Archives for category: NBA

Brooklyn Nets (13-10, 10-13 ATS) vs New York Knicks (18-6, 14-10 ATS) @ MSG, 7.05 PM

Line: NY by 6
Total: 194.5

In the third meeting of the battle of New York, the Nets will be making their first trip to Manhattan since moving to Brooklyn. After splitting the first two games at the Barclay Center, the Garden will be a rocking tonight, as the island shows their hip borough cousins that basketball in NYC will always belong to the Knicks.

The Nets started of as one of the hotter teams in the league but have really struggled against teams with winning records, going 4-8 against them in 2012. Brooklyn is however having a lot of success inside their division going 5-1 versus the Atlantic.

The Knicks are coming of their first home loss of the season thanks to a former teammate in Jeremy Lin. New York’s Carmelo Anthony is questionable again for tonight’s game with a badly sprained ankle, if Melo does not play, the Knicks will have to rely on J.R. Smith scoring touch. Smith probably caused more New Yorker’s to choke on their Original Ray’s pizza since the Club 54 days.

The Nets only covered 2 of the last 9 games, but one of those came against the Knicks at home as an underdog.
If Melo does not play take the Nets and the six points.

Here are some of the athletes that are on the cusp of becoming household names next year for sports fans.

A.J. Green

If the 4th pick in the 2011 draft had been drafted by the Falcons or like the Jets, you’d be hearing about Green none stop, but cause he plays in Cincinnati, Green plays in the shadow of the Steelers and Ravens. Green was one the top players coming into college, often being compared to young Randy Moss because of his long frame, great speed and jumping ability. In three seasons at Georgia, Green had 166 catches for 2619 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also missed the first four games of his junior year for receiving improper benefits, you could argue if he had played those four games he could have gone No.1 in the draft with off the chat numbers.

His first season in Cinncy was a huge success despite having a rookie QB in Andy Dalton and no off-season to train together. Most figured the Bengals were going to be a disaster in 2011, but ended up making the playoffs as a wild card team. Green led all rookie receivers with 65 receptions and 1057 yards. He and Dalton would go on to become the all time leaders in yards and receptions for a rookie QB/WR combination.

So far in 2012, Green has continued his development into a superstar, with 79 catches for 1151 yards and is tied for the lead in receiving TD’s with 10. The Bengals have had a revolving door at the no.2 WR spot this year, forcing Green to beat constant double teams , Green still leads the league with 7 catches over 40+ yards. While Andy Dalton is sure looks to go down as one of the best 2nd round QB’s of all time, he’s certainly not on the level of Matt Stafford, who hammers throws to Calvin Johnson, and Green does not get the support of a top RB like Arian Foster in Houston, a la Andre Johnson. If the Bengals end up making the playoffs this season, I fully expect them to have a game centerd on getting the ball in the hands of A.J. Green and he’ll be fully capable of taking his game to superstar levels. In two seasons from now Green could be in a position to be the NFL first $140 million dollar WR.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT7MEMIATQY

Clayton Kershaw

With all the attention in Dodgerland centered around Magic Johnson and the $2.1 billion it took to purchase the team, then the Hanely Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez trades, and finally the massive Zach Grienke contract, it’s easy to forget that the best player was already on the roster.

Making his major league debut at 20 years old, Kershaw, already in his fourth season with the Dodgers, holds a career 61-37 record with a 2.79 ERA and 974 K’s. The big south-paw is a two-time all-star, a two-time MLB ERA champion, 2011 Cy Young, 2011 Gold Glove, and 2012 Roberto Clemente award winner.

This is just getting started into what the young ace has accomplished in the majors, he’s the first pitcher to lead his league back to back in ERA since Randy Johnson in 2000/2001. By finishing with the lowest ERA in the majors two years in a row, he’s only the fourth pitcher to accomplish this since WWII, the other three: Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, and Sandy Koufax. That’s pretty elite company.

Kershaw was a rock again in 2012 going 14-9 with a 2.53 ERA, 229 Ks in 227.2 innings for a Dodgers team that struggled with constant headlines over speculation with ownership and constant roster turnover.

If all goes right for L.A. this year, Kershaw could be looking at a 25+ win season with a sub 2.00 ERA lining up, Kershaw to be Major League Baseball first $200 million dollar pitcher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnDK13__bk8

O.J. Mayo

Mayo is an amazing talent that has had trouble follow him everywhere (and he’s been to a lot of places!). Mayo is originally from West Virgina but moved to Kentucky because they allow middle school students to play H.S. basketball. As a seventh grader Mayo was averaging 23.1 PPG playing against H.S. competition. After three season’s dominating Kentucky H.S. basketball, O.J. moved to Ohio, where he’d go on to two consecutive state Player of the Year titles. With all the moving Mayo’s eligibility was always a year behind so in 2006 as an 18-year-old junior he was preparing to make the jump to the NBA, but later that season the NBA made the rule you had to be one year removed from H.S. to be draft eligible. Instead of going to college, Mayo choose to play his senior year back home in Huntington, West Virgina and that’s where the real fun begins.

