NBA

The Jeremy Lin Phenomenon

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After two big games in two big wins for the struggling New York Knicks Jeremy Lin has become the toast of New York City. What’s remarkable about this is that the NY Giants just won the Super Bowl and Lin has still found his space in the sports section.

Lin’s surprisingly exceptional play comes just at the right time for the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony has been fighting injuries for most of the season while Knicks point guard Toney Douglas seems to be fighting with the rim that he hits constantly with his errand three point shots. Rookie guard Iman Shumpert is talented but has failed to run the Knicks offense effectively.

Eventually, coach D’Antoni got tired of his players trying to get him fired with their lethargic play and gave Lin the keys to the Knicks offense which now looks like a Corvette instead of a 1995 Buick Regal.

Although Lin has only played like a superstar for two games, the MSG crowd has embraced the 6’3″ guard from Harvard. His smile and his ability to run the pick and roll are hard to ignore. There is no doubt that his Asian and Ivy League roots play a part in the buzz surrounding him and probably even played a role in the opportunity he was given to show his talent up to this point. Lin has finally been given a shot at being a starting point guard and so far has a A+.

The absence of Baron Davis and the absence of Toney Douglas’ talent will definitely give Lin an opportunity to prove to the league that these two games are not a fluke. Hopefully he can be an All-Star guard for the Knicks for the next ten yeard. However, if that does not work out he can always become president.

 

NBA off season survival guide

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When the NBA Finals end every June there is a void left on my television and in my life. After the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in six games to capture the NBA championship I was probably more hurt than the Heat. The reality of almost three months without the NBA (maybe more with a lockout) sunk in and so did depression. So what should a die hard NBA fan do to maintain his/her sanity during this offseason?

First, call up that woman who’s calls you have been ignoring and set up a date. She may be crazy, but she’ll remind you of Game 4 of the western conference semifinals when Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum lost their minds when they knew their elimination was inevitable.

Second, head over to the doctor’s office and get rid of that “cold” you caught when you were vacationing in Miami/Cancun/Dominican Republic. The waiting room may remind of the death row scenes in the Green Mile, but it will also remind of Michael Jordan scoring 38 points against the Utah Jazz in the 1997 finals while suffering from flu like symptoms.

Third, invite some friends over to play some video games. This get together may only be happening because every girl you called was “busy” that night, but it will remind you of Kobe Bryant’s video game-esque 81 point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.

Fourth, take your kids/nieces/nephews to the circus. The flying trapeze artists and elephant manure should be the shock to your system that helps keeps you awake through these few hard months. The unbelievable ability of the circus performers should also remind you of Vince Carter’s 2000 NBA All Star Weekend Dunk Contest performance. Still to the date it is the most amazing thing I have ever seen produced on a basketball court.

This guide should help you get through those NBA off season blues, until of course the lockout comes.

Jackson could go out in a dustpan

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Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson announced at the start of this season that he would be retiring. Jackson has earned 11 championship rings as a head coach and made superstars like Michael Jordan, Scotties Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant into Hall of Fame players. However, during this postseason Jackson is in uncharted territory. For the first time in his career, he is coaching a team in the playoffs that is down 0-3 in a best of series.

The Lakers have struggled against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Maverick in the western conference semifinals. Lakers center Andrew Bynum attributed the Lakers struggles to “trust issues” the two time defending NBA champions are dealing with.  These trust issues could result in a series sweep for the Mavericks and a less than spectacular end to the career of the most successful head coach in NBA history.

Jackson has lost playoff series before but never like this. In game three, Jackson was seen beating on power forward Pau Gasol’s chest to get the big man’s attention. Jackson has traded in his usual calm demeanor for a fire and passion that have seen to be birthed from a feeling of desperation.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant told the press that he feels the Lakers will be the first team to win a best of seven series when facing a 0-3 deficit. Hopefully for Jackson’s sake, Bryant’s supreme confidence and determination will trump the trust issues the Hollywood Lakers seem to be dealing with. If not, Jackson and his 11 championship rings will be swept off into the sunset by a newer and tougher Mavericks squad.

