Category Archives: NBA

Happy NBA day! Here are a few stories to keep your eye on this season.

I’d like to tell you the greatest story ever told. “Once upon a time there was a boy named LeBron…”

Last week, I wrote a preview to my NBA preview where I stated my case that ultimately the outcome to the season isn’t murky but rather crystal clear. Essentially, we’re looking at three potential teams left standing when all is said and done.

But, as I stated, there are still plenty of stories to follow throughout the upcoming season. In lieu of a team-by-team rundown, I’m going to highlight a few story-arcs that I’ll be watching and enjoying this season.

The Champions

I think we’re going to have to get used to this.

Three teams to rule them all; unfortunately that’s about it.  OKC, the Lakers, and the Heat are the class of the league and there’s roughly a 100% chance that one of these three will hoist the “Kia Presents the Larry O’Brien Trophy during the Kia Presents the 2013 NBA Post-Game Championship Presentation, sponsored by Adidas… are you in? Ceremony”.

Here’s a rundown of each of those teams in order of my predicted finish.

The Miami Heat:

The Heatles proved last season that they’re the real deal by exercising some demons and changing the way any team that has championship aspirations approaches this season. Who’s going smaller? Anyone? Oh yeah, almost everyone.

They score with abandon, they play defense with abandon, and have we discussed how LeBron James now has a pretty formidable post-game? We haven’t? Well, he has and let me tell you, it’s terrifying.

To go along with this newly discovered post-monster, they also have second and third wheels Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. During the offseason they found time to add outside shooter extraordinaire Ray Allen and former outside shooter extraordinaire Rashard Lewis.

Is their bench still a little weak? Maybe, but the fact remains that they’re the defending league champs and they also happen to reside in the Eastern Conference. This means that for most of the season their opponents will be a glorified D-League. They’re good enough, they’re smart enough, and dog gonnit their playoff competition will be terrible.

The Lakers:

The staff here at The Couchletes recently did an NBA predictions post that may or may not be posted sometime after Kevin gets back from his honeymoon so let me spoil things right now. I picked the Thunder to win the West and lose to the Heat in the finals. Of course, this was before I was woken up from a post-gangnum style slumber to find out that Sam Presti had mortgaged his teams present for its future. This brings us to the Lakers.

The Lakers, thanks to the Thunder are now the frontrunners in the Western Conference. However, there’s a big, BIG “if” and it’s that they’re the frontrunners as long as they stay healthy. Yes, they have four future Hall-of-Famers on the roster but Steve Nash is nearly 40, Kobe’s knees probably need another round of blood spinning, Pau Gasol is in the bad part of his 30s, and Dwight Howard just had back surgery. If one of those four go down come playoff time they’ll have to rely on their bench, which consists of stalwarts like Devin Ebanks. In layman’s terms, they don’t have a bench, like, at all.

The Lakers are the leagues strongest and weakest team, if that’s even possible. Yes, I’m picking them to make it to the finals but with one tweak to Howard’s back or Kobe’s knee, or if age catches up to Steve Nash or Pau and this could all come crashing down. The 2012-2013 Lakers will be operating at a very high level but they’ll be doing it all without a net.

Oklahoma City Thunder

I’ve already touched on the Thunder a bit. They decided they couldn’t turn a profit and retain James Harden so they’ve sent him to Houston. This is a huge risk for the Thunder. It’s a huge risk because they had a 4-year window where they were essentially guaranteed a trip to the finals. The Thunder ownership and front office have decided to forego that window and attempt to be the NBA’s first ever self-sustaining team.

I’m not so sure it’s going to work. Harden was an excellent ball-handler who is virtually unstoppable in the Pick-and-Roll, and one of the leagues most efficient scorers. He also served as a kind of security blanket for the team’s offense whenever Russell Westbrook decided to go off the reservation. They swapped him for future lottery picks, a rookie that someday might be a poor-man’s version of the player they already had and Kevin Martin, an excellent shooter who can’t dribble, defend, and has pretty much been a shell of his former self since the league changed how they call shooting fouls.

So, who likes the Thunder?

