Tonight. LeBron. Kobe. ‘Nuff said.
The last time these two teams met, Kobe scored more than LeBron, but the Cavs handed the Lakers a backyard beat down to the tenth degree. And I … enjoyed every minute of it. The game happen to fall on Christmas Day, and I treated the Cavs victory like a present from the NBA. Thank you.
But … the NBA giveth … the NBA taketh … Let’s break down the first half of the season shall we, as we go over the highlights and low-lights of what has taken place during the 2009-2010 season, thus far.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were supposed to be a few years away from making a splash in the highly competitive West. If the playoffs were to begin today, the Thunder would be the seventh seed. I guess the kids in Oklahoma City are thinking, to hell with waiting for our turn. Of course Kevin Durant is in the center of all their success. He is the cornerstone, he is the franchise. It’s funny how the NBA never gives the Most Improved Player award to super-stars in the making, but Durant is worthy of this award. How he’s raised the level of his play within the first three years of his career is truly remarkable. Most of thought he’d be good, but man … he’s good. Of course it’s not just him, Russell Westbrook has been solid at the point, averaging 7.5 assists per game and Jeff Green, despite his recent struggles, has been a reliable contributor on both ends. The Thunder, along with the Grizzlies and now maybe the Bobcats, are teams you might not want to run into in the first round of the playoffs.
Speaking of the Grizzlies and Bobcats, hats off to them too. When you think about Memphis, they are one point guard away from perhaps having the best starting five in basketball. No knock on Conley, but he isn’t exactly mesmerizing with his play. But, I guess he doesn’t have to be when you have Mayo, Gay, Randolph and Gasol in the lineup along side of you. The Grizzlies have been one of the hottest teams in the league since the turn of the decade, and are just one and a half games back from the eighth seed in the West.
Larry Brown is at it again. This is why I’ll take Larry Brown over Phil Jackson in a heart beat. Larry Brown has never had a Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen tandem. Or a Shaq and Kobe duo. His super star in Charlotte is Gerald Wallace. Now Gerald Wallace is damn good, and he should have a spot on this year’s All-Star team, but he’s no Kobe. The Bobcats, in typical Larry Brown fashion play great defense, but have the ability to score with the best of them. The Bobcats have the luxury of playing in the East, so their 21-19 record is good enough for fifth best in the conference. As long as Stephen Jackson (more on him later), Raymond Felton and the newly awaken Boris Diaw can continue to play inspired ball, the Bobcats should see their first post-season action in franchise history.
Now this isn’t the 1996 draft class, which in my opinion is still the best ever. This isn’t the 2003 draft class either, which is a close second to ’96. But when all is said and done, the 2009 draft class may prove to be the best ever at the point guard position. Let’s recap the draft picks and review their rookie seasons.
- #3 – James Harden (OKC): Solid reserve. Played his way into more minutes.
- #4 – Tyreke Evans (Sac): The reason Kev Mart is on the trading block. Front runner for ROY honors.
- #5 – Ricky Rubio (Min): Could have been the top of the class … we’ll have to wait and see how this pans out.
- #6 – Jonny Flynn (Min): Good scorer, good potential, too inconsistent right now.
- #7 – Stephen Curry (GS): Maybe the biggest surprise, he’s the only one of this bunch who resembles a true point.
- #10 – Brandon Jennings (Mil): Lightning quick, can score in bunches. Has cooled off from hot start.
- # 18 – Ty Lawson (Den): Excellent backup to Chauncey Billups. Showed flashes of brilliance in Billups absence.
I don’t really have to say much except this … you signed a 111-million dollar contract a few years back. You’ve been essentially getting paid a ridiculous amount of money for quite frankly, nothing, after you’ve sat out the last two seasons with a knee injury (which wasn’t his fault to say). You still have $80-million remaining on your contract (for now) and you’ve made big strides in returning to your once electrifying self on the court. Then you decide to throw it all away by being an idiot. Done.
Bobcats fans … I warn you now. You’re probably thinking man … we got Stephen Jackson for Raja Bell (who was basically playing with a broken wrist and was eventually going to need surgery) and Vladimir Radmanovic (who was riding the pine hard) … what a steal, right? Yeah it is! For now. This story has played out before, and he and Larry Brown are all buddy-buddy as of this moment. But Stephen Jackson has turned into the Terrell Owens of the NBA, and eventually he’ll tear that locker room apart, and ruin your franchise. I’m just saying, if you’re a Bobcat fan, do not invest in Stephen Jackson.
Allen Iverson was my favorite player at one point. That span stretched from his Sophomore year at Georgetown, until about 2003-2004. No one was more exciting, more ground-breaking than Allen Iverson. Just think about it, he was a little guy … who dominated. He changed the game on and off the court. And he did play his butt off for you too. As much as he discredited “practice” he had a point … you knew he’d play every game as if it were his last … unless of course … he wasn’t starting. At some point in his life, he’s going to have to realize that “life” happens. You’re not 21 AI. You’re not “the” man on most teams now. How he played out his short stint in Memphis was ugly, I couldn’t watch. After Jerry West and company extended their hand to you? Luckily for Grizzlies fans, it probably worked out for the best that AI left. Memphis has been playing great as of late. They might even make the playoffs. Apparently that doesn’t matter to AI. He must be completely satisfied at the fact that he’s starting again.
AI & McGrady are All-Star starters? Really? Really people? Really? This isn’t so much of the NBA’s low-lights, but more of the fans of the NBA low-lights. Actually … it is the NBA’s low-lights. Why is AI & McGrady on the All-Star ballad anyway? Seriously though, to any NBA fans who voted for these two players, you should be ashamed at yourselves. You’re basically removing two spots for worthy candidates. Two candidates who may not ever get this opportunity to again … who knows who might get left off the squad. Well, I guess we find out later tonight.
If AI, or McGrady for some odd reason happen to read my blog … please. Give up your spots. If you get voted into the All-Star game, look yourself in the mirror and be truthful. You know you don’t deserve it. Give up your spots. Don’t pull a Penny Hardaway.
Honorable mentions in this seasons low-lights: Yao Ming, Kelenna Azuibuke, Greg Oden, Michael Redd and Blake Griffin. I hate when players get hit with devastating injuries, ones that end their season. Good luck to all those players in their recoveries. The only reason I consider this a low-light, is that we don’t get to see them play.