I was just thinking about how dumb the average person is when I realised that half the world is even dumber.

Fuck my life man.

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Olympic Observations: USA vs Tunisia

– Russell Westbrook is a blur in the open court. I’ve never seen a person get up the court so quickly.

– Kobe looks like he’s practising new moves and footwork. He looks like the least motivated Team USA player.

– At this level of play (and surely in most NBA games too) you can’t just lay it in. With long, athletic centres prowling the paint, you need to lay it in high off the glass, get it on the glass quickly to force goaltending or shoot a floater. Either that or throw it down hard, which not many (mostly white) Euro’s etc can do.

– When Russell Westbrook or Deron Williams decide to attack the rim, all you can do as a defender is hope they miss. They are too quick, strong and talented to be stopped.

– The USA defense is good, but Tunisia seem too intimidated to go to the rack and have just been passing it around the key and settling for a bad jumper late in the shot clock, if they get a shot off at all. They need to attack and make the defense work.

– The difference in athleticism between these teams is like the difference in heat between the sun and a block of ice.

– Lebron looks like a man among boys, even compared to his team mates.

– Seeing big men play on the perimeter annoys me as much as guards taking a defended three early in the shot clock. Euro teams seem to do both things frequently.

– I wonder if it hurts throwing down dunks as hard as the one Lebron just threw down on a fast break. Gotta sting the wrist a little.

– James Harden throws some of the best body fakes and misdirection dribbles on drives that I’ve ever seen.

– Playing against lesser opponents tends to drag your game down to their level. The US is proving that in this game. Up only nine with two to go in the half.

– Team USA’s size and quickness make the court look small.

– Chris Paul sees plays three steps ahead of everyone else.

Team USA will not be challenged by any team and should waltz to the gold medal. They’re too quick, strong and talented for any team to match them.

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Quick Hitters

  • I feel bad for Jeremy Lin, the Knicks second year point guard and biggest NBA story of the year, who has a torn meniscus and will be out for the year.  However, I don’t think it will impact the team chemistry or performance in any way.  Lin is a flash-in-the-pan, second year point guard who commits too many turnovers and plays lackadaisical D.  A team cannot win a championship with Lin starting at the 1.  I expect the NY offense to improve and the defence to stay about the same.  
  • This article, from Truehoop on ESPN, disagrees with my above point about Lin, but I still stand my ground.  For the few games during Linsanity that he played well, his performances helped the Knicks win some tight games against sub .500 teams.  Since opponent scouting and the level of competition stepped up, his talents fell back to the median and he has not helped the Knicks in enough ways to matter much in the upcoming Playoffs.
  • The Chicago Bulls need to resign Tom Thibodeau as soon as possible.  The coach himself, nor his players, seem overly concerned but when making a run towards the championship and with the Playoffs fast approaching, an organisation needs to do everything it can to minimise issues that may distract from the goal at hand.  Thibs is already one of the top 5 coaches in the league and with the impact he’s had on this franchise he deserves a lucrative long-term deal.  
  • Kobe Bryant says he’s tired in this article by Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA.  After scoring 11 points on 3-21 shooting against the lowly Hornets I believe him, though I disagree with Kobe’s statement that the Lakers issues in the regular season won’t matter as much in the Playoffs.  The biggest and most talked about issue for the Lakers this season has been about Kobe and his ball hog ways.  If he continues to take large volumes of shots even when they aren’t dropping, the Lakers won’t dump it inside enough and use their primary advantages of length and size.  I don’t expect Kobe to change and therefore can’t imagine Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum getting more touches, so I predict the Lakers will get sent home early once again.
  • The game between Louisville and Kentucky yesterday was the best game of college basketball I’ve ever seen with the best collection of college athletes I’ve ever seen on the floor at one time.  In saying that, both teams would go 0-82 if playing a season in the NBA.  Stan Van Gundy went up a notch in my books.
  • Basketball 101 – possible evidence that good defensive teams in the NBA force players to their weak hands and make them shoot pull-ups instead of getting to the rim.  Why bad defensive teams don’t have the basketball IQ to do this amazes me. The other side of this article – Russell Westbrook is very, very good.
  • The Lakers didn’t want to trade this guy for three time defensive player of the year and all-around good guy, Dwight Howard?
Posted in Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Quick Hitters | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

