Posted on: September 4, 2011 1:43 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Worlds are colliding here. It's Steve Nash versus Justin Bieber. Nash, the Bieber of the NBA with his cult-like following of NBA fanboys that fawn over his pure jumper and immaculate court vision. Bieber, the Nash of pop music with his flashy hits and cult-like following of teenage girls that fawn over his dance moves and baby face.
Nash and Bieber -- who has developed himself quite the baller reputation, especially with his MVP award from last year's Celebrity Game -- were playing in some celebrity pickup thing and while I'm sure Nash wasn't exactly giving it everything, Bieber gets him good with a crossover. That's not going to help Nash's reputation for being a soft defender.
This game was in preparation for a charity event taking place in Atlanta Sunday called the Ludaday Weekend Celebrity Basketball Game, hosted by rapper Ludacris. Kevin Durant is reportedly on Bieber's team with other stars like Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and Chris Paul all partaking.
And of course, Nash. But he may not want any part of guarding Bieber after that. Let CP3 check him.
Via I Am A GM
Posted on: August 30, 2011 10:21 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 1:42 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Over the weekend, we noted that an exhibition game chock full of NBA All-Stars was about to go down in Baltimore, Maryland. On Tuesday night, that game went down in a big way.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and New Orleans guard Chris Paul all suited up in an exhibition game between the Washington, D.C.-based Goodman League and the Baltimore-based Melo League. The game, which was originally scheduled to be played at St. Frances Academy, had to be moved to Morgan State University to accomodate demand.
The Washington Post reported before the game that tickets were going for as much as $100, an amazing sum when you consider that this is a summer exhibition game but a perfectly reasonable amount because players like James and Durant so rarely get the opportunity to face off head-to-head.
The Melo League team -- featuring James, Anthony and Paul, as well as San Antonio Spurs guard Gary Neal and Memphis Grizzlies guard Josh Selby -- emerged triumphant over Durant's Goodman League team -- also featuring Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green and Detroit Pistons forward Austin Daye -- by a final score of 149-141. The headliner, though, was Durant, who stole the show by dropping an eye-popping 59 points, according to the Sporting News.
That scoring explosion, in front of a sold out crowd of more than 4,000, continues a summer of love for Durant, who scored 66 points at New York City's Rucker Park in early August.
Durant seemed to shrug off his explosion after the game. "Basketball is all about winning," he tweeted.
James added 38 and Anthony had 36 for the Melo League, according to the Washington Post.
"Had a great time at Morgan State," James tweeted. "Love competition and giving back to people! Shout out to Carmelo Anthony and the Melo League."
"By far one of the funnest games I've played in," Paul added.
The top plays roundup above is from YouTube user HoopMixtape.
Here are some more video highlights from the game.
Here's one last highlight package via CSNBaltimore.com. Hat tip: ProBasketballTalk.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 9:34 am
Another, ahem, big name has joined the Team Melo vs. Goodman League exhibition scheduled for Tuesday, according to Hoopsworld. Alex Kennedy reports that Eddy Curry is set to join the superstar team of Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony, along with others. He'll be matched up against DeMarcus Cousins in what can only be described as an odd contrast at center.
Curry has lost nearly 100 lbs. in the last six months after being traded from New York to Minnesota and then released as he works out with famed trainer Tim Grover. He's worked out for the Heat multiple times as they continue to look for viable options at center. Playing and spending time with James is a great way to cement that opportunity as getting James in his corner pretty much solidifies his chances at getting a contract.
It's an odd addition, but it'll also provide fans with an idea of how far along Curry is with his conditioning and retraining of his body after losing all that weight. Matched up against shorter, but more bullish DeMarcus Cousins provides a good testing match. Meanwhile, he'll have as much help offensively as he can handle with Chris Paul, Anthony, and James. James is no longer a question as he confirmed to the AP he'll be playing. With Kevin Durant also playing for Goodman alongside Brandon Jennings, this is a pretty loaded set of superstars on one floor, bigger even than the Goodman-Drew matchup earlier in August.
Now if only someone could drag Kobe down to this thing...
Posted on: August 27, 2011 6:25 pm
Edited on: August 27, 2011 7:17 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Everyone just assumed the battle for pro-am supremacy was settled when the Goodman League defeated the Drew League in Washington D.C. last week. Except there's another pretty quality league out there that's ready to throw down: the Melo League.
And they're ready to play the Goodman boys. Via HoopsWorld, on August 30, in Baltimore at St. Frances Academy, a group from the Melo featuring Carmelo Anthony (duh), LeBron James, Chris Paul, Josh Selby, Gary Neal and Donte Greene. (Interesting twist: Selby, Neal and Greene all played for the Goodman in the Drew League showdown.) Although Goodman commissioner Miles Rawles says it's not officially a Goodman team, for his group it's Kevin Durant, former Thunder buddy Jeff Green, Brandon Jennings (who played for the Drew last week) and DeMarcus Cousins. John Wall was also rumored but it's unlikely he'll play, according to the Washington Post.