I still do. Not as much as I did, but I still like them. Any time you have Kevin Durant you’re going to have a punchers chance of making it. The only issue is that I don’t think they’ll have enough to make it this year. Not without Harden. But like I said in the Lakers section, if something happens to any one of the four fragile super-stars on the Lakeshow, the Thunder will reclaim the title of next in line to lose to the Heat.

Yay them.

The former champions

In a weak Eastern Conference they may have enough. Just don’t ask them to play during the early bird special.

Another fascinating story to watch this year will be how two excellent coaches try to maintain their team’s historically high quality of play for one final go at a championship.

Since I didn’t bring them up during the above section, I’m not expecting the San Antonio Spurs or the Boston Celtics to actually make it to the finals. I think they’ll come up just a little too short, but I am expecting them to play some excellent ball nonetheless.

Now, if you held a gun to my head I might say that the Celtics have a chance to slip past the Heat. It’s the nature of the game that sometimes upsets happen. They also have a style of play that lends itself to that very thing happening. They like to play defense, they like to play rough, and they like to play physical. Also, it helps that the Eastern conference is god-awful which will help cover over up the fact that they’ve been a terrible offensive team over the past couple years.

Of course, they could totally prove me wrong. Because yeah, the additions of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee will certainly speed up their pace, I just don’t think it’ll be enough. Regardless, watch this iteration of the Celtics. It might be your last chance.

The Spurs on the other hand are actually a much better team, but they play in the West so they’ll have to go through teams like the Lakers, Thunder, Nuggets, Grizzlies and more. They have a hard slog just to make it to the finals so I’m not sure these old dogs have it in them for one final run of thrilling, beautiful, and championship caliber basketball.


Minnesota’s new mascot. “Crunch” the disintegrating meniscus.

Last season’s schedule was a terror on the ligaments and cartilage of some of the leagues brightest stars. Over the span of a few months we saw Ricky Rubio, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, and Jeremy Lin all get sidelined with ACL tears or meniscus issues. On top of that Blake Griffin had minor knee surgery during the offseason, Kobe Bryant’s blood-spun joints are getting ever more fragile and we’ll also be witnessing the cartilage free comeback of former all-star Brandon Roy.

A lot of futures rest on these knees (fans, teams, sponsors). It’ll be fascinating to watch how they handle their minutes throughout the 82 game grind. I know as a Timberwolves fan I’ll be holding my breath during every game.

Northwest Division

Get used to these logos. They’re really cool… and really good.

It’s made up of teams in small-markets but I contend that no division in basketball will be as entertaining, and no division will be filled with higher-quality play night after night. In fact, it has the very real potential to field four of the eight western conference playoff teams.

Starting with the Thunder who we’ve already discussed, we’re also going to see some pretty special ball from the Denver Nuggets (a sleeper championship team), Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, and even at times the Portland Trailblazers.

If you love basketball, especially beautiful basketball, watch the Northwest Division. You won’t be disappointed.

The story will go on…and on… and on… and…

Of course, there are many other stories to watch this year but these are the ones I’ll be watching and therefore these are the ones you should be watching. If you have other narratives you’re looking forward to watching this year feel free to share them. I’m always in the mood for a good story.

By Mark Gaspar
Follow Mark on Twitter at @markgaspar

A preview to my NBA preview: The fates have decided this won’t end the way I want. But you know what? I’m okay with it.

My thoughts exactly.

As The Couchletes’ resident NBA guru, I’ve been tasked with providing a little content to whet your appetite before the real games begin. Before I get there though, I wanted to deliver a preview to my preview. First, I should explain two important elements that have not only shaped my overall view of sports, but more importantly for this post and on a more micro-level, Basketball.

First, I am a fan of Minnesota sports. This fact alone puts me in rarefied air. Only fans of all Cleveland sports and those who root for the Buffalo Bills can even begin to lay claim to a more miserable sports existence. Whether it’s the Vikings, all University of Minnesota athletics, losing the North Stars to Dallas (only to see them win the Stanley Cup a few years later), the early retirement and death of Kirby Puckett, or pretty much the entire existence of my beloved Timberwolves I’m accustomed to disappointment and heartache. To be sure, there are years when it seems like something different could happen. But when those rare times come along, those times when it feels like the stars could finally align, I can rest easy because fate, I know has other plans. Plans that mean something especially horrendous is in the works. When this happens a lot of fun is had trying to imagine what that horrendous thing could be. Trust me though, it’s always so much worse (Brett Favre anyone?).

