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Archive for December, 2011
Until the N.B.A. has true revenue sharing, as do Major League Baseball and the N.F.L., competitive balance will be difficult (although not impossible) for the small-market teams to achieve. And the collective bargaining agreement is too convoluted with provisions counterproductive to the viability of the game. Until those issues are addressed, which they will not be for at least six years, teams will continue to spend too much money on both unproven players and proven mediocrities.
With or without revenue sharing, it is a big challenge to put a team on the floor that competes for the championship year after year. Only a few franchises, including some in the smaller markets, know how to do it. It takes more than money. Attracting high-priced free agents — even those who are worth the money — will not guarantee a winning team overnight. It takes a deep, balanced roster and a system that gets the most out of the talent on hand. Star players might draw at the box office, but fans will also support teams that are not star-driven but play exciting basketball and win consistently.
In an earlier era, the Lakers had Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, but the title in successive years went to the Boston Celtics (in Bill Russell’s final season), the Knicks and the Milwaukee Bucks before the Lakers finally won.
Whenever an authentic giant speaks, do yourself a favour and listen intently.
If you really do, then, it will make THE difference between future failures and successes.
The most important story you will read about on-line today is courtesy of Dave Zirin:
1968 Olympian Lee Evans has a brain tumor and no health insurance
Lee Evans needs our help. The Olympic Gold Medalist and political activist, who exploded all records in the 400 meters at the 1968 Olympics, has been hospitalized with an aggressive brain tumor. The prognosis for the 63-year-old Evans is not good. As his fellow 1968 Olympic activist John Carlos said in an email, “All of our teammates want to go out and say some prayers. All there is left to do is pray.”
But the situation is made far worse by the fact that Lee Evans, after four decades teaching and coaching at schools ranging from the University of South Alabama to Nigeria, doesn’t have health insurance. This has meant, according to Lee’s sister, Rosemary, that he has been terribly mistreated during his hospitalization. Rosemary said to me, “I heard his doctor in the hall and I heard him say he wished [Lee] had been transferred somewhere else because he didn’t have insurance…. Lee is in intense pain. Not even morphine is helping. He hasn’t eaten in several days, yet there was no IV in his arm when I first went into his room. He’s lying in his filth and nothing is happening. If family members aren’t vigilant… If we aren’t vigilant, I don’t know what would happen.”
Thanks to this pressure and vigilance, the basic conditions of Lee Evans’s room has improved in the last 12 hours. But the fact that his care is even a question constitutes a national disgrace. Lee Evans, in addition to his 1968 Olympic gold medals in the 400 and 1600-meter relays, is a central part of athletic and American history. A founding member of OPHR, the Olympic Project for Human Rights, Lee Evans helped turned the sports world on its head by attempting to organize a boycott by African-American athletes of the ’68 Olympics to protest racism and oppression both at home and abroad. They wanted South Africa and Rhodesia disinvited from the games. They wanted the Hitler-sympathizer Avery Brundage removed as head of the International Olympic Committee. They wanted Muhammad Ali’s title, stripped for his opposition to the war in Vietnam, restored. They wanted more African American coaches hired. They pledged to boycott, protest, and raise hell if their demands were not met.
This protest was punctuated with Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s famous raised fist salute after finishing first and third in the 200 meters. As for Evans, he famously wore a black beret, in a nod to the Black Panthers, on the medal stand. Recently, Evans has been working to build a school on 13 acres of land he purchased in Liberia. He has even been trying to sell his gold medals to raise money for this dream saying, “I don’t need the medals,” he said. “I need money to build the school.” Evans’s wife, Princess, is a Liberian refugee and his dream was to build the school and name it after her.
Those expecting the Lakers to take a precipitous tumble in the Western Conference standings this season … in the aftermath of “whiffing” on a trade for Chris Paul [PG] and then sending Lamar Odom [SF/PF] to Dallas … do not have an accurate understanding of just how good Devin Ebanks [SF, 2nd-yr] is most likely going to be for their team this year.
Once Andrew Bynum’s suspension finishes and Kobe’s wrist injury fully heals, the following line-up for the Lakers:
Derek Fisher + Kobe Bryant + Devin Ebanks + Pau Gasol + Andrew Bynum
Jason Kapono and Luke Walton
Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Derrick Caracter [inj.]
is still going to be formidable … as the bolded players above are actually much better than many so-called [but really illegitimate] NBA observers realize.
After the Lakers eventually use their large Traded Player Exception – obtained in exchange for Mr. Odom – it should come as no surprise at all to see this team finish with the best W-L record in the Pacific Division, once again.
Mitch Kupchak [GM] has already proven that he knows how to construct a top flight NBA team … as long as Jim Buss is able to stay out of the way.
