Posts Tagged ‘nba’

Tonight is going to be a bizarrely good television night! It’s May 30th and when you think May 30th, you don’t think about it as a great TV night. Yet tonight is going to be unbelievably amazing on television. I’m not a hockey guy but I’ll watch the Devils and the Kings in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. U.S. vs. Brazil in soccer – the U.S. have closed the gap on Brazil, not sure the Americans will win but I like soccer, so I’ll be watching that as well. Then at 8:30pm EST you’ve got Lebron against Boston, I’m definitely in!

But the little gem that nobody talks about – and I find it utterly fascinating is the event at 8pm EST tonight before Lebron and the Celtics square off, the NBA Lottery otherwise known as the Ping-Pong Ball show. I’m actually into it more than the NBA draft itself and certainly more than 90% of NBA regular season games. For every television executive, from Hollywood to New York and Dallas to Chicago, if you’re in the television executive producing business, you need to watch the NBA Lottery show tonight. You’ll have 14 teams watching ping pong balls in a popcorn popper. The worse you are, the more balls you get in the popcorn popper and one by one, teams get eliminated from the 1st pick. It is pathetically fascinating and I’ll most definitely be glued. It is like watching a lottery show if 14 family members sat in those chairs. Every TV exec – I personally don’t watch any sitcom shows regularly, but every TV exec who’s trying to find the next gem – I don’t know what it is but whatever the NBA ping pong ball show does and provides, you should figure it out. This year it’s the Anthony Davis lottery, so even college basketball fans like Kentucky, Duke and Carolina will watch to see where Anthony Davis goes. I am absolutely fascinated by it!

Chris Broussard was on the Scott Van Pelt Show yesterday on ESPN radio and he said something about the San Antonio Spurs – a team that is not that nationally interesting though very very good. He dropped the “gem” I would call it about the San Antonio Spurs by saying “…the San Antonio Spurs have 1 lottery player in Tim Duncan, the league average is 4 or 5 and of all the teams remaining in this post season, Oklahoma and Boston have 6 lottery players each and Miami has 7. On top of that, the Spurs have 7 2nd round draft picks which is more than all but 2 teams in the league” isn’t that amazing? They are on this incredible run with the likes of Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal basically C+ players who haven’t lost a game since early April.

I would say there are 3 franchises in the U.S. that do it differently than anybody else. The San Antonio Spurs, the New England Patriots and Boise State Football – they win with less talent. Patriots had 18 undrafted guys in the Superbowl, nobody else does that! Boise State does not get 4 or 5 star recruits yet they can beat Oklahoma, Georgia, and Virginia Tech often on the road. They can beat Oregon at home, where nobody historically beats Oregon, how do they do it? When it comes down to the Spurs, Patriots or Boise State football, it all begins with an egoless culture. The Spurs are basically the opposite of Allen Iverson’s career; the Patriots do it differently – not quite sure why more teams don’t copy it. It’s interesting who we copy or emulate in sports – kids want to be Derrick Rose, they want to buy his jersey yet has never won a title and probably won’t in my opinion, yet Tim Duncan’s jersey is on the sales rack at 80% off. But it is amazing to watch the Spurs, the Patriots and Boise State football.

In all 3 cases, there is just 1 – 1 ½ stars but it’s the upstairs where leadership is very much at the forefront. What do I usually say on this blog, what is the montra of this blog? “Celebrate rarely, grind regularly” Patriots win? Head down and grind it again for next season. Spurs win? It’s what they are suppose to do! Boise State throws no bowl parades after another bowl win. If you look at chronic losers in sports, it all starts because it’s bad upstairs in management and ownership. Bengals historically, Raiders in the last 10 years, Lions forever and then look at who wins: Steelers, Patriots and Spurs where it’s great upstairs. Maybe the guys upstairs are underpaid; maybe the guys on the floor, the ice, the arena, the grass are all overpaid. Tony Parker talked about it – the team that spreads the ball most like nobody in the NBA “…when you have coach Pops screaming at you everyday to pass the ball. He always tells us that we have to always find the better shot, the better shot, the better shot and said it all season long, extra passes and we have great shooters on the team who fit that model too…” it’s amazing! They are less athletic than Oklahoma City in my opinion, aren’t as young either but Parker can get his 30 points or more along with his 10 assists, play good defense – it’s not about getting a star but the right star who is selfless and it’s fun to watch!


