Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category

LEICESTER CITY, STEPH CURRY, AND THE ALL MADRID FINALS II

Monday, May 16th, 2016

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog

 

 

 

 

As we get into the business end of the sports season, you find that times are changing with some intriguing accomplishments occurring.

Denver's stingy defense helps "The Sheriff" ride off into the sunset a champion. (Photo courtesy of FoxBusiness.com)

Denver’s stingy defense helps “The Sheriff” ride off into the sunset a champion.
(Photo courtesy of FoxBusiness.com)

In the 2015/2016 sports calendar year, we have already seen Peyton Manning and The Denver Broncos crowned Super Bowl Champions after an incredible defensive display against the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers.

In as much as the lead up to the Super Bowl was quite exciting and the emergence of Cam Newton as an elite Quarterback was something to note, special mention needs to go out to other fascinating accomplishments occurring in other sporting events.

EPL Champions - Leicester City

EPL Champions – Leicester City

Let us begin with the English Premiership. At the conclusion of the 2014/2015 season, a little known club located in the East Midland of England finished in 14th place in a league with only 20 clubs. A little known club that nobody truly ranked and were given a whopping 5000/1 Odds to win the title the following season. That little known club are currently the champions of England and that little known club is Leicester City. To put things in context, let us use a case study for the odds that the bookies put in play at the beginning of the season. A lifetime Leicester City supporter put a 50 pounds ($30) bet on those odds of 5000/1 to win the title. That lifetime supporter cashed out on a take home prize of 250,000 pounds ($166,000). What has been accomplished by this club who had a spending budget of 52m pounds ($32.5M) in comparison to the likes of Manchester City (411m – $274M), Manchester United (391m – $260M), and Chelsea (298m – $198M) is something that has never ever been witnessed in British football. Leicester City took advantage of a slow methodology of playing every single game to win and taking advantage of lackluster performances from the other big clubs. Credit goes out to their manager (Claudio Ranieri) and star players James Vardy (who only a few years ago was combining his playing time while working part-time as a technician making medical splints) and Riyad Mahrez (a relatively unknown Algerian now among the English Premier League elites).

As we talk about this great accomplishment in sports by Leicester City, we cannot go any further without mentioning what Wardell Stephen “Steph” Curry has done in the NBA this year. Let us look at some quick numbers to put things into perspective. In the 2014/2015 season where he was crowned MVP and also won the NBA championship, his numbers were as follows:

Regular Season – 23.8 ppg. Playoffs – 28.3 ppg. Total number of three pointers made – 286.

This season, his numbers are:

30 ppg and he made 402 three pointers. I will say that again….402. The only other player to come close was Ray Allen with 289 and we all know him to be a three point genius. Steph Curry has

Stephen Curry hoists his second consecutive MVP trophy prior to Game 5 of the second round of the Western Conference Semifinals vs. the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena.  (Photo courtesy of Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Stephen Curry hoists his second consecutive MVP trophy prior to Game 5 of the second round of the Western Conference Semifinals vs. the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena.
(Photo courtesy of Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

completely redefined basketball and the point guard position, and he makes shots from pretty much anywhere he wants to. He controls the tempo of the court and pulls out perimeter defenders, allowing other players such as Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to make significant contributions. The Conference Finals this year will see some exciting matchups with Golden State taking on Oklahoma City Thunder as perennial All-Stars (Curry, Thompson, Green, Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka) will dominate the highlights in the best of 7 series. On the East Coast, it looks like Cleveland with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, back at this stage of the competition healthy, will compliment the enigma that is LeBron James. We will most likely see the Cavs steamroll pass the Toronto Raptors to meet the best of the West.