Glimpse into the 2011 NBA playoffs

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Victor Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

This season’s version of the NBA playoffs have already featured the elimination of the western conference’s top seeded San Antonio Spurs, a 46 point game from the Orlando Magic’s All-Start center Dwight Howard and a 40-foot three-point bank shot from the Atlanta Hawks sixth man scoring machine Jamal Crawford that helped eliminate Howard’s Magic. The Boston Celtics swept the injury depleted New York Knicks while Kevin Durant lead the Oklahoma City Thunder over the New York Knicks, I mean Denver Nuggets. The championship contending Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and defending champion Los Angeles Lakers also advanced to the second round.

At the beginning of the season I predicted the south beach marriage of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh would lead the Miami Heat to a championship this season. That prediction was looking pretty bad when the Heat started the season 9-8 and lost their first three match-ups against the defending eastern conference champions, the Boston Celtics. However, the Heat won their last regular season game against Celtics pretty convincingly and now lead the squad from Bean town 2-0 in their eastern semifinal best of 7 series.

The Heat have looked super human and the Celtics have looked their age. While Miami moves up, down and over the court at will, the Celtics have looked…..old. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are all fighting injuries while Rajon Rondo has looked disinterested on defense the past two games.

The Heat will capture this series in 5 games and will defeat the Chicago Bulls in the eastern conference finals. As long as Carlos Boozer continues to play poorly, the Bulls will have no chance to reach the NBA finals.

In a prime time for point guards, Rose stands out

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The NBA has a history of being a big man’s league. The early domination of players of like George Mikan, Bob Pettit, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain made it impossible for any team in the league to succeed with out size. The trend continued into the 1990s when players like Shaquille O’Neal, Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning became anchors for their respective teams.

The 90s were also dominated by big shooting guards. Micheal Jordan, Mitch Richmond and Allan Houston used their strength to create space and dominate their opponents. As time has progressed, the game has gotten bigger and faster.

The new trend in the NBA over the last decade has been the development of superstar point guards. The recognition for these smaller floor generals started when Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash won back to back MVPs in 2005 and 2006.

As point guard greats like Nash and Jason Kidd have gotten older, young guns like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose have entered the peak of their careers.

The player who has made the biggest jump this season has been Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose. Rose is averaging a career high 25 points and 8 assists per game. The biggest addition to Rose’s game has been a reliable jump shot. Rose is shooting 40% from the three point line and hit five threes against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. The addition of free agent forward Carlos Boozer to the Bulls has helped Rose get, take, and make more jump shots. The form and consistency on Rose’s jump shot shows the commitment he made to getting better in the off-season.

Rose’s development instantly makes the Bulls a threat to the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics, the superstar heavy Miami Heat, and the Superman powered Orlando Magic. Plus, he can still do this…

Blake Griffin is on a mission to take over L.A.

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L.A. Clippers rookie forward Blake Griffin missed the entire 2009-10 NBA season because of a knee injury he suffered during a preseason game. Griffin is fully recovered now and has picked up where he left off at Oklahoma.

Although the Clippers are off to another poor start this season, Griffin has given Clipper Nation hope for the future. Griffin’s signature game came against the New York Knicks last month. Griffin scored 44 points and looked like he was using a trampoline to jump over the Knicks defenders. Of course the Clippers lost, but Griffin’s performance had basketball fans and social networks buzzing for days.

Griffin is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds this season, and unlike the usual rookie, has performed great against the NBA’s top teams and players. If Griffin continues to make waves in the NBA, and the Clippers find competent individuals to run their organization, he could become the face of L.A. basketball.

Griffin most resembles the Reign Man, Seattle Supersonics forward Shawn Kemp, only with a lot more skill, and a monstrous work ethic. With Eric Gordon as his Gary Payton, great things can happen in Clipper-land.

Bad NBA contract alert

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Mike Conley Jr.

