November 2003 - Posts
Been kind of a bummer year for sports fans in Chicago. Granted, the Cubs breathed a breath of excitement and hope into every Chicagoans heart, but that excitement ended predictably as the Cubs melted down at the end of Game 6 and then throughout the last eight innings in Game 7. The Bears are off to their usual 4-7 start, and now this: the Bulls are restructuring. Again.
Yes, the Bulls have decided to not only give up on their coach, but to also give up on Jalen Rose, Lonny Baxter, and Donyell Marshall. In return, the Raptors are letting go of Antonio Davis, Jerome Williams, and Chris Jefferies.
Now, I'm not saying that Rose, Baxter, or Marshall are the cornerstones to building a championship fanchise, but you need to form some sort of consisten nucleus in order to have any chance at even hoping to get into the playoffs. For an example of a solid nucleus, look no further than the... Chicago Bulls of the 1990s. In each of their two three-peats, the Bulls kept the same core players. In the first three-peat, many of those core players had been there for several years prior to the championship run.
I guess the Bulls are pinning their hopes on Chandler and Curry as the core nucleus, and are trying to fill in role players. Who knows, though. A few more winning seasons and those two guys may be history as well.
Tomorrow night the Lakers take on the Pacers, who, at 14-2, currently have the NBA's best record. Then, on Wednesday they play the Spurs (again) and then the Mavs on Thursday. These three teams combine for 33 wins and only 15 losses. Should be some great basketball! I am most worried about the Thursday game against the Mavs. While the Lakers handled the Mavs well on opening night, the Lakers have shown trouble in winning the second game of back-to-back games. With the old legs of Malone and Payton, and the still not 100% Shaq and Kobe, it will be tough to have to play the run and gun Mavs on the second night.
Unless, of course, the Lakers blow out the Spurs (their Wednesday opponent) again. Did you see the Lakers decimation of the Spurs on Friday? For the vast majority of the second half of the game, the Lakers had a 20 point lead, at times as big as 30. Karl had a tripple-double (first 40+ year old player to do this in the history of the NBA). Devon George was on fire. Even Rush got in on the fun and scored 11. The great news was that the Lakers were able to limit Shaq's playing time to let his injuries heal a bit heading into this tough week. Too, Malone and Payton got some serious pine time.
The Lakers are looking impressive this year. They have so many offensive options now with Gary at the point. Malone is the best big man passer the Lakers have had in years. (Being such a good passer, pick/screen-setter, and rebounder, why oh why does Malone have to shoot those 18 foot jump shots? Seriously, why can't he adopt a Rodman-like quality, and just resign himself to never shooting the ball unless he's under the basket?) And Fisher makes a stellar sixth man. Hopefully Fox will be able to come back strong in early 2004 and make an impact. With Fox, the Lakers second unit will be:
- Ho Grant
- Rick Fox
- Bryon Russell
- Derek Fisher
That's on par with the starting five of many Eastern conference teams! Go Lakers!
On Monday Chicago Bull's coach Bill Cartwright was fired. At the time the Bulls had a poor 4-10 record. This year was supposed to be different. Coach Floyd was long gone (now coaching the Hornets who are a measley 10-5 - if he doesn't watch it he'll outpace his total number of wins as a Bull coach before the All-Star break), the Bulls's had some upcoming young stars maturing - Chandler, Curry, Jay Williams - and some seasoned players who, while not stars, could make nightly contributions - Rose, Pippen, Marshall.
But 4-10 was not where the Bulls expected to be. Williams's offseason injury is partly to blame, as are Chandler's back and Pippen's knees. But is Coach Cartwight to blame? Well, G.M. Jim Paxson thought so:
The team is underperforming and we have to find ways to win, period. I am not satisfied with the team's start this season and changes have to be made. This represents the first change, but not necessarily the last.