So generally when I see lawsuits, I’m usually not a fan of them but there are times – like if you own McDonald’s and a new burger place comes out called McJohnson’s, you probably have to sue. But I saw this lawsuit and I laughed – even texted a good friend writing “seriously?” So Saints suspended linebacker Jonathan Vilma filed a defamation lawsuit Thursday against the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He claims that Mr. Goodell relied on, at best, “heresay and circumstantial evidence and lies” in suspending Vilma. Then Vilma’s attorney, Peter Ginsberg, said “By making these false and public statements, he has significantly harmed Jonathan Vilma’s reputation and ability to make a living” ohh please! As if single defensive coordinator in the NFL would not hire Jonathan Vilma because of Bountygate.

People who have killed people have been given second chances in this league – Pacman Jones was in the league last year. He’d either been arrested, apprehended, citations, twelve times with cops. If you can make us better …you’re in! Want another example? Randy Moss – played on 4 teams within 2 years. The NFL is a “win games for us” league. Nobody in this league is going to say “you know, Jonathan Vilma was reportedly in this thing, they called it Bountygate and he was going to hit people even harder! No room for him here” pfft please, Randy Moss keeps getting work. You can be a jerk, you can be indignant, you can be temperamental. Terrell Owens, OchoCinco…it doesn’t matter; it’s a “win games” league because if you can help win, you’ll get a job.

Now, is Jonathan Vilma angry? Yes, but let’s be honest here, he’s been in the league for almost 8 years, it’s on fumes, he’s not the player he once was. His biggest issue, and I get it, is that “I got about 2 years left and your taking one of my years away” dude, invest your money better. Lester Munson this morning was on the Mike & Mike Show and said that this is a very uphill battle for Vilma “…he must prove, not only that the NFL was incorrect in what it said about him, but he has got to show that they did it deliberately and maliciously. Vilma, under the law, is a public figure and to succeed in any defamation case, he has got to show malicious – and that is an overwhelming burden for Vilma” So it’s unbelievably hard to prove.

In order to win that lawsuit, you have to believe that Roger Goodell thought “you know, I want to pick on one guy in this league…ahh, let’s go after Jonathan Vilma, I want to end his career!” Really? You’re not going to prove that. Remember, when you’re a public figure, it’d be very difficult for any public figure to sue somebody and it would be equally difficult to sue a public figure. I heard recently that a prominent sports talk radio guy on ESPN received a letter during last year’s finals claiming from a Dallas based attorney claiming “slander on Dirk Nowitzki! I don’t like your comments. I am considering in my law office to take legal action against you” why? Because he’s a talk show host who has an opinion on Dirk Nowitzki, if that attorney could sue him then Barack Obama could sue Sean Hannity…it’s not happening!

The NFL is loaded with bad dudes who have jobs – don’t tell me that nobody is going to hire Jonathan Vilma because of this Bountygate stuff, it’s totally irrelevant! It’s not a PR hit either because he’s a long time defensive player so it’s not a PR hit. He’s not running for public office or anything like that, he’s not an elected official, and he’s a football player and is a defensive player who lights people up! Got the Greg Williams audio tape – it’s the culture of the NFL.

So over the past couple of days, 3 of the 4 best players in the NBA have butchered the end of a game. Lebron missed free throws, D-Wade missed a layup and Kobe was just playing bad for 2 minutes.  Do you see a trend here? Even for the top players in the world – end of the game basketball is very tough. It’s amazing how many people watch these games and you think that the last second shot is suppose to look like Hoosiers where it all happens in slow motion and the clock is taking an eternity to count down from 3, 2, 1 – then you have a jumper and it ends in a swish!

Folks, this is not the 50’s nor a movie – do you want to know what the last 10 seconds of a game is like? You’ve got 10 world class athletes, eighteen thousand people screaming at you and you can’t hear, a lot of clutching, grabbing and pushing – you get the ball to anybody who can shoot that is open and who can win you the game…that’s the reality! It’s not Hoosiers, that’s why 3 of the 4 best players in the league were exhausted and have struggled at the end of games because it’s not easy! We want our athlete’s to be perfect at the end of a game when they’re most exhausted. Lebron James is forced to guard David West for 40 minutes – he’s an All-Star forward. You’re surprised Lebron is a little tired by the end of the game and that Wade is not perfect.  Since I listen to a lot of sports talk radio, you probably have people waiting to talk for almost 20 minutes yet when they’re on the air, they can’t even get through a sentence! And you want perfection after 40 minutes of basketball from these players??

