December 7, 2012
Amidst an unordinary season in Los Angeles involving a coaching change and the Lakers first 0-3 start since 1978, Kobe Bryant still found his way on a billboard. This time it was a career milestone. Ironically, the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft came into the night needing 13 points to reach it. On Wednesday night against the New Orleans Hornets, Bryant scored 29 points and led the Lakers to a 103-87 victory.
But it wasn’t the performance that led to the win that was of note, it was the basket he made with 1:15 left in the 2nd quarter. Just another signature slashing drive to the basket with an incredible finish gave Bryant 30,000 points for his career. This is what the 30,000 point plateau means for Kobe Bryant:
1. Youngest player in NBA history to reach 30,000 points.
2. 5th player in NBA history to score 30,000 points.
3. The Hall-of-Fame is all but assured considering the 4 others in this club were all inducted: “Cap” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “the Mailman” Karl Malone, Michael “Air” Jordan, and Wilt “the Stilt” Chamberlain
4. 5,640 of his points so far have come in the NBA Playoffs, which already puts him at 3rd all-time.
5. The only one in the 30,000-point club to not play college basketball
Although Kobe needed more games to reach the 30,000 mark, I don’t think it’s wise to hold that against him. What is going to happen when somebody like Lebron James hits the 30,000-point club? Are we going to downplay his achievement? The answer is no. Kobe at 34 has played an incredible 16 NBA seasons. By only his fifth NBA season he was dropping 28.5 points per game. I would say he adjusted pretty well.
Even after a knee surgery, Bryant still looks ageless. There will come a time when it is no longer easy to score. That time is a far cry from the present for the man they call “The Black Mamba”.
October 30, 2012
With the NBA regular season set to begin tomorrow, the landscape of the league has changed very little. The Lakers, who are always a threat to win the title, actually got better with the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. The defending world-champion Miami Heat followed suit with the additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.
With that, I give you my predictions for the 2012-13 season, starting with the divisions.
In the Atlantic Division:
In the Pacific Division:
In the Central Division:
In the Southwest Division:
In the Southeast Division:
In the Northwest Division:
Now for the Conference Standings:
Eastern Final: Heat over Celtics.
Western Final: Lakers over Spurs.
The Finals: Lakers over Heat- Nash and Howard will help Lakers overpower Lebron & Co.
September 10, 2012
First, it was Roger Clemens who came out of retirement to pitch in a couple of games with the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. Now, it appears to be former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal tossing his hat into the ring for a brief post-retirement stint. According to ESPN, Shaq is reportedly in discussions with the Fuerza Regia team in Mexico to play a few games this October. His availability may depend largely on his ‘other’ job as a studio analyst for TNT.
Truth is, this type of stuff has been happening for a long time. But with more money to be made now from smaller leagues owned by rich owners, could it be the beginning of a trend? My guess is yes.
Athletes are always looking for ways to earn more money – autograph shows, personal appearances, speaking engagements, and licensing rights are all ways to do that. Some go into coaching or front offices as those jobs can pay well and allow them to stay close to the game. But that doesn’t always work, as we’ve seen. Greats like Magic Johnson had a difficult time coaching mediocre players for the Lakers in the 1990s. Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest player of all-time, hasn’t exactly produced a winning team as an owner.
You know what most of these guys would die for, though? Another chance to suit up.
With a few exceptions, we all understand the quality of their play isn’t going to be extremely high after retirement. Roger Clemens pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings in independent baseball, but at 50, was unable to even reach 90 miles per hour on the radar gun with his trademark fastball. Throwing in the high 80s as he did is an unbelievable accomplishment at the age of 50, but unfortunately for him, 99% of pitchers in the major leagues can throw as hard as he is right now.
And the last time we saw O’Neal, he was averaging a modest nine points and five rebounds for the Boston Celtics two years ago. Now, out of game shape, Shaq would be fortunate to even come anywhere close to that production in an NBA game.
But guess, what – not much of that matters.
Unlike front office or coaching jobs, performance in these games isn’t a big deal. Fans eat this stuff up and so does the media. There are few things more intriguing than seeing a player well past his prime compete to see what he still has left in the tank. The simple fact is that it doesn’t really matter how well they do – people will pay to watch it. Whether it’s Clemens pitching a third of a game or the Diesel lumbering up and down the court against mediocre players, we’ll watch.
