Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Kobe wants out

This has really reached the point of silliness.

And who is to blame? Everyone.

Jim Buss, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Jerry Buss, Mitch Kupchak, Shaquille O'Neal. I blame all of you. Four years of nonsense, and apparently this will never be over. Movies will be written. Day time soaps are scribbling ideas for the future as I type.

Kobe doesn't trust the organization, and frankly I can't say I completely blame him for that. After all, they promised him that they'd be competitive and then they wasted all of their cap space on Vladimir Radmanovic and re-signed Brian Cook inexplicably. The Lakers are a playoff team whose ceiling is reaching the second round of the playoffs. That's not going to be good enough for KB24.

However, from my point of view as fan, that doesn't mean you should go whining about it in the media. See, I'm torn when it comes to Kobe. The Lakers stood by him throughout his whole Colorado deal. That was some sideshow of a season, and the Lakers were on his side the entire way, from the same day flights to make tip time, to turning the other cheek when he shot them out of the Finals series against Detroit.

For me, it doesn't matter who forced Shaq out of town. I understand that Kobe is bent that a "Laker insider" threw him under the bus in the L.A. Times, but whether Jerry Buss was going to bring Shaq back isn't completely the point. Bryant and O'Neal couldn't find a way to co-exist, and as a fan for years, I believe that Bryant would have bailed on the Lakers if O'Neal had stayed. I might be wrong. That's how I see it from where I sit. He may not have asked for it directly, but he was asking for it for years indirectly.

So, Kobe wants to win. He wants to win NOW. He wants to be the guy. He wants to be in the Finals. That's great. I'd like the Lakers to win now too, but the fact of the matter is that they're not in a position to win NOW. Bryant makes a ton of money. The front office has made a ton of bad moves that are biting them right now (Caron Butler for Kwame Brown is the obvious one). Again, sucks for everyone.

The way Bryant has handled his media tour rubs me the wrong way as a Lakers fan. I would understand if he was adamant about the organization getting better, I'm with him when he says he'd like Jerry West back, I even agree with him that the Lakers have wronged him a bit over the last three days. However, to ask for a trade on the radio and then backpedal on another radio show all in the same day feels like someone who just wants some attention. There has to be a better way to handle this situation, and I won't be surprised if he flips back and forth a few more times before it's all over. Take a step back, be quiet, and talk to the organization that is on the hook to pay you $147 million.

After he talks to everyone in El Segundo, Bryant can ask for a trade if he wants. Hell, I'd even argue that the Lakers should consider moving him. It might work out for the best for all parties involved. I just don't want to hear about this every day. It's petty, it's silly, and it's quite frankly tiresome. Kobe made his bed one way or the other in Los Angeles, and now that he's not sleeping so well, he wants out. NOW. If only it was that easy. Who knows where this goes from here? Nothing will surprise me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wednesday Thoughts

I know I’m late on this, but I really can’t believe the media sometimes. Most are questioning LeBron James’ decision to pass to a wide-open Donyell Marshall at the end of the Pistons/Cavs game Monday night. The Cavs trailed by two at the time, and apparently several writers who can see into the future KNOW that LeBron had Tayshaun Prince beaten and would have hammered down a game-tying monster dunk. Uh, okay. How can a guy get destroyed for passing to a teammate who a) is so open there’s no one on the same side of the court as him when he receives the pass b) has shown he can make the shot he took and c) had the chance to win the game if he was able to hit his shot. I would be somewhat alright with this if Monday’s game had been Game 7, where the season was at stake and LeBron chose not to be the deciding factor. Even then, I don’t think I’d make that argument. But, to get all over him after a Game 1 loss, come on. It’s absurd. I’d also like to point out that if Marshall makes his shot, everyone is praising LeBron for being unselfish. Some guys just can’t win regardless of the decisions they make.

How about those Portland Trail Blazers? As loyal readers know, I’ve been on the bandwagon since the All-Star break, and now I might be joining Henry Abbott full-time (show me something Mitch Kupchak!!!). Can we pencil in the Blazers for a dynasty in the ’10s?

And for everyone bitching about the lottery this morning, please stop. The lottery works just fine. Its goal is to prevent teams from tanking every year to get the top pick. If Boston, Memphis and Milwaukee did tank part of their season, then they got what they deserved in my opinion. Sucks to be them. I really do feel for Celtics fans, though.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I'm referring to myself with that headline.

Phoenix vs. Miami in the NBA Finals, huh?

To me, it's fitting that three of the four teams left in this 2007 NBA Playoffs are teams that I drastically underestimated all season long.

San Antonio? Ha, their bench is ancient! They can't run with the Suns and Mavs in the postseason! Well, I must have forgotten how good Tim Duncan is at this game. Why do I always forget about him?