Second, I have a non-sexual man crush on Ricky Rubio that at times veers dangerously close to being non non-sexual. Of course, this second fact fits perfectly like a pair of Russian nesting dolls with point number one. I am used to disappointment. As a fan of Minnesota sports, I am not allowed to have nice things.

I mention these because I thought the demise of Ricky Rubio’s ACL last year would have taken care of point number one this season. How could we be good without our dear Spanish Unicorn? But then a funny thing started to happen. The Timberwolves front office, long whipping boy of the NBA’s elite pundits, turned intelligent. They dumped below-average players like Darko! Michael Beasley, Anothony Randolph, and Anthony Tolliver. They traded for 3-point specialist Chase Budinger and do-shit specialist Donte Cunngingham to serve as front-line back ups.

Never a team to engage in free agent spending, they went outside their comfort zone and signed a possibly rejuvenated Brandon Roy out of retirement and a possibly rejuvenated Andrei Kirilenko out of Russia. Joining him from the former iron curtain would also be his CSKA Moscow/Russian National Team teammate and floppy haired muppet Alexey Shved.

I mention all this because up until a few days ago this team was a mid-seed playoff team at worst (even with Rubio out until the end of December) and a team that could actually scare title contenders like the Thunder and Lakers at best. I mention a few days ago this was possible because a few days ago Kevin Love hadn’t broken his hand doing knuckle push-ups.

Can the Timberwolves make the playoffs without the best power forward in the league for the first month? More than likely yes. Their November schedule is easy enough and the rest of the roster talented enough that they can probably put together a .500 record. If they can do that, they should be fine. But this is beside the point. Because if I’m being honest, it really doesn’t matter. Not in the NBA.

You see, because unlike the NFL or MLB where literally anything can happen once you reach the post-season (just ask St. Louis) the NBA is built solidly upon a hierarchy, a veritable glass ceiling that all but a few teams in a given season cannot hope to break.

So, unless you’re fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, or Miami Heat you might as well start relaxing right now and just focus on enjoying quality basketball because your team ain’t winning shit.

More than any other league, being a fan of NBA basketball means you engage in the Sisyphean task of hope and despair every season. Why? Because maybe sometime your team will be bad enough so you can draft a Kevin Durant or, global warming will turn your city into a place full of nice weather and beautiful women. But if you don’t live in a beautiful location and you can’t draft a well-balanced superstar with zero ego than you’re pretty much out of luck. Enjoy pushing that boulder this season, who knows, maybe you’ll actually get it to the top this time… oh wait, I know… you won’t.

But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Not really. Because NBA fans have found ways to accept the fact that our favorite team won’t be spraying themselves with champagne (well, at least after winning a championship) at the end of the season. We’ve come to appreciate the little things. Because even if baseball and football are America’s games let’s face it, baseball is boring and football either won’t exist or will have morphed into a variation of two-hand touch within the next 20 years. That leaves us with Basketball, a sport full of the most physically gifted athletes partaking in a game that is so inherently beautiful and thrilling to watch it really doesn’t even matter that my team has essentially no chance of making it out of the first round.

But then again, isn’t that what we should want? Where’s the fun in some team who barely made it into the playoffs going on a run and winning it all? Sure, for a brief instant it might be thrilling to watch an underdog run off a series of wins but underdogs don’t win on their skill. They win when they make the game ugly. They win when they take a game out of its natural rhythm. They win when they get the refs involved. They win when they strip the beauty, grace, and excitement out of a beautiful, thrilling, and exciting game. So why would I want to root for that?

