Archive for the ‘No Blood No Foul’ Category

Predicting the 2009-2010 NBA Season – Western Conference

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

If you haven’t already seen it, check out my 2009-2010 NBA Season Predictions for the Eastern Conference.

First, some assumptions:

  1. That all the important players stay mostly healthy.
  2. That there aren’t any major trades. Obviously this will change, but when it does the rankings will be updated (if I have time).
  3. That some lame-o (who isn’t bold enough to publish their own predictions before the season begins) will criticize me when the season ends. Lame.

In order of how they’ll finish…

1) L.A. Lakers

Possibilities: Another trophy.

Problems: Point guards. On both sides of the ball. Quick guards like Brooks and Paul can carve them up. Fisher is getting old. Farmar isn’t the guy. (Good thing Kobe is more than capable of playing point guard.)

Prognosis: They are the best in the league. Bynum’s inevitable improvement will counter the inevitable decline of Derek Fisher, and anyone who thinks Artest can hurt this team is flat-out crazy. They are the team to beat. (more…)

Predicting the 2009-2010 NBA Season – Eastern Conference

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Here it is – my attempt at predicting the future. Last season I was too busy to write a post, but not this year.

First, some assumptions:

  1. All the important players stay (mostly) healthy.
  2. There aren’t any major trades. Obviously this will change, but when it does the rankings will be updated (if I have time).
  3. When I get one or more of these predictions wrong, some lame-wad who isn’t bold enough to make his or her predictions publicly BEFORE the season will ridicule me. So be it.

In order of how they’ll finish…

1) Boston Celtics

Possibilities: Eastern Conference Finals (ECF) or NBA Finals

Problems: Father time and a need for a backup PG.

Prognosis: Boston matches up nicely with Cleveland and Orlando, not to mention LA and San Antonio. This team is better and deeper than the team that won a championship two years ago. If anyone can knock off the Lakers, the Celtics are it. (more…)

Racism Alive and Well in NBA Blog Land

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Earlier today I visited and came across a post titled “The All Whitey Basketball Team.” The concept is simple – what would a team only composed of white, American-born NBA players look like? Who would be on the team?

Seems like an innocent enough topic, doesn’t it? At first glance, I was inclined to agree. However, when I started to read the comments posted by Yardbarker readers, it became clear that this was something much more sinister than a simple “what if” scenario.

Here are some tidbits from the comments on Yardbarker and on the blog itself:

  • I thought hustle, grit, and determination are the only characteristics that white players had? ‘We he sucks at basketball, but he sure does hustle’” – a blanket and unfair generalization about whites followed by some sort of impression of “black speak” perhaps?
  • Let’s take it a step further and have the all black hockey team. Now that would be comical. I don’t know if we could have a full team but it would be funny.” Nice. Black people can’t play hockey, right?
  • It’s the same in football and baseball. Never pick a black quarterback or a black pitcher. They have no arm strength. I would like to see an all black hockey team but I would rather see an all black mathematics team. Lol. Just watch a porn movie and you’ll see why white men can’t jump.” Don’t even know where to begin with this one. This person needs to be educated.
  • wheres Obama? he is half-white and can ball” Seems sort of silly not to slander the black President when all these other people are slandering all black people…right?
  • I used to build all-white teams when I was a kid on the NBA playstation game” – Sad really. This person has been a bigot for a while now and still doesn’t know it.

First of all, it’s disheartening to know that so many people have absolutely no clue. I still (naively) cling to the belief that most people can look past race, but this is quite a bit of damning evidence to the contrary.

In my mind, discussing the benefits of an all-white basketball team is no different than discussing the benefits of an all-white country club. Both ideas are based on a single, flawed premise – that the color of our skin somehow impacts our inherent characteristics. Worse, these discussions imply other differences too. Saying that “white players are awkward” implies that “black players are smooth,” which debases a black player’s talent. A black player isn’t in the NBA because he’s just naturally gifted – it’s because he’s a damn good basketball player. He wasn’t born with some sort of magical NBA gene – he was in the gym busting his ass for more hours than you or I can imagine. That’s why he’s in the NBA – being black has nothing to do with it.

Why don’t these people understand that making fun of white players (because they’re white and therefore “not as good at basketball”) is a back-handed slap in the face to black players who worked hard to get where they are?

There’s no excuse for this sort of racism, and I think that Yardbarker should step in and block these sorts of posts in the future.

Nuggets Warkentien Makes Great Move Trading For Billups

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

OK OK – so I’ve never met the guy. The best I can do is read what sports writers and columnists write. Still, I can read between the lines: Mark Warkentein, the acting GM of the Nuggets, pulled off a fantastic move – he traded an aging superstar for a top-10 point guard (the most important position in the game), a young 7 footer, and luxury tax relief. Here’s my impression of how this deal went down:

Nuggets GM Mark Warkentien

Mark Warkentien, incorrectly vilified for dumping Marcus Camby (that trade was made by owner Stan Kroenke and his crony Bret Bearup), made a clever deal trading the aging Allen Iverson for a top-10 point guard in Chauncey Billups.

