NBA

The Derrick Rose Dilemma

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New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose and a group of friends were recently found not guilty in a highly publicized civil rape case. Rose and two friends were accused by an ex-girlfriend of Rose’s of taking advantage of her while she was intoxicated. According to court documents, the woman invited Rose over to her apartment a few weeks after Rose had ended their relationship with a text message. A few hours later Rose and his two friends arrived and engaged in sexual activity with the woman.

The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, contends that she was too intoxicated (and may have been drugged) to consent to sex with all three. In this civil trail, the woman and her attorneys were seeking $20 million in damages.

Like in many rape cases, the details and accusations are very disturbing. However, the most disturbing comments and ideology may have come from Rose himself. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, Rose’s idea of sexual consent needs to be re-examined.

This all seems a bit fishy when you consider that when asked in his deposition if he had an understanding of the word “consent,” Rose replied “No, but can you tell me?” – Complex.com

During the trial Rose defended himself by stating that the racy texts he exchanged with his ex-girlfriend confirmed sexual consent. He also believes that the woman’s sexual history confirmed sexual consent. A lot of the testimony discrediting the plaintiff  amounts to victim shaming.

Rose’s obvious ignorance when it comes to the definition of consent is scary. Also, his verbiage during the course of this civil trial makes it really hard to root for him this NBA season. Sports fans have had to wrestle with their morals a lot in the past year.

Last NFL season, football fans had to watch Greg Hardy suit up on Sundays with some horrible accusations hanging over his head. An ex-girlfriend of Hardy’s accused him of choking her, throwing her onto a couch of loaded assault rifles and threatening to kill her if she told the media about it.

After serving a lengthy NFL suspension, Hardy suited up for the Dallas Cowboys last year. Cowboys fans were torn between their love for their hometown team and their hate for the alleged actions of Hardy. Hardy’s baggage and diminished skills have him employed this season.

Another example playing out this NFL season includes New York Giants kicker Josh Brown. Brown:

Giants kicker Josh Brown admitted to physically and emotionally abusing his wife and called himself a sex-addicted “deviant” who viewed himself as “God” and his wife as “my slave”, according to entries in his own journals, emails to his wife, and a letter he wrote to friends, which were obtained by SNY – Sny.tv

The New York Giants have not commented on these discoveries from Brown’s journal. The next logical step would be to release Brown so that he can get the counseling and help he needs.

Although all three cases are very different, Rose, Hardy and Brown call into question whether or not an athletes treatment of women should affect their ability to earn such a lucrative living on a public platform. Also, as fans, how do we separate the athlete/team from the man.

In particular, Rose is in his first season playing for a Knicks team desperate to improve from last season’s 32-50 record. Rose’s ability to help a team win has never been in question (while healthy). However, each time he takes the court this season, his judgment and character will be.

 

Kobe’s Depth & Drama

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Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times

 

Last night is the only time in history when 60 will be worth much more than 73. Kobe Bean Bryant ended his 20 year NBA career last night scoring 60 points while hitting multiple clutch jump shots in a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz. A few minutes before that, the Golden State Warriors earned their record 73rd regular season win against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Kobe scoring 60 points is nothing new, he has done it 5 times. Kobe taking 50 shots is a career high but totally not out of character, he has missed the most shots in NBA history. During Kobe’s last season we did experience something new though. The depth, compassion and respect we saw from Kobe during his farewell season totally obliterates all the things we thought he was.

Kobe made his name as a cold hearted competitor. There are tons of stories from teammates and even a book from his former head coach Phil Jackson which paint Kobe as a win at all costs type of player. Championships meant more to Bryant than the relationships he had in the locker room. However, without a realistic shot at any team success the past three seasons in LA, Kobe has had to find other motivation to fuel his game.

Throughout this season, it seems as if that motivation has come in the form in coaching his super young teammates and solidifying relationships with his peers around the league. At the end of each game this season Kobe gave out more hugs than Barney. In numerous interviews he praised the superstars of our era and openly offered his wisdom to all who needed it. All this from a guy who once said:

“Smush Parker was the worst. He shouldn’t have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. … I was shooting 45 times a game [in 2007]. What was I supposed to do? Pass it into Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown?”

And this:

“There’s certain players that I’ve made cry. If I can make you cry by being sarcastic, then I really don’t want to play with you in the playoffs.”

Even though this seems like a new Kobe, he has had no issue being open in the past. Probably too open. During his time with Shaquille O’Neal in LA, the two would frequently communicate through the media. Kobe always thought Shaq was lazy in practice, and Shaq thought Kobe took too many shots. The worst of it came when the jabs at each other became personal. During Kobe’s sexual assault trial, for some reason he suggested that Shaq had paid off women that he had extra marital relations with:

Eventually, Kobe grew up and two have made up. Through Kobe’s jovial farewell season, he has made these minor missteps seem irrelevant. Our first thoughts will always go to his precise movements and  planned actions on the basketball court that made him an all time great.