UEFA Champions League Final - Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid - May 28th, 2016

UEFA Champions League Final – Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid – May 28th, 2016

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both finished in second and third positions in the Spanish La Liga. They were edged out by Barcelona but not before Barcelona suffered successive defeats to both clubs in the El Classcio and Champions League semifinals. These two clubs are Spanish power houses and are getting ready to battle it out in the Champions League Finals. This is not the first time we are going to have an “All Madrid Final”. In 2014, we saw these two clubs battle it out with Real Madrid emerging victorious. The Star man then and now and 3 time Ballon D’or (World Footballer of the Year) recipient, Cristiano Ronaldo is of course the centre of attraction. The last time these two teams met, Ronaldo was breaking records with an astonishing 51 goals. He has achieved that milestone again this season and goes into this final fully charged and poised to pick up his 3rd UEFA Champions League trophy. It will not be easy as Diego Simeone and his Atletico Madrid team, that play a high tempo coordinated style of Spanish football, will be looking to get revenge against their 2014 finalist fellow city rivals. These two teams have already met twice this season with Atletico winning one game and the other game ending in a tie. The UEFA Champions League Final which will be played at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy will be an explosive encounter come May 28th.

All in all, it has been an exciting year so far with so much more to play as we have the NBA Finals, UCL Finals, and the European Championships.

Sports fans, eat your heart out as the games will always continue to bring nothing but sheer entertainment and exhilarating excitement….

 

Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.

Kobe Goes Out on an Epic 60-Point Performance

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

KB

Kobe Bryant ends his historic 20-year NBA career by willing his old NBA body to a 60-point performance while simultaneously willing his young Lakers team to a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz.  It was a final game performance for the ages.  #MambaOut

Get your Kobe Bryant gear HERE, by clicking the link below:

Kobe Bryant Retirement Gear

The Evolution of Basketball and the Steph Haters

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

Image via Basketball.RealGM.com

Image via Basketball.RealGM.com

Dear Oscar Robertson:

You may have never averaged a triple-double for a whole season in today’s basketball game!

And yet I still have no doubt that you are one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

 

Dear Detroit “Bad Boy” Pistons:

You may not be so bad today.  The rules simply would not permit you to be.  And yet you remain one the best teams of the NBA’s greatest era.

Why?  Because you must be evaluated within the context of your own time.  To do otherwise makes about as much sense as comparing homicide detectives before DNA with detectives after DNA.  Or boasting that an administrative aide with a computer is better than one with a typewriter.

Enter the old timers’ reluctance to recognize the greatness of Steph Curry.

Former Milwaukee Bucks' Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson  (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Former Milwaukee Bucks’ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson
(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

This saga is as much about the evolution of the basketball as it is Curry and his haters, especially the 3-point shot.  It came into the NBA in the 1979-80 season…..the same year that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the last of his 6 league MVP awards.  Fellow HOFers Bill Walton and Moses Malone won the award the previous two years.  Simply put, the back to the basket dominant big man era was in full force and thus the 3-point shot was not yet an integral part of the game.  The team known for annually taking among the fewest 3-point shots was the best, my Lakers.  Who needs a 3 when Magic can penetrate or run the break and dish to Worthy or Wilkes, or choose Jabbar’s sky hook and you have a former league MVP in Bob McAdoo coming off the bench for much higher percentage 2-point attempts?

The first championship team to make the 3 an integral part of its offense was the Olajuwon era Rockets with Horry, Kenny Smith, and Mario Elie, awaiting “The Dream’s” pass out of the double-team, and that was 15 years after it came to the league.

It is no accident that it grew as the back to the basket big man began to go the way of the dinosaur.  The stats say as Ewing/Robinson/Olajuwon left the game, the 3’s increased league wide.

Think about it: if your choice is to dump the ball into say, Julius Randle, Kevin Love, or Porzingus (on the rare occasions they actually get on the block) for a 2-point attempt with a 41-42% success rate or let the shooters go for a 3 – 40% of the time, the math makes the choice for you.

Steph Curry is but the highest example of the evolution of this process.  It was delayed briefly by the Shaq/Tim Duncan era.  But we can all agree that they were once in a lifetime players.  It’s much more likely to find 3 or 4 poor man’s versions of Steph Curry than you will find another Shaq.

Projecting if players could do the same in another era is inherently flawed due to the failure to project the player to all the unique factors of that era, be they societal, training, or others.  For example, it’s easy to say Bill Russell at 6’9 and 215 lbs would be too small to play center today.  The real question is wouldn’t he likely be bigger if he grew up in the 1990s as opposed to the 1950s?

The argument can be made that adaptability is the single most common denominator among the exceptional athletes, even beyond basketball.  Look at the NFL and its evolution.  Seven years ago who was the poster child for the sort of play the NFL “claimed” to want to be rid of:  James Harrison, the league’s 2008 defensive player of the year and maker of arguably the greatest single defensive play in Super Bowl history.  And yet he will be on the field next year at age 38, why?  Because he adapted.

