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Monday, July 28, 2014

Game 4 Should End Jordan Comparisons

Yesterday’s Game 4 of the NBA’s Finals was one for the ages. The Celtics were down by 24 points, but rallied back for a 97-91 victory. The Lakers went into the game down 2 games to 1 in a series where Boston held the home court advantage. It was a game they needed to win. With a laughable half time lead, it was a game they should have won.

As odd and unbelievable as Game 4 was, this whole series has had an odd feel to it. The Celtics, who were 9 games better than their opponents, came into the series as an underdog. And on a whole they’ve gotten little to no respect from the media. After Los Angeles’ Game 3 win, both PTI hosts said the series had shifted in their favor. Come again? The team that was worse in the regular season and that doesn’t have home court advantage is down 2-1 and they have the advantage?

But what stuck in my mind the most was Stephen A. Smith’s gushing over Kobe Bryant prior to Game 1, comparing Kobe favorably to Jordan. Although I tend to ignore everything that Smith says (yells? screams? – he really doesn’t talk as much as he just shouts his opinion), this one got to me because recently I watched an interview where Kobe scoffed at the question. It seems he can’t avoid being compared to Michael. Back in 2003 Rick Reilly wrote an article comparing Kobe to Jordan titled: “Like Mike, or Even Better”. Last year Jamele Hill wrote: “Kobe Bryant is better than Michael Jordan. Not more successful… But he’s a better player. Kobe can do everything Michael did, and even a few things Michael couldn’t do.”

In that Reilly interview, a younger Kobe Bryant was quoted as saying: “People want to compare me with Michael in his prime, and that’s unfair. I don’t think I’m in my prime yet. I think a player’s prime is, like, 26 to 30. I’m only 24.” In another month Bryant turns 30, so I guess it’s now fair to compare the two. By the age of 30 Jordan had 3 MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs, a Defensive Player of the Year, and retired to play some minor league baseball. Kobe has only 1 MVP and 3 rings. But Kobe’s rings were earned being second fiddle, not first violin.

By the age of 30 Jordan was unquestionably the league’s best player. He led the league in PER from 1987 to 1993. And upon returning from his baseball experiment Jordan would add 3 more Finals MVP awards and 2 more MVPs. All arguments during Jordan’s prime was who was the second best. You couldn’t argue with a straight face that any of Barkley, Robinson, Malone, Stockton, Ewing, Robinson, or Olajuwon were better than Jordan. But the same can’t be said of Kobe. Today you could debate whether Duncan, Nash, LeBron or Wade are better than Kobe.

But Jordan has one more feather in his cap when doing player comparisons. Jordan’s career has a mystique to it due to his accomplishments during the playoffs. During his prime, Jordan failed to lead his team to the championship once, and he gets a pass because he was returning from a year and a half hiatus. You could argue that at his peak, Jordan was unbeatable. So last night’s Game 4 was another example of Kobe coming up short of Jordan. In a pivotal playoff game, Kobe Bryant shot 6-19 and let a 24 point lead evaporate. It was the kind of performance you’d see in a Jordan playoff game, but usually by one of the Bulls’ defeated opponents.

Combining Jordan’s dominance over the league with his seemingly perfect playoff record makes him an indomitable legend to overcome. Michael Jordan may not have become so mythical if he had missed one of those game winning shots, was called for an offensive foul against Byron Russell, didn’t have Pippen or Jackson or Rodman, etc. To top Jordan, a player would not only have to be above his peers in terms of athleticism, skill, and determination, but also the luck to have an unblemished playoff record.

Let’s assume that Jordan’s team were so dominant that each year they had a 90% chance of winning the title in his 6 championship seasons. The chance of Jordan winning 6 championships without losing once is only 53% (0.9^6). So even if a player would come along as dominant as Jordan, they would need a little luck to match Jordan’s career playoff record of 6 “perfect” championships.

For years Kobe Bryant has been asking to not be compared to Jordan. Unfortunately last night’s game may give him what he’s been asking for. For Kobe Bryant to achieve the status of Michael Jordan’s equal, he’d have to pull his team out from this 3-1 deficit and lead them to victory. In other words, he would need a Jordanesque performance.

199 comments on “Game 4 Should End Jordan Comparisons

  1. jon abbey

    one of Kobe’s three rings is now tainted also (and two of Shaq’s, the Miami one too).

    we really need a revisionist history of the last decade of the NBA written, one in which Dallas and Phoenix won the previous two titles instead of Miami and San Antonio.

  2. Nick

    This is sort of an aside but before the game I saw a replay of the Byron Russel play. I had forgotten how blatant that was. Jordan pretty much stiff armed him and shoved him practically to the ground in the open court at the top of the key in an isolation play. It’s stuff like that lends credence to all the “conspiracy theories.”

  3. xduckshoex

    Let’s not let forget that Jordan had a few bad games in the Finals as well. He shot 9-26 in game 5 against the Jazz in 1996, 9-22 and 11-27 in back to back losses against the Jazz in 1997, 6-19 and 5-19 in games 4 and 6 against the Sonics in 1996 and 11-28 in game 3 against the Lakers 1991.

    The thing that really surprised me was how bad Kobe’s misses were in the 4th quarter. A finger roll that hit the front of the rim, a bank shot that hit glass and nothing else…it seems like a choke job. And that doesn’t only go for Bryant, the entire Lakers team seemed shook. Their passes were not crisp, their defense was terrible and they stopped moving on offense.

  4. daaarn

    Honestly, I have not cared for this year’s Finals at all. I didn’t even bother watching last night’s game. I think it was partially b/c of all the hype about this being a “Lakers-Celtics Finals” that turned me off. I mean, I’ve simply never been a real supporter of the Lakers and I absolutely hate the Celtics, so it was a no win situation for me. What I’m waiting for is the Draft.

  5. Dave

    Kobe just had a bad shooting night. It was the worst possible time to have to bad shooting performance because it wasted a great effort from his teammates. Kobe’s on the ball defense (off the ball D was good for the most part, struggled against shooters) and playmaking were very good though.

    He’s not MJ but he’s closer than anyone else has gotten so far. LeBron James will likely eclipse Kobe soon enough in this regard.

  6. 94by50

    I’ve actually liked the series so far. Every game’s been close, and if it weren’t for the unpredictable officiating (to put it kindly), I’d be enjoying it completely.

    Kobe did just have a bad shooting night. He didn’t have a bad game overall, or so it looked. But he’ll take the hit for the Lakers’ loss, regardless, because people are going to ask, “Did he win?”, as they do of all players.

  7. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “Let’s not let forget that Jordan had a few bad games in the Finals as well. He shot 9-26 in game 5 against the Jazz in 1996, 9-22 and 11-27 in back to back losses against the Jazz in 1997, 6-19 and 5-19 in games 4 and 6 against the Sonics in 1996 and 11-28 in game 3 against the Lakers 1991.”

    I wasn’t saying that Jordan was perfect every game. However he won all of those series. Most likely the Lakers aren’t going to win this series.

  8. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    I have to say I have enjoyed this series immensely. Games 2 & 3 could have had better officiating, but they each went in one direction, so in a way they even out. The other two games were close (at least yesterday’s in the fourth quarter) and could have gone either way.

    One reason I’m enjoying this is the novelty of the teams, and the stories behind them. On the Lakers side you have Kobe looking for acceptance as a top player, Gasol trying to erase his Memphis years, and Phil chasing Auerbach. On the Celtics side it might be Garnett, Pierce, and Allen’s last chance at a title. All three suffered through bad years.

    Additionally I have the ESPN Geek Smackdown, where I was one of 2 people that picked the Celtics. So in a way I’m tied to Boston as an underdog. When I don’t have a interest in either team, I tend to root for the underdog anyway. Like in 2004 when the Pistons toppled the Lakers. But for some reason this series means more to me. I’m just not sure why. It could be that I like Garnett, and would like to see him be on the winning end for once.

  9. W.C.

    The difference between the two has more to do with the less tangible aspects of ability and winning than athleticism, shot making ability, defense etc…. Jordan could rise up almost at will in order get the job done. He also knew how to lead and use his teamates better. Kobe is a little hot and cold and as we saw last night, doesn’t have the same level of ability to rise up when all the chips are on the table.

  10. jrock

    duncan is 10x the player and teammate kobe will ever be. he’s completely fundamentally sound, has 4 rings, and between he and gregg popovich have created a really great culture in san antonio. kobe’s been poison – the last half of this season can’t erase that.

    also, can you imagine if lebron had an in-his-prime shaq? they’d go 82-0.

  11. W.C.

    I think the reason that all the supposed “experts” in the media (and even in gambling circles) have been so wrong about this series is that almost everyone focuses primarily on offensive stats when evaluating players and teams.

    They compared the Celtics big three to the Lakers big three and called it a toss up, but since Kobe is the best and most experienced championship player of the six, gave the edge to the Lakers. After that, the comparisons also favored the Lakers because they have more and better offensive threats.

    Things like help defense and an individual player’s defensive ability are much more difficult to measure statistically (or the stats are less available). They can be observed and are reflected in the overall team defensive stats, but they get ignored relative to individual offensive numbers.

  12. jrock

    i think people also didn’t realize that the entire celtics bench has balls of steel, and nobody on the lakers is even remotely cold blooded except for kobe, derek fisher, and sometimes sasha.

  13. Ricky

    Garnett is the kind of player that you want to see win a championship. These guys are bringing home 8 figures whether or not they play the extra 25 games at the end of the season, but he seems to legitimately care about the way he plays the game. He’s a “throwback” and I like that.

  14. 94by50

    The Lakers were favored mainly because they won their first three series fairly handily, while Boston struggled to win theirs (so it seemed, anyway). A lot of people were apparently more impressed by the Lakers’ recent showing than by the Celtics’ season-long success. I was, certainly.

    A couple other factors were the perception that Phil Jackson was going to coach far better than Doc Rivers (which hasn’t happened), as well as the perception that the Lakers were deeper and more talented. Those three things stick out the most to me…

  15. Matthew

    Jordan was not unblemished during his prime. As you said, he led the league in PER starting in 1987 and won the MVP for the first time in 1988. Nevertheless, his teams didn’t win the championship in 1987. Or 1988. Or 1989. Or 1990. Or 1995. So if his prime started in 1987 and ended in 1998 (which IMO is unfair, he was clearly past his prime at that point even if he still was the clear best player), then Jordan won championships at a 54% clip. Which is remarkable, but hardly unblemished.

  16. Matthew

    I think the Lakers easily winning their western conference series actually has played against them. The Lakers really don’t have as big of a playoff experience as people pretend. Their experience is mostly regulated to 2 guys, Kobe and Fisher (who, let’s face it, isn’t that good anyways). And the Celtics aren’t so bad at experience either. Even though this is their first finals, the Celtics big 3 have all played in many many many playoff series.

    So when it came time for the playoffs, the Lakers made quick work out of their 3 series. They were only sort-of tested vs. Utah. Now that they have run into some problems, they don’t seem to know how to react. Boston, on the other hand, have learned to play through adversity with 3 hard fought series. And it’s showing.

    What this series is reiterating is just how unimportant coaching is in the NBA. I know people like to identify with the coaches and all, but let’s face it. If Doc Rivers can outcoach Phil Jackson (and he CLEARLY is, just look at at Phil’s timeout blunder last night) then obviously coaching has little to do with team performance. The great coaches are the guys who fell into good situations early in their careers, gained a reputation, and were therefore able to land themselves into other good situations later in their careers.

  17. jon abbey

    “Jordan was not unblemished during his prime. As you said, he led the league in PER starting in 1987 and won the MVP for the first time in 1988. Nevertheless, his teams didn’t win the championship in 1987. Or 1988. Or 1989. Or 1990. Or 1995. So if his prime started in 1987 and ended in 1998 (which IMO is unfair, he was clearly past his prime at that point even if he still was the clear best player), then Jordan won championships at a 54% clip. Which is remarkable, but hardly unblemished.”

    honestly, this is absurd. it took MJ a while to break through, but once he did, he won titles the last six times he played full seasons with Chicago. and he had insanely good numbers the years before that, consistently averaging 35 points, 7 boards and 6 assists on over 50 percent shooting. Kobe’s not only lost twice in the Finals, but should have lost to Sacramento one of the three times he did win a title, as we’ve had confirmed this week. no contest, IMO.

  18. El

    i love the knicks. i always thought jordan fouled russell on that last play until i saw the jordan imax. i’m not sure why tv didn’t show this angle, but that movie showed the play from a different angle i had never seen. and jordan never touched him. he simply broke his ankle. so go see that movie before you become convinced that that play was not legit. cuz it was. and as painful as that is to admit, its true.

  19. oboogie

    ive been one of the biggest doc rivers haters the whole time. i think i need to swallow my pride cuz the man can coach.

    basketbawful.com on kobe vs mj:

    “Kobe Bryant: You guys knew this was coming, right? Kobe was the shining star of last night’s Epic Failure. He didn’t score in the first half. He finished the game with 17 points on 6-for-19 shooting (although he did have 10 assists). And he was completely unable to impose his will on the game in the fourth quarter, which is his supposed specialty. And let’s face it: This isn’t a one-game aberration. Mamba has not impressed during the 2008 Finals. He was kinda-sorta spectacular only once: In Game 3. Well, once and a fourth if you count the final quarter of Game 2.

    Now, I’ve been taking heat for ragging on Kobe for years. But here’s the thing: I’ve never denied his greatness. Nor have I failed to give proper respect to his ability to score the basketball. To me, he’s among the league’s five all-time great scorers (with Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-jabbar and Karl Malone). My arguments against Mamba have been that he has often been a lousy teammate (there’s just no reasonable way to deny this), sometimes lapses into selfishness (although he’s been better about that this year than he ever has), ultimately trusts no one but himself (and that’s the bleeping truth), and — SHOCK ALERT!! — he probably isn’t the greatest player of all time.

    And you know what? There’s no “probably” to it. He’s not. The comparisons to Michael Jordan need to stop. Hell, they’ve needed to stop for almost a decade now. Kobe is not Mike. He will never be Mike. How is this not obvious? Why does this subject come up year after year after year? Let me put it this way: Had Jordan’s Bulls been up by 24 points at home in a must-win game in the NBA Finals, do you think there’s any way in hell the Bulls would have lost the game? No. Freaking. Way.

    And this isn’t me hating on Kobe. I’m not being subjective when I say he didn’t come through last night. He failed. Imagine if Dirk Nowitzki stumbled in the Finals the way Kobe did last night? Actually, scratch that. Dirk already did it, and he was absolutely crucified for it. Which was unfair then, and it would be unfair now. I’m not suggesting we string Kobe up for losing a big game, because that’s happened to many great players before him and it’ll happen to many great players after him. But this game should be Exhibits A through Z that Kobe Bryant is Kobe Bryant…and not Michael Jordan.”

    pretty much sums up my opinion on the matter. credit needs to be given to bostons D, they have stymied everyone all year long and have made kobe and lebron look silly.

  20. nj hoop

    Doc Rivers has completely outcoached the Zen master this series. I couldn’t believe how smug Jackson was in the post 3rd quarter interview after the C’s had just gone on a 21-3 run. He totally let that game get away and had no answers for Doc’s small lineup. How about pressuring House full court? The guy is not a point guard. And you’ve gotta have Fisher on the court in crunch time, he’s one of the only Lakers with the balls to step up and make a big shot. Congrats to Doc Rivers, who is showing the world what a great coach he is and also how overrated Cheif Triangle is.

  21. Matthew

    nj hoop:

    In fairness on the Eddie House point, because I’ve seen a lot of people bring it up, House wasn’t the one bringing the ball up the court most of the time. It was usually Piece and sometimes Allen.

