Posts Tagged ‘San Antonio Spurs’

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

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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: Southwest Division Dominance!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

by Kamal Hylton

Kamal Hylton Blog

 

 

 

 

Hello War Room Nation!

 

This is Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia and War Room Sports blog back with your weekly dose of NBA Quick Takes.

 

This week’s column has a distinct Southwestern flavor to it, taking a look at the association’s toughest group of teams in the Southwest Division. Consisting of the Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, defending champion San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans, all you have to do is watch some of the divisional games and it’s clear there’s no sign of weakness.

 

They beat up on each other nightly and this only helps them develop a tough skin for when the playoffs roll around, matching up with any of these teams will be a tough test when we get down to the nitty-gritty. Looking at the standings we could be witnessing a rare feat of having an entire division make the playoffs, the only team really in doubt are the New Orleans Pelicans fighting to squeeze into the Top 8.

 

This leads me perfectly into my first Quick Take.

 

Pelicans Playoff Bandwagon

Since they’re not on national TV often, I’m not sure how often a lot of you watch the Pelicans play but when things are going well they’re one of my “League Pass teams” and a fun bunch to watch. I’ve watched quite a few of their games (including covering them once for NBA Nation Australia when they played the Toronto Raptors) and they are very underrated, showing resiliency and fight. A perfect example of this was on Sunday night, witnessing them go toe-to-toe on League Pass against the division foe Dallas Mavericks and coming away with a 109-106 victory on a key defensive stop by Anthony Davis. This is a team I want to see under the bright lights of playoff basketball.

 

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Even in the absence of star point guard Jrue Holiday, who’ll hopefully be returning from injury soon, they’ve had great performances by others holding down the fort. The main man in this regard has been Tyreke Evans, efficiently providing scoring punch and back court leadership. Evans has reinvented himself slightly from his Sacramento Kings days, showing an ability to guard multiple positions, be much more team oriented, and still have the capability to take over a game when called upon. Coach Monty Williams and the front office should also be given credit, securing two very strewed moves by adding Omer Asik in the offseason and the recent acquisition of Quincy Pondexter. Both have helped ease the burden on Davis defensively, Asik giving him a partner down low that will do the “dirty work”, allowing Davis to play his more natural power forward position (something he couldn’t do last season) while Podexter helps on perimeter defense. These players along with others like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson are helping this team compete, but the main reason why I’m jumping on the Pelicans Playoff Bandwagon is to see the next stage of Davis’ development. He has quickly become one of the league’s dominant bigs, but we as NBA fans should hope he doesn’t get stuck in purgatory of a losing franchise (something his fellow University of Kentucky alum is experiencing in Sacramento).

 

Embrace Grit and Grind Basketball

Another team that doesn’t get much attention, despite being second in the Western Conference, are the Memphis Grizzlies. Most fans aren’t flicking through League Pass and landing on the Grizzlies, nor do they have the same “wow factor” as other teams. They aren’t nearly as exciting as those Golden State Warriors with their up tempo style and the “Splash Brothers” raining threes at the “Roaracle”, or as flashy as the Los Angeles Clippers high-flying act known as “Lob City”, but in its own way the style known as “Grit and Grind” basketball is a beautiful thing to watch.

 

Memphis

 

This team is built for the playoffs, displaying a defensively focused mindset that is anchored by its two bigs, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. They take pride in stifling offenses, clog the lane, forcing bad shots, getting into the passing lanes, and being cerebral in half court sets. Grit and Grind is more than that though, it’s hard-nosed perimeter defense by players like Tony Allen, high basketball IQ from its point guard Mike Conley, and contributions from unheralded players.

 

Watching last night’s game against the Mavericks displayed just how deep this team can be, as they had players like Courtney Lee, Nick Calathes, and Beno Udrih step up seamlessly in the absence of Allen and Conley sidelined with injuries. Lee and Calathes combined for 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and Udrih managed the game without playing beyond himself, proving the system works and makes players better.

 

#TooMuchMonta

Do yourselves a favor the next time you watch the Dallas Mavericks, watch the effortless way Monta Ellis can take over a game. He has always had this ability, but this time it’s different. As mentioned on the latest episode of Court Vision, on War Room Sports TV, Ellis is showing that he has grown up from those bad Warriors and is far more efficient.