The last stand of Kobe Bryant is something I’ll definitely tell my future kids about as they watch the final games of Steph Curry or Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis. The Kobe that smile, hugs and scored 60 in his final game, is what will resonate for years to come. But the drama, mistakes and overall hatred for his should by opposing fans is what made him more interesting than the average superstar. Probably even more interesting than MJ.

Mamba Out…

 

Iverson Brings Hip Hop to the Hall

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Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

 

The Basketball Hall of Fame last night announced that Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming and Allen Iverson will each be inducted as part of the 2016 hall class. While there are hundreds of all time greats who have been inducted into the hall for the past 57 years, these three stand out as individuals who appealed to groups that had not been represented in any professional sport before. Yao introduced NBA basketball to billions of Chinese citizens and made the game global. Shaq was a dominant big man in the mold of Wilt and Kareem but could run the floor, sell rap records and be marginally funny. Iverson was the one who broke the mold though.

Although Allen Iverson is being inducted into the hall based on his ability to dominate on the basketball court and his jaw dropping statistics, his impact as a cultural icon is what will keep his name in the minds of his fans forever. Iverson was unapologetic when it came to his love for and expression of hip hop culture.

Iverson’s style was his own. He arrived at arenas looking more Method Man than Michael Jordan. The long white tees, baggy jeans, throwback jerseys and durags were something that the casual NBA fan in 1996 was not used to seeing on a budding superstar. The genesis of the Iverson era also coincided with the release of some of hip hop’s most creative/innovative albums  in 1996. All Eyez on Me (2Pac), It Was Written (Nas), The Score (The Fugees), ATLiens (OutKast) and Reasonable Doubt (Jay Z) all dropped in 1996.

While Iverson’s rookie year was an introduction for most to what a professional athlete who loves hip hop culture looks like, he was still on a team that only won 22 games. Also, in the middle of the Michael Jordan era, everything else can seem small. It was not until the second MJ retirement and the development of a winning organization did attention turn to Iverson and his different approach to everything.

By 1999, the Sixers were a playoff team with a credible coach, Larry Brown. At this point, Iverson is on a national stage and stays there for the next ten years. He ultimately becomes league MVP in 2001 and steps over the Cavs coach later that season in the NBA Finals.

However, even though Iverson’s star is rising, his hip hop style becomes an issue for owners and NBA commissioner David Stern. In 2005, the NBA instituted a league wide dress code which basically ruled out everything in Iverson’s closet. The impact Iverson had on NBA style was seen a threat to the brand and profitably of the NBA. Even though his talent and leave it on the floor mentality was selling out arenas around the country.

After 2005, Iverson did not win much as a member of the Nuggets, Pistons, Grizzlies and one final stint with the Sixers. However, his legacy remained intact. Current NBA superstars like Stephen Curry and LeBron James all look to Iverson as a reason to play as hard as you can each game. Iverson’s willingness to express himself make it easy for Melo, KD and Russ to openly express their love for hip hop music and culture. This is something that MJ, Scottie or Chuck could never relate to.

The induction of Allen Iverson into the Basketball Hall of Fame equates to the induction of hip hop into the hall. Cant wait for his speech.

Speaking of Jordan…

 

 

Williams scores 24, Knicks beat Bucks 122-97 in opener

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Theeeee New York Knicks annihilated the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. Melo moved the ball and the bench came up huge all night long. As a life long Knicks I’ve learned to celebrate the little things and live in the moment. I’m enjoying this moment…

Source: Williams scores 24, Knicks beat Bucks 122-97 in opener

Monta Ellis agrees to sign with Indiana Pacers

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Monta Ellis agrees to sign with Indiana Pacers

Guard Monta Ellis is headed to the Indiana Pacers. Ellis turned down more money from the Kings whose franchise is messier than a blind kid playing with water colors…

Monta Ellis agrees to sign with Indiana Pacers.

Greg Monroe agrees to 3-year, $50 million offer from Bucks – SBNation.com

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Greg Monroe agrees to 3-year,  million offer from Bucks - SBNation.com

Power forward Greg Monroe is headed to the Milwaukee Bucks. Not the New York Knicks. Once again, not the New York Knicks.

Greg Monroe agrees to 3-year, $50 million offer from Bucks – SBNation.com.

Mike Krzyzewski: Phil Jackson’s Offense Effective Because of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant | Complex

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Mike Krzyzewski: Phil Jackson's Offense Effective Because of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant | Complex

Scrap the triangle Phil!!!!!! Get a coach who can put Carmelo in a position to be great and make the players around him better… Mike Krzyzewski: Phil Jackson’s Offense Effective Because of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant | Complex.

Jackson could go out in a dustpan

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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.

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.