  22. jon abbey

    actually, the Finals so far have been a great referendum on how the players matter way more than the coach. the matchups are terrible for LA in this series with Bynum out, Jackson doesn’t have many good options.

  23. nj hoop

    Matthew – you’re right about that, maybe they could have pressured those guys bringing the ball up also. It’s not the biggest of issues, I guess it just seems in general like Rivers is being proactive in making adjustments and the Zen Master is just sitting there looking smug as usual.

  24. brian

    “one of Kobe’s three rings is now tainted also (and two of Shaq’s, the Miami one too).

    we really need a revisionist history of the last decade of the NBA written, one in which Dallas and Phoenix won the previous two titles instead of Miami and San Antonio.”

    Jon abbey,

    uh, okay. don’t you think it’s a little hasty to just TAKE some guy’s word for this. particularly considering this guy is a complete scumbag who’s flailing around for any sort of redemption or way to strike back at the NBA. donaghy is a desperate man. and he happens to choose two of the most oft-cited examples of “fishy officiating” in the past ten years. and we’re supposed to just believe this on face?

    call me skeptical, but i just don’t but these nba conspiracy theories. people just spout off about it, but think about what this would take. it’s highly illegal and would require major manipulation by several different parties. it’s easy to bring this up, but i have a hard time imagining david stern sitting down with bennett salavatore and telling him to do this and bennett salvatore saying “sure, i’m on it!”

  25. jon abbey

    no, I believe Donaghy more than Stern at this point, honestly. I’m not sure how closely you’ve been following this, but eventually where there’s enough smoke, there’s fire.

    anyway, I started a blog the other day in which I begin to lay out my case, I hope to add a lot more there over the coming weeks unless Stern has me wished into the cornfield:

    http://sternmustgo.blogspot.com/

  26. jon abbey

    I mean, what’s the best case scenario here for Stern and the league? there was only one official throwing games, and the other series that produced unfair results were just sheer incompetence?

  27. Thomas B.

    This is comparing team success against individual abillity. There is no reason to punish Kobe for not having a Pippen or Rodman to play along with him, but it seems people are more than happy to do that. Fine Kobe is only the SECOND best player of all time. Poor Kobe.

  28. Owen

    “Kopbe might not even be the second best Laker of all time”

    Is Kobe better than Kareem, Wilt, Shaq or Magic. Better than Jerry West? Bettter than George Mikan? Better than Elgin Baylor?

    Not so sure myself.

    Wilt, Shaq, and Kareem were not career Lakers I guess, but I can think of a lot of players who were better as Lakers than Kobe is now.

  29. Duff Soviet Union

    “I mean, what’s the best case scenario here for Stern and the league? there was only one official throwing games, and the other series that produced unfair results were just sheer incompetence?” Um, yeah. Pretty much.
    Sorry Jon but refs are human and as long as they’re human they will make mistakes. These conspiracy theories are just stupid. We always hear that things are rigged for the big markets and yet we always seem to end up with San Antonio playing Cleveland, Detroit or Jersey in the end. I guess Stern thought that it would be too obvious if more desirable teams ended up in the finals so he rigged it so that they wouldn’t end up in the finals. Or something. Same with the lottery. We always hear that the lottery will be rigged for can’t miss superstar X to end up in NY/Boston/LA/Chicago/Philly and yet David Robinson goes to San Antonio, Shaq goes to Orlando, LBJ goes to Cleveland (with the Knicks in the lottery- again, it must have been too obvious) and Duncan and Oden go to San Ant. and Portland respectively (the Celtics were RIGHT THERE both times). But hey, Ewing ended up in New York and Stern obviously forced a bunch of teams to pass on Larry Bird so he ended up in Boston, so it must be all rigged right?

  30. jon abbey

    Duff, just because some seemingly paranoid theories are wrong doesn’t mean they all are. or maybe you believe that someone in a position of absolute, unquestioned power for 24 years never abuses said power?

    what I do know for sure is that the wrong teams are winning playoff series too often lately, and it seems to be becoming more frequent. here’s a list of playoff series from the past decade that I think have either gone the wrong way or not been allowed to play out fairly, due to incompetence or cheating or both:

    1999 New York/Indiana
    2002 LA/Sacramento
    2005 Dallas/Houston
    2006 Miami/Dallas
    2007 San Antonio/Phoenix
    2008 LA/San Antonio
    2008 Boston/LA

    it seems to be getting worse, and for me, it just hit a breaking point in the last few weeks. assigning Joey Crawford to game 4 of LA/SA wasn’t even subtle, come on, and I hate the Spurs.

    I also think it’s absurd how the NBA has everyone muzzled, explicitly or implicitly. Van Gundy and Mark Jackson both had series robbed from them and complained publicly at the time, but not a word now. any current refs are forbidden to speak to any press, what country is this? Stern has to go, and if the owners don’t see that, then the fans need to unite and do what they can.

  31. Duff Soviet Union

    Well, I for one would not put this years Spurs/Lakers series on the ref screwjob list. The Lakers won in 5 games. Same with Boston/LA. The Celtics got the best of Game 2, LA got the best of game 3. What was the big conspiracy with Dallas/Houston? Stern wanted to increase his audience in Germany? Why would ANYONE want San Antonio in the finals instead of the Suns? I really don’t think refs are getting worse, I think people just have more forums to bitch these days. What else are they supposed to say? That they lost to a team who actually outplayed them? Nah, that’s crazy, it was the refs.

  32. jon abbey

    “Well, I for one would not put this years Spurs/Lakers series on the ref screwjob list. The Lakers won in 5 games. ”

    um, the league went so far on that one as to apologize for the call that ended game 4. if that goes the other way, it’s 2-2 and an entirely different series. was LA a better team? maybe, who knows?

    but keep drinking that Stern-delivered Kool-Aid, nothing wrong here, nothing to see, move along, what an exciting Finals! pshhhhhh…..

  33. jon abbey

    also, I’m not necessarily saying the wrong team won all of those series. again, what I said was “here’s a list of playoff series from the past decade that I think have either gone the wrong way or not been allowed to play out fairly, due to incompetence or cheating or both”.

    the league went so far as to admit the LA/SA fuckup, so that one was pretty obviously “not allowed to play out fairly”. you really can’t argue with that one. the fact that Joey Crawford, with all of his history with the Spurs, was assigned to such a crucial game and then was the one who ended up making the critical non-call is a lot of the problem on that one, not just the single messed up call.

  34. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “here’s a list of playoff series from the past decade that I think have either gone the wrong way or not been allowed to play out fairly, due to incompetence or cheating or both:

    1999 New York/Indiana
    2002 LA/Sacramento
    2005 Dallas/Houston
    2006 Miami/Dallas
    2007 San Antonio/Phoenix
    2008 LA/San Antonio
    2008 Boston/LA”

    Wow only 7 series in a decade were referees made the wrong calls. There are what, about 16 series each year. So in any NBA playoff series there is a 96% chance that the series is legit.

    And I would go as far as saying in the 2 series from this year – the team with the better regular season record has won (or is winning). So what’s the big surprise there?

    “no, I believe Donaghy more than Stern at this point, honestly. I’m not sure how closely you’ve been following this, but eventually where there’s enough smoke, there’s fire.”

    There’s plenty of smoke around faking the moon landing, the Kennedy assassination, Bush masterminding 9-11, big foot, Nessie, Chumpracabra, Charlemagne’s existence, Area 51, Paul McCartney’s death in 1966, Fried Chicken making men impotent, and that KnickerBlogger is really the front for the Lizard People.

    Granted sometimes smoke does indicate fire, but I’d like to see at least a second party confirm this before I believe it. There must have been scores of referees, NBA front office people, etc. that are involved or have knowledge and/or proof of these kinds of incidents. Someone else has to come forward for his allegations to be substantial.

  35. jon abbey

    “Wow only 7 series in a decade were referees made the wrong calls. There are what, about 16 series each year. So in any NBA playoff series there is a 96% chance that the series is legit.”

    come on, Mike, you can do better than that. those are all pretty high profile series, the 2002, 2006, and 2007 results directly affected who was champion that year. when does it leave the realm of sports and enter that of ‘reality’ TV?

    “And I would go as far as saying in the 2 series from this year – the team with the better regular season record has won (or is winning). So what’s the big surprise there?”

    well, the big surprise is that the NBA felt the (possibly unnecessary) need to aid them along to make sure they got just what they wanted in the Finals. I mean, of all people, Joey Crawford doing a crucial game in San Antonio? they might as have just brought Donaghy in for one last hurrah.

    but I’m sure the FBI is investigating Dick Bavetta for absolutely no reason. nothing to see here…

  36. jon abbey

    “I’d like to see at least a second party confirm this before I believe it.”

    this is of course difficult because the NBA has everyone relevant muzzled, referees have never been allowed to talk to the press. one thing I find illuminating is the number of key players or coaches talking about this in the wake of their series, though: Van Gundy during Houston/Dallas, Mark Jackson after Indiana/NY, or Josh Howard on the 2006 Finals:

    “You buy the theory that some kind of conspiracy involving the referees cost the Mavericks the Finals last year?

    I don’t want to respond to that. I’ll just say that everybody in the world knows we were supposed to be champions.”

    this kind of conspiracy talk doesn’t happen in any other sport, and didn’t happen in basketball before the last ten years or so. is it really so hard to believe that the NBA has been nudging some crucial series in one direction or another? if you’re waiting for hard and fast proof before you believe, you’re probably still operating under the assumption that only a handful of MLB players did steroids also.

  37. jon abbey

    and in case my posts here over the last few years haven’t made this clear, I’m not a conspiracy theorist normally. I can’t think of a single other alleged hidden conspiracy I’ve felt there was any truth to, and I worked for Time Magazine as a reporter for a while before leaving for my current job, so I do have some journalistic credentials.

    what I am is a totally pissed off long-time NBA fan who feels like the situation here has gotten out of control, and questioning why so many people are happy to put up with a state of affairs that has become this fucked up.

  38. jon abbey

    maybe you’ll believe Charles Oakley on this, from today’s Post:

    “Oakley also said he feels the biggest surprise in the allegations by disgraced referee Tim Donaghy is that they didn’t come sooner.

    “I’m just surprised he hasn’t put more stuff out about the league because everything he put out is the truth,” Oakley told The Post. “There’s a lot more going on behind this. Some official some day is going to come out with a book and tell the whole story. “”

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/06152008/sports/knicks/oak__nba_has_real_problem_115537.htm

  39. PeteRoc

    Whoever wrote that basketbawful.com article is an idiot. Before MJ’s first retirement, he was notorious for riding team mates hard, even ridiculing them. Go read Sam Smith’s book “The Jordan Rules.” He’s a local columist who had as close a view of MJ and that team as anyone.

    Before the Bulls started winning titles, MJ was also called selfish. Another common gripe was that he was someone who only cared about scoring.

    In fact, if you’ve ever seen ESPN’s sportscentury of MJ, there are a couple of moments that stand out. There’s one when someone mentions that MJ refused to refer to Will Perdue by name because he felt he couldn’t play, so he called him Vanderbilt (his college team) instead. In another clip, Sam Smith mentions how MJ use to ridicule Bill Cartwright who eventually confronted him. Still more, there’s a clip of someone contending MJ wouldn’t pass the ball to Cartwright when he was doubled b/c he felt he had a better chance of scoring over two people (which was true by the way).

    I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I’ve developed some sympathy for Kobe over these last few years. The reason the Celtics have a commanding lead in this series is because they can play defense and the Lakers can’t. When you’re up 20 in the second half and lose a game, it’s your defense that let you down. In fact, if you re-watch the final stretch of the game, Kobe did start imposing his will.

    The Celtics took the lead (by 1) around the 4 min mark. On the Lakers next possession, Gasol turned it over (he’s the 2nd biggest reason why the Lakers are down 3-1). On the ensuing possession, Ray Allen first got a KEY offensive rebound (wasn’t Kobe’s fault), and then made an incredible reverse lay up to push the Celts up 3. After a miss and offensive rebound, Kobe made an unselfish play and found Farmer for a much needed open 3, and he missed (whose fault is it that Farmer was in and not Fisher). On the ensuing possession, Garnett travels (no call) and then scores on Gasol to push the lead to 5. On the Lakers next four possessions, (1) Kobe drew a foul (and made both free throws), (2) made a lay up, (3) drew attention and hit Fisher for what should have been a three had he kept his feet behind the line, and (4) drew Garnett’s attention and hit Gasol for a dunk. After Ray Allen schooled Sasha for the driving lay up, do you know what the lead was with 15 second left (after four straight Laker possessions where they scored) – 5. The icing on the cake of course was the mental error of having to burn two timeouts to advance the ball.

    What the HELL would MJ have done (that Kobe didn’t do) to win that game?

  40. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “maybe you’ll believe Charles Oakley on this…”

    The same Charles Oakley that said 70% of the NBA smokes marijuana? The same Charles Oakley that said the Knicks would regret trading him for Marcus Camby? The same Charles Oakley that was arrested for DUI last year?

    Surely we can find someone with a little bit more credibility.

    “this is of course difficult because the NBA has everyone relevant muzzled, referees have never been allowed to talk to the press.”

    Unless it’s a prerequisite to hire illiterate mutes as referees…

    “is it really so hard to believe that the NBA has been nudging some crucial series in one direction or another?”

    Yes, especially considering the number of bad market series the NBA has had. How many times has Stern winced when the ratings-killing Spurs made the Finals? The Pistons?

    As for the Mavs collapse, doesn’t it make sense from a storyline standpoint to make them champs? Nowitzki appeals exactly to the geographic that has avoided the NBA for years (the anti-hop-hop white Americans). If the NBA front office was able to fix games, couldn’t they have fixed one more after game 4?

  41. jon abbey

    “The same Charles Oakley that said 70% of the NBA smokes marijuana? ”

    heh, do you really think that’s so far off?

    anyway, Dick Bavetta is the lead official tonight. enjoy your reality TV.

  42. jon abbey

    “As for the Mavs collapse, doesn’t it make sense from a storyline standpoint to make them champs? Nowitzki appeals exactly to the geographic that has avoided the NBA for years (the anti-hop-hop white Americans).”

    this isn’t true. white Americans appeal to that group, not white fur’ners. also, maybe Stern couldn’t stand the thought of handing the trophy to Cuban, who knows?

  43. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    “if you’re waiting for hard and fast proof before you believe, you’re probably still operating under the assumption that only a handful of MLB players did steroids also.”

    In MLB you have evidence in the form of Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti, BALCO/FBI trial, minor leaguers, arrests for steroids (by clubhands), the breaking of a 35 year old record 5 times in 5 years, a congressional hearing, Roger Clemens’ trainer, etc.

    Right now in the NBA we have one guy, who has about the equivalent credibility of Jose Canseco, and he’s probably not even that credible. Time will tell if Donaghy is more Mehdi Hashemi or Joe McCarthy.

  44. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    So Jon – you don’t think the NBA has an image problem where a percentage of people don’t like the NBA because of it’s hip-hop image? Just google “NBA image problem.”

  45. jon abbey

    “In MLB you have evidence in the form of Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti, BALCO/FBI trial, minor leaguers, arrests for steroids (by clubhands), the breaking of a 35 year old record 5 times in 5 years, a congressional hearing, Roger Clemens’ trainer, etc.”

    sure, and even with all that, there have still only been a handful of major leaguers directly connected to steroids, maybe 1 percent of those who actually did it. and with those, you’re talking about much more physical evidence, supplier paperwork, blood tests, chain of obtaining the drugs, etc.

    with the NBA, all you need to do what I’m talking about is a few words from a league official to a ref before a game, no records of any kind and no “proof” until one of those two guys directly confesses. three nonexistent/dubious at best fouls on Kobe in the first half of game 2, and you give Boston a huge advantage.