Well, after tonight's 26 point drubbing by Dallas
, it appears Cartwright alone wasn't to blame. I don't follow the Bulls closely anymore (stopped after the meltdown of the 6-peat dynasty), so I can't exactly say what the problem is. But I think it has to do with youth, injuries, and players not playing well together. I think it has to do with too much restructuring over too short a time.
It seems many G.M.s these days are too quick to trade and release players. Certain teams, such as the Bulls and other teams with not so hot winning percentages, seem confident to have a new team nucleus every two to four years. That's no way to have a winning season. Who knows, perhaps Dallas could have had a title by now had Cuban been content to stick with his core players from a few years back, rather than having a blockbuster trade or free-agent signing each offseason.
I wonder how many coaching firings we'll witness this year. Doc Rivers is gone from the Magic (although I wouldn't be surprised to see him coaching again next year, if not sooner); Cartwright exited just yesterday; who knows what Byron Scott's future holds. Firing a coach mid-season is a desperation move, and rarely, if ever, results in any significant turn-around.
Well, looks like Alonzo Mourning might not have been the best pick after all for the New Jersey Nets. After a few months playing for the Nets, Alonzo is retiring due to kidney problems, the same problems that sidelined him in Miami. According to this ESPN article, it looks like Zo can no longer play basketball and will need a kidney replacement. Bummer.
While this is definitely bad news for Alonzo and his family, one has to wonder about the Nets taking Zo in the off-season. The Nets, for one reason or another, don't seem to mind to roll the dice on old, injured centers. They took Mutombo last year, when the rumors were that he was years past being able to make an impact. And, not surprisingly, Dikembe didn't do much, if anything, for the Nets last year and was promptly released at season's end. When the Nets picked up Zo I thought to myself what a mistake they were making, just asking for another ailing big man. Magic fans, keep your hopes alive! With the Nets current progress I wouldn't be surprised to see them offer some sort of trade for chronically-hobbled Grant Hill.
NBAWebLog.com has been configured to support multiple bloggers. That means that you can now have your own NBA-focused blog! It is, of course, free for the asking. Just contact me and let me know that you're interested in having your own NBA blog and I'll setup everything on my end.
All I need from you are the following pieces of information:
- What you'd like your blog's title to be (like, “Nate's Nuggets Notes“)
- How you'd like your name to appear in the blog (like, “Nate 'Nugget Lover'“)
- What team(s) you plan on talking about primarily, if any (like the Denver Nuggets)
That's all there is to it! Once I create the blog you'll have access to an administration page where you can add blog entries, picture galleries, links to your favorite Web sites and blogs, and so on and so forth.
There are 29 NBA teams. In 2000, there were 29 US cities with a population of 500,000 or more. Only a handful of these 29 largest cities don't have an NBA team, and most of the cities that don't are geographically close to those that do. Ft. Worth, Texas, for example, with its population of 535,000, does not have an NBA team but its adjoining city Dallas does.
There appear to be only two cities in the top 29 US cities population-wise that don't have an NBA team:
- Oklahoma City
- San Diego
Now, Oklahoma City is the 29th largest city, with a mere population of 507,000. Too, it's in the Midwest, smack in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmland. If you've ever been to Oklahoma, you will likely agree that Oklahoma is not a cultural center. Folks there like football. I don't think the likes of Ricky Davis and LeBron James would go over well in Oklahoma City.
I am utterly perplexed, though, as to why San Diego doesn't have an NBA team. San Diego is the 7th largest city in the US, with a population well over 1.2 million. Granted, L.A. has two teams, but the Staples Center - with absolutely no traffic - is still a 2.5 hour trek from San Diego. With traffic, it can easily take close to four hours. One way. So why is it that San Diego remains teamless?
San Diego hasn't always been cursed to not have a team. In fact, the L.A. Clippers use to be the San Diego Clippers from 1970 through 1984. The team name, Clipper, refers to a ship, as San Diego's harbor has been a harbor for Clipper ships. Here's some interesting San Diego Clipper history I picked up from http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nba/sdclips/sdclippers.html:
- In 1979, Bill Walton was a San Diego Clipper. This was big news, as Bill grew up in San Diego (and still lives here). However, injuries limited his playing time severely.
