Posts Tagged ‘San Antonio Spurs’
The phrase “who is the best, the greatest, and the number one” has been a term used throughout my childhood. The original “KCMAC” used that phrase for years. He would tickle me as a child until I would give in and tell him he was the best, the greatest, and occasionally saying that MOM was number one. To find out who was the turkey back then, “KCMAC” would pin me down and if I wanted off my back then I guess I would be the turkey. Well in sports we have athletes who have demonstrated greatness, and athletes who may not have been so great. So I think some recognition is in order.
WHO’S THE BEST?
“The Best” so far goes to the Baylor Lady Bears basketball program who went an NCAA record 40-0. Baylor started and finished the season ranked #1 in the country with the help of All-American Brittney Griner, who is the most dominant center women’s basketball has ever witnessed. Oh, by the way, their starting five will be back to defend their title next year. Congratulations to Coach Kim Mulkey and the Lady Bears for a magical season.
WHO’S THE GREATEST?
“The Greatest” goes to San Antonio Spurs, who for the second time this year has gone on a eleven game winning streak that suddenly ended Monday night against the Utah Jazz. Their streak ended because coach Greg Popovich arrogantly gives Tim Duncan, Manu Ginoboli, and Tony Parker the day off. I’m not sure if it was a wise thing to do considering they have the opportunity to get the number one seed in the Western Conference. The loss placed the Spurs one game out of first behind the Oklahoma City Thunder with 11 games to go. No one can really question the mind of Greg Popovich, who has been pushing the right buttons since 1999. We must remember the last time there was a shortened season the Spurs were holding the Larry O’Brien trophy!
WHO IS THE #1
As if you really have to ask. Who would of thought that a man named Bubba would be wearing the prestigious Masters’ green jacket! Bubba Watson is his name, a man who last month squandered a 3-shot lead in the final round of the Doral by losing to Justin Rose by a shot. This is a man that is self taught, never been coached, and was bold enough to go out there with a pink driver (dad died of throat cancer) to shoot a final round 68 to beat the likes of Mickelson, Westwood, and overcame Louis Oosthuizen in a sudden death playoff. Bubba Watson has overcome ADHD to win his first major tournament.
Who does the Turkey of the Week go too?
I would have said the mouth of the Ozzie Guillen for his ill-advised comments he made about his admiration of Fidel Castro. Of course he was misinterpreted when he said “I love Fidel Castro.” He basically said he admires Castro for staying alive/in power this long with everyone out to get him. He must have forgotten he was in Miami where there is a strong Latin community. Ozzie is the most defiant person in sports towards authority I have ever seen. He makes Charles Barkley sound like a role model. Ozzie being Ozzie, I guess that’s what Manny Ramirez would say. I thought he was finished as a coach on that remark. However he only got a 5-game suspension, which seems kind of light, especially when people were calling for his firing. Either way this is probably far from being over with and if his comments affect butts in the seats, he’s a dead man walking anyway.
The true “Turkey” this time around has to be former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino! Unfortunately he and his mistress was involved in a motorcycle accident on April 1, 2012. That motorcycle was coach Petrino’s skeleton in the closet. Yikes, Petrino is a married man and his mistress is engaged. He was fired “with cause” because of misleading University of Arkansas about his accident. His relationship with this woman, for whom he used athletic department funds to hire, was granted an unfair advantage, bypassing 159 other qualified applicants which was a conflict of interest. He never informs his athletic director that he gave his mistress $20,000 in cash prior to hiring her. Petrino’s April Fools joke is on him, as he will lose his multi-million dollar buy-out. Now that’s a REAL TURKEY!
Former Drexel Dragon/San Antonio Spur/New York Knick and current color commentator for the Philadelphia 76ers Malik Rose will be in The War Room this Thursday, February 9th to discuss his NBA career, some pressing NBA topics, and his transition from NBA baller to NBA announcer!
Tune in Thursday, February 9th at 6pm ET to hear our conversation with Malik! To tune in, go to www.WarRoomSports.com and click the “Listen Live” button…or dial 323-410-0012 to listen LIVE by phone.
