November 2004 - Posts

This is in response to recker17's blog entry, In Response to Scott, which was in response to a comment of mine in recker17's blog entry Pacers-Pistons Brawl.

recker17, do you really, honestly think that Artest lying on the scorer's table is anything but inciteful?  If he needed to cool down, to get away from Big Ben, why not just walk the other direction?  Why not take a seat at the Pacer's bench?  Why not just go stand under the basket, or just turn his back?  He stretched out on the scorer's table; he put on an announcer's headphones.  He was trying to infuriate Ben Wallace further.  It would be like if your brother was trying to pick a fight with you and your mom was scolding him, and while she was scolding him you were making faces at him.  His actions were immature and intended to elicit a response.

Of course, his actions do not excuse fans throwing things at him, that was totally deplorable.  But the ideal way to handle this would be to point out the offender to security and let them handle it.  What you should not do is fly off the handle and attack random folks in the stands.

Yes, Artest is talented.  He's one of the top 25 NBA players out there, IMO.  But he's #1 on the crazy level.  The dude does have anger management issues, and if he can't control those (which he obviously couldn't in Detroit last Friday), then he does not deserve to play in the league.  If you want to be in the NBA you need to abide by its rules, and a core rule is no running into the stands and beating on random, innocent fans!

Posted by Scott

In my last blog entry I predicted suspensions for the players involved in Friday night's fracas in Detroit:

  • Artest and Jackson I said I wouldn't be surprised if they were suspended for the entire season, and at least for a month or more.
  • For O'Neal I predicted a 10-15 game suspension.
  • For Ben Wallace, whose hard shove to Artest started the whole unfortunately chain of events, I predicted 8-10 games.

Well, the word has come down from the mount today, and here are the results:

  • Artest for the rest of the season
  • Jackson for 30 games (won't see PT until January 22, 2005)
  • O'Neal for 25 games (won't see PT until Janurary 14, 2005)
  • Wallace for 6 games

Pretty harsh penalties, Stern & crew are trying desperately to send a clear and consistent message: scare the fans and be prepared to ride the pine.  And this is a good message to send the players - it is the fans, after all, who pay their astronomically high salaries.  They're the ones buying the tickets, buying the jerseys, watching the games on TV, drinking the sports drinks these players pimp, and so on.  Yes, professional atheletes have to endure quite a bit from hostile, away-court fans, but this is part of the game.  These NBA players put up with it (or they should put up with it) because they are being paid to do just that.  I mean, if these guys were getting less than what they'd get at a regular 9-5 job, then who'd want this career?  But they're getting paid millions.  If they can't handle some verbal abuse, they're in the wrong profession.

So the Christmas matchup between the Pacers and Pistons will be somewhat anticlimactic, seeing as the Pacers will be without Artest, Jackson, or O'Neal, the three fist-throwers from Friday night's brawl.  Riddled with injuries, it will be interesting to see how the Pacers proceed through the next couple of months.  They played with a six man rotation last night and nearly toppled Orlando thanks to superior play from Fred Jones.  It'll be interesting to see if they pick up some currently unsigned free agents or try to roll with  diminuitive roster.  In either case this team, that's currently sitting a 7-3 atop the Central Division, has a challenging road ahead of them.

One last link before I go... there's an official Timeline of the Pistons-Pacers Brawl for those who are interesting a (forgive the term) blow-by-blow account of the evening's events.

Posted by Scott

I was running some errands this morning and saw a picture of Artest on the cover of the L.A. Times, his jersey stretched out like he had been in a fight.  “Damn,” I thought, “looks like Artest went crazy again, maybe he needed a suspension for some more time on his album.”  When I got back, I hit ESPN.com's NBA page and found out just how excitingly terrifying that brawl had been.  What an insane fight.  Here is my analysis, and what I think will come of all of this.