- Current Cavaliers coach Paul Silas was the San Diego Clippers head coach starting in 1980.
- Current Nets coach and former L.A. Laker Byron Scott started his NBA career with the San Diego Clippers.
San Diego was eventually moved to L.A. by its owner due to poor attendance (averaging slightly over 4,000 tickets sold per game). Today, though, I think San Diego could support an NBA team. I think the big problem in attracting a team here is two-fold: first, L.A. is relatively nearby, and it already has two teams; second, San Diego doesn't have an NBA-worthy arena. The only arena here is the San Diego Sports Arena, which holds fewer than 13,000 spectators. Plus, the building is old and ugly, parking is not ample, and getting in and out of the complex is frustrating because there's arena is situated with a river on one side of it and dead-end side streets on its other two sides, leaving only one road for entry and exit.
Regardless, I think if towns like Cleveland (pop. 478,000), Charlotte (pop. 541,000), New Orleans (pop. 485,000), Sacramento (pop. 408,000), Oakland (pop. 400,000), Minneapolis (pop. 383,000), and Miami (pop. 363,000) get to have teams, then San Diego (pop. 1,250,000) utterly deserves to have a team. Are you listening Mr. Stern?
I got an email the other day from one of the handful of people who read this blog. Anywho, this reader was wondering if I would consider converting this blog from an individual blog into a blog site. That is, it would be a site that many people could host their NBA-related blogs from (like Blogger).
This is (supposedly) an easy thing to do with the software running this blog (.Text, in case you're interested), my only concern is that no one, or just a couple people, will take me up on the offer. I don't know if anyone reads this blog of mine, save for TJ, and he already has his own blog (http://www.orlandomagicfan.com/).
So, if you are reading this blog, and would be interested in having your own NBA blog on this site - like http://nbaweblog.com/yourNameHere - let me know by either contacting me or (ideally) by posting a comment to this blog entry.
This is the sort of question all sports fans ask themselves at one time, regardless of what sport is their passion. Such a question is fun to ponder, especially in a group of guys whose ages vary quite a bit. The younger guys will swear nobody could take Kobe - or AI, or T-Mac - 1-on-1, while the middle-aged guys will likely talk about Jordan, Magic, Isaih, and Bird, and the real ol' timers will long for the days of Russell, Wilt, Oscar Robinson, Jerry West, and the like.
Well, one statistician, Eliott Kalb, has put his years of mathematics experience into deducing that writing a book that claimed it could objectively determine the best NBA player of all time through sheer statistical analysis would make massive profits, leading to a bungalo in Hawaii and a servant girl to bring him mixed drinks. You see, Mr. Kalb has written a book - Who's Better, Who's Best? in Basketball : Mr Stats Sets the Record Straight on the Top 50 NBA Players of All Time - which statically rates past NBA players on a scale, from the all-time best on down. (While Mr. Kalb - or Mr. Stats, as he prefers to be called - is one helluva statistician, he's not the most succinct individual, at least when it comes to choosing book titles.)
In any event, Jack McCallum has given a good writeup of Mr. Kalb's book in his article Basketball's Best: Ranking the Greatest NBA Players of All Time is No Easy Task. Mr Kalb's top ratings, as reported by Mr. McCallum, are:
- Shaq (yes! He was rated as the best player of all freakin' time! Already, I am questioning Mr. Kalb's methodology...)
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Michael Jordan
- Bill Russell
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Larry Bird
Mr. McCallum contests Mr. Kalb's thesis that Shaq is the best NBA player of all time, making a good case for MJ being the all-time best. And you know what? I couldn't agree more. I cannot fathom how Michael Jordan could be rated below Shaq. Yes, Shaq has the body and size to make him the most physically dominant player in his generation, if not ever, but Shaq lacks the passion, drive, and wisdom players like Michael, Larry, Magic, and others displayed on a consistent basis.