So too would Steph Curry, Oscar Robertson, or the Bad Boy Pistons, if called upon to do so.  If only the mindset of haters could do the same.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

WHAT HAPPENED IN DC LAST NIGHT?

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

KB

No matter how many armchair coaches and talking heads try to give you a basketball-based explanation, resist.  It was not about the X’s and O’s of basketball, it was about understanding the psychology of teams in the moment.  On Tuesday the maddening Wizards went into Cleveland and beat LeBron and the defending conference champs.  It was their first home loss of the year.  On that same night my Lakers were beaten soundly by one of the worst teams in NBA history, giving those Sixers their first win of the year.  So all logic tells you that those same Wizards should have little trouble with my Lakers, right?  Vegas saw it that way, installing the Wizards as 10 point favorites.  Wrong!  This game was not only a classic letdown spot for the Wizards, it was a letdown spot on steroids.  It was neither some brilliant tactical adjustment made by Byron Scott, nor some great coaching blunder by Randy Whitman.

The script was a familiar one: Act 1: Kobe gets the ball; Act 2: everyone in the whole arena knows that he is going to shoot; Act 3: he single-handedly stops any semblance of functional half-court offense by dribbling and head faking with a defender on his back as if he were in the post, though he is now usually 25 feet from basket; Act 4: he shoots; Act 5: and this was the only outcome of all the acts that differed dramatically from previous scripts: THE SHOTS WENT IN.  It was the old Kobe, pun intended, not the Grey Mamba, to the tune of 31 points to include two huge shots inside the last 2 minutes.  Sure it took him 24 shots to make 10, but that’s not different from the Kobe that will be a first ballot HOF’er.  Unfortunately for the Lakers, he cannot sustain such efforts.  Last night’s Kobe was the norm for so many years, or at least 7-8 of every 10 games.  They will be lucky to see him once every 12-15 games.  I am fully prepared for my Lakers to return to being what we are: some shit!  But hey, as a lifelong diehard fan of the mighty purple and gold, in a game that may as well have been in the Great Western Forum, it was nice to reminisce of the glory days.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

WRS Book Review – “Got to Give the People What They Want: True Stories and Flagrant Opinions From Center Court”

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

by Jon Carroll

DrJonCarroll.final2

 

 

 

Image via Amazon.com

Image via Amazon.com

I remember the reign of the Fab Five as if it just happened.  The baggy shorts, the black Nike socks with the matching black Air Max Barkleys, and most importantly, the trash talk.  I was not a baller, but I, like many was drawn to this collection of five freshmen because of the brashness and flair with which they played together.  They were the type of team I imagined myself playing on had basketball been my gift.  In the aftermath of their careers as players, I have become a fan of Jalen Rose in particular because of his podcast, but also because of his work founding the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA).  When he started hitting media outlets to promote his book Got to Give the People What They Want: True Stories and Flagrant Opinions From Center Court, I downloaded it as soon as I could and devoured it in two days.

Jalen Rose & "Fab Five" brother Chris Webber

Jalen Rose & “Fab Five” brother Chris Webber

As someone who is a regular listener to the Jalen and Jacoby podcast and now radio show, much of the material covered in the book was not new.  However, there was ample context to help understand the lens that focuses Rose’s worldview.  From the detailed account of his key family relationships to the motivating force that was Jalen’s absent father, the reader is given a deeper understanding of why the retired NBA star viewed Michigan and the NCAA skeptically during his time on campus.  For those who watched the ESPN30 for 30 documentary Fab Five and cringed as Rose and his former teammates recalled calling Black Duke players “Uncle Toms”, the text gives greater insight into why they did it and why they had no shame in doing so.  Of course, given recent headlines, Rose spends significant time detailing his fractured relationship with childhood friend and Fab Five brother, Chris Webber.  It’s a sad story, but a real one and it would not have been a Give the people what they want text without it.    The same can be said for how Rose opens up and talk about other parts of his life.