Basketball is not like any other sport. Basketball is all about fate. Fate put me in my place. In hindsight I’m just thankful it taught me my lesson before the season started. But if I’m being honest, I’ve still got a lot to be thankful for. I’m still going to get to see my team run Rick Adelman’s “Corner Offense” beautifully from time to time, their passes careening from one side of the floor to the other before ending in a Kevin Love 3-pointer from the top of the arc, or a Nikola Pekovic dunk. I’m still going to get to see Ricky Rubio smile and do Ricky Rubio type things. I’m also going to see Tony Parker run around like a whirling dervish, James Harden’s beard, LeBron James’ evolving post-game, and I’m going sit back and feel the terror and beauty of a Steve Nash/Dwight Howard pick-n-roll game wash over me in an awesome wave.

These are all things we’re going to see this year, these and so many more. Because though we may know how the story is going to end (and trust me, I’ll still hope against hope that I can get that boulder up the hill this time) we don’t know how it’s going to get there. But one thing I do know is that it will be thrilling and it will be beautiful.

One last thing I’m thankful for: I have NBA League Pass, which means I can see and enjoy all of the above.

Hope you’ll watch with me this year. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to tempt fate.

By Mark Gaspar
Follow Mark on Twitter at @markgaspar

The 2011 – 2012 Most Hated NBA Player

Last season The Hump dethroned the King. He was the most hated man in NBA. I’m not sure why though. Lebron James was an ass and screwed over the entire city of Cleveland. Where, Humpty Dumpty here was screwed over by an ass the size of Cleveland. In my expert opinion (yes, I’m an expert, I watch all the shows and read the magazines while I wait in line at the Supermarket), Kris did nothing wrong to Kim. She opened her shallow heart for all of us to see and then milked every minute of it to land a huge deal with E!. Too bad K-Hump didn’t get a spin off or a decent NBA contract…until today.

Kris finally got what he deserved. He landed a 2 year $24MM contract with the Brooklyn Nets, which, by the way is part-owned by his Ex-Wife’s Boyfriend’s BFF. Awkward… But this is a sports blog, so allow me to touch on a few things that I find shocking. Humphries has been treated like a D-League Power Forward for his entire career.

Hump was drafted by the Jazz in 2004. After two short seasons in Utah (’04 to ’06) he was traded to Toronto. Granted he didn’t do much for the Jazz, but from what I can remember, the Jazz weren’t doing much either. In Canada, Kris busted his ass every little chance he got to play and started showing off his boarding skills. Regardless of having career high games of 18 boards and proving to be a valuable Power Forward he was shipped to Dallas in 2009. After one short season in Dallas he was traded to then New Jersey Nets. So in 2011 around the time he started dating Kimmy he averaged a double double for the Nets. That means he was averaging double digit points and double digit rebounds. So how do they reward him? The hook him up with a one year $8MM contract 20 days after he filed for divorce. After that whirlwind sham of a wedding and being dragged through the Kardashian mud, he was able to average a double double in points and rebounds for a second season in a row!

Last season he averaged:

13.8 11.0 1.2 17.98

According to ESPN: “Only 5 players have averaged at least 10 points and 10 rebounds per game in each of the last 2 seasons: Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol…and Kris Humphries.”

He kept his head up and did his job well. Even Lamar Odom, golden son-in-law, couldn’t play in Dallas. He’s in his head so bad that E! had to cancel their best spin-off, Klohe and Lamar. I tip my hat to, Kris, weathering that stuck up narcissistic storm would have broken most men.

It’s about damn time Brooklyn. You should have signed him sooner. You just watch, he’ll back up Gerald Wallace better than any monster contract you would have absorbed from Orlando. It’ll just be a little weird next season on Keeping Up with the Kardashians when Kim and Kanye double date with Jay-Z and Beyonce at a Knicks – Nets game.

Rivalry Week: The Results

This past week has been rivalry week, with posts dedicated solely to rivalries in sports. On our Facebook page we published some polls so you could vote and let your voice be heard on the best rivalries in sports. Today we’re announcing the results of those polls. So let’s get right to it.


You voted the Yankees-Red Sox as the best rivalry in baseball. No surprise here, although it was closer than I thought it would be with the Dodgers-Giants  finishing closely behind the winner. All of the Dodgers-Giants votes came from people that grew up on the west coast though. Votes for Yankees-Red Sox came from all over the country, which to me just supports it being the best rivalry in baseball.