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Do you remember when the #1 through #10 players in the NBA draft where almost assured to have a 70% Thriller-Killer to Bust-Crème Puff Filler ratio? Do you remember when in the second round you could find guys who may be short on elite athleticism but LOOOOONG on collegiate resume and high on basketball skill and acumen? Do you remember when the matriculation from High School to college was largely unknown…but the bright lights, big cities, and making of one’s manhood on the hardwood (II) began in the toughest conferences of the NCAA’s Division 1? Do you remember when the only FIBA and Euro-ballers to make the jump were the Sarunas Marciulionis’, the Drazen Petrovics, the Arvydas Sabonis’, the Detlef Schrempfs, the Toni Kukocs and the Sarunas Jasikevicius (MD Terps dude) (yeah, some of those dudes came over without being drafted but you get my point where the talent level is concerned, on who and how international NBA players came about being a part of the “Greatest Show on Earth)…the crème de la crème of International players, the BEST the world had to offer was the second or third tier stars coming over. Yeah, occasionally the Spurs, who happen to have NBA scouts placed on Pluto, Jupiter, Mars, and every continent back here on Earth, would draft someone resembling Sergeant Shultz of Hogan’s Heros. Or, Abe Pollin would draft a brother from East Africa who was 7 foot 7 and could shoot 3’s and was more interested in the world cup than the NBA. But other than that, from top to bottom, the NBA Draft was teeming with tough morsels of talent raring to get at the vets in practice. Boys who had done all they could do with their amateur children’s collegiate career and were ready to swim in waters with no bottom, with sharks who had no consciences.Kyrie Irving is going to be a special point guard, Derrick Williams is more athletic than we give him credit for, and will be too skilled and quick for 4’s, and too strong and skilled for 3’s (If Jared Dudley can make it, why are we worried about Williams?). Enes Kanter reminds me of a combo of Pau and Marc, with some Kaman thrown in. Kemba is Kemba…a winner. Jimmer will teach you how to Jimmer, and Alec may be ok. And then there is Bismack…Bismack, Bismack, Bismack! It is not that I wish failure for Bismack, it’s not that I think he’s a bad guy. In fact, this isn’t REALLY about Bismack as much as he happens to be the poster child for what is wrong with the current trend in pro basketball. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG on athleticism…I mean LONG! Dude’s vertical, his quickness, his potential, are all through the roof. His skill, his development, his IQ, is about as tall as a stacked pile of tissue paper containing 4 sheets. And Bismack wasn’t a 2nd rounder. No! Bismack Biyombo at 6’7” was the 7th overall pick. A lottery pick was used on a Ruben Patterson-like defensive specialist. Now, as you review the list of names drafted that night, beginning in the lottery, and juxtaposing it upon the draft’s storied history, you will ask yourself: “Self”, I say. “Where are the difference makers? Where are the stars? Where are the HOF’ers?”
As we left the lottery we had three types of player: 1) The athletic freak, minimal skill, 1 to maybe 2 collegiate seasons. 2) The highly skilled, underwhelming talent who played 3 to 4 years, headed towards a Duhon-ish career. 3) The EURO…the Euro players who have been playing professionally, a number of them since 15 and 16 years old, have a jumpstart on the other two types as they’ve (a) been playing with grown men in their 20s and 30s, (b) had coaching from professional eat-sleep-drink-feed-my-family coaches whose job is to make them a complete, well rounded, money generating, win-getting production center. But, they are largely unknown quantities to everyone but the Spurs and those that watch FIBA. Then you face the buyout clauses with their current clubs, the fact that they have no merchandising value, and a fan that came to see a built/born/bred in the US product.
The draft is just one more indication of the huge plunge into mediocrity and inferior product the league is facing. No longer is there a premium placed on honing skill, mastering craft, and marrying athletics to talent, skill, heart, and IQ. The premium is placed on what you can sell and/or market, how fast you can get to the marketplace (with a largely unfinished product), how much Sportscenter airtime you can get, and who you can copy-cat your moves and game from. And so…we have an inferior product. An entire generation enamored with high-flying and getting rich as opposed to winning and being the best. The uber-athletes have flawed games and low IQs, and to take a gamble on the draft, the weak athlete develops himself to the peak of his talent and pinnacle of ability. But alas, if the natural order of things were set right, he’d be a D-Leaguer, a CBA’er, or in Euro-League. Hell, if you want to be accurate about the situation, certain players wouldn’t be in major D1 programs if the attention to really teaching the game and developing talent was held to the proper standard. WE, the fans would see a better quality product, and every draft class would be filled with talent and not just top-heavy outliers.