 

I recently wrote an article for NBA Nation Australia (http://nbanationaustralia.com/dallas-mavericks-masterminding-a-championship-contender-in-big-d/) on the Mavs masterminding a championship contender and my thoughts are now confirmed, that although Dirk Nowitzki is the face and leader of this Mavs team, Ellis’ role has arguably become much more important. During key stretches of tight games it’s the Jackson, Mississippi native that has the ball in his hands, his teammates knowing that he’s the first option on a pick and pop with Nowitzki.

 

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This is in no small part due to coach Rick Carlisle putting the ball in his hands and giving him the confidence and responsibility to create while at the same time not overburdening. Enter Rajon Rondo. While most people were quick to say a Rondo/Ellis back court wouldn’t work I was on the opposite side (if you don’t believe me you can check my Twitter timeline). It’s still early, and it won’t be truly tested until playoff time, but having a player like Rondo buy into Carlisle’s system has been essential. With two legit threats in the backcourt, it becomes a “pick your poison” situation for opposing defenses and Ellis has been the major beneficiary so far. At times he becomes too much to handle, which has led me to adopt the hashtag #TooMuchMonta.

 

I borrowed this from Nowitzki’s line in this Mavs parody video of Run DMC’s ‘Can’t Be Stopped’.

 

 

To catch all my NBA writing, photos and videos visit (http://nbanationaustralia.com) or on twitter @NBANationOz (https://twitter.com/NBANationOz)

 

Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia, for War Room Sports

NBA Quick Takes: Russell Westbrook, Spurs vs. Hawks NBA Finals, and Dennis Schroder

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

by Kamal Hylton

Kamal Hylton Blog

 

 

 

 

Hello War Room Nation!

This is Kamal Hylton, your boy from North of the Border, a writer/editor for NBA Nation Australia and part of the War Room Family with The Gaffer and Hooligan Soccer Podcast on the War Room Sports Podcast Network.

While the podcast is taking a break, I thought I’d hop onto the WRS Blog and give you a weekly view on the NBA… through my eyes.

I’m not feelin’ Russell Westbrook’s Interview

By now you’ve all seen Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook’s interview, the one where he only used the word “execution” in all its various forms to answer reporters’ questions after the Thunder beat the Western Conference leading Golden State Warriors 127-115 and he had a career night of 17pts, 17ast and 15rebs.

To refresh your memory or for those that haven’t seen it, here it is:

Most people have come out and said things like “Screw the media!” and “Let Russ be Russ!”. I’m all for players being themselves and sometimes members of the media ask questions that deserve these types of answers, like when a reporter asked Westbrook this question in 2013.

However this trend is going too far and I’m now completely against it for a few reasons.

This isn’t even creative or original, copying Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s “Thankful” interview doesn’t get him any type of respect or brownie points with me… it just makes him look corny. Also, none of those questions were out of line in any way or could even be considered “dumb”. After the third use of “execution”, I would’ve shut my recorder/video camera off and walked away. Reporters only get limited time for post-game interviews, this nonsense cost those guys battery life and space on their devices as well as time that could’ve been spent with more engaging players.

Most of all it lacks professionalism on Westbrook’s part, those guys are there to do a job just like him and even if he doesn’t like doing interviews or has a problem with a particular reporter, I don’t think it’s that hard to suck it up and answer questions with an ounce of respect. Maybe I’m biased being part of the media, but this one word answer thing from players has gone from funny to tired REALLY quickly.

I’d love a Spurs vs. Hawks NBA Finals for one reason

I know it’s WAY too early to be talking about NBA Finals predictions, but the way the Hawks have been playing during this wining streak (currently at 13 games at the moment of writing this) has me wanting them to make the finals. Picking up the moniker “Spurs East”, I’d actually love to see them take on San Antonio for one major storyline.

Mike Budenholzer vs. Gregg Popovich… or what I like to refer to as Karate Kid vs. Mr. Miyagi.

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Their story has the makings of a Hollywood film, let me set the scene.

Budenholzer spent 19 years under Popovich in San Antonio, working his way up from an unpaid video coordinator to assistant coach and as his right hand man. Together they won four NBA championships, Budenholzer playing the role of understudy to Pop until this season. Now striking out on his own, coach Bud has taken over a middling Atlanta Hawks team using the teachings of his grand master to make them one of the best in the association.

If Spike Lee or Steven Spielburg got hold of that script it’d be an instant hit! Being a self professed “basketball nerd”, I’m most fascinated by the high level game of human chess that these two would be playing on national TV. Popovich taught Budenholzer pretty much everything he knows about NBA coaching, but did he save a few tricks back for a moment like this?