When I read autobiographical texts, I am always looking to see how much the author is willing to look inside and expose the bad and the ugly along with the good.  Mr. Rose’s text rates at an 8 on a 1-10 scale.  He lamented not being able to be the type of present father that he hoped to be.  As much as it is nice to be able to provide, he demonstrated awareness that the presence cannot be replaced.  He also recounts having to go to jail on a driving under the influence (DUI) charge and how sobering that was.  These stories and others helped humanize Rose over the course of the book so that there is substance behind the flagrant opinions and hot takes, which you may or may not agree with.  I definitely recommend picking this book up if you are at all a fan of basketball.  The insight that Mr. Rose has is truly unique and made for a quick enjoyable read.

 

Jon Carroll, for War Room Sports

Riley Rebel: Champion Athlete for America, Misunderstood Victim of Racist Roots, and Supremacist Upbringing

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

by B. Austin

BA

 

 

 

RC

It’s time to let “Riley Rebel”, champion of the Confederate Calvary of America, live in peace.  Time to stop judging him for shit we allow others to get away with, because it is less brash…not as overt.  I am absolutely certain his feelings are shared by many, many, many young white males from his background.  Personally, I prefer my racists and supremacists out in the open where I can see them and know their position.  I am not going to church, living near, or associating with Riley Rebel in anyway…so like white people have said for 100’s of years: “Run cracker run! Go run, jump, catch, hit, tackle, and entertain me with a football as you break your body apart for my entertainment”.

What BOTHERS ME THEN YOU ASK?  Well, I am glad you asked. What bothers me is the 7 or 8 other NBA owners that were Donald Sterling’s pals, which we will probably never know about.  What bothers me is the fact that the NFL, whose players are 72% black, have only 3 or 4 black head coaches, a few coordinators, the weakest player’s union, and NO BLACK MAJORITY OWNERS.  No, Riley Rebel doesn’t bother me much.  What bothered me was when 4 St. Louis Rams players decided to take a stand for justice regarding Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Police organizations and Policemen took a stand against that, and football fans didn’t rally or stand up against tyranny.  Nah, Riley Cooper didn’t bother me at all…he is entertaining.  I was much more concerned with the sports and athletic community’s lack of presence and silence in the #JusticeOrElse events.  Riley Cooper had no input there.  There are so many truly devious and heinous instances of white supremacy, racism, ethnocentrism, white privilege, white entitlement, Black apathy, Black colorism, self-hate, and overall societal erosion to point at, AND use sports as your landscape with which to do so.  Riley Cooper isn’t worth all the anger and ire he receives.  What Riley is to us and himself is a relatively slow, not-so-talented, overlooked, overpaid white professional athlete, who lives as a minority at his workplace and his true feelings came out on camera.  He probably faces an inferiority complex every day, and in the comfort and confines of his own territory, a Kenny Chesney concert filled with white country music fans (but secured by hulking Black security guards), Riley let that inferiority complex and alcohol get the best of him.  Here were guys that were bigger and stronger than him but making far less money and having far less status…and he was in front of his entourage…he had to let testosterone and frustration blend with the alcohol and racism, to go ahead and let his honest feelings be felt.  I actually feel sorry for dude. He has to live with this and public scorn for the remainder of his career, meanwhile America remains the same and the real problems go unsolved. He is merely an honest product of his environment.

 

B. Austin of War Room Sports

LeBron’s Most Defying Year?

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

by C. Bruce

LBJ

After gaining the first pick of the NBA Draft and finishing last year 33-49, the Cavs have a chance to do something special. They may have one of the best one season turnarounds in NBA history. With the addition of LeBron James in the offseason, the Cavaliers have a chance to win its franchise’s first NBA title. Each and every year LeBron James is regarded as the best player in the NBA. Often, people try to compare him and Jordan. Could this be LeBron’s most defining year? If LeBron wins a title, he would be the greatest of his generation. A title means LeBron would have done the improbable. Through the early season struggles, injuries and controversy, it would be his most difficult title ever accomplished.