First, the hard foul on Ben Wallace from Artest was, perhaps, a bit over the top.  There was less than a minute left in the game with the Pacers well ahead.  I know they had been bringing it to Ben all night, and this was just a continuation of that, but I could see how Ben's frustrations would have boiled over, seeing as his team had lost the game and he had been manhandled throughout the 48 minutes.  So Artest was sending a message: “Each time you come out, I'm gonna defend you and play hard, so get used to it.”  I can see Ben's reaction, though.  It's like on the courts I play at, if it's point all, no one complains about a hard foul.  But if you're losing 12 to 3, and a guy beats you for a layup that will win the game, and you clobber him, he's gonna be pissed off and get up in your face.

Ben's reaction was a bit strong, though.  A shove is one thing, but a shove to the face is another.  Perhaps he was just letting off steam, or maybe he was hoping Artest would respond, and get suspended for much longer.  But Artest played it cool, did the right thing.  He backed off, figuring he'd have the last laugh - Ben would get suspended and the Pacers had the W.  He did take it a bit too far when he laid down on the scorer's table, though, and I think that's what prompted the fan to chuck his drink at Artest.  Regardless, the fan shouldn't have thrown a drink, even if Artest had decided to moon the crowd.

Once that drink was thrown, Artest overreacted.  When a fan throws something, the smart athelete gets to center court, or goes back to the lockerroom.  Like in the ALCS, when the Yankee fans started throwing beers on the field after Alex Rodriguez's karate chop on the way to first was ruled an out, the Sox manager rounded up his players from the field and had them come in.  You can't let a fan in the crowd provoke you, because you should know that the League is going to come down on you so hard if you go into the stands.  (Vernon Maxwell's charge into the stands in '95 cost him 10 games (~12% of the season) and $20k.)  Plus, getting hit with a plastic bottle might hurt, but it's not going to injure you or kill you.  Now if a fan's throwing Chinese stars, sure, defend yourself, or get the hell out of the way, but a drink?  Retreat, calm down, and think.

And so Artest treks up in the stands, and the look on that white guy's face is prescious.  Here's a 5'9”, 155 lb. white guy, seeing this 6'7”, 247 lb. black guy running up to him.  If I were that white guy, I think it would be about then that I'd crap my pants.  What's hilarious is that (supposedly), Artest got the wrong guy.  If everything had ended there, I don't think Artest would get more than a 10 game suspension, but it escaled when Stephen Jackson ran into the stands behind Artest and threw a punch.  Punching a person who's (indirectly) paying your salary is not a smart thing to do.  I have no idea why Jackson went up with Artest and threw a punch, and I think he's going to get some serious pine time.

At this point, Artest probably could have walked away with a suspension lasting only a few games.  But, no, he had to elevate it from crazy to “Artest-crazy.”  As Artest was walking back toward his bench, a fan that had come onto the floor stood between him and the bench and, likely, made some jarring remark.  The smart thing for Artest to do would have been to ignore the fan, or even just push him lightly away.  (I mean, Artest has a good 10 inches and 60 pounds on this guy.)  But no, what does Artest do?  He winds up - you can see it, he freakin' steps back pulls his fist back - and then clocks this guy.  Oh crap.  We have now lost sanity.  And if that's not sufficiently insane, Jermain O'Neal decided to get in on the action, flying in from stage right to deliver a more devestating punch to another fan who had meandered onto the court.

What a crazy series of events.  The questions now are:

  1. What actions will be taken against the players who are (currently) suspended indefinitely? (Ben Wallace, Artest, Jackson, and O'Neal.)
  2. What actions will be taken against the fans who either threw items onto the court/players, or went onto the court?
  3. How will this incident affect the NBA?

Had the brawl not errupted the way it did, I think Wallace would have been looking at a 2-5 game suspension.  Even though Wallace did not participate in the in-stands melee, I think he will get a more severe suspension and fine because his act instigated this whole mess and the NBA, I don't think, will want to look soft here.  I am anticipating a 8-10 game suspension, and a hefty fine.  Yes, the same penalty Maxwell got for punching a heckler 12 rows up in '95.