This one was a surprise, at least to me. I was expecting the Bears-Packers to win, but they were upset by the Steelers-Ravens in a close one. If you think about the past ten years though, the Steelers-Ravens have both been very good. They’ve both been playoff contenders and Super Bowl contenders. For the most part, either the Packers or the Bears have been good over that same time period, but not both.


Landside. Celtics-Lakers ran away with this one. Not a surprise and not much else to say about it.


Surprisingly, the NHL poll garnered the most votes. I assumed the NFL or MLB would get the most votes. The Bruins-Canadiens rivalry ran away with this one in a contest that wasn’t very competitive overall. This did show a deep field though with a number of rivalries receiving votes. More choices received a vote in this poll than in any other. The NHL poll was actually also the hardest to determine the rivalries that would be included in the poll. There were a number that we considered including and just missed inclusion: Devils-Rangers, Kings-Ducks and Red Wings-Avalanche.

College Basketball

As expected, Duke-North Carolina won this one pretty handedly.

College Football

Another one that wasn’t a surprise with Ohio State-Michigan winning.

So what did all these polls tell us? Anything? Some weren’t surprising, others were more revealing. It looks like our followers enjoy hockey more than we thought (maybe we should write a little more on the NHL….). The west coast came out in force in support of the Dodgers-Giants, even though they fell a little short, showing that the rivalry between those two teams is very healthy. While the west coast may not have a ton of rivalries, they do enjoy that one.

The votes also showed us that we did a pretty good job of choosing all the poll options. There weren’t too many write-in votes, so for the most part, it looks like there are a few rivalries in each sport that stand out from all others as the best.

Rivalry Week: What’s the Deal with the West Coast?

If you’ve been following us this week you know that it’s Rivalry Week for us. You may also have noticed that we have some polls up on our Facebook page asking our followers to vote on the rivalries they think are best in sports. Something we noticed after we chose the rivalries for the polls is that we didn’t include many west coast rivalries. Definitely not as many as there on the east coast, in the south and in the midwest. I had to go back and do a double take to make sure there weren’t some good ones we left out. Nope…we didn’t.

Before I dive in further I need to say I’m focusing this post on professional sports. Rivalries form much easier in college sports and there are a number of good rivalries among west coast colleges: Oregon-Oregon State; Washington-Washington State; Cal-Stanford; USC-UCLA. But still, none of them stand up to the college football and college basketball choices listed on our Facebook page. Trying to compare Washington-Washington St. or USC-UCLA to Ohio State Michigan or Florida-Georgia is like saying a bologna sandwich is just as good as sushi. Sorry, they just aren’t the same.

So what’s the deal with west coast pro teams? Sure, there are some good west coast rivalries – the San Francisco Giants and LA Dodgers come to mind as one. The…uh….well…the Giants and Dodgers. Yeah, the Giants and Dodgers. Seriously? Is that it? The LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks were also considered for the NHL poll, but ultimately didn’t make the cut when compared to some of hockey’s other rivalries.

Is it because west coast fans are less passionate about sports than people living in other parts of the country? People are into it in college because there may not be anything else to do, then they graduate, move to LA, San Francisco, San Diego or some other west coast city and see there are a lot of other ways they could spend their time. While I think this is true to a degree, I also know a lot of passionate sports fans that are west coast residents. Sure, they don’t have the die hard stereotype that fans in Chicago, New York or Boston have, but there’s a good number that like their sports and grew up on them.

I’ve heard some people say that the high number of transplants on the left coast could be a contributing factor to the low number of rivalries. Someone grows up in Pittsburgh, then moves to Seattle and has no attachment to the Seahawks or Mariners. Or people even move around within the west coast. Does a mobile workforce not allow for the formation of rivalries though? I say no. Most rivalries have roots that are decades old and the U.S. didn’t become so mobile as a population until more recently.

Earlier this week I wrote about what makes a rivalry – geographic proximity, historical significance, consistent competitiveness and national relevance. Maybe it’s the national relevance piece that holds the west coast back in rivalries. The ol’ east coast bias by the media. There are plenty of teams that are geographically close, have some type of historical relevance between them and consistently play competitive games. So is national relevance to blame? Or is it that there isn’t enough of a historical significance. After all, most of the west coast teams are much younger than their east coast counterparts. The Giants and Dodgers, the west coast’s best examples, are older than most of the other teams on their coast and they’re young compared to teams in the east and midwest.