  46. jon abbey

    “So Jon – you don’t think the NBA has an image problem where a percentage of people don’t like the NBA because of it’s hip-hop image? Just google “NBA image problem.””

    no, I’m sure that’s true, but Dirk Nowitzki winning a title isn’t going to help solve that anymore than Grant Hill or Allan Houston would.

  47. brian

    jon,

    just listen to yourself. you have no proof at all.

    “also, maybe Stern couldn’t stand the thought of handing the trophy to Cuban, who knows?”

    You really think David Stern would risk the credibility of his league, the viability of 32 massive franchises and his own legacy because he thinks Mark Cuban is a dick? Okay. This may be a joke. Even if its though, it’s basically the same exact thinking you’re using throughout this discussion.

    You basically say, “I don’t know how or why. And I’m going to ignore the fact that year after year, the results of the playoffs are bad for the NBA as often as they are good (see 4 Spurs titles, etc.) and just sort of assume something weird’s going on cause refs made bad calls.”

    Seriously, your logic here is so out of wack. You look at a couple of examples that COULD be classified as fishy while completely failing to account for how Stern did this without it getting out. Or why he would take the risk. Or why he would only choose to do it in these specific instances. Huge “forest for the trees” situation going on with you, Jon.

  48. jon abbey

    sure, how the hell could I have proof? smoking guns might not even exist, these guys aren’t idiots. but at some point, the pile of circumstantial evidence just becomes too high to ignore.

    also, even if there’s absolutely nothing deceitful going on (besides Donaghy, of course), the officials judged by the league to be the best in the game are incapable of letting the teams correctly decide the games on the floor, and that’s a pretty serious problem in and of itself.

  49. Duff Soviet Union

    PeteRoc, he was actually worse than that. He referred to Will Purdue as “Will Vanderbilt” because he thought Purdue didn’t deserve to be named after a major sporting college. The Cartwright thing was worse than that as well. He basically refused to pass the ball to Cartwright late in games and more than that, he told everyone else on the team that if THEY passed to Cartwright he wouldn’t give them the ball either. Cartwright eventually got wind of this and rightly threatened to beat the shit out of him. The only reason Jordan’s image was so good was because he basically refused to give access to any reporters who spoke negatively about him (back in the pre internet days you could get away with this), because he had a nice smile and because he was a freaking awesome player (much better than Kobe. MJ:Kobe as Kobe:Paul Pierce). When he went to the Wizards and he wasn’t a great enough player to get away with this stuff, Wizards players who used to worship him quickly realised he was a gaping asshole with an ego the size of a planet. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were huge Kobeish jerks as well but again they were better players with better public and media relations skills than Kobe so people loved them. All three of these guys had the added benefit of playing at a time when journalists actively sought to build up athletes and hide their flaws, while today very much the opposite dynamic at work.

  50. Duff Soviet Union

    Back to the conspiracy theory stuff, I agree with most that Jon is being a tinfoil hat wearing idiot, but he’s right about one thing. It is inexcusable for Dick Bavetta to be reffing tonight.

  51. jon abbey

    I may be wrong, we’ll see (possibly) eventually, but I’m hardly an idiot, I’ve taken shits with higher IQs than you.

    as for Bavetta, Stern doesn’t answer to anyone, he doesn’t care. he’s had absolute power for 24 years now, and as we all know, absolute power eventually corrupts absolutely.

  52. ess-dog

    The difference in my mind, and the reason I’ll still watch NBA and have stopped watching MLB, is that major league baseball players were completely complicit in the steroid scandal while I highly doubt NBA players (perhaps a few here and there) had anything to do with point shaving of fixing matchups. I do think NBA refereeing is highly suspect and has been for the last 10 years at least to a point that goes beyond “bad officiating”… I think it’s time for Stern to go. That’s all I have to say on the subject.

  53. Ted Nelson

    I’m not sure why everyone’s ganging up on Jon Abbey… There’s not enough evidence yet to say for sure that something’s going on, but there’s enough to say that something might be. Saying that the NBA wouldn’t fix games because it has so much to lose strikes me as a very similar argument to saying they would fix games because they have so much to gain. There’s just no way to say yet.

    Not only could the NBA be fixing games: there’s a huge international gambling industry with deep pockets and a lot to gain from fixing games. If they got to one NBA ref, I don’t see why you’d assume they haven’t gotten to others.

    5 or so years ago there was a lot of debate about whether or not baseball players were taking steroids, it’s only relatively recently become obvious because of a mountain of evidence. Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, how obvious is it that Jose Canseco was taking steroids? Yet no one seemed to realize/care at the time.

    Once the spotlight was shined on the issue of steroids in baseball (at least part of) the truth came out, we’ve got to shine a spotlight on NBA refs now and see what the truth is. Guys with integrity like Rafael Palmeiro got outed just like guys without it, I don’t know if many NBA refs (or people in general) are above getting paid millions to fix games.

    But, yeah, Oakley was clearly way off base with his previous comments: 70% strikes me as low. At least definitely for the Knicks, some of whom can’t even open their eyes for their photos:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?playerId=1017

  54. TDM

    Zach for Rasheed straight up. I’ve said it before, it gives the Pistons a younger back to the basket player and allows for the development of Maxiell. NY gets a shot-blocking defensive presence without losing much on the offensive end, along with a shorter deal that comes off before 2010. One snafu is the recent headline about Zach busting up a midtown club. . .

  55. TDM

    As for Abbey, he’s always struck me as a very opinionated guy – not necessarily a bad thing. I agree with a lot of his opinions, however, they are just that – opinions. Personally, I’ll save my judgment on the “nba fixing games” story until more info comes to light. Now if you don’t mind, I have to go back to drinking my Kool-Aid…

  56. Brian Cronin

    I’m not sure why everyone’s ganging up on Jon Abbey…

    I don’t think the ganging up is as problematic as the incivility.

    Folks, you can disagree with the guy without insulting him.

    Anyhow, moving on…

    That was quite a huge play by Kobe late last night, eh? Talk about a game-changing play!

    As for swapping Zach for Sheed, I’d be down with it, but I don’t think either Detroit or Sheed would be happy with such a deal. I imagine Dumars’ thinking is “cap flexibility” right now, which Z-Bo would not help.

  57. jon abbey

    “That was quite a huge play by Kobe late last night, eh? Talk about a game-changing play!”

    assuming you mean the steal, Michael Wilbon swore that Kobe didn’t even touch the ball on this play. I’ll leave it to someone with a HD TV to say for sure, it looked inconclusive on my TV.

  58. caleb

    Dumars isn’t trading sheed for a worse player with a longer and bigger contract.

    Nothing against sheed, but why would walsh even think about that? The cat is 33 years old – by the time we crack .500 he’ll be over 35. Are you really putting your cap space towards that?

    Do even the lee-haters think sheed will be better than lee in 2 or 3 years?

  59. caleb

    P.s. Unless you’re talking about trading for sheed’s last year, not re-signing him. No one would be against that trade, except joe d!

  60. Thomas B.

    Lee in 3 years will be much prefered to a RW in 3 years. Just like N8 in 3 years will be better than MJ in three years.

  61. Thomas B.

    “Back to the conspiracy theory stuff, I agree with most that Jon is being a tinfoil hat wearing idiot.”

    First of all, jon abbey is not an idiot. He has been solid on a number of postings. Second, that hat is clearly ALUMINUM foil, not tin foil, a small but important distinction. Third, jon I have to know, how do you give your shit an IQ test?
    ———
    I will say this on the “proof” issue, there was anecdotal evidence that suggested rampant “enhancement” use in baseball starting in the early 90′s. It took nearly 13 years for the truth to come to light. I think what we see in basketball is somewhat similar though nowhere near as pronounced as baseball. It is much more subtle in basketball but that does not mean it is not there. Some people say “why trust Dohagny, he is a criminal?” Well I tend to believe what a criminal knows about crime over a non-criminal. He would know because he was right in the middle of it all. He is similar to Canseco. We know Canseco is only doing it to sell some books and earn some cash, but that does not mean it isnt true.

  62. Ted Nelson

    Rasheed Wallace’s contract expires after next season. If it works cap wise, Z-Bo for Sheed straight up would be a no brainer for Walsh. Zach Randolph-expiring contract is the deal we’ve all been dreaming about, the fact that the expiring contract would belong to a borderline all-star… icing on the cake. Maybe at least the Knicks can get involved in a multiple team deal involving Sheed like the one Caleb suggested. Or maybe something like Sheed to Chicago, Z-Bo and Chicago young player to Detroit, Larry Hughes and Chicago 2nd to NYK…

    The chances of Dumars making a deal to acquire Z-Bo, his attitude, his offcourt problems, his poor work ethic, and his contract seem slim. Few of us would take Z-Bo on our team, and I think we agree that few GMs would either (especially as good a GM as Dumars). If Dumars believes Z-Bo can turn it around in a great team-first environment like Detriot maybe he pulls the trigger (please Joe, please, please, please, please). Maybe Detroit can sign Diop to the MLE to cover up Z-Bo’s defensive weaknesses.

    To me, the article was a great sign mostly because it shows that people out there who follow basketball for a living actually think Z-Bo would be a good addition. Hopefully one or more GMs is among that group.

  63. TDM

    “P.s. Unless you’re talking about trading for sheed’s last year, not re-signing him. No one would be against that trade, except joe d!”

    That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

    Dumars wasn’t shy about signing Sheed despite his long history of attitude and off-court problems. Not to mention leading the league in technical fouls year after year. For all his shortcomings, Zach puts up numbers year after year – poor conditioning and all. If he was Michael Sweetney and his work habits had a negative effect on his performance, I’d say you have a point. However, as doughy as Zebo is, he still puts up points and grabs rebounds. He is a defensive liability, but I think Detroit has other options on the defensive end.

    I don’t think it is so absurd that he wouldn’t consider Zach as an option. Detroit’s main problem in the playoffs was not having enough scorers on the court. They also looked slow and old. Zach could solve those issues.

  64. Ted Nelson

    A few differences between Sheed and Zach that I’m quite sure Joe D is quite aware of:

    -DEFENSE / all-around play

    -Past success: some history of playing meaningful minutes on a productive team at the NBA level

    -Sheed’s attitude problems were/are consistent with a competitive fire and possibly an antisocial personality, Zach’s are consistent with a clear antisocial personality disorder and someone who is punching the wrong guy away from ending up in a coffin or pulling the trigger on the shotgun he drives around with away from jail/the electric chair.

    I don’t disagree that Dumars should consider Zach, and I hope he goes for him. I just think after considering him he will/should decline to acquire him.

    “his work habits had a negative effect on his performance”

    It has, the guy hasn’t improved on what was an advanced understanding of basketball as a team game for a 19 year old since entering the NBA. If nothing else, his conditioning has hurt his D.

    “They also looked slow and old.”

    When’s the last time Z-Bo wasn’t slow? At MSU? This is another way his conditioning kills him.

  65. W.C.

    I don’t think Dumars would be totally off his rocker to make the Randolph/Wallace deal.

    He’d be taking on a longer contract for a player with some off and on the court issues, but he’d be getting younger and would be giving up a head case of another sort that has hurt the Pistons from time to time in critical spots.

    For the Knicks it’s perfect.

    Wallace would fit better because he plays some defense. That will make us more competitive this year (a short term goal of Walsh’s). He can also let him go at the end of the year, freeing up more cap space (a medium term goal of Walsh’s)

  66. W.C.

    On the aluminum foil hat issue… LOL

    I think there’s no question that there are politics at work in the NBA and they also influence the referees.

    1. Certain stars get more calls and get away with more fouls/walking etc… than the average player.

    2. The home team tends to get more close tough calls.

    If you can’t see this much, you aren’t watching.

    I think this also extends to coaches, players, and owners making complaints about opposing players. I think the league reviews that kind of thing and responds.

    All of these things influence results.

    I think it’s very unlikely that the league purposely throws games to favor the big cities and higher ratings. However, keep in mind that a lot of the greatest players play in the biggest
    cities and they are part of what generates the high ratings.

  67. TDM

    Rumors have Detroit targeting Carmelo, who is more like Zebo than not: both play no D, are ball hogs, are headcases of one sort or another. The main difference between the two is that pulling a deal for Carmelo will be at a much higher cost to Detroit. Carmelo has 4 years remaining on his deal as opposed to 3 for Zach, and Detroit would likely have to take other bad contracts to get him.

  68. Ted Nelson

    “The main difference between the two is that pulling a deal for Carmelo will be at a much higher cost to Detroit.”

    The main difference is that Carmelo has done nothing but win in college and the NBA: Denver’s been in the western conference playoffs every year he’s been there.

    Another big difference is that Carmelo’s scored 24.1 pts/36 on a career TS% is .545 compared to Zach’s 19.9 on .518.

    Another difference, Melo’s career assist rate is 15.2, Zach’s is 10.8.

    Finally, Carmelo Anthony is a 3 who blocks more shots than Randolph (0.5/36 vs. 0.3/36).

  69. caleb

    I’m a little surprised to see Joe D. interested in Carmelo — I’m not a big fan — but at least Carmelo is a much better player than Zach (and makes less, even his contract is longer). He scores a lot more, and a lot more efficiently — efficiency-wise, ZR would be below average even if he were a guard — for a PF he’s way below average. Carmelo He’s also 4 years younger than Randolph, meaning he’s probably still improving.

    When Dumars traded for ‘Sheed, he understood that “chemistry” and “attitude” are way overrated — it’s all about what you can do on the court. Zach’s problem isn’t that he has a bad attitude (even if he does); it’s that he’s a mediocre player with a gargantuan contract.

    The Pistons want to get younger, but they want to keep contending in the meantime and they can get a lot more for Wallace, than Zach. (like my suggestion last week for a 4-way trade with the Knicks, Clippers and Sixers, where Elton Brand ends up in Detroit).

    I guess those rumors are a little encouraging — like Ted said — just because they suggest that some people in the league still consider Randolph a serious player.

    btw, I don’t think Randolph has conditioning issues. He’s just indifferent to anything but his own stats. He doesn’t seem to tire during a game, and he once led the league in minutes played. I don’t care if you’re not running all-out on defense; these are world-class athletes in the NBA and if you can lead the league in minutes, you’re not out of shape. Even if you have pudgy cheeks.

  70. caleb

    draft-wise…

    Gallinari announced today that he’s staying in the draft. It’s a little bit interesting, because he said a while ago that he only wanted to play for the Knicks or Nets — did Walsh or Rod Thorn make him a promise? It probably means little, because since he said that, he’s worked out for the Clips and Grizzlies, meaning he’s probably flexible on where he goes.

    Ty Lawson pulled out of the draft, so forget that option. Richard Mbah a Moute was the only other semi-high profile guy to pull out.

    Deadline is 5pm, still waiting on decisions from Chase Budinger, Ryan Anderson and Bill Walker (who suffered another “minor” knee injury this week).

    Everyone else who matters is in.

    http://www.draftexpress.com/article/Early-Entry-Withdrawal-Deadline-Gallinari-Stays-in-the-Draft–316ET–2929/

  71. W.C.

    >When Dumars traded for ‘Sheed, he understood that “chemistry” and “attitude” are way overrated – it’s all about what you can do on the court.<

    I think Sheed’s attitude and mental breakdowns probably cost the Pistons a least one and possibly two series over the years.

    I find it hard to believe anyone can still believe that chemistry and intangibles are not a factor. The problem is that when the chemistry is off because of disruptive personalities, it DOES impact the performance of the players.