And so this draft served to confirm what I already know. Basketball is dying much like Hip Hop. A carotid artery is constricting tighter and tighter. Oxygen and life’s blood is being restricted and growth has stopped. You have to look no further than the current labor issues as another indirect indicator. An inferior product loses money, an inferior player is a bum, and a bum shouldn’t be there. He shouldn’t have been in the draft and the fan shouldn’t have to pay to see a guy who can jump over a house but can’t shoot a 15-footer, dribble with his left, or hit over 75% from the line.
Tune back in as I explain how all of this plays into where the labor agreement is, and why only 8 teams out of 32 are profitable. Some say contraction is the answer. I say it goes way deeper than that. The system from 11 years ago and on needs revamped (why are we now ranking the top 7th graders? ).
Like a jilted lover, long-suffering MFFL’s (Mavs Fans For Life) still find it hard to put their trust in this team. Count this writer, a native “Dallas-ite”, among the jaded. Despite promising signs of change, the ghosts of the past still haunt those who back the “Boys in Blue”.
After a colossal choke job in game four of the first round against Portland had us all thinking, here we go again; the same old Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry – the only holdovers from the 2006 team that spit the bit when a championship was imminent – assured their fans that this Dallas team was made of tougher stuff than those of the past. This brought about a collective “surrrrre” from all within earshot of this seemingly hollow rhetoric. We heard similar promises after the number-one-seeded Mavericks suffered a historic first-round flameout against the Warriors in ’07, and again in ’08 after being upset by the Hornets in the opening round of the playoffs. So when Dallas closed out the Blazers, whom many prognosticators had picked to upset the aptly-named “One-and-Done Boys,” in one of the most difficult arenas to win in as a road team, most saw it as an anomaly.
Next up were the two-time defending champion Lakers. Needless to say, the Mavs were getting longer odds than Buster Douglas had against the indomitable Mike Tyson some twenty years ago. After Dirk and his band of NBA castoffs (Chandler, Marion, Peja, Stevenson) miraculously left the champ bloodied and broken, scoring what amounts to a first-round knockout, everyone chalked it up to some sudden dysfunction within the Laker locker room. It certainly couldn’t have been anything the “Two-and-Through-Crew” did to earn the victory.
Now here we are on the cusp of another trip to the Finals after an improbable five-minute, fifteen-point comeback in probably the second-hardest arena to win in on the road, and the national perception of these Mavericks, who have been known to fold up like a cheap lawn chair in the face of adversity, is slowly beginning to change. This is evident when you listen to the national media talk about this team and its much-maligned, future hall-of-fame-leader, Dirk Nowitzki. The “S” word (Soft) is only uttered in the past tense these days. When discussing the sweet-shooting German, you are more likely to hear “all-time great,” or “man on a mission” than that four-letter epithet. But let me be frank. It will take nothing less than a championship to truly change how we as fans view our hometown hoops team. We’ve been here before. We all thought this team had turned the corner after vanquishing the Spurs in the loaded Western Conference during the ’06 playoffs; and we all know how that season ended. So until David Stern begrudgingly hands Mark Cuban the Larry O’Brien trophy, I and every other realistic “MFFL” will stop just short of giving our hearts completely to this team for fear of having it ripped out again.
I’ve been arguing for the better part of three years with uninformed NBA fans and so-called NBA “experts” who have continually excoriated the Memphis Grizzlies for the Pau Gasol trade. If only people would have gazed beyond the surface and actually made an attempt to understand the BUSINESS of NBA basketball, they would have realized that the move had the potential from the start to become a success DOWN THE LINE for the franchise that SUPPOSEDLY “handed the Lakers Pau Gasol” for nothing in return.
The original principles of the trade consisted of Memphis sending Pau Gasol and a second round draft pick (2010) to L.A. for the draft rights to his brother, Marc Gasol, Javaris Crittendon, Kwame Brown and his expiring contract, the contract of retired guard Aaron McKie, and TWO first round draft picks (2008 & 2010).
NBA trades are VERY RARELY about swapping equal talent. Cap space is gold in the free agent era and when teams are attempting to climb out of the league basement, that pot of gold, along with some draft luck, is what is required to help them accomplish that feat. So essentially, the Grizzlies swapped their best player for gold and in the 3 subsequent years following the trade, they have gotten progressively better.