Mayo ended up getting suspended for assaulting an official and then a few months later ended up making headline when he and a bunch of friends were booked by police smoking pot. Despite all that Mayo would still win his third state Player of the Year award, signing with USC to play his lone season in college.

After a strong season at USC which saw varying level of success, ESPN “Outside the Lines” series did a whole expose on how Mayo was taking improper benefits at USC and the strange odyssey of his recruitment to ‘SC. The following season the NCAA would strip ‘SC of all their wins from the 2007-2008 season and forfeting future post-season play due to Mayo’s actions while on campus.

Mayo ended up going third in the very strong 2008 NBA draft, but later would be traded on draft day from Minnesota to Memphis for Kevin Love. His rookie year was strong, scoring 30 points in a game seven times that year, finishing second to Derrick Rose in rookie of the year voting.

The next two season ended up being filled with more controversy, with a fist fight over a gambling debt with Tony Allen, 10 game suspension for violating the leagues substance abuse policy, ended up costing him his starting job and the coaching staff lost faith in him. Memphis would let Mayo walk out the door at the end of the season with little regret.

Dallas signing Mayo to a two-year deal is looking like the steal of the off-season. With no Dirk for most of the year, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry gone,the Mavs needed someone who can fill the basket. Mayo has been an absolute revelation for Dallas, scoring 20.8 PPG along with 3.5 APG and 4.0 RPG, all career highs.

At 25 years old and moving constantly for the last decade, Mayo seems to have finally found a home in Dallas. With an owner like Mark Cuban will to massage his massive ego, Mayo can help stay relevant for a few more years and live up to his immense hype as a teenager.

To truly understand my hatred for the basketball player James Harden (not the man James Harden for all I know he’s a good guy who’s just too lazy to shave) we have to go back to the winter of 2008-2009.

See my buddy Brandon and I have teamed up around March Madness to bounce ideas off each other on who we like and don’t like this year, which players could break out come tourney time. Brandon was always kid that had every issue of Slam magazine and he watched all the McDonald’s All-American game and was big into the summer leagues. The two of us in high school usually would sit on the internet during the day, reading sites like nbadraft.net, who would make bold comparisons like high school C.J. Miles to Michael Jordan and Sofoklis Schortsanitis to Shaq.

By the time we got to university and had what we thought was money to burn, we started laying some action on college ball along with our brackets. After varying success in the first couple of years, we decided that the best time to bet on college ball was around the conference tournament time. It’s the only time your going to get anywhere close to teams best efforts.

Brandon had/has a grandmother that lived out in Arizona, so he followed that area closer than others. At the time,  the then Pac-10 basketball was at a real low point. Lute Olsen was done at Arizona after 25 years of dominating the conference, USC was paying O.J. Mayo and anyone else to play there, UCLA was finally coming around after toiling in mediocrity. Brandon keeps talking about this L.A. kid, James Harden, who signed with Arizona State. The only names that mattered to me at the time out west were Mayo and the guy from the Beach Boys nephew that was going to UCLA (Kevin Love). He said you watch, this Harden kid is going to be good and he was right.

Freshman year, Harden averaged 17 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 2.1 apg leading a usual basement feeder in Zona St. to the N.I.T. Going into his sophomore year, the secret was out on Harden, He was on many pre-season All American lists, Naismith top 50 watch and the cover of Sports Illustrated’s college preview edition. Harden’s 2008-2009 season lead his team to 25-10 record, had him playing 35 minutes a game, scoring 20.1 ppg on 48.9% FG, 35% from three-point range along with 4.2 apg and 5.6 rpg. The guy was a stat filler. Harden even dropped 40 points on UTEP that season. Arizona St. was even ranked as high as #14 before conference play started. State ended up going all the way to the Pac-10 finals before losing to a very similarly built but not as talented USC team. While Brandon and eye watched this conference intently with all the top ranked teams in the Big East and ACC maybe someone out west was this years surprise team and we thought we had it. Harden in the Pac-10 finals versus ‘SC, was held to 10 points and missed a free throw, lay-up and three pointer in the final minute to win. Little did we know this was the beginning of a trend.

