Inauguration, Dislocation and Roster Relocation
Regardless of your political views or affiliations, today’s presidential inauguration marks a day in history that won’t soon be forgotten. Barack Obama has inspired many different people for many different reasons and has now officially been named the 44th president of the United States. Now the real work begins. President Obama will have to work with Congress and the people to make the decisions that will be best for the country and guide it out of this time of economic recession and military conflict.
But when he’s not doing those things, he’ll likely be taking some leisure time for himself which will probably include some hoops. The White House has an outdoor half court but, sensing that it won’t meet President Obama’s needs, the NBA has offered to help install an indoor full court. Abe Pollin, owner of the Wizards, has also offered use of the Verizon Center. How awesome owuld it be to see Gilbert Arenas and the president hooping together, hearing some of the trash talk that would pass between the two? Here’s hoping that Obama’s job doesn’t interfere too much with his love for basketball, as is the case with many of us non-presidential folk.
LeBron v. Kobe
If you missed last night’s matchup between two of the league’s top three teams, shame on you. It didn’t hurt that LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were involved. The Lakers cruised to a 105-88 win over the Cavs in Los Angeles. We learned that homecourt advantage will indeed be a huge factor in the postseason, that Kobe might actually deserve that reputation as a good defender, and the he can still play a great game despite having two injured fingers on his shooting hand. Kobe dislocated his right ring finger early in the first quarter but gutted it out and finished with 20 points and 12 assists. LeBron finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and four steals, but committed six turnovers and shot just 9-25. The teams meet up again just before the All-Star break in Cleveland, where the Cavs are undefeated.
Rip Off the Bench
It’s official: Richard Hamilton will become the Pistons’ sixth man and Allen Iverson will retain his starting position. Hamilton is expected to average about 30 minutes a night off the bench and it wouldn’t be surprising if Hamilton and Iverson still shared quite a bit of court time. Amir Johnson and Kwame Brown will replace him, allowing the Pistons to get bigger up front and try to improve their defense and rebounding.
Hamilton has softened his stance on being a sub, going from "You can ask anybody who plays the game; nobody wants to come off the bench," to "Whatever it takes to win, I’m going to go ahead and do it." It doesn’t sound like Rip is completely OK with the change, but it is the will of coach Michael Curry. He can change his mind and send AI to the bench, but Iverson "never felt [him] coming off the bench would help a team." At least the Pistons beat the Grizzlies yesterday.
Tough Times Call For Hard Liquor
Beer advertisements are pretty much omnipresent in NBA arenas and telecasts. Liquor may soon join them. NBA owners voted to remove the ban on courtside liquor signage and will soon come to a decision on whether liquor will be advertised on team Web sites and during in-arena promotions. The economic downturn is being cited as a reason for the relaxing of these rules. No word on if the anticipated increased revenue will be involved in the NBA’s offer to build Obama’s indoor court.
The End for Jerome James?
The seldom-used Knick center ruptured his Achilles tendon during practice Sunday and is definitely done for the season and perhaps his career. James has playing sparingly since joining the Knicks in the 05-06 season and has drawn the ire of many fans because of his large contract and his apparent lack of desire to play basketball after receiving said contract. According to the fine folks at RealGM.com, James earned more than $2.5 million per hour on the floor and more than $325 thousand per game played.
Seattle’s favorite person Clay Bennett sat down with The Oklahoman for a Q&A session about the newly-relocated Thunder. When asked about the team’s 8-34 reocrd, Bennett responded,
"For the most part, it’s on line with my expectations. I knew we were young. I knew the transition (from Seatlle) was a challenge. …I’m really impressed with our guys’ effort. They’re working hard. They are getting better every day. I’m encouraged and remain committed to our philosphy of building this team. I believe we’re on track."
To be fair, the Thunder is improving. They’ve won three of their last five games and aren’t laying down and losing anymore. But when Bennett says this is what he expected… He expected losing streaks of five, eight and 14 three months into the season? He expected to have to fire his coach? Feel free to tell us the truth, which is that your team sucked early in the season and is getting better, not that you expected things to go this way. And if you did, you really should have done something to change that.