I think Jackson and Artest are going to get crazy suspensions.  Upon watching the video for the first time, I thought to myself, “I wouldn't be surprised if they were suspended for the entire season.”  That seems a bit too long, a move that would infuriate numerous fans, owners, and players, but I still wouldn't be surprised to see these guys sitting for months.  15 games?  20 games?  25 games?  None of these amounts would surprise me in the least.  O'Neal will be suspended, no doubt - you just shouldn't be punching a fan unless he punches you first, and even then you're just asking for a civil law suit - but his suspension will not be as drastic as Jackson's or Artest's, as he refrained from going into the stands and only punched a guy who was between him and his bench.  I'm thinking at least a 10-game suspension for O'Neal, maybe as many as 15, though.

(In re-reading my estimates, I think they may be way off.  I don't know if the League has the cojones to suspend three team players for what would amount to one or more months of play.  Stern and crew like to keep a tight grip on the family-friendliness of their league, but forcing out three players on one team for several months may be a bit too drastic.  Although it's hard not to watch the footage and think that these players deserve less of a suspension.  Yes, I know the fans are at fault here, too, but the players need to show more restraint and professionalism.)

Now, what will happen to the players?  I doubt anything more than revokation of their season tickets will occur.  I don't think you'll see any criminal suits being brought up, no one will go to jail, no one will be fined.  Reportedly, one fan was taken to a hospital via an ambulance, so we might be looking at some civil suits.  I don't know the status of that white guy Artest charged, but if he is truly innocent and was truly hurt, I wouldn't be surprised to see him try to make a stink in court.  Hell, I'd do it, if nothing else just to be able to see Artest in court for a few days, get some photos, try to get an autograph (hehe), razz him about his music producing career, etc., etc.  The fans will likely also get to do the talk show circuit: Jim Rome's show, The Best Damned Sports Show, etc.  They'll get their 15 minutes.

Will the NBA change?  For this season, most definitely.  I think you'll see Stern responding to this by requiring beefed up stadium security and sending out the message to other players, “If you screw with the fans under any circumstances, we will suspend you for a long, long time.”  But once this season wraps up, and the media's attention turns to the impending bargaining between the League and the Player's Union, you'll see this focus on security deminish a bit until something like this happens again.  And things like this don't happen that often in sports, maybe once or twice a decade.  (An interesting corollary: ESPN.com has a piece on the Greatest Brawls of All Time.  My favote one was when, in 1918, Ty Cobb fought a one armed, two-fingered fan in the stands: “A couple of days worth of heckling by Yankees fans finally got to Cobb at the old Yankee home, Hilltop Park. Cobb vaulted into the stands behind the Tigers' bench and went right after a man identified, pseudonymously, as 'Otto Blotz.' The Peach pummeled Mr. Blotz, who couldn't fight back with his fists -- he only had one hand, and that hand had only two digits.”)

In the meantime, there is definitely going to be some fun discussions over at rec.sport.basketball.pro, and a slew of oped articles around the Web, such as this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this... well, you get the point.

Posted by Scott

I was reading the latest Bill Simmons article (Just Push Play) and was amazed to find out that there are a couple of multi-DVD box sets called NBA Dynasties, featuring specific teams (currently just the Celtic, Lakers, and Bulls).  These box sets include a handful of double-sided DVDs, interviews, highlights, and several complete games (save commercials and half-times).  Having grown up in Chicago during the 90s and having fallen in love with basketball watching Michael, I headed on over to Amazon.com to check out the Bulls Dynasty DVD set, and was floored at what you get for the price:

  • Over 15 hours of game footage, highlights, and interviews
  • Four, double-sided DVDs
  • A complete game from each of the Bulls' six NBA championships, including:
    • 1993, Game 6 - Paxon's 3 for the lead and win
    • 1997, Game 5 - Jordan's Flu game
    • 1998, Game 6 - Jordan's “last shot“

All of this for $35.  Damn.  I now know what my brother and dad (and me) will be getting for Christmas, and I know where you'll find my dad, brother, and me on Christmas Day - planted square in front of the TV, reliving those exciting memories from the 90s.

