Saturday, February 26, 2011

Throwbackz: LeBron vs. Melo

Magic vs. Bird 2.2
They were supposed to be the Bird and Magic of our era but it hasn't been that way.  LeBron brought one Cleveland Cavaliers team to the Finals and Melo never did with the Denver Nuggets in the first seven years of their respective careers.  Larry's Celtics and Earvin's Lakers met twice in the Finals in the first seven years of their careers, and for a third time in 1987.  Its an unfair comparison, I know, because those 80s Boston and L.A. teams were stacked with hall-of-famers and legendary role players (if being a "role player" can be considered legendary) up and down the rosters.  For James and Anthony, they really haven't played with any HOFers (unless you want to count Melo playing with an aging-but-still-good-for-20-points/shot attempts-a-night Allen Iverson or LeBron with the "Big Fossil" Shaquille O'Neal) to make their matchups significant, entertaining, or even a little bit memorable.  But all of that changes on Sunday when the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat play for the first time since the Melo trade and the Decision have made New York and Miami relevent in the Eastern Conference again.  Melo has been the buzz of the NBA for a good three months now with all the speculation of him being traded by the Denver Nuggets before the trade deadline.  Before that, it was all LeBron and the Miami Heat anybody wanted to talk about.  Both players are extremely popular and if you were a GM wouldn't mind building a team around either guy.  However the one glaring difference between these two guys is the image that NBA fans have of them.  Melo is still loved just about everywhere while LeBron is feeling the full effects of the villain treatment, booed basically everytime he touches the ball at opposing arenas.  If I said I saw this coming years ago you wouldn't believe me, but let me take you back to the high school days to illustrate the difference in personalities.  A friend of mine attended the famed first ever matchup between LeBron and Melo back in 2002 and gave me a little insight.  In case you weren't aware, that year 'Bron was rated the number one junior in the country at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, OH and Carmelo was rated the top senior playing for powerhouse Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, VA).  If you haven't seen the highlights, then you're probably not really a basketball fan.   If you have seen them, then you know they never get old.

Oak Hill won 72-66, and they should have because they had alot more talent than the S.V.-S.M. team that LeBron carried.  Melo dropped a cool 34 and had 11 boards.  James had an ill stat line: 36 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and six steals.  The numbers predicted how versatile a player LeBron would become on the court in the NBA but something before the game occurred that the cameras didn't catch that may be telling of how LeBron is perceived off of the court.  My friend attended the game and told me it didn't feel like a high school game; the game was played at Soverign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ which seats 8,500, and arguabally the two best players in the NBA at that time, Shaq and A.I. (kinda funny right?), were in attendance.  But it is what my friend told me about what took place before the game that stands out for me the most.  He told me that before the game Melo was signing autographs and taking pictures with kids and that LeBron declined to do any of that.  LeBron as a junior in high school, 16 years old, and its too much for him to sign an autograph?  This could mean one of two things:  (a) He was so focused and committed to the upcoming game that he didn't want any distractions or (b) he is and has been very full of himself and his personal celebrity.  He's a great player no doubt, probably the most physically gifted human to ever touch a basketball.  But I guess he's just never been able to tone down the ego a few notches.  If that's what makes him go than he should keep doing it, because either way, LeBron being loved or a villain, its good for the NBA.  He says he doesn't mind getting booed, but if he does, then I bet he really regrets not taking those pictures and signing autographs for those kids because LeBron knows what karma is . . . As far as Melo goes, his positive karma brought him a National Championship in one year at Syracuse and now a big contract with the Knicks, and a reality show to boot for himself and his wife LaLa.  Melo definitely brings the swagger to New York that the Knicks have been missing since John Starks played for them.  The Knicks and the Heat were rivals at one point too with some classic playoff battles, and the unforgettable fight that ended with Jeff Van Gundy wrapped around Alonzo Mourning's leg
Might not see any of that but the court will be filled with very good talent from Dwyane Wade, Amar'e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, and Chauncey Billups as well as LeBron and Carmelo. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

'Off Tha Hook'

