Friday, July 13, 2012

Battle of the Dream Teams, NBA Free Agency and Baseball's 1st half awards

So Kobe Bryant made the comment that the 2012 U.S. Olympic team could beat the original Dream Team, look the Black Mamba is one of the 10 best players to ever play so he should say something like that and he I'm sure he believes it. I think he's a bit delusional and here's why: The Dream Team was not at the end of their careers, Larry Bird was for sure and Christian Lattener was just about to be a rookie but Magic johnson still had game and remember he was just a year removed from being diagnosed with HIV, so he was arguably in the best shape ever (being in shape to play basketball comes up short when you have to be in shape to stay alive), everyone else was pretty much in their late 20's. To suggest that the 2012 Olympic dream team would cause match up problems for the original dream team is really looking at things from a slanted point of view, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook are all super talented point guards but having to have to guard a 6'9 Magic Johnson is a match-up nightmare.Granted Magic has never been known as a defender, but he has spent his whole career matching up with quicker, more athletic guards than he. What I'm saying is he would adjust better than they would. I think Tyson Chandler's ascension to the ultimate role player has been a great story but him, Kevin Love and rookie Anthony "Angry Birds" Davis is not even close to Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Karl Malone and the ultimate match-up nightmare in Charles Barkley whom in my opinion could only be guarded by Lebron James. The way this current team is shaking out, I suspect that their leading scorer will be Kevin Durant and sadly for him he would be matched up against the best perimeter defender the game has ever seen in Scottie Pippen. The true match-up problem this current team would have over the original team is their athleticism but can you seriously call a line up of Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler more athletic than Jordan, Pippen, Barkley, Drexler, David Robinson (which would be each best line-ups) and don't even get me started on an, in his prime Michael Jordan vs. a 17 year veteran in Kobe Bryant. In a best of seven series I'm taking the Originals in 6. Speaking of old school deals Steve Nash to the Lakers reminds me of Scottie Pippen to the Rockets. Both players still had gas in the tank but were just bad fits for their respective teams. Nash is a defensive liability in the era of dominating point guards and he is best served in an up tempo offense, the Lakers are clearly not that. Plus, you just can't convince me that a almost 40 year old player is going to make a team that has won 1 game in 2 years in the second round of the playoffs a championship contender. This move makes them only marginally better, unless they get Dwight Howard and then we'll revisit. His best move would have been to sign with the Knicks, trust me on this boo. Ray Allen to the Heat is a killer move for Pat Riley, he will have at least 2 games in the playoffs next year where his shooting will put the Heat over the top,and one player being the difference in 2 playoff games, for a championship team is huge. The 'Brooklyn' Nets getting Joe Johnson is the best move yet this off season, he was never a good number one option on a playoff team, but a number 2 or 3 option, definitely. Everyone talks about Mike Trout as the 1st half A.L. MVP, but considering that the Texas Rangers coming off a horrible World Series loss last year, combined with losing their best pitcher in C.J. Wilson, to their arch rival Anaheim Angels, Josh Hamilton's torrid start was huge and propelled them to the division lead and that's why he's my MVP choice. Jered Weaver and Chris Sale are neck and neck in the Cy Young race right now I give it to Weaver only because he makes me forget how shitty his brother Jeff was as a pitcher. White Sox manager Robin Ventura is the hands down winner of the A.L. Manager of the year. Andrew McCutcheon is the best player in baseball this year and so he's my easy choice as N.L. MVP. He's tailed off a bit, but R.A. Dickey has had a phenomenal 1st half and even though I don't see this continuing, I still gotta make him my 1st half Cy Young pick and since I laid some loot on the Mets only winning less than 73 games this year, fuck him and my N.L. Manager of the year pick, N.Y. Mets skipper, Terry Collins. Randomest of Thoughts: As soon as Rafael Nadal lost in the 2nd round of Wimbledon, I thought to myself, Roger Federer is about to win his last Grand Slam event. Unless Hideki Kuroda or Phil Hughes can pitch consistently into the 7th innings in the playoffs (which they won't) I suspect the Yankees will have to settle for a great regular season. Dwight Howard has made it impossible to pull for him. I suspect that these random erections I've been getting means that football is less than a month away. Dueces!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The 25 best ever players in the NBA not named Michael Jordan #5-1

To be in the top 5 means you could make a claim to be the best their ever was. You had very few holes in your game, dominating was an after thought, you were a measuring stick to most, if not all players in your era, MVP's, championships, incredible stats, 20,000 hoes, 6 women at once, you name it, they done it. So without further adieu...

