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Foul Play in the NBA

 

After the watching the first game of the NBA playoff game between the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs, I thought about the foul calling criteria and how it is ruining the whole game experience for a lot of fans.  Sure the referees have to call fouls which is part of the game but now it has become the most important part of the game that dictates victory. The referees are dictating game flow by how much contact they allow.   Plain and simple. Read More →

The Play Off Battles in Full Swing

The play offs in the NBA and the NHL are well into the second round and with that comes the turn of the dial in intensity.   Each team in both sports must know that to win the big prize you have to be prepared to take on the physical toll and also dish it out.  The teams that can’t sustain the constant barrage of contact will be eliminated somewhere down the line.  Most shots and passes will be challenged with a fierce competitor contesting the play with contact.  Again, if you ain’t bringing the heat then get out of the kitchen.

Its gets to the point of being humorous concerning the refereeing in the NBA play offs. Guys are Read More →

The Golden State Warriors and “The Season”

Winning seventy three times out of eighty two games is called domination.   You don’t luck yourself into that many victories especially when are playing in the Western Division of the NBA.  The Chicago Bulls fans have nothing to be bitter about because this is not about breaking their record. I know that the Bulls fans first reaction is to defend their beloved team which is natural.  This is about a team that despite naysayers continues to prove itself by doing thing differently than other teams.  In addition, the Warriors have been good for basketball, they have brought the casual fan to the game and they like what they see.

Yes, they shoot a lot of jump shots and that is because they are more accurate than most others.  They don’t need to pound the ball into the low post to get a score.  I’ve watched plenty of their games to know how they generate good offensive looks at the basket.  It is their defense.  They get so many shots because they defend well and get the ball up the court quickly to get the flow of players moving in and out.  They use their team speed and passing skills to create diversions and for Curry and Thompson to get a good squared up look at the basket.  They both have quick releases to avoid defenders getting a hand in their face.

The Warrior season is one where you saw a team of 12 to 14 players all play a significant role in their success. Even when the less used players get into the game they know is about ball movement and striving to find the best shot.  This is why the Warriors were tops in team assists.  What gets overlooked is the defense of their big guys in the paint.  I have never seen Andrew Bogut play better by contesting everything coming his way.  Of course there is Draymond Green who will guard anybody at any time.

The Warriors are a likeable bunch of guys and it shows on the court and off the court. Their selfless play is exemplified in the way the bench accepts their roles and the egos are in check.  You don’t hear about players griping for playing time or holding out for more money.  They get it the formula, if you are part of a winning team, everybody benefits.  The younger players are being mentored into the winning formula which will only work in their favor as their career progresses.  For instance, look at the New England Patriots, one player and one coach are the only constant figures through the most of 2000’s.  Both Tom Brady and Bill Belechick have brought a level of professionalism, a hardcore winning attitude and consistent system of operations to build their winning franchise.  It is the same for the San Antonio Spurs.  The owners and Gregg Popovich have had a small core players for a long time and they have built a formula of success in the NBA that is second to none.  The Warrior organization wants to be the new Spurs for the years to come.

Lastly, it most pointed out that there is an appearance of joy in the Warriors team. It helps to be good and have an incredible player like Stephen Curry but he seems to have more fun than anybody.  He laughs on the court with his teammates and is first one to congratulate others on the squad.  The Warriors do have some fiery players in Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut that are there to bring the intensity level up when things get too lackadaisical.  When you only lose nine times the whole year, it goes beyond just talent, it is the ability to strive for constant excellence and play with a love for the game.

Photo 1 – www.goldenstateofmind.com

 

March Madness… Let the Guessing Begin

March is always a solid time for sports viewing while you are still huddled in your house. The NBA and the NHL are in the final quarter of the long season and baseball spring training is just for those who really really care.   The dessert is March Madness, the only time you can see schools like Butler or Gonzaga colleges play basketball on national television.   College bball is not for everybody because you get spoiled by the NBA and the large and prestigious schools are all you hear about.

