Thursday, June 26, 2008

2008 NBA Draft

Well it was a good night and there were enough trades to really make things difficult. After the picks were made, I'll take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. How did your team do?

Atlanta Hawks - None.

Boston Celtics - J. R. Giddens (30th), Bill Walker (47th), Semih Erden (60th). Giddens has a lot of potential. Good, long kid with some defensive ability and the ability to score. To me, he looks like James Posey, but not as accomplished yet. I like the Bill Walker pickup late in the 2nd round. This kid is a good athlete, but the only question is his health. If he can stay healthy, he'll be one of those guys that you look back at in 10 years and say, he went in the 2nd round?

Charlotte Bobcats - D. J. Augustin (9th), Alexis Ajinca (20th), Kyle Weaver (38th). DJ Augustin surprises me because they have Raymond Felton on the team. But I guess the rumblings out of Charlotte that he's on the block are ringing more true with this pick. Dj, is short, but can run a team, which is probably why they picked him. Ajinca was a 'hustler' by accounts from Larry Brown. He 'fell in love' with him during a workout. Dude averaged 5pts and 5 boards a game in a French league where he was (in the majority of cases) the tallest dude on the court, that's all I have to say. Brown doesn't do well with rookies, so we'll see how long this love affair lasts.

Chicago Bulls - Derrick Rose (1st), Omer Asik (36th), Sonny Weems (39th). We all know what Derrick Rose brings, but it's obvious that someone has to go. Ben Gordon and/or Kirk Hinrich need to pack their bags. Weems is a decent player that needs to concentrate on D in order to get some PT. He's long just like Sefolosha and we see how that's worked out.

Cleveland Cavaliers - J.J. Hickson (19). Good pick for a kid that will grow up and into his body. Time will tell about him. He has all of the tools right now.

Dallas Mavericks - Shan Foster (51st). Will he ever play for Dallas?

Denver Niuggets - None.

Detroit Pistons - Walter Sharpe (32nd), Trent Plaisted (46th), Deron Washington (59th). Is Joe D trying to retool his bench with the expected exit of Wallace? Then guys that they have been bringing along will get some run next year. I don't think that any of these guys make an impact for years to come.

Golden State Warriors - Anthony Randolph (14th), Richard Hendrix (49th). In Randolph you get a young, thin, power forward to run the floor and play some D. Isn't that what they drafted for last year with Brandan Wright? The only thing that Hendrix brings to the team is maybe some old cd's of his great uncle Jimi.

Houston Rockets - Donte Greene (28th), Joey Dorsey (33), Maarty Leunen (54th). Donte Green is a guy that has to work on his game. Joey Dorsey has a chance to mimic Ben Wallace's career (but maybe not find a team dumb enough to give him a 4 year outlandish contract). Joey will give them some heart and soul, and Greene might be able to learn a few things from T-Mac. Not a bad draft for the Rockets.

Indiana Pacers - Brandon Rush (13th), Roy Hibbert (17th). I like the picks for Indiana. They got Hibbert who can fill in adequately for O'Neal, and they got Brandon Rush who is going to have a good long career. Rush will be able to step in immediately and give them some run in the backcourt. Plus by adding TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack to the mix,....this was a good few days for the Pacers. Jamal Tinsley, hope your bags are packed. The best part of it all, they get the phenom in Josh McRoberts (please stop the laughing).

Los Angeles Clippers - Eric Gordon (7th), DeAndre Jordan (35th), Mike Taylor (55th). Nothing tells your star player to pack his bags and get out of town quicker than the Clippers draft. Eric Gordon will be good, but it's going to take him some time to play point in the league, although he can shoot the rock from anywhere on the court. Reminds me of a young Mitch Richmond. Jordan is a project and he's got work to do, and Taylor may make it some day.

Los Angeles Lakers - Joe Crawford (58th). Now the Lakers won't lose any close games by drafting a ref. Why didn't anyone think of this earlier. Wait, mean it's not referee Joey Crawford,......oh,...ok......well this Joe Crawford may not even have his 15 minutes of fame. Hope he kept the draft day hat (do 2nd round picks even get hats?).

Memphis Grizzlies - OJ Mayo (3rd) Darrell Arthur (27th). This was a big trade with many pieces, but the big one for Memphis was OJ Mayo. I think he will be good, but I guess this is what happens when you take money while playing ball at USC, you get sent to a cost cutting team with no chance for winning for a long time. Karma is a b****. Darrell Arthur was stung by an erroneous report about a kidney issue and this cost him several spots in the draft, all the way down to 27th. It's never fun to be the last guy picked out of the green room.

Miami Heat - Michael Beasley (2nd), Mario Chalmers (34), Darnell Jackson (52nd). The jedi mind trick didn't work for Pat Riley this time. We knew all of the talk about Beasley was being used to get leverage on McHale, but it didn't work. Sucks, huh? The Heat end up with the best prospect in the draft to play PF for them and then they get Mario Chalmers in teh 2nd round. Great pick for them. He gets to play some point next to Wade, with Marion, and Beasley on the court. This brings Miami off the mat and into playoff contention next year.

Milwaukee Bucks - Joe Alexander (8th), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (37th). About as good as you can get. Alexander will play behind his new teammate Richard Jefferson, but he'll be in a position to succeed. Mbah a Moute makes the team for his D. Now that Yi and Simmons are gone, there's more playing time. Skiles will make these guys work for it.

Minnestoa Timberwolves - Kevin Love (5th), Nikola Pekovic (31st). They got Love who will be good/great on O, but he and Jefferson might give up more than they score in the paint each night. The trade that got them Mike Miller will help enormously. Miller can shoot from anywhere and he'll play well with Randy Foye. Kevin McHale actually did ok, I know you're surprised.

New Jersey Nets - Brook Lopez (10th), Ryan Anderson (21st), Chris Douglas-Roberts (40th). Not sure why the Nets went with two bigs after getting Sean Williams and Josh Boone over the last two years who actually give them decent production off the bench. Anderson is a scorer, but not sure if his game is going to translate to the pros. He has more offense than Williams or Boone, so maybe he'll get some of their minutes. CDR is a steal at 40th. Great mid range game and he's clutch. He was the best player on Memphis until the end of the year. With the Nets picking up Yi and Bobby Simmons, maybe they just need some folks to rebound.

New Orleans Hornets - None

New York Knicks - Danillo Gallinari (6th). Another euro. I guess it's good to have a father that has connections and knows people. Not sure why the Knicks got this guy and not a point guard for that system that they are going to run. Now they have to find a pg, because Robinson and Marbury aren't going to do it.

Orlando Magic - Courtney Lee (22). This guy was on many people's boards as a guy that can come in and contribute immediately. Orlando is hoping he has some Rodney Stuckey in him, because the Magic need some production from their two guard position. Free JJ Redick!!!!

Philadelphia 76ers - Marresse Speights (16th) gives the 76ers a guy that can run, jump, and play some D. Wow, that is very similar to a guy that they paid a lot of money to in Samuel Dalembert. He has more post game than Dalembert, but to me, they are the same player. Nothing else to say about this pick.

Phoenix Suns - Robin Lopez (15th), Malik Hairston (48th). I'm not sold on either Lopez twin but for this system, I think that they got it right with Robin. He's a defensive guy that will give you some hustle. He'll back up Shaq and can run the floor. Hairston may make the team, but he'll need to work. They still have kids like Alando Tucker and DJ Strawberry on the bench.

