Free agency is looming and team execs are now packing their bags to court the best players on the planet. Well really they are just trying to get Lebron James and others shall follow. My mom told me growing up to be a leader and Lebron is doing that while Chris Bosh is basically waiting on Lebron’s move and is going to follow him wherever he goes. Here’s my predictions on what is going to transpire in the upcoming weeks:
Bulls: Lebron James takes the same path as his childhood idol and brings a new dynasty to Chicago. Chris Bosh follows and they win 3-5 championships but the great six that Michael Jordan won eludes him. O and one more thing. He will never pass Kobe, so who finishes as the best player in their generation?
Heat: Pat Riley keeps the king of Miami, Dwyane Wade and brings in Dirk to give him some help. Riley is a hell of a coach and is definitely a great sellsman in the NBA. Don’t get me wrong Dirk loves Dallas and Cuban but he knows if he teams with the guy that beat him out of a championship in 2006, he could get that NBA ring to go along with that 2007 MVP trophy. I see them winning one championship because Pat Riley will bring in some good role players to back them.
Knicks: The Greater Mecca of basketball is in need of some excitement and a championship as soon as possible. The Knicks don’t get Lebron but they still make out like thieves. David Lee will re-sign and Mike D’antoni will bring two of his former players together to make the Knicks a playoff contender, Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire. And if T-Mac can put together one more godly season this team can go some places.
Nets: Although they have the billionaire owner and Jay-Z on their side those 12 wins aren’t very appealing but they do pick up Carlos Boozer for a gazillion dollars giving Brook Lopez some much needed help on the frontline. Hello Brooklyn.
And Rudy Gay will become a Clipper and Paul Pierce will stay in Boston and try to make one more run at it.
Finally, the Washington Wizards get a break, but as a Wizard fan, I’m almost positive that this fortune or luck will only last a year (maybe two). John Wall has not even played an NBA game, yet D.C. is playing him up like he’s Lebron James or Dwyane Wade. Wall is a great pick, however, the Wiz should be surrounding their 1st pick with a solid core.
General Manager, Ernie Grunfeld, needs to look at how Sam Presti makes things happen in OKC. Ernie has never put together a championship contending team (or a team that is at least 2nd or 3rd best in the East). Even when the Wiz had Caron, Jamison, and Arenas, the Wiz had no chance of doing anything. They couldn’t even get out of the second round and kept getting stuck with mid-level first round round draft picks, year, after year, after year. They had no defense, no leadership, the least intimidating jerseys ever assembled, and an icon and general manager that acted like clowns.
What I enjoy most about the Wiz franchise is how the people that caused the most trouble for the Wiz (GM and Arenas) stayed in town, but the players with character, veteran experience, and toughness were all shipped off to new cities. Now, even with a franchise player and a new owner (who knows a thing or two about success), the Wiz still have Grunfeld and Arenas. In addition, the team does not have a leader. They’re all young, into antics, and inexperienced. Who is going to take over when a game needs to be won and get the team to play as a unit in crunch time? The answer is simple: JACK!
Year after year, Wizard fans continue to get JACKED! The team’s biggest flaws were defense, toughness, big men, and veteran experience. And when the Wiz have a chance to wheel and deal during the draft (possibly picking up someone with a number 11 pick) we pick up other teams’ trash in their attempt to land Lebron James. Just like the Wiz were responsible for the Lakers acquiring Pau Gasol (through a three-way trade with Memphis, the Wiz, and LA), I have a bad feeling that the Wiz will be responsible for the Bulls picking up Lebron James.
The whole Wiz squad is as soft as the Smurfs at a picnic and to fix that, they pick up Kirk Heinrich from the Bulls and Yi from the Nets. I don’t see the sense in these moves being that we will have no toughness inside especially with the addition of Yi and now we have six PGs. That’s right, SIX PGs (Foye, Livingston, Boykins, Heinrich, Arenas, Wall)! What ever happened to adding depth to your team?
So far, it’s the same antics from the Wiz. I’m excited for the pick of John Wall, no doubt, but one man will not lead the Wiz to the promise land. I’m not an insane person, so I’m not going to keep hoping that things will get better fo
r the Wiz when the management keeps doing the same thing every year.
I’m happy for now, but once the season starts I have a feeling I’m going to be shaking my head in anguish for the next ten years. In the meantime, I will be cheering for a team that knows how to manage and scout, the Thunder, while the LA Lakers continue to dominate every aspect of the game.