Everybody was banging on Metta World Mishap Thursday morning! Excuse me; isn’t goal #1 as a trailing team, with only seconds left, to get an open look from a top shooter? Isn’t that goal #1? Open look, top shooter. If I said to any Laker fan Thursday morning – as the players came out of the time out Wednesday night “You’re going to get a wide open jumper, on the road, to win the game” who wouldn’t take that?? “Well Kobe…” who cares! It doesn’t matter who, you get a wide open shot, doesn’t matter who! Didn’t Steve Blake win you the Denver series? Kobe didn’t hit those jumpers! That was all Steve Blake!! Three nights ago, Mario Chalmers, last night it was Steve Blake – they’re paid multi-million dollars a year, not to defend at the highest level but to hit jumpers. The Lakers brought in Blake just for that shot! They didn’t bring him to LA to rebound or to distribute or to stop Dwayne Wade! They brought him in to shoot jumpers and that’s exactly what you brought Steve Blake for, to shoot that jumper! He did it against Denver, now you’re killing Metta World Mishap?

If you’re a Heat fan or a Laker fan, you can’t do better than the last 2 nights than the shot you got to win or tie the game…you can’t do better than that!  Everybody is like “Well Kobe was open…” if the definition of open is a long looping pass to the opposite corner over Serge Ibaka, if that’s open, then the Redwood Forest is the Great Plains! I’m here to tell you that that is not the definition of “open” in the NBA and it doesn’t look like Hoosiers. Rick Carlisle was on the The Herd on ESPN radio Wednesday – one of the best coaches in the league, Mavs’ head coach. He was asked about last second shots – he studied some tape and said “…We did a loop of about 80 different plays that teams have run throughout the league over the last year to get 3 point shots when they need a 3. I went through the entire thing and virtually never do you get the shot that the play is set up for, teams are just too good defensively”

Too good!! You just can’t do it and everybody in the arena knew that Kobe was going to get the ball. Afterwards Steve Blake, to his credit, said “…Kobe was coming up the floor to get into the middle, I was just in the corner to just be an outlet and Westbrook kind of ran off me so I was wide open – you gotta take it and make it!” Gotta take it and make it! He did against Denver but didn’t against OKC – come people, it’s not Hoosiers. It’s hard enough just getting the ball inbounds much less to get a wide open jumper! Now if you’re a Laker fan, you can be negative/positive but here’s the thing. Some problems in a playoff series are unsolvable. Ramon Sessions against Westbrook is unsolvable, Lakers bench is unsolvable. Now you can bounce back on psychology in the series – if Westbrook tweaks an ankle, Kobe goes nuts, now its 2-1 Oklahoma City, they’re gripping about Westbrook’s ankle and are a young team on the road…series can change!

Now I don’t think it will, I think it’s asking a ton from the Lakers, I don’t think you’re ever going to hold Oklahoma City to 12 points in a quarter. I don’t think you can win back to back games against a young fresh team. I don’t think you can beat them in 4 out of 5 games, I just don’t think you can. I think they’ll play really well going forward, but the major issues I don’t think are really going to change –  Ramon Sessions being over his head and the Lakers having the 2nd best bench in a 7 game series, you just can’t do anything about that. A couple of days ago – and I got drilled for saying this, but I was basically apologizing for Lebron because he just looked tired at the end of Game 2. No excuses on the missed free throws, but I just simply thought he and Wade looked exhausted. I’m not sure now if they can beat Indiana (Gm 3 had just concluded when writing this) and I don’t think they are winning the East with just 2 players and almost certainly not beating a San Antonio or a Oklahoma City.

I also thought – not that it’s an excuse, but that Kobe also looked tired after Game 2. That has to be the worst 2 minutes I’ve ever seen Kobe play in crisis…ever! He just simply never plays like that, where he takes a terrible 3 ball, had a ball go off his arm, had a turnover – I mean, just really bad judgment which to me, is just fatigue. I said the same thing about Lebron because I like both Lebron and Kobe – so maybe that’s the fan in me defending them. But when you’re asking these star players like Kobe to carry teams, Wade to carry teams and Lebron to carry teams – in Philadelphia, you’re not asking any one guy to do it nor are the Pacers asking one guy to do it or Oklahoma City. The Lakers and Miami are asking their star to play 40 minutes and literally do everything perfectly and I just think both Lebron and Kobe were different players.

So I tried to watch as much of the game Tuesday night between the Pacers and Heat – it was pretty ugly, anybody who thinks Chris Bosh doesn’t matter much to the Heat – they’re not watching the same team I’m watching. So Lebron goes out and produces 28 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals yet this morning it was “Lebron!! You keep losing all the games for us” Lebron has become that guy who is considered a one man band, who plays 9 instruments simultaneously and yet people complain “you know, the trumpet is not real crisp…” hello people! He’s playing 9 instruments simultaneously so he’s not the best trumpet player!!!