I actually think it’s a combination of historical significance and national relevance. Look at some of the match ups that logic says could (and probably should) be rivals: the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings; the Lakers and Clippers; Lakers/Clippers and Warriors; the 49ers and Seahawks; the Oakland A’s and LA/Anaheim/California Angels; the San Jose Sharks and LA Kings/Anaheim Ducks; the Raiders and Chargers.

Yet none of these are thought of as hot rivalries. Maybe there’s something I’m missing, but the lack of west coast rivalries just seems odd to me. Why haven’t more formed over the years?

Rivalry Week: What Makes a Rivalry?

There are a lot of rivalries in sports, but what makes a good one? Maybe a better question to start with is, are there good rivalries and bad rivalries? Or are there just simply rivalries? I’m not quite sure. I know there are some rivalries that are better than others. The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals are rivals, both being from Ohio, but do they match the relationship that, say, the Bears-Packers have? Not so much… I don’t think I’d call the Browns-Bengals a bad one though. So I think the answer is that there are just rivalries. With some better than others…

This question was asked by a guy at my office a few weeks ago: why are the Giants and Dodgers rivals? Answers came from all different angles.

“Because they’re in the same division.”

“SoCal vs. NorCal”

“They were rivals in New York before they moved west. It stuck when the moved.”

“San Francisco people hate LA people.”

All could be valid answers, but this guy at my office kept pushing on it, asking what event or occurrence happened for them to be rivals. He didn’t understand what caused these two teams to be rivals. He was looking for one thing, one unquestioned reason for why the two teams and their fan bases despise each other. I should disclose that this guy is a Yankees fan… So in his head, he was comparing every rivalry to the Yankees-Red Sox. He wanted there to be a Babe Ruth sale for ever rivalry.

What this led me to realize is that in most cases, there isn’t one occurrence that leads two teams to be rivals. In fact, even if you look at the Yankees-Red Sox, they didn’t immediately become rivals after the ink on the contract selling Ruth to New York dried. It was built over time.

Most rivalries have all, or a mix of several, of the following factors: geographic proximity, historical significance, consistent competitiveness and national relevance.

There are exceptions to all of these (the Lakers and Celtics are on opposite coasts), but for the most part, they’re all common to a rivalry – or at least three of the four. Over on our Facebook page we have polls asking people the best rivalries in all the major sports leagues and college football and basketball. You’ll notice all the choices we propose have at least three of the above factors.

So to go back to that question my colleague asked – why are the Giants and Dodgers rivals – there are a four reasons why:

  • Geographic proximity – they’re both on the west coast
  • Historical significance – each club has a lengthy history, starting in New York and then moving west. More importantly, they have a lengthy history of competing with each other for pennants and division titles
  • Consistent competitiveness – while one club is usually better than the other in a given year, there’s always a competitive spirit that exists between the two when they play, more than what exists between either of the two and any other NL team
  • National relevance – the country looks at the two teams as rivals and acknowledges the significance

Think about other rivalries. I guarantee that they’ll have at least three of the four factors I’ve talked about. Prove me wrong. If you find one, let me know.

Rivalry Week

This week, The Couchletes will be focusing on rivalries in sports. Baseball, football, basketball, hockey, college sports. We’ll cover them all. Why did we choose this week and not align with one of ESPN’s rivalry weeks during college football season. Well, we’re not ESPN for one. And two, it’s a fairly slow week in sports. Wimbledon and MLB’s All Star game, that’s about it. So why not create some sports discussions of our own?

To start the week off, we want to hear from you. What do you think are the best rivalries in sports? Head over to our Facebook page and vote on the polls we’ve posted over there about the best rivalries in sports. Then throughout the week, we’ll publish some of our thoughts here about sports rivalries.

Heat Win, Thunder Lose….Now What?

