In the summer of 2004, there were two premiere NBA free agents in the class: Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. The Phoenix Suns, who much like this summer had boatloads of cap room, had a decision to make about who to chase. Eventually, the front office geared their efforts toward Nash, the perennial All-Star who was being absurdly let go by the Dallas Mavericks.
Nash would go on to win back-to-back MVPs and revitalize a franchise in a way rarely seen before in the league. He guided the Suns to four straight playoff appearances (five out of eight total) and three trips to the Western Conference Finals, but never played in an NBA Finals.
His last appearance in the West Finals, a six game series loss to Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers, saw the Black Mamba explode for 37 points in the clincher.
Now, inexplicably, the backcourt duo will unite in Los Angeles, via a sign-and-trade deal that sent Nash to the purple and gold in exchange for multiple draft picks and 3.1 million dollars.
The sudden news brought on a wide range of emotions, from disappointment and shock to anger and heartbreak. For so long, Suns fans have clung to Nash as the reason for hope in a town that loves its basketball team, a team that has yet to win a title but has come so close so many times. Nash resembled a person we looked to when we needed to find loyalty, perseverance and dedication. He represented everything a franchise player should be — outstanding on the court, having a good rapport with the media and making good relations with the community. (more…)
BY ALEX ROSE, Feedcrossing.com syndication
The day after each Oklahoma City Thunder game, the dedicated fan will grab their morning coffee and take a peak at the boxscore to see how many points Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored. They look to see how many blocks Serge Ibaka swatted. Maybe Durant and Westbrook combined for a massive 70 points (accomplished twice this season), or maybe Ibaka added another double-digit block game to his stash. However, when you come across Kendrick Perkins‘ name, the numbers look insufficient at best. For his career, Perkins has averaged a quiet 6.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. As a member of the Thunder, his numbers seem even more anemic as he averaged just 5.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.1 BPG in 65 games this year.
However, basketball is a game in which teamwork is hard to measure. There is no statistic that measures a player’s willingness to help their teammates succeed by doing the little things on the court. There is no statistic that measures the extra pass on the perimeter for the open 3-pointer when the defense is late to rotate. There is no measure that communicates how important a box-out can be so that a teammate can secure a tough rebound in the paint. Baseball is a game in which statistics can tell the whole story of a particular game. Teamwork is much less important. The major league baseball player is essentially left to his own skills when stepping into the batter’s box. (more…)
With the NBA regular season winding down, some hardcore fans may already be pondering about who will win this year’s MVP award.
Certainly, there is a handful of superstars deserving of the honor, but the award is about more than just leading the league in scoring, rebounds or assists. An MVP has to truly be a leader, who would change the whole dynamic of their team if they were absent from the starting lineup. Think about when Michael Jordan retired from the NBA to pursue a baseball career. The following season, Scottie Pippen definitely didn’t get any MVP love and the Chicago Bulls simply weren’t the same.
So when I look at this year’s field of possible deserving candidates (in terms of what they do for their teams) for the 2011-2012 MVP award, there is really only three players — Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love — who fit that profile. The only problem is, Love’s Timberwolves have already been eliminated from playoff contention, so don’t expect him to even sniff at the trophy until Minnesota is better. And Dwight Howard’s absence from the Orlando Magic because of back spasms has only proven that he is the heart and soul of that team after Orlando slowly slipped further and further down the Eastern Conference standings once Howard started to miss more and more time.
So that leaves Kobe. Will he run away with the MVP award? Maybe not. After all, right behind him are superstars Kevin Durant and LeBron James, who rank No. 2 and No. 3 in the league, respectively, for points per game. But how much would Durant’s Thunder and James’ Heat be suffering if they weren’t there? Miami certainly could hold its own with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh running the show and you have to believe Oklahoma City could do the same with its depth. (more…)
BY MATTHEW VINSKO, Couchsideshow.com contributor
December, 2011 was a time to rejoice for basketball fans. After 161 painstaking days, basketball was set to commence on Christmas Day with a plethora of games set to kick off the NBA season in style. What wasn’t to like?
But December wasn’t pleasant for Lakers’ fans. No, I’m not talking about the opening day loss to the Bulls in a nail biter; I’m actually one of the few people proud of the Lakers for putting up that much of a fight against the reigning MVP without Andrew Bynum. What made opening day sour for many a Lakers’ fan was David Stern’s controversial overruling of a three-team deal that would have ultimately landed Chris Paul, arguably the best pure point guard in the league, in the same backcourt as ‘The Black Mamba,’ Kobe Bryant.
That was OK, though. For the most part, the same team that won back-to-back titles was intact, albeit two years older.
But it wasn’t OK for Lamar Odom, who was shipped to the Dallas Mavericks for a first round pick in order to clear up salary cap. Odom, apparently the sensitive type, couldn’t stand the thought of being included in the trade that would have sent Paul to L.A. Trading the reigning Sixth Man of the Year for a draft pick can be excused considering the Lakers’ salary cap issues with regards the luxury tax. Financial woes aside, the 2012 draft is already being considered one of the deeper drafts in recent history, so no harm, no foul, right? (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com contributor
Can we all admit the Slam Dunk contest is a bloated waste of time at this point? It was a bit pathetic to see Derrick Williams attempt his between-the-legs-reverse-jam 15 times without success, which once again provides an opening to flood a pretend suggestion box with ideas.
It’s not that difficult, at all. Take a look at this HORSE competition between Bob McAdoo and Pistol Pete, you can tell that this exercise is actually fun and entertaining to all.
I remember reading this article a few years ago and thinking that how great would it be if this guy made it to the NBA. If he could represent and give hope for all the Asian Americans out there that anything is possible despite what the naysayers may say.
A little more than two years later and call it what you want, but Linsanity has taken over the sports world and my dream for this guy has come true. When Yao Ming sadly retired from the game in July, who would’ve thought that a little known point guard from Harvard would immediately take the torch and keep the Asian influence alive in the NBA? No offense to Yi Jianlian, but he wasn’t cutting it.
Yet that’s exactly what Jeremy Lin has done over the last week and a half ever since that fateful February night two Saturdays ago, where he took the world by storm. Lin came off the bench and notched career numbers – 25 points, five rebounds and eight assists – and led his New York Knicks to a 99-92 victory over the Nets.