Portland Trailblazers - Jerryd Bayless (11th), Nicolas Batum (25th). How does the league allow this to happen? The Trailblazers get rid of Jarrett Jack but get Bayless. They get Oden back this year,....this team should be in contention for the playoffs and more. Batum, he's an athlete, but the Trailblazers are stacked at almost every position. I wouldn't be surprised if they made some more moves.

Sacramento Kings - Jason Thompson (12th), Sean Singletary (42nd), Partrick Ewing Jr. (43rd). Jason Thompson was a reach, but I think he pans out. Singletary is a small point guard but he can finish at the rim. Patrick Ewing Jr. should make this team and be a Shane Battier (glue guy) type of player.

San Antonion Spurs - George Hill (26th), Goran Dragic (42nd), James Gist (57th). George Hill is a small guard from IUPUI and he could give Parker a backup that's similar to him. Goran Dragic, we can only expect one or two things, he'll never play in a Spurs uni or he'll come over and be a solid role player. I'm not sure James Gist makes this team, although I think he can make someone's team.

Seattle Supersonics - Russell Westbrook (4th), Serge Ibaka (24th), DJ White (29th), DeVon Hardin (50th), Sasha Kaun (56th). Another team that did well for themselves. They get a guy that can play some defense and play alongside Durant. Ibaka, White, Hardin, and Kaun all have the ability to make this team on defense alone. Seattle can't afford those 135 - 131 games every night. Kaun will probably not play for the Sonics for some years as he will be playing in Russia next year and probably making more than some of the 1st rounders.

Toronto Raptors - Nathan Jawai (41st). Big body, that may help the Raptors as a backup. We'll see.

Utah Jazz - Kosta Koufos (23rd), Ante Tomic (44th) Tadija Dragicevic (53rd). Can we see a pattern here? I like Koufos and think that he can come in and add something to the table (Twin, your bags should be packed if there aren't already). The rest, I'm not sure of. I don't think any of these other two guys play for the Jazz before 2010.

Washington Wizards - JaVale McGee (18th). The word is that he reminds many of Andray Blatche. Blatche finally turned into something this year, but it's taken him 4 years to do something. Let the clock begin ticking. This was one of those 'upside' picks.

So that should be everyone. My winners in the draft were: Seattle, Portland, Chicago, New Jersey (more for the trade they pulled off and subsequent draft), Miami, and Indiana (ditto on trade).

Not saying that everyone else lost, but,....those are the teams that I think did the best. As always your opinion is welcomed.

Stupid Athlete Tricks Part Deux

I normally don't post about baseball, but this story has got to be hilarious on several different levels. For those who haven't heard about this, here's the story:

Shawn Chacon, a pitcher for the Houston Astros was sitting in the dining room before a game with Texas. Chacon had already been demoted to the bullpen earlier for basically not playing well (2-3 with a 5.04 ERA, in 15 starts). The GM of the Astros, Ed Wade, comes by and tells Chacon that he wants to talk to him and Cecil Cooper (the manager) in Cooper's office. Chacon tells his GM that he doesn't want to go into the office with the two of them and if there's something that he wants to say to him, he could do it right there. The GM (per Chacon's account) starts cussing and yelling at Chacon to which Chacon says 'Ed, you need to calm down and not yell at me'. Wade continues to yell and Chacon stands up and tells Wade again that he needs to 'stop yelling at me'. So, at some point, Chacon loses it and grabs Wade by the neck and throws him to the ground and then jumps on top of him. Some more words were exchanged and the incident was broken up by some players, who separated the two. Afterwards, Chacon is suspended indefinitely by the team for 'insubordination'.

Wow, this has got to be some funny stuff. You mean to tell me that a grown man, Chacon, grabbed a 'growner' man in Ed Wade (52 years old) by the neck because he was mad? My thoughts are that this kid should be happy that he isn't in jail. You attack your boss's boss and you are still employed? I can imagine that in my line of work, I'd be writing this from jail had I done this. Ok, let's go through this,........your boss comes over to you while you're eating lunch to tell you that he needs to talk to you (like right now!!!!). That's kind of wrong because the dude was eating. Can I finish eating? So, I put the blame on that with Wade. The fact that Chacon told him 'no' I feel is fair. Not the most intelligent thing to do if you want to keep your job, but it's a fair thing to say when I'm in mid-chew. Now Chacon saying that 'you can say anything that you need to say to me, right here', kind of upped the ante. Wade probably thought he was being disrespected and so his blood went up. From there, Wade being the elder statesman probably should have taken the lead and said, 'you know what, you finish eating and then you come to talk to me'. (He might have had his pink slip waiting on him, but hey, it keeps the violence out of the work place). Now we're to the juicy part,......Chacon grabs Wade (the GM of the Astros, your boss's boss, the man) by the neck. I know he was mad because that's the dude that makes sure you have a check ($2M this year) and you just pulled a Latrell Sprewell on the dude. To add to this, Chacon slams him on the floor (wasn't there anyone near these two when this popped off?) and jumps on top of him. I haven't seen Wade and don't know him, but I imagine that he isn't used to having a grown man jump on him after being thrown to the floor (unless he's into Karate/Judo/something). Don't people think anymore? Again, you're getting paid to play a game, for millions of dollars and you attack the dude that's paying your check. Not too smart for career planning.


The Pacers and the Raptors get together to make a deal, maybe some would say that it is a big deal, but none the less a deal that can't be consummated until July 9th. The deal has the Raptors getting Jermaine O'Neal and they give up TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and the #17 pick from the 2008 draft. This is a deal that works out for everyone.

The Raptors get to solve their point guard issues by shipping out the worse of the two (not a jab at TJ Ford), they get rid of Rasho who was at best a 7 foot layup drill instructor, and the #17 pick which may be decent (we'll have to see who makes trades and who falls). They get to pay Calderon some big money, they get a post presence that may give the Raptors 3 point shooters better looks, and they free up Chris Bosh to get off like Amare has been able to do since the arrival of Shaq. They also get to pay O'Neal $44M over the next two years, with one of those being next year when they can either turn around and trade him (his expiring contract) or just let him play it out and they have $22M in cap space for 2010. We won't mention the #1 pick that will probably go to the bench because of this deal.

The Pacers get a good point guard in TJ Ford, but they will be holding their breathe every time he gets hit and goes to the floor hard. Even with his health questions, TJ is better than Jamal Tinsley. Now the hard part is finding a taker for Tinsley with all of his baggage. Nesterovic comes off the books (the deal may also include former Michigan star Maceo Baston) along with Baston next year. So the Pacers get some cap relief, and some improved play at the PG position which their team desperately needs. The Pacers get the #17 pick in the 2008 draft. So now the Pacers have the #11 and #17, they could move up if they want and make some bigger moves. Larry Bird is finally working in Indiana.

This is a win-win for both teams. Now let's see what the Pacers can do with their two first round picks. This could get interesting.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More NBA Draft 2008

Not much longer before the draft and things seem to be getting crazy, or at least we're lead to believe that. Here's more to think about:

Miami Heat - Now Pat Riley is running around trying to get people to make a trade with the Heat for the #2 pick. They have some pieces with Marion's ($17.8M) salary and the #2. Taking all callers right now. I still think it's a smoke screen. I think he's trying to play Jedi mind tricks with the team that is right behind them, the Timberwolves. As we have seen in the past, McHale isn't the brightest light bulb in the pack, so it may work. The other rumor is moving Marion to LA for Odom and some change (maybe Walton). That would make Mitch Kupchak THE smartest man in basketball. The proposed deal with Memphis seems to be at a stall because the Grizz don't want to give up Conley.

