Tag Archives: basketball

2013 NBA Finals

We’re headed for the result I most wanted to avoid: a Spurs vs. Heat Finals. Despite being a Spurs fan, as a practical person, I chose the Grizzlies to come out of the Western Conference Finals. The Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph duo was clicking, Tayshaun Prince completed a lockdown wing tandem with perennial defensive force, Tony Allen, and Michael Conley was climbing the elite point guard ladder higher than the memory of Greg Oden. No one loved the Rudy Gay export more than me. Not only were the Grizzlies suddenly a complete team that could again live up to their GRINDHOUSE moniker, they’re also two years removed from thwarting a dominant Spurs team in the first round. In the Spurs’ defense, after pummeling a Lakers team that wouldn’t have done better with Kobe in the lineup, then subduing the Warriors in Stephen Curry’s coming out party, they managed to cruise like witches on brooms against their hardest test out of the West; and no, the Thunder wouldn’t have fared better, the Spurs would’ve exploited the Harden hole to no end. Given a week to rest before the Finals, are the Spurs the undercover favorites regardless of who comes out of the East?

The Knicks were primed to surprise the Heat after Miami’s soft schedule over the hapless Bucks and feisty Bulls. After their series with the Pacers, I can’t fathom a New York championship with Amar’e Stoudemire on the payroll, or built around Carmelo Anthony’s potential. On the otherhand, the Pacers aren’t ready; after stealing and relinquishing home court advantage, they’re going to learn about missed opportunities the hard way. If not New York, then Memphis was primed to give Miami their hardest trial en route to repeating as Champions. Flash back to the 2007 NBA Finals with me, when the Spurs met a young Lebron James, and rode Tony Parker to their fourth title; this is not the same Lebron, nor are these the same Spurs. A trivial piece of history that separates Tim Duncan from his contemporaries, namely Shaq, Kobe, and Lebron, is the fact that he has never lost an NBA Finals. I personally find meaning in unblemished journeys through the Promised Land. I would personally prefer Tim Duncan lose in the Conference Finals, rather than the Finals, simply to preserve this distinction. As the underdog, more important than earning a fifth ring, these are the stakes I am most aware of.

Of course, should the Pacers improbably earn their title shot, I’ll be celebrating Tim Duncan’s untainted record immediately. Not sure how you begin to word such an unlikely alternative future: The revenge of George Hill? Frank Vogel out coaches Greg Popovich? Roy Hibbert learns to be agile while chasing Tony Parker? Or the Pacers suddenly win four games against a team they’ve only beaten three times in eleven years? In closing, I need the Neilsen television ratings for the Style segments after every game, I can’t be the only one who prefers Lifetime movies.

NBA Playoffs 2013 Round Two

That’s right, we’re skipping ahead straight to the second round. The Heat took care of business against the hapless Bucks. Brandon Jennings should be suspended to start next season for guaranteeing four wins, or any wins for that matter. The Knicks would’ve swept the Celtics if not for the J.R. Smith suspension; expect a win at Madison Square Garden tonight. The Pacers will trudge through the Hawks, and attempt to rekindle a New York vs. Indiana rivalry, that I will not feel punished to watch. While the Nets surprised me in their first game against the Bulls, they appropriately lost the series from ahead with home court advantage. Honestly, we’re all waiting for the Knicks vs. Heat Eastern Conference Finals to generate any excitement on this coast. Given a healthy Chandler and Kidd, ala Championship Mavericks, my choice remains Knicks over Heat for a spot in the NBA Finals.

The West is where intrigue lives. The Clippers and Grizzles rematch from last season looked like a contest, until Dennis Scott reminded me of two offseason moves that favor the Grizzlies: the release of Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin. Did you really expect Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin to BANG with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol? When Chris Paul has to go off for thirty points and game winning drives at home, bet on the grind house in six. The Spurs, against a Lakers roster stockpiled with future hall of famers, would have swept a healthy Kobe Bryant all the same. We’re still waiting for Harden to drop fifty on the Thunder before the Rockets go on vacation. Though Durant will have a transcendental second round series, the effects of the Harden trade and Westbrook injury will practically guide my Spurs into the Finals.