Despite the loss, Harden was named tourney MVP and shortly after Conference Player of the Year. Brandon and I were jonesing at the opportunity to ride Zona St. too at least the Elite Eight if not the Final Four. With our superstar from the desert, we were going to put big cash on the Sun Devils. Arizona State ended up with a six-seed, which really showed us no one respected them that over the heavily favored North Carolinas, UCONN’s, Pitt’s, and Louisville’s. But we knew the Sun Devils were not just a one trick pony, they also had Jeff Pendergraft (he’s currently rides the bench for the Indiana Pacers, but even to do that means you were really really good in college). Pendergraft did all the dirty work on the boards and scored a lot his points on Harden’s missed shots. Taking Zona St. to go deep in our pools, we bet big to cover in the first tourney game against Temple. If it wasn’t for Jeff Pendergraft, who knows if the ‘ole Rev would still have some oh his fingers left to write this piece.

Temple had this gunner named Dionte Christmas. Christmas could light up a basketball hoop. We figured with our boy James guarding him, this was going to be an easy win and the boys from Temple won’t know what hit them. But Harden choked hard that tournament, choked harder than the English soccer team chokes in penalty kicks (youtube any shoot-out England was in the World Cup or Euro Cup. Choke artists! all of them). Christmas lit up Harden for 29 points, while Harden; who was described on draftexpress.net as “looking lethargic and passive” scored 9 points on 1 for 9 shooting with 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Not counting the four personal fouls. Not the kind of performance you expect from a guy trying to solidify his draft spot in the top five of the draft. Luckily Temple lacked an inside presence to contain Pendergraft, he scored 22 and helped the Sun Devils avoid the upset and saved my thumbs.

The next game that weekend came against three-seed Syracuse. Now this Syracuse team hadn’t made the tourney in two years and had not won a tourney game in four. With the likes of Eric Devendorf, Andy Rautins, Johnny Flynn, and Paul Harris did not inspire anyone of hopes of the 2003 National Championship team. The Orange benefited from a strong Big East tourney and received a very friendly three-seed. What happened next can only described by me as “Classic Harden”. 10 points, 2 for 10 shooting, 0-5 from three-point range. Worst part was he didn’t even make a field goal until the 9.30 mark in the SECOND HALF. Taking Zona St. by +2.5 only made matters worse. Remember I was still in college, I had delusions of grandeur of what I was going to do with my winnings. Didn’t score until half way thru the second half! Yes, Syracuse does play a good 2-3 defense, but there best defender (Wesley Johnson) was sitting out that year. Harden’s teammates, Ty Abbott (6-10 for three) and Rihand Kuksiks (6-13 from 3) scored 20 apiece. YEA, those fucking guys! Arizona lost 78-67 ending my bracket, current and future bets on Zona St. leaving me personally broke.

That type of performance is maybe….maybe acceptable for a freshman that has the burden of carrying his school, but he was a sophomore with some pretty legit players around him. The back to back disappointing games were like getting stab in the ego and figuratively beaten over the head with a lead pipe. Three lame duck games when it mattered the most, and it wasn’t cause he was trying to do too much, the guy didn’t look like he cared! Was he shaving points? problems with the coach? girlfriend trouble? Nothing came of it other than a soaring draft stock.

After the tourney and the rather large hole in my wallet, it’s fair to say who jumped up to number one on my shit list. Harden managed to land himself in the perfect situation in Oklahoma City. All the pressure that usually comes with being a high pick already was thrust up Kevin Garnett and Russell Westbrook. Harden could hide as the third wheel while receiving little blame if the team ever were to struggle.

Last season brought on a bigger role for James, after two years as a sixth man, an injury to back-up point guard Eric Maynor, forced Harden to be the Manu Gionbili for the Thunder’s likeable Big-3. Harden put up career high’s in points (16.8) rebounds (4.1) and assists (3.7), while the league and it’s fan’s were getting “Beard Fever”. OKC finished second in the conference and Harden was key in series versus the still hung-over Dirk and the Mavs, the disgruntled Kobe & Lakers, and the running on empty Spurs. Which takes us to the 2012 finals. Another “Classic Harden” performance.

While my feelings toward Harden had softened, you figured he was destined for a big series against the hobbled Dwayne Wade. Game one, was underwhelming 2 for 6 for 5 points, 3 assists and 4 fouls in 24 minutes. Game two, he did redeem himself in the loss, scoring 21 on 7 for 11 shooting. Again that was in a loss. The final three games assured me that my feelings about this guy were right all along. When the Thunder were desperate for answers and needed him to step up. He shot a combined 4 for 29 in Games three and four for just 17 points and in Game five, he scored an empty 19 points in a blowout loss that sealed the title for the Heat.

Another gut-less performance when it mattered. Forget “Big Game James” he is more of a “Lame Game James” if ya ask me. Even last night game for example, going back to OKC, all the pressure of playing against ex-teammates, he goes 3 for 16 with his shot blocked six times. How do you get your shot blocked by ex-teammates six times! and your USA gold medalist. No wonder he couldn’t get off the bench there, he sucked in practise. If there are any one he should be able to score on, it should be the one he was with everyday for three seasons. Now the world may finally know James Harden the basketball player like I have grown to know him. Houston you have a problem!

