If you’ve read my work before, you know that I can get fired up. Yeah, I write a lot of stupid stuff completely in jest, basically hoping to get other people going, but every now and then, I legitimately have to get some things off of my chest. This blog would be one of those times. I don’t know how I can get so worked up every year about the NBA screwing up the All-Star team selections, but it’s become an annual ritual, and it will continue to happen until Adam Silver finally comes to his senses and lets me fix everything about the NBA, including allowing me to pick the All Star teams each year. Continue Reading
Okay, so I just woke up from my postgame nap after getting up at 6:30 this morning to watch TJ Oshie and USA hockey vanquish the Russkies on their home ice, and I’ve decided to get back in the saddle and end my blog’s ridiculous drought of posts. I’m overflowing with patriotism and after watching the NBA’s Rising Stars challenge last night and the rest of NBA All Star Weekend looming, I’m in the perfect mood to write a blog I’ve had on my mind for about a week now.
I was watching Olympics last weekend and I noticed that Norway was stocking up on medals in nordic skiing and gaining the lead in the medal count, and I thought, it’s such bullshit that a country being the best at a stupid fringe sport like cross country skiing gets to rack up tons of medals because of the multiple events in the same sport and multiple entrants in each event for the same country. I think we can all agree that it’s silly that a team sport competition like basketball (or hockey, if we want to be topical) takes about two weeks to determine a winner, and then that gold medal counts as one medal in the count. Lame. Unfair. Team sports absolutely should be worth more, but also there should be more events for basketball, which I guess 3 on 3 is on its way, but 1 on 1 should absolutely be an event, and you could even throw in 3 point shooting and dunk contest. If they can judge triple axels they can judge 360 windmills. Now, on top of adding these extra events, why should the US be limited to one team in basketball? We’re so much better than everybody else, why should we be forced to settle for one gold when we could easily sweep the podium and shut out the Spaniards, Argentinians and Frenchies. So here is my triple Dream Team, if you will, or as I called it in the title: The 3 Headed Monster of USA Basketball.
I should mention that in choosing these teams, I tried to keep the squads young, much like actual Team USA, but I kept the vets that have been playing lately. The other big thing is I assumed everyone is healthy. Obviously Rose, Kobe, Westbrook, etc. are battling injuries right now, but the hope would be that in 2016 they would all be 100% and good to go. This is a fantasy, after all, so I can make that rule. Okay, now, here are the teams.
|Team Red||Team White||Team Blue|
|G||J. Wall||Rondo||K. Irving|
|G||B. Beal||Korver||K. Thompson|
|G/F||L. Stephenson||Iguodala||Jimmy Buckets|
|F||G. Monroe||K. Leonard||Bosh|
|F/C||A. Drummond||D. Jordan||B. Lopez|
Tell me, how is Spain beating any of those teams? I know they would stack their roster while we’re taking the risk of wearing a bit thin, but the beauty of these rosters is that they’re structured with more natural pecking orders of who’s getting the ball in late game situations and I’ve even sprinkled in some specialists. Let’s analyze these teams a bit more.
Probably the most stacked starting lineup, thus, they have a less experienced bench. Even though LeBron is obviously the centerpiece of this team, I don’t think there’s any question that Chris Paul would assume the leadership role. Funny thing about this team is that we don’t have a true power forward in the starting lineup, but both Melo and LeBron are big small forwards, and LeBron can guard all five positions so this doesn’t concern me in the least. Here are a couple lineups I foresee:
Crunch Time: Howard, LeBron, Melo, Harden, Paul (with Stephenson/Harden exchanging defense for offense in certain situations)
Small Ball Sharpshooting: Aldridge, Melo, Parsons, Beal, Paul
Lockdown D/Full Court Press: Howard, LeBron, Stephenson, Wall, Paul
Big Lineup: Howard, Aldridge, LeBron/Melo, Harden, Wall
One thing about this lineup is it is lacking in shooters maybe just a tad, but Melo tends to be very efficient in international play, and LeBron James really covers up so many of a team’s deficiencies that I tend to not worry about much with him involved in any lineup. With this starting lineup, this team probably looks like the A Team, so I’ve given Coach K the reigns after his years of service to USA Basketball, even if he is the evil face of Dook basketball.
We’re getting the old dynamic duo of Phil and Kobe back together! If they can get 5 Larry O’Brien trophies why can’t they get one gold medal, right? Here are some lineups I like:
Crunch Time: Starters. Korver for George for free throws if we’re protecting a slim lead with the ball. Rondo for Westbrook potentially if Russell is being difficult.