For the Lakers, Kobe played the way he was supposed to. As Marc Jackson would say, “Mama, there goes that man!” And that man went anywhere and everywhere he wanted shooting 10 of 22 for 30 points. Kobe also made it to the line 10 times and dished out 6 assists and 7 rebounds. That’s a pretty good all-around game for him.
The dark horse, Ron Artest, also came up big in game one with 15 points, 2 steals, and some much needed toughness. The defense was not there the whole time, but the Lakers stepped it up when they needed to. A bad sign for the Celtics is that all four starters for the Celtics scored in double digits (except Perkins who was close, with eight) and even the bench for the C’s contributed 16, behind Rasheed’s 9. If the Celtics played this well and still lost, they may be in for some trouble. The Raison D’Etat for the Lakers’ big win was physicality. Hmmm, what happened to all that tough talk from the Celtics?
Limiting the C’s to a halfcourt offense and making Rondo walk the ball up the court will also give the Lakers an advantage when it comes to dictating the flow of the game. The slower the game is for the Lakers, the better.
Game 2, Rondo was more assertive and comfortable playing quality minutes. Patience, agressive drives and finesse defined Rondo in Game 2. After that up and under move on L.A.’s Bynum, it was apparent that Rondo was here to play. However, Game 2 was also the same story for KG. He was nonexistant. KG picked up two early fouls in the first five minutes being sent to the bench, again. In Game 1, KG had 16 points shooting 7 of 16, but he did a poor job boxing out and defending the Twin Towers (Gasol and Bynum). In Game 2, he was non-existant, shooting 2 of 5 for 6 points. But give KG a little credit because he knew he was in another one of his offensive funks, so he started getting others involved with his 6 assists for the game. When there is slack to be picked up, Ray Allen can do it. He did it by setting the tone of the game early, setting an NBA Finals record for most threes in a game (that’s eight) and 25 points before the half.
Rondo added in recording another triple double for the playoffs and hitting a key jumper with about 2:00 left in the game (and what about that Hakeem Olajuwon fake up and under on Adnrew Bynum?). Teams scout Rondo by playing off of him, daring him to shoot and we are all aware that his shot is suspect. But when his adrenaline gets going, he can get into the zone and knock down clutch shots like he did in Game 2.
Did someone say clutch? If so, Nate Robinson has to be trailing around here somewhere. When this guy gets into the game, he makes his minutes count. For a player that was traded in February and to not have been playing until Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Nate Robinson is a gift from the gods. Nate can also thrown in some confusion to the defense as was seen in Game 2 because with Rondo running the point, the defense plays under screens. When Nate is in, the defense has to choose to play up or under the screen, but Nate is a pure scorer, so this is no easy choice for a Laker defender. When the Lakers play under, Nate makes them pay. He can also get to the line and provide the C’s with explosive athleticism and emotional fortitude.
As for the Lakers, they were outrebounded and 10 assists below the Celtics with only 18 assists. Championship teams move the ball around, play hard defense, and move like a cohesive unit. The Lakers were a unit in Game 1. In Game 2, it became the Kobe Bryant Lakers as we have become all too familiar with. The Lakers won Game 1 because Kobe trusted his teammates and passed the ball before the double team came. Where was that trust in Game 2? Kobe was trying to do too much. Odom and Artest were struggling and Kobe should have seen that as veteran player with his kind of resume. Gasol and Bynum played great, establishing a force down low, but those points were off of offensive rebounds and “one-touches” in the post because of the Triangle Offense. Lakers also shot 40% from the field and a dismal 22% from three point range (5 of 22).
Poor defense, poor shooting, and a lack of trust kept the Lakers from winning Game 2. I’m sure this won’t be an issue for the next couple of games. The Lakers played a bad game and lost. The C’s played a good game in Game 1, but still lost. The Celtics can win if they play with more intensity and desire because they don’t have the youth, athletic ability, and length like the Lakers.
The urgency was there for the Celtics and from all personnel in Game 2. Doc Rivers jumping out onto the court to call a crucial timeout, one second before the Celtics would have received a backcourt violation was another tone setter from a coach who tries to keep his cool most of the time, but we all know he’s dying to keep his excitement contained during those times. And Glenn “Big Baby” Davis was laying his body out for loose balls every second he was on the court. Lakers can win if they just avoid bad games like in Game 2. They need to get more of their players involved in the game. So far, only a few Lakers get it going each game. Artest and Odom are the key factors for the Lakers. No one knows when they will be ready to play. And for the C’s, KG needs to be called the “Little Ticket” because the only show he’s taking his team to is the dollar movie while they’re playing reruns of the latest movie disaster.
