Shaq and Pat Riley Want Justice One of the more prominent themes of this year's playoffs has been Shaq's foul trouble, which often forces the big man to the bench at the worst of times. Today, he and Pat Riley have drawn attention the part the officials have played in the Diesel's problems. "As soon as I touch someone, they fall down," O'Neal said. Coach Pat phrased his complaint a little more technically. "You have post defensive dislodgement," Riley said. "You cannot dislodge a post defender with multiple backings, but there are times he doesn't overpower anybody. He just backs in and guys go the other way." Read More
After a number of theories had been put forward by the media and fans alike, Phil Jackson today decided to speak out against those who saw Kobe's passivity in the second half of the Lakers' game seven against the Suns as being the reason their season ended. On the face of it, it's difficult to argue against them, with the game tape clearly showing Kobe waving off a number of scoring opportunities, at times moving the ball without so much as looking towards the hoop. However, Jax puts the all-important “game plan” at the centre of the fiasco, playing the angle that Kobe was merely following instructions. "Kobe went out with the game plan in mind," Jackson wrote in an e-mail. "Get the ball inside! Kwame [Brown] couldn't get anything to fall for him.... L.O. [Lamar Odom] the same. [Steve] Nash had banged his knee the first half and we went at him but Smush [Parker] couldn't score. "Now we're 20 down and I put in [Brian]Cook to get the screen-roll game going and they doubled Kobe and left Cook open ... "He [Bryant] finally tried to bust through the defense and got called for a charge and committed a turnover. So there you go. We're down by 25 points and things have slipped away." Read More
If there's one thing we've learnt from Mike James' recent rise to prominence, it's that the man isn't afraid to talk a little crazy crap from time to time. From comparing his time in Toronto with Jesus' public ministry to insisting he'd have been a legitimate MVP candidate if only the Craptors had won a few more games this year, he's said more than enough to convince us that he's a tad eccentric. However, I'm fairly confident he's being honest when he claims that he wants to go back to the Rockets next season. Cynics will say that it would also mean getting out of Toronto, a nice city with a horrible franchise, although James has stated his main motivation as being that his house is in Houston, which is also his wife's hometown. "Houston is my first choice," James said. "Seriously, Houston is home. My wife is from Houston. We just bought our house in Houston. I want to go home." Read More
I feel I can say that the Knicks stunk like Vlad Radmanovic's armpits this year without exhibiting any particular bias, and most would agree with me on that. Similarly, I don't think I'm putting forward my own opinion when I say that Larry Brown and his crackpot tactics were a major contributing factor in the pitiful performance of the team most saw as a middle-of-the-pack performer prior to the start of the season. Well, it seems as if someone finally broke this “news” in the luxury suite, and now halfwit/entrepreneur James Dolan may buy out the rest of Larry Brown's contract. This means that the man whose line-ups were largely determined by a dartboard and a magic eight ball will be invited to take a little break from work in exchange for a payout roughly equal to the annual turnover of some small nations. According to a report in the New York Daily News, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan is considering buying out the final four years of Brown's contract, worth at least $40 million. The Knicks declined to comment and would neither confirm nor deny a report that Knicks president Isiah Thomas would be named as Brown's successor. Read More
As a Greek, I was as excited as I'd been in a while when I first heard of a promising prospect going by the name of Sophocles Schortsianides (or, as you've probably seen it rendered, “Sofoklis Schortsanitis”) shortly prior to the 2003 draft. Happy as we were to see him drafted by the Clippers early in the second round, my hoummos-eating homies and I were beginning to wonder why it had been nearly three years without any indication that L.A. were planning on bringing him stateside. Having heard reports that he'd lost his work ethic and gained a few unnecessary pounds, I was worried that we might never see the hulking Hellene make it to the league, but today's report from the Clipper camp has quelled my concerns. Read More
Ah, the second round. The pretenders have been sent home, the contenders are starting to flex their championship muscle, and the officials are taking abuse from everyone and their mother. Who wouldn't love it? As I write, eight teams are still chasing the gold, and, two games in, only one series is tied, with the others looking as if they could easily go the full seven. In order to determine who's most likely to make it to round three, we'll be taking a look at each match-up in turn and assessing what each team needs to do to survive. Let's get right into it. Read More