Golden State - With all of the wrangling going on in the Bay Area, you have the following news: Al Harrington wants out. Ok, that's fine, find someone that will take him and send him on his way. When I talk about Al Harrington I always remember a friend of mine a few years back (when Al was in Atlanta) saying that if he had $100M, he'd give Harrington about $60M and then find another player for $40M instead of giving LeBron $100M. His reasoning was that they are about the same size (Harrington and LeBron) and you could get the production out of the two people. After the rest of us almost choked on our drinks and calmed down from laughing, we rushed this guy to the ER (just joking), because he obviously had bumped his head. The other news out of the Bay Area is a possible trade of the Baron to Detroit for Chauncey BBBBBBilllups and Rasheed Wallace. Does anyone else see how bad this would turn out? Rasheed would put up better numbers in Golden State because they run and he could play D on the bigs in the West (TD, Amare, etc.) and Billups can run a team,.....but I think that this ends badly. On the surface, it looks like a good deal though for both teams. Golden State also has a $10M trade exemption that should make them players in some kind of deal. the exemption expires on Monday though, gotta move fast.

Minnesota Timberwolves - McHale is looking at drafting Brook Lopez at the #3 spot. If that's not a mouthful, I don't know what is. You can't tell me that if the draft goes Rose then Beasley, that you take Brook Lopez at 3 when you still have Mayo on the board. Mayo is so much of an upgrade over any guard you have on the Timberwolves team. Can anyone find me a job like McHale's?

New Jersey Nets - They are talking about sending the #10 pick to Portland for the #13,#33, and either Jarrett Jack or Steve Blake. I would do this deal. The Nets are rebuilding, they have a good starting point guard in Devin Harris, get a backup/combo guy in Jarrett Jack and two picks. See, I'm already better than McHale.

Portland Trailblazers - pick up the Hornets #27 pick for cash. That would give the Trailblazers the #13, #27, #33, #36, and #55 for a team that's already young and would need a veteran. I'm sure the Suns could use some of these picks if they want to part with Barbosa.

That's it for now. We'll see what else happens.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

NBA Draft 2008

Well it's right around the corner. GMs for all of the teams are somewhere mulling over offers that they are getting for their picks in the 2008 draft along with others on their rosters. Right now, you'll probably see a lot of misinformation instead of the real deal. In the past a lot of this talk ended in nothing. I'll take on some of the rumors and we'll see if they make sense. As always, let me know what you think too:

Chicago Bulls - It's probably scary that I even put them this high in this discussion. Maybe they decided to trade the pick for TJ Ford or someone scarier. The only drama in Chicago is which guy will they pick. Everyone keeps saying that Derrick Rose should get ready for playing for his hometown. I went on record saying that the Bulls should get Beasley and that's no slight to Rose, I just think it'll be too much pressure for him to play in the city he grew up in. With that said,.....from what I'm hearing and reading, looks like the Bulls will make Rose the #1 pick. With that said, I'll continue the rest of this blurb with that in mind.

Knicks and Grizzlies - The Grizzlies would get David Lee (and some change) and give up their #5 pick. This would allow the Knicks to draft both 5 and 6 in this years draft. The Knicks would probably take a point guard and Danillo Gallinari. As I thought about this, I said to myself who would you want from the Knicks and yes, David Lee was probably the first player that came to my mind. This might make sense for the Grizz since they are cutting payroll and they could 'lose' David Lee next year (by not paying him). In the meantime you get a guy who can run the court, rebound, hustle, and play some D. With that said, those are all the reasons the Knicks shouldn't do this deal. They have a new coach who likes to run and the behemoths that he has on his roster right now (Curry and Randolph) are like drag racers running a race with half ton engines being dragged behind them. I think that this ends up being nothing and the Knicks pick Jerryd Bayless (Arizona) and call it a day.

Miami and Seattle - The Heat would swap picks with the Sonics so the Heat would get Chris Wilcox and the #4 pick, while the Sonics would get the #2 and Mark Blount. Pat Riley would definitely have to be smoking a blount to make this deal. This doesn't make sense for either team. Well, if it did, it makes more sense for Seattle as they would be pairing two high profile scorers in Beasley and Durant. No Defense and a whole lot of 135 to 131 games. I really think that Riley finds a way to get Elton Brand from the Clips (finally) and Beasley ends up in La-La Land, playing for the other Los Angeles team. Otherwise they get a year of Wade, Marion (who actually thought he was going to opt out of a $17M deal? Definitely not me), and Beasley. Not bad either way.

Toronto and Indiana - This would have given Toronto Jermaine O'Neal, and the Pacers would have gotten TJ Ford (bad neck), Rasho Nesterovic (I can just hear Steven A. Smith killing him in my head), and the #17 pick. If this deal works out, this is GREAT for Toronto. You get rid of Ford and Nesterovic (someone who never showed up last year) and you bring in O'Neal to play next to Chris Bosh. That gives Toronto a gruesome twosome. Indiana would get that point guard they need since Tinsley is more interested in having an entourage and partying, and with the #17 pick they could get a young big man, maybe one of the Lopez boys, Roy Hibbert, Kosta Koufos, or they could swing for the fences with a guy like DeAndre Jordan and hope that he comes through. I would probably go with Hibbert here since he's ready to play and has been showing improved conditioning.

Phoenix Suns - It seems like Barbosa and Diaw are on the block for the right deal. Talk about a new coach making some moves (or a mad GM, Steve Kerr). I'm not sure that I give up Barbosa, since he's the only guy on the team that can get his own shot. You have Amare, Nash, Shaq, Grant Hill (when healthy, which he was for the majority of last year) and not much else. Diaw seems the one who has to go. He's got that Lamar Odom disease where you can see he has the tools, but he doesn't apply them as often as one would want. Diaw can play some D though, and that's a mandate for playing for Porter. This is tough one for Phoenix. They have the #15 pick and I'm not sure I see anyone that really helps them from day one. They need a backup for Nash or Amare's career numbers will be taking a dip. Maybe they keep their pick and get someone like DJ Augustine, or a Russell Westbrook* (if he doesn't continue to climb), or better yet a guy that can play from day one in Brandon Rush. He would be a good player that can play off the bigs on this team and he can play D.
*How does Westbrook rise so quickly? He wasn't even in the Top 50 in most boards, but all of a sudden he's in the top 15 in most of the mock drafts? I'm not so sold on him. People are saying that he's a better shooting version of Rondo. I guess, someone in that top 15 will let us know if they are right by picking him that early.

So there you go. That's all I have for now, until Kevin McHale decides that he needs to trade the #3 pick to the Celtics for a combination of Leon Powe, Sam Cassell, and a second round pick. As my stat guy would say, you can never turn down a 3 for 1. I'll return when I have more.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

NBA Tidbits

Just notes and news:

- OJ Mayo worked out for the Clippers in a private facility in LA. Does this mean that Pat Riley has found a way to get Elton Brand? I'm pretty sure the Clips could make a deal with Miami for something close to Brand and the #7 pick for the #2 pick (which would likely be Mayo) and (well that's the part that I haven't figured out yet) but possibly Ricky Davis and Jason Williams. That would team Brand with Wade and one more year of Marion, which would definitely resemble a Big 3 in Miami. They could make some noise if Brand is healthy. For the Clips, they could get a point guard and a scorer to replace Corey Maggette (I expect them to lose him in FA) in Ricky Davis, but both of them come off the books at the end of next year. They also get a talent in either Mayo or Beasley if the Bulls pick Rose. Now this is just off the top of my head, but we'll see if it works.