After starting the year 19-20 the Cavs have just eliminated the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals and now have a chance to take home the franchise’s first NBA title. No team has ever won a title after starting the season under .500 through 39 games. Throughout the year the Cavaliers came under more media scrutiny than other teams in recent memory. Coach David Blatt and the players were constantly criticized for a good part of the season. The Cavs not only had to deal with the tough media, but also devastating injuries. Early in the season the Cavs lost their starting center Anderson Varejao. Injuries/rests caused LeBron James to miss double-digit games. Kevin Love’s season was ended early in the postseason with a separated shoulder. Also, Kyrie Irving is ineffective at times on the court due to an ankle injury. He is being taken off the court constantly and led to the locker room. With all of the injuries and obstacles the Cavs have faced, an NBA Championship seems highly unlikely.

Throughout the postseason Cleveland has been battling injuries. With some of its best players out, and others severely injured, the Cavs are not the most talented team in the East. On their current playoff rosters, the Bulls and Hawks both have more talented teams, in my opinion. With at least 4 All-Stars on each team, the Cavs come up short with only LeBron James and a banged up Kyrie Irving as the team’s only active All Stars. However, the Cavs have something the Bulls and Hawks do not have; LeBron James. Although LeBron has not been very efficient shooting the ball this postseason, he has led the Cavs to the NBA Finals by elevating the games of Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, and J.R Smith. He has turned this team from LeBron and the role players to a serious Championship contender. The Cavs have beaten a Bulls team; who many regard as the most talented in the East, even when Cleveland is at full strength. With a severely injured Kyrie Irving, LeBron led team role players to beat the Bulls in 6 games.

The Cavs have just finished off the #1 seeded Atlanta Hawks in a 4-game sweep to earn LeBron’s fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance (6 in total). The Hawks were arguably the best team in the NBA throughout the regular season, and now that the depleted Cavs were able to seal the deal and win the series, they will probably play the Golden State Warriors. The Golden State Warriors had one of the best regular seasons in NBA history. They have this year’s NBA MVP in Steph Curry, and a good mix of veteran and younger All Stars. If the Cavaliers are able to complete their goal and win the championship, they would have beaten three teams who exceed their talent; the Bulls, Hawks, and Warriors, and without two of their top three players playing at 100%. LeBron would unquestionably be the greatest of his era. He would be the only player in recent memory to take a team of role players and win an NBA Championship. The Cavaliers would have beaten the top two teams in the league without home court advantage; which possibly makes the championship that much more improbable. But we know LeBron and whenever he is on the court he makes the improbable look probable.

 

C. Bruce, for War Room Sports

Christopher Bruce is a War Room Sports intern, who is currently a sophomore Business Communications major at Arizona State University.

Sports is Sanity

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

by Justin Bankers

JB

 

 

 

CK

I don’t know about anyone else’s reasons for loving sports. Entertainment? Passion? Competitive nature? Living a dream that never turned out vicariously through these men/women? Everyone has their reasons. Mine lately, has been sanity.

I’m currently on the home stretch of preparing for my first physique competition. For anyone who has no idea what that’s like, I’ve dropped 23lbs in the past 8 weeks and haven’t consumed a single carb in the last 3 days. The mental determination it takes is more than I thought it would be. I have just over 2 weeks until the competition, which brings more cardio, fewer carbs, and more stress. Which brings me to the topic of this writing. Sanity.

At this moment, sports is what is keeping me sane, keeping my mind off of the stress. Start with the NBA. The storylines are wonderful, but let’s discuss the MVP race. It’s currently more diverse than it has been in years. There are 6 men with legitimate claims to that award, when in years past it’s generally been a 2 man race. Steph Curry, James Harden, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and creeping in the shadows (although he is highly unlikely) is Marc Gasol. I actually saw a comment on an ESPN article that made me laugh. All of the first 5 guys have different “political” claims to the award. LeBron is the “Mass Media” MVP. Curry is the “New face of the NBA” MVP. Harden is “The People’s” MVP. Westbrook and all of his controlled raging glory is the “Writer’s” MVP, while Davis is the “Real” MVP. It all fits when you think about it. My personal pick is Harden. LeBron spent too much time coasting, Curry has alot more help than most people seem to realize, Davis probably won’t make the playoffs, and Westbrook has been insanely good but hasn’t sustained it as long as Harden. Harden is taking a team that really isn’t very good (watch them play, just do it) and dragging them to the top end of a loaded Western Conference. The only way my pick changes is if the Pelicans snag the 8 seed from the Thunder, because that will mean that Anthony Davis just dragged a steaming bag of garbage into the playoffs in the most loaded conference I’ve seen in quite some time.