    That’s what makes the Spurs so great and the Knicks so bad even though there are teams with comparable ability at both ends of the spectrum.

  72. caleb

    “I think Sheed’s attitude and mental breakdowns probably cost the Pistons a least one and possibly two series over the years.”

    Like… ?

    “when the chemistry is off because of disruptive personalities, it DOES impact the performance of the players.”

    What examples do you have in mind?

    “That’s what makes the Spurs so great and the Knicks so bad even though there are teams with comparable ability at both ends of the spectrum.”

    Not sure what you mean — the Spurs have three great players and we have none.

  73. jon abbey

    Sheed quit on the team in the middle of this recent Boston series, just to name one. they easily could have won that if he’d been fully motivated for the entire thing.

  74. Brian Cronin

    1. Oh yeah, I’d love the deal for the Knicks if it was possible. I’d be happy with Gadzuric and Simmons from the Bucks, so I’d certainly be happy with a better player with a shorter contract!!

    2. Woods was a lot like Jordan today, including the constant BSing the cameras. “Oh no! Oh – it was a perfectly placed shot? Oops.”

  75. Z

    I am late into the discussion, but I’ve been meaning to add to Jon Abbey’s initial statement of:

    “There needs to be a public outcry about this, he deserves to be fired as much as Isiah did. this is seriously worse than the Black Sox scandal, and that’s not hyperbole. this is the league fixing games, not a bunch of rogue players. just sickening.”

    I agree with the sentiment that for all of the time we spend caring about the league (and for the most regular posters it is on the record just how much time we spend caring!) it hurts a lot to think that the integrity of the competition is corrupted by “the hand of God”. I’m not sure who has the power to fire Stern, but the time for him to go was probably the day the Donaghy scandal broke last summer.

    But, what exactly do we suspect now that we didn’t suspect five days ago? That the NBA has an economic interest in who wins games? In which players stay on the court? Play in which city? Donaghy isn’t a “smoking gun” but even if he was, would it lead to a revelation?

    I suppose it is in the league’s corner that they didn’t try to hush Donaghy. If they thought they had anything to hide they didn’t need to ask for $1 million in retribution. Maybe they are just dumb, or thought they could smear him enough for people to discredit him. But it would have been easier to just let him go away.

    Baseball’s steroid scandal compromised the integrity of the players, but it didn’t effect the outcome of championships. 90% of baseball games have no competitive value, and everybody is just playing for stats. Basketball is designed differently to enhance competition (the salary cap is a prime example). Why enhance competition, if you are going to then actively control who comes out on top?

    Still, there is definitely smoke and I think Jon and others are right to be outraged. Frankly, I’m surprised there isn’t more going around. I think it is in everyone’s interest to hope that NBA games are legit and tamper-resistant; however, I think that is probably not the case. I’ll still follow the league, and especially the Knicks, but more with the passion that rooted for the Iron Sheik to beat The Hulkster when I was 10, than the passion I rooted for the Knicks to beat the Rockets in ’94.

    jon abbey–

    I know you don’t need any support from other posters, but I don’t like seeing little -1s next to your posts– especially on subjects much more important than David Lee’s TS% or the fantasy trade of Z-bo for Rasheed. I think you have earned credibility with a history of opinions that is always well informed, whether I agree with your conclusions or not.

  76. TDM

    “The main difference is that Carmelo has done nothing but win in college and the NBA: Denver’s been in the western conference playoffs every year he’s been there. . . .”

    I stand to be corrected – Mr. Carmelo “We Quit” Anthony is much a much better player than Randolph. The guy is the best player ever to wear a Nuggets jersey and they are running him out of town. That aside, the Nuggets are not going to trade him to Detroit Sheed for Melo straight-up. They’d require Detroit to take other trash contracts like K-Mart (another headcase with history of injuries) and/or Nene (more injuries).

  77. W.C.

    >Sheed quit on the team in the middle of this recent Boston series, just to name one. they easily could have won that if he’d been fully motivated for the entire thing.<

    He also melted down in a close series I believe last year or the year before. Technical fouls got him suspended etc…

  78. W.C.

    >What examples do you have in mind? >

    Well one perfect example was the Knicks last year after Marbury’s meltdown when he got benched. All the air went right out of the team.

    There is a reason that teams trade away these disruptive personalities even though they are very talented and put up good numbers. They screw up the “team”.

    >Not sure what you mean — the Spurs have three great players and we have none.<

    There were other teams with three all star caliber players that didn’t become arguably the best team over the course of the last decade. One reason the Spurs did and others failed is that each player on the Spurs puts the team before himself, there’s never any infighting, no emotional breakdowns, no key players getting arrested and distracting everyone etc…

    There are also teams with similar talent to the Knicks that won a lot more games because they don’t have any self centered cry babies like Marbury causing turmoil, don’t have a coach that’s in the news for sexual harrasment, don’t have players throwing water and towels at each other when they disagree, don’t have players that disrespect the coach even when he’s an idiot like Isiah etc…

  79. jon abbey

    thanks, Z! I’ve been channeling most of my irritation into my new blog, including a semi-answer to some of the people who slammed me here this weekend in my post there today:

    http://sternmustgo.blogspot.com/

    I have to say I was a little surprised by Mike’s responses to me and this, but to each their own. I do think it’s a little off-topic for this blog, and will try to keep my ranting along said lines to a minimum going forward. (cue mini-rant)

    but I really feel betrayed as a fan, and somehow seeing Stern’s smug, condescending answers to reporters last week just pushed me over the edge on this. how did we get to a point in this league where fans defend what’s going on by saying things like “the Lakers got screwed in game 2 but the Celtics got screwed in game 3, so it all evens out”. even if that’s true, what kind of sport is that?

  80. jon abbey

    as far as chemistry, the thing about Marbury is that he’s not just disruptive on the floor, I think he’s disruptive on the bench. we’ve all seen him in interviews, and whenever they cut to a bench shot including him, it looks to me like one crazy homeless guy distracting a bunch of guys trying to focus on a game.

  81. caleb

    There are also teams with similar talent to the Knicks that won a lot more games because they don’t have any self centered cry babies like Marbury causing turmoil, don’t have a coach that’s in the news for sexual harrasment, don’t have players throwing water and towels at each other when they disagree, don’t have players that disrespect the coach even when he’s an idiot like Isiah etc…”

    (Perhaps) needless to say, I completely disagree that any of this was more than a miniscule factor in our 23-win season.

    If that idiot coach had played Lee & Balkman 35 minutes apiece, and Marbs had been healthy, we probably would have made a run at Atlanta for the 8-spot.

    Also needless to say, I don’t think there were many teams, if any, with as much talent as the Spurs the last eight years.

  82. caleb

    “it looks to me like one crazy homeless guy distracting a bunch of guys trying to focus on a game.”

    This is true. But it hasn’t made any of our players play worse.

  83. TDM

    “This is true. But it hasn’t made any of our players play worse.”

    Caleb, not sure you can support this position. I’d speculate that Marbury’s antics could have had something to do with the dropoff of production from players like Curry and Balkman.

  84. caleb

    “I’d speculate that Marbury’s antics could have had something to do with the dropoff of production from players like Curry and Balkman.”

    It’s not something anyone will ever prove one way or the other, because there are so many factors involved.

    re: Balkman, he missed the entire training camp with a stress fracture and then sprained an ankle a few weeks later, and after January Isiah hardlyput him on the floor — so I don’t think it was Marbs’ fault.

    Curry did play worse, but not all that much worse — mostly just played fewer minutes.

    It’s true that Lee and Richardson also played worse than the year before, but hey – Marbs was the PG when they had career-best seasons the year before, and he was just as crazy then.

    I do think the overall chaos around the team hurt performance some — especially on defense — since players didn’t know what the hell was going on. But to put it in perspective… I’d estimate that cost as maybe 2 or 3 games, max. (I’m too lazy to do the math, but you could estimate based on point differential — how much worse was the defense this year compared to the year before, when everyone was “motivated” and “chemistry” was great.

    ANd of that 2-3 games lost to “motivation” — how much blame goes to Marbury? There were plenty of other culprits. What’s his share?

    By contrast, not playing Balkman and Lee — and giving Marbs’ minutes to Collins, Jones, Crawford and Nate — probably cost 10 games, IMO.

    It all reminds me a little of the argument that Lee or Balkman would be better with a jump shot, or that Jordan would be better with a 3-point shot, or whatever. In the same way, ‘Sheed would probably be better if he never lost his cool and his concentration, and Randolph would be better if he played hard on defense. But those issues are already there in the on-court performance — there isn’t another, hidden level of chemistry.

  85. W.C.

    >Caleb, not sure you can support this position. I’d speculate that Marbury’s antics could have had something to do with the dropoff of production from players like Curry and Balkman.<

    I think it’s almost a certainty that it hurt the TEAM.

    In almost every single team sport, if the players like each other, respect each other, act like professionals etc… each is more likely to be willing to make the personal sacrifices, put in the hard work, and play less selfishly to make the “team” better. That leads to better results.

    When you have morons and head cases like Marbury, Wallace, Artest, Randolph etc… on your team you are always at risk of a major blow up or disruptive behavior. When that happens, it distracts everyone, causes personality conflicts, and leads to poorer play. Sometimes just the dropoff of the headcase is enough to ruin things.

    Why do you think Dallas is suddenly considering shopping Howard?

    Why do you think Denver is suddenly considering shopping Anthony?

    They aren’t perfect players, but there is a much more obvious reason for the sudden change of heart.

  86. Duff Soviet Union

    I don’t think Jon Abbey is an idiot. He seems like a pretty sharp guy normally. I just think he’s acting like one with regards to this topic. I asked this before and have not received a satisfactory answer. If the NBA is rigged to ensure a “dream finals matchup” or whatever, how come we never seem to get them? OK this year we have Boston/LA but what was the last one? Chicago/Phoenix in 93? Maybe, maybe LA/Philly in 2001. Apart from that it’s been a steady stream of Spurs, Pistons, Nets and Jazz. If the lottery is rigged, why do can’t miss superstars never go to desirable locations marketing wise? The last one was Ewing 23 years ago. If Stern’s rigging this stuff he appears to be completely and comically out of touch with what people want. I think there are referee problems with the NBA. Certain violations (travelling) are ignored except at seemingly random moments, superstars and home teams get too many calls. If a coach criticises a bad performance he can expect makeup calls in the next game. But the same stuff happens in every sport. I don’t think that makes it right necessarily, but it makes it human.

  87. tdm

    I guess I forgive (read, don’t care as much about) blown calls in the NBA, intentional or otherwise, because in this game, as opposed to the NFL for example, the effect on a team’s season as a whole is minimized due to the number of games played (even more so for MLB). Additionally, with the volume of scoring (again, as opposed to other sports like NHL or MLB), any effect a bad ref or Stern could have is minimized.

    I guess what I am saying is that the NBA has to be one of, if not is the most difficult sports to fix.

    Granted however IF the fix is in, that is a bad thing for the sport.

  88. Danisrob

    From Chad Ford:

    Speaking of the Knicks, they’ve had just about every top prospect in their gym the past few weeks. Jerryd Bayless, Mayo, Gordon and Danilo Gallinari did one-on-none workouts. Russell Westbrook, Joe Alexander and Kevin Love participated in group workouts. Once Anthony Randolph and D.J. Augustin come in, the Knicks will have had a look at everyone at the top of their board.

    How did the prospects perform? Bayless wowed the Knicks with an amazing shooting performance. At one point, he hit 30 straight 3s during a drill. He also impressed the Knicks during the interview, showing up in a suit and tie and giving a very professional interview with Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni. However, the chances of Bayless dropping to No. 6 appear slim.

    Mayo worked out well, as we mentioned above. And Gallinari impressed with his shooting and size.

    “He’s bigger than we thought he’d be,” one Knicks source told Insider. “I think he’s got a little Dirk Nowitzki in him.”

    Meanwhile, Alexander and Westbrook both wowed with their toughness and athleticism.

    “Both of those guys really got after it,” the source said. “Westbrook reminds me a little of Rajon Rondo with a better jump shot. Alexander is as intense as any guy I’ve seen.”

    The only guy from the group who didn’t impress was Love, who was outplayed by Ohio State big man Kosta Koufos.

    So who will the Knicks select?

    It sounds like Mayo and Bayless are atop their board, but both could be gone by No. 6. I’ve waffled between Gallinari, Augustin and

  89. Danisrob

    …..I’ve waffled between Gallinari, Augustin and Randolph, but when my new mock draft comes out Tuesday, I’m going with Westbrook.

  90. Duff Soviet Union

    “In almost every single team sport, if the players like each other, respect each other, act like professionals etc… each is more likely to be willing to make the personal sacrifices, put in the hard work, and play less selfishly to make the “team” better. That leads to better results.” I think history shows this to be false. Have you ever read “The Jordan Rules?” MJ’s teammates hated him, yet still went out and played hard anyway. Shaq and Kobe obviously hated each other but still won 3 rings. Zeke the sneak despised and was despised by pretty much everyone on his own team (he once broke his hand punching Bill Laimbeer in the face. Imagine if that kind of thing happened today.) Jamaal Wilkes was once asked about a championship winning Kareem/Magic Lakers team and said something like “we had so many unhappy people you wouldn’t believe it”. The only difference between these situations and others is that there were plenty of great players around to win games so all this stuff gets called “leadership” or something as opposed to “being an asshole/malcontent”. As for why the Nugs are shopping Melo, my guess is that they’re realising what a lot of us have been saying for a few years now. He really isn’t a great player but he’s getting paid like one. Are the Mavs seriously shopping Josh Howard? I think that would be a mistake.

  91. Brian Cronin

    Jerryd Bayless, Mayo, Gordon and Danilo Gallinari did one-on-none workouts.

    That works, because one-on-none is the only way Gordon will ever be an efficient scorer in the NBA.

  92. jon abbey

    “If the NBA is rigged to ensure a “dream finals matchup” or whatever, how come we never seem to get them? ”

    well, first of all, Stern can’t work miracles (without being way more obvious at least), for instance he couldn’t make recent editions of our beloved Knicks win the title or even get into the playoffs.

    what I do think can be done and has been done is tipping the balance in close, crucial series unfairly, and whether that’s because it’s rigged or just sheer incompetence, the owners, the players, the media and the fans simply should not put up with it. one or more of these groups need to stop putting up with the status quo and I’ve personally had enough. I also don’t like that the frequency of tainted, crucial series seems to be going up, and that Stern doesn’t seem to care what people think.

    and not every Finals is rigged, not every lottery (the Ewing one may very well be the last one). I’m not saying the NBA rigs everything, that would obviously leak out very quickly. I’m saying that they seem to be nudging things at some of the most critical times, tipping over from sport to ‘reality TV’.

    we’re living in David Stern’s version of the NBA, he makes the rules, he fines coaches who complain publicly, he bans current refs from any media interactions, and he presumably fines players who say anything publicly. and if he wants some series to go the other way, for whatever reason (it could change to an extent every year, and probably does). I mean, it’s widely assumed that Michael Jordan was suspended for two seasons mid-career for gambling, but this possibility is never even alluded to by anyone in public.

    anyway, I’m personally finding looking at the NBA through this new, jaded filter much more enjoyable so far, I feel like I understand what’s going on much better now. for instance, this year’s otherwise inexplicable home court advantage throughout the playoffs means that every team will have to try harder for the entire regular season next year, no coasting for stretches and assuming you can easily recapture home court in the playoffs. this is great for the league, of course, more hard played regular season games. so did they nudge things a bit in this direction, not uncoincidentally ending up with the Finals they wanted. the funny thing is that Boston probably didn’t need their help, and the Lakers might not have either, but we’ll never really know either way.

