you off when she changes a game in the 4th quarter to check the weather for tomorrow? Toine brings frustration to a different dimension. You can’t help but love his passion for the game and dedication to firing up the crowd, but after you watch him for a month or so, none of this will matter.

Yeesh, I feel like I just filled out a report for three delinquent children. It’s clear that these guys have legitimate issues on and off the court. Putting these three together is like making a sitcom with George Alexander, Damon Wayans, and Ellen DeGeneras—there’s less than a -43% chance of it succeeding. I’m sorry to surround this franchise with such pessimism, but I’ve watched GP and Walker first hand as a fan of the Celtics and read enough about Williams to know that unless Shaq threatens all of their lives immediately, things are going to turn ugly. 60 wins may be a certainty for this Heat squad, but getting through teams like Detroit and Indiana is a whole different ball game especially with a ‘White Boy’, ‘Grandpa', and a ‘Chucker’.

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season #15 & #16

#15/16 - GM/Coaching Carousel

Okay, so maybe this isn't a reason for all of you to get excited about the upcoming season. It's highly probable that anyone who lives in San Antonio, Cleveland, or Charlotte among others, won't even put a grain of thought into this topic for the entire season (unless you're like me and get a good laugh out of watching some of these morons run their teams into the ground). But for those of you fans that reside in Toronto, Sacramento, and Atlanta, it's definitely a storyline worth tracking, especially if you've had enough of [insert GM/Coach's name under fire here] sending your team in the wrong direction. As it appears right now, most coaches in the NBA are treading safe waters, what with all the juggling of positions over the last two years and a number of coaches achieving considerable success. On the other hand, there's a slew of GMs who should enter the season fearing everything pink. Let's take a closer look...

If Miami's season doesn't start with a bang, Stan Van might have to head back to the San Fernando Valley if he wants to keep calling the shots.

Rough Start, and You're Gone

Rick Adelman, Sacramento Head Coach
-Kings GM Geoff Petire has really done a magnificent job with this team in rebuilding a franchise that had long been an NBA doormat. Despite trading away the franchise's biggest star in Chris Webber last February, Petrie has still positioned the Kings with enough talent to remain among the best out West. Adelman has neither exceeded nor buckled to expectations during his tenure in Sacramento, which is partially why he's sitting on relatively thin ice. Though the base of the Kings remains the same (Bibby, Peja, Miller), nearly every other part is new to the team, and the Maloofs may look to give the franchise a different face if things don't go as smoothly as planned from the get-go.

Stan Van Gundy, Miami Head Coach
-It's really quite unfair. Any realistic NBA fan who had the opportunity to watch at least a handful of the 397 Miami games on national TV last year can tell you that Stan Van did a solid job coaching the team last year. Unfortunately for Stan however, Pat Riley calls the shots at South Beach and he's got what you might call a rather large ego. As quickly as Riley stepped down two years ago, he may pull the plug on his boy Stan and resume coaching duties. All he's looking for it seems is an excuse, and something like an 8-7 start might seem like one in his eyes.

Hey Kev, you've had ten years to get KG some help! What's the hold up?

We'll Give You Until the All-Star Break

Mike Montgomery, Golden State Head Coach
-As I wrote last week, expectations are running high in Oakland. If the Warriors are struggling come February, don't expect Golden State's golden boy Chris Mullin to be the scapegoat. The only way Monty saves his job at that point is if he can point the team's problems to the series of injuries he's had to deal with, and that is a realistic possibility. But even if that is the case, I can't see Montgomery lasting in Golden State if he can't get the Warriors into the Playoffs.

Rob Babcock, Toronto General Manager
-GMs generally are allotted anywhere from 3-5 years to rebuild a franchise, but if you've completely driven a team into a wall at any point after 18 months, the grace period can be eliminated at the owner's expense. I'm not basing this on anything of course, except that Babcock needs to get his ass deported if his every move continues to tear apart this once promising Raptors franchise. And as it appears right now, he seems like the most realistic candidate to fill Scott Layden's role on NBA TV's 'Insiders' show as the former horrific GM whose insight you should never take seriously.

Sam Mitchell, Toronto Head Coach
-And if Babcock is to get the boot, I can almost promise you Sam Mitchell will be thrown off the bus right along with him. I personally am a gigantic Mitchell fan and think he'll eventually prove himself to be one of the top coaches in the league. You can argue that he didn't get along well with his players last season, but there's a lot of people out there who can relate to not working well with Rafer Alston, Jalen Rose, and Vince Carter. At least Sam had the balls to stand up to each one of them-- that's actually a rare occurence in the league. Once Mitchell is surrounded by the right personnel, he'll achieve tremendous success.

Kevin McHale, Minnesota General Manager
How come McHale's name never comes up when people discuss horrible GMs in the NBA? And for that matter, why doesn't Billy King's either? Both of these guys have had a decade to build around a top 5 player, an opportunity that most GMs dream of. Yet neither one of them has developed their respective franchise into a perennial power. I mean seriously, you're telling me since Stephon Marbury left Minnesota, that an aging Sam Cassell was the best player McHale ever brought in to play alongside KG? And people blame KG for getting beyond the first round just once? Please. If the Wolves play well this season and McHale retains his job, he has only Kevin Garnett to thank.