Then you have the NFL. Holy offseason storylines. I’m not used to NFL offseasons being this crazy. McCoy traded away, the Patriots lost Revis already and are potentially losing Brandon Browner too. Big names who were the faces of their franchise for so long are no longer with those franchises, and Chip Kelly is slowly turning the Philadelphia Eagles into the Oregon Ducks. I wonder how many Red Bulls Adam Schefter is surviving on right now.

On top of those 2 monster sports, we are entering Tournament time in the NCAA with a potential perfect season on the way from Kentucky, and any wrestling fan is excited about this road to Wrestlemania with good matches lined up and finally a strong talent pool. Not to mention MLB Spring Training starting up and the NHL rolling in full force.

All of this excitement could not come at a better time for me. The next 2 weeks are going to be stressful, but I have ALOT of fantastic things to look forward to.

And Dwight Howard is a walking vagina. You’re welcome B.

 

Justin Bankers, for War Room Sports

NBA Quick Takes: Patty Mills Interview & When Hip-Hop Meets Hoops

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

by Kamal Hylton

Kamal Hylton Blog

 

 

 

 

Hello War Room Nation!

 

It’s Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia and War Room Sports giving you your weekly fix of NBA Quick Takes. This week I bring you a great interview I did with San Antonio Spurs and Australian Boomers guard Patty Mills as well as my take on a Toronto Raptors halftime show that truly illustrate the marriage between Hip-Hop and Hoops.

 

Patty Mills Interview

 

PM

 

Covering the NBA for a basketball mad country like Australia has been an absolute joy, a real eye opener, not only in the way the Aussie hoops community supports me and helps push my work, but in how readers/viewers REALLY appreciate the work I’ve been doing. They especially love getting updates on their fellow Aussies, so when the Spurs came to town and played the Toronto Raptors, I had to have a chat with point guard Patty Mills.

 

(Video courtesy of NBA Nation Australia)

Patty was such a nice and engaging guy, it felt like you were speaking with an old friend and I easily could’ve spoken with him for hours. One thing that comes across clear is how proud he is of being an Aussie in the NBA and how much his fellow players like Aron Baynes, Dante Exum, Matthew Dellavedova, and Andrew Bogut support each other. With the country talent pool growing and the national team program on the rise, this is going to be a fun group of players to watch. It’s a mirror image of what’s going on up here in Canada. Players like Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Cory Joseph, and Tristan Thompson support each other in the same way and it’s beginning to bear fruit on a national and international level.

 

A big thanks to Patty Mills for taking the time out to give me an interview and for more video interviews make sure to visit NBA Nation Australia.

 

Phife Dawg at the ACC

 

PD1

 

The union that Hip-Hop and hoops share has been going strong for ages, from streetball games to rappers giving NBA stars shoutouts on tracks and more. I even have my own pre-game ritual I do before every Toronto Raptors game I cover. On my way to the arena I listen to the Tissue In The Tape podcast. So when “The Five Foot Assassin” Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest did the halftime show at the ACC during Raptors vs. Clippers, I was excited. I usually tune out the halftime performance at NBA games but when it’s a show like this or when Drake performed during Drake Night earlier this season, my ears perk up.

 

PD2

 

It was a great performance that got the crowd pumped up and me doing a head nod/chair dance combo in the press box, however it also got me thinking that something was missing. Phife Dawg’s performance was outstanding, but it also made me think about how amazing the show would’ve been if Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad were there. A Tribe Called Quest was subject of arguably one of the greatest documentaries out there called Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest by actor/director Michael Rapaport that came out in 2011.

 

If you haven’t seen it already, here’s the trailer. It’s a movie that has something for everybody whether you’re into music, movies, or just want to be entertained.

 

 

To catch all my NBA writing, photos, and videos visit NBA Nation Australia or on Twitter @NBANationOz.

 

Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia, for War Room Sports

NBA Quick Takes: Should the NBA Scrap the Current Playoff Format?

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

by Kamal Hylton

Kamal Hylton Blog

 

 

 

 

Hello War Room Nation!