    “But the same stuff happens in every sport.”

    I really disagree on this also, can you give me an example or two? once in a while a blown call costs someone a big game or even series, but that I do chalk up to human error (in other sports). but go watch game 6 of the 1999 NY/Indiana series or the first half of game 2 of this year’s Finals and tell me that that’s sheer incompetence, from officials who have been judged by the league to be among the best few out there.

    tdm, I’m not talking about the regular season, to me there doesn’t seem to be much if any league-driven interference there.

  93. jon abbey

    “Westbrook reminds me a little of Rajon Rondo with a better jump shot. ”

    this is exactly what we need. Westbrook’s been my guy since the lottery, I’m sticking with him.

  94. Duff Soviet Union

    “I mean, it’s widely assumed that Michael Jordan was suspended for two seasons mid-career for gambling, but this possibility is never even alluded to by anyone in public.” Widely assumed by who? Bill Simmons?

    But the same stuff happens in every sport.”

    I really disagree on this also, can you give me an example or two?” Sure, the tuck rule game. Pretty much every Raider fan is convinced that Paul Tagliabue called that one in due to his hatred of Al Davis or a post 9/11 conspiracy to get the Patriots to the Super Bowl. Seriously, I’m not making this up. After pretty much every close NFL playoff game, fans will complain that the opposition team got away with murder on the offensive line. The star system is prevalent in every sport. You can’t breathe on Tom Brady or Peyton Manning without drawing an unnecessary roughness flag. Supertar baseball hitters tend to have a pretty small strike zone, with the opposite for star pitchers. You seem to think referees making mistakes is due to something sinister, I think refereeing is basically a hard job and mistakes are going to be made. Some of these mistakes will be big ones in big moments and might cost a team a game. I do think Stern can be his own worst enemy at times and as I mentioned upthread, it was a pretty bad move to have Dick Bavetta refereeing the last game considering the allegations against him, but then again I didn’t see him impact the game at all. Did you?

  95. Duff Soviet Union

    I said this before as well, but I don’t think “the frequency of tainted, crucial series” is going up either. The bitching is just getting louder. Blogs weren’t around back in the 80′s you know? As for Stern muzzling people, jeez your head would explode if you followed the NFL at all. Goodell has everyone on a leash.

  96. jon abbey

    “it was a pretty bad move to have Dick Bavetta refereeing the last game considering the allegations against him, but then again I didn’t see him impact the game at all. Did you?”

    yes, the consecutive off the ball fouls on Pierce and Garnett with about four minutes to go, the 5th on each of them, also putting LA at the line for the rest of the quarter. the bulk of the game was very well refereed, but it doesn’t take much, just a call or two at a crucial juncture.

  97. Thomas B.

    Marbury + Thomas + NY media = Team Distraction.

    It is unfair to lay this all at the feet of Steph. He may be part of it but not all of it. Look at this using a scientific model. If Steph was the proximate cause of the Knick turmoil, then removing Steph should have resulted in a change. Steph was gone, or at least a non factor for most of this season. I did not see a marked improvement in any player (other than N8 and Crawford, which could be attributed to increased minutes).

    Over the past three seasons, the Knicks’ best stretches-I use best loosely- coincide with Marbury’s best play. I think there is a wierd chicken/egg thing going on with Steph. When the Knicks play well, he plays well. Or is it when he plays well, the Knicks play well?

    “Crazy homeless guy”- LOL. Intense stare on a winning team= focus. Intense star on lossing team=crazy homeless guy. I would love to see Steph play well this season and get this team into the playoffs for no other reason than to see how little credit the jaded Steph haters will give him (not that I think any of you guys are Steph haters). Of course that is a tall order. I could also hold out hope that Christina Ricci will show up at my house doing her “Black Snake Moan” routine.

  98. Thomas B.

    “it was a pretty bad move to have Dick Bavetta refereeing the last game considering the allegations against him, but then again I didn’t see him impact the game at all. Did you?”

    On the other hand, if you are Stern and you dont let DB work the game, the public perception is that there is a problem. It is a lose/;ose proposition.

    “lossing”, God I really need to start proffreeding befour i hitt sned.

  99. jon abbey

    “if you are Stern and you dont let DB work the game, the public perception is that there is a problem. ”

    really, because I’d think that the federal investigation of Bavetta might make people think that already… :)

  100. Dave

    “….. Over the past three seasons, the Knicks’ best stretches-I use best loosely- coincide with Marbury’s best play. I think there is a wierd chicken/egg thing going on with Steph. When the Knicks play well, he plays well. Or is it when he plays well, the Knicks play well? ….”

    Like it or not, Stephon Marbury is the only guard with enough to effectively run this team. He’s the best at orchestrating the break, he’s the best playmaker, and he controls the floor the best. As crazy it sounds he does a better job of involving his teammates than any other point guard option the Knicks have.

    Unfortunately the Knicks haven’t seen his best often enough. It’s become a rare sight over these past three seasons.

    It’s more of an indictment over Crawford’s and Nate’s ability to be a starting point guard in this league than Steph’s stellar performances.

  101. jon abbey

    I know what you’re saying, but I don’t think this is really true anymore. Marbury is a little older and a little slower every year. he was never good at feeding the post, he’s not especially good at driving and kicking. what he used to excel at is the pick and roll, but the two man isolation pick and roll has been harder to run since zones were legalized, and the only big man we have who can shoot a jumper is Z-Bo, and having him and Marbury both in is deadly on defense.

    anyway, this is why we need a PG in the draft, we need Westbrook. who was the last competent defensive PG we had (not counting Mardy Collins)? Charlie Ward? it’s been a while.

  102. Z

    “the NBA has to be one of, if not is the most difficult sports to fix.”

    Really? I think it is the easiest team sport to fix, all due to the subjectivity and ultimate power that refs have. If a ref wanted to they could call a violation on almost every play. Plus, the tax evasion crisis of the 1990s showed how desperate 50% of the refs were to make a little extra on the side. The players are all above the mob because of how much money they make, but the refs either need a pay-hike to the level of the players, or have their power decentralized.

    Baseball umps can call a stilted strike zone, but they can’t control what pitches good hitters swing at. Soccer and hockey refs are only there to fulfill union rules. A monkey wearing a diaper could do the same job. Football I know nothing about, and there is a huge gambling culture that surrounds the sport, so I suppose it could be fixed too. But to say the NBA is the hardest ignores pretty much every aspect of the game.

    It’s always felt a little WWF-esque to me. How often does a team mount a 20 point comeback in the third quarter only to come up short? Seems pretty predictable, and it’s probably not just “momentum” as the commentators often credit it…

  103. Ted Nelson

    Caleb, re: Zach randolph

    “When Dumars traded for ‘Sheed, he understood that “chemistry” and “attitude” are way overrated — it’s all about what you can do on the court.”

    I’m not so sure about that… the Pistons are widely considered to have one of the best “team chemistries” in the NBA. I remember reading that as soon as Sheed got to Detroit he started visiting local hospitals with Ben Wallace and other Pistons. Sheed has an attitude problem for sure, but he’s not a sociopath. He’s just kind of an interesting, colorful, short-tempered character. Somehow I really don’t see Zach Randolph visiting a hospital unless it’s because he got shot, but who knows.

    “Zach’s problem isn’t that he has a bad attitude (even if he does); it’s that he’s a mediocre player with a gargantuan contract.”

    Good point about Zach being a mediocre player with a huge contract, but I disagree that his attitude’s not a problem. Zach Randolph’s talent is pretty easy to spot, and I don’t think he necessarily HAS to be a mediocre player. If he stopped taking long jumper and concentrated more on posting-up, driving to the basket, and occasionally taking the open J and learned to play as part of a team offense I think he could be a very efficient scorer and one of the better passing bigmen around. While I think he could work as hard as he wants and never make all-defense, he could at least become a passable defender on a good defensive team.

    Those are attitude/ work ethic problems, not ability problems or contract problems. That’s also why thinking he could turn it around in Detroit, while it has a pretty low probability, is not completely outrageous.

    Good point about leading the league in minutes. Just kind of adds to the enigma that is Zach Randolph.

  104. W.C.

    >I think history shows this to be false. <

    Duff,

    I think in the cases you mentioned the players’ professionalism trumped any personality conflicts they had. In addition, none of those guys were head cases, getting arrested on a regular basis, bailing on their teamates, flaking out in critical spots etc…

  105. W.C.

    >While I think he could work as hard as he wants and never make all-defense, he could at least become a passable defender on a good defensive team.<

    I remember reading a quote by Garnett just beore the season started where he said that Zach was one of the better defenders out west when he was in the mood.

  106. W.C.

    >Marbury + Thomas + NY media = Team Distraction.<

    I agree.

    It’s not just players that cause turmoil and create distractions that hurt a team. So do coaches.

    Sexual harrassment trials involving the coach and players having to testify are not exactly going to keep the coach and the team focused on the tasks at hand.

    The NY media is tough, but these bozos gave them a lot to be tough about.

    The sad part is that it looked like the Knicks/Isiah had decent chemistry the year before when they were playing .500 ball for a couple of months before the injuries. It all started falling apart with the addition of Zach and the benching of Marbury. Zach did not fit with Curry (as much Curry’s fault for not really trying), then had some problems with other teamates. Marbury and Isiah are both just plain idiots.

  107. Ted Nelson

    TDM,

    “I stand to be corrected – Mr. Carmelo “We Quit” Anthony is much a much better player than Randolph. The guy is the best player ever to wear a Nuggets jersey and they are running him out of town. That aside, the Nuggets are not going to trade him to Detroit Sheed for Melo straight-up. They’d require Detroit to take other trash contracts like K-Mart (another headcase with history of injuries) and/or Nene (more injuries).”

    I’m not sure I get your sarcasm, there’s just no comparison between Zach Randolph’s career to date and Melo’s career to date.

    Denver’s running Melo out of town and talking about resigning AI to a long-term deal… Great plan: let’s be mediocre a few more years and then blow for a while with a 6 foot 40 year old SG as our franchise player (this seems to be the patented George Karl plan as he did something similar to the Bucks as coach/GM). Melo’s not LeBron and has certainly been overrated by some (most maybe), but the guy’s a top of the line scorer who would be more effective player if he weren’t on the same team as both JR Smith and AI. I think some of us are seriosuly overreacting to the overrating of Melo and underrating his as nothing more than a SF version of Randolph.

    I do agree with your point about Melo costing Detroit more than Zach, which is why I have my fingers crossed.

  108. Ted Nelson

    While it’s a conspiracy theory, 1985 was not the only fishy lottery. Since 2002, LeBron ended up playing at home and rescuing one of the league’s worst franchises, Yao got his wish to play in a market with a decent number of Asians (there was at least a possibility that he might not have come to the NBA if he hadn’t), and NOT ONE of the three teams most accused of throwing the 06-07 season ended up with a top 3 pick. Could very easily be karma or dumb luck, but I think there’s enough for a conspiracy theory.

    I don’t know how widely assumed it is, but the MJ gambling problem is a well known conspiracy theory as well.

    “I don’t think “the frequency of tainted, crucial series” is going up either. The bitching is just getting louder.”

    Could be, but people now have a reason to bitch. One NBA ref cheated and he’s accusing others of the same (with convenient timing). I just think David Stern needs to address the severity of this issue. I haven’t been following his response or even Donaghy’s allegations much, but Stern seems to me to be brushing the whole thing under the rug. This does add to the speculation that he’s involved in my mind.

    Z-

    “Really? I think it is the easiest team sport to fix, all due to the subjectivity and ultimate power that refs have. If a ref wanted to they could call a violation on almost every play. Plus, the tax evasion crisis of the 1990s showed how desperate 50% of the refs were to make a little extra on the side.”

    “Baseball umps can call a stilted strike zone, but they can’t control what pitches good hitters swing at.”

    Good points.

    “Soccer and hockey refs are only there to fulfill union rules.”

    I don’t know how much soccer you watch, but the power to call off goals with offsides calls and much more so the power to give/not give penalty shots for fouls commited in the box is a pretty huge responsibility. Especially in such a low scoring game. I’d say soccer refs are in a better position to determine the outcome of a game than basketball refs.

  109. caleb

    ” I remember reading that as soon as Sheed got to Detroit he started visiting local hospitals with Ben Wallace and other Pistons..”

    I’m not saying that personal character isn’t important in life. It also shapes which players I like and root for. But I don’t think you really believe their hospital visits & bonding had much to do with the championship run. Then again, “The Natural” was a great movie… Remember that sick kid?

    But did you ever read “Champion,” by Ring Lardner?

    “Zach Randolph’s talent is pretty easy to spot, and I don’t think he necessarily HAS to be a mediocre player. If he stopped taking long jumper and concentrated more on posting-up, driving to the basket, and occasionally taking the open J and learned to play as part of a team offense I think he could be a very efficient scorer and one of the better passing bigmen around. ”

    All this may be true, just like Marbury at one point might have become a different player than he is now. But that’s not what I mean by chemistry. IMO ‘Sheed’s play was incorrectly perceived (not by Joe D.) to be somehow less valuable, because of his attitude that would somehow poison a team. Dumars saw this was silly.

    In the same way, Zach’s value is far less than his per-game numbers would suggest — but it’s because of the things we always talk about (low efficiency, no defense, etc.), not beacuse of “chemistry” or “intangibles.”

    The only time I think a player’s attitude is really important is in the truly, truly extreme cases, like Ron Artest. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have a key player where you really don’t know if he’ll make it through the season, because of mental issues.

    I do think there’s such a thing as chemistry, but my version doesn’t have much to do with personalities. IMO, a team with good chemistry is a team where player’s talents don’t overlap and they’re able to make maximum use of those talents. (New Orleans this year, San Antonio every year). Bad chemistry is the opposite, where talents overlap so much (Denver) that the result is less than the sum of its parts. My gut instinct says that style of play isn’t important — you just need to optimize the mix of players whose value is scoring, with players whose primary value is in non-scoring areas. In any case, players on a winning team start to like each other more, and vice-versa… IMO the winning doesn’t come because they like each other.

    “I remember reading a quote by Garnett just beore the season started where he said that Zach was one of the better defenders out west when he was in the mood.”

    i remember this too, but a) if it’s true, he isn’t in the mood very much, is he?!? b) players are terrible judges of other players. Where would the Lakers be if they had made Kobe GM last summer?

  110. tdm

    Ted,

    My sarcasm about Melo was really just a comment of how I personally feel about him as a player. I’m not a fan. Also, I was trying to say in an unintelligible manner that although there is no comparison between Melo and Zebo, any comparison of a deal for Sheed has to be compared deal to deal, not player to player. If I were Dumars, I think I’d rather pull the trigger on Sheed for Zebo (no D / offcourt issues), instead of Melo (no heart/ no D) and KMart (headcase/bad knees).

  111. jon abbey

    “‘Sheed’s play was incorrectly perceived (not by Joe D.) to be somehow less valuable, because of his attitude that would somehow poison a team. Dumars saw this was silly.”

    heh, and he was right, at least until Sheed won a title and signed his new big deal. pretty much since then, his attitude has been slowly poisoning Detroit.

    just one example (I’ve never watched Detroit any more than I need to): it looked like he was actually trying to get suspended this year for a potential game 7 of the Boston series, screaming at the refs (wrongly) when game 6 was still up in the air, and when one more cumulative T meant a suspension.

  112. caleb

    Jon,

    I’m not saying that ‘Sheed doesn’t have temper (and maybe motivation) problems. I just think that people overestimate how important that is.