I have been bogged down with so many errands the past couple of weeks I turned “being busy” into somewhat of a habit. I hardly watch TV or go out. Most of my time is spent outside commuting and riding my bike (I’ve actually been very “green” lately and proud). So last night, after a long commute, I turn on the TV and what do you know? The Celtics are playing the Lakers in Boston on ESPN! I quickly forgot about anything else that was going on at the moment, and was entranced, finding myself actually excited about NBA basketball (I haven’t been excited for professional basketball since the 1993 Dream Team and the “NBA on NBC”).
After realizing that I was watching this season’s earlier matchup between the two teams which would have been on the wrong channel, wrong time, wrong day, and wrong arena had the Finals actually been played yesterday, I knew that the NBA was making strides to become what is used to be: players who played tough, physical, and emotional basketball. Players who knew that a championship was on the line. Can anyone argue Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, and Kobe do not love what they do? Ladies and gentlemen, the NBA is back. 2010′s NBA Finals are going to be a sight to see. If you like rivalries, watching intellectual, athletic, and veteran professionals perform at their best and enjoy studying the genius of two proven coaches for two of the NBA’s most historic teams, you’re going to want to take out some time to watch this series.
Put all partisanship and historical regurgitation aside. Each teams is playing at the top of their game and are peaking at the right moment. That’s a lot more than what could have been said about last year’s finals. Check out the game tonight on ABC, 8CT.
It was only a little more than three years ago I was in the crowd at the State Fair Arena.
I was painted gold, head to toes. My friends were appropriately adorned in the same way.
It was the 2006 Class 2A Boys Oklahoma High School Basketball Championship game, and Blake Griffin was putting on a show.
Our school, Oklahoma Christian School, beat Washington 57-40 to win its third-straight state championship and fourth in five years. Blake would lead the team to its fourth-straight in 2007, but I was gone.
I graduated that May, a year before Blake and a year after his brother, Taylor.
Since then, my exposure to Blake has been limited to games on TV and a couple run-ins in various situations (outside the 2008 Bedlam women’s soccer game at OU being the most recent).
I never really understood he was famous. OCS is a small school where everybody pretty much knows everybody.
To me, it was still Blake, the kid I knew in high school who asked me how the soccer team was doing and with whom I shared a number (I wore 15 in soccer, he wore 15 in basketball).
Even as Blake destroyed teams in college and won the 2009 John Wooden Award, given annually to the nation’s best player, it never really registered.
Now it has.
Blake, I’ll give you a high five next time I see you.
That is, if you’re not too famous for me.
Wow. Did I grab your attention?
Yesterday The Oklahoman’s top sports writers told who they like in this year’s NBA Finals. Watch and read content here. But I think they are all wrong.
All five writers chose the Lakers in either five or six games, meaning they think the Magic will win only one–two at most–game in the series. And I don’t think that will happen.
If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Boston supposed to deal with Orlando in five? Or Cleveland. “The Chosen One.” Wasn’t Lebron supposed to easily hurdle over the minor roadblock that was the Magic?
The entire postseason people have been second-guessing the Magic. Even when they took a series lead against Boston, analysts and experts said the Celtics had their wake-up call and would respond by winning the series. Remember all the talk after Game 2 of the series with Cleveland? That RIDICULOUS 3-pointer Lebron hit to put the Magic away (on my birthday)? People said King James would take control of the series and Orlando’s magic run in the playoffs was over.
But here we are. Magic and Lakers. NBA Finals. Guess who is the underdog for the third straight series in the postseason?
But I think it’s OK. I’m glad the sports writers chose the Lakers. I don’t think the Magic would win it otherwise.
The thing about the Magic is that they play best when few believe in them. They’re the NBA’s “Cinderella” team. But anyone who’s seen them play cannot discount the fact that Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Rafer Alston, Mickael Pietrus and the rest have played ridiculously incredible basketball the last few weeks, even without Jameer Nelson.
They took the Boston series and won the conference title against Lebron and the Cavs while the Lakers limped through the playoffs, a meltdown game coming every two or three contests.
The whole time, as no one has believed in them, the Magic have been playing better and better and better. The Lakers, as everyone believes them destined to win, have been playing sloppy and lackadaisical basketball.
My point is that no one believes the Magic have a chance. That’s why MY prediction is Magic in six.