I, like many enjoy being in a pool with my best guesses on the bracket, but actually never have big money riding on it.  Some years there are clear favorites and you ride them like a donkey and other years you bet on those sure things and then they leave you high in dry in the second round.

Aside from playing pin the tail on donkey for my bracket picks, I just like watching the Sweet Sixteen. There,  you have separated the contenders versus the pretenders and your viewing time isn’t wasted.  How cynical is this? not so much, it’s my honesty and how much I want to spend my precious free time.   There is always going to be a team like Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse in the final rounds but you hope for the lower seeded teams to pull off a run.  It doesn’t always happen but you do get to see some crazed fans of these smaller programs going bonkers for their team.

If you have your alma mater in this showcase then this just about seals this as must see TV. I have a buddy who went to Cal Berkeley who is in this year’s tourney.  Cal doesn’t make lot appearances in the tourney so when they do get in, it is bigger than the Super Bowl.   You don’t even have to know their players or seen any of their games but if they are in the big show, you start wearing your gear and rooting on the boys or girls.

The tourney does give all of us NBA fans a chance to see kids who are potential pro players. Some players get drafted by how well they performed in this tourney, others might get downgraded for wilting in the big games.   Another aspect I look for are the teams that have a lot of seniors.  It’s so rare to see teams with a starting senior squad.   The reality is that the NBA has robbed the collegiate level of their star players when they often have only played one year or maybe two.  I understand the draw of a big contract but it so rare that a 19 year old kid will amount to much riding the bench in the NBA. The media will build up these young stars in college so this tourney could be your one and only chance to see them playing a whole game.   Go Cal Berkeley!

 

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Stephen Curry, Sometimes the Young Guys Rule Too!

walt-clyde-the-glide-frazierStephen Curry the all world point guard for the Golden State Warriors and reigning MVP is becoming one those athletes whom is relished for being a good ambassador for the sport. He carries himself with confidence and pride but it also looks like he is playing with a lot joy.  On contrary, in the media, more and more quotes and articles are attributed to ex-professional basketball bemoaning his skill set, style of play and the overall ability to compete in their era.  These guys can’t help themselves from sounding like bitter old men.  Can it be they just want to have an opinion that they think is truly debatable.   When you dig up quotes from players who played forty years ago, the more ridiculous the opinion appears.

I can understand fans giving it their best shot and comparing their beloved team and athletes of days gone by to the current crop of offerings.   This type of bar top analysis is just what it appears to be, hypothetical mish mash that is better served with more beer.    The backlash from some current ex-basketball players saying that Stephen Curry would not be as successful in their era is embarrassingly false.   Stephan Curry would be good, possibly great in any era, hand downs because he possesses the skills of what makes other players great.  He is a proficient shooter, very quick and hard to defend, amazing ball handler and skilled passer.  I don’t see how that doesn’t to translate to any court, anytime, any era.  Nonetheless, the whole Golden State Warrior team also gets scrutiny because they are so good, another reason for the old guys to feel threatened and need to stick up for their eras.

The breakdown and comparison of eras crosses all sports. It crosses all cultures, all upbringings, all past days of glory and every elderly person will defend their time in the sun.  I am no different in saying how when I was a kid, I played baseball every day during the summer and didn’t need an adult to organize it.  Now kids need a league to play in and they also are playing year round.   We could play any sport any time anywhere and then there where the games we made up because we didn’t have the proper equipment.  We were self succificent, rode our bikes to the park, not in Mommy’s SUV and played until we were done, not when they parents said so.  We developed our sports skills with our buddies and we also learned by watching the great athletes on TV.   There, you have my bitter old guy appeal for my era.