- Team USA is starting to round out with the additions of Kidd, Wade, and Carmelo.

- Juan Carlos Navarro decides to head back to Spain to play because he was making about $600K with the Griz last year but was offered a 4 year deal around $20M to $24M. At least math works the same in Spanish and English.

- From the 'yeah we knew this would be happening' department, Lamar Odom seems to be on the block. This is what happens when you're going into a contract year and you stink up the playoffs for your team. You get the privilege to get sent somewhere to play for a year in the boondocks.

- Another Laker in the news. Sasha Vujacic is a restricted free agent and wants an increase from the $1.8M he was making last year. Now although he got beat off the dribble by a 34 year old guard with two bad ankles, I like this kid. He can come in and give you instant offense and as long as he's not too excited, he can be a nuisance on D. Pay him his money,....but just not too much. He's hoping to get something in the mid-level exception, almost $6M a year. A little to rich for my blood.

- The Boston Celtics NBA Championship parade is today. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Long Time Coming

Well it's finally over. The Celtics are your 2008 NBA Champions. When the game started I just knew that they were going to close this one out. There weren't any terrible calls that changed the game, there were some heated moments, but all in all a great game for the Celtics as all of them did their thing. Things I noticed:

Ray Allen - Jesus!!!! He really woke up. I think that move that he put on Vujacic at the end of Game 4 stayed in Sasha's mind, because Ray was getting away from him off screens and buried a NBA record 7 threes in the game. Those surgically repaired ankles never looked so good. Even after getting hit in the eye early in the 1st, he handled his business with 26 points.

Paul Pierce - Had a decent game, nothing spectacular from a points standpoint, but he was definitely a factor. He was actually ordinary during this game,......but I think he should definitely get the MVP. 17 and 10 on 4 of 13 shooting.

Kevin Garnett - I was having an argument with one of my guys where he was saying that KG is overrated and nothing but a high priced role player. I do recommend that his employer drug test him, but if that's all KG is, I'll take him. A guy that brings it every night and brought a Championship to Boston. His game 6 stats, 26 points, 14boards, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. I could use that on my team from a role player. He brought the intensity from the get go and the Celtics followed. Bill Russell told him, to keep playing and it'll happen, right he was,....#17 in the rafters. Nothing like watching the Big 3 run around like kids and KG screaming 'top of the world, top of the world' and talking to his mom over live TV.

Celtics Role players and Bench - Wow, they showed up. Everyone played well. Rondo with a Finals record for steals (he should have it even if they don't credit him with it). Perk gave it all he had, Posey played well, Powe, PJ Brown, Eddie House, Big Baby, Tony Allen,...everyone played a role in this one. Solid is all I can say.

Doc Rivers - Finally got one. All I have to say is that Doc got a Gatorade cooler emptied on him on a basketball court. I'm glad to see him get it and he out coached a HOFamer in Phil Jackson.

This is great. Ray Allen gets a ring, Paul Pierce gets a ring (and MVP), KG gets a ring, PJ Brown gets a ring. I'm good. This shows you that the hard work and faith can be rewarded if you just trust each other.

On the flip side:

Lamar Odom - Show me that heart and hustle and that you showed in the waning minutes of the game (when you're down 30) all game long and maybe you aren't in a sad locker room tonight. I've always liked Odom and no one can deny that he doesn't have the skill set, but he punked out at the end of this game by wanting to get pissed and wanting to instigate the Celtics.

Pau Gasol - You're kidding me right? I mean you have Paul Pierce guarding you in the post and you don't take it to the hole with authority? Don't know what to say. I guess Odom is the scarecrow, but who are you? 2 offensive rebounds for the entire game? You shoot 29% in the first half and get NONE?

Kobe - (muttering to himself) These bast****. They played like trash and I tried to lead them, but they won't follow. Part of me feels sorry for Kobe, because I know he WANTED to win, but he ran in to a a defensive TEAM. Kobe didn't show me the Jordan in him, because I doubt Mike would have let anyone beat them by 39. All of those MJ/Kobe comparisons should be put to bed after this outing. I bet you Kobe did try to hit someone in the locker room last night though.

Lakers Bench - Where were you? Luke Walton? Farmar? Turiaf? Vujacic? Forrest Gump? Andrew Bynum was sitting behind the bench smiling because he was like, they gotta pay me big money because we need a physical presence. Yeah!!!! Back up the truck baby.

Well it's all over. Nothing left to do but to close the doors at the Garden as the last person leaves for the night. Party in Boston for the next week.

Monday, June 16, 2008

History in the making

Do you realize the era that we're living in? We have one athlete who is dominating his sport and destroying the competition's will at the same time. This guy is affable, most people like him, and he's doing things that we haven't seen anyone do since, maybe MJ. Now with that reference you may think that I'm talking about another basketball player, but the athlete in question (who is decent at hoops as I understand) is Tiger Woods.

I think that we've all run out of words to describe what he's done. You have the Roger Federers of tennis (as long as he isn't playing on clay), you have the,....well that's about it. The only other athlete that you can throw in to this discussion is Lorena Ochoa. She is dominating women's golf like only Tiger has done. Nevertheless, Tiger has not only won over the masses (did you see the number of people that follow this guy at every tournament), but he has brought golf to the mainstream. When you have guys (white, black, brown, pink, gray, whatever) picking up golf clubs and heading out to the driving range or out for a round, that's a phenomenon. Every where I go, I see guys with their newly minted Nike golf shirts, TW hats, etc.

But back to the game, the US Open. Tiger started off on Thursday not playing at his best but he ended the day 4 shots off. Over the weekend, Tiger made his run. It's a run that everyone in the tournament knows is going to happen and probably some of them watch the leader board to see where he is each day. He has scattered his driver all over the place, but by Saturday he puts himself into contention with 2 amazing eagle putts. So, on Sunday he plays about as bad as he played on Thursday but he ends up in a playoff on Monday for the US Open title. Sidenote: Lee Westwood is kicking himself for leaving that putt (on 17, I think) short. Tiger has done all of this on a surgically repaired knee (8 weeks after surgery). Tiger has shown that his knee is a problem from the wincing that he does after he hits the ball. You have to understand that knee surgery is not the best thing for Tiger's (or any golfer's) game. The amount of pressure that is put on his left knee during his swing is what makes his swing one of, if not the most, powerful swings in the game. Then add to that, having to walk that course, or having to hit from an uneven lie. If he wins the US Open on Monday (like many predict) this adds another trophy to an already stocked full trophy room for Tiger, another step in his quest to win more majors than any other golfer in history, and to top it all of he's killing his competition. It's really sad when you know that you are playing for 2nd place when he tees it up.

Let the domination continue, and don't be afraid to watch. If you don't, you'll be missing out on sports history. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Friday, June 13, 2008

3 Down, 1 To Go

All I can say is wow. My night started at the barbershop talking trash about the Lakers/Celtics series. The majority of the barbershop, although they are Chicago biased, had picked the Lakers because, well, Kobe. I have stated here on a few occasions that Kobe is the best player on the planet and I won't backtrack on that one. With that said, I've always felt that the Celtics were too good a team to lose this series. So, I got to talking (for those that know me, that is easy) and I made a bet with one of the barbers for a little bit of money. I told them how Odom has already checked out of this series and that he is done. We all know that Gasol is soft, yet he's a good big man with lots of skills. (Side note on Odom: I remember this guy at Rhode Island and how good he was. I mean he is 6'10" and has all the skills that a guard has. I thought that he was going to help turn the Clippers around and make them good, but I was wrong. I actually have his autograph from the night he got drafted. I've always thought he had the skills to dominate, but not the desire to do that.) So the game started at 8pm (CST).