What's good, folks? For those of you who haven't yet checked out my All-NBA first team, you can find the relevant article here. If you already have, read on. The CYE All-NBA second team G - Dwyane Wade Here by virtue of a more rounded line than Gilbert Arenas, D-Wade can no longer be seen as a precocious youngster on his way to stardom. Having put up twenty-seven, six and seven despite facing double teams on an almost nightly basis, the man Shaq dubbed “Flash” has gone from being a vision of the future to a present power who may have been considered an MVP candidate were it not that he plays alongside a former winner of the award. With a wingspan just shy of 6'11'', he's capable of causing havoc on defence, being one of the few stars of his generation to put in equal effort on both sides of the ball. Barring a mental major or physical breakdown, Wade should be featuring in all-league teams for some years to come. Read More
They made me do it. At the time of year when seemingly every article, column and message board topic concerns the All-NBA team selections, I like to lie low and hope nobody presses me too hard for my opinion on the matter. Why? Because there are so many conflicting voting philosophies that ten different experts can easily fill out and justify ten unique ballots. For this reason, I didn't want to have to undergo the process that inevitably ends with ain inbox full of angry emails questioning my methods, credentials and, inevitably, my sanity. But they made me do it. I've never been one to give into peer pressure before, but so many of the cool kids (i.e. other sportswriters) were doing it that I finally yielded and set to filling out my own ballot for the All-NBA teams. What follows is the work of hours of video analysis, number-crunching and coin-flipping. Uh...scratch that last part. In order to give you all some insight into my methodology, I'll lay out the two main criteria I used to determine whether or not a player should make the team Read More
Let's take a look at what's gone down since yesterday. Pat Riley's coming back to coach next year. I have two problems with this story. Firstly, the rumours that he was thinking of packing it in were clearly nothing more than playground talk. Secondly, it's been proven already that Pat Riley's word can't always be taken at face value. Riley, 61, had no comment for the record, but his confirmation of his plans was in response to "numerous media inquiries and unsubstantiated rumors about his future," according to the team. Danny Fortson wants out of Seattle. It's always fun to hear from Danny since he's certifiably nuts and always provokes a massive negative backlash with his comments. On top of that, he has an enormous persecution complex, and Peter Vecsey hates him. "Nothing against those guys, I'd much rather compete against them than to sit behind them," he said. "That's not going to work out. I think Bob Hill knows that. I think (general manager) Rick Sund knows that, and if you see me back here next year, just know they know what they're getting themselves into." Read More
It's about that time. The regular season has wound down, the playoff picture has been painted, and the losers have gone home. Let's take a look at the first-round match-ups. East (1) Detroit Pistons vs. (8) Milwaukee Bucks (2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Chicago Bulls (3) New Jersey Nets vs. (6) Indiana Pacers (4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Washington Wizards West (1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Sacramento Kings (2) Phoenix Suns vs. (7) Los Angeles Lakers (3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Los Angeles Clippers (4) Dallas Mavericks vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies It looks as if we have an entertaining first round on our hands this year. While you can expect the Pistons, Spurs and Mavs to send their opponents packing with little difficulty, just about every other series has the potential to go either way. Of course, the Suns probably will spank the Lakers, but Kobe is almost guaranteed to pull out a few absurd performances that could lead to a victory or two. Similarly, it would be a surprise if the Bulls seriously challenged the Heat, but all it would take is an injury to Shaq or Dwyane and Miami's house of cards could come tumbling down in an instant. The other series should prove to be just as interesting, in particular the Wiz-Cavs match-up. While it would take a fair amount of balls and/or stupidity to bet against LeBron James in his first playoff appearance, it's worth bearing in mind that Washington took the season series 3-1. Cleveland may have the best big man of either franchise in Z, but with the Gilbert Arenas running riot, Jamison scoring and boarding, and Larry Hughes looking to prove himself against his former team, the Wizards aren't exactly going to lie down and die. Read More