By the way, now that Bosh is gone – so they’re asking Lebron to play another instrument “go guard for 42 minutes all of Indiana’s big men” it’s amazing! Shaq missed free throws yet nobody said Shaq lost them the game because everybody realized “ oh, we can’t win without Shaq” Lebron misses free throws – and he clanked them and yet nobody wants to talk about Udonis Haslem playing 12 minutes, scoring 4 points, Mike Miller 17 minutes and 0 points, Mario Chalmers was the worst player on both ends of the floor, he played 23 minutes, went 2 for 10 and couldn’t guard anybody, yet your all still claiming “no, it’s Lebron’s fault” I thought he looked exhausted Tuesday night at the end of the game. Erik Spolstra tried to rest him a bit in the 4th quarter – couldn’t because he had to play him the entire 4th to stay in the game.

What’s even funnier now is that when Lebron doesn’t take the final shot – and it doesn’t appear as if the play was even designed for him, you guys are claiming that that’s Lebron’s fault too!! “Lebron, you have to guard Bosh’s man, you have to be the coach…” Again, he had 6 steals, 9 rebounds, 28 points in 40 minutes played, had to guard the Pacers’ best player…so he has the audacity to miss free throws in my books for that type of contribution. Erik Spolstra talked after the game on how he tried to give Lebron a breather but couldn’t saying “…he’ll never make any excuse for that. I wish I could’ve gotten him off for a minute or two in the 4th quarter, but because of the hole we dug ourselves, there was just no way to do it”

Lebron is every dad, every brother, every drill sergeant, ever single parent who’s had to carry their unit, their family because of general ineptitude by others. Yet we still bang on that dad, that brother, that single mom because she’s late picking up her 9th kid because nobody else in the family can do it. “bad mom…you’re a bad mom! I know, but I have to feed and clothe and pick up…bad mom!” Even before the game, Lebron said that 40 minutes of regular season basketball is not the same as 40 minutes in the playoffs. Mario Chalmers is god awful! I don’t know what happened to him because he is just god awful. Now a lot of people are saying “well Andrew, what about the last shot” I don’t know how many times I have to say this – I felt this from the very beginning of Lebron’s career.

If you go back to Lebron’s career in Cleveland, I can only remember one game winning shot against Orlando in the playoffs, he’s never been a closer! What you hope to do with Lebron is get 41 minutes of speed, power, transition, defense and scoring. So when there is 44 seconds left and you’re leading by 6 or 8, you don’t need to rely on Lebron. The idea that Lebron now is getting blame because he’s not taking the shot – because he’s used as a decoy, we want him to now coach…people! Come on now! Do you know what Miami is right now? They are Cleveland but with better weather. When he was in Cleveland for 7 years – anytime he lost, it was his entire fault and I would argue for hours that “he’s got no help!” he leaves Cleveland and you all go “oh, Andrew was right- Cleveland is god awful” they couldn’t even win 12 games after he left! Now he goes to Miami, Bosh gets hurt – let’s be honest about what Miami is right now: no bench, now no Bosh thus no interior scoring, Mario Chalmers has been reduced to the worst player in the series on both ends and Dwayne Wade – who gives you everything, but Lebron and Wade largely do the same thing, it’s Xerox basketball.

I told a buddy before the series “this Miami team is not winning a championship because they’re not beating a San Antonio or Oklahoma City with only Bosh, Wade and this group of dudes” But it’s one of those things, where it’s bigger than basketball – what has happened here is that, like often in life, you are penalized for being the smartest person in the family. You are penalized as the single mom having to do all the work for the kids, you are penalized in your platoon if you’re the most courageous guy because then everyone relies on you and when you fail them “heyy!! But what about…” and that person often responds by saying “listen, I’m carrying you people…” Single moms carry families because of shmuck ex-husbands; brothers carry less successful brothers. There’s a guy carrying a sales department, somewhere in North America, there’s a guy in sales – he’s the #1 sales guy on his staff, whose carrying the entire department, he has one down quarter and everybody’s like “Bob, you had a down quarter…what’s up with that…” but yet without Bob, you wouldn’t even be posting the sales figures and meeting your set quotas!!