Texas is 10-0 in the Big 12, including a win over #1 Kansas.
Kansas (24-1, 9-1 Big 12) enters the week as the nation's number one team after previously unbeaten Ohio State (24-1, 11-1 Big Ten) fell to Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison last Saturday, even though Texas knocked off the Jayhawks 74-63 in Lawrence on Jan. 22.  Still, the Longhorns (22-3, 10-0 Big 12) were edged by only one vote by Kansas in this week's balloting and it would not be surprising for Texas to overtake that #1 ranking even if both teams win out during the regular season.  The reason why: You don't mess with Texas' schedule.  Coach Rick Barnes put his team in a position where they would battle tested come this time of year by playing a rather brutal non-conference schedule, despite having a young team.  The Longhorns have recorded wins over Illinois, North Carolina, and Michigan State, while losing to Big East powers Pittsburgh and Connecticut by a combined three points (their third loss was on the road to Southern California Dec. 5, a clear aberration at this point). All five of those teams are ranked top 50 in RPI.  The strategy has paid off as Texas is 10-0 in conference play with wins over #16 Texas A&M (twice), Baylor, #13 Missouri, and that "W" against the then second-ranked Jayhawks on the road.  As a result, many experts believe Texas is the team to beat right now. (including a friend of mine who told me on Facebook about a month ago that he could easily see Texas in the Final Four.  I see where he's coming from now, especially since he predicted the Melo Syracuse team to win the NCAA championship in 2003, when the Orange weren't even ranked!)  Bob Knight called sophomore guard/ forward Jordan Hamilton the best offensive player in the country and for good reason.  Hamilton, a very athletic and aggresive slasher out of Dominguez H.S. in Compton, is averaging 18.9 points per contest and can score on the drive and is shooting well from distance (41%).  At 6'7" 220, he definitely has a little Carmelo Anthony in his game.  Inside is true freshmen Tristan Thompson averaging 12.8 points and 7.5 rebounds.  He is 6'8" but plays alot taller than that because of his long arms.  I can see a little Hakim Warrick in him.  Sophomore guard J'Covan Brown, former McDonald's All-American and Florida-transfer Jai Lucas, along with Turkish product Dogus Balbay, fill out the other guard spots.  Maybe combined they can bring to the table what Gerry McNamara did.  But there are teams on the rise that will have something to say come tournament time, and teams that better find a way to get their act together quick, or they won't make it out of the first weekend.
Pick your poison between Marcus, right, or Markieff.

On the Rise

The Morris Twins and Kansas - Despite the humbling setback to Texas, the Jayhawks have imposed their will on almost every other team they have played this season.  They lead the nation in field goal percentage (52.3), Marcus Morris is averaging nearly 17 ppg on 61 percent shooting while Markieff Morris averages 13 per on 59 percent shooting.

Brad Wanamaker and Pittsburgh - With leading scorer Ashton Gibbs out with a MCL injury, the senior from Philly dropped a big 21 points at the Pavillion against Villanova Saturday to lead the No. 4 Panthers (23-2, 11-1 Big East) to a 57-54 win last Saturday.

Harrison Barnes and North Carolina - Maybe its just me but Barnes looks like he is finally benefitting from the college weight room.  Barnes appears to be more defined in his body, and his game is also responding, as he has scored in double figures in eight of 10 conference games.  In case you needed visual evidence . . .

On the Fall

Kemba Walker and UConn - I had Walker as P.O.Y., as many others did earlier, and he's still averaging 22.8 ppg, good for seventh in the country, but the game against Syracuse in Hartford killed it for me.  Kemba had 8 points and the Huskies just looked plain awful against the 2-3 zone.  I know not everyone can defend like the 'Cuse but why wouldn't other teams just zone up UConn and make someone other than Walker beat you?

The Illini are fading away.
Chris Singleton and Florida State - The big win over Duke Jan. 12 in Tallahasee may not mean anything now that Singleton will undergo surgery to repair a broken right ankle.  Singleton led the Seminoles in scoring (13.8), rebounding (7.1), steals (2.1), and 3-point percentage (37.5).

Demetri McCamey and Illinois - Bruce Weber has had a long drought since reaching the NCAA Tournament Final in 2005 (with mostly Bill Self's players) but had the talent and experience this year to atleast make a push in the Big Ten.  McCamey averaged 16.2 points, 7.2 assists, and shot 52.5 percent from three in the first 19 games of the season.  In the last six games McCamey is averaging 7 points, has 25 assists to 21 turnovers, and is shooting 32.5 percent from distance.  The Illini (16-9, 6-6 Big Ten) are 2-4 in those games.