    I mean, even if he wigged out in the Boston series, he was integral to their being there in the first place. Same way you hate to see Duncan shoot 4 for 10 on FTs in a close loss, but given his other contributions the game wouldn’t be close in the first place if he was on the bench. (Not saying ‘Sheed is close to Duncan in value)

    I do agree…
    - Wallace’s game has gone downhill the past few years
    - He’s no bargain at $13+ million
    - I’d be looking at trade offers, too.

    But I think the main problem is that he’s getting old.

  113. NIck

    Where or how would you classify the persistent shooting and missing 3s instead of going into the low post? I think ‘Sheed was even called out on it by teammates or higher-ups but kept on doing it.
    I would call that an attitude problem even though it is a on court “issue.”

  114. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger) Post author

    Re: “But the same stuff happens in every sport.”

    There’s a group at FootballOutsiders that think NFL referees can easily change the outcome of the game. You frequently hear people say that holding and pass interference are called seemingly at random, especially in the playoffs.

    And there are plenty of examples in every sport where the officiating turned the tide of the game. I nthe NFL ist he tuck rule. The no-call on in the grasp with Eli Manning. The no-call on pass interference in 2003 with the Giants/Niners.

    In baseball you can talk about the no-strike call on Tino Martinez before he hit that Grand Slam in 98. The Jeffrey Maier home run. The Eric Gregg strike zone for the Marlins.

    The NBA isn’t the only sport where an official can affect the outcome of a game.

    “While it’s a conspiracy theory, 1985 was not the only fishy lottery. Since 2002, LeBron ended up playing at home and rescuing one of the league’s worst franchises, Yao got his wish to play in a market with a decent number of Asians (there was at least a possibility that he might not have come to the NBA if he hadn’t), and NOT ONE of the three teams most accused of throwing the 06-07 season ended up with a top 3 pick. Could very easily be karma or dumb luck, but I think there’s enough for a conspiracy theory.”

    But there are just as many of examples of the lottery not being fixed. Tim Duncan to the Spurs instead of Boston. Oden & Durant to Portland & Seattle.

    I’d like to refer you to:
    http://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~aldous/Top_Ten/talk.html

    Coincidences are more likely than you think.

    * Have you ever spent more than 2 minutes clicking on the Wikipedia “random article” link?

    Click long enough, you see an article that is similar in some coincidental way to a previous article in the same session. So I did an experiment; on 28 different days I clicked and read until noticing some unusual similarity between the current article and some previous one that day; then I wrote down both the article titles and a brief description of the “specific coincidence” observed. Here are the results.

    Of course Wikipedia isn’t exactly “real life” but it does have the 3 essential features mentioned before, and also what I’m doing is a “repeatable experiment” — we can actually do science here. In particular, after seeing a specific coincidence one can go back and interrogate Wikipedia to calculate the a priori chance of seeing that coincidence in two random pages. For instance if you click “random article” twice, the chance both pages are Hindu religious figures is about 12 in 100 million.

    This data helps us focus on the “gazillions” argument. We do see unlikely coincidences — figures are “per 100 million”.

    If you repeated the experiment then almost all your 28 coincidences would be different from my 28. On the other hand with a lot of work (in progress with undergraduates) one can go up from specific coincidences to “coincidence types” — “people with similar occupations” — in the table we see (aside from sports people and historical people) country music singers, children’s lit authors, College Presidents, filmmakers. We can learn from examples and think exhaustively of other occupations, to estimate the chances of unseen coincidences of this general type. We hope to identify maybe 1/2 or 2/3 of “coincidence space”, and in this way check the rationalist assertion. Of course Wikipedia is another “small universe” which won’t impress spiritualists, but it’s a step in an interesting direction.

    Isn’t it possible that most things that look like a conspiracy aren’t?

  115. Z

    “In baseball you can talk about the no-strike call on Tino Martinez before he hit that Grand Slam in 98. The Jeffrey Maier home run. The Eric Gregg strike zone for the Marlins.”

    Yes, but none of that can be pre-meditated by gamblers or by league executives. How would you pay off a right-field umpire to rule that a home run caught by a fan is still a home run? How can you fix a game by not calling a borderline strike without knowing that Martinez would hit a grand slam on the next pitch. There is a difference between poor officiating and malicious officiating.

    The Eric Gregg 1997 NLCS game is probably one that the “Donaghy of umpires” would point to if he was bringing similar allegations to the baseball world because it was an instance of an ump deciding a game from start to finish. But baseball is at a point where a computer really could call a game. The parameters are finite: a strike is defined; an out is defined. The NBA has no such parameters. It’s all judgement. A foul is defined as contact, yet there is contact on every play of every game. When to blow the whistle and when not to is completely at the ref’s discretion, which seems unique to the sport, and makes the integrity of the ref tantamount to the integrity of the league.

  116. Ted Nelson

    Caleb,

    “But I don’t think you really believe their hospital visits & bonding had much to do with the championship run.”
    “it’s because of the things we always talk about (low efficiency, no defense, etc.), not beacuse of “chemistry” or “intangibles.” ”

    I’d agree that chemistry and intangibles tend to be overrated, while stats (especially “advanced” stats) tend to be underrated. But I wouldn’t say that chemistry and intangibles don’t exist.

    There are a few things I’d still consider intabgible as far as being unexplained by the stats I’m familiar with, largely related to team play (especially defensively). A lot of other things can be measured statistically, but intangible factors are behind the data.

    Chemistry, I would consider a rough synonym for motivation. Does the team environment motivate individuals to do their best? Whether that means someone belittling you or everyone loving each other is a matter of personal philosophy, I guess.
    Another example of how chemistry matters is character issue guys. One example that comes to mind is Vince Carter posting a PER of 17 in Toronto and 24.5 in NJ the same season. You could probably explain it statistically based on playing next to Kidd and RJ and on a generally better team, but come on the guy just didn’t care in Toronto. You don’t have total control over that as an exec or coach, but you have some and creating a winning environment IS part of your job.

    “All this may be true, just like Marbury at one point might have become a different player than he is now. But that’s not what I mean by chemistry.”

    In this case I wasn’t referring to chemistry, but a claim that Randolph’s attitude is not as big a problem as his mediocre play. Basically, I was saying that the two are very related: his attitude is the cause of his mediocre play.

    As you suggest, it’s a question of whether he’ll never turn it around and only get worse as he ages like Marbury or Steve Francis. There is at least some reason to believe that he could turn it around in a situation like Detroit, but I don’t know how much. I agree that Sheed is not that comparable. Are there any better comparisons to someone going from career underacheiver and cancer to productive member of a contender? (Jason Williams for one.) (The interesting thing about the Knicks is that Isiah managed to compile a who’s who of posterboys for the dangers of preps-to-pros and one-and-dones, guys who didn’t have time to learn the game as amateurs and never bothered to learn it as pros.)

    One thing that may bode well for Randolph is that it’s not like he’s never produced in the NBA (career PER 19.2), he’s just produced in the “wrong” ways. Expecting a guy to learn a new skill is one thing, but expecting him to learn how to use his skills seems more realistic to me. A coach on a team like Detroit can motivate Zach with positive reinforcement: do this and this and we’ll win. After a while he’s likely to get the hang of it: when I do this and this we win, when I don’t we don’t. In Portland and NY it’s basically been the Zach Randolph show anyway, but if the coach really wanted to motivate him to play the right way it seems harder when you’re going to lose no matter how he plays. The ultimate solution (and that employed by most winning teams) is not to have a Zach Randolph on your team with a huge long-term contract, but it’s too late for the Knicks.

  117. Ted Nelson

    TDM,

    I agree that the specifics of both deals has to enter into the equation.

    I also think Melo is generally overrated because he scores and has a high profile, but he’s not a bad player and has won throughout his college and NBA career.

  118. caleb

    “his attitude is the cause of his mediocre play.”

    Sure, although after 7 or 8 years in the league it’s hard to separate the attitude from everything else. At some point the habit is permanent. Also, some of it may be instinct or reflexes — no matter how hard you try, it’s just not there.

    “One thing that may bode well for Randolph is that it’s not like he’s never produced in the NBA (career PER 19.2), he’s just produced in the “wrong” ways.”

    I would gently disagree — it would be hard to think of a player whose value is more inflated by the PER formula:

    1 — it ignores defense outside blocks and steals. So, the rating doesn’t factor his abysmal defense.

    2 — it completely ignores efficiency. I do believe there’s value in shot creation, but PER goes way overboard. If Randolph shot an extra five times a game and missed all 410 extra shots, his PER would actually go up.

    If I were in an extremely generous mood you might convince me that Randolph is an average NBA starter, but that’s the ceiling, IMO.

  119. Owen

    “When to blow the whistle and when not to is completely at the ref’s discretion, which seems unique to the sport, and makes the integrity of the ref tantamount to the integrity of the league.”

    Not unique. Soccer is even more that way than basketball. Ref’s are more important in that sport than any other.

    You can fix a basketball game quite easily. And I agree that a ref scandal certainly could threaten the NBA very severely. But I don’t believe there are widespread improprieties either.

    Given the passion and emotion involved in sport, its difficult not to be fooled by randomness, but given how many playoff games there are every year, over the course of a decade it’s really no surprise that there are a few really wacked out results.

    Other thoughts…

    I have banged on Carmelo for a while for being an overrated scorer. But he was actually fairly productive this year, certainly way above average, and better than he has been in the past. He is still not a superstar, but it would be crazy to keep Iverson over Carmelo I think given their respective ages.

    Re Randolph

    “his attitude is the cause of his mediocre play.”

    It may be. He understands the calculus of the NBA, shoot a lot, get paid a lot. And he has to think about his next contract.

    Zach could be so much better if he were more selective with his shooting and put more energy into defense. But frankly, David Stern will admit he is wrong about something before those things happen, in my humble estimation.

  120. Owen

    One more note on sports conspiracies, there was widespread speculation that the Netherlands would let the Romanians win today, in order to eliminate Italy and France. But the Dutch just scored….

  121. cwod

    “who was the last competent defensive PG we had (not counting Mardy Collins)?”

    Does Frank Williams not count either?

    “Players are terrible judges of other players.”

    For real. Just look at the work guys like McHale, Isiah, and Jordan have done as execs. Maybe KG was just being nice to Zach, just in case he ever ran into him at a club.

  122. Thomas B.

    Defensive point…Mochie Norris?
    —–
    Who is the best fit for the Knicks at 6?

    Eric Gordon

    Danillio Gallanari

    Anthony Randolph

    Russell Westbrook

    DJ Augustin

    Brook Lopez

  123. jon abbey

    yay, Chad Ford has us with Westbrook in his new mock draft. he says:

    “after talking to the Knicks, I would say the two guys who now appear to stand out are Russell Westbrook and Joe Alexander.

    Westbrook already worked out in New York, and I hear he was impressive. The team liked the way Westbrook handled himself on the court. His length, speed, athleticism and defense wowed them. And he shot the ball better than expected.

    Alexander is a superathletic forward who has competed very hard in workouts. That’s attractive to teams, but he still has some issues — in particular, in terms of his basketball IQ, which he still needs to develop.

    So this week, Westbrook is our choice. But we reserve the right to change it (again) next week.”

  124. TDM

    I’m kind of surprised that Ty Lawson decided to remove his name from the draft. I thought Indy or Denver may have been a good fit for him, not to mention, I read some article where he was venting about all of the hate mail he has received from UNC fans, and how it made his decision to turn pro that much easier.

  125. Dallas

    russell westbrook rigt now is being compared to rajon rondo. Thing is, if we add someone in the backcourt with rajon rondo type capabilites, are we really filling the need in our roster. We need someone who can change the culture of our team; not someone who may become a spitting image of our team after one season.

  126. Dallas

    russell westbrook rigt now is being compared to rajon rondo. Thing is, if we add someone in the backcourt with rajon rondo type capabilites, are we really filling the need in our roster. We need someone who can change the culture of our team; not someone who may become a spitting image of our team after one season

  127. Dave

    Sheed is tempermental and a loose cannon but outside of that character wise he’s always been very good. Rasheed has been loved by just about every single teammate he’s ever played with. Great in the community throughout his career. He’s overly emotional …. not a bad guy. There’s a big difference there and that’s why the risk of taking him on is fine.

    The book on Zach Randolph is similar with one exception – Zach is meant to be a lovely hard working human being whenever he is around good people but he’s very impressionable and when he’s around bad characters it affects him in a huge way. Whatever team Zach ends up on, or if he stays as a Knick, he needs to be around hard working defensive team orientated teammates. That’s how you get the best out of him. On a team like last season’s Knicks were everybody was self destructing … well Zach will just implode. He’s not a leader, he’s a follower and he’ll follow anyone.

    Unfortunately off the court the Knicks have less control over who he’s around with (since he’s impressionable and prone to getting his name in the papers). He got a lot of heat for his entourage in Portland, I don’t know about New York and whether they’re still about.

    There’s a couple of great quotes from his high school coach on the subject of Zach’s mind and his concerns for Zach if anyone can track them down. A couple from Nate and Mo Cheeks too. I think they some up Zach very well.

  128. Dave

    On the subject of chemistry I think many media/GM’s overrate the value of personality (I think most players in the NBA are good folk and there are only a select few who’d I really hate on my team because of their personality) and underrate the value of compatible and complementary skill sets by teammates.

    It’s easy to have good chemistry when things are good when you work together. It’s easy to have good chemistry when you’re Tim Duncan and you’re passing out to a knock down three point shooter instead of someone who can’t shoot. It’s easier to have good chemistry when Perkins bulk and heft and ability to defend post players allows KG to spend more energy playing help defense and avoiding playing centre. It’s easier to have good chemistry when you’re Kyle Korver and you have big men who set lots of screens versus few screens.

    Skill set is more important than character (not including extreme cases – headcases) and it’s very undervalued by both the media and GM’s.

    By the way it’s also the biggest reason why this Knicks roster will never work. Even if they work together they’ll still fail too often because of their collective flaws (bad movement off the ball, bad passing, bad perimeter shooting, bad offensive spacing bad perimeter defense, bad interior defense, bad man-to-man defense, bad help defense) for any stability of style of play to last. That’s a big reason, the biggest in my book, why the Knicks continue to implode no matter what they do, try, or improve at.

  129. W.C.

    >If I were in an extremely generous mood you might convince me that Randolph is an average NBA starter, but that’s the ceiling, IMO.<

    He has above average talent, but below average basketball sense, attitude, and work ethic.

    He’s sort of the mirror image of Lee who has slightly less than average talent, but good basketball sense and a great attitude and work ethic.

    If you could put Lee’s brain in Randolph’s body, the new Randolph would be in great shape, work his ass off on other ends of the court, and be a one of the best PFs in the league.

  130. latke

    just a thought on bavetta reffing game five –
    if, as donaghy claims, some refs are ‘company men’ then perhaps stern had Bavetta ref the game because the NBA really wanted the series to extend to a sixth game. He put the company man there because he’s a ref stern could count on to make the calls to assure the lakers won. I don’t really agree with that idea, but if you’re gonna say stern put Bavetta on the game for a reason, I think this is the more likely one, not because he was saying “I don’t care what the media’s saying, Bavetta’s a good ref.”

  131. W.C.

    It’s obvious that skill set is more important than all the personality and character flaw issues mentioned, but it is often the personality and character issues that seperate closely matched individuals and teams under fire.

    Some people perform better under fire.

    Some people fade under fire.

    Some people remain level headed, focused, and work hard etc.. no matter what’s going on.

    Some people flake out for all sorts of reasons.

    Some people put themselves first.

    Some people put the team first.

    If you put five great athletes on the court that are among the biggest emotional basket cases, flakes, choke artists, and self centered jerks, they are going to beat a college team.