Let's kick this post off with a simple, one-question quiz. What would you do if you were the captain of an underachieving western conference NBA team which had fallen short in its quest for the playoffs once again despite high hopes? A) Blame your coach, teammates, your franchise's ownership group, then claim that your sneakers didn't fit well, so you couldn't really play properly. B) Keep your head down and hope nobody notices you. C) Pay more than $50,000 to take out a series of full-page adverts in regional newspapers to apologise to the fans. Of course, J-Rich lived up to his name, showing the depth of his pockets by dropping over $50K to let the fans know that the Warriors messed up this year. If there's one thing that never gets old, it's reading about how much cash NBA players are willing to spend on things most folks wouldn't even consider. Read More
Mere months ago, you could have left a message on Joe Dumars' answering machine offering him a bench towel in exchange for the rights to Darko Milicic, and he would have called you back to ask what colour the towel was. Now, following a change of scenery and an increase in his minutes, Darko's managed to make himself into a useful member of society, averaging around eight points, four boards and two blocks a game since he set up shop in Central Florida. Predictably, Magic management got a little overexcited, and there's already talk of a long-term contract extension. Although he probably won't put pen to paper until next summer, it's nice to know that thirty-something semi-promising games is all you need to be considered for a fat payday. "We'll continue conversations and evaluate it, and if it makes sense and it's something we want to do from a numbers standpoint, we'll do it. But if we can't keep the numbers down, we won't engage it." If there's one thing we know Darko is capable of doing, it's keeping the numbers down. All jokes aside, it's good to see that Orlando's pulling the oldest trick in the book by talking his value down through the media. Darko could average a double-double next year and they'd still try to get him for cheap. Read More
What a long, strange trip it's been, and now Greg Ostertag is hanging up his
hooves sneakers for good. Between the hair, the goofy game and the insane belief that he might one day win an argument against Jerry Sloan, Greg Ostertag has been a curious character throughout his career. Selected by the Jazz with the twenty-eighth pick of the '95 draft, 'Tag spent all but one of his eleven seasons with Utah, posting career averages of 4.7 and 5.5.
What I'll remember about ol' Double Zero, however, are his battles with Dennis Rodman in the legendary Bulls-Jazz series, the frequent post-game temper tantrums, and the look of utter surprise on his face every single time he dunked the ball.
“Honestly, I thought I would play for 15 years. When I came to camp, I planned on playing at least a couple more. Physically, there's no doubt I could play longer.”
Whatever you say about Ostertag, you can't deny that he's had to overcome a lot to last over a decade in the league. Sure, he's 7'2'' and hefty as hell, but I'm almost certain he's missing one or more bones in his knees. Either that, or he doesn't know they can bend that way.
Honestly speaking, the title “Zach Randolph and Darius Miles Want to Leave Blazers” doesn't qualify this post as news; what does is that they've spoken publicly of their desire to get out of town for the first time. Miles hasn't said much of his motives (and, frankly, doesn't need to), but Z-Bo wasn't scared to tell ‘em why he's mad. "It's got a lot to do with the front office," Randolph said. "A lot to do with (general manager) John Nash, (team president) Steve Patterson, you know, they put this team together." Randolph also leaked one of the league's worst-kept secrets in disclosing that he and Nate McMillan have had beef throughout the season. "So he came in with the attitude where, I don't know, he thought he's got to be hard. Like Sarge. So it's been tough, because I ain't never had...I always had coach Cheeks, who is more of a player's coach, and I was accustomed to his actions and ways. Now it's just a lot different." Unsurprisingly, neither team management nor Coach Nate has reacted as if any of this is the least bit shocking or disappointing. "I think they have to be honest, honest with themselves, and honest with the organization about how they feel," McMillan said. "To feel that way and keep it inside doesn't help anyone. I think they have to be honest about how they feel, their role, the direction of the club, so that we can get a feel for how we can help them." Translation: “Get the f*ck out; we won't miss you.” What this means for Portland is that they'll have a tubby kid who can't take instruction and a skinny underachiever to move this off-season. If they can't get market value in return (and they won't), they'll have to hope that their draft pick turns out to be the next LeBron, or it'll be another long season next year. My advice if you're a Portland fan? Pray. Alternatively, if you're an atheist (and this season was more than enough to shake anyone's faith), direct your pleas to David Stern. - CYE Read More