The beginning of the game was terrible for the Celtics. All we heard was Odom's name being talked about as he had 13 points in the first quarter. The score was getting nasty (well it was already nasty) and the barbershop was all over me. I told them just wait, it's not over until the time on the clock is 0.0. T wanted to bet me how many times Mark Jackson would say 'Mama, there goes that man' about Odom (I declined). The Celtics found ways to miss shots, and then when they pulled Rondo and put in House, I thought here we go. House started missing wide open 3's. If he's not hitting those, he's useless. After I got my haircut, T (the barber I made a bet with) asked me if I wanted to leave my money with him now because it was the 2nd quarter and things looked bleak. So, I went into my coach speak with the 'You're a loser if you give up now. The game isn't over until the 0.0 on the clock. It's not over'. T told me it was basically over.

I turned the TV on in the truck and had the game on as it got to the 3rd quarter. What I saw was amazing. The Celtics seemed to just come out like gang busters and played D. The Lakers got tight and by the end of the 3rd, it was a 2 point game. Mrs. Inquisitive Mind was sleeping by this time but I was yelling and screaming on the inside for the Celtics. The 4th quarter turned even worse for the Lakers when Eddie House hit the shot to put the Celtics ahead for the first time and was caught by ABC running down the court screaming, 'I'm a d*** shooter, that's all day'. The Lakers couldn't seem to do anything right. Then KG hits an 8 footer over Gasol with a flash to a guy in the crowd (behind the basket) with that 'oh s***' look on his face. In the end, the Lakers lost this game and the Staples center looked like a funeral.

The other things I saw:

1) Lamar Odom - Can be great at times, but that 'mental toughness' is the question. Dude had 13 points in the 1st quarter and 19 for the game. Talk about pulling a David Copperfield on his team. A guy this talented shouldn't have to be egged on to perform.

2) Kobe - played a great 1st half, and didn't even score a bucket. He was getting everyone else the ball and they were producing. It's easy to shoot the rock when the you're up 10 or 15 or 24. The rest of the Lakers let Kobe down. When it was crunch time in the 3rd and 4th, those shots weren't falling for the Lakers.

3) The Lakers Bench - Where did you go? Why was Fisher on the bench when they need his veteran presence? I was listening to Bill Walton on the radio the other day and he was talking about how proud he was that Luke was in the Finals with a chance to win it all. I guess that's about all Luke is going to give his father because he hasn't done a thing for the Lakers in the Finals.

4) Paul Pierce - c'mon man, we didn't need another Willis Red moment so I am glad you got up after falling on a Lakers fast break. Other than that, it looked like Pierce and Kobe changed jerseys at halftime, because Pierce got in Kobe's grill and locked him down. I can say that I've thought Pierce is an adequate defender but he showed me something last night.

5) KG - Let them keep talking about how you don't want the ball in the stretch and how you're not clutch. Play that D young man, play that D. KG has proven that he can do it all. No he may not get you 37 or 40 in a game, but he's going to get you 20 - 25, 10 boards, and some assists, blocks, and steals. He led this team on the defensive end last night to get a 3 - 1 series advantage.

6) Doc - Now this one is almost amazing. Doc seems to be making all the right moves with his team and out coaching the Zen Master. If that's not worth a mention, I don't know what is.

7) Ray Allen - Did someone wake him up? I mean Ray has been the only constant for the Celtics in each game in the Finals. This looked like the Ray of old. You can tell he doesn't have the explosiveness that he had before but he does have his skills. He can still shoot and last night when he waived off KG on a pick to take Vujacic to the hole (with the lefty lay), that showed me that Ray is back. I remember earlier in the year when the Big 3 were doing an interview and the question was asked, the game is on the line which of you takes the final shot? Answers: Ray Allen - 'The open man', KG - 'Ray Allen', Paul Pierce - 'Ray Allen'. Maybe they knew something we didn't.

Hopefully the Celtics can close out on Father's Day, but I'm thinking that Kobe drops 50 that Sunday and the Celtics win in Boston. My original prognostication was Celtics in 7. I feel comfortable with that. Happy Father's Day to all the fathers and I'm off to get on the phone. You didn't think I was going to let the guys at the barbershop off the hook that easily, did you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stupid Athlete Tricks

I'm sitting at home and I'm listening to ESPN in the background and I hear the news: 'Cedric Benson arrested for driving under the influence'. I had to start laughing because it's so sad. Then I started thinking, what are these athletes doing? So I decided to get a list of stupid athlete tricks and put them together for our consumption (trust me, it's not alcoholic):

1) Cedric Benson - This is a guy that has some bad luck. He's on a boat with friends and gets pulled over for drinking while boating. The story quickly turns to a 'driving a boat while black' thing. I have to say that I believed that he was wrongly arrested and probably roughed up by police since he admitted in the report that he was yelling for his mom to have her tell the police to stop. Now that's funny when you think about it, but as a brother, he did the right thing, otherwise it could have ended up being a Rodney King incident (and it may have happened that way anyway). So let's just say this first incident is a wash. BUT, then within a month, you are arrested for driving while drinking. Not only are you smiling in your mug shot, but you are out past curfew, AND you are drinking when that already got you in some serious trouble. Add to all of this, these events all happened in Austin, you know, where you went to school and played football,....but obviously their program from ex-football players isn't what you thought it would be. In the end, you get arrested twice, and lose your job in the NFL. At least you did pass the sobriety test (per his admission to a reporter), 'check the tape' were some of the words you used. We checked the tape and you performed a stupid athlete trick.

2) Ty Lawson - You lead the UNC Tarheels to the brink of a National title along with Tyler Hansbrough and other than not being able to shoot, you do a good job as a point guard. You show up at the Orlando Pre-Draft camp and test as short, and not as long as people would hope. You go out and dominate a game at that camp (against a lessor talent) and then sit out the rest of the camp with an injury (supposedly). Your draft stock seems to be rising and you setup workouts with NBA teams in hopes of being selected in the first round (late teens to early 20's). As you can even read, there have been a lot of athletes lately who have done some stupid athlete tricks, so you decide that you aren't going to do that because a lot of teams (NFL, NBA) are looking for good character guys which could help where you get drafted. BUT no, decide that at the young age of 20 (not legal yet) you are going to go out and start 'dranking' and get caught. Now since Ty is only 20, I attribute a lot of this to youthful indiscretion. This doesn't rank as high on the stupid athlete meter but it will hurt his draft stock.

3) Odell Thurman - Drafted in 2005 and came out of the gate as a game changer. Led the Bengals in tackles with 106 in 2005, the same time he was up for Rookie of the Year honors. He gets suspended 4 games for missing a NFL drug test and then is further suspended for the year after an arrest in 06. The league made that suspension last for 2006 and 2007. He is allowed back in the game in 2008 and the Bengals are on board with bringing him back. He doesn't show up for an camp and the Bengals decide to part ways. It seemed cruel at the time because Thurman had just lost his grandmother and was taking that loss very hard. Now the word is out that he failed another test and he is being indefinitely suspended from the NFL. That is a tough pill to swallow for a kid that is having it all hit him at once. Supposedly there is a history of alcohol abuse and that may be the issue. Get some help. Then find a way to make some money, because your NFL career is over. (I honestly feel sorry for this kid because knowing how alcohol can have a negative effect on lives and how hard it is to break away from it,...I just hope that he can get his life back from this, forget football for a while.)