After the shock of the Mike Brown firing five games into the season wore off, many believed that the return of the Zen master, Phil Jackson, was to return to Laker-land. With Kobe’s blessing, it seemed inevitable that the 11 time championship coach was going to return to his high chair on the Lakers bench. Phil, then publicly acknowledged that he had the desire to coach another star-studded Lakers squad, with Phil, Dwight and Nash the Miami Heat may finally have been out gunned.

Of course, this was not L.A.’s first time negotiating with Jackson, the Buss family knew that achieving inner peace for their basketball squad was going to come at a huge financial price (Phil was there when Jordan negotiated those huge 30 mil pay days in Chicago and was prepared to rip a page right out of that book). This year’s negotiation came with a new wrinkle, ownership. Jackson demanding a small part of the team this round, was a lot different from the usual throwing money at the problem that saved them before.

Many people don’t know that the Buss family does not own the Lakers out=right like the Steinbrenner’s own the Yankee’s or Kroenke’s (Avalanche, Nuggets, and St. Rams). The Buss’s sold I believe up to 1/3rd to AEG (which owns the Staples center, and currently up for sale if you gotta a couple of billion burning holes in your pockets) and Magic Johnson’s former 4.5% ownership to Los Angeles Businessman Patrick Soon-Shiog. AEG’s pending sale would not put them in a position to relinquish any ownership as it would affect the future sales price. After Mr. Soon-Shiog pay’d millions for his shares he’s probably looking to buy or maintain rather then sell back ownership.

For argument’s sake, let’s say the Buss’s were crazy enough to give up even more ownership for a one year band-aid coach. Your stuck with Jackson after he finally does stop coaching , which in turn leads us to Brian Shaw. Shaw, as everyone knows is Jackson’s guy and after being pass-over the time for Mike Brown (prob have to buy out Shaw from the Pacers) with Jackson’s new ownership stake can ensure that the succession plan was implemented this time around. If the Lakers passed on Shaw again they would have one angry owner on their hands. If you have ever owned anything in partnership, the last thing you need is the guy with the smallest stake making the biggest noise. That, plus Phil using his influence on the next owner of AEG to put the screws to the Buss family, may have Hollywood’s first family on the outside looking in.

There’s also the possibility after a tough negotiation, Phil would have changed his mind and left Lakers management with their pants down. For ownership to plop down say, 8-10 million, for a coach who’s not running practices while implementing a new system with questionable motivation is reason enough to run for the hills (of Beverly, R.I.P Chris Farley).

The 2012 Lakers goal besides winning the title, is to keep the bi-polar Dwight Howard happy long enough to resign. It’s quiet possible with all the time Lakers management and Kobe have spent with Howard may feel he would not benefit the way Shaq would from the Triangle or lacks the basketball IQ to survive in it. The nightmare scenario being: Phil screaming at Howard for always being in the wrong place all the time, fills Howard’s head with zen mumbo-jumbo, which really confuses him, Phil destroys his confidence a la Pau in ’10 playoffs. Dwight signs with Atlanta looking to get as far away from Phil and Kobe as possible, completing Bill Simmons’ ultimate wet dream.

Which brings us to Mike D’Antoni. Seven seconds or less Mike. While D’Antoni was sitting in the hospital, getting more work done than a “Real Housewife” (what else you going to do with the Jimmy Dolan divorce money) looked at the roster that’s very similar to his best Suns teams, waited for the morphine to wear off and signed the first thing thru the fax. Having Steve Nash man the point, Kobe is still better now than Joe Johnson was in his prime, World Peace and Marion are a wash, Dwight playing the Amar’e role. Not even including Pau, it’s the best squad he’s coached hands down. The whole process of signing probably took two phone calls and a fax. Lakers sign a coach with the future on mind without giving up valuable TV and sponsorship money.

D’Antoni has the least complicated system (or none, depending on who you ask) in the NBA. He get’s Nash helping teammates run the offense and where to be on the court (just judging by TV interviews and what-not, this would go 100 times smoother than the tyrannical Kobe led practices with Brian Shaw at the helm). Again keeping Dwight happy. With the ball in Nash’s hands will lead to more pick and roll opportunities (Dwight happy :>;;) while taking the ball out of the moody Kobe’s hands in the Triangle.

Bringing back Phil Jackson is the clear basketball decision, the Buss’s had to think business first here, maintaining control the team being the first priority. D’Antoni increases the chances of resigning Howard and if need be can axed as quick as Mike Brown was without upsetting the fan base.