Unless you've been trapped in Oliver Miller's cleavage for the past decade, it won't be news to you that hip-hop and hoops go together like European players and suspect facial hair. Fresh releases are often to be found in an NBA locker room long before they hit the record store, and there's a discernible buzz on the blacktops when a hot new track drops. After years of marinating in rap culture, basketball's relationship with hip-hop is so obvious, well detailed and integral to the respective fields that it's unlikely ever to dissolve, even if the league will occasionally try to part the pair with an Elvis commercial, Dixie Chicks cross-promotion or anti-ice dress code clause. Over the years, the two games have grown closer as they've grown up, with rappers buying into franchise ownership groups and numerous players investing the dollars they earned on the court in start-up record labels. Every once in a while a baller will show up in the booth himself, and, even less frequently, an M.C. can be found lacing ‘em up and taking to the courts. Read More
What's good, basketball fans? As promised, I'm back with the second half of my Revisiting the NBA Power Rankings article. Naturally, the standings have shifted a little since Sunday, but so as not to have to recalculate the ranking-reality discrepancy for fifteen teams again, we'll treat it as if they haven't. Whatever the case, the changes (none of which saw any team move more than two places) wouldn't have been sufficiently significant to salvage the disaster that was my table from the summer. If those predictions had been a player, I would have traded them for Mark Madsen and considered myself the winner in the deal. I can only take solace in that every other set of preseason rankings I've found has been similarly horrible, adding weight to my idea that this year was a particularly tricky one to call. The other alternative is that sportswriters are, on the whole, a bunch of ill-informed jackasses. Let's move on before you have time to consider that fully. Read More
- Due to a mistake in the listed schedule, I arrive just in time to see the game start, sparing my eardrums the beating Clark Kellogg hands out with his incessant yelling. It's as if he's forgotten that he's wearing a microphone. - The tip ricochets off of two players and ends up out of bounds having last touched Humphrey. - UCLA's first play culminates in an awkward leaning bank-shot by Jordan Farmar which somehow finds the mark. - Florida's first shot attempt is a three by Brewer which clanks off the back of the rim. Read More
What's good, basketball fans? While no season ever turns out exactly as the experts called it, this year has seen more surprises than most, with a number of squads sporting win-loss records no analyst would have forecasted back in October. In particular, my own preseason predictions now diverge conspicuously from today's table, and in an attempt to figure out exactly how things ended up as they did, we'll be looking at my power rankings from late August last year alongside each team's current league standing in terms of their win-loss record. Please don't think me an honest man for digging up errors that would otherwise have remained hidden; I'll be doing my best to excuse myself and share the blame around like your favourite crooked politician throughout the article. By the end of it, we'll hopefully have established who should put their hands up for making me look an idiot, and where I should shoulder the responsibility myself. Read More
If you haven't caught the notes from the Florida-GMU game yet, you can check those out by clicking here. Otherwise, there's not much to say. Let's get right into it. - LSU end up with the ball following a scrappy tip, going straight to Big Baby, who clanks a fade-away jumper. - The pace of this game is so much quicker than the Gators-Patriots contest that it's difficult to imagine what the final will looks like. Both teams will want to dictate the tempo, but only one can win out in the end. - There's an unusual situation when one official overrules the other's decision, only to be overruled himself. Read More
What's good, basketball fans? As has become traditional on the biggest dates in the basketball calendar, I'll be keeping track of my thoughts throughout the night so that you good folks can read what I would otherwise have simply yelled at the television screen. All notes are real-time, unedited and uncensored, so if you suffer from a weak disposition, heart or bladder, you might want to check out ESPN's coverage instead. I'll be doing the same for the LSU-UCLA game later tonight, so make sure to look out for that article as well. Read More