5. I can see some of the current stars of the NBA chatting in the barbershop talking about Wilt Chamberlain. 'Man if I played back then, I would have averaged 50 points in a season, I would have dropped a 100 points in a game, probably would have led the league in assist too, just for the hell of it.' The oldest barber in the shop goes 'well you young fellas need to read up on your history books, cuz Wilt don' did all of that and then some' and one of them responded 'well he should have' and that's how I see Wilt's legacy. No matter how much Wilt dominated he would never get the credit he deserved. Would Shaq had done the same thing if he was in the league at the same time, maybe, but more? Doubtfully. Wilt never averaged less than 18 rebs a game even when he was at the end of his career and averaged only 14 points a game. He shot an all time single season high of .727 from the field. I saw when Jordan averaged 37.7 ppg in his 3rd year in the league and I saw when the league made significant rule changes to increase scoring, and the refs weren't quite sure how to referee with the new rules, and Kobe averaged 35 with Allen Iverson averaging 33, but 50.4 ppg and the next season 44+ ppg is insane. Wilt's stats are video gameish, which is why we are so quick to knock him, but tell me who else put those numbers up.

Why he's not higher: When push comes to shove, I stick to my number 1 philosophy. NBA SUPERSTARS WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS PERIOD. The most dominant  player to ever play any sport was Wilt Chamberlain and there isn't any real argument against that. However dominant and the best are 2 different things and the fact that he has only 2 championships can't go unnoticed, I have no doubt that Wilt could not be guarded by this guy, but this next guy was all about winning and no one ever won like this next cat...

4. Bill Russell played 13 years in the NBA and won 11 championships. The 2 best team leaders in the history of the NBA are Bill Russell and #3 on my list.  A lot of people knock Russell for not being a more prolific scorer but that's just people who needs petty argument to justify the players they want to put ahead of Russell. Anyone that knows anything about hoops, knows that Russell could have scored more if he wanted too, but his team didn't need that from him so he didn't. You know why... 11 'chips in 13 years. He was all about winning. The only time Russell ever averaged more than 18 points in a season was in the playoffs where he averaged up to 22 points cause that's what winners do, they fill in the blanks of whatever that team lacks. 11 'chips and 13 years. If everyone knows that defense win championships how could you not have the best defensive center ever who just happened to grab 20 rpg and score between 16 and 18 points a game. Sure he lost the individual battles to Wilt  but he won over 66% of their head to head meetings. In the end I can't ignore 11 'chips in 13 years.

Why he's not higher: Several years ago I was compiling this list and I had Russell at number 9. Here are a list of players that Russell played with during his career: Bob Cousy, Sam Jones, John Havlicek, Frank Ramsey, KC Jones, Bill Sharman, Ed McCauley, Tom Heinsohn, did I miss anyone? That's a butt load of talent son. All are in the hall of fame, that's clearly more hall of famers than anyone else had that's in my top 25. In the end I had to move him up cause out of all those hall of famers he played with only one can say they won 11 'chips. That being said, the league was still very much into the developmental stage, not enough teams, general unacceptance of  black players, no shot clock, no 3 pointers etc. and I wonder just how many titles Russell would have had going up against Doc and Moses, Bird, and these next 2 dudes.