Have you ever heard Shaq say, in a last-second chance to win a game, “Give me the ball?” No, Shaq sits on the bench because he would get fouled immediately if the ball got in his hands. When I look at Shaq and watch him play I don't see a leader. When I watched MJ play, he lead. Even in Washington, he led when, perhaps, he shouldn't have. MJ's a born leader, Shaq is not. Nothing wrong with that, but I don't think a non-leader can be considered the best player of all time, because leaders are the ones who put their team on their back and win games and win championships.
And for physical prowress, don't forget Jordan was quite the phenom prior to his first retirement (as I'm sure Ewing will atest to ). Who could forget his stellar appearances in the slam dunk contests, or his dunking over various big men, like Ewing, Mutombo, and others? And let's not forget his assorted acrobatic shots, where he seemingly hung in the air for an eternity as those who lept up with him fell back to earth.
Shaq? The best ever? Hardly.
In checking out The End Of The Bench this morning I saw that there is another article from everyone's favorite NBA couple - Doug and Jackie Christie. This is the infamous NBA couple that travels on the team bus together; that flash hand signals professing their love to one another mid-game. (Over 60 signals per game in some instances.) This is the same couple who openly professes that their love is so deep that Doug can't look at another woman for more than a few seconds without having to turn away, so that he can stay true to his wife.
Yes, there's a new article about this lovely couple - Truly Committed. This article looks at a law suit being filed against the Christies from a female employee who claims she was fired because Doug was uncomfortable having her around. Truly Committed details some of the Christies' “eccentricities,” such as their in-game hand signals, Jackie's travels with the team, what these two crazy kids do for fun while on the road, and other interesting tidbits.
The best/scariest part of this article? Doug's quote: “If you could feel as good as I feel to be whipped, you'd be whipped, too.”
Somehow, I think not.
You might remember the Fox/Christie altercation that occurred in last year's preseason game between the Lakers and Kings? What you might have forgotten was that Fox was attacked by Jackie Christie after Fox hunted down Christie off the court. She's serious about proteting her man. Yes, Doug may be 6'6”, and tip the scales over 200 lbs., but he's not afraid to cry. Or to let his wife save his butt in a fight.
For more great info on Doug and his wife, be sure to check out the article that started this whole interesting conversation: The Great Whipped Hope. Best line from this article:
"I just felt I needed to protect my territory in the beginning," Jackie said. "So I had a lot of issues. I have a jealous bone in my body, yes. It's probably as big as me. I'm very easygoing until I feel a threat."
She added: "Doug is allowed to look at females. I would prefer he didn't."
Also worth reading is this Bill Simmons article (scroll down to the “What's the Story with Doug Christie?“ section).
LeBron is not the next MJ. He's not going to compete with the likes of Kobe or T-Mac. Rather, LeBron is going to be just like Magic Johnson. Scoring 20 or so points, banging for about 10 rebounds, and dishing out 8 or 9 assists on a nightly basis.
As if the LeBron hype hasn't already reached epic proportions, ESPN has created the LeBron Line, where you can compare LeBron's current year stats with the rookie year stats of other Rookies of the Year and other greats.
Clearly he's no MJ. Even though LeBron's team is about as bad as the Bulls MJ joined, MJ averaged near 30 points a game (and shot 51.5% from the field!). Comparing LeBron's output as of the time of this posting with Magic Johnson's rookie year stats is eeriely similar to say the least:
Lebron Projected Season Stats
Johnson 1979-80 Totals
Granted, Magic shot nearly 10% better than LeBron from the floor, but Magic had four years of practice playing at Michigan State. But the PPG, RPB, and APG stats are nearly identical, as you can see.
It's a real shame LeBron wasn't put on a contending team, much like Magic was his rookie season. (Remember, the Lakers won it all in Magic's first year in the pros.) I think it's safe to say that LeBron would have better numbers if instead of Ilgaukus and Boozer he had the likes of Kareem and James Worthy.