4) Nick Kaczur is one of the people who help keep Tom Brady's uniform clean. He was arrested during a traffic stop for having OxyContin in his truck. We are led to believe that he was charged with drug possession but not much else. He supposedly 'tricked' on his supplier and cooperated with the government to catch his alleged supplier. What do we learn from this? Well, according to Kaczur, he has no idea where this story came from or anything about it. He has said that he didn't cooperate with the government. The Patriots have said that he will be dealt with from the team standpoint and they are going to do that behind closed doors. The interesting question is, what does a cheat (Belicheck) do to a guy on his team who is accused of being a rat (Kaczur)? I think that even Belicheck hates a rat. Did this stupid athlete trick pay off? TBD.

5) Chris Wilcox is from a small town in NC, called Whiteville. Nothing much to do down there, but it has some perks (very small ones). Wilcox grew up there and then went on to Maryland to play basketball for the Terps. He is now in the final year of his 3 year deal with the Sonics and is a decent power forward when given the opportunity (not sure if he has been given that in the league). He is arrested on a gun charge after a routine traffic stop in Whiteville. He and his friend are arrested and released on $500 bond. No big deal on the money side, except for the fact that he's in the last year of his contract and his team may package him up to send to another team just for salary cap purposes. He may end up on a team on the bench and not in a position to showcase his skills. The fact that this is the second time he's had a gun issue (2005, Maryland - although dropped because of a mess up on the police's part) makes him questionable in some eyes of GMs around the league. Right now, you have guys who may not have all of the skillset, but they won't show up on the police blotter and help your franchise look like the Jailblazers. Those are the guys that GMs want to pay money to, not someone that is questionable. You have the money, get your guns registered so that you are not packin heat and putting your lifestyle in jeopardy.

Now some may say that I'm being hard by calling these stupid athlete tricks, but that's not the intent. I am saying that their actions are stupid and I'm not trying to offend any one's cognitive ability. My thing is that most of these guys are living most of our dreams, to play professional sports and make professional sports money. With that, you can bypass a lot of the drama by not doing the stupid stuff that will keep you in the papers. Wise up and protect yourselves. I can be hired to help you not do the stupid stuff, just write me a check.

NBA Tidbits

- Chicago offers the head coaching job to Vinny DelNegro. Talk about a guy that I haven't heard about in a while who just lucked into a good job. I remember Vinny from his days at NC State where he used to play point guard and helped NC State win a conference championship in the late 80's. He wasn't fancy but he knew the game and after playing overseas and in the NBA for years, he gets his opportunity to coach the Bulls. I will say this, I'm glad that the Bulls didn't just recycle an old coach and bring them in, but at the same time, I'm not sure if Vinny is the man for the job. Don't get me wrong, the Bulls could have done worse, but at a measly (comparably) $2M/year, they got a good deal. If it doesn't work, Vinny had a chance, and the Bulls aren't out a lot of money. Let's see if he can take what he's learned from Phoenix and implement it in Chicago, he definitely has the pieces to make it work. Grade: B-

- Terry Porter accepts the head job in Phoenix. Talk about a surprise? Porter inherits an old Nash, an old Shaq, and a young Amare. This ought to be fun. I mean where else can you get those type of personalities and hope that they don't implode. Porter will definitely bring that defensive mindset to the Suns, but one hopes that he still allows Nash to dazzle in the open court and run a little. I know Big Shaw said that he would show up in shape for the beginning of the year, so this is my team to watch since their window is closing rapidly. Grade B

- Michael Curry takes over in Detroit. I really like this move. You get a guy who was a defensive minded guy as a player and someone whom seems to be more in touch with the Pistons bench. The players have to respect this guy from day 1 and I think that he knows about some people's weaknesses and strengths because he's actually played with some players on the roster. Now with that said, their roster may be different come the fall. There's smoke around Carmelo (bad fit in Detroit if you ask me) joining that team, but what will they give up to get that deal done. I expect that Rasheed will be moved (hear that Charlotte, get your ducks in a row) and maybe another small change here or there. Finally the Team of 5 gets broken up (well again since the departure of Big Ben), and they get some new faces. All I have to say is that Stuckey and Maxiell have to get more tick next year. Grade A-.

- The Lakers are down 0-2. It's not the end of the world. No I'm not a Lakers fan, but until the home team loses a game, it's not a series. The Lakers should win Game 3, just on adrenaline alone. I expect those shots to fall for the bench and specifically for Gasol and Odom. If the Lakers lose game 3 or 4, you can go ahead and count this one in the books. I expect to see Game 5 in LA with the Celtics winning that one and taking a trip back to Boston to win the series. Subplots from the series:

- You can't inject toughness. With all of the knocks on KG and some of the other Celtics, the one thing you can't deny is their toughness. They are a physical bunch with KG and Posey leading the way. With that said, yes, there is going to be a disparity in free throws taken when you are a jump shooting team (the Lakers) and your bigs aren't taking it to the rack. They need to take Turiaf and either stretch him until he's 7 feet or do a blood/heart/soul transfusion between him and Gasol. I picked Odom as the key for the Lakers,.....he's got to step up to give them a chance.
- Overrated. Is Kobe? Is he going to be the guy that can't win despite having all those records? I don't think he's overrated because he's the best on the planet. He's probably over analyzed more than anyone else because we expect him to be THE best. This homecoming will help him hit a few more shots,...and make the Lakers even after 4 games.
- Out coached? Now when you read this question you would expect the answer to be yes, and soundly out coached, but you'd probably would have said Phil Jackson was doing the better of the coaching. Doc Rivers seems to making the right calls at the right time. Getting the most out of his players and letting some of his bench do his work. Phil seems to be testing things out a little based on his results. For now, we can say that Doc is doing a good job, will it last?
- Again? Allan Houston is on the comeback trail again. he's 37, his knees haven't gotten any better, but he can still shoot. Does a reunion in NY with D'Antoni as coach make sense? I guess we'll see. Houston has been seen in Phoenix trying to find the fountain of youth that has seemed to help Shaq and Grant Hill continue to play.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

1 Down, 3 to Go

That noise you heard was every Boston fan dropping their drink/hot dog/chowder after Paul Pierce went down in the 3rd quarter. With his Willis Reed like entrance from the locker room to the floor in the 3rd, he helped the Celtics surprise the Lakers.

So now we have gone through Game 1. What happened, many of you might ask. Well, the Celtics played some pretty good defense in the 2nd half of the game. Garnett came out and carried the team in the 1st half, but the Celtics allowed the Lakers to shoot 51% (I think) in the 1st half. You're not going to win games like that.

Kobe - He played badly, but part of that the Celtics helped him play badly. He tried to get his teammates involved early (like he has been doing in the playoffs) and he tried to pick his spots, but the Celtics made him hit tough shots. They didn't let Kobe get into the lane and break down their defense. The few times that he was able to get to the middle, he had to pass the ball out for a 3 or a deep jumper.

KG - Talk about showing up. It looked as though KG was able to focus his intensity and score. I am upset with the Celtics a little because he was on, and they stopped going to him. I mean KG was really stroking the ball, but Doc didn't call his number more often. You're supposed to dance with the girl you brung, and they went away. In the 2nd half, either he was tired or his nerves got to him. You could tell because he started short arming his shots and at one point missed 9 in a row. Doc, when KG is hot like this, ride him,.......