All-Time Guts & Glory Team

My father and I were arguing the other day about who we would pick for our all-time starting fives.  We agree on the 2 and 3 positions (Jordan and Bird, probably our two favourite players ever) but couldn’t come to an agreement regarding the 1,4 & 5 spots.  I’d take Stockton at the point, with Duncan at power forward and Olajuwon at centre.  He’d take Magic at point, Barkley at power forward and Bill Russell at centre.  If all players were in their peak, I would cut off my left leg to see that match-up.  Anyway, this discussion brought us to a similar one, in which we were discussing who we would select if our lives depended on the outcome of a game and we needed players who would put everything they had in to every single play to ensure a victory.  Players who would cut out their own mothers hearts to win.

Players like this guy (courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images)

After a few days of deliberation and deep thought, I have come up with my All-Time Guts & Glory Team.

  1. Isiah Thomas
  2. Michael Jordan
  3. Larry Bird
  4. Charles Barkley
  5. Bill Russell

Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Bill Russell need no explanation as it is common knowledge (for basketball fans at least) that they were the most competitive players at their positions, who won at the highest level and put their heart and soul in to every possession.  They are the kind of guys who would prefer a colonoscopy to losing a game, even if that game was tiddlywinks.  There is no-one in the history of the game who you could reasonably argue as players who would give more of themselves to win.  I’m happy entrusting my life to these guys.

Isiah Thomas and Charles Barkley probably need some justification, as they were most likely not front of mind in most fan’s minds.

Isiah was such a gutsy guy who wanted to win so badly he even risked his career for it.  Check this video out for proof.  He would cry in defeat due to the pain he felt and would cry after big victories (like the Finals) due to ecstasy.  I have never seen a point guard play with as much passion as Isiah.  He wanted to win and would do anything to do it.  Seriously, anyone his size crazy enough to throw a punch at 6’10, 240 pound bruiser Rick Mahorn can be entrusted with my life.

Charles Barkley was such a beast back in his day that he once dunked on Godzilla before walking off in to the sunset.  Listed at 6’6 but probably closer to 6’4, he was a chubby power forward, shorter than most guards, but still managed to become one of only four players in NBA history to compile 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists.  The others were Wilt, Russell and Karl Malone, all much taller than Charles.  Rebounds are all about hustle and desire, and even though Sir Charles was ridiculously under-sized, he averaged 11.6 rpg over the course of his career by out-hustling everyone.  Charles wanted the ball more than anyone because he wanted to win more than anyone.  This is the kind of guy I want to round out my Guts & Glory Team.

These aren’t necessarily the best players to ever play the game, nor the best possible starting five.  These are guys who, at their respective positions, wanted to win more than anyone else and were willing to do whatever it took to do it.  I want guys who will cheat (the first 10 seconds of this clip) to win if that’s what it takes.  All the players on my list have hearts bigger than Phar Lap and were compulsively driven to win at everything they did.  If I needed to win a game of basketball to save my life, these are the guys I’d call without hesitation.

If you can come up with a five who have more heart than mine, or you think I’ve made a mistake in one of my selections, please list them in the comments section below.

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Quick Hitters

  • The Miami Heat players and coaches are being scrutinized more than any team I’ve seen since maybe the Bulls in ’96.  Their recent performances, which have been average at best, and subsequent losses have left a few people wondering what they’re doing wrong.  Kevin Arnovitz at ESPN delves in to the issues in this in-depth article.  The biggest issue for me is the lack of creativity on the offensive end.  Too many one-on-one isolations and not enough picks, ball movement or sets.  Coach Spo, draw up some plays why don’t you? 
  • Mark Medina at the LA Times breaks down the Suns record-setting three-point shooting, which propelled them to victory against the Lakers.  He identifies a number of defensive lapses from LA but when a team with shooters like the Suns is that hot, no defense in the world is going to stop them.  
  • A unique interview with recent Laker addition, journey-man point guard Steve Blake.  An interesting tidbit – he’d rather be Robert Horry than Charles Barkley.  I think I would too. 
  • The Serge Ibaka vs Jeff Green debate has begun.  For a team that was lauded during the off-season as a grounded, cohesive unit, it’s got a lot of issues that need to be addressed.  I’d put Ibaka in the starting line-up to shore up the rebounding and defense and use Green as my offensive spark plug off the bench.  I’m not a coach, but because I watch a lot of television and write a blog, I feel like I know what I’m talking about. 
  • Allen Iverson played his first game for the Turkish club Besiktas Cola Turka.  With NBA team sponsorships being talked about in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement, we could one day be talking about the Sacramento Persian Carpet Kings versus the Golden State Viagra Warriors.
Posted in International Basketball, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, Quick Hitters | Leave a comment