The Melo is located in Baltimore (where Carmelo is of course from) and has featured a number of top notch All-Stars. The game was supposed to be Sunday but that Hurricane Irene thing sort of got in the way.
Unlike the Goodman-Drew game, it won't be streamed online anywhere, but tickets are still available. Doors are opening at 6 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at the event. Reportedly there will be a camera crew to tape a highlight reel from the game though.
This game hasn't created near the buzz of the other, but there's no doubt it's got equal star power, probably more. Durant versus LeBron? Jennings versus Paul? Melo and Jeff Green? That's some quality hoops right there.
The Melo League's got to be the favorite here. LeBron, Melo and CP3 make a pretty incredible trio. Durant and Green will have chemistry and Jennings can take over a streetball game, but that's major firepower for the Melo group. Unless of course KD decides to go all Rucker Park on everyone. Then it doesn't matter who the Melo League's got.
Posted on: August 25, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 12:44 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Over at the Eye on Sports blog, we started a new little roundtable debate thing called "Eye for an Eye." The first topic up: What is the most important position in sports. Most everyone says it's quarterback. But being the basketball representative, I made a case. Not the best case ever, but a case nonetheless. It was tough, especially because in today's NBA, positions can be a bit difficult to determine. So I picked the one player on the floor that can impact a game more than anyone in any sport: the alpha dog. Head over to read the entire thing, but here's my take:
Basketball’s kind of in a tough position to make a claim in this debate, because while a point guard is the quarterback of a team, he/she’s not always that important.
I mean, look at who the Bulls won their titles with -- John Paxson, Steve Kerr, B.J. Armstrong. Or the Lakers with Derek Fisher. You sometimes get a similar thing in football with guys like Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson winning Super Bowls, but in basketball, it happens quite a bit.
And there’s not really a specific position that stands out as more important. Basketball’s a free-flowing game with positions often interchanging. Is LeBron James a point guard or a small forward? Heck, sometimes he’s a power forward. So really, basketball doesn’t entirely fit because it’s kind of a sport that doesn’t exactly feature positions.
So here’s what I’m arguing: Basketball’s most important position is always the alpha player. Whoever that may be. For the Magic it’s Dwight Howard at center. For the Hornets, it’s Chris Paul at point guard. For the Lakers it’s Kobe Bryant at shooting guard. And that one player can impact the game and team more than any other position in any sport.
Because there are only five players on the court for each team, one player -- a great player -- can change everything. Carmelo Anthony carried Syracuse to a national title pretty much by himself. Dirk Nowitzki obviously meant everything to the Mavs in their title run. Michael Jordan ... well, I don’t even have to say.
Every other sport’s top position -- quarterback, pitcher, goalie -- all are really going to have to rely on their teammates as much as themselves. But basketball’s a game where one guy can entirely take over. (For reference, see Kobe’s 81.) And that’s why, while not an actual position, the alpha player in basketball is the most important in sports.
Posted on: August 22, 2011 4:14 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Already a group of NBA players took to the Philippines to play in an exhibition game. Some made in the neighborhood of $400,000 for it. So why not go for round two, outback edition?
According to the Sunday Herald Sun, Pau Gasol, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose are some of the rumored NBA stars that could play three games in Melbourne. It would be three All-Star exhibition style games. Already two sponsors have committed to support the tour and pay insurance which will cost something like $1 million.
No date has really been outlined but obviously this is a lockout contingent tour. If the collective bargaining agreement gets resolved, this will be most certainly dissolve.
One question though: Why no Andrew Bogut? Or Patty Mills, for that matter? Both are native Australians and I'm sure have a pretty good base of support there. Instead it's Durant, Gasol, Paul and Rose? Not a bad lineup at all of course, but you'd think it would've been like Bogut or somebody that was organizing this.
Right now, Gasol is prepping with the Spain national team for Eurobasket 2011 in Lithuania which starts later this month. So figuring out those details will be an issue, but there's no doubt if you pay, they'll play. I think that's sort of how the labor negotiations are going too.
Posted on: August 22, 2011 4:11 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 7:37 am
By Matt Moore
This is the tenth segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA.
Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11
10. Blake Griffin, PF, age 22, Los Angeles Clippers
2011 stats: 22.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg, 3.8 apg, 50.6 FG%, 21.93 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 10, 10, 15
It's not all about the dunks. You just have to tell yourself that. It is not, all about the dunks. Yeah, I realize Blake Griffin's rookie season will be most remembered more for his instant YouTube classics than for a pretty drop-step layup, but that's really what it was about. Blake Griffin is an excellent dunker, yes. But he's a better basketball player.
His numbers were terrific and not just for a rookie. For anybody. He went for 22.5 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. That's not just in the category of "Wow, nice rookie year, now let's see what he does next." That's in the "Wow, how can he do much better than that?"