The main thing LeBron needs to work on, IMHO, is his shooting. Compared to the past greats, his shooting percentage is in the shitter. But what do you expect? Most of these greats had up to four years more playing time and experience than LeBron. Should be fun to watch him mature as a player.
Hey, I wrote a little Web service that gets the NBA standings every few hours from NBA.com. If you have no idea what a Web service is, don't worry, you can add up-to-the-hour stands (identical to the ones shown to the right), by just adding the following HTML markup to your blog somewhere:
<IFRAME width="170" height="900" marginWidth=0 marginHeight=0 src="/nba/standings.aspx" frameBorder=0 width=170 scrolling=no height=900></IFRAME>
I apologize, but this blog software won't let me post HTML content very well... you need to set the
src attribute to
That's all you need to do! If you're familiar with Web services, and know how to build a client to consume a Web service, you can access the service at http://nbaweblog.com/nba/Standings.asmx. The Web service exposes a single method,
GetStandings(), which takes a single input parameter of type
ConferenceEnum (which has values
Western). The method returns a collection of teams, ordered by their conference standings, with the team's name, number of wins, and number of loses as programmatically-accessible properties.
Enjoy! (If you have any questions on getting the standings display working, let me know...)
Read an interest article on ESPN this morning this morning - Who Holds the Key? In it, a number of NBA commentators discuss who they think holds the key to the Lakers success or failures this season. Is it going to be Gary or Karl that brings this team down, demanding the ball more? Are Kobe's legal troubles going to define the success of failure this team might have? Or is it Shaq's conditioning and the Kobe/Shaq dynamic that's going to make or break the Lakers's season?
My take - all of the above. I think for the Lakers to win it all everyone will need to be on the same page and everyone's desire will need to be on a similar plane. Kobe will need to stay out of jail, obviously, and the Lakers will need to stay focused and injury-free.
If nothing else, this season promises to be a very interesting one for the Lakers and their fans, both on and off the court.
Tonight's game: Lakers v. Hornets, in New Orleans. The Hornets are off to a good start this season (4-1) and without Mashburn. Speaking of Mashburn, is there anyone who is more injury prone? The only players I can think of off the top of my head that hold such a dubious distinction are Grant Hill and Vince Carter. It's so interesting how some players, like Stockton and Malone, can blast through a combined 40 or so years of relatively injury-free existence, where as players like Mashburn, Hill, and Carter can't seem to last a solid week. In any event, it must be nice for Coach Floyd to finally be winning some games. At his current pace with the Hornets, he'll likely surpass his total number of wins he had in three season with the Bulls by mid-January.
Ratchet up another win for the Lakers, although this win was an ugly one. Two overtimes against a hobbled San Antonio Spurs team with no Duncan and no Tony Parker. And it still took two overtimes. And that 2nd overtime was a close one itself, with Horry hitting a big three to tie it up late. Had the Spurs gone on to win it, that would have been some nice poetic justice, eh?
This is going to be a nerve racking season if Karl insists on continuing to shoot so often. He's playing well in every other category - he has four double-doubles in the Lakers first five games, but his field goal percentage is a nudge above 40%, and against the Spurs he was near 33%. Karl should focus on taking his shots only when running the floor, or when he has good position down low. Forget these 16-19 foot jump shots he likes taking. What is nice, though, are his rebounding numbers. He's averaging 11.6 rebounds per game so far in the season. Still very early in the season, but that's almost double Horry's output from last season, and almost better than Walker and Horry's averages from last season combined!
Payton shoots too often for my liking too, he is the only starter with a worse field goal percentage than Malone. I just wish these two new guys could defer scoring responsibilities to the Diesal and Kobe. Let Gary play defense, let Gary bring the ball up and penetrate, let Karl get the rebounds (19 tonight before fouling out!), but let Shaq and Kobe score. They do it so much better.