Christmas shopping?  Done.

Posted by Scott
Filed under:

My favorite ESPN.com author, Bill Simmons, has a new article featuring NBA Q&A.  This article, as all of Bill's, is a fun read, marrying sports and popular culture.  One particular quote sums up my feelings on how to build a successful franchise in the NBA:

With so many teams dumping coaches, making panic trades and wasting money on shaky free agents -- it's like 80 percent of the league at this point -- the teams that keep building around the same nucleus (one bona fide star, four or five supporting stars, one coach) have an enormous competitive advantage over everyone else.

Bill then goes on to compare the Spurs to the cast of Cheers.  In any event, I think he hit the nail on the head, which is one reason why I think the Mavs are far away from winning an NBA title, even if they pick up Jason Kidd in some blockbuster trade in mid-season.  Cubes likes to have a number of big off-season trades, and the coach he's decided to build around (Nelson) doesn't seem to be the best coach out there when it comes to big games.

Bill's article also has two questions for us Lakers fans: “How has the city of Los Angeles responded to Kobe and the Lakers in the post-Shaq Era?” (answer: not well), and “So what happens if the Lakers slide below .500 and Kobe starts hearing it every night, both on the road and at home?” (Bill's answer: Kobe shirks from the responsibility, dons a dour face, and gets surly).  I think this quote sums it up well:

The most underrated aspect of MJ's game was his unparalleled competitiveness, something that Phil Jackson learned to channel into the team concept, and something that eventually galvanized his teammates and wilted most of his opponents. Just by the sheer force of his personality, everyone else raised their games. They didn't have any other choice.  Kobe doesn't have that same quality. Obviously. He also doesn't understand something that Bird, Magic, Isiah and even MJ eventually realized: You're always better off letting your teammates help carry the show for the first 42 minutes, then taking over the last six minutes yourself. Let them think it's a democracy, even if they're wrong. For whatever reason, Kobe can't seem to grasp this ... and we're in his ninth season here. Not a good sign.

To draw a parallel to my own life, it's like this in pick-up basketball when you're playing on a team with a guy who's really good - he knows it, you know it, the rest of your team mates know it, and your opponents know it.  Now, there are two types of “really good” players:

  • The really good kind, who from the get go put the team on their back and whose play essentially communicates the message, “I am going to score 95% of our points, so don't clog the lane.”  While it is possible to win with this type of player, it isn't necessarily fun.  Also, about half way through the game you and your team mates sort of play half heartedly.  If there's a fast break, and this really good player has the ball, you kind of half-jog down court, figuring he's going to take it to the hole himself.  When he gets the ball in the offense, you stop moving, figuring he's going to just drive it on in himself.  This is not only less fun, but makes things harder for the really good player, as the defense can sag, there are fewer offensive rebounds, etc.
  • The really really good kind, the kind of player who plays unselfishly.  Yes, he knows he is much better than you, but he still passes you the ball when you're open.  He moves the ball around in the offense, will pass it off on a fast break, doesn't call for the ball every time down the court.  This type of player is not only fun to play with, but is more likely to win with.  As Bill said in his article, he'll let his team mates contribute, but when it comes down to being point-point, you know who's getting that last shot - he knows it, you know it, your opponents know it.  And, if he makes it or not, it's all good, because everyone got to play and contribute.
Posted by Scott

I was in Vegas this past week, and couldn't resist putting down a wager on the NBA season.  (I put down two bets, a whopping $5 on the Spurs, and $5 on the T'Wolves.)  In case you are curious, here are the odds for the 2005 NBA Championship as of Nov. 1st (a bit dated by now, obviously):