The Terminator & Great Point Guards – More in Common Than You’d Ever Imagine

Through the eyes of the Terminator we get a visual of the calculations and analysis involved in reading and assessing a situation. This is how I imagine Steve Nash sees the fast-break.

I’ve just finished reading a fantastic article written by Tom Farrey at ESPN, which focuses on Ricky Rubio’s court vision and reminded me of the Terminator 2.  Head over to Outside the Lines to read the article.  Below is a sample for those of you too lazy to read the whole thing:

“For starters, there’s the movement *of four teammates to consider, each of whom has 14 body segments — right and left feet, lower legs, thighs, trunk, head, upper arms, forearms, hands — and each of those segments has its own linear position, velocity and acceleration, according to Peter Vint, a sports scientist with the U.S. Olympic Committee. Each of those 252 “parameters” per athlete counts toward making him a candidate to receive a pass.

Now throw in the five defensive players trying to stop a score, plus Rubio himself, and the numbers grow significantly. Also there’s the ball, which has its own movement characteristics Rubio must consider and control as he dribbles through traffic. “So, in total, if you include Ricky paying attention to himself and everything else, there are approximately, 10*(9+252)+1*11 = 2,621 parameters related just to the position and motion of the other players and the ball at every instant in time,” Vint wrote in an e-mail to “Outside the Lines.”

You don’t have to understand the math to appreciate where Vint is headed. “If an average sequence up and down the floor lasts 10 seconds,” he wrote, “and if Ricky samples [collects] the available data just twice every second, the number of ‘data points’ in the entire sequence becomes 2,621*10*2 = 54,420.” Yeah, 54,000-plus pieces of information to download, with plenty of time left on the shot clock.

Incredible!  I highly recomend you read the entire article. 

A computer processes information in a similar way to a human brain.  The faster the processor, the faster the computer can analyze the information and come to a decision.  A brain is like the best computer on the planet, jacked up on steroids and multiplied by 1,000,000,000.  It doesn’t suprise me in the least that the best point guards have the ability, like the Terminator, to process large amounts of information quickly, analyze it and make the best decision possible.  The more intelligent a person is, the faster they would be able to process information.  Just like the best computers run better than lesser models, the most intelligent players play better than dumb players.   

I’ve always felt that great point guards like Bob Cousy, John Stockton and Steve Nash were more intelligent than the other players on the court.  They have/had an almost supernatural ability to make pin-point passes to the right player, in the right spot, without even looking and while on the run.  They know/knew where every player on the court is/was and where they are/were headed as well as what their own movement could do to shift the defense or cause a change in the offense spacing.  Please excuse the excessive past/present notes.  I should have just picked all present day players to make writing those sentences easier.  Seriously, that was confusing and you probably hate me now.  Anyway, I had the following discussion with my father the other day.  How do small, slow, white guys (like all of the above) play in the League at such a high level?  Surely there’s something which gives them a special advantage to make up for their impairements?  Dad, I think we found the answer.

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Keep Your Eyes On…

As mentioned in the below post, I am required to be selective in my NBA viewing this year due to a commitment called life.  I already posted the list of teams I’ve decided to follow on League Pass and by viewing these teams work their way through an 82 game schedule, I will get the opportunity to see all the teams who didn’t make my list.  As this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting, deep and competitive seasons in a very long time, I am still mildly intrigued to see the rest of these teams play.  Therefore, I’m including the entire League in the following list which outlines what I feel is necessary for them to be competitive and therefore what I’ll be focusing on when viewing them. To find out what you should keep your eyes on this season Continue reading

Posted in 2010/2011 Season Preview, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76'ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards | Leave a comment