For the benefit of those who might need some further clarification, here’s the follow-up comment which yours truly left a few minutes ago, in a related thread at PBT …
Devin Ebanks [i.e. think of a better, more physical, version of Trevor Ariza] and Darius Morris [i.e. think of a young, poor man's version of Tony Parker] are both very solid young players with the ability to make positive contributions to this year’s Lakers team which desperately needed an infusion of youth on the heels of last season’s disappointing end. Josh McRoberts is the type of banger who Mike Brown has made very effective use of in the past [i.e. think of a more athletic version of Anderson Varejao]. Troy Murphy [PF] playing beside either Andrew Bynum or Gasol is going to be a very potent player [i.e. think of the double-double machine who was a former starter for the Pacers]. Once the Lakers decide to use their TPE … and it doesn’t need to be in regards to acquiring a stud like Dwight Howard [C] … their roster is still going to be formidable for the Western Conference Playoffs, as long as they are healthy. Although they won’t play the type of artistically pleasing basketball they did under the direction of Dr. Phil, they will still be a highly effective team, under the capable direction of a defensive-minded head coach like Mike Brown. Those expecting a rapid Lakers’ demise this season will most likely be quite disappointed by season’s end.
Upon hearing the first report that the Phoenix Suns were actually thinking of waiving Mickael Pietrus … after his failed physical with the Toronto Raptors … the first thought which came to mind was that he would be a fantastic pick-up for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics.
Before the Suns’ preseason home game against the Nuggets, head coach Alvin Gentry was asked why Pietrus wasn’t a fit, and to him, it seemed clear that Pietrus, for whatever reason, just wasn’t happy in Phoenix.
“I don’t know that,” Gentry answered. “I was excited about getting him. I think that, like I’ve said, he had size, he was really kind of our kind of player — a big guy that can shoot the ball, three-pointers and stuff like that. I think in order for it to be a good fit, you’ve got to want to be here. And I’m not sure if he was ever fully engaged in being here.”
UPDATE: Pietrus is “leaning heavily” towards signing with the Celtics, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. He would need to clear waivers first, but if that happens, it looks like Boston may be at the top of his list.
After being under-valued by the Suns organization, since his acquisition last season from Orlando … where he was a key player in the Magic’s run to the NBA Finals in 2008-2009 … it would be poetic justice for Pietrus to become a vital part of what the Celtics are attempting to do this year [i.e. reduce salary overall WHILE remaining competitive in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference].
Ed Davis [PF, 2010 1st Round Draft Pick] is a keeper.
So is Jonas Valanciunas [C, 2011 1st Round Draft Pick].
Every game the Raptors lose this year which looks like either of these two pre-season contests:
brings them closer to obtaining another high Draft Lottery selection next summer:
which features the likes of Harrison Barnes and is precisely what Toronto will need to become relevant again in the NBA.
If there is ever going to be a year for this franchise to “tank” successfully this is certainly it.
Chicago got off to a good start last night with the new addition to their primary rotation.
Those who believe that Rip Hamilton was, in some way, THE main source of the problems with the Detroit Pistons over the course of the last 2 seasons are going to find out that their perception was far from accurate.
… coming to a dance floor near you, any day now.
… finally arrives on the US national network television stage, in the Mile High city at 4:15 PM this afternoon.
Enjoy what should be another hum-dinger for the Denver Broncos and their unconventional – but, also, without a doubt, highly talented – 2nd-year quarterback.
Read the following quote from this article, concerning the supposed “new” status of the LA Clippers …
“The hardest thing we said in this whole process was, ‘We’re good. We have a chance to be good, and do we really break this up for the home run?’ ” Olshey said. “We told Mr. Sterling we had two really good directions: We could continue to build – we’re going to be better this year than we were last year. We have this draft pick. The players are going to keep developing.
“Or we have a chance to completely change the culture of the organization and make us a contender right away.”
The Clippers opted for the latter, surrendering Gordon, the draft pick, Chris Kaman and forward Al-Farouq Aminu for Paul and two future second-round picks. When the deal was done, Roeser and Olshey celebrated with champagne at the practice facility.
“I’ve enjoyed times of hope and times of agony,” Roeser said. “And I’ve never been more excited for a team at the beginning of the season.”
While the Clippers look good on paper, they will begin the season with the unlikely burden of playoff expectations. They also know they have to win to keep Paul, whose contract runs through the 2012-13 season and Griffin, who could become an unrestricted free agent in 2014 if he doesn’t sign a contract extension. Paul and Griffin also have had knee injuries in recent years that will continue to be a concern.
But instead of worrying about any of that, Paul and his Clippers are focused on the present. For a day or two, at least, the Clippers have become the talk of the town.
and, then, remember them verbatim, 3 years from today.
When you sacrifice the “near future” for what you believe to be the “present” … and, your team’s current roster still has major holes in it, at multiple positions:
PG/Chris Paul + PG/Chauncey Billups + SF/Ryan Gomes + PF/Blake Griffin + C/Deandre Jordan
PROJECTED KEY SUBS
PG/Mo Williams + OG/Randy Foye + SF/Caron Butler + PF/Trey Thompkins + PF-C/Brian Cook
G/Willie Warren + PF/Adam Koch
PG/Eric Bledsoe [inj.] + PG/Blake Ahearn + G/Travis Leslie + F/Renaldo Major
Vinnie Del Negro
rather than being an authentic moment of well-deserved celebration, what it actually is, is a truly sad day, in the inglorious history of your pro sports franchise.