This past summer, Pistons GM Joe Dumars wanted to blow up his roster. After his attempt to trade for Carmelo was rebuffed (along with a few other superstar overtures), Dumars recognized it was going to be difficult to get “equal value” for any one of his starters.

Fast forward 3 months and enter Stephon Marbury, the best point guard riding the bench in the entire NBA. The rumor is he’ll be bought out. The Nuggets are interested in signing Marbury for the rest of the season. Unlike the Miami Heat (who are also interested in Starbury), Denver still has their full mid-level exception. Advantage, Nuggets.

Mark Warkentein picks up the phone, calls Joe Dumars, and says something like:

“We’re getting ready to sign Marbury, but I figured I’d give you a call and see about Chauncey. He likes Denver, you’ve got a capable replacement in Stuckey, and Chauncey’s contract is pretty long. Why not make a deal? I need an answer today, by the way…”

Dumars, you see, was in a bit of a pickle. He *knows* that he can move Chauncey to any team in the league at any time this year or next. However, he also knows that “equal value” is difficult (if not impossible) to achieve. Getting Iverson in exchange for Billups is a fair offer, especially when you consider the salary cap benefits. Denver created a sense of urgency by threatening to sign Marbury and put this whole thing to bed. Dumars would have preferred to wait to move Billups – he wanted to get Stuckey more minutes before putting the team in his hands – but the Nuggets (and the Knicks) made that impossible.

Dumars is no dummy, mind you. Making sure the Nuggets buy out McDyess (so he can return to Detroit) was a stroke of genius.

Warkentein’s Nuggets are positioned as perfectly for the future as they could hope to be.

  • They’re almost under the luxury tax. They’ll need to make one more move – say trading Steven Hunter – to create a little more room, but when the McDyess buyout is done they’ll be very close to being under the luxury tax threshold. That’s a HUGE cost benefit – not only do the Nuggets avoid a tax payment, but teams under the luxury tax also receive an escrow payment and a share of the tax paid by other teams in the league. That payment – about $5 million – goes a long way towards making a team profitable.
  • They’ve still got some tools left to improve the team. They have a $10 million salary exception that doesn’t expire until after free agency begins next year and an extra first-round pick. Depending on how this season goes, you’ll either see Kroenke open his wallet again (and use these tools to bring in some depth) or Warkentein will try and move K-Mart next summer using everything he’s got.
  • They’re no longer a long-shot for the playoffs this season and next. The combination of K-Mart, Melo, Chauncey, and J.R. Smith is enough to threaten most teams in the league any given night, and if Nene emerges to be the player everyone hopes he can be, they’ll have most of what a championship team needs. Of course, they’ll have to learn how to play team defense, but that’s another discussion.
  • Denver has few salary commitments past 2010-2011 season. They’re not going to be shopping during the “summer of Lebron,” but they’re going to have the funds to play in free agency about the same time that Melo hits 27 – arguably his prime.

Here are the downsides to this trade (from a GM’s perspective):

  • Kleiza is probably leaving. There’s simply no way the Nuggets can afford to hold onto Linas Kleiza without exceeding the luxury tax next season. Unless the Nuggets can finally hit their stride and make it past the first round, owner Stan Kroenke is not going to pay to keep Linas.
  • Denver can’t add depth. For the same reasons that Linas Kleiza may not be a Nugget next season, Denver can’t afford to hire any solid role players without exceeding the luxury tax threshold.
  • Kenyon Martin is still a Nugget. While this doesn’t really have anything to do with the Billups-Iverson trade, the fact remains that the Nuggets are still saddled with one of the league’s worst contracts. If only Kenyon could have been included in the Billups deal…

Mark Warkentien is a good GM – that’s why the Knicks were looking at hiring him this past summer. If only Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke gave Warkentien complete control (see the Marcus Camby give-away).

7 Keys To Understanding The Celtics Championship Hopes

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Boston closed out the Hawks yesterday in a game heralded by the media as “potentially the biggest upset in history.” While the Hawks definitely gave Boston a scare, the series was never that close. Boston outplayed Atlanta in every game – except for a few fourth quarters. Based on that experience, here’s what we now know about the Boston Celtics:

1. The Boston Celtics bench is no longer a weak point. Leon Powe, Glen Davis, and Eddie House have all proven that they can provide meaningful minutes. Add in Posey (a guy that’s good enough to start on a lot of teams in the league), and savvy vets Sam Cassell and PJ Brown, and you have a team that’s deep enough to go all the way. Kudos to Danny Ainge for acquiring those two vets, and kudos to Doc Rivers for bringing along the younger guys.

2. Rajon Rondo is still the weakest starter on the team, but his shortcomings will be minimized as long as Cassell is available off the bench. Rondo’s game is highly dependent on getting in the lane (something elite teams do a great job of stopping). Take that away from him and it throws off his rythym – offensively and defensively. Lucky for Boston, they’ve got a fantastic point guard coming off the bench in Sam Cassell, so it won’t be an issue.