The NBA Finals are over and it’s been an entertaining month for all of us watching. But now I’m left asking one question – what’s next? I don’t mean ‘next’ literally, as in, what will I watch now that the Finals are over, but rather, what comes next for these two teams.

As much as many people hated them and cheered against them, the Heat proved that they are undoubtedly the NBA’s best team. All the pieces finally came together. LeBron got a look on his face in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals and began playing better than we’ve ever seen him. Chris Bosh returned from injury and proved to everyone that although awkward and at times, downright weird, he is a great player that adds a dimension to Miami’s team that they just can’t find elsewhere on their roster. Shane Battier and Mike Miller showed everyone that they can be valuable role players. And Dwyane Wade….well, I guess he proved that, as he’s been saying for two years, indeed, this isn’t his team anymore.

With LeBron playing at this level, Bosh complementing him nicely and Wade playing the role of Scottie Pippen, we have no reason to believe this team won’t be in contention for years to come (likely winning several more titles). ESPN’s Colin Cowherd also mentioned this morning that they shouldn’t have trouble bringing in solid, veteran role players. Those guys want to win a championship AND LeBron is such a good distributor that they know they’ll get their looks at the basket too.

The Thunder, it would seem, will also be in contention for years to come with a solid, young nucleus in place. But I have to ask, is their young nucleus, the right one? They have a lot of good, young players, but do these players mesh together? I think Sam Presti has to ask himself this question after watching the finals.

In game 4, Russell Westbrook played a great game. Everyone talked about how well he played. What those people failed to notice though, is what that game did to them in the greater scheme of things. Westbrook came out in game 5 looking to play the same way. The problem was he wasn’t playing the same way. He wasn’t on like he was in game 4. Yet he kept shooting and shooting and shooting. Ignoring open teammates, making dumb mental mistakes.

If anything, I think these Finals proved that while Westbrook is very good, he’s in it for himself. He wants to score points. He wants to be the guy. He doesn’t want to play second fiddle to Kevin Durant. Westbrook isn’t the guy though. He doesn’t have that in him. He’s too selfish.

If I’m Sam Presti, I have to ask myself, is this guy the point guard that can win us a title? Think long and hard about it, Sam. Would you be better off with a distributor and creator at point guard? A team player? I can’t help but think the Thunder would’ve been better off if they had Rajon Rondo at point guard against the Heat. Rondo keeps teams on their toes (yet often leaves them on their heels) with his unpredictable style. He finds extremely narrow passing lanes, makes his teammates better, yet can still score if teams start to overplay the passing lanes. Westbrook didn’t force the Heat to change their approach. They wanted to prevent Durant from getting the ball (which they did a good job of) and make others beat them. Once they saw Westbrook wasn’t going to pass the ball, they had him where they wanted him. He was getting double teamed and still wouldn’t pass.

Thinking back about the comment Colin Cowherd made about the Heat not having trouble bringing in veteran players, I can’t help but consider how it applies to the Thunder. People see that Westbrook is greedy. They know they won’t get their touches from him. Will they be able to bring in some of the free agents that they need?

Some people hate the Westbrook bashing (see: Jeff Van Gundy), but the player showed it was warranted. Prove me wrong, Russell. Show everyone that you can be a real point guard, a guy that distributes the ball and finds the open man. So far, you haven’t shown that.


I know, I know. More NBA. But c’mon, it’s like asking Jon Stewart to not cover politics. I was inspired by LeBron this morning. This is what The King said in response to Serge Ibaka’s comments about his defense:

“I don’t really care what he says, he’s stupid. Everyone says something to me every series then (the media) tries to get a quote. It’s stupid.”

This lead to a conversation with a friend of mine about  the stupidest NBA players. Our list started with Metta World Peace aka Ron Artest. Aaaand that’s where it ended. Seriously, we couldn’t think of anymore players. So here’s a top five list of Ron Ron’s stupidest comments/moments (excluding the Detroit Brawl) in no specific order:

1. Labor Day? @MettaWorldPeace: Happy labor day….Enjoy it” On Memorial Day, the Laker’s Forward wished everyone a Happy Labor Day. May… September… Yeah, Ron Ron needs to hire a Community Manager and an Executive Assistant to manage his social media and keep him aware of the calendar.