I’m on the edge of my seat just thinking about the possibility of this game.

Dennis Schroder is my Homeboy!

I’m sure you all have non “superstar” players that you love watching or are fans of that others don’t understand why, maybe it’s the intense way he plays defense? jumps out of the gym? or drops dimes?

Well that player for me is Dennis Schroder, the second year German backup point guard on the Atlanta Hawks. Now I know what you’re thinking, why is he one of your favorite players? For one thing he has a smoothness to his game this season that’s enjoyable to watch on this Hawks team and the way he attacks the basket shows that few players can stay in front of him, how he comes off screens and glides to the rim is reminiscent of a slithering snake. The other reason why I like him is for the nickname that’s quickly catching on, Dennis “The Menace” is not only catchy but fits his style of play to a tee. It’s actually on a t-shirt, one that I bought myself (http://www.redbubble.com/people/laff/works/13048484-dennis-the-menace). I actually spoke with him for a few minutes after the Hawks defeated the Raptors at Air Canada Centre recently, talking about his development, the nickname and the fact he has fans in Australia.

(*Dennis Schroder interview courtesy of NBA Nation Australia)

He was fantastic, he’s a quiet guy but I get the feeling that’s mostly because of the minor language barrier. He has a great command of the English language, better than some people born in North America, but I get the feeling once he’s fluent in all the little nuances and references that he’ll hold his own in the trash talking department.

That’s all for now, but I’ll leave you with this cool “NBA On NBA” theme remix that recently came out by Boy Pierce.

 To catch all my NBA writing, photos and videos be sure to visit NBA Nation Australia (http://nbanationaustralia.com) and follow them on Twitter @NBANationOz (https://twitter.com/NBANationOz).

Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia, for War Room Sports

Takeaways from Game 6 of the NBA Finals

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

By Chris Price

B-ball fans, I didn’t get a chance to watch Heat-Spurs Game 6 the other night.  I was in the midst of a great camping trip with the wife, but we both caught the second half of the game on ESPN radio.  Just got a chance to watch the recorded game earlier, and I must say this was a good one.  The game made me mull over some things and I wanted to make a couple of observations.  Bear with me.

“Are you willing to go down the stretch of an elimination game with your second best player sitting on the bench to put more shooting around your best player? Tough decisions if you’re a coach.” – Jeff Van Gundy, when Dwyane Wade subbed in for Mike Miller at 3:48 left in the 4th quarter

The lineup that brought the Heat back from down 10 at the beginning of the 4th to up 3 later in the quarter was Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, LeBron, and Birdman.  JVG noted this was also the lineup that blew open Game 2 for them… Miami’s best lineup might contain only one member of their “Big 3”.  Take a minute to let that sink in. Miami’s best lineup might contain only one member of their Big 3.  When D Wade came back into the game, LeBron stopped being as aggressive, some chemistry seemed lost, and the Spurs eventually took the lead.

The Takeaways…

A. Been told y’all from the beginning “The Decision” was not a good look, on multiple levels.  The same people who were championing The Big 3 coming together are the same people now talking about trading Wade (a Top 5, 10, 15, 20 player, however you want to look at it) or bringing him off the bench so that he doesn’t bother LeBron’s rhythm… So that the Heat can be more effective… Because they are not as effective with both of them in the game.

B. The Cavs management were not as dumb we thought.  In Cleveland, LeBron had shooters to space the floor, post defenders, rebounders, and finishers. That’s all he needs, or seems to want to play with.  I don’t ever want to hear “LeBron needs help” again.  He doesn’t need the type of player you might naturally think he does to win with his current style of play.  He is playing with two perennial All-Stars and has yet to make either one of them better or find a workable chemistry with either.  Who he is “making better” and finding greater success with is his team’s role players.  He is playing at his best, and most comfortably, with a solid point guard, two shooters, and a rebounder/finisher.

C. Dwyane, LeBron, and Bosh have never had great offensive chemistry.  The only way they all worked was by them (primarily Dwyane and LeBron) creating havoc on defense, creating steals and getting out and running in transition.  When they are not creating turnovers, or when a team is able to stop their transition offense, they limit their effectiveness (at least in how they want to play).  This is how you have a Ray Allen looking like he’s possibly more effective than Dwyane Wade for any stretch of time.  Ray Allen has value just standing in a half-court set without the ball (he stretches the defense); Dwyane Wade does not.