I’m having a hard time calling a clear cut winner between the Nuggets and Warriors. The obvious break out player of the playoffs so far is Stephen Curry! Then again, he’s also the softest star player left, and is expected to survive alternating nights of intensity> When his coach started mentioning hit men in regard to grazing fouls, older fans of the game immediately knew that boy wouldn’t have survived the nineties.

So really, not much has changed in the NBA since my last review of the season, with the exception of Jason Collins revealing his homosexual orientation. The best part about these gay admissions is when the ex-wife claims to have not known; sure. I begged and pleaded for Jeremy Lin to explode out of the closet and stake a realistic claim to athletic equality across sexual orientation. Jason Collins’ announcement has been blown far out of proportion, because he doesn’t have a memorable basketball related moment. He’s so far out of basketball, that his announcement sounds like a cry for employment. To reiterate, because goodness forbid I’m not sensitive about the topic, I’m Pro-Homo; however, mentioning Jason Collins and Jackie Robinson in the same breathe desensitizes me to the seriousness of this discussion. The reality of the matter is this isn’t breaking news and networks are forcing the issue; so please stop interrupting my games with replays of Jason Collins taking charges from Shaquille O’Neal, to not make a point.

NCAA Women’s Basketball 2013

With the NBA Playoffs right around the corner, and the Kevin Ware fueled men’s college game in the rearview, here’s to the ladies.

The face of women’s college basketball for the past two years has been Brittney Griner. Brittney initially exploded onto the national scene with superficial criticism regarding her physique, followed by multiple in-game dunks, and highlighted by a National Championship last year. This year, after cruising through an undefeated regular season, her Baylor Lady Bears cruised into the Elite Eight of this year’s tournament before flaming out against the Louisville Cardinals. Brittney’s final season should be remembered for her bold proclamation: no one can beat us except for the Miami Heat (in the midst of their historic win streak nonetheless). I had the privilege of watching the second half of their collapse, and must commend Odyssey Sims on her performance for the Lady Bears; to imply that Brittney threw that game would be an understatement. Although Brittney was offensively limited due to constant double teams from a zone defense, she disappeared completely on defense and watched a layup line ensue.

With Baylor gone, the nation turned to Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame to carry women’s basketball athletics into the limelight. Immediately following Brittney’s sellout, we were treated to an emotionally charged Skylar carrying Notre Dame into the Final Four. Notre Dame then lost their next game, and the Connecticut Huskies subsequently won their eighth national championship. For perspective, Connecticut and Tennessee account for sixteen of the thirty two national championships in NCAAW basketball history. As it turns out, I can’t recall who won Most Outstanding Player, or name any of the Connecticut players after Maya Moore and Tina Charles left; alas, their coach, Geno Auriemma, is who will be remembered.

The women’s game needs marketable names, not Mark Cuban instigating the likelihood of a woman in the NBA. Elena Delle Donne of Delaware is the favorite to usurp the title during her senior season. While we’re aware of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker entering the men’s college ranks as definite one and done lottery picks, it’s far more difficult to stay abreast of incoming female stars. Pay attention, as the weather warms and women storm the courts in ever increasing numbers, because they’re so far under the radar, it’s not far-fetched to find yourself playing with one.

NBA All Star Weekend

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The actual game started 45 minutes after its scheduled 8 pm start; rightfully, some in-game booing remained from the preceding Sears Entertainment Showcase. Every stoppage in play provided an excuse for Kia, All State, and whoever Kyrie Irving ages for, to advertise with a musical act. Excessive theatrics and commercials aside, the game itself was very touchy; the frequency of airborne players getting shoved deterred the star power. For perspective, even Kobe Bryant passed up open jumpers, so you know.