3. The chances of someone ever being better than 'You Know Who' is probably the same as the chances of someone being a better point guard than Magic Johnson. No one on this list made players better than Magic Johnson. He single handedly salvaged #2 on my list career,  As much as we celebrate Lebron James, 'You Know Who' and who ever else you may have as an all-time great. No one was better as a rookie than Magic. Dropping 42 points in a game 6 championship clincher, ...on the road,... with #2 on my list out with an injured ankle... against Dr. J... and he played center. That's the best performance in a NBA championship game ever and he was a rookie! Magic's 1st 10 years in the league he played in '10 chips and one of those he didn't play in cause he tore up his knee. He was built like a power forward and handled the rock like he was 6'0. He was the 1st point guard match-up nightmare. We always say their will be never be another 'You Know Who' well when have we ever had another Magic Johnson. The closest thing to him was fucking Penny Hardaway. no, no, no, Lebron dosen't count cause he plays small forward. Magic only won 3 MVP's cause that's all that was asked of him, before #2 got old, Magic supressed his game so his teammates could thrive, taking over only when he needed to, then Kareaam got older and Pat Riley said Magic score more... BOOM 3 MVP's. That my friend is doing whatever you want to do on the basketball court and Magic wanted to win and that's why he has 5 'chips

Why he's not higher: As great as Magic was defensively he easily was the worse defender in my top 10, yes even worse than Bird. No one remembers that in 1984 'Tragic' Johnson (That's what they called him after the 1984 championship against Boston) single handedly lost the Finals against Boston. I swear to you he played so bad, that to this day I am not convinced that he did not purposely throw the series.  If he had won that, he would have had 6 'chips. The same amount as 'You Know Who' and we all know that 'You Know Who' would have kept playing til he got number 7, so indirectly Magic forced 'You Know Who's' early retirement. Which is an automatic strike against him. I went back and forth between Magic and #2 but no way I can deny the most unstoppable shot in the history of the NBA.

2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has 6 titles and 6 MVP's, his skyhook and Mariano Rivera's cut fastball are the 2 most unstoppable single tricks in sports. (Rivera gets the nod cause that's all Rivera had. I mean Kareem has scored without the hook but Rivera nope, straight cut fastball homie) He's the NBA all-time leading scorer, if he wanted too he could have gotten 2 more years out of that body. In basketball, centers are the 1st to break down, the pounding of such a large frame running up and down the court, thrown in with the physicalness of playing in the post, just wears a body down, but not Kareem. It's almost as if he changed his name from Lew Alcindor just so he could trick nature into starting over with a rejuvenated body when he turned to Kareem. 'Um Lew it says that your body is suppose to start breaking down now', "Nope, I'm not Lew Alcinder, I'm Kareem"...'Er, okay' He was the NBA Finals MVP in 1985, 16 years after he entered the league, I guarantee you that's longer than the entire career of most of the people that's in the top 25. Right up until he retired no matter what team he was on, when they needed a basket, they went to Kareem's skyhook.

Why he's not higher: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a mid to late 70's run where he was just really good. He wasn't dominant, just very good, it wasn't until Magic came that Kareem got rejuvenated. Magic put a spark in Kareem's career and I can't ever call someone number 1 if they hit a lull in their career, I mean it almost made me move him to number 3. He's still number 2 on my list and yes I could nitpick that he wasn't very physical which allowed him to prolong his career yada, yada,  ultimately I just can't ever put him in front of this guy...

1. Okay, Okay, I lied I'm gonna talk about Jordan, but I ask you, would you rather read about my 26th best player in Bob Cousy or have me talk about just a couple of finer points of MJ? I know right!!! He was 5x's MVP but probably should have won 3 more if the writers weren't so tired of giving it to him every year. MJ was a career 50% fg shooter, Kobe's single season career high was .469. Jordan shot 50% from the field 80 % from the free throw line, was the leading scorer in the league (yearly) and was 1st team all defense (yearly) all while winning practically 6 titles in a row. That's Basketball perfection. Even if someone like Lebron or maybe even Durant gets 6 titles or more they still wouldn't go down as better than MJ, cause Jordan won 6, but he conceivably gave up at least 3 more. The 1st 2 were in his fucking baseball hiatus and his last one was when Krause pretty much disassembled that team after their 6th championship, cause his ego got in the way, and if any of you think they were too old, I will remind you that the Knicks with Grandmama Larry Johnson, Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston represented the East that year (1999) which the Bulls clearly would have won and yes I would take Jordan and #17 over David Robinson and Duncan. They also would have to be the Finals MVP every year they won and they are already in the hole cause they both lost in the finals something that every player on this list has done in the top 10 except for Duncan and Jordan. Can anyone actually even imagine Jordan making it to the finals only to lose. He would explode, I mean phsyically combust as soon as the final horn blew or he would actually turn into Superman and spin the world in reverse so he could play the finals agin like Christopher Reeve did in the 1st Superman movie to save Lois Lane. Jordan is the best ever and someday it would be nice to see someone better than Mike cause I would hate to be a really old man knowing that the best basketball player I ever seen play was 50 years ago. I miss you Mike.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The 25 best players to ever play in the NBA not named Michael Jordan #10-6