    They aren’t going to even come close to beating another team of great athletes that is team oriented, emotionally stable, handles pressure well etc….

    When we are comparing players, we are usually talking about similar talents. Otherwise the conversation doesn’t even come up. It’s the intangibles that often seperates them.

    I am not a basketball player (other than when I was kid). However, I played a lot of tournament billiards. In that game, so much of who wins is a matter of character and intangibles it’s mind boggling. Winning goes way beyond the tangible.

  132. jon abbey

    Boston is obviously a decidedly better team than LA (with Bynum out), but Lakers in 5 would have had a shot if the refs hadn’t handed game 2 to Boston. the series was over at that point IMO.

    great season by Boston, though. Garnett and Pierce complement each other fantastically, neither is a real championship level franchise player, but together they’re tough to beat.

  133. Brian Cronin

    How come teams never try dramatic strategies when they’re down by this many points with a quarter to play?

    Is it pride?

    Because you would think that a team down 29 should basically turn to late in the game strategies, fouling and taking threes – but they never do that – they always seem to just give up.

  134. Capt. Merlin

    Personally, I’ve always wanted to see a team attempt the cherrypicker strategy in a situation like this. Leave one man back and play a floaty four man box zone on defense. It likely would not have amazing results, but hell, by then the game’s over if played conventionally.

  135. jon abbey

    LA didn’t have much heart all series, definitely a black mark on Phil Jackson’s record.

    this game has to make Knicks fans feel a little better about that 104-59 game at least.

  136. Owen

    Brian – I don’t know if it works. I think the key to the big comeback is defensive stops. Pressing, long range bombing, I don’t think they work.

    Some victory for the Celts…

  137. Ray

    Maybe next year Kobe…..Westbrook at 6. Ill take that….Alexander at 6….maybe at 8 but not at 6…..Russell will improve…hes a hard worker and he’ll do whatever it takes to get better.

  138. Gdog

    westbrook SHOULD NOT be compared to rondo at all…. Rondo’s a much better passer, has a better feel for the game, and a trickier defender.
    Although westbrook is the better offensive player

  139. tastycakes

    Garnett’s “Anything Is Possible” scream followed by him hitting on Michelle Tafoya = one of the best on-camera NBA Finals victory celebrations of all time.

    I love that guy. He wears his heart on his sleeve. So glad he got himself a ring. That team earned it.

    Also .. gives you hope that in any one year, with a little dumb luck and some brilliant moves, you can go from the basement to the top. Here’s hoping we see some good pot-stirring in the Knick organization starting with the draft.

  140. Duff Soviet Union

    21 points, 8 assists, 7 boards and 6 steals for Rondo. Mardy Collins could do that in his sleep.

  141. Duff Soviet Union

    I’m happy with Boston winning. KG had a great game and should shut people up forever (but probably won’t), Pierce is a great player (reading Simmons today, I had to laugh. Has he watched the guy for 10 years and never realised this?).

  142. Brian Cronin

    I really don’t think the Celtics are comparable to the Knicks.

    Their situation was unique – they were a young team that was not that good but had tons of young players and draft picks other teams wanted.

    What am I saying?

    Forget that! Sign me up! I will dream big, too!

  143. Ted Nelson

    “Sure, although after 7 or 8 years in the league it’s hard to separate the attitude from everything else. At some point the habit is permanent. Also, some of it may be instinct or reflexes — no matter how hard you try, it’s just not there.”

    I think habits can be broken, think about guys with motivation issues like Toine or Jason Williams who’ve put it together at times but screwed around when they don’t feel like putting it together (I doubt it’s worth it to constantly bang your head against a wall trying to get those kind of guys to put it together, but it is possible).

    The thing I’m saying with Randolph is that IT IS THERE. He can get to the basket almost whenever he feels like it, has a decent post game, has very good passing ability, and apparently KG thinks he’s a good defender (I agree that players aren’t always good GMs, but you know if someone makes it hard for you to score or not). It’s not a matter of instincts or reflexes, he just settles for jumpers and coasts.

    “I would gently disagree — it would be hard to think of a player whose value is more inflated by the PER formula”

    I just threw PER out there as a generally accepted player rating, I could have also said that in 2006-2007 his wins produced per 48 was above average at .147 or that his 2007-2008 Roland Rating (a team’s average of which, weighted by minutes played, I found through a regression to be more related with its wins that a similar weighted average of WP48 or PER, the R2s were about .93, .91, and .6something respectively) was +3.1 and in 2006-2007 it was +8.1.

    The fact is that the guy has scored and rebounded throughout his career. My point was just that it’s not like he’s Jerome James or Darius Miles and has never tapped a great athletic potential.

    ““Players are terrible judges of other players.” For real. Just look at the work guys like McHale, Isiah, and Jordan have done as execs.”

    Look at the work Joe Dumars, Jerry West, John Paxson, and Goeff Petrie have done as execs, or Danny Ainge, Otis Smith, and Mitch Kupchak recently. Too many guys get important front office jobs based on their playing experience, but there’s no rule that former players make bad execs.

  144. caleb

    “neither is a real championship level franchise player”

    I think you are muddling the terms “player” and “scorer.”

  145. Ted Nelson

    Jon,

    I have to ask you, who is a real championship level franchise player?

    Of course, teams win championships, not players, but in terms of talking about the best players on championship teams: Shaq had Kobe and D Wade (and Kobe and D Wade had Shaq), MJ had Pippen and Grant/Rodman, Duncan has had Manu, David Robinson and boat load of very strong role players, the Pistons had no one clear “franchise player.”

    The only example since the beginning of the Jordan era of a guy who won a championship without an All-NBA caliber wingman is Hakeem (his first title before the addition of Clyde Drexler). Still, that first Houston title winner posted the second highest regular season defensive efficiency in an era when defense dominated (so his teammate’s worth might not be captured by conventional/ box score statistics).

  146. Ted Nelson

    “that first Houston title winner posted the second highest regular season defensive efficiency in an era when defense dominated”

    Just to clarify, the second best defensive efficiency that season not in the era.

  147. W.C.

    >The thing I’m saying with Randolph is that IT IS THERE. He can get to the basket almost whenever he feels like it, has a decent post game, has very good passing ability, and apparently KG thinks he’s a good defender (I agree that players aren’t always good GMs, but you know if someone makes it hard for you to score or not). It’s not a matter of instincts or reflexes, he just settles for jumpers and coasts.<

    Everything about Randolph says his problems are mental. Whether it be trouble with the law, staying in shape, putting out effort on both sides of the court, shot selection, not being team oriented etc.. they are all mental/frame of mind issues. Some of these things you can mature out of or learn, but I think some of them are probably related to innate “thinking” ability.

    Most his shortcomings show up in his and the team’s stats.

    The stuff that doesn’t show up as well is the stuff that happens in the last few minutes of an important tight game.

    One guy can be statistically superior over the course of a game/season but miss free throws, turn the ball over, take a bunch of really stupid shots, back off from a leadership role etc… on a regular basis when it really matters in the last two minutes of a tight game. That causes losses.

    Another guy can be a bit weaker statistically, but regularly do extraordinary things on the boards, on defense, hit the cluth free throws, dive for loose balls, lead by example etc… in those last two minutes and create wins.

    Winning and losing is mostly about the talent and skills of the individuals involved. That stuff can easily be measured.

    However, when the competition is between two players or teams of similar ability (which is often the case), the result is often determined by only a handful of key plays, shots, decisions under extreme pressure. Those decisions, plays etc… count very little on the stats sheets because they are a small percenatge of the pie, but they are huge in terms of final results.

    If one player/team consistently delivers and another consistently comes up empty, the results will be dramatically different even though they are of similar ability.

    Of course, there are lots of thing in between also, but you can often tell who the “winners” are and who the “losers” are.

  148. Thomas B.

    “Boston is obviously a decidedly better team than LA (with Bynum out), but Lakers in 5 would have had a shot if the refs hadn’t handed game 2 to Boston. the series was over at that point IMO.”

    That is true jon, but LA has itself to blame for giving away game 4.
    ———-
    I think this series says more about the Lakers’ supporting cast than it does about Kobe. Maybe next year Kobe, you got 3-4 prime years left and 2-3 productive years after that.
    ———–
    For the first time I can recall, Phil Jackson did not have his team mentally prepared to play. LA’s perimeter D was awful. The rotations were not there, the help D was gone. Where was the ball pressure? Do you blame the coach or the players on that?
    ————
    I agree that Russell Westbrook should be the guy if a top five guy slipping to 6 does not happen. I like his size and speed. Agustine brings to mind a cross between J. Nelson and TJ Ford. I hear Westbrook isnt the best shooter but he cant be as inept as Mardy Collins, who should just concentrate on defense and distribution. Eric Snow made a good career out of doing just that.

  149. Funky

    It seems like a lot of people on this site are high on Westbrook. Can someone please “sell me” the case for Westbrook? I just don’t see how he’s worth a number 6 pick, but maybe I’m missing something. I’m pretty open to changing my opinion as I haven’t watched many UCLA games. According to DraftExpress, he has average ball handling skills and shooting skills. He’s a terrific defender and an above-average distributer, but he seems to pale in comparison to Augustin at the latter, especially considering that Westbrook was playing with 4 other potential NBA players.

    So is the case for Westbrook just based on athleticism and “tremendous upside potential?”

  150. caleb

    The case for Westbrook would be that he is a great athlete, great defender… and better PG numbers than the commentary seems to suggest. Even though he played off the ball he averaged more than 5 assists per 40, and a better than 2.5/1 Assist-turnover ratio.

    Even though he’s a sophomore, he’s still young — not 20 until November – so should have plenty of room for improvement.

    It’s not hard to envision him as a player very similar to Rondo, which I think most people would agree is definitely worth a #6 or better pick.

    Of course that will take a few more years of development.

    #6 does seem a little high, but after the top 2 all the players have a lot of big question marks…

  151. Dave

    I dislike both Westbrook and DJ Augustin at #6. I hope the Knicks stay away from both.

    “……So is the case for Westbrook just based on athleticism and “tremendous upside potential?”…..”

    Yep, oh and he’s a hard worker who’s a nice guy. That too.

  152. caleb

    Augustin is a few levels below, in terms of the upside. Small, not tons of athleticism — I think the best-case is probably a better version of Jameer Nelson. Which is pretty good.

    But given his lack of size or quickness, I think teams are worried (as I would be) that he will be eaten alive on the defensive end. Westbrook is more of a wild card, but even if Augustin hit the best-case scenario, I don’t think he’d be worth a #6… people are talking about him as a fit in Indy at #11, which seems fair.

  153. Dave

    I don’t like the Rondo comparison. Westbrook doesn’t have half the point guard skills/instincts that Rondo has. The only similarity is that they both play good defense and have sketchy jump shots.

    Did you see how Rondo completely controlled the tempo last night? All the fastbreaks he created and all the halfcourt sets where he got his team into their offense in the first five seconds of the shot clock. How he orchestrated every fastbreak? How he sped up into the full court, then slowed down at the 25 feet mark to the 18 feet mark to give Ray Allen the time to run the baseline for the open three pointer in the corner? That’s a talent that’s extremely rare and Westbrook doesn’t come close to possessing it. Rondo was doing things like that all night long.

    Westbrook is also nowhere near as good a penetrator as Rondo. Rondo can beat his man off the bounce and get to the rim whenever he wants. Fisher did a great job on Iverson, Williams and Parker but he never did stop/limit Rondo. Rondo isn’t just quick, he’s one of the 5 quickest players in the league. He’s lightning. Westbrook is quick but he’s not Rondo quick. It also makes Rajon one of the best drive and kick point guards in the league.

    Rondo is a fantastic ballhandler. What did he have 50 assists versus 7 turnovers against Atlanta? Rondo is also a far superior passer.

    Rondo is also the best rebounding point guard in the league behind Jason Kidd.

    Rondo is exceptional because he can impact a game in so many different ways. Westbrook cannot do half of things to half the level Rondo can/could when coming out.

    Rondo’s main development has been his jump shot in the pros. The rest of his game, the versatility was there as a rookie (consistency wasn’t there either, still isn’t). Westbrook isn’t that player. He doesn’t have the ingenuity with the ball in his hands to become that player either.

    Now if Rondo was available at #6 he’d be worth drafting. Westbrook no, not so much. If the Knicks want one of these point guards (Westbrook, DJ) they should trade down to Sacramento are somebody. Try to pick up Salmons or Garcia in the deal. Do something like that.

  154. Ted Nelson

    Funky,

    I’m not the hugest Westbrook supporter by a long shot, but he’s a pretty good prospect.

    It doesn’t just seem to be people on this site who are high on Westbrook, he declined to workout for the Nets which seems to indicate that he’s confident he’ll be gone by the time the 10th pick rolls around (although it could also indicate he doesn’t want to waste his time working out for a team with Devin Harris, Marcus WIlliams, and Vince Carter in its backcourt).

    The case for Westbrook is based partially on potential (great athlete), but also on production: he was a good player on a final four team who shined when the lights were brightest. A lot of scouts felt he was UCLA’s best NBA prospect.

    I think there are serious questions on whether Augustin’s game will transfer to the NBA. As far as distributing the ball, Westbrook played mostly off the ball but still put up decent assists numbers. Augustin didn’t have the same quality of teammates, but Texas is still a good program and their offense ran through him.

    W.C.,

    82games.com tracks “clutch stats”: “4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points.” If you go to the site it’s the 3rd article down. These stats don’t account for everything you’re talking about (and are regular season) but they give you a pretty decent idea.

    BTW, the 2007-2008 Knicks scored the fewest points per 48 minutes of clutch time of any team. Of course pace is also a factor there, but they shot one of the lowest FG% and the lowest 3p%, and had the lowest % of assisted FGs. They did get a whole lot of “clutch” rebounds.

  155. tdm

    With regard to Rondo, if I recall correctly, most mocks had him as the 3rd or 4th best option at pg. Marcus Williams was the highest rated, but then dropped like a rock. Collins was rated higher than Rondo as well. It kind of seems like a crap shoot. Hindsight vision aside, how do the Knicks maximize the possibility of getting the best value at 6? Also, anyone know what Marcus’ status is in NJ? Is he on the way out now that they have a clear starter at pg? Not to rehash the Livingston debate, but I liked Williams’ game coming out of UConn.

  156. tdm

    Apologies for not finishing my thought: I would rather take a chance on a short contract with a guy like Williams than Livingston, all things considered.

  157. Funky

    Just to play devil’s advocate about the Westbrook/assists numbers thing, do we really want to entrust our point guard position to a guy whose college team played him off the ball?

    Also, if Augustin were coming off his freshman campaign when he played alongside Kevin Durant and averaged 7 assists with a 44 % three point percentage (probably because he wasn’t the primary scorer and thus didn’t have to force the issue), wouldn’t we all be clamoring for the Knicks to draft him?

  158. Ted Nelson

    Dave,

    Rondo’s been in the NBA two years. The biggest knock against him coming into the league and the main reason he slid as far as he did in the draft after being talked about as a top 5 talent was because people felt he had NO IDEA how to run a team (along with a poor shot). As proof, he came into the NBA and posted a rookie To-rate of 20. PGs with such high TO-rates usually have much higher assist rates than Rondo.

    Anyway, the comparisons to Rondo are to show what kind of player he can potentially be and they mostly show his defensive ability and quickness (you’re the only person I know who doesn’t think Westbrook’s quick or a good penetrator). Since he played with Darren Collison in college it’s not that easy to get a read on his ability to run a team.

    Another comparison out there for him is Monta Ellis, not so similar to Rondo either. Rondo on defense and Ellis on offense? That’s only his upside, but it wouldn’t be bad with the #6 pick.