Wednesday morning “it’s all on Lebron, he’s terrible” is the general consensus. People, Miami is not even in that game if it wasn’t for Lebron. Stephen A. Smith, whose covered Lebron for years, was on The Scott Van Pelt Show on Monday and basically said that its silly to think that anyone in their right mind would think that losing Chris Bosh would not have any sort of effect on the team saying “when I heard that storyline, that the Heat might be better off without Bosh I honestly thought it was laughable! I mean, you could have a conversation that when Dwayne Wade doesn’t play – it free’s Lebron up to play more comfortably and he gets more attention, we could have a debate on that. But, there is no debate when it comes to Bosh because with all due respect to Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem, look at who the Heat are playing at centre right now” yet you might say “Andrew, but if Lebron is going to get all the credit for a win, he deserves the blame…” that’s the thing though, he doesn’t get the credit for a win! None of you will give him any credits for a win because it’s all D-wade!! That’s the funny thing “Well, [Pat] Riley built this baby! D-wade is the closer”

We won’t give him any credit for the wins, he gets all the blame for the losses – again people, they’re not even in that game without Lebron!! Do you understand what they are asking him to do?  They are asking him to guard Chris Boshs’ guys for 40 minutes, Tuesday night he had 3 shots blocked – when Lebron shots get blocked at 6’9, 265lbs the dude is tired! Dwayne Wade, to his credit, was exhausted by game’s end because when he missed that lay up – which he almost always hits, did you see him lay on the floor? He’s totally shot! You cannot ask – even Jordan and Pippen had help, you cannot ask 2 guys in this day and age in the NBA, where you’ve got all this talent, to beat teams like San Antonio  and Oklahoma City – again though, this is not me being prisoner of the moment, I’ve said this all year long that Indiana is good! I would argue that they are the 2nd deepest team in the league. This series I still give it to Miami, but I just literally laugh when reading the emails.

The guy that can play 9 instruments, he’s not exceptional on the trumpet and we’re banging on him! Folks, he’s got the drums, the bass, the trumpet, the accordion…can we at least acknowledge that he’s fairly talented? Even in defeat, Lebron put forth a star’s performance. Obviously this failed green initiative that companies have tried to implement has failed, I guess I’ll go along with the crowd and blame Lebron for that too! Forget global warming…that’s a Lebron thing too. It’s hilarious! He’s getting killed because he didn’t take the final shot. Well let me ask you this, is he the guy with the clipboard in the huddle? He didn’t draw that thing up.

Two stories I want to rant about today. I think it’s coincidental that they both become stories on the same day. I was reading this morning one of the reports on the Lakers’ loss to the Nuggets last night and it said “the 2012 NBA season more than any other, has had the Los Angeles Lakers looking towards their young center Andrew Bynum for big contributions” umm, I think Laker fans are still waiting! Ever since Bynum said “close out games are easy” he’s not made more than 3 field goals within 5 feet in any one game, he’s 7’2.

Then I read another quote from Kobe Bryant – who had a 100 degree temperature and a stomach virus yet was diving all over the floor for the loose balls. After the game, when asked about Metta World Peace, Kobe said “you know, he’s the one guy I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard on this roster” Laker fan, when Metta World Peace formerly Ron Artest is your rock, you are in trouble! When Metta World Peace is the one guy Kobe can count on – you are not a championship team and your season is pretty much over. Either it’s happening on Saturday night or four games after the Oklahoma City series begins. I got news for you because in Hollywood, when the director says “Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen are the only people I can count on” your project is dead!! It’s over and it’s time for drastic wholesale changes. Los Angeles is renowned for face lifts…you need one!

Unfortunately though, good luck getting rid of some of these pieces after this performance – the series is now irrelevant. Win or lose, statistically and historically you win this game at home but it’s so much greater and so much sadder than that. Kobe Bryant – in his 209th year playing in the NBA at a high level, 100 degree temperature, stomach flu – if you’ve never had it, it’s awful!! Yet he was all over the floor. Andrew Bynum though, after the game and after mailing it in, the best thing he could come up with was “man, Denver hit a bunch of shots” he said after the game “this game in particular, I was surprised and in amazement of the types of shots they were hitting. I didn’t play in the 4th quarter, Kinda sucks…”

For the record, find me an athlete with a bad attitude half way through his career and where it dramatically changed in the second half of his career as he become richer …diva is diva! Certainly Pau Gasol is to blame too and George Karl is outworking Mike Brown, but when players have to be shaken, poked, prodded, to get motivated for a playoff game, you’ve got the wrong players. Kevin Garnett – another guy in his 138th year in the league has his best game in over half a decade last night. Kobe Bryant – stomach flu and all was all over the floor. Hey Bynum, it’s not Tuesday in January against Charlotte, the last game of a 6 game road trip…it’s the playoffs!!  What a joke!! I find the Denver Nuggets today really easy to root for – less experienced, no star player, down 3-1, win in LA, blew them out in Denver…I have no problem rooting for that effort.