Billy Knight, Atlanta General Manager
-I really don't understand this league sometimes. So Knight is handed the keys to the Grizzlies franchise in 2000 and does nothing to better the team's fortune. And then miraculously a year later, Atlanta's cohesive new ownership group (yes, the same one from this summer) decides, 'hey what the hell, Billy Knight has some GM experience, let's hire him to be our GM'. And that's not all-- they actually extended his contract last October. What?! I hate to say it, but who's blank is Billy Knight blanking? Sure he freed up money the last couple of years, but what has he done to improve the team? Mark my words, signing Joe Johnson to a maximum contract is not going to come close to leading the Hawks into respectability. And drafting Marvin Williams, as talented as he is, was not the right selection considering he plays the same position as their THREE best players. Joe Johnson, Josh Childress, Josh Smith, Al Harrington, Marvin Williams-- that doesn't even work in fantasy basketball!

It might just be time for Jerry to hide behind his logo.

If We Don't Make the Playoffs...

Jerry West, Memphis General Manager
-I'm as big a Jerry West fan as anyone, but I think his stint in Memphis is beginning to go the ways of Hakeem Olajuwon in Toronto, Patrick Ewing in Seattle, and Elgin Baylor's entire tenure as GM of the Clippers-- let's just pretend it never happened. Okay, okay. I realize he helped guide the franchise to two consecutive Playoff berths, the first ever in the Grizzlies' brief history, but as I always say-- you don't compete in this league in be one of the 16 best teams; you compete to be the very best. And West has not led the Grizzlies in that direction. He layed down a respectable foundation by stockpiling assets, but he hasn't followed through by taking the team to the next level. With Memphis almost a certain bet to take a significant step back this season, ownership may decide its time to go a different direction-- that is, if the logo doesn't decide that himself first.

Mike Dunleavy, Clippers Head Coach

-Dunleavy has done about a good job as possible in his first two seasons with the Clips, yet his security could be in serious jeopardy if he doesn't lead the team into the Playoffs this season. The Clippers have had just one coach (Bill Fitch '95-98) last longer than 3 seasons since moving to California 26 years ago. So basically, the coach is almost always the scapegoat in Clipper-land(how convenient for Donald Sterling and Elgin Baylor). It would be an unfortunate scenario for Dunleavy, but I can assure you he would be scooped up by another team very quickly.

If only there were a way to get him in my fantasy league...

We're Going to Evaluate Your Status at the End of the Season

Isiah Thomas, New York General Manager
-I was thinking about starting a pool last spring where people would choose dates when Zeke would finally (it's been a long two years for Knicks fans) get the boot out of the Big Apple. And then he went out and hired Larry Brown, thus saving his job for at least two seasons (or whenever the hell LB decides it's time to pursue new endeavors). Either way, if history tells us anything, Isiah is destined to destroy this storied franchise. And you know what? It's pretty satisfying knowing that us fans can absolutely do a better job running a team than an actual GM. It really makes winning a fantasy league that much more an accomplishment considering Isiah would be an annual lock for the cellar. I'm going to enjoy the rest of his stay with the Knicks.

Larry Harris, Milwaukee General Manager
-Harris has only been on the job for a hair over two years since replacing Ernie Grunfeld, and he's actually done a pretty good job thus far. After a busy summer in which Harris drafted Andrew Bogut, re-signed Michael Redd and Dan Gadzuric, and brought in Bobby Simmons, the organization and its fans are really hoping the Bucks can gallop into the Playoffs as soon as this season. I highly doubt Harris will have any reason to break a sweat anytime soon since he's so highly regarded around the Milwaukee organization, but you have to wonder what kind of security he'll have after people realize Bogut wasn't worthy of being the first pick, Redd isn't a franchise player, and Simmons was overpaid.

Mike Woodson, Atlanta Head Coach
-Anyone who truly believes the Hawks can breakthrough this season is fooling themself. I would put the over/under for Hawks wins this season at 17 with the possibility of this team winning 25 being a real longshot. Unfortunately for Woodson, word out of Atlanta is the ownership is expecting this team to climb out of the cellar this year. And even if Woodson leads the Hawks into respectability, I certainly wouldn't doubt that the ownership considers bringing in a more experienced coach to take the team to the next level. It's not easy being a coach in the NBA.

Monday, September 26, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #17

The Plight of AI and C-Webb

This is supposed to be the City of Brotherly Love, right? Then why is it that Philly’s biggest stars seem to get on each other’s nerves worse than Mike and Carol Seaver? The T.O./McNabb saga has been an on again, off again struggle surrounding the Eagles for over a year now. While they seem to have patched things up (at least for the time being), there’s another potentially devastating duo across the street looking to achieve a similar unity. Allen Iverson and Chris Webber approach the ‘05-06 season with one common goal: their first ever NBA championship. And while they both remain two of the league’s best at their respective positions, up until last year, neither had ever had to play second fiddle on any team, at any level. Asking NBA superstars, especially Iverson, to share the reigns of a team is never an easy task. But entering the 2005-06 season that’s just what these two players are going to have to do if they ever expect to bring home the hardware.