Griffin is extremely skilled but what makes him so special is that he's willing to outwork everyone on the floor. He plays harder than everybody while possessing otherworldly ability for a man 6-10. Every time he skies recklessly for a rebound or dives wildly on the floor you fear the worst, but that's what makes Blake Griffin the player he is. He plays the game in a violent, relentless manner. And on top of it, he adds top tier skill and talent with it.
He has some room to grow of course. He needs to refine his jumpshot where he's effective in the pick-and-pop game. He needs to shoot better from the free throw line. He needs to be a bit better in help defense. He should impact games on both ends. But naturally he should improve. He's just 22 and just finished his rookie year.
I love to point to his best game of the season, his 47-point effort against the Pacers. He didn't dunk the ball once in that game. Instead it was an array of spins, jumpers, hooks and deft layups that took him to his career-high. His full-court oops and massive posters bring in the oohs and ahhs, but games like he had against the Pacers is what shows you that he's going to be one of the league best players over the next 10 years. -- RY
9. Pau Gasol, PF, age 31, Los Angeles Lakers
2011 stats: 18.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 3.3 apg, 52.9 FG%, 23.3 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 12, 9, 9
Pau Gasol started off great. In the month of November, he averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists on 54 percent shooting. He as an MVP candidate, arguably the best player on the Lakers. He was dominant, and holding the title of "best big man in the NBA" he'd earned in 2009-2010.
It was pretty much all downhill from there.
Gasol's points and rebounds dropped, then recovered in February, then tailed off. That wasn't the big problem, though. The problem was the return of something he thought he'd quashed, the perception that he's soft. The Lakers' swept exit from the playoffs reinforced this ten-fold especially with the rumors of personal problems dogging him.
All the while, Gasol is still the best true big in the game, given that Dirk Nowitzki operates so much at the elbow. But whereas once it was thought Gasol was ahead of Nowitzki, last season flipped that script completely, and it wasn't just about the Mavs' Finals run. With Gasol getting older, it'll be key to see how he responds to the criticism and whether he comes back fiercer than ever or settles into a role. -- MM
8. Chris Paul, PG, age 26, New Orleans Hornets
2011 stats: 15.9 ppg, 9.8 apg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 spg, 46.3 FG%, 23.7 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 8, 7, 8
Chris Paul ended any conversation that may have been had during his injury-plagued 2009-2010 season about who is the best pure point guard in the NBA in 2010-2011. He returned to form, snapping back from injury and boosting the Hornets to one of the best starts in the league before putting on the burners and coasting into a seven spot. It wasn't the best season for the Hornets, nor the best season for Paul individually, but it did reassert that Paul is the best pure point guard in this league. In reality, he's the best point guard in this league, period, but trying to explain to the average fan (or Bulls fan) that what Derrick Rose does can hardly be described as point guard play and is instead his own rebranding of the concept of guard play gets tricky. And so we stick Paul with the "best pure" title with a wink and a nod and a pat on the head for everyone else screaming "DROZE!" (who you will find higher on this list for a reason, I might add).
Paul wasn't nearly the best he's been, nor anywhere close to that 2007-2008 season where he was a legitimate MVP candidate (for all the talk about the MVP's stolen from Kobe Bryant, that season stands as one that Bryant may have stolen as reparation for those earlier years). He posted a career low in points per game and his lowest assist average in four seasons. Most of this was due to a mid-season swoon that saw his numbers dip. He alluded to it, carefully, in an interview with Ken Berger about keeping himself healthy for the postseason. And in the postseason, Paul showed how dangerous he can be.
The Hornets even putting up a fight against L.A. was unexpected, much less the onslaught that Chris Paul wrought upon the Lakers. It was a clinic in how to run point guard and he sliced and diced them in every way. He ran out of steam but the point was made.
Paul enters 2011-2012 (prospective) season as potentially his last in New Orleans. He will be trying to find a way most likely without David West, and looking towards the future. Paul just turned 26 in May. The scariest part of all of this is that he's just now entering his prime. The only real concern is if he can stay healthy enough to capitalize on it. -- MM
7. Kevin Durant, SF, age 22, Oklahoma City Thunder2011 stats: 27.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.7 apg, 46.2 FG%, 35.0 3P%, 23.70 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 7, 8, 3
Initial thought of seeing Durant at No. 7 is that he's too low. How can the league two-time defending scoring champ not be in the top five? How can maybe the most gifted scorer, maybe the most unguardable player in the league, be in the bottom half of the top 10?
It's simple: The six players ahead of him are really, really good. That's not to take anything from Durant. Because no one would say he's not one of the most talented players in the league. Really, if you just stop yourself and remember that he hasn't even turned 23 yet then seventh starts sounding pretty darn impressive. With as much talent as there is in the NBA right now, being ranked seventh of all players at just the age of 22 is kind of an honor.
I don't feel like I need to really run down Durant's credentials here. He's a legitimate threat to have multiple seasons of 50-40-90 percentages. He absolutely could average 35 