  1. Spurs (5/2)
  2. Heat (9/2)
  3. T-Wolves (5/1)
  4. Pistons (5/1)
  5. Lakers (6/1)
  6. Kings (7/1)
  7. Mavs (10/1)
  8. Rockets (10/1)
  9. Pacers (10/1)
  10. Nuggets (18/1)
  11. Grizzlies (20/1)

For some of the hottest teams right now, there are some good odds:

  • Jazz (50/1)
  • Suns (45/1)
  • Sonics (70/1)
  • Toronto (60/1)

Of course I highly doubt we'll see the Sonics or the Raptors late in the post-season, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Jazz and Suns make it a bit further than people expect... although I don't see either of these teams having the experience needed to win it all in the face of more composed and experienced teams (the Spurs, T-Wolves, Pistons, etc.).

Posted by Scott

Here's undeniable proof that blogging has hit the mainstream: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined by the NBA for comments he made in a blog entry.  While Mark doesn't note what exactly he said that caused the fine, I'm wagering it was this line:

Tuesday is when it gets real. I won’t say what i really think about the genius that started the season on election day since it’s probably the same person that started the season on Halloween in previous years. There’s only a presidential election 1x every 4 years. We start on that day..Genius. Let’s see, which are going to get more highlights and press coverage Nov 3rd. The kickoff of the NBA season or the election. The NBA has a great idea to feature “Premiere Week” and we start it on Election Night. Brilliant. It’s had an impact on us. We sold out our pre season home games, but we still have plenty of seats left for the home opener and also for the first couple games of the year.

 

Posted by Scott
Filed under:

As I blogged about earlier, I recently picked up a copy of ESPN/Sega's NBA 2k5 game for the XBox. While I got the game ~2 weeks ago, I hadn't had a chance to sit down and play it until earlier this week.  Here are my initial impressions on the game, which will hopefully help others decide if this is or is not a game they want to pick up.


First, for the money - $18.95!! - it is a steal.  It's not the best game in the world, and there are plenty of faults, but there are also a number of redeeming qualities, and for the $19 price tag you definitely get more than what you pay for.

I don't know if I'm a typical NBA video game player, but here are the things that must be in an NBA game for me to really enjoy it:

  • A good camera angle - I know a lot of people like that default view, the one where you're looking up the court from half-court, like you're the point guard, in a sense.  I hate it.  Perhaps NBA Live 2005 is what set my preferences in stone, but I like a high, angled view of the court.  It's easier to see your players movements, upcoming picks, etc.
  • Players must move without the ball - the fun for me in most NBA games is offense.  I don't like games where I can drive to the hoop and slam in down someone's throat, but rather prefer a realistic simulation.  I like to watch my players move without the ball, coming off of picks/screens; having defenders get switched up and finding the mistmatch; having a guard roll off a screen for a pass and open J; having a big man cut to the hoop for a pass and an in-close shot.  What I detest are games where the other players stand around watching the guy with the ball.

    While NBA 2k5's players definitely move without the ball, they seem to do so much less than in 2k3.  Granted, you can call plays, but the plays are pretty limited, and the movement seems more awkward than when they naturally move.  It's been a little frustrating at times, as all other four players on my squad have, for a good four or five seconds, just all stood stone still.  This prompts me to yell at the screen, “MOVE WITHOUT THE BALL, PEOPLE!“
  • The game's “vitals“ should be in line with NBA standards - I've played Microsoft's NBA Inside Drive 2004 a number of times, and the game is so arcade-like.  You'll shoot 80-90%, and so will the computer.  I like games where teams shoot around 50%.  Where there's a healthy mix of jumpers vs. layups/dunks.