Can the Lakers win 72 or more? They're just 67 wins away.
In all seriousness, I doubt it, and for reasons like tonight's game. Yes, the Lakers did win tonight, and, yes, there will be off-nights, but the Lakers are not showing the heart of a true champion by coming out soft against an injured Spurs team, the same team that put the Lakers out of contention for the championship just five months ago!
Here's my challenge to the Lakers - win big, play strong, dominate, show no mercy. Do this, and I will have faith that 72 wins or more are possible. Since I'm certain many Lakers players read my blog daily, and since I'm sure the last thing any of these guys want to do is let down a fan, I'm expecting some solid results in response to my challenge.
Now go beat those Hornets!
This game would have definitely been an exciting event, had the Spurs starting lineup decided not to get injured all at once. Tim Duncan recently injured his ankle and is out for 1-3 weeks. Parker's still injured and hasn't played at all this season... David Robinson has retired.... Given all of this, tonight's game is just like last year's WSCFs except the Lakers have added Payton and Malone, and the Spurs are without Duncan, Robinson, and Parker. <sarcasm>Should be an exciting, close game.</sarcasm>
Sadly, it might be a close game, the Lakers (at least the Lakers of the last two years), seemed to never get motivated to win the gimmie games. I can't imagine why this could be the case, perhaps Shaq and Kobe aren't being paid enough to compete all 82 games? In any event, I will be very pleased if the Lakers come out tonight and squash the Spurs - like a good 25 point drubbing. If the game comes down to the final seconds or, heaven forbid, the Lakers lose this one, well... perhaps the Lakers, for their four impressive wins thus far, have been given too much credit. We shall see.
Unfortunately I won't be able to watch the game tonight, am teaching a class from 5:30-10:00 pm. I won't mind missing the game if it was an utter blowout, so come on boys, let's run these guys out of town!
When I heard about Karl and Gary coming to the Lakers during this year's exciting offseason, I thought to myself, Karl is good, an upgrade from Horry, Grant, Walker, and virtually all of the Laker power forwards of the last 10 years, but he's no longer the MVP he was in '98. I still feel the same way. When watching the Lakers play I cringe when Karl hoists up one of those 17 foot jump shots from the top of the key. (Of course, I cringe when I see Payton throwing up one of those 3-pointers, or when I see Russells shooting form - ick!) Back in his glory days, the Mailman was a force to reckon with in the paint. At this point in his career, though, he has relinquished the paint to the next generation. What Malone does definitely bring to this team, though, is one of the better passing big-men, and a big man who'll run the floor on the fast break 100% of the time. Plus Karl is one of the few NBA players who has a body that seems invincible to injury.
I really like watching Payton do his thing, it's nice to see a guy who can create his own shot running the floor, a guy who likes the fast break. Kobe has a nice shot, great around the basket skills, but isn't the natural ball handler Payton is. Fischer, too, is not bad, but he doesn't have Gary's handles or defensive prowress. Gary, though, sometimes a little quick to shoot on those open long-range shots. I don't care if he's wide open, his outside shot is nothing to fear, unless you're a Laker fan.
Too, I like seeing Fischer coming off the bench. Like Van Excel in Dallas last season, Fischer - who was never an A-list starting point guard - is a great 6th-man point guard. While it's too early in the season for this comparison to really be valid, he is averaging more than 2 points per game and shooting over 6% better from the floor in this season's first three games than in last season - and he's managing this playing an average of 7.5 minutes less per game.
Finally, can I get a shout out for Ho Grant? He doesn't get many touches, but I think he is head and shoulders better than the Laker's reserve PF last season, Samaki Walker. Living in Chicago during the Bulls first three championships, I remember how much ire Grant drew when he departed the Bulls after Championship #3 to go to the Magic, especially when the Magic beat the Bulls in the playoffs that year when Jordan had returned mid-season.
4 wins down, 78 to go! Go Lakers!