Ray Allen - I love it,.....Kobe still gets Ray excited to play. Ray came out and played well. Hit his shots, put the ball on the floor to create for other people, just wonderful. I'm almost going to say that Ray can play some point to extend his career. Now he did dribble the ball off his foot on a 3 on 2 fast break and Odom ended up taking it the other way, but I liked Ray's energy.

Perkins - That was ugly. I mean real ugly. 1 point, and 4 fouls. I picked Perk as the player that can help the Celtics turn this series in their favor. He's got to get in there and rebound and get some put backs. His fouls were silly fouls, reaching in on Gasol when he already has his back to the basket, don't go for the steal, Gasol straight up. He got a dunk blocked, but again,...maybe the sprained ankle will slow him down a little and let him play the game. Perk is still my pick to do damage against the Lakers.

Celtics Bench - They showed up. First Cassell off the bench lighting it up, then Leon Powe showed up and hustled and made some plays, then you have the old vet, PJ Brown. PJ didn't fill the stat sheet but his hustle and some of the plays he made were critical to the Celtics winning.

Paul Pierce - 'Willis Reed'. It's gotta feel special to go down and then come back and hit those two back to back 3's. The building was crazy when he did that. He gave his team a lift and he didn't look like his knee was hurting him that bad. The big question is, what happens tonight when he gets home and that knee tightens up? Will he be ready for Sunday? I might even be crazy, but even with a hampered Pierce, I see them winning this all in 7 games.

Go Celtics!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Just a little football

A few things on the football front. Some interesting, some crazy, and the rest,...just news.

Adam Jones - (You probably had to ask who, because no one uses his given name) Gets partial reinstatement to the NFL and can practice with the Cowboys and participate in preseason games, camps, etc. Someone please send this guy a fax/text/smoke signal(well maybe not a smoke signal) but please let him know that this is his last chance. The Cowboys have taken a gamble on him and have put the necessary foundation in place to keep him in line. If he messes this up, I'd expect that he's out of the league for good. He has got to get his act together. From a football standpoint, I think the Cowboys are messing up by trying to fit him in on the offensive side of the ball (kind of like the mistake the Bears are making with Devin Hester), but on the defensive side of the ball, he's going to be a beast. I think that this will be a gamble that will work for the Cowboys.

Chad Johnson - Wow! So they called your bluff and you're going to report to camp. I have wavered on this guy about whether he's worth the 'extra' that he brings to the game. I enjoy some of the antics with the touchdown celebrations but it's fun and not an 'in your face' event. He plays well, but at times I am not sure if he is the best receiver on his team. TJ Houshmandzadeh seems to be able to produce, but I think the difference between the #1 and #2 receivers is very minimal. Maybe Johnson will just shut up and play ball, as he as said he will. I guess, this situation should be put on watch. If Johnson comes out and lays an egg early in the season, the fans and media are going to kill him.

Odell Thurman - Another Bengal story. I was one of those that kind of wished nothing good for the Bengals after they released this kid after his grandmother died and he chose to stay instead of reporting to camp. I thought that he was just taking the death hard and needed some time and the Bengals just let him down. Now with all this other information coming out about Thurman may have violated the league's drug policy again (he just got reinstated), it's sad to see a young kid throw it all away. Maybe the Bengals knew about this or knew that he couldn't be trusted. Good move by the Bengals. Hopefully the kid gets some help, it looks as though he really needs it.

Lito Sheppard - Sitting out Eagles camp. Why is it that the Eagles have talent but when it's time to re-sign that talent, they choose to hardball players and in most cases end up getting rid of them. They just signed Asante Samuel to a humongous contract and they play the same position. Imagine going to work and you find out that they not only hired a guy to do your job, but they paid him big moola, how would you feel? This isn't going to end well for the Eagles.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bears Mini Camp

Switching gears a little to the gridiron, it’s that time of the year. Minicamp,…yes, that’s right minicamp, where an entire season can be deemed ‘on the brink’ before we even get a chance to play a real game. I’ll concentrate with my hometown (at least where I live now) Bears today. The biggest news out of the Bears camp is that it’s time to PAY THA MAN. Now, you might think that I mean Brian Urlacher, but I don’t, I say it’s time to pay Tommie Harris before you lose him. Yes, Urlacher wants more money and I guess I would too with all of the baby momma drama he has going on along with surgery on a bad neck. It’s really that second part that I have issue with.

Let me backup a second to say that football players don’t get paid well enough (compared to other sports) because although they can sign these enormous deals, many people don’t realize that these deals aren’t guaranteed. When a rookie signs a deal in basketball (NBA), he’s going to make that money whether he plays a game, is terrible when he plays, gets cut/released, or plays well above what he’s getting paid. In football it’s different, you have only today to make your money. NFL means Not For Long. When the average career of an NFL player is between 2 to 4 years,…… gotta make your money when you can. When an NFL player gets cut, you don’t get a check anymore. It’s like you walking in to your 9-5 and they tell you that you got fired. Same thing.

Now, back to my issue. Urlacher just had surgery on his neck and wants to renegotiate his contract. Now, the surgery was deemed minor, but any time you have something ‘minor’ done to your neck that involved you being put under anesthesia, that’s an issue for me. I like Urlacher for what he is, great at making plays in space, not so great at getting people off of him and making plays. I personally don’t think he’s the best LB on the team, but he did sign a Ray Lewis like contract a few years ago. So he got his money. I want to see him play this year and then we’ll see about renegotiating. He had surgery on his neck people, I mean this is a guy who makes a living running at a high velocity and smashing into other people who are also running at a high rate of speed. If he has a bad neck (along with the back issues he has), he probably needs to get a new job, something safer.

With Tommie Harris, the Bears have a young (25 year old) DT who has made the Pro Bowl the last 3 years. Why not give this guy a reasonable (yeah depends on which camp you’re in, the Bears or Tommie Harris’) deal for the next 4 years and lock him up. That way you’ll have a defense that’s intact and can play at a high level. You’ve already signed your corners (whose jobs are easier when you have a good D line) to multi-million dollar deals, and you even gave your kicker an $11M/5 year deal.

On a Separate Note: The Denver Broncos have release troubled running back Travis Henry from the team. Talk about a guy with no job and several mouths to feed (9 babies by several different women).

Finals Matchups

With so much on the line, this is my take on how the matchups will work during the Finals. Feel free to agree or disagree.


Point Guard: Derek Fisher vs. Rajon Rondo

Derek Fisher is playing in his umpteenth playoff series and he has done it against the quick, the strong, and the best. He’s seasoned and plays well off of Kobe. The difference between the he and Rondo is that Fisher doesn’t have to be a traditional point guard that gets them in each set, he gets to pick and choose his spots because of the offense (the triangle) that the Lakers run.

Rondo is playing about as well as you can expect a 2nd year point guard to play. He has his good games and then those, why is this dude playing games. He’s long, athletic, and can make that high arcing jumper go in the basket on occasion. He plays good D, but Fisher should be able to bang him around a little (Fisher looks to be about Emmitt Smith’s size on the basketball court, wide).

Edge: Look for Fisher to play off Rondo, or better yet for the Lakers, look for Kobe to play Rondo as the Mamba tries to cut the head off of the Celtics team. Edge goes to Lakers.

Shooting Guard: Kobe vs. Ray Allen

Kobe – League MVP, Western Conference MVP (if there was such a thing), Lakers MVP, Best player on the planet right now.