Question: isn’t winning a championship more important than leading the league in scoring or being an All-Star? While the answer may be an affirmative “yes” to us, it is up to both Webber and (more so) Iverson to figure this out for themselves. If not, the Sixers’ Playoff chances and aspirations may vanish faster than the B-12 vitamins from Miguel Tejada’s locker. Listen, I love Iverson, he’s my favorite player by far. The guy is 5-11, 175 soaking wet and plays like he’s 6-5, 220. One writer put it best labeling AI as “Tupac with a jumpshot”. The guy has the heart of a lion and perhaps the strongest will to win in the entire NBA. But it’s no secret that his ruthless attitude can sometimes make Emily Rose look like a de-clawed baby kitten. Iverson, a self-proclaimed thug, is who he is and does what he wants. If he wants to hang out at Houlihan’s all night, go home and beat up his wife, skip practice, and smoke weed at The Executive Apartments on City Line, that’s what he’s going to do. If he has to change for anyone, chances are that guy is going to see the AI middle finger. Why he can’t compromise and adapt to coaches, teammates, and authority is one of the great mysteries of the NBA. This is the Iverson we know and love but one that will most certainly retire without a ring if doesn’t attempt to change.

So if there is any time for Iverson to abandon this thug nature, even just for an 82 game season, that time is now. He needs to curb those 35+ shot nights and let the offense run through Webber as it did in Sactown. Face it, there isn’t a better passing big man in the league than C-Webb, but last season that player seemed to vanish during his 26-game stint as a Sixer. This year, Philly must get him the ball in post or at the free-throw line and let the offense flow from the inside out, rather than the other way around. This should create a multi-dimensional offense, one giving Iverson more lanes to drive, Korver more three’s to bury, and Dalembert and Hunter all the dunks they need. It will also give a guy like Andre Iguodala a chance to open up his offensive game and become the backcourt compliment Iverson so desperately needs. A team featuring this type of offensive prowess is good for 100+ a night, guaranteed. Remember those Kings teams from a few seasons ago that seemed unstoppable until they ran into the Lakers? Well I’d argue that the pieces they had in Sacramento during those few years are inferior to what the Sixers own today. But that’s only if the offense flows through Webber, and with Iverson on board, that’s a very big if.

The fact is that when the offense consistently flows through Iverson, the Sixers become a very one-dimensional team. We saw this first hand against the Pistons in the first round of the ’05 Playoffs. That squad was constantly trying to run, out of control, firing up ill-advised 3’s, thus giving up countless transition hoops and becoming lackadaisical on D. Teams like that don’t win, never have, never will. Rather, ball clubs that run through passing big men (ala San Antonio), tend to be more patient on offense and get mostly everyone involved. This is exactly the type of game plan Mo Cheeks needs to establish in his first season as Sixers’ coach. The main reason GM Billy King hired Cheeks is due to his reputation as a players’ coach, a man able to get Iverson believing he doesn’t need to do it all himself and that an offense running through Webber might be more beneficial. While that job won’t be easy for Mo, much of the Sixers’ success still remains in the hands of both Iverson and Webber. T.O. and McNabb put aside their differences to get the Eagles all the way to the Super Bowl a season ago. Now it’s up to the duo across the street to do the same.

100,000 and counting...

Sort of like the Yankees hitting 4 million in attendance this weekend, the NBA Source achieved a similar goal on Sunday. We are proud to announce that our hit count has eclipsed the 100,000 mark, perhaps not a big deal to you, but huge for us. Thanks for helping us surpass our goals for the first year and hopefully we reach even loftier heights in 05-06.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #18

This year's crop of young dunkers will be the best the NBA has seen in quite awhile.

#18 - 2006 Slam Dunk Contest

The 2005 Slam Dunk Contest in Denver this past February was the most electrifying and thrilling display of aerial artistry that we've seen at the famed All-Star Weekend event since Vince Carter took spectators breathes away in 2000 with his assault of jaw-dropping dunks. Thanks to J.R. Smith, Amare Stoudemire, and of course Josh Smith, the Dunk Contest was simply a thing of beauty-- rich with creativity and finesse, and actually living up to the enormous hype it almost always succumbs to. Now looking ahead to the 2005-06 season, it might be time to start pumping up this year's contest right now, what with a group of dunkers that are sure to take the NBA by storm. Here's a realistic look at potential contestants (sorry, but we'll never see LeBron or D-Wade) to keep an eye on as we anticipate the resurging event...

Josh Smith, Atlanta
-His display in Denver will go down for the ages, and he barely even reached into his bag of tricks. There hasn't been a dunker who has flown through the air with such grace since Jordan had hair. Smith's rare ability to make even the simplest dunk look like a work of art is just a treat to the eys.

J.R. Smith, New Orleans
-His opening slam during February's Dunk Contest is vastly underappreciated and arguably one of the ten best dunks in the event's history. No joke. Now coupled with phenom Chris Paul in the Hornets' backcourt, look for JR to get plenty of opportunities to strut his stuff.

Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia
-Iggy probably had more highlight-reel dunks last season than any other player in the league. At least it seemed that way when he landed on SportsCenter's Top Ten list practically every night. He seems to be more of a game dunker, but I'd still like to see what he can do in the contest.

Travis Outlaw, Portland
-Outlaw barely got off the bench for almost two years before Portland decided it was time to see what the lanky kid from Mississippi could do. So for the final month of last season, we were treated to Outlaw's ridiculous hops and some remarkable alley-oops from Sebastian Telfair, a connection we might want to get used to. Outlaw also finished as the runner-up to Stromile Swift for the 'Best Posterization of Yao Ming Award'.