Still Dangerous:

G - Nolan Smith - Duke
G - Jimmer Fredette - Brigham Young
F - Terrence Jones - Kentucky
G/F - Jordan Hamilton - Texas
Knowles hit 7 3's on the 'Cuse Feb. 12
F/C - Jared Sullinger - Ohio State

Players to Watch

G - Ben Hansbrough - Notre Dame
G - Preston Knowles - Louisville
F - John-Paul Olukemi - Oklahoma State
G - Jordan Taylor - Wisconsin
G - LaceDarius Dunn - Baylor
G - Erving Walker - Florida
F - Mouphtaou Yarou - Villanova
G - Dwight Hardy - St. John's
F - Derrick Williams - Arizona
G - William Buford - Ohio State

Thursday, February 10, 2011


The best of times and the worst of times.
 To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.  ~Confucius

The first time that LeBron James returned to Cleveland as a Miami Heat, the Cavaliers fans were more concerned with booing LeBron than cheering for their own team.  I think this was deflating for the players that are on the current roster, because people were more concerned about what they had lost rather than moving on an being excited for the future.  Now that the fans have witnessed their team lose an NBA record 26 straight games, are they still bitching that James decided to leave, or are they thinking about whether or not freshmen forward/center Jared Sullinger will leave Ohio State after a year and declare for the NBA Draft.  If I were a Cleveland fan, I would do the latter, because it makes no sense to dwell on the past now. 
LeBron is truly a great player, and by losing him with out getting anything on the roster to atleast balance the level of talent lost, maybe this epic collapse was inevitable.  However, I would be interested to see how the Cavs would be playing if they took this Confucian advice.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

10 Things We Learned From The NFL Season

- Brett Favre loves to play football probably more than any man thats playing now and maybe ever has played or ever will play . . . But he also loves to play with boobies . . . just as much as the rest of us.


- They could make a movie about what happended to Randy Moss this year.  They could call it "How to Lose Your Job & Alienate Teammates" or "Pariah".

I would pay straight cash homie to see this movie!
 - Sexual assault is a serious problem that the NFL has had to deal with over the years, and at the very least, it is a FAR worse offense than smoking a little weed . . . unless you are the Pittsburgh Steelers.

- The new reality TV show 'The T.Ocho Show' and the 2010 Cincinatti Bengals proved that former All-Pro wideouts Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson-Ochocinco-Johnson are over-paid, over-celebrated, kinda getting old, and un-entertaining, both on and off the field.


"We're terrible."
- Fat guys can be prima donnas too.

"There is NO WAY that I'm getting sweaty today . . ."
- A player receiving a touchdown pass in the endzone does not get credit for a receiving touchdown unless he comes down with possession of the ball, with both feet inbounds, with full control of the ball all the way to the ground, without bobbling it, tightly gripped to his fingers and/or forearm(s)/bicep(s), in a   continued football motion, for atleast 1.7 seconds, with the ball at a greater than 45-degree angle from the player's sternum, and cradled closely and securely to the chest as if it were God's only son sent to us from Heaven to Earth that he whoever believeth in him shall not die but have eternal life.

Blessed are the pass catchers . . .
- Professional football (John Facenda voice) not only a game, but a war -- a violent battle between seething gladiators, clashing furiously and with great tumult -- while trying not to hit their opponent in the helmet with one's own helmet, in fear of receiving a substantial fine and possible suspension . . .

- If you're gonna fake an injury, or if you really are legitimately injured, and it's the NFL playoffs, and you have a reputation of being sort of a whiny baby, you should grab some crutches, or at least look like you care, or else the situation will almost certainly define your career to this point.

Jay Cutler=FML

- Theres nothing funny about losing in the NFL . . . except players speaking after losing in the NFL.

- A game can be cancelled if there is too much snow, because the safety of the fans is very important to the NFL.  So its a good thing they don't plan on having a Super Bowl outdoors in a northern city anytime soon.

Can't wait! 2014, Super Bowl Sunday (or Tuesday)!

Biedrins vs. Kirilenko: Epic Bad Hair Matchup

Epic. Gawdawful. Hair.
Utah Jazz, losers of six of their last seven games played the Golden State Warriors tonight, who I think were on a four game losing streak???? I don't know.  Doesn't really matter.  The real story here is an epic matchup between Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko and Warriors center Andris Biedrins and their perfectly awful coiffures.  Forget about Clay Matthews vs. Troy Polamalu for the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl; both of those guys look respectable wearing long hair.  Kirilenko and Biedrins, on the other hand, just look straight up ridiculous.  Andrei can't decide whether he wants to go Tom Brady or Justin Bieber on 'em, so apparently he settled on just combining the two, and ends up having kind of a Katy Perry looking thing goin on.  Andris . . . I guess he's going for a Jimmy Johnson type deal but, I don't know.  I guess he just looks like a potential pedophile that still sleeps in the same pajamas he did when he was a kid and probably gets his haircut by his mom.