Ray Allen is playing on a part time basis. Are we going to get the Ray Allen that couldn’t hit the ocean or the Ray Allen that heated up for the Celtics against the Pistons? Then add to that, there’s something that gets him going against Kobe. Not sure what it is, but I think they had issues with each other in the past that may rear it’s ugly head in this series.

Edge: Unless the Celtics can find a time machine and go and get the healthy version of Ray Allen from Seattle when he was dropping 25 a game, advantage Lakers.

Small Forward: Lamar Odom vs. Paul Pierce

Lamar Odom has been great in the playoffs, well about as great as I expect from him since he doesn’t have that ‘type A’ personality. I remember when he got drafted (I was there and even have my NBA Draft booklet that he signed that night) and I was like the Clippers have found the answer to their prayers. It’s taken him a while, but I think that he’s finally blossomed.

Paul Pierce has played great and has been the ‘Closer’ that the Celtics need. He’s living up to his nickname and he is proving that he can be considered part of that upper echelon of NBA Stars. He has the skills to take you off the dribble, play inside, outside, just a jack of all trades. As long as he doesn’t fall in love with that jumper, he should definitely rep his city when they visit Staples.

Edge: Paul Pierce gets it because Odom can’t guard him on the wing. P2 will have to play Odom on D, but he can handle that. Edge to Boston.

Power Forward: Vlad Radmanovic vs. KG

Vlad has quietly taken to the needling that Phil has given him and has started playing well. In the Utah series, for stretches, he was the best player out there not named Kobe. He loves the deep ball but has shown a penchant for putting the ball on the floor and making something good happen.

KG is the heart of the Celtics. If you could bottle up that energy, you’d put Gatorade and Vitamin Water out of business. He has a complete game and should be able to get his points on O and help on D.

Edge: If KG doesn’t average 20 a game with Radman guarding him, I may puke. The Lakers don’t have anyone that matches up well against KG and they’ll need to give lots of help to get it done. Edge to Boston.

Center: Paul Gasol vs. Kendrick Perkins

Pau Gasol was a godsend for the Lakers after Bynum went down. He not only meshed well with the team but he provided more scoring and passing in the post for the Lakers which is a deadly combination since they are already one of the best passing teams in the league. He’s surprised me with his defense and a little swagger when needed.

Kendrick Perkins has shown that he can be a factor for Boston. He has a few post moves, but his best strength is the Laker’s weakness, and that is strength. Perkins has been that bull in a china shop for the Celtics on the boards and I think that he’ll continue that trend going against a softer Gasol.

Edge: I think this matchup could quietly decide the series. If Perkins is able to dominate on the boards and get easy buckets for the Celtics, it’s over. Gasol has a wider variety of skills, but I have to say that this matchup is a push.

Lakers Bench vs. Celtics Bench

The Lakers bring a bevy of players who have played out of their minds for most of the playoffs: Farmar (ok, he took one series off), Vujacic, Turiaf, Walton, Ariza, Mbenga. Out of all of these, Farmar, Vujacic and Walton have the opportunity to make this a special playoffs for Kobe. If they hit their shots and play unselfishly as they can, this bench is great. When they hold the ball, they really don’t have a one on one player off the bench and it makes them very easy to guard. I expect the Lakers bench to show up and play well.

The Celtics bench is a reason for concern. Most in part to Doc Rivers NOT playing some of them for a while. The Celtics bring Posey, House, Powe, Davis, Brown, Cassell (who has done nothing), and Tony Allen. Normally the bigs off the bench provide a spark of sorts and you’re not sure which one will on any given night. The backcourt help off the bench is spotty. Cassell needs to play like the clutch guy they paid him to be and I think in this series, you’ll need someone like Tony Allen or Big Baby to make a positive impact to help the Celtics.

Edge: When it’s all said and done, I gotta go with,….well push. I think each bench has pluses, but they also have some minus. Yes, a game can be determined by your bench but I expect both benches to play well and this series will come down to the best players playing well (the starters).

So, as you already know I have the Celtics in 7. Who ya got?

How we got here

Ok, the NBA Finals start on Thursday night and it’s going to be a wild one. With everything that has happened for both teams over the past year, you gotta expect that the fireworks are going to continue. You have the Lakers and the Celtics for the title and several other interesting subplots:

KG’s career - Will he ever win one? Can he be clutch when it really matters? Can he lead a team to the promised land?

Kobe’s career - Is he the closest thing to MJ? Can he will his team to the title by being THE man?

Paul Pierce’s career – Can he finally become a Celtic that wins a title and not the Celtic with the most playoffs wins without a title?

Phil Jackson – Does he get the championship that puts him past Red Auerbach, while beating Red’s old team?

A few months ago you had Kobe going on blast to every media outlet available about him wanting to be traded and how it made no sense to keep a young Bynum when they could have gotten Jason Kidd in a trade with NJ. You had the Celtics who tanked in order to win the Greg Oden sweepstakes (see how that went), but during the offseason Danny Ainge made some deals to pull in Ray Allen and KG (a coup at best). With the Lakers, Kobe decided to shut up (thank goodness) for a while and just play basketball. While ever other GM in the business sat around and salivated about how they could put a package together to get Kobe, Mitch Kupchak was sitting around with rosary beads, some magic fairy dust, and about 12 rabbits feet (sorry PETA). We thought that he would have jumped out of a window when Bynum went down with a knee injury, but somewhere in Memphis we heard a heart break. Jerry West, decided that in his last few months of working with the Grizz that he’d give the franchise that he helped create (on the court and off) one last assist. The Grizz gave up Pau Gasol (the face of the franchise) for Kwame Brown (nothing bad left to say), Javaris Crittendon (who in my estimation will end up being a decent guard), and basically a ham sandwich, a bag of chips (not the cheap ones), and a soda. Wasn’t it really awkward during the presentation of the West Conference Championship that West was presenting the trophy to the Lakers? The Lakers should have been presenting the trophy to West with a check attached to it. He’s the reason that they were able to pull this off (yes the players played, but man, what an assist). The whole time West was speaking, Kobe was grinning like a little kid that found out the secret to getting ice cream or something.

The Celtics on the other hand, pieced together their current team with an assist from ‘within’ also. Again, every other GM in the NBA cringed as they saw the package that Minny took for KG. Yes, Boston gave up Al Jefferson (a decent big who can score in the West), Gerald Green (if basketball was just all dunking), Theo Ratliff (who was on Detroit's playoff roster), Ryan Gomes (go ahead and look him up to see who he is), Sebastian Telfair (his claim to fame is being Marbury’s cousin) and some picks, but you have to look at that deal and imagine the conversation that occurred:

Ainge: (on the phone with McHale)…Kevin, I’m trying to win man. I’ve got Paul Pierce, I took a shaky Ray Allen from Seattle, and now I need a big to finish out the team,….

McHale: Win? Man, I’m just trying to make our team interesting during the winter, there’s nothing else to do here in Minny, but when the summer comes I don’t want to have to work anymore. Don’t tell anyone that,…..

Ainge: We have to win here, it’s the Celtics for gosh sakes. Don’t you remember all of the good times we had here during our heyday? What about KG? Is he available? You guys haven’t done much with his talent yet?

McHale: Yeah, he’s available, but right now, everyone wants him. But I need to somehow keep this team in mediocrity, yet still keep my job. Well, I’m not worrying about the job so much, I have pictures on people here. What kind of deal were you thinking about? And don’t think about including Paul Pierce in a deal, he’s too good.

There you have it, the background that provides us with the Lakers vs. Celtics for the NBA Championship. May the best team win (Go Celtics).