Commentators have long insinuated that an All Star Game player agreement exists to defer to the host. Knowing this, was it me or did James Harden, Houston Rockets star, act like a prima donna? He walked the ball up and generally looked frustrated coming off the bench again. Bosh didn’t appreciate being embarrassed either, which could have been another Houston connection problem. I tried switching to the D-League All Star Game between acts, only to be reminded of the talent gap; ultimately skipped the final quarter, and imagine the final two minutes of play dragged on for half an hour.

At least the three point contest remained somewhat pure after all of these years. When I heard Terrence Ross ASK Jeremy Evans to keep the final round of the Dunk Contest prop free, my choice was made for me; of course this request was made before Evans trotted out a painting of himself. This year’s dunk field was so impressive on paper, that last year’s winner, Jeremy Evans, should have been the worst dunker of the bunch. Even though we were robbed of a Terrence Ross vs Gerald Green Finals because of the lame East vs. West gimmick, James White’s dejected face was gold! Also, if we must allow multiple attempts, then at least subtract a point per missed dunk from the dunker’s final score! Jason Richardson remains the best All Star Game dunker after Vince Carter, followed by Gerald Green, Andre Iguodala, and Terrence Ross in some order.

I should have watched the bad zombie television show instead… If you’re wondering who won what contest this weekend, then you’ve missed the point; we all lost.

First Quarter NBA 2012

Initial thoughts I jotted down during the off-season: Who’s supposed to beat the Lakers, besides the Lakers? My dark horse picks included Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Phoenix; my faith in underdogs has since been destroyed. Going forward, it’s safe to expect season defining injuries to Andrew Bynum and Kyrie Irving; and Michael Beasley, a former second overall pick in the NBA draft, will never blossom.

I’m technically writing this post because the Knicks beat the Lakers the other night, that game was my call to action. This is another weak year for the Eastern Conference. Dismiss Boston and Chicago miracles now. The East comes down to the Knicks repeatedly trouncing the Heat, which shouldn’t come as a surprise because of the recipe: Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler, replace Dirk Nowitzki with Carmelo Anthony, and Jason Terry with Raymond Felton. Amar’e Stoudemire coming off the bench solidifies a Knicks team built to make an NBA Finals appearance.

My Kobe sarcasm is off the meter, I thought he was a lock for a sixth ring; I just wasn’t ready for the six ring argument! Had they gelled, it’s not inconceivable to think Mitch Kupchak assembled the greatest five man NBA team EVER: two previous MVPs, two previous defensive MVPs, and a starting rotation of functional All-Stars! Their potential drastically shifted from chasing 72 wins to missing the playoffs; Phil Jackson is beside himself.

Then the Western Conference was gift wrapped to the Thunder right? Wrong. James Harden disappeared in the Finals, against the Heat, not against the Spurs. Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook neutralize one another, the Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson tandem caps Kevin Durant outbursts, and expecting the unproven Kevin Martin to out duel Manu Ginobilli is akin to high hopes for Beasley. The Spurs couldn’t be in a better position to come out of the West, thank you Sam Presti. Houston is now a playoff team, and Harden should win Most Improved Player. Memphis is the wild card here; still, give me the Spurs representing the West in the NBA Finals.

As of now my NBA Finals picture reads Gregg Popovich over Mike Woodson, Spurs over Knicks.

WNBA 2012 Finals Prediction

Basketball is basketball, let’s get the macho egos out of the way, place bets on Bill Simmons’ growing daughter’s influence prevailing over his historically harsh WNBA criticisms; especially in lieu of his athletic prowess, because professional women at least produce a better product than unprofessional men – pay attention to the walkers in your local full court pickup game. What separates NBA superstars from their contemporaries are their innate abilities to trancend their peers, we revel in Jordan’s ability to withhold a championship from Barkley and Malone, Shaq and Duncan fending off Webber and Ming; the WNBA, even still in it’s infancy, already has a shortlist of royalty to equally revere: Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson, Lisa Leslie, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Katie Smith, Lauren Jackson, Deanna Nolan, and the latest thriving legend cementing her legacy, Seimone Augustus.