The hardest part of writing the 25 best to ever play in the NBA not named Michael Jordan lies within this blog. My 10th best player could have just as easily been my 7th ranked player and vice versa. I really considered the totality of the impact that each player had on his team and the team success and also pondered the what ifs scenario to come to this conclusion. By the time I finish this I may have changed my mind... but as someone once said, let it be written, so it be done.

10. Kobe Bryant is the second best 2 guard to ever play the game. He has been too date, the closest thing we have ever seen to 'You Know Who'. In the last 10 years he has been the 1 guy who you definitively felt if it's the end of the game and the ball is in his hand, it's a bucket. I know stats show that hero ball doesn't work but when the last olympic team needed buckets they didn't go to lebron or D-Wade, they called on the Black Mamba. He had arguably the best mid-range game ever, at times he played like the best perimeter defender in the league, he was the most competitive person in his era, he won 5 championships, 2 finals MVP, 1 regular season MVP, 10x's All 1st team NBA, 9x's defensive 1st team, dropped 81 points in a game and beat a rape charge (I kinda wish every statistical run could end in a overturned criminal charge, for example "...And that Mofo beat a murder rap")

Why he's not: Kobe Bryant got kinda lucky when he went to the Lakers. I mean playing with Shaq put him on an instant title contender and no doubt Kobe's play was a big part of them winning 3 straight 'chips but that was Shaq's team. I hated the Lakers and I always yelled, "why is Rick Fox, Derek Fisher and Robert Horry so wide open all the time" because Shaq was the most dominant force on the team and everyone was collapsing on him leaving those role players wide open. One of the measuring sticks to find the greatness in a superstar is how good he makes role players and Shaq was the one that did that for them.  Kobe was the closer for sure, but he never made anyone better, which is why when Shaq left they were 1 and done in the playoffs for 2 years and missed the playoffs in the other year. I always think that Magic kind of had the same situation. Magic could have ran Kareem off the team if he wanted, but Magic was all about winning, Kobe was all about winning too, as long as he was the man, which ultimately led to the Lakers getting rid Shaq. They could have won 6 titles if they had stayed together but it wasn't to be and that's why Kobe's top 5 talent couldn't overcome his lack of overall leadership which keeps him behind this far better teammate...

9. Tim Duncan got 4 'chips, went head to head with Shaq and Kobe's Lakers and more than held his own. He's the only Spurs player that was a part of all 4 of their championships. I could give a shit that the Big Fundamental had no flair to his game, he could post you up, drive to the rack and his bank shot was flat out money, he wasn't a great free throw shooter but he shot them better in crunch time. Defensively he was underrated, holding down the paint for a defensive minded Spurs team. After his 1st year in the league he was one of the top 5 players in the league and didn't relinquish that for 10 arguably 11 years and unlike number 10 on the list he consistently made his teammates better cause he didn't care about stats he cared about winning

Why he's not higher: I dunno! (That shit would be the most hilarious thing I ever wrote if I left it like that) It's really simple, Tim Duncan could put his team on his back but not quite to the extent that the 8 remaining players could. One time in particulars sticks out. It was during the Lakers, Shaq/Kobe second championship run and the Lakers had won the 1st game in San Antonio and Tim Duncan had this fuck this I'm going down swinging mode and dropped 40 to Shaq's 19 and they still lost.  The next game Shaq clearly bothered by this dropped 35 to Duncan's nine as they won by 40 and in the end whenever I close my eyes I just can't see Duncan being better than the Diesel.