Mickael Pietrus, Golden State
-Can you believe that no international player has ever entered the dunk contest? Pietrus certainly merits consideration as a contestant, not to mention as a true contender. He rarely goes for the flair, but the hops are undeniably up there with the best of 'em.

Tony Allen, Boston
-Anyone see that 90 second span early last season when Allen had a triumvirate of absurd dunks against the Blazers? Just plain disgusting. He also provided us with this dunk during the VSL. Unfortunately, Tony has had a rough offseason (legal troubles and knee surgery), so it's unknown when we'll see him travel the friendly skies again.

Gerald Green, Boston
-Boston's other hi-flyer put forth quite a display during the McDonald's All-American Dunk Contest last spring, essentially wiping the floor with his competition. But if you missed that performance, check out this much-ballyhooed dunk from the VSL-- it might be all you need to be convinced that he could be Josh Smith's most threatening competition come February.

Hakim Warrick, Memphis
-Warrick is a essentially a Stromile Swift clone, which is why he'll be warmly welcomed in Memphis since he'll appease fans with a healthy dose of facials. I doubt we'll see him in the contest since his size (6'9") will work against him, but he might be encouraged to enter if he frequently pulls off more dunks like these.

Nate Robinson, New York
-Nate the Great might just be the most prolific athlete in the NBA right now. Anyone who has been tracking his career the last couple years at Washington or watched him blow people away with this Knicks this summer, knows what he's capable of. He might not get prime playing time this season, but that won't prevent him from being a feared contender for this year's dunk contest. At just 5'8", Nate Robinson going to bring back plenty of Spud Webb memories, and might just even create his own legacy.

Interesting fact about the Dunk Contest that you probably didn't know:
-Scottie Pippen ('90), Rex Chapman ('90, '91), Clarence Weatherspoon ('93), Allan Houston ('94), Antonio Davis ('94), Doug Christie ('96), and Ray Allen ('97) all have participated in the All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest. Shawn Kemp entered 5 consecutive years ('90-94), but never won. Weird.

Friday, September 23, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #19

Amare Stoudemire: The NBA's Resident Beast

By now there isn't much I can write about Amare Stoudemire that would surprise you. We all saw the numbers he posted in the '04-05 regular season and watched in absolute awe of his performance in the Playoffs. In the Suns’ Western Conference Finals loss to the Spurs, Amare averaged a cool 37.0 and 9.8 on Tim Duncan and co before bowing out in 5. The kid (just 22) is an absolute freak of nature, flying onto the NBA superstar radar faster than he can throw down a dunk over Pape Sow. We know this, we recognize this, so what else is there to talk about? Well, a few years ago during Yao-mania, none of us quite knew what to expect out of Stoudemire. Entering the league straight out of Cypress Creek High School, Amare was a mere afterthought compared to Yao and the other seven players taken ahead of him in the '02 Draft. Today, he's positively the best prospect from that crop (including Yao) and if his progression tells us anything so far, it's that he's still got a ways to go. So the question is, what were teams thinking three years ago? Maybe it’s the fact that scouts and GMs were too focussed on jump shooting, “upside”, raw talent, court vision, and all that crap. What they failed to recognize (and continue to do so) is that players’ will to win/compassion for the game can carry them just as far as Jay Bilas’ famous “upside”. Four teams ignored it in ’95 in passing up Kevin Garnett. 12 organizations did it when Kobe Bryant fell to 13 in ’96. And now we’re starting to see the same with Amare. When all is said in done, I’m afraid those eight GMs will be kicking themselves just as hard as those select few who passed on KG and Kobe.

Take a look at Amare's pre-draft card courtesy of

NBA Comparison: Ben Wallace

Strengths: Nasty! Unbelievable physical specimen with intense desire and aggressiveness. Shotblocker/rebounder extraordinaire, takes the ball to the basket with authority and tries to dunk EVERYTHING. Like a man amongst boys on the HS All-Star Camp level, against the cream of the prep crop, to the point where it becomes laughable. Has persevered through tough times living with AAU coaches and friends while his mother was incarcerated.

Weaknesses: Offensive game is still very raw. Because he is able to overpower everyone he faces, developing any perimeter game has been pointless. His handle and jumpshot must improve. Developing better moves around the basket.