2. “I don’t shake substitutes’ hands.” Dude, James Harden is the 6th Man of the Year Award winner. That mean’s he’s putting up numbers you couldn’t put up off the bench for the Lakers or when you were a starter.

3. He changed his name to Metta World Peace and actually responds to it.

4. He wore number 37 one season with the Lakers to honor the number of weeks Michael Jackson’s Thriller was number 1 on the charts. Okay, so maybe this wasn’t so stupid, given that MJ passed away that summer.  I can appreciate MWP honoring MJ, but seriously Ron Ron is weird.

5. A Gem for after the Lakers beat the Celtics in the 2009 – 2010 finals, “A voice came down and told me to shoot the ball,” he said. ” ‘Shoot the ball,’ he said. God told me to shoot the ball and I shot the ball.” He reminds me of GW when he announced his bid for Presidency.

I’m sure I could go on but, hopefully these five made you chuckle. I look forward to the offseason for more of MWP’s ridiculous tweets and appearances. I do hope the Lakers trade him. There may be an opportunity for LA to gain some depth. Clearly he’s no longer the defensive force he once was. But hey, who am I kidding? The old, tired, soft, and immature Laker squad will be back to fall short again next season. Yay, Mitch Kupchak!

Time to Step Down, David Stern

Disclaimer: On our Facebook page today, we said we would write about more than the NBA – and we will – but the NBA just keeps providing us with all these storylines to write about. So, yes, we have another post on the NBA. Apologies to non-NBA fans…

David Stern, I feel like the time has come for you to finally step down as commissioner of the NBA. Over the years we’ve seen your personality. You’re a curmudgeon. It’s what you are, you can’t help that. One can’t change their personality. At times we’ve even appreciated your curmudgeonly attitude, liked it to a degree. But the past few years, it’s reached the point where you just seem angry at the world – and above the world. Superior to all of us common folk. You don’t have time for fans; you certainly don’t have the time to bother yourself with answering media questions. You’re way too important to spend 5 minutes doing a radio interview.

Today, I think you reached the point where it became clear for all to see that you’ve passed your prime. Jim Rome interviewed you for his radio show. He asked you a question about the conspiracy theories that surround the NBA draft. He pushed just a little (which, by Rome standards, didn’t seem like a push at all, seemed more like casual conversation) – which is his job, by the way, and this ensued. It’s worth just going to that link and listening to the clip. You didn’t like Rome’s questioning, so you blurted out, “do you still beat your wife?” What? Seriously? I understand what you were trying to do. If you ask me a dumb question, I’m going to ask you one. But to ask that question? That crossed the line. But you weren’t done. Later in the interview, you essentially insinuated that Rome’s a hack. Not a legitimate journalist, but someone that progressed in their career by blowing things out of proportion and reporting on falsities and rumor. Stern ended the interview by saying he had to go talk with a reputable journalist. He had to go talk with Stephen A. Smith. Needless to say, by the end of the interview, Rome was pissed. And rightfully so. But he actually held it together pretty well. I was impressed.

What you said during that interview was completely inappropriate and uncalled for. You got petty and immature. You embarrassed yourself and by extension, the league and the owners. If one of your owners or players acted like that you would demand an apology from them. So where’s yours? I expect to hear of one soon.

David, part of your job as NBA commissioner is to be an ambassador of the league. During that interview, is that how you acted? You act like you’re above people, like you’re smarter than everyone else in the room and need to prove it. Guess what? The smartest person in the room never has to prove it. The one that has to prove it is the one who knows he’s not. Deep down I think you know the game is passing you by. You hear the media – of the big four commissioners of the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB – you’re no longer tops. They love Roger Goodell. Are you jealous? Angry? Bitter?

Don’t get me wrong. You’ve done a great job over the years, but after Jordan retired, for 10+ years your league struggled. You let some things get out of hand. Finally a new crop of young talent is saving you. It’s really your demeanor and ego though that’s killing you. You’re setting a bad standard for the league and serving as a poor mouthpiece. And because of those things, I stand by what I said earlier. I think it’s time for new blood to run the league.