Back to the financial aspect a bit, we all know that Clemens and O’Neal don’t need the money. Those guys made enough in their lifetime to take care of their families handsomely as well as a few others if they wanted to. But what about players who had their careers cut short due to injury? Or star players that squandered their money? There’s room for them to compete in these types of leagues and the good thing is that they don’t even need to do it on a full-time basis.
There was a report last year that an Italian team offered Kobe Bryant $800,000 to suit up for them. Per game. Most of the players that would need the money aren’t on the level of Bryant, of course. But if he could get that much, why couldn’t a former All-Star secure a deal in the high five figures per contest?
As more and more independent and international teams open up their checkbooks, it’s easy to see that former athletes will be flocking to them to play a game or two.
May 29, 2012
There are currently 22 players listed on the roster of finalists to represent the United States this summer in London. Only 12 will make the final roster. Some are locks. Some can be eliminated from consideration.
Coach K and I have never seen eye to eye. He continues to root for Duke to win and I continue to root for Duke to lose. So he probably doesn’t care what I think about the Olympic roster but here is what I would do.
There are six spots left and it is a no-brainer that one of them goes to Kevin Durant. He’s the best scorer in the world and at just 23, still getting better. Plus, he led Team USA to the gold at the FIBA World Championships. Add him to Lebron and Kobe and team USA will have the three best players in the world.
One guy I don’t want on the team is Lamar Odom. He’s got the talent but he’s had some issues ever since the Lakers traded him to Dallas. I would say that he quit on the Mavericks, but I’m not sure he ever got started in Dallas. He went home before the season was over. He should stay there and get himself together.
The Howard and Aldridge injuries leave very few options for big men. So add Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love to the roster. Chandler was just named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year and to the second team of the league’s All-defensive team. I don’t know how he’s the best defender in the league and the second best at his position at the same time but regardless, this team needs a defensive presence and Chandler fits the bill. Love will be a nice fit for the international style of play because he is a rebounding machine that can also win the three-point shootout at All-Star Weekend.
There are three spots left and I want to fill two of them with the best shooter and best defender left to choose from. So let’s add Eric Gordon and Andre Iguodala to the roster. Gordon is a deep threat and can score in bunches. He’ll also be a pesky defender on the other end. Iguodala is a great defender because he is long and athletic. He can guard multiple positions which gives the coaching staff options. Coaches like options.
I have just one spot left and I want another big man to protect the rim. That’s one thing Anthony Davis can do. He’s not going to shoot much, if at all, but that’s ok because he will need to be spending his energy taking on some of the best big men in the world. That’s a lot to ask for a guy who only played one season in college and hasn’t even been drafted yet. Is he up to the task?
April 24, 2012
Worst team ever?
Could the greatest player of all time also be part of the worst team of all time? Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats have lost 21 games in a row. They must find a way to win one of their final two games (at Orlando or home against the Knicks) to avoid finishing the season with the worst winning percentage in NBA history. I hope they get that win.
Best in the East
It is a long shot, but the Heat could still sneak past the Bulls for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. It shouldn’t matter too much for either team unless they meet in the conference finals and go to a game seven. Either way, it is highly unlikely the Bulls will let home court advantage slip away. Chicago is also currently tied with San Antonio for the best record in the NBA so home court in the NBA Finals could still be up in the air if those teams were to meet.
Final playoff spot
15 of the 16 playoff spots have been taken. The eight seed in the West and the right to take on the Spurs in the first round will go to either the Jazz or the Suns. They meet tonight in Salt Lake City. It is pretty much win or go home. It’s not a game seven, but it doesn’t get much bigger in the regular season. If you don’t believe me, just ask my boss. He’s a Jazz fan.
The elbow that knocked James Harden out of the game on Sunday certainly wasn’t very peaceful. World Peace claims it was unintentional. Whether it was or not, he’s likely to be suspended. The question is for how long. If it is more than just one game, he’ll be sitting out of playoff action. How will this affect the Lakers?
Whose town is it?
Speaking of the Lakers, they are just a half game ahead of the Clippers in the race for the Pacific Division title and the three seed in the wide open Western Conference. I am sure both teams want the division title bragging rights and even more importantly, to avoid the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. And if you are the Clippers you really don’t want to lose your last two games and let Memphis steal the fourth seed and home court advantage in the first round matchup.
Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant are both averaging 27.9 points per game. I’m wondering how bad Kobe wants the scoring title. We’ll find out when we seen how many shots he takes in a possibly meaningless game at Sacramento on Thursday night. Durant’s season will be finished and Bryant will know exactly how many points he needs in the last game of the NBA’s regular season.