But from one diva to the next, if you’re not a Red Sox fan – God bless you if you’re not, but if you’re not a Red Sox fan, you may not understand the gravitas of this story. The Red Sox’s –and they do this about every hour and a half these days, are blowing up – the bad kind. Let’s take you back to where the story began. It’s hard to imagine that anybody could lose the equity that Josh Beckett had several years ago – unbelievable in the playoffs, has one of the greatest post-season performances ever…yet he’s blown all the equity out, unbelievable! Red Sox’s can’t win at home, they’re falling apart – perhaps the worst team in the AL East and that’s not a stretch based on the way the Orioles have played the last few weeks.

So Beckett misses a start and says “ahh it’s my lat” that’s funny because he was apparently on a golf course, playing golf – a sport where you need your lat, as he missed yet another start for a team that desperately needs him. Combine that with him playing video games, drinking beer in the clubhouse during last September’s erosion and you’ve got a guy that is quickly becoming an unlikeable figure in Boston. He could have saved it though, reporters came up to him this past Thursday and asked him about the golfing, missing the start. Yet instead of being humble, instead of understanding the room temperature – here is his response “Reporter: Josh what impact, if any, did the whole golf thing have in terms of it being a distraction? Josh:  nothing! Reporter: Do you have anything to say about that in general? I know it’s obviously a big story in Boston. Josh: no, because I’ll spend my off-days whatever way I want to spend them. Reporter: do you have any regrets that it could’ve hurt you because of the lat. Josh: my off-day is my off-day!” Ahh, that was great! You know what he just did? Do you know what Josh Beckett just did? He made Bobby Valentine incredibly likeable!

Bobby Valentine, you should thank Josh Beckett – he just did you a solid. Bobby Valentine, until that quote, had been reeling, getting booed and falling apart. Today you woke up and said “that’s what Bobby Valentine has to deal with?” the thing is, it got worse! Here’s the other bite he had where he was even worse! “Reporter: Josh, given that you skipped a start, do you think people have a right to question why you were playing golf when it was said for you to get some rest? Josh: Not on my off-day! Reporter: Do you understand the perception that leaves when the team is playing as poorly as you guys are right now? Josh: listen, we only get 18 off-days a year, I think we deserve a little bit of time off just for ourselves” Whoa, 18 off-days a month maybe – you’re a pitcher!

Amare Stoudemire – not a grown up, hurts his team. Rajon Rondo – bumps a ref, not a grown up…hurts his team. Metta World Mishap – not a grown up, hurts his team. What wins in the NBA playoffs? Grownups! Magic Johnson, Larry Bird – big picture, self-awareness, macro, high IQ players. It’s why most of the great NBA stars – the really transcendent stars, do very well post-basketball! They are smart, they’re grownups!

Yet look at these guys I just mentioned hurting their teams. It’s not about talent, it’s not about the guy on the wing who can drop 30 points – Glen Robinson did that all day and so did Dominque Wilkins, but do you make your teammates better? I feel bad for Amare Stoudemire because he’s been a good solider since he arrived in New York. His game has changed, his knees are shot and he knows it. He played very hard and very well and he changed his game when they didn’t have Melo – it was a bunch of young guys and Amare, he was a good soldier. But what he did Sunday night is why Phoenix tried to bail on him for 3 years and nobody else wanted him. He sees himself as a much better player than what he is and he’s just not in crisis, a grownup!

Yet this league has always been dominated, I’d argue, by guys who get the bigger picture! Magic, Bird, Kobe and not just pure talent. That’s why when I look at the Knicks right now, it’s not the fact that they are down 2-0 because I had predicted that Miami would either sweep this series or win in 5 – it’s really a bad matchup for the Knicks. What really worries me is not what is in the rear view mirror from Sunday night, but what really worries me, if you’re a Knick fan, is what’s in the future. There are guys on this team I like – Jeremy Lin, limited but I like him, Tyson Chandler – limited but I like him, Iman Shumpert, Novak…those are my favourite 4 guys on this roster. Yet everybody buys Melo’s jersey and feeds the delusional ego.