Utah? I didn't even pick them to make the postseason. I mean, they're always hurt, right? Oops. I didn't see Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams breaking out like this, and even more amazingly, somehow I find myself rooting for Utah (UTAH!!!) to win the championship. I don't know how this happened.

Detroit? Too many deep playoff runs over the last five years. There's no way they have enough left in the tank. Wrong.

Cleveland? Well, I had this correct. However, if the Bulls had beaten New Jersey on the final day of the regular season, I would have missed this one too.

The final four isn't the casual fan's dream for sure, but it should be highly entertaining. Now, that doesn't mean it's the focal point of my excitement this week.

Tuesday night. Secaucus, New Jersey. The lottery.

I'm not quite sure when this happened, but somewhere along the way, the NBA off-season became my favorite time in sports. I've written before that we're heading to the best one ever, and now that the Suns may have to make significant changes after losing to San Antonio, it just keeps getting more interesting.

So, good luck to the final four, but bring on the off-season! I can't wait to make more incorrect predictions.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bulls/Pistons reax

This one is really simple.

Prince + Chauncey= Good

Deng + Gordon = Not good

Billups and Prince played absolutely fantastic basketball in the second half. If Billups leaves Detroit in the offseason, it will be one million times more devastating to the franchise than Ben Wallace leaving.

I can't remember seeing the Pistons play this well (let's just forget that first half). The way they're playing, they could run the table in the East.

This series is obviously over, and the Bulls will join the boatload of teams looking for an answer in the reloading process during the summer. I hope the ping pong balls fall their way.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Saturday thoughts

I can’t imagine that when ABC, ESPN, TNT and the NBA thought out their dream scenarios for the Playoffs that a Utah/Golden State second round series was one they counted on. But it’s reality now.

Poor Tracy McGrady. Dude may never make it to the second round. It’s hard to pin that one on him though.

I’ve been writing all year that I didn’t buy into the Jazz, but that was some big time effort last night in Houston to win Game 7 on the road. Mehmet Okur keeps making big shots, Carlos Boozer keeps finding all the big rebounds, and the Jazz keeps proving me wrong.

Obviously, the key to the next series above all else will be how healthy Baron Davis is. If he’s good to go, we could be looking at another upset. There’s a great chance that whoever wins a road game first takes the series.

The Bulls laid a pretty large Game 1 egg in Detroit, but this doesn’t mean anything. Chicago never got in rhythm due to foul trouble, and if Ben Gordon gets taken out of the equation early, the Bulls are NEVER going to score enough points to win basketball games. Add in some very sloppy play and a near perfect first half for Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, and you get a blowout.

I expect a much closer game tomorrow night. I think the Bulls are awake now, and it’s extremely rare that they play back-to-back sloppy games.

One thing that concerns me for the Bulls is that backcourt matchup of Hinrich/Gordon vs Billups/Hamilton. Hinrich and Gordon give up a lot of size in that matchup. They’re going to have to find a way to slow Billups down if they’re going to win the series.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Debacle in Dallas

Good thing we all watched that regular season, huh?

Six games is all it took for the Dallas Mavericks to go from the best team in the NBA to, perhaps, the team facing the most questions this off-season.

If you’re Mark Cuban and company, where do you go from here? The Mavs won 67 regular season games rather easily, putting them among some elite squads when it comes to best regular season performance.

But then in the postseason, that whole heart issue popped up again.

In the 2006 Finals, Dallas had the title won if they had closed out Game 3. Instead, they got punched the mouth by Dwayne Wade (and the officials) four straight times. They said they had learned, and this entire season was supposed to vindicate that collapse.


The Golden State Warriors ripped Dallas apart, leaving everyone questioning the Mavs’ toughness and Dirk Nowitzki’s leadership. What now? Do you go out looking for players with heart, like Robert Horry and Sam Cassell? Do you ship some of your young talent for a guy like Jason Kidd? Do you keep the status quo and hope you can somehow develop heart? These are tough times in Big D, but what was already shaping up to be a fantastic NBA off-season just got a little more intriguing.

For the record, I expect Cuban to try to do something huge. Could Pat Riley convince him to take Shaq off his hands and help Miami re-build in the process? Probably not, but remember, the Mavs were in play for Shaq allegedly after the 2004 season. Most likely, they’ll put a package together for Kidd, which is a move that will help them considerably.

Elsewhere, we’re finally going to get some good matchups out East. With the exception of Toronto/New Jersey, the first round was obviously atrocious with three sweeps.

I’ve been wrong most of the way this year with predictions, but I’m going to say the winner of Chicago/Detroit will meet the winner of San Antonio/Phoenix in the NBA Finals.