Small Ball/Sharpshooting: Love, Leonard, Korver, Kobe, Lillard
Lockdown D/Full Court Press: Hibbert/Jordan, Griffin, 2 of Leonard/George/Iguodala for the 2 and 3 spots, Westbrook (Jordan for pressing, Hibbert ideal for halfcourt)
I could see Kobe and Westbrook clashing a bit at times since they both need the ball so much, but that’s why we have Rondo as a trustworthy caretaker of the offense if we have to give Russell the hook. I think Phil is far more capable of handling Westbrook’s dynamic personality than Scott Brooks anyhow, so I don’t worry too much.
My dark horse squad, the blue team. Can’t go wrong with the Slim Reaper as your go-to guy with the year he’s currently having. And D Wade is coming off the bench a la his magnificent Redeem Team performance. Let’s look at some lineups.
Crunch Time: Starters, but I’d maybe go with Curry at point, and Wade at 2 if we want a little more defense in some games.
Small Ball/Sharpshooting: Bosh, Durant, Thompson, Curry, Irving (my favorite small ball lineup of all of them)
Lock Down D/Full Court Press: Chandler, Davis, Butler, Wade/Thompson, Rose
Big Lineup: Chandler/Lopez, Cousins, Durant, Thompson, Rose/Wade
I don’t see a single downside to this lineup. It’s probably the one that fits together the best with all of its pieces. Popovich is the perfect coach to tinker with those lineups, too. And much like Team Red with LeBron, any weakness you think you might see kind of fades away if you plug in Durant.
So who got snubbed? Deron Williams comes to mind. Josh Smith, maybe. Taj Gibson is a personal favorite that I left off. You can let me know in the comments.
So the final question is, who wins the gold? I think Team Red would be the odds on favorite in Vegas, but I personally would put my money on Team Blue. They’d probably be the best value bet and I just want to roll with Popovich and my guy Derrick Rose. But let me know who you think and vote!
I’ve been frustrated lately at how much the NFL has dominated the sports scene in this country, because to me, the NBA is so much more entertaining. Let’s take a look at how the two leagues match up when their respective “biggest weekends” square off.
By the way, I think this evaluation is about as objective as one can get. Totally a fair perspective on both events.
1. Location, Location, Location
Yeah, I know that the new Cowboys Stadium is amazing, but Dallas was experiencing some nasty weather that week, whereas the NBA All-Star Weekend took place in beautiful southern California. And by the way, the Staples Center is no slouch of a venue in its own right.
2. Everything that took place outside of Sunday
What does the NFL have here? Media day, some stupid team pictures that caused controversy, some boring Hall of Fame announcements, and a couple of cocktail parties.
How about the NBA, then?
- A really lame celebrity game which was made a mockery of by preteen girls when they voted Justin Bieber the MVP, but was still watchable thanks to the play of Scottie Pippen.
- The sneakily-entertaining Rookie Challenge that, despite having no defense being played 99% of the time, is filled with a lot of exciting alley-oops like this and this.
- TNT ran 3 great hours of pregame programming that included a look back at the greatest All Star games and performances, the best non-winning dunks in the history of the dunk contest, and my personal favorite: a 6-team fantasy draft done by 6 of their analysts to pick the best team of all-stars out of every player in NBA history.
- All Star Saturday Night included 3 so-so events in the Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, and 3 Pt Challenge, but this year, the Dunk Contest made a triumphant return after being pretty disappointing the last few years (we were all getting sick of Nate Robinson).
Edge: NBA by a mile
3. Musical performances
The NFL had this debacle by Christina Aguilera for the national anthem, and then the Black Eyed Peas proved their need for gobs of studio production with their dumpster fire of a halftime show. I’m not really aware of any other performances, but even if there were any, I’m sure they sucked.
The NBA, on the other hand, had a couple duds like Lenny Kravitz and something called Cee Lo, but they also had Cali Swag District perform their red hot single “Teach Me How to Dougie” for halftime of the Rookie Challenge, a fantastic Star Spangled Banner by Josh Groban (not to mention the NBA always has the awesome “Oh, Canada” before the All Star Game, as well), and then my personal favorite performance of the weekend, which was Rihanna’s halftime show.
Edge: Again, the NBA has it
So, the Super Bowl was deciding the world champions of their sport, but the NBA had all of the top athletes in its sport all in one game. Sounds like a toss up to me.
5. Rooting Interests
The Super Bowl was comprised of two teams I hated. The All Star Game had two teams that I liked: Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Dwight Howard on the East, and Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, and Blake Griffin on the West.
Despite all these great reasons as to why the NBA All Star Game was better, the Super Bowl maintained a much higher level of popularity and got amazing TV ratings. I don’t get why the Super Bowl has become a quasi-national holiday, but just about everybody, even non-sports fans, attends a Super Bowl party each year.
Edge: NFL by a long-shot
Well, overall it looks like the NBA beat the NFL pretty handily in my mind, but the world sees it quite differently. Oh, well. You know what they say, “What’s popular isn’t always right, and what’s right isn’t always popular”.