The problem Knick fans, is not that your down 2-0 but rather your future is tied to Melo. Let’s not lecture anybody about basketball because I believe we can all see the truth here – whereas an NFL locker has 65 guys when you count coaches and players, MLB has 25 players, NHL its 23 yet in the NBA its 12 and 7 of them play. So your locker room culture is created by your star. Your star in New York is Melo – he has now defined your basketball culture, that’s the way it works in the NBA. As I’ve said for years on this blog, it’s not about getting a star…but the RIGHT star! Frankly, Melo never has been. The Knicks are 50-50 through 100 games with Melo. When the Denver Nuggets got rid of him? Look up their record; they are winning .600 of their games. The basketball culture always begins and ends with your star! Yet what has Melo created? Isolation “it has to go through me” one on one “I got to get my share”.

What’s the culture of Miami since Lebron arrived? “We play on both ends…we pass…it’s not about anything other than the W” Melo left Denver, Kenyon Martin was quoted as saying to a Denver newspaper “basketball is really fun when you play together” quoting the Denver Post. Melo drops 30…most come too early or too late. But for an eight minute stretch, when the Knicks desperately needed a basket, Melo was invisible! Do you know why? Because with Carmelo, if he’s not scoring, he doesn’t do anything else to help your team – he’s what I’ve termed “fool’s gold” He’s Glen Robinson, he’s T-Mac, he’ll leave with no rings and a hollow legacy because he simply makes nobody else better! If he’s not scoring, he’s snoring!

Not with Lebron James though because when #6 is on the floor, he doesn’t have to score a single point – everybody is better! He’s unbelievable in transition, he’s unbelievable defensively, and he’s an unbelievable passer. So it’s not that you trail 2-0 but that your future is tied – make it handcuffed, to a guy who scores and nothing else! Only because he sells the most jerseys – well Jeremy Lin does actually, but because he sells a lot of jerseys and is the highest paid player on the team and because everyone loves and cheers Melo’s jumpers, that’s what you’re tied to for the next couple of years, that is what’s frustrating! You were never going to win this series – that was ridiculous! It’s a terrible match-up for the Knicks.

Amare Stoudemire is easy to clobber today but his game is now limited, you and I know that. But unfortunately both Melo and Amare, their basketball self-esteem is tied to points and not wins. Tim Legler talked about that on the Mike & Mike show Monday morning saying “I could see the frustration building within Amare Stoudemire throughout the course of the game. He had 9 shots on the stat sheet, yet he only had 5 when the game was still hanging in the balance. The rest of those came meaningless at the end of the game. So really 5 shots in 30+ minutes of action means he was totally uninvolved in what they were doing offensively. As a result, I didn’t see him really being really motivated on the boards or running the floor either”

Their self –esteem in basketball is totally tied to them scoring points. First you blamed D’Antoni, now you blame Mike Woodson, how about looking at the delusional superstar! Who thinks he’s every bit as Lebron – he really does! Melo wakes up this morning and thinks “I got my 30 points, how many did Lebron get? I’m doing my part…” yeah but the problem is, nobody else gets involved. Melo makes Melo better, he doesn’t make teammates better and he doesn’t make the team better. Lebron makes everybody better, it’s not about getting a star in this league, and it’s about getting the RIGHT star!

Superstars in any walk of life see the world differently than you or I do – doesn’t matter if it’s a singer, golfer, business person. They are better – they know they are better, they want to be treated differently – even the guys we like such as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson had coaches fired. But I’m watching Sunday night and the Heat are 10-1 without Wade, the Bulls are like 12-5 without Rose, the Lakers keep winning without Kobe…why? What is the downside to any superstar? Like the public, the players often become bystanders – you bring Picasso into a loft, you give him a canvas – that’s if Picasso was still around, even with other great artists around, everybody would want to watch Picasso perform. That was always the brilliance of Phil Jackson – former Bull and Lakers head coach. Is that he got Michael Jordan – the greatest individual scoring talent, except for Wilt, in the history of the game – he created an offense called the “Triangle offense” and a lot of people think the Triangle offense was built for Kobe and Michael Jordan, yet I’d argue just the opposite.

Anybody who really knows the Triangle offense knows that it was created to get Kobe and Michael to share! To get guys shots that don’t normally get shots, that was always the genius of Phil Jackson. Sitting down with the great Picasso of our time and convincing him “let somebody else have the paint brush and the canvas every once in a while. I mean, you can get your shot anytime you want, relinquish the brush from time to time.” When Michael Jordan had Doug Collins as a head coach, he shot about 1100 times a year, with Phil Jackson it was 900 or high 800’s. Couple shots a game – 2 or 3, makes a world of a difference. That was the genius of Phil Jackson because it’s very hard to ask the gifted to give things up – you know, unless they’re getting a tax break. The key in the NBA is not getting a star; it’s getting the right star! And getting the right coach to work with that star and convince him to get others involved because stars will always get their shots.