I’ve always sensed that much of the disdain for this trade is rooted in many people’s even greater disdain for the Lakers organization and its superstar guard Kobe Bryant. The fact that the trade provided Kobe and the Lakers with its final piece to yet another multiple championship puzzle has never sat well with many. However, what the “many” SHOULD HAVE and must now realize is that the Memphis Grizzlies were only concerned with making THEIR team viable in the years to come, and not with pacifying “Laker Haters Nation” with the satisfaction of opportunities to further slight the greatness of that organization and the greatness of Kobe Bryant. Now I’m sure that those reading this who are members of the aforementioned “nation” will call me “Laker-Lover”, “Kobe-Lover”, etc, but to those who think that objective praise cannot be heaped on organizations and players deserving of it, you can make a trip to the nearest interstate and go play in traffic. If there are any doubts to my readers, I couldn’t care less about the Lakers organization and any other team outside of Philadelphia. I’ve been a Sixers FAN-ATIC for 33 years and will be a die-hard until I DIE hard. But I do know how to ”call a spade a spade”, and if your hatred for a great player who plays for a great organization is rooted in ANYTHING besides weak, personal feelings of jealousy, you’re not being honest with yourself.
And for the conspiracy theorists who constantly repeat the idiotic theory that Jerry West gave the Lakers Pau to help his former organization win a championship, go do some homework so that you will come to the realization that Jerry West vacated his post with the Grizzlies following the season PRIOR to this deal. Chris Wallace was the Grizzlies GM who made this trade happen and now is the GM enjoying the fruits of his labor with an ever-improving team, because of an unpopular move he wasn’t afraid to make.
Many only chose to view the trade on the surface level because they saw it as the Memphis Grizzlies handing the Lakers more championships. Did anyone ever stop to realize that it was not the Grizzlies’ fault that the team with the best deal for them was a piece or two away from a championship? If an opportunity to brighten the future of your 13-win franchise presented itself, the state of a championship contender offering you cap freedom should not even have crept into their pattern of thinking. Their ONLY obligation was to look out for the best interest of the Memphis Grizzlies. And I’d love for someone to remind me of the success they had with Pau as their best player. I’d also love for someone to tell me why this trade shouldn’t have been made, without starting your argument off with what it did for the Lakers.
In the long term, this trade netted the Grizzlies Marc Gasol, a tough big man who is a very good rebounder and defender, with a very good offensive skill set in addition to his presence in the paint. Marc Gasol is a career 12.6 points per game scorer and 7.8 per game rebounder, who in 09-10, averaged career highs of 14.6 points and 9.3 rebounds. Javaris Crittendon was traded to the Washington Wizards for yet ANOTHER conditional first round pick. Kwame Brown and Aaron Mckie’s expired contracts (approximately $10 million of cap space) have allowed them to draft, trade for, and pay players, most notably Zach Randolph, a perennial 20 & 10 producer and 2010 All-Star with the Memphis Grizzlies. They ended the 09-10 season $8.8 Million under the salary cap and subsequently locked up their two best players, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, to 5-year, $80 Million and a 4-year, $71 Million deals respectively. The two first round draft picks acquired from L.A. turned into steady contributors Darrell Arthur and Greivis Vasquez. The Grizzlies selected Syracuse’s Donte Green with the 28th overall pick (from Lakers) of the 2008 NBA draft and traded his draft rights for the rights to Arthur (the 27th overall pick). In the 2010 NBA draft, they selected Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez with the 28th pick acquired from the Lakers.
The most ironic part of this whole situation is that the most outspoken NBA detractor of the trade was San Antonio Spurs’ coach Greg Poppovich, who said at the time: “What they did in Memphis is beyond comprehension. There should be a trade committee that can scratch all trades that make no sense. I just wish I had been on a trade committee that oversees all NBA trades. I would have voted “NO” to the L.A. trade.” Well, Coach “Pop’s” #1 seeded Spurs were recently the first invitees to the coming out party of the new and improved Memphis Grizzlies. Watch what you put out into the universe Coach. To be fair to Coach “Pop” however, he did back down off that sentiment publicly. Last year, he acknowledged that the trade did indeed provide Memphis with salary-cap relief and with the emergence of Marc Gasol, was a very sensible deal.
As I explained earlier, their steady improvement isn’t COMPLETELY due to this one deal, but this trade ABSOLUTELY was the trigger to this team getting on the right track. It was a calculated risk that has certainly begun to pay off. Had they not taken this risk, they’d be the same 13-win Grizzlies team they were with Pau Gasol at the helm. So the only question left to ask…“How ya like them now?”