 

It’s Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia and War Room Sports back with your weekly NBA Quick Takes, this week looking at the rise of Milwaukee Bucks small forward Khris Middleton, the Raptors upcoming tough stretch and why the NBA should consider scrapping the current playoff format to include the best 16 teams.

 

Is that Khris Middleton or Michael Redd?

 

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at New Orleans Pelicans

 

Khris Middleton was basically a throw-in as part of the Brandon Knight/Brandon Jennings trade between the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks, but who would’ve thought he’d be a major player in who’s winning this trade so far? Giving credit where it’s due, Jennings was a key piece to the Pistons success this season (along with the dumping of Josh Smith) before going down with a season ending injury. However as we currently stand, it’s safe to say that the Bucks are winning the deal, due in large part to the former Pistons 2nd round pick (39th overall in 2012 NBA Draft). The principle part of the trade in Knight is leading this young squad and flourishing under the coaching of Jason Kidd (averaging 17.7 PPG and 5.3 APG), but the massive improvement Middleton has shown by picking up the slack through the team’s major injuries is nothing short of impressive.

 

Watching him at the ACC against the Raptors wearing the No. 22, he looked like a poor man’s Michael Redd in the way he played such an efficient game and took smart shots. Now I’m by no means saying he’ll turn into the caliber of player Redd was during his peak Buck years as a 20.0+ PPG scorer, but looking at his three point percentages and smooth stroke during his early days in Milwaukee (41.4% last season and 45.1% so far this season) and at only 23 years old, that’s a perfect player to pattern his game after.

 

Middleton is a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but with the way his game is growing, don’t be shocked if the South Carolina native is re-signed to a long-term deal.

 

It’s ‘Gut check time’ for the Raptors

 

KL

 

Currently sitting 2nd in the Eastern Conference with a 33-17 record, the Raptors can be more than happy with how the first half of the season has gone. There’ve been some bumps in the road and some areas of inconsistency, mainly on the defensive end of the floor, but they coped well while DeMar DeRozen was out with a lengthy injury, have Kyle Lowry representing the franchise as an All-Star starter, and is seeing a major improvement in its big Lithuanian, Jonas Valanciunas (averaging five double-doubles in his last nine games). However the REAL test comes during the next eight games, starting Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers (in an ESPN game) followed by games against the San Antonio Spurs at home, Washington Wizards away, Atlanta Hawks at home, Houston Rockets away, New Orleans Pelicans away, Dallas Mavericks away, and Golden State Warriors at home.

 

With the All-Star break right before that four game road trip there will be some time to get away, rest and refocus, but coach Dwayne Casey will have in the back of his mind the last big road trip the team was on that finished 2-4 and included three straight beatdowns from the Portland Trailblazers, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns.

 

Time for the Best to play the Best

 

NBA Con

 

Over the last number of seasons the trend of the Eastern Conference being so much weaker than the Western Conference has made some of the early round playoff games unwatchable, having teams qualify with losing records only to get swept aside 4-0 in uncompetitive series. I brought this question up as a recent guest on the AFTER FURTHER REVIEW radio show of whether it’s time to scrap the conferences and go with the best teams. I said on the show they should and I feel even stronger about it while writing this.

 

Just to give you a picture of how this would look, here’s what the current playoff match-ups would roughly look like in that format if it started today (didn’t factor in any tiebreakers etc…)

 

1st vs. 16th seed: Golden State vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

2nd vs. 15th seed: Atlanta Hawks vs. New Orleans Pelicans

3rd vs. 14th seed: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Milwaukee Bucks

4th vs. 13th seed: Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns

5th vs. 12th seed: Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

6th vs. 11th seed: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Chicago Bulls

7th vs. 10th seed: Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs

8th vs. 9th seed: Dallas Mavericks vs. Washington Wizards

 

Just at a first glance, doesn’t that look WAY more interesting as an NBA fan than the current format? Going this way weeds out all the teams that would likely get run over in the first round, not like NCAA March Madness with kids playing and mistakes being made to cause “Upset Specials” or “Cinderella Stories”, but also would help motivate other teams to build a winning culture and possibly get rid of this current tanking phenomenon.

 

To catch all my NBA writing, photos and videos visit NBA Nation Australia or on Twitter @NBANationOz.

 

Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia, for War Room Sports