    NBA 2k5 seems a bit more on the high side, shooting percentage-wise.  There are, of course, sliders you can use to tweak these factors, but it would still be nice if the default were “realistic.“  The main problem, I think, is that scoring in the paint is too easy.  Get a big within five feet of the basket, and more than not it's going in.  Add to that the drop step move, which is cool but too powerful, and even clumsy bigs who have no handles or footwork in real life can score at will from the post.
  • Provide a Practice Mode where you can run plays from the team's playbook in a 5 on 5 setting - I've yet to play an NBA game that allows this.  All games I've played that have had a practice mode has your team's players out on the court, but you can only control one player.  All other players stand around looking dumb.  How useful is this, if you're wanting to practice offensive sets, like a pick and roll?  Why can't these games have a practice mode where you have two full teams out there, and you can run and re-run a particular team's plays?  The only way to practice your offensive sets is in a game, and this is true with NBA 2k5.

A game that met these four factors is, for me, the Holy Grail.  I've never played a game that perfected these items.  NBA 2k5 has some faults here, but comes relatively close on most of the points I care about.

As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, with NBA 2k3 the computer's PG could always blow by me.  They tempered this dramatically in NBA 2k5, as it's much easier to get in front of someone and prevent them from getting past.  This is true when you are on offense, as well.  The game is pretty realistic in the sense that you can't just blow right by someone.  You need to pass it around, find the cutter, draw the double and kick it out, post up, etc., etc.  One thing that I think I will come to enjoy, but is a little annoying now, is that when you are standing still and then try to start running (i.e., holding down the turbo button), your player kind of pauses for a second as he lowers his frame and starts running.  This is, in part, what helps being able to blog by someone.  But it is a bit annoying if you call for a screen, because by the time you've done your little herky-jerky move when transitioning from standing still to “running,” your defender has gotten past the screen.  (This delay doesn't happen if you're already moving and go to turbo, though.)

NBA 2k5 has this Association style of play, where you're a GM for a team.  You can play your games, trade players, sign free agents, let folks go, hire/fire the coaching staff, manage your salary cap, build team chemistry by talking to players and messaging their egos, etc.  I never really was into this aspect of NBA games.  I'm there to play 5 on 5 basketball, and I never bother with the front-court options modern NBA games allow.  (I wonder how many people enjoy this aspect.)  For me, the perfect NBA game has a mode where you can play a season with a particular team, it keeps detailed player and team stats, and that's about it.  I don't need an All Star game; I don't need trade deadlines, or League News.

NBA 2k5 has more features than I could ever hope to list, many of them I doubt I'll ever use.  There's ability to play street ball - you can play 1 on 1, 2 on 2, 5 on 5, 21, or half-court ball with rosters of your choice.  You can also create your own character, have him train, play in tournaments, etc.  I tried that out and it looks kind of cool, but the 1 on 1 games it requires aren't that interesting.  But it is a good way to get practice and learn the basic controls (shooting freethrows, posting up, changing your shot in midair, etc.).  There are even bobbleheads you can unlock.  I kid you not.  I have already unlocked the Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury bobbleheads.  You can view them, rotate them, and even “bobble” them.  (To think, there was actually a programmer (maybe more!?) whose job it was to create this feature.  Someone whose resume reads: Worked on ESPN's NBA 2k5 - Added Bobblehead feature.)

The graphics, highlights, announcers, and options are better than NBA 2k3, but I'm still up in the air on what game offerred a better NBA playing simulation.  NBA 2k3 seemed to offer better player movement on the court, and better offensive sets.  There are some woes from 2k3 that were fixed with 2k5, the most notable being that passes don't kill the play.  In 2k3, when a player was passed the ball, they stopped running and waited for the ball to reach them, thereby killing any fast break opportunity.  2k5 has a way to throw a leading pass.  It's kind of cool to give a leading pass to a cutter, but risky, if you're throwing one once the half-court offense has setup.

The game seems very promising so far.

Posted by Scott

Bill Simmons - one of my favorite writers over at ESPN.com - has a quickie piece listing Vegas's over/under for total wins for the NBA teams this year and his picks.

