Breaking Down the NBA
The Quick Hit: For the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Orlando Magic, it’s all or nothing.
The all is having Commissioner David Stern hand over the Larry O’Brien trophy in two months and pronounce them world champions in a champagne soaked ceremony.
Only the all will do. Only the all will satisfy their demanding fan base. Only the all will satisfy their demanding owners, who have taken on multi-million dollar luxury tax payments for this precise moment.
While nothing, or falling short of an NBA Title, will force Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Orlando to make wholesale changes this off-season. Right or wrong, fair or not, these are the stakes when playing for a contender.
Every year, a few teams are capable of knocking off a contender. They are often slept-on and overlooked. Throw in a condensed, do-or-die seven game series and these Cinderella candidates need signs saying ‘proceed with caution’.
Fired for fighting: John Paxson must leave Chicago Bulls for provoking confrontation with Vinny Del Negro
The Quick Hit: John Paxson, the player, was known for knocking down jump shots. John Paxson, the front office suit, may be known for knocking down coaches.
Today, reports surfaced that the former guard and current Executive Vice President of the Chicago Bulls provoked a ‘physical altercation’ with sideline boss Vinny Del Negro over Joakim Noah’s playing time following a March 30th loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Let us be clear: ‘physical altercation’ is code for fight. And while Paxson vs. Del Negro isn’t exactly Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier or even Georges St. Pierre vs. Dan Hardy, their wee donnybrook is sufficient grounds for Michael Jordan’s backcourt mate to finally be fired.
The Quick Hit: Recently, former superstar Tracy McGrady told reporters, despite his lacklustre play and mediocre health, he wouldn’t sign with a team this summer that asked him to serve as sixth-man.
McGrady, of course, believes he’s a still starter. And McGrady also believes he hasn’t ‘fallen off’ to where he's a reserve.
Forgive me, but didn’t we just see this song and dance? Didn’t we just see first ballot Hall of Fame guard Allen Iverson commit career suicide by refusing a lesser role for the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies?
The Quick Hit: It’s not exactly a ‘Clash of the Titans’.
On Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors will square off at Air Canada Centre. Both teams are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. And both teams are over-hyping the significance of this weekend’s tilt.
Does two months of stellar play warrant a three-year, $39 million extension?
The San Antonio Spurs think so, rewarding shooting guard Manu Ginobili, who over the last eight weeks has been arguably the NBA’s best player, with a lucrative contract.
The devil missed an opportunity Sunday at the Verizon Center. After all, Andray Blatche would’ve sold his soul for one last rebound and the chance to notch an oh-so important triple-double.
To quote the 'great' Bon Jovi, Andrea Bargnani and ‘Flip’ Murray were ‘Livin' on a Prayer’.
Recently, the Toronto Raptors’ post and Chicago Bulls’ swing received a little help when their heaves were answered by a higher power –of some sort. Of course, the Raptors and Bobcats will take all the divine intervention they can get - even if it comes courtesy of a hair band years past their prime, if they ever had one - because both franchises are battling for the eighth and final playoff birth in the Eastern Conference.
The Quick Hit: There are many theories on the Los Angeles Lakers' recent struggles.
Perhaps, they’re bored having all but locked up first in the Western Conference standings. Perhaps, players are distracted by the trappings of Hollywood. Perhaps, they miss injured giant Andrew Bynum more than they care to acknowledge. Perhaps, Kobe Bryant’s on-going contract negotiations and unknown future was unsettling. And perhaps, tension exists between Bryant and Pau Gasol over shots and touches.