D. The Heat will not be able to play their most effective lineups for the majority of Game 7 because there is no way Erik Spoelstra is going to bench Dwyane Wade. There is no way he is going to play Bosh for 20 or less minutes.  Conversely, there is no way he is going to bench LeBron for 10-15 minutes to let Wade work (also a slightly positive +/- against the Spurs without LeBron on the floor). Because of real life dynamics, the Heat will probably try to win Game 7 using less efficient lineups… They have more talent than the Spurs but worse chemistry. We’ll see which one wins out tonight.  The Heat still have a good chance because their talent is supreme and they are playing at home; We’ll see how it goes.

E. I only heard part of the 3rd and the 4th quarter of the game on the radio the other night, so I thought LeBron went into superhero mode in that 4th quarter. When I went back and watched the game though, I realized that he didn’t; he just played comfortable LeBron James basketball with that particular Chalmers, Allen, Birdman, Miller lineup.  Now some people think LeBron is a superhero anyway so this could all be semantics, but I didn’t see a guy taking over the game.  I saw a guy who was able to do what he does because of space, and knowing he was the 1st and 2nd best offensive option on the floor.  LeBron just “did him” in that 8 minute stretch before Wade came in, and the result was a 13 point swing in favor of Miami.

F. Oh yeah, and as far as him choking or almost choking at the end of regulation, I can’t even call what I saw choking.  Because I’m used to seeing LeBron tentative from time to time.  In the last couple minutes of the game, he went back to looking like he did in Games 2 and 3.  To me, “choking” refers to a guy being visibly shaken by the moment and nerves causing you to play at a level below what you are capable of. Choking to me is not missing shots or making bad passes.  For instance, vs. Indiana Game 2 where Lebron made two late turnovers, I did not consider that a choke.  LeBron was still being aggressive but just made two poor passes; it was poor execution.  In Game 6 though, the turnovers he made were because he was being tentative.  On the first turnover, he over-dribbled and on the second, I literally don’t know if he was trying to pass or shoot.  His reactions to both of those turnovers further let me know these weren’t just poor execution turnovers.  On the same hand though, I don’t know if you can “choke” and win the game.  And even though he shot those late 3-pointers with what looked liked 20% confidence, one of them joints went in.  If Ray Allen didn’t hit that corner three, it would have been a Cruel Summer, but I can’t say LeBron choked because his team won the game… AND LeBron did hit the three to cut it to 2 with 20 seconds left.  He’s got to get credit for that.  And after that he was very comfortable in the overtime and was key to helping his team win this game in that period.  In my opinion, no choke should be credited.

Y’all enjoy Game 7.

 

Bruce Bowen discussed in The War Room

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Who’s The Best, Who’s The Greatest, Who’s The # 1 (Vol. II)

Friday, April 13th, 2012

By LeRoy McConnell III

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?

Baylor Lady Bears

“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.

Gobble, Gobble! 

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!

LeRoy McConnell III of “A Fan’s Point of View”, for War Room Sports

Malik Rose Drops by The War Room!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

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.

In the meantime, join the War Room Sports Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/WarRoomSports and follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/WarRoomSports (@WarRoomSports)!

Finally, if you own an Android phone or tablet…an I-Phone, I-Pad, or I-Pod, please go to your Market and/or App Store and download the FREE War Room Sports mobile app!  It’s the VERY BEST way to stay up on all of our media content!

What I Learned from the 2011 NBA Draft About the State of Basketball at the Highest Level

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

By Bradley Anderson

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? ).

Bradley “B. Austin” Anderson of The War Room, for War Room Sports

Mavericks Fans Still Carry Scars From The Past

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

By Jason Parker

Dallas Mavericks (L-R) Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler

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”. 

Dirk shoots over LaMarcus Aldridge in Round 1 of the 2011 NBA Playoffs

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. 

Mavs sweep the defending champion Lakers in Round 2

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. 

The Mavs are on the cusp of another trip to the NBA Finals with a 3-1 series lead over Kevin Durant and his Thunder

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.

Will the Mavs fly out of Miami or Chicago as NBA Champions this year?

Jason Parker, Blogger for War Room Sports

The Pau Gasol Trade: “How Ya Like Them Now?”

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

The "Brothers Gasol" were traded for each other in February 2008.

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.

The acquisition of and ability to pay most of these guys is due to the Pau Gasol trade

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 New & Improved Memphis Grizzlies

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?”

Devin “Dev” McMillan of The War Room, for War Room Sports