The Indiana Fever are mired in Conference Championships, Tamika Catchings has conquered every unpromised land, Katie Douglas is a perpetual legend in the making, this franchise as a whole is poised to duplicate the penultimate success of the Atlanta Dream, New York Liberty, Buffalo Bills, Utah Jazz, and every other organization good enough to repeatedly lose to the best on the largest stage. It wasn’t supposed to come to this, the Atlanta Dream should have taken care of business, instead Angel McCoughtry relinquished her place among the penultimate greats with a swift first round exit. The Connecticut Sun were the clear favorites from Day One, the slain Tina Charles is the upset of this postseason, this cannot be understated.

The Minnesota Lynx, last year’s Champion, exploded from the regular season gates with a record ten consecutive wins, and left a single win away from tying the record for most wins in a regular season; this is the team that made Candace Parker cry, this is the team the Indiana Fever get to watch celebrate. Their captain, Seimone Augustus is everything Chamique Holdsclaw was supposed to be, and that’s magic. Maya Moore will be the heir apparent, that or exposed as Seimone’s Pippen. Add Lindsey Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson to round out a championship nucleus, and congratulations Minnesota Lynx, the 2012 WNBA Champions!

Basketball is basketball, and all the same, I look forward to discussing the Lingerie Basketball League whenever the quality of play increases to the level of the Lingerie Football League.

Honorable Mentions: As unfathomable as it sounds, Sofia Young needs front court help to realize her full potential, not more Becky Hammon. Alana Beard, please accept my best wishes going forward, as good as your situation is, the list of contenders is severely limited… Bonner, Dupree, Taurasi, and GRINER? That’s ridiculous.

… lastly, Bill Simmons again, losing a game of HORSE to Yi Jianlian’s chair:

2012 NBA Finals Game One Recap

* In reverse order.

  • #nbafinals is Lebron James TRULY destined to be the @nba Jim Kelly? #fb
  • #nbafinals game one deciding factor besides the starters, Nick Collison > Chris Bosh.
  • #nbafinals agreed, game is over once Nick Collison bangs on you. Congratulations on game one @okcthunder
  • #nbafinals Pat Riley is tight, and Lebron James has left the building.
  • #nbafinals Lebron is disappearing in the fourth while Durant comes alive, problem…
  • #nbafinals good finish Lebron, I’d call that a travel if I were rooting for @okcthunder
  • #nbafinals finally, Wade gets a foul shot, in the third quarter, thanks.
  • #nbafinals someone check the foul numbers while I protest the rest of the third quarter.
  • #nbafinals why do the referees keep rewarding Sefalosha for missing dunks?
  • #nbafinals EVERYONE but Wade is getting a call, this is getting out of hand; that’s how referees allow a run.
  • @lunaberry3 asked which team deserves to win? The winner, that’s who.
  • #nbafinals looking through @nba tweets on my timeline, lots of chatter about @okcthunder despite being down at the half, is that hate?
  • #nbafinals Shane Barrier got a technical foul? The Pacquiao judges are @nba referees also?
  • #nbafinals Chris Bosh transforming into Andrea Bargnani is uncomfortably working out so far.
  • @espn centuries will pass without assembling a Dream Team to rival the original; eternity maybe.
  • #nbafinals Fisher is three for three, that’s experience; Kobe is somewhere plotting against Sessions.
  • #nbafinals Daequan Cook gets a foul called before Wade? Ball don’t lie.
  • #nbafinals can the @miamiheat get a foul called in their favor? Not like we need it, still…
  • #nbafinals Chris Bosh just committed the weakest foul of the playoffs, you are the weakest link.
  • #nbafinals who are you rooting for? I have the @miamiheat sweeping four straight. #fb
  • #nbafinals first three minutes MVP, Shane Battier
  • After watching Spoelstra’s pregame speech, he needs to stay out of the way.
  • The Star Wars introduction music and subdued announcer was special, that’s how I would want to be introduced at home.
  • Have to say, Jessica Sanchez impressed me some time ago on @youtube, she may have sole possession of the voice crown, whose her competition?
  • Before we start @nba finals coverage, let’s be sure @juneambrose will cover the post game costume designs, that’s beyond me.