Posted by Scott

The latest news is that Shaq's missed another practice, and, while hopeful for the Heat's opener tomorrow night, is not by any means guaranteed.  It's Shaq's left hamstring that is holding the Big Fella up.  Likely in large part to his stature, Shaq's body has not had the longevity of other “greats” in the NBAs (granted, few centers' bodies do bode well as the player crawls into their 30s).  His health and age was, in my opinion, the primary reason Buss chose Kobe over Shaq - who are you going to pay?  The phenom with another good 8-10 years ahead of him, or the Center who's only got another year or two before his body collapses?

Hopefully Shaq's current ailements will subside rather quickly, and he can get out there and destroy the diminutive front court of most Leastern Conference teams.  BUT, I wouldn't be surprised to see Shaq sidelided for a good chunk of the regular season, having periodic pains, strains, and other miscellaneous injuries.  And having depleted their roster to acquire (and afford) Shaq, the Heat need Shaq to be healthy and play big.

Posted by Scott
Filed under:

The NBA regular season starts up tomorrow with three games:

  • Houston at Detroit (should be a great game)
  • Sacto at Dallas (should set the tone for the middle-pack of the Western Conference.  Dallas and Sacramento are two teams who will be jockeying for position beneath the Spurs and Wolves, IMO)
  • Denver at L.A. (where we'll get to see what this year's LA team will look like, and see how much Denver's team has improved with the continued maturation of Melo and the aquisition of Martin)

Of course why the League decided to start the regular season on one of the most anticipated and closest presidential elections, I know not.  Mavs owner Mark Cuban had a good discourse on his blog regarding this:

Tuesday is when it gets real. I won’t say what i really think about the genius that started the season on election day since it’s probably the same person that started the season on Halloween in previous years. There’s only a presidential election 1x every 4 years. We start on that day..Genius. Let’s see, which are going to get more highlights and press coverage Nov 3rd. The kickoff of the NBA season or the election. The NBA has a great idea to feature “Premiere Week” and we start it on Election Night. Brilliant. It’s had an impact on us. We sold out our pre season home games, but we still have plenty of seats left for the home opener and also for the first couple games of the year.
http://blogmaverick.com/entry/5585826481525671/

Also, Bill Simmons has a good (albeit short) piece on Scottie Pippen's retirement.  Some choice quotes:

[If you follow the NBA] you['re] probably wonder[ing] why Scottie's recent retirement wasn't a bigger story. It's not every day one of the 20 greatest players ever hangs it up, right? Does MJ win six rings without him? Does anyone even consider the concept of a point forward? Did any other small forward affect a game in more ways? Was there a more influential defensive player in the past 30 years?

...

We all remember that Knicks series in 1994, when Scottie asked out of Game 3 because Phil Jackson called the final play for Toni Kukoc (who ended up sinking the game-winner with Pippen sulking on the bench). In the locker room after the game, Bill Cartwright, tears running down his face, screamed at Pippen, later calling it the biggest disappointment of his career. Jackson agreed.

But was it as bad as all that? Without MJ, Scottie carried the Bulls to 55 wins by himself. It was his team, and when it's your team, a mind-set takes hold: everything is on your shoulders, everyone is gunning for you, you can't take a night off. You're a pumped-up star of your own action movie. Unless you think like a superhero, you won't survive. Game 3 was Scottie's Jimmy Chitwood moment. He'd earned the right to say, "Coach, I'll make it." And Jackson took it away from him.

I had an earlier post on Pippen's retirement as well.  Simmon's point is that most people are too hard on Scottie, for his migraines and for sitting out that final shot.  And he's right, and I don't think most folks would fault your average Joe for such transgressions, but Pippen, due to his skill and (mis?)fortune played alongside Jordan, and therefore was held to a higher calliber.  Pippen was a great player, and the Bulls couldn't have dominated the 90s without him, but I still can't believe he sat out for that play.  I don't care how bad he deserved that final shot, how envious he was of Kukoc, or how little he was getting paid - you don't quit on your team.  Period.

Posted by Scott
More Posts