  159. Owen

    “I think this series says more about the Lakers’ supporting cast than it does about Kobe. Maybe next year Kobe, you got 3-4 prime years left and 2-3 productive years after that.”

    I agree the Lakers bench didn’t produce like it has all season. But still, it’s amazing that Kobe is going to get a free pass for this series because “the Celtics were clearly the better team,” despite the fact they were big dogs two weeks ago going into the series.

    It’s going to be interesting to see if the media/public reviews its belief that Kobe is the best player in the world, an “absolute assassin,” unstoppable in the clutch, etc etc, after an NBA Finals in which he was outplayed by at least three players from the other team.

    I have a massive case of schadenfreude right now, and it feels good….

  160. Ted Nelson

    Dave,

    I do agree with your point about Rondo’s versitility (he averaged more RPG than Randolph Morris his last season at Kentucky), but the fact that Westbrook’s can even be compared to Rondo’s says a lot to me. Westbrook is also a much better outside shooter than Rondo was coming out (.338 on 77 3PA vs. .273 on 66 3PA) and his frame seems much stronger from my observations (who knows though), these things-in my mind-might help compensate for the disadvantages of Westbrook and make him a pretty comparable player overall. Billups is no Jason Kidd, for example, but who cares… (Just an example not to compare their games.)

    Funky,

    “Just to play devil’s advocate about the Westbrook/assists numbers thing, do we really want to entrust our point guard position to a guy whose college team played him off the ball?”

    I wouldn’t really look at it that way. I’m not sold on Westbrook at #6 by any means, but the Knicks need to add a good player if they keep the pick not add a PG. Westbrook was a good player at UCLA and has a good chance to be a good player in the NBA. I’m on the record saying I think he’s likely to struggle if asked to do too much when he first gets to the NBA (like Billups, for example), but the Knicks need to take the player they think will have the best career not the best rookie season. I see no reason to pick for need.

    Despite plaing in the backcourt with Darren Collison, Westbrook averaged 4.6 ast/36. Despite his rep as more of a floor general, Darren Collison only averaged 3.9 last season down from 6.2 the season before.

    “Also, if Augustin were coming off his freshman campaign when he played alongside Kevin Durant and averaged 7 assists with a 44 % three point percentage (probably because he wasn’t the primary scorer and thus didn’t have to force the issue), wouldn’t we all be clamoring for the Knicks to draft him?”

    If anyone were projecting Augustin as a lottery pick after his freshman season I kind of doubt he’d have been back for his sophmore season. Anyway, I’m not a big fan. He’s shown enough that I think he can have a nice NBA career, but I think other guys available #6 will have better careers.

    Owen,

    I was suprised to notice that 9 of 10 ESPN “experts” picked LA to win. (Tim Legler took Boston.)

  161. Dave

    Check out Rondo’s rookie numbers over the final two months of the season. They’re very different once he recieved consistent minutes. His numbers over April are actually in line with what he produced this season.

    Westbrook is a fine penetrator and a good penetrator at the college level. I just don’t think he’s a great penetrator at an NBA level at this stage of his career. Rondo was that during his rookie season. Now his finishing around the rim was horrible (again last 25 games, or games he started that was very different) but his ability to get to the rim was there from the first moment.

  162. PeteRoc

    Owen – I thought the Lakers would win this series, but also anticipated that Kobe wouldn’t have big scoring games. It’s wasn’t that Pierce could guard Kobe straight up… its that he could prevent him front clearing air space to get off quality (for Kobe) jump shots. Kobe’s advantage over Pierce is his ability to use speed/quickess to get by him, but the Celts did an excellent job of preventing deep penetration with their help defense, and perhaps even more importantly, they’re willing to take charges, which discourages a player from putting his head down to attack the basket. There were three things I didn’t count on: (1) the Celts got more/better production from their bench then the Lakers, (2) Gasol/Odom could be defended without double teams, and (3) the Lakers defense was beyond terrible.

    On a different note, I do think MJ’s advantage over Kobe in the scoring prowess department was in his ability to figure out how he needed to attack the defense. Aside from pushing the tempo on makes/misses, I felt Kobe would be better off playing on the low weakside (behind the defense). Any time he was on the strong side of the triangle (on the wing) or running a pick n’ roll with Gasol, the defense (all five defenders) could lock in on him and anticipate where they would need to be to help on him. Kobe needed to do a better job without the ball, so that he could attack the defense faster when he actually got the ball.

  163. jon abbey

    “Rondo on defense and Ellis on offense? That’s only his upside, but it wouldn’t be bad with the #6 pick.”

    to say the least, that would be a Hall of Famer if he stayed healthy.

  164. Ted Nelson

    I didn’t mean to say that Rondo was bad as a rookie, but that running a team was a huge knock against him coming into the NBA and he hasn’t held on to the ball very well since joining the league.
    Even this past season, Rondo average very similar per minute assist and TO numbers as Shaun Livingston did his last season: Rondo 6.1 ast/36 and 2.3 TO/36, Livingston 6.2 ast/36 and 2.4 ast/36. Of course Rondo does things Livingston can’t, but I just doubt you’d be commending Rondo’s ability to run a team if the Celtics hadn’t “made themselves over” last offseason.

    I don’t know if Westbrook will be able to get to the basket at will in the NBA, but on top of being at least a decent penetrator he also has a good pull-up move and a is a good finisher around the basket. Again, I don’t think he’s going to be the second coming of Rajon Rondo, but I think he can be a good NBA player if he keeps working hard.
    If he combines sub-Rondo defense and similar playmaking with sub-Monta scoring and sub-Steve Francis finishing ability I think you have a pretty good NBA player: maybe a more explosive Chauncey Billups on the high end or Antonio Daniels on the low end.

  165. Dave

    Ted,

    Yeah I know you didn’t say anything bad about Rondo Ted. And you’re right it was a knock on Rondo coming out of college but that was bad scouting. It wasn’t some huge development Rondo had that summer. He came out in the summer league which is what a week after the draft and did a really nice job out there showing off skills that were overlooked because they’re hard to evaluate. Once he got minutes in the regular season he did a job there too. That was bad scouting.

    But seriously have a look at his stats near the end of the season and his splits when starting versus coming off the bench. Consistent minutes made a huge difference to his performance level. He finished the last 10 games of the season going for 13ppg 6rpg 5.5apg. As a starter in 25 games he went for 10.6ppg, 5.4rpg, 5.8apg while playing 35.5mpg. His assist:turnover ratio went from around 1.8:1 from the bench to 2.8:1 (two turnovers a game roughly as a starter). His rookie numbers look very different when you look at what he did while earning consistent minutes.

  166. Dave

    I’d be a lot more comfortable with Westbrook if he had one or two more developed areas of skill.

    He’s worryingly raw for a guard. Especially one as athletic and hard working as he is.

    The only offensive skill I feel comfortable saying as average or better for an NBA guard is his penetration. I don’t feel comfortable saying that on his ballhandling, passing, vision, trickery with the ball, shooting, scoring, playmaking, floor leadership, ability to force the tempo, to orchestrate the break. That worrys me. That’s an awful lot of ground to make up.

    For me to believe there’s large potential there I need to see more. I need see more than athleticism and character an a skill that is primarily based off his huge athletic advantage at a lower level. I need to see another skill there. It worrys me that he’s so far behind.

    I think Westbrook is a really big risk at #6.

  167. Dave

    Ted,

    Westbrook worked out for the Blazers the other day who are at #13. I think he just didn’t want to get lumped in next to Harris and Williams in Jersey. I’m pretty positive but wholly sure that he’s working out for other teams in the early teens.

    Also, I think Westbrook is quick. I just don’t think he’s Rondo-TJ Ford quick. More along the lines of Rafer Alston quick although not as agile but that won’t matter if he learns how to use his superior size to ride guys on his hip and hold them off. Westbrook has a great frame, he should be able to fill out physically like a Kidd/Billups.

  168. Dave

    That’s a fair point Jon.

    I’ll add I’m pessimistic on Westbrook’s potential which is why I see it as a bigger risk than other prospect players.

    Kevin Love is the guy I want despite the roster congestion it’d cause, he’s way ahead of anyone else on my list (assuming Rose, Beasley, Mayo, Bayless are off the board). The order of my next few keeps changing order but right now it’s Randolph and Eric Gordon that are attracting my attention but that’s liable to change. Leaning towards Randolph and his skinny frame (I dislike freakishly skinny big men).

    Trading the pick is something I’m very open to.

  169. Thomas B.

    “I have a massive case of schadenfreude right now”

    Dave,

    Take an excedrin for that schadenfreude and it should clear right up. Thanks to “The Simpsons”, I actually know that word means shameful joy.

    —–

    RE: The case for Westbrook at 6.

    1. The Knicks need a point. The three best back court players in the draft will already be gone by the time the Knicks pick.

    2. This draft is very SF and SC (skinny center) heavy. While the Knicks could use a shot blocker rebounder interior enforcer, I don’t see that much potential in Brook Lopez, Anthony Randolph, or DeAndre Jordan as a interior enforcer. The Knicks have at least two good SF prospects already so we could pass on Gallanari or Alexander. But we don’t have a solid prospect at point (Yes Mardy, I see you). Westbrook has a better chance of becoming an effective point than those big men have of being interior enforcers.

    3. Backcourt players tend to play into their potential before front court players. I think this because front court guys are often brought in just for their size with the hope that they can develop into a player. Very few points get drafted for size (unless they are over 6’6) so those guys have to have some other ability. I would rather get a solid point than a clueless center. I have nothing to back that up, just my perception.

    4. Augustin is pretty small. 5’10 without shoes. He is very quick and has a solid jumper but he wont ever “learn” to be bigger. Westbrook can improve his shooting well before Augustin can be 6’3. I hate to say that because I love N8, and he proves that you can play under 6’0, but DJ is not a fast strong or as good a shooter. And do you really want to see a N8 DJ backcourt? Is there any reason to think DJ can finish with contact in the lane, or defend Billups, Williams, or the other big punishing points?

    5. Westbrook has had very impressive workouts. He shot well and ran the offense well. Lets not poo-poo a guy for a below average jumper. Hey, JJ Redick and Adam Morrison are great shooters, do you want them? Uh…no.

    But I’m not an exec. I’m just a fan who wants what is best for his team. We will have all the answers next week.

  170. ess-dog

    A case could be made that Westbrook is the 2nd best pg in the draft. His shooting % is second best of point/combo guards, as is his asst/t.o. ratio. I know guys like Gordon and Bayless have higher usage, but that’s not always an equalizing factor on these types of statistics, and those guys played mostly off the ball too. And really pg is our greatest of many needs. It’s a gamble for sure, probably a slightly greater gamble than Love or Alexander, but the payoff could be great.

  171. TDM

    I’ve read that the Clippers are high on Westbrook as well. I like Westbrook, however, I might we willing to trade first round picks with the Clips if they throw in their second rounder and/or Fazekas. With a high second round pick, the Knicks could grab a player like Richard Hendrix, who has been impressive in workouts.

  172. Z-man

    I thought Posey was the most important X factor in the series. He seemed to be in the middle of every critical run.

  173. W.C.

    >I thought Posey was the most important X factor in the series. <

    Posey did a lot of significant things at very important times.

    PJ Brown also made a lot of important plays during the playoff run.

    It must be nice to have multiple guys with more heart and wining character “coming off the bench” than the entire Knick team.

  174. Ray

    I watched a bunch of UCLA games this season and Westbrook can play. He always came in a nd changed the tempo of the game. Very quick first step. Hes easliy able to blow by people. He has more ups than Rondo and hes only 19 years old!!! He can come in and learn from coach who was a point guard himself. Learn a few things from Starbury and then his defensive intensity will rub off on emotional guys like Nate, Star and whoever else is left after the draft. At only 19 this kid will definitely improve. The reson why is because hes a WORKER. He will work on his game to take it to the next level. Guys that play lockdown D are different than everyone else…it requires a different kind of effort and a competitive drive and this kid has it. Everyone after Rose, Beasley and Mayo are risks…. i think hes a good risk.

  175. Funky

    Thanks for the Westbrook opinions, interesting to hear what everyone has to say about him. I suppose if you look at him as a good player rather than the guy who is going to be able to run the offense, such a pick would be easier to stomach.

  176. Brian Cronin

    I want Westbrook, but I don’t like him at #6.

    Seems a bit high.

    I’d much rather try to trade the pick to get him lower in the lottery, while perhaps picking up another draft pick.

    And I think that is what Walsh is thinking, too.

    The only thing that could screw that up is if Westbrook gets hot and will not be there later in the lottery.

  177. jon abbey

    FWIW, the draft in the new SI has Westbrook going 4th (above Mayo at 5), and Bayless still being available if we want him at 6 (they have us taking Gallinari, I don’t personally see that happening).

  178. Thomas B.

    I agree with jon in that I don’t see us taking Gallanari, unless a trade is in the works. We have two good SF prospects already. Does DG have that much more upside than Chandler? I cant say for sure that he does. We need a point or a good center prospect.
    ——
    I dont buy Westbrook going to the Sonics. That seems to be smoke and mirrors to me. Teams do that to try to force a team to trade up to get the guy they want. I could see the Sonics swaping picks with NY because NY has an expiring contract to dangle and the Sonics want to shave costs before this move.

    Knicks could send Rose and the 6th to Seattle for Watson/Ridnour and the 4th. That saves the Sonics about 7 million.

  179. Ted Nelson

    “Does DG have that much more upside than Chandler? I cant say for sure that he does.”

    Considering that one is a likely top 10 pick and the other was a bit of a reach in the 20s, yeah I’d say the consensus is that Gallinari’s a better prospect.

    There games are completely different, though. Gallinari is known for his basketball IQ, passing, and shooting but there are questions about his athleticism. Chandler, on the other hand, is known for his athleticism, defense, and rebounding (for a SF) but didn’t pass the ball much and shot a TS% of .480 as a rookie.

    “We need a point or a good center prospect.”

    I don’t think there’s a check list where you say we’ve got prospects here and here so we better get some there. It’s not even like either Balkman or Chandler, as much as I like them and their potential, has shown for sure that he’s an NBA rotation player.

    Milwaukee went into the 2006 draft thinking their PG position was set between TJ Ford and Maurice Williams, man do they look dumb at the moment for taking Bogut over Paul and Williams. If Joe Alexander or Anthony Randolph is the next Shawn Marion, for example, should the Knicks pass on him to take Brook Lopez or DJ Augustin to fill a need? Even if they’re the next Chris Mihm and Travis Best, respectively? That’s not my opinion on those players and no one picks someone in the lottery with their fingers crossed that they’re the next Chris Mihm or Travis Best, but I see no rational reason to pick to fill a need. Portland needed a center more than a wing player, so they took Sam Bowie over MJ, great approach.

    I even think that picking to fit your style of play or a general need like outside shooting or perimeter defense is a bad idea. Cleveland took Luke Jackson 10th hoping to add some outside shooting around LeBron… There are only so many good NBA players drafted every year, you’ve got to do whatever you can to take one of them.

    “I dont buy Westbrook going to the Sonics.”

    No idea if there’s any truth to it, but Sam Presti is a San Antonio guy so I could see him going for the best defensive PG prospect in the draft for sure. Maybe Presti’s philosophy differs radically from RC Buford’s, but I never really saw a San Antonio guy making someone whose upside is compared to Gilbert Arenas his PG of the future. Also, do you really put Durant and Bayless on the same team? Maybe they can complement each other, but it smells a bit like AI/Melo to me.

  180. BERGRita22

    This is known that cash can make us autonomous. But how to act if somebody has no cash? The one way only is to receive the business loans and collateral loan.

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