Posted on: May 22, 2009 8:53 pm

The NBA is back

I posted an entry a few weeks ago saying how I couldn't bare watching the NBA playoffs and I was right.  Orlando vs. Philadelphia was some of the most boring playoff basketball in NBA history.  Today I was watching some of the NBA's top 60 playoff moments of all-time.  I suggest you take a look.  I saw Willis Reed limping out of the tunnel and hitting the jumper -- I think that was #3.  Michael Jordan hitting the jumper over Utah to win the title was of course #1.  They had Larry Bird stealing the ball from Isiah Thomas and I think that was #3.  How many of those moments will we have in this year's playoffs?  Who knows?

I'll tell you one thing though.  The first few games of the conference finals have had my glued to the tv set.  Cleveland-Orlando Game 1 was a thrilla from manilla.  LeBron James was amazing as usual and Dwight Howard played very well.  How about Rashard Lewis nailing that 3 to put them up 1 with a little time left?  That was nice.

Then, the marquee conference final has been breathtaking.  Anybody who says that Carmelo Anthony isn't one of the 5 best players in basketball doesn't know much about the NBA.  I mean, he is STANKY!!!  I'm a big fan of his, how he carries himself in interviews, his skill is impressive, and he just seems like a good teammate and a good person.  Kobe Bryant is annoying as all hell, but nobody can not say that he is not only one of the best, but one of the most clutch players in NBA history.  Yeah, he wants to be like Michael Jordan, but as a buddy of mine said the other day, "It's working out pretty good for him."  If I could walk around and copy all of Michael Jordan's moves and walk and talk like him, WHILE making millions of dollars in the process and being one of the best basketball players in the world, I would probably do it too.  That doesn't mean that it's not annoying.

SO, I admit that I was wrong.  The NBA is not dead.  All it needs to go back in the grave is for the Denver Nuggets to make the NBA Finals, so we can sit through 2 weeks of Denver vs. Cleveland.  I think I just went back to sleep!
Category: NBA
Tags: Playoffs
Posted on: May 16, 2009 8:10 am

There's nothing wrong with Phil Jackson

I read some article the other day (on a website that I won't mention on cbs) that alluded to the fact that Phil Jackson is letting his team down and being outcoached by Rick Adelman.  Now, I will admit that Phil needs to do a better job of helping his team to defend the pick and roll, but his strength has always been in the management of players.  There's something to be said for having a certain mental mindset to be able to go out and win games -- particularly in the playoffs.

Jackson has the highest winning percentage in NBA playoff history and is tied for the most championships with Red Auerbach not just in basketball, but in American team sports history.  His pundits are quick to point out that he had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal.  Well, I am quick to point out that Michael Jordan NEVER won a championship without Phil Jackson.  One would argue that Jackson came along at just the right time, during Jordan's maturation, to capitalize on his success at the top.  Well, Jordan himself has said that Phil Jackson taught him the importance of being a leader, of incorporating his teammates, and of trusting others to help him reach his goals.  Because Kobe Bryant wants to be Michael Jordan so bad, he will say the same thing when his career is over.  Shaq is quick to dog every coach after he leaves the team, but in Phil Jackson's first year, he made it clear that the team would run through Shaq and NOT Kobe.  The result?  67 wins, Shaq's first and only NBA MVP award, and the Lakers' first NBA title in 12 years.  The guy knows a little basketball too.

So, sit back and watch tomorrow night, just as Phil will be sitting back and watching.  Everybody always wants to know what he is doing, there's something to be said for sometimes knowing what NOT to do.  As they say, the best decisions are the ones that you DON'T make sometimes.  Phil understands that leadership is about confidence and success and he is secure enough in himself to take a step back, let his players play, do his work behind the scenes, and continue to win.
Category: NBA
Posted on: May 1, 2009 8:38 pm

BULLish tendencies

I'm so proud of the Bulls.  I mean, this has been one of the most courageous efforts that I've seen from any team in my 25 or so years of watching NBA basketball.  Now, admittedly, the NBA is not as much fun as it was 10, 15, or 20 years ago, but I am a fan of good sports and when it's really good, it transcends sports.  It's almost like theater.  I was trying to explain to my wife one day that one of the greatest things about sports is that it's unscripted.  That's why you always have something happening that has never happened before or maybe hasn't happened in 50 years, because this is not a movie.  She always gets on me about not watching enough movies, but I just HATE sitting through a bad movie and a stupid ending. 

I remember a few years ago when the Bulls took Joakim Noah.  I always thought that he was somewhat UNDERrated after his senior year at Florida.  Remember that he was the most outstanding player of the Final Four after his junior year, but they were all so greedy and wanted to win another title, that they came back to do it again and Al Horford and company got the accolades.  Why?  Noah is the consummate team player and will do whatever it takes to make his team win.  This an obvious comparison, but he's a lot like Dennis Rodman.  He rebounds, defends, passes, provides timely offense, and gives his team energy necessary to get through tight spots. 

Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, Kirk Hinrich, the incomparable Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Brad Miller, John Salmons, you're looking at a team that is drawing immense confidence from this series.  They don't know that Kevin Garnett is out.  All they see is "Celtics" on the other uniform and they know that they're playing the World Champions.  After all, this is a team that won 80% of their games without Garnett and is still in the upper echelon of the league.

The Bulls are gaining momentum and win or lose tomorrow night, they now believe that they belong.  I see a 50 win season next year.  Chicago, it looks like our team may be back. 
Category: NBA
Tags: DA Bulls
Posted on: April 28, 2009 1:23 pm

Are you watching? Be honest

Ok, I'm here to keep it real.  How many of you are watching the NBA playoffs on a consistent basis, night in and night out?  Are you eagerly tuning in to watch 2 and a half hours of Philadelphia vs. Orlando?  How about that Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Hornets thriller last night?  About the only series that I've been watching is the Bulls and Celtics; 1) Because I'm from Chicago and 2) Because it's actually a competitive series with some pretty good basketball.

How BORING is the NBA?  First of all, I heard that about a third of the teams are losing money.  One columnist dubbed it the "No Benjamins Association."  Secondly, these games are just BORING.  Unless you're from Florida or Pennsylvania, who are you tuning in to watch in the Philadelphia-Orlando series?  Hedo Turkoglu?  How about Andre Iguodala?  Can't wait to watch Dwight Howard grab another rebound?  There's NOTHING to see and these games irk me.

I do consider myself a basketball fan, but it's like we have to sit through a month of meaningless window dressing to watch the Cavaliers play the Lakers in the finals.  That, I WILL tune in to watch.  That will be something worth sitting down for a couple of hours to see; two of the premier athletes in the world and two of the greatest basketball players of all-time.  Remember when an Eastern Conference seminfial featured the Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks?  It went 7 games and you had BALLERS; Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Tree Rollins, Doc Rivers, Dominique Wilkins, Cliff Levingston, I mean, those were good games with good players.  Of course, you'll tune in to maybe see a little CP3 or catch a bit of Dwayne Wade, but it just doesn't have the luster that it used to. 

Cleveland-Detroit a few years ago was definitely worth the price of admission, when LeBron got loose for 48 or 50 and scored like their last 25 points.  Those types of performances are what make the NBA playoffs.  The NBA is a stars game, headlined by big performances and without that, you have nothing.  Nobody is tuning in to see Andre Iguodala or even Tim Duncan (anymore).  A LeBron James-Dwayne Wade matchup in Round 2 might be good for TV and worth checking out, but somebody PLEASE give me something.

On a more positive note, my fantasy baseball teams are looking up.  Only 1 day this week has passed by, but it's good to be leading for once after Monday and not trying to make up a deficit.
Category: NBA
Posted on: April 15, 2009 9:15 pm

NBA playoffs

I consider myself a true sports fan, but since the demise of my Bulls, it just hasn't been the same.  Baseball and football are true team sports which operate best when there is parity throughout the league and you tune in to see surprise teams like the Tampa Bay Rays or the Arizona Cardinals.  Basketball is the ultimate team sport, which is highlighed by an individual.  Basketball functions best when the stars take over and dominate the league; a la Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, etc.  Wasn't the NBA more exciting during 2000-2002 when the L.A. Lakers had star power?  EVERYBODY tuned in to watch the Lake Show.  Even if you weren't a Lakers fan, you always wanted to know what they're doing.

My NBA pulse usually gets going around this time of year, so I'll definitely be tuning in to the playoffs this weekend.  I've been talking a friend of mine into going to the Bulls game to scalp some tickets when we have a home game.  That would be a lot of fun.  I may even take my wife down to catch a game. 

I'm really excited to see LeBron James in this year's playoffs.  His team has the best record, and home court advantage, and they are about to tie an NBA record for having the best home record (40-1) in a season.  James is the NBA MVP and this is his year to win it all.  The NBA Finals will be headlined by LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, the NBA's two biggest starts on its biggest stage.  Personally, I think the Lakers are too strong for Cleveland.  With Pau Gasol, a fresh Andrew Bynum, Bryant, Odom, Derek Fisher, and a host of other role players, they may just be too much.  It wouldn't shock me if the Celtics knocked off Cleveland in the East.  The only problem there is the health of Kevin Garnett.  If he's not 100%, the Celtics have no chance.  They may not even get by the Magic, assuming everybody wins in the first round (sorry Bulls). 

Well, let's get it on!  This will give me something to do in between watching my fantasy baseball team crash and burn.  That's an entirely separate blog though...  Fantasy baseball is the most challenging fantasy sport BY FAR.  More to come...

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or