Carmelo Anthony had 42 points on Sunday; yet the problem is that the rest of the starters had 19. The Knicks offense became like the Cleveland one when Lebron was there – 4 dudes watching one dude. You’re not beating elite teams with the “4 dudes watching one dude” offense. It’s really a gift; it’s a gift for anybody and any management position to get a star – a superstar, to share. Share the mic, share the ball, share the brush, share the technology, share your genius…it’s really hard because superstars, in any industry, think differently. I watched the Knicks on Sunday and sat there and thought “Melo has always been a great talent, but does Melo realize that Denver got better when he left and ultimately, it’s not his shot but the ability to draw a double team and pass to a better shot, a 60% shot not a 48% shot, which will get the Knicks to the next level” It’s hard, after he scores 42, to see that because he was the only guy late, taking 22 ft leaners that clanked.

It’s like I’m watching Kobe on Sunday – and Kobe didn’t play for the Lakers, but he was coaching on the sidelines and I was reading in the LA Times this morning where it basically said “man, Kobe would be an interesting coach” Kobe would be a terrible coach! Magic couldn’t coach; Michael Jordan has not been a good GM. Most of your great baseball managers, Joe Torre was a very pedestrian player. Isaiah Thomas – great player, not great anywhere else, why? Because they see things differently. If Kobe Bryant was a coach – let’s do a role play here. I’ll be Kobe and you be random NBA player, let’s play a game. This – if Kobe Bryant was a coach, I’ll play Kobe, this is how Kobe would coach.”Kobe: alright guys huddle up, here’s the plan. You go break his ankles top of the key, launch from the free throw line, switch hands in mid air, then dunk through two defenders…got it? You: ugh, coach…I don’t think I can do that. Kobe: what don’t you get? It doesn’t matter if somebody’s hand is in your face, you drain the shot anyway, just be better than everybody else. You: but coach, I can’t be better…Kobe: can’t you just be…great?”

That’s how great players see the world, that’s the prism in which they see it. They don’t understand that most of us don’t have that innate skill – that’s why average players make great managers in baseball. Was Jim Leyland a great player? Was Joe Torre? Not really!  A-rod is a great player, but he won’t be a great manager, he won’t even be a manager! Kobe’s a great player; he won’t be a very good coach. That guy at Oklahoma City, Brooks…he’s a good coach. Phil Jackson? Was a marginal player, but a great coach! Greg Popovich, Doc Rivers…good not great, but are great coaches. So as Melo lights up the Gardens, in the end superstars…it’s not about them, it’s about ball movement and getting the right superstar to link up with the right coach who can convince him that he’s got 4 other guys on the floor.

Speaking of other guys, this thing in Boston is a mess! So Bobby Valentine gets hired by the Red Soxs – and everybody knew it was problematic, Bobby is pretty rigid, pretty old school, you’ve got baseball players with guaranteed contracts, mix that with the parochial nature of Boston  which is – there’s an old saying in New England that “fences make great neighbours” I’m serious!  Boston is uniquely parochial; it is uniquely interested in itself. Chicago – in the middle of the U.S. their TV ratings show that they will watch east coast sports teams and they’ll watch the west coast sports teams. Boston will watch nobody but themselves and perhaps New York. So Bobby is really a visitor to Boston, he just doesn’t understand it yet. Bobby’s got a blue hat with a red “B” and he thinks he’s like a native, he thinks he’s just like “one of them”

I’ve got family friends who live in New England – they moved from Texas almost 10 years ago, they still feel as if they are visitors – you can’t move to Fenway and just because you have a uniform think “hey, this is my town and my team” Bobby Valentine criticized Kevin Youkilis on Sunday and Dustin Pedroia came out saying that it’s not the way they do things in Boston – maybe that stuff works in Japan (Bobby was a baseball manager in Japan for 8 years) Dustin Pedroia spoke up for Kevin Youkilis, who got ripped by  Bobby Valentine on Sunday saying “…his teammates have his back and we know how hard he plays, so I really don’t understand what  Bobby’s trying to do but – that’s really not the way we go about our stuff around here, I’m sure he’ll figure that out soon” But then he added another shot to Bobby Valentine saying “…maybe in Japan or something, but over here in the U.S. – man we got a 3 game winning streak, we want to feel good and keep it rolling. We feel like we have a good team and we just have to get each other’s backs and play together because if you don’t do that, I don’t care what sport you play in, you’re not going to win” ohh boy more to come on this later!