8. I love how everyone says how fat and lazy Shaq was. That's the crazy thing about sports, I personally know very few, if anybody, who completely maxes out on their job preparation, and yet we as fans constantly yell at the top 1% of athletes who does not meet the qualifications that we ourselves don't meet at our own jobs. As Shaq got older he definitely was not in the shape he once was. But who am I to judge the metabolism of a 7 foot 320 lb man. Their have been 2 physical marvels, in my history of watching hoops, Shaq and Lebron. A couple of years ago I watching ESPN classic and the 1994 All Star game was on, the 1st thing I said was Holy Shit, Shaq ran like a small forward. He was as unstoppable as anyone, no one in the last 30 years had to prepare more for one man, including 'You Know Who' than Shaq. Teams that had championship aspirations during Shaq's prime would get 3 and 4 centers to defend him not 3 or 4 two guards. I don't care that he could have been 10% better if he kept himself in better shape, or that he relied on brute strength more than anyone except Wilt. I don't care about 'Kazaam' or his rap career. Tim Duncan and Shaq went head to head in their primes and very seldom did I get the impression that Duncan was the better player and Shaq had way to much of an impact on his teammates than Kobe had on his. Shaq routinely destroyed Ewing and David Robinson, he was a flat out beast.

Why he's not higher: When Shaq lost in the playoffs it was way to often with a whimper, his team was swept like 6 times. That's way too high for someone with Shaq's dominance, at some point he should have been able to say 'you may have a better team but tonight ya'll about to take this 50 pts and 20 boards and come back another day' that and the fact his free throw shooting made it impossible to consistently rely on him in crunch time.

7. I have never seen anyone dominate a superstar in the playoffs, like Hakeem Olajuwon dominated David Robinson in 1994. It was as complete as an undressing of a reigning regular season MVP I have ever seen. From that point on no one looked at David Robinson the same and I'm sure everyone that voted him MVP that year felt like shit. He averaged 35 points against him and willed a bunch of role players to an NBA championship. Otis Thorpe, Kenny Smith, a 2nd year player in Robert Horry, a rookie Sam Cassell, etc., has there ever been a more mediocre championship roster in the last 30 years? BTW in the Finals, Hakeem dominated Shaq and Patrick Ewing, so in his 2 championship runs he thoroughly outplayed his 3 biggest competitors. Not only was Hakeem dominant offensively but he was the best defensive center as well, averaging 4+ blocks and 2 steals a game in his prime compare that to Shaq's 2+ blocks and .5 steals and you see how significant it was. Olajuwon never had a legit star player in his prime until he got Drexler, if Hakeem had Drexler his whole career they may have put a dent in the Bulls 6 title run.

Why he's not higher: Unfortunately for The Dream his only 2 'chips came when 'You Know Who' retired and even though at that time, The Dream was playing at a level that was close to equal as 'You Know Who', perception is reality. Which means that if 'You Know Who' didn't retire, Hakeem would have been #16 on my list. Hakeem's biggest obstacle of not being higher, is ultimately the Houston Rocket management not putting a championship team, for truly one of the most dominant players in the history of the NBA.

6. Well this one was easy, if your nick name has Legend in it, then you gotta be somewhere on this list. When I was compiling this list, the 1st thing I knew was that Larry Bird would be the highest rated white guy on the list. No offense, but Bird himself used to be upset when teams would put other white players to guard him. Bird played like if there wasn't basketball he would be nothing in life. I used to dislike Larry as he dismantled my favorite player Dr. J year in and year out. Bird gave it to everybody which is why he was a 3 time MVP to go along with his 3 championships while yearly dropping 25-29 points, 10 boards and 6+ dimes a game. What would Bird's ring total look like if he didn't have to battle Dr. J's Sixers and Magic's Lakers in the 80's.

Why He's Not Higher: Mostly injuries. After Bird's last championship appearance where he lost to the Lakers, the game didn't seem to come as easy for him in the following years, and after watching the Bird/Magic documentary on HBO, you remember when he would lay on the sidelines with his jacked up back clearly in pain. In the end Larry Bird's Celtics couldn't wrestle the team of the 80's title away from Magic and the Lakers, losing 5 titles to 3, but ending my next to last best of series with Larry Joe Bird makes me feel really good about this list!

Coming Soon... The Final 5