 

The Memphis Grizzlies have signed point guard Mike Conley Jr. to a five year, $45 million dollar contract extension. Although Conley is averaging 15 points, 8 assists and 4 steals per game, his overall performance since being drafted 4th overall in 2007 has been disappointing. Last season Conley averaged 12 points and 5 assists a game. His lack of size and moderate speed make him a liability on defense. Conley is now making top ten point guard money, and may not be good enough to crack the top 20 as the season progresses.

Phoenix Suns swing-man Jared Dudley and Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford also signed contract extensions this week. Dudley signed a five year, $23 million extension and Horford signed a five year $60 million extension. Dudley does a great job of hustling and knocking down threes for the Suns and has worked hard to improve his defense. Horford is one of the best centers in the league. His size and skill help the Atlanta Hawks dominate their eastern conference competition.

Quick Hits & Links: LeBron, Yankees, A-Rod, Amar'e

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Everyone is talking about the effective of Amar’e Stoudemire in New York without two-time MVP point guard Steve Nash feeding him the ball. How will Nash do this season without a powerful finisher under the basket to feed?

LeBron James was not obligated to thank the fans in Cleveland. James gave the Cavaliers more than they gave him. Thanking his home town of Akron was all that was necessary.

Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire should all be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The hall is filled with bigots, ball players that never played against black baseball players, drug abusers, wife beaters and alcoholics. Why not add some cheaters to the mix? And if baseball writers and the hall are so against these steroid users, why is all their record-breaking memorabilia in the Hall of Fame?

Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, LeBron James and the rest of the Miami Heat will win the 2010-11 NBA championship. “They will never lose two games in a row this year, other 29 teams better hope the lockout gets moved up a year.” – Jeff Van Gundy on Heat.

As a die-hard Yankee fan, the Tampa Bay Rays scare me (A LOT!).

The Detroit Pistons signed center Ben Wallace to a two-year contract when his knees retired two years ago.

And last but not least…

Dan Gilbert Takes a Shot at the Throne

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Cavs owner Dan Gilbert

As soon as LeBron James announced his decision to join the Miami Heat, Cleveland began burning his jersey and slipped into a deep depression. The majority owner of the Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, felt just as betrayed as LeBron’s former fans. So, he got out his laptop and wrote this very spirited letter to Cleveland Cavalier fans (and LeBron). ENJOY!

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”

You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn.  And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

Dan Gilbert

Majority Owner

Cleveland Cavaliers

Thanks to Duane Rankin and the NABJ Sports Task Force for sharing this letter with me

King James Takes His Crown to South Beach

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Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers free agent forward LeBron James has decided to play with the Miami Heat next season. James says his heart remains in the Cleveland area and noted how much he appreciated the love and support they showed him for seven years. James also mentioned that is was time for a change and that the opportunity to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is a great one. The opportunity to win a championship with two other All-Star talents is something that was worth more than the extra money James could have received if he stayed with the Cavs.

James broke the news on ESPN during his hour-long special titled, “The Decision”. Leading up to the show, ESPN Insider Chris Broussard reported that most of his sources had James joining the Heat. The show also brought James a lot of criticism regarding the attention he was seeking by drawing out his decision and making it into a dramatic movie.

When James joins Bosh and Wade in Miami, his scoring and overall dominance will have to take a hit to keep the other stars happy. The max contracts that the all three demand will make it difficult for the organization to fill the Heat roster with capable NBA players. However, the Miami Heat will be the super-team of the NBA. James feels he, Bosh and Wade’s talents could lift each other up and eventually lead them to multiple championships.

The verdict is still out on whether or not the Heat will be championship contenders this upcoming season. The mental toughness of James and Bosh in long and tough playoff series is still up in the air. However, what we all should do is applaud James’ commitment to winning which obviously out weighed his desire to “get paid”. Also, James never compared himself to Kobe Bryant or Micheal Jordan, we did that. James joining the Heat is a reflection on his commitment to winning, which is something we can use to compare him to MJ and Kobe.

As an NBA fan, I am excited to see what the three All-Stars can do. As a die-hard Knicks fan, I AM UPPPPP-SETTTT!!!!