If Stephen Curry was around when I was ten years old, you be damn right I would try to copy his game.   Just think, I would be shooting 20 foot jumpers and dribbling behind my back.  Oh wait, we did have guys like that, Pete Maravich, Dr. J, Nate Archibald, Jerry West and best of all, we had the Harlem Globetrotters.  After all, isn’t sports supposed to be joyful to watch?  If a player is so fun to watch or a team plays with great precision and skill, that is the sport in its finest moment.dto2-meadowlark-lemon

Stephen Curry Image by – theartmad.com

Kwahi Leonard versus Draymond Green

They seem to be the same type of player playing the same position for teams that play similar.   Both guys are very good defensive players, both progressing as two way players that are ascending in skill level.  Arguments always get started when you start comparing this guy to that guy  but both in this case I am not arguing who is better but how they more how similar they are. Read More →

Bryant and Manning, The Best of an Era

Two athletes that are arguably in the top tier of their respective sports are soon heading back to locker-room for the final time.  I don’t know if Manning has outwardly said he is retiring but I really can’t see him lacing them up for next year.   Manning has played for eighteen seasons, for the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos.  He will turn forty next year and has diminished arm strength and body movement.  I also don’t see him as the type to play second fiddle on the sidelines while some fresh faced kid is giving it a go as starting quarterback in the NFL.   Bryant announced his departure after this year on his terms after twenty years with Los Angeles Lakers.  Read More →

Golden State Warriors, Mad and Happy?

There was too much chatter and blabbing about how the Golden State Warriors dodged a lot of bullets in route to the NBA championship last year. It was either that they missed playing this team or that team or they played injury riddled teams.    It has appeared that not only did that make them upset but it also motivated them to repeat the task.  On contrary, nobody thought that they were this pissed and motivated to lay barren waste of the opponents in the beginning of the year.  All of their statistics are up in points, assists and defensive stops.  Now what?  They have to wait until they play San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Cleveland to get the some respect from the naysayers?

Sure Stephen Curry is scoring like a madman and dishing out crazy passes like Pistol Pete, but it’s the upside improvement of the supporting cast that is amazing.  Draymond Green has established himself as an all-around player that is probably one of the top ten players in the league.  Harrison Barnes is ascending as well and is getting more consistent and seems to be more aggressive around the rim.  Andrew Bogut lost twenty pounds and looks like he wants to keep his starting job in front of Festus Ezeili, who is developing an offensive game that is hard to deny.  Of course, you have Klay Thompson, the perfect complement to Curry, who can score from anywhere on the court and Andre Iguodola who is the super sub who does everything. Read More →

Stephen Curry, the Whole Package

There is plenty of lofty adjective s to praise Stephen Curry with because his performance this year has reached a new dimension.  Even up to last year I would get upset with him at times because he was making too many turnovers.  He is now playing at a level where he is no longer turning the ball over and he is doing everything and anything that is possible on a basketball court.   He is playing like a combination of Kobe Bryant, Pete Maravich and Nate “Tiny” Archibald which means he is making unbelievable shots, dribbling and handling the ball with wizardry.  He is fun to watch and ascending the game into a level of entertainment which has been sorely lacking tin the NBA.

There are plenty of distractors that will say that he is just a jump shooter that lives and dies by the three point play.  I thought that talk would go away after the Warriors won the championship against his anti-thesis, Le Bron James.  Le Bron James is everything that Curry is not and vice versa, except for the fact that each one of these guys makes their teammates better.    What I have seen this year is a more aggressive attempt to do even more. He is playing better defense, more opportunistic and elevating his game to complete player status.  This is where Michael Jordon evolved when he starting being named to all-defensive teams. Read More →

Moses Malone: Chairman of Boards Passes Away

Moses Malone passed away on Sunday September 13th at the age of 60.   If you were watching professional basketball in the mid-seventies through the eighties to the mid- nineties you had to see one of the first players to make the leap from high school to the  professional ranks.  He started his career in the America Basketball Association with the Utah Stars as a 6’ 10” center straight out of Petersburg, Virginia.  He was given a scholarship for the University of Maryland but was drafted by the Utah Stars in the third round.

The Utah Stars folded shop after the 1974/75 season so Malone signed on with the St. Louis Spirits for the next two years.  He had a good stat line with 17.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game.  Not bad for a twenty year old kid playing in the ABA in its final heydays.   The ABA merged with the NBA for the 1976 season and Malone ended up on Portland but was traded to Buffalo to make room for Maurice Lucas.  That venture didn’t last long before he was traded again to the Houston Rockets for two first round draft choices.  Read More →