Three years later, can we say much, if anything has changed in Stoudemire’s game? Reading that profile, I can see why teams strayed away from him. A 6-9 PF with a relatively weak jumper who tries to dunk “EVERYTHING”. Players like that usually don’t pan out well, just as Chris Wilcox, who just happens to be the guy the Clippers nabbed right before PHX took Amare. But nowhere on this player profile does it discuss his competitive nature. Maybe the writers shied away because it’s such a hard characteristic to judge. We hear it all the time from analysts and coaches about how “this guy has such competitive fire, it’s incredible”. Really? Well I’d expect every player at the pro level to play competitively on a nightly basis. Those who do not should take their rightful spot on the bench next to the assistant trainer. But what I see in Amare is a passion that enables him to carry his game to new levels. Players like Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki are great basketball players and usually perform at spectacular levels. But they don’t have what Amare does, that spark, that gift that will and already has allowed him to get better every time he sets foot on a basketball court. Grant Hill had it at Duke and early on with Detroit. Of course MJ had it, as did Larry and Magic. Those who display this edge now: Iverson, Shaq, Kobe, and the very best example, Garnett. These guys just have that will to win, the fire that makes them and their teammates better, every night and ultimately, every season. I saw it in Amare for the first time this past June. It didn’t matter to him that his Suns were getting hammered by the eventual champs. Just like he didn’t let his mother’s incarceration slow him down. Just like on Draft 2002 when he sat in the Green Room for eight picks until David Stern called his name. Nothing gets to this kid because his heart, his fire, and his competitive nature won’t let it. That’s what creates superstars in this league and I don’t think I’m alone in predicting that Amare Stoudemire will be (if he’s not already) the NBA’s next superstar. This season we get to see yet another step in that progression towards stardom and perhaps one that will get his Suns to the Finals. If not, don’t expect it to get him down. Nothing has so far.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #20

Welcome to The Arena in Oakland, the home of this year's sleeper...err...wake-up team.

#20 - The Golden State Warriors

Searching for the 2005-06 version of the Phoenix Suns? Look no further than The Arena in Oakland, home of the Golden State Warriors. Say what? Didn't the Warriors lose 48 games last season? Haven't they missed the Playoffs in each of the last 11 seasons? Aren't they the team that let perennial All-Stars Chris Webber, Vince Carter, and Gilbert Arenas slip through their fingers? Yes, yes, and yes. Yet as we wait patiently for the start of the 2005-06 NBA season, if you listen very closely, you can hear an unusual sound charging from a distance. Those are the wheels turning on the Golden State Warriors bandwagon for the upcoming season, building up momentum as each day passes. If you're smart enough, you'll jump onboard as quickly as you can, for it's going to be one HELL of a ride.

Okay, so perhaps it's a bit much to bestow such grand expectations on a team that has encountered as much misfortune in the last decade as (gulp!) the Los Angeles Clippers. But there's no denying that the Warriors will go into the season as one of the league's hottest up-and-comers. After Chris Mullin acquired Baron Davis for a bag of pretzels and a ginger ale right before last season's trade deadline, Golden State pulled a complete 180 and turned its season around (albeit too late). The combination of B-Diddy's talent and leadership (22.7 PPG, 9.7 APG, 2.4 SPG in April) were apparently the perfect recipe for the team to succeed (see 15-5 record over last 20 games). Now as training camp rapidly approaches, the Warriors have a bounty of depth at each position and the golden child in Baron to take them back to the Playoffs for the first time since 1994.

Depth Chart

  • PG - Baron Davis/Derek Fisher/Monta Ellis
  • SG - Jason Richardson/Mickael Pietrus
  • SF - Mike Dunleavy/Zarko Cabarkapa/Calbert Cheaney
  • PF - Troy Murphy/Ike Diogu/Chris Taft
  • C - Adonal Foyle/Andris Biedrins

So what is else is exciting about this bunch other than their quest to shut the door on an era of futility? Remember that reference I made to the Phoenix Suns to open this piece? Well, that wasn't made just to compare this year's potentially surprising team to last year's. No, this Warriors team can flat out score-- just ask the Suns, a team that they outscored twice during the final weeks of last season. Mike Montgomery's bunch dropped 100+ in each of the team's last 14 games, averaging 112.9 PPG during that span. With arguably the most explosive backcourt in the league in Davis and Jason Richardson, and a core of players that excel in a full court game, don't expect Montgomery to slow this team down one bit. Part of the reason why Chris Mullin has nary lifted a finger this summer is that he didn't want to tinker with a squad that flowed so well together during the final two months. Each guy knew their role going out, and each will know their role going in-- that's a major reason why this Warriors team should have no trouble picking up where they left off. And oh yeah, Mullin also picked up some dude named Ike Diogu during the Draft in June. The last we heard from him, he posted an absurd 37 and 12 during a VSL game. Rumor has it, Mullin and Monty are contemplating a small-ball starting lineup with Diogu at the 4 and Troy Murphy at the 5. Why? Because Diogu is just too fucking good not to start.

It's going to be a fun season in Oakland. Ask any Warriors fan out there, they'll tell you. Or turn on any Warriors game you have the luxury of watching. If it's at The Arena, just prepared to turn the volume down because it gets pretty loud in there. This isn't your quiet Phillips Arena with invisible fans, your laid back Staples Center chock full of celebrities making 'appearaces', or your fairweather New Jersey crowd only showing up to Continental during the Playoffs. The Arena is BUMPING every single game-- win or lose, and if you're still struggling for a reason to hop on board the Warriors wagon, there is your reason. It's tough not to feel sorry for fans that have been subject to one of sports' worst-run franchises for the last decade, but they don't want your sympathy-- they just want to win.

Report: Payton to Miami

This will be GP's 5th team since Oregon State

The Associated Press is reporting that Gary Payton's agent, Aaron Goodwin, is in Miami to finalize a contract for his client. The one-year deal should give GP his best shot at a title since his Sonics team made a failed run at the Bulls in '96. The financial aspects of the agreement were not announced but it's believed that the Heat can give him as much as the full $5 million mid-level, or as little as the veteran minimum, $1.1 million. Payton should challenge recently acquired Jason Williams for starting point guard duties now that Damon Jones has elected to play in Cleveland. Add this to the forefront of Paul's Training Camp Battles. More news will be released as it comes to us.

**UPDATE: 3:30 PM**

According to, the Heat will sign the 15-year veteran to a one-year, minimum $1.1 million contract and avoid using any of its $5 million midlevel exception. That leaves Miami in position to add a player during the regular season who might be released. The team believes they will likely bring in another wing player before training camp begins, with former first-round pick Rodney White an option.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Message Board Reloaded

Hi, this is Scottie Pippen reminding you to quit turning your back on the NBA Source message boards. For your convenience I have placed direct links to the different forum topics on the right sidebar above the links. I cannot possibly make this any easier without physically clicking the mouse for you. The dudes at NBA Source would really like to get the boards rolling right now just in time for the start of the preseason. Please feel free to start any forum topics even if it's about a nasty deuce you dropped at work yesterday or how hideous my nose is. Thanks for reading,


30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #21

The Return of Jay Williams

June 19, 2003

Despite strict parameters within his contract that prohibited him from riding a motorcycle, there was Jay Williams, the summer after a frustrating rookie campaign, cruising around on his brand new Yamaha sportbike. What occurred that evening would severely alter the life of the Bulls’ PG forever. Williams lost control of the bike and smashed into a telephone pole, completely mangling his left leg to the point where it was uncertain if he would ever walk again. The former 2nd overall pick had to be immobilized for the next eight weeks, a unfortunate situation that would force basketball to take a back seat for the first time in his young life.

April 2004

After a half dozen surgeries on his left leg and over nine months of rest and rehabilitation, Jay Williams finally decided to pick up a basketball. Initially he was forced to take things slow, just shooting and dribbling, then gradually jogging several months later. This was his first step to making a full recovery back to the game he truly loved.

August 2004

Jay admitted that he’s only 65-70% back to where he needs to be to compete at the NBA level. He initially thought he could be ready by the 04-05 All-Star break but decided not to take any chances in rushing back. As he said: “A great thing I have on my side is that I'm 22 years old, just getting ready to turn 23 on September 10. If I did wait a full year, I'd only be 24 and I'd be right in the prime of my career.”

November 2004

Working out at Duke University in Durham, NC, Jason was rehabbing at a rapid pace. He began playing more and more half-court games and really started to push himself and go all out. One day Williams decided to attempt something he hadn’t done in almost a year and a half: dunk. After throwing down his first jam off the left leg since the accident, the former Blue Devil had to take a moment and reflect. “It was so exciting, I actually kind of cried. Maybe that sounds weird to some of you, but for someone who many thought wasn't going to be able to walk, to be able to dunk the ball is a great accomplishment to me.”

April 2005

Almost two years after the accident, Jay was becoming so focussed on a 2005 return that he chose to begin working out with Michael Jordan’s trainer, Tim Grover. The fact that Williams was training with Grover, a well known and respected man in the NBA, prompted teams to start calling to see how well he was progressing. “It pumped me up for the Toronto Raptors to call and see how I am. I received some other calls from some other teams. It means a lot to me. I think teams are realizing that my comeback is not just talk.”

July 2005

Working out with Grover for the past 3-4 months really strengthened Jason physically and mentally. On July 22, the media was invited to Hoops Gym in Chicago to watch Williams live for the first time since the accident—a truly astounding accomplishment. After the workout, Jay vowed to be ready for training camp come October and announced that 6-8 teams had already inquired about his plans for the season. Recognizing that the Bulls are fairly set in their backcourt, JW admitted that it’s probably a long shot for him to return to Chicago. Being through the worst of times however, nothing is going to frustrate Williams. The first step is just to land with an NBA team, and once he gets his opportunity, the sky’s the limit.

September 2005

The Toronto Sun is reporting that the Raptors are extremely interested in bringing Jay in to be their backup point guard for the 05-06 season. Williams claims to be 85% healthy and in addition to working out for Toronto, has also had auditions for Miami and Houston. Unfortunately, the Heat have reportedly declined to offer Jay a contract and will continue to look elsewhere for PG help. On a brighter note, the news of the Raptors’ interest has to be a great feeling for Jay. Not only has he made it all the way back to the pro level, but he also has a chance to earn some quality minutes this season. With Coach Sam Mitchell’s evident distaste for his starting PG Rafer Alston, it would not be too far-fetched to think that Jay could take over the reigns at some point during the year. Stay tuned for more news as it comes to us.


While I hope it's not the case, we have to expect Williams to struggle in his first year back and even miss some time due to injury. From what I hear the leg continues to get stronger and eventually JW should be back to 100%. At just 24 years of age there is still plenty of time for him to return to the superstar level he played at in college. As with his rehabilitation process however, he'll just have to take things one day at a time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Recognizing Katrina

Watching the Monday Night Football double-header last night (and by the way, is there anything better than a MNF DH? And conversely anything worse than the MNF DH hangover at work the next day?), it came to my attention that a short piece on Hurricane Katrina was long overdue. I know Paul touched on it briefly two weeks ago but I wanted to take some time and express my thoughts as well as commend the sporting world for their generous time and effort. Let me start by saying that as I sit comfortably in my office right now there are presently over one million New Orleans residents without a home. To put things in perspective, take a Giants Stadium (which holds 80,000+) filled with people, times that by 12.5, and that’s approximately how many have been left homeless. Then try and imagine how 90,000 square miles have been wiped out by this brutal storm, 90,000!!!!!!! I can't even walk 1 mile without gasping for air, never mind 90,000 square miles. I remember watching the Weather Channel on that Sunday right before the hurricane hit thinking this was just another Gulfcoast storm being blown out of proportion. Boy was I wrong.

Last week my stepfather told me about a man he works with whose brother had to live in the Superdome for several days as the hurricane swept through. He said it was the most grotesque site one could ever imagine seeing in his lifetime. Due to a shortage of food and water coupled with tremendous heat conditions, dead bodies (mostly babies) kept piling up as the days wore on. The smell from those bodies caused those surrounding them to become violently ill with disease, infections, nausea, etc. The stench of rotting carcasses and human vomit replaced the clean air that once captured the aura of Final Fours and Super Bowls. Once home to one of the most prestigious stages in all of sports had rapidly transformed into a modern day depression.

Listening to that story immediately caused me to run upstairs to my computer and donate to the relief efforts. But after doing so, it honestly didn’t make me feel any better. Sending a small portion of money was the least I could do. Unless your bankrupt or homeless yourself and you haven’t donated, then shame on you. There are plenty of things we can sacrifice to help victims get the food, supplies, and support necessary to start putting their lives back together. This isn’t some third world country we’re talking about here where the government is the main culprit of poverty. These are American victims of an unavoidable natural disaster; one that has left them in a situation that desperately requires our assistance. And while we as individuals must take it upon ourselves to do our very best in helping out our fellow citizens, the sporting world has done a magnificent job of setting a positive example. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue could have easily made last night’s Saints-Giants game a 1 PM contest on Sunday in San Antonio. But instead he chose to showcase the game on Monday Night in the center of the country, at primetime, on ABC. And why did he do this? In order to set up a nationwide telethon for the Bush-Clinton Katrina fund headlined by former and current NFL greats. The list of players and celebrities included:

Marcus Allen, Jamal Anderson, Ottis Anderson, Wayne Chrebet, Brian Dawkins, Eric Dickerson, Mark Duper, John Elway, Jason Fabini, Mike Haynes, Michael Jackson, Steve Largent, Curtis Martin, Kevin Mawae, Bart Oates, Christian Okoye, Chad Pennington, Robert Porcher, Art Shell, Jackie Slater, Bruce Smith, Bart Starr, Gene Washington Paul Tagliabue, Gene Upshaw, Regis Philbin, Frank Gifford, Willie Lanier, Ken O'Brien, Bill Pickell, Andre Reed, Gale Sayers, and Kellen Winslow. Missing from this list that I recognized: Jay Fiedler, Tony Danza, and Jeff Hostetler (still has the porn mustache).

This heartfelt effort by Tagliabue and the NFL is one that will hopefully make a significant difference in some of these victims’ lives. However, if you can believe it, some asshole at the New York Times had the gall to write an article this morning that attempted to take away from the league’s efforts. If you were already in a cranky mood, I would pass on reading this one. I almost punched a co-worker in the face after seeing this.

The effort of the sporting world hasn’t stopped here. Major League Baseball Players are wearing Red Cross stickers on their helmets in order to remind viewers to donate. In additon, NBA players Allan Houston, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Erick Dampier, Samuel Dalembert, Clarence Weatherspoon, Maurice Williams, Justin Reed and Al Jefferson along with WNBAers Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings and Cheryl Ford also made Katrina headlines this week. All 11 players personally went down to the hurricane ravaged areas in an effort to hand out supplies to the victims. ESPN’s Ric Bucher tells about their journey in detail.

I guess most of us see the efforts of these professional athletes as expected. We carry the attitude that these players are almost obligated to use a portion of their million dollar contracts to assist the victims. While you’ll get no argument from me on this issue, remember that there’s a fine line between writing a check and putting in the time and effort to help those on a personal level. While I’m certain that the money is much appreciated down south, I would bet that for the victims getting the chance to meet some of these players and spending some quality time with them has really boosted their spirits. And for people who don’t have a home, have lost loved ones, and are struggling for survival, spirit is all they have left. My hats off to the leagues, athletes, and individuals that have donated their time and money to those in need. And for those of you who have yet to lend a helping hand, there is still plenty of time to do so.

Red Cross

Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund

Feed the Children

Mississippi Hurricane Recovery Fund

On a lighter note, did anyone see the celebrity trio ABC chose to open up the telethon ceremonies? That’s right, none other than Robin Roberts, Regis Philbin, and Tony Danza. Are you serious? How the hell did they come up with this group? Roberts, who is the first human to be both black and white AND male and female, Philbin who is just a bumbling idiot, and Tony Miceli. What was their backup plan? Ozzy Osbourne, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Joey Lawrence?

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #22

Houston's backcourt rotation is one of the cloudier situations to be figured out in training camp next month.

#22 - Training Camp Battles

It's a topic that often goes overlooked in the NBA, but is of frequent discussion in both the MLB and especially the NFL. Perhaps it's because Spring Training and NFL Training Camps take precedence over the NBA's exhibition season, or maybe it's due to the fact that there's much less change over in the NBA compared to the other two leagues. Whichever the case, there appears to be a lot of intruiging inter-team battles for starting positions in store for us this October. Let's take a closer look at five worth keeping a keen eye on...

Lakers Starting Point Guard - Aaron McKie vs Sasha Vujacic

This certainly isn't the prettiest of training camp battles, but it's still going to draw a lot of attention because we're talking about the starting point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. The free agent signee McKie holds the edge right now because of his experience, defense, and shooting touch-- all staples for the triangle offense.However, McKie will be 33 next month and is coming off his worst season ever (16.4 MPG, 2.2 PPG) in which he struggled to cope with lingering knee issues. The upstart Vujacic showed flashes of promise at the end of last season, but still has a long way to go before he's capable of running a complex offense. Look for McKie to assume the starting spot early on, but if the Lakers struggle, for Vujacic to settle in to the role later in the season.

Cavaliers Starting Power Forward - Drew Gooden vs Donyell Marshall

Most people don't expect the newly acquired Marshall to wrestle the starting spot away from Drew Gooden, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the former Raptor push for serious minutes during training camp. Both of Gooden's most apparent strengths, offensive rebounding and scoring in transition, Marshall does just as good, if not better. Couple that with the fact that Marshall is also a supreme defender next to Gooden, and that he can extend defenses with his deft shooting touch, and I think playing Marshall 30-35 minutes a night is a no-brainer. Whether you're on the floor to start games really doesn't make much of a difference as long as you're out there to end games, and I think this is a concept Donyell Marshall understands. He might not take over Gooden's starting spot, but he will steal a significant chunk of his minutes-- enough so that he'll be a major contender for 6th Man of the Year.

Bulls Starting Small Forward - Andres Nocioni vs Luol Deng

The Bulls have had one of the stangest offseasons of any team, and aside from the Sonics, are the one team still with a significant amount of work left on their hands. While Jim Paxson has been quiet and deliberate with his maneuvering, it's beginning to look as though the Bulls will bring back every essential player from last season's squad-- this could make for some captivating training camp competitions. Most people just assume that because last season's stud rookies Ben Gordon and Luol Deng are a year older, that they'll both be inserted into the starting lineup and play larger roles for the team. Not so fast. Gordon appears to be a fixture as the Bulls' 6th Man, while Deng is going to have to outplay Nocioni in October to convince Scott Skiles that he deserves the starting role. Skiles loves the grittiness and unselfish play Nocioni brings to the lineup, but Deng is only going to get better with experience and might just prove to be too talented to start on the bench.

Mavs Starting 2 Guard - Doug Christie vs Jerry Stackhouse vs Marquis Daniels

Anyone who thinks the loss of Michael Finley is really going to hurt the Mavericks this season is fooling themselves. Before Cuban even brought in Doug Christie, Dallas was already well-equipped to sufficiently dole out Finley's minutes to Stackhouse and Daniels. Now with Christie on board, the situation gets more interesting. Stackhouse went public last week about his desire to claim the starting spot after he heard talk that Christie was arriving in Dallas to fill Finley's spot in the lineup. "I'm not conceding anything", said Stack. Meanwhile, Marquis Daniels is not to be forgotten. The 3rd year guard battled injuries all of last season and is expected to come back this fall in tip-top shape.

Miami Heat Starting Power Forward - Udonis Haslem vs Antoine Walker

With this particular case, I'm not sure it's going to come down to who's a better fit in the starting lineup, but who's more aptly suited to come off the bench. The answer seems easy-- 'Toine, but for the amount of money Miami is paying him (6 years, $53 million), they might feel relegated to hand over the starting role to him. Haslem seems like a more natural fit-- he worked well alongside Shaq last year, he's willing to do the dirty work, and he accepts his role as the guy expected to clean up everyone else's scraps. The Heat don't necessarily need more offensive firepower in their lineup and would be better served allowing Antoine to do his thing (clang 3-pointers, throw up airballs while being double-teamed) with either Shaq or D-Wade resting on the bench. One thing is for sure, 'Toine has as much pride as anyone in the league, and he won't simply accept a 6th man role without a fight.

Other Battles to Watch:

Cavaliers Starting Point Guard
- Damon Jones vs Eric Snow

Celtics Point Guard Rotation - Marcus Banks vs Dan Dickau (if he lands with the Celts) vs Delonte West vs Orien Greene vs Will Bynum

Grizzlies Starting Shooting Guard - Eddie Jones vs Dahntay Jones

Warriors Starting Small Forward - Mike Dunleavy vs Mickael Pietrus

Blazers Starting Small Forward - Darius Miles vs Travis Outlaw

Kings Shooting Guard Rotation - Bonzi Wells vs Kevin Martin vs Francisco Garcia

Rockets Guard Rotation - Bob Sura vs Mike James vs Derek Anderson vs David Wesley vs Jon Barry vs Luther Head

Knicks Power Forward Rotation - Channing Frye vs Mike Sweetney vs Malik Rose vs Maurice Taylor vs David Lee

Bucks Starting Point Guard - T.J. Ford vs Maurice Williams

Suns Starting Shooting Guard - Raja Bell vs Jim Jackson vs Boris Diaw