3. Doc Rivers might cost Boston a championship. It’s clear to most observers that Doc can’t coach at an elite level. He doesn’t understand late-game management, and he has trouble understanding and exploiting match-ups. See games 3,4, and 6 of the Hawks series. Don’t get me wrong – Boston might be able to overcome their coaching handicap. Still, I think every remaining team in the playoffs has a better coach than Rivers.

4. The Celtics have trouble with teams that play at a fast pace with a lot of athleticism. Luckily, they won’t face any more teams like that this year, at least not until the NBA finals (if they make it that far).

5. The Celtics team chemistry is as good as any. A lot of commentators talk about the fact that Boston hasn’t played together enough to win it all, but I think that’s wrong. Look at the way the team has pulled together in tough games all year – they’ve got plenty of chemistry to go all the way.

6. Lebron James is going to give Boston fits. Imagine a stronger, faster, and more capable version of Joe Johnson tear-assing through the Celtic’s defense. Lebron is going to single-handedly terrorize the Celtics defense. Will his supporting cast be enough to put his team over the top? I don’t think so, but it will definitely be close.

7. Detroit controls Boston’s future. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Detroit is a better team than Boston. But will Detroit play like the better team in the conference championship? If every Detroit Piston is focused, and I mean totally focused, Detroit’s superior point guard play, bench depth, coaching, and experience should prevail. Boston’s bench is good now, but I’d still take the “zoo crew” over them. Having said that, Detroit did collapse last year against Cleveland. It’s going to be a great series…

I like Boston’s chances of reaching the NBA championship – I’d say it’s an even money bet.

Mike Bibby Is Right – Most NBA Fans Suck (Except in NY and LA)

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Mike Bibby is right about NBA fans.Mike Bibby recently said that Boston’s fans arebandwagon jumpers…I played here [in Boston] last year and I didn’t see most of them.” Talk about honest – most of Boston’s current fans weren’t planning on attending games, cheering their team on, or wearing any jerseys until KG and Ray Allen came to town. But Mike Bibby was wrong to single out Celtics fans – the truth is most NBA fans suck. Here’s why:

1 . Your average NBA fan doesn’t understand the game.

Unless you’re watching the Lakers or the Knicks play, you rarely hear a home crowd boo their own team. Why? Because in most cities, the fans don’t know what to expect from their team. When the Lakers or the Knicks blow a lead, give up consecutive offensive rebounds, or miss an easy shot, their fans let them have it. These things are caused by laziness. These things are caused by stupidity. These things are unacceptable. When was the last time you booed your team for doing something stupid or lazy? Maybe you haven’t booed them because you don’t know how the game is played.

NBA fans drink too much.2 . NBA fans are drunk.

Attend any game at any arena in America and you’ll find beer. Lots of beer. Some arenas even serve shots and mixed drinks. I’ve got nothing against enjoying alcohol, but there’s something about public events that encourages the average fan to over imbibe. Drunkeness is only enjoyable for drunk people – everyone else is irritated.

3 . NBA fans imagine they’re important.

This one really gets me – people saying “WE DID IT!” after their team wins. WTF? Really? “We” did it? What exactly did you do? Was it that order of nachos that pushed your team over the top, or was it that time you high-fived the guy next to you when so-and-so hit a shot? Unless you’re working out one of your team’s players in practice, you can shut the hell up about this “we did it” business.

4 . NBA fans only participate when their team wins.

Remember when the Pacers were good? That stadium was full every game (about 20k people). This season, Indiana has the league’s lowest attendance figures (about 12k a game). Did 8,000 game ticket buying Pacers fans die in the last 4 years? No. The answer is that those Pacer fans are busy buying Celtics jerseys and talking about how they’ve been a Celtics fan since Bird joined the team in 1980 whatever. Ya right.

NBA fans are fat.5. The “I could have made that play” BS.

You’re watching the game with your friends and your team blows a layup. Somebody quips “I COULD HAVE MADE THAT ONE!!”. Really?! Shut the #@% UP. You can’t even run the length of the court three times. Next time you (or someone you know) starts to utter that phrase, I want you to stop and say “these men are elite athletes – I am a couch potato.” Keep saying it until you believe it, or until your pizza shows up. Fat ass.

Here’s why NY and LA NBA fans are better:

Every year, regardless of the team, regardless of the record, NY and LA enjoy full or nearly full arenas. Just because the team isn’t playing well doesn’t mean fans aren’t buying tickets. NY and LA fans will also boo their team when they’re playing poorly, something I have yet to see in another arena (at least consistently). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your average run-of-the-mill moron can’t afford to buy tickets to a Lakers or Knicks game. When you keep those people out, the “we did it” mob mentality doesn’t grab hold like it does in a lot of the cheaper arenas in the country.

I hope that I made you laugh. I also hope that I made you think. I really hope I pissed some people off. The truth is that just about everyone has done one or more of these things themselves. You can be mad, you can argue with me and say “my team’s fans are better because blah blah blah”, or you can stop sucking as a fan. Read more. Listen more than you talk. Crack a book sometime in the off-season and learn how the game is played. Get out on the court and run some suicides, do a rebounding drill, and try making a 23 foot jumper. Then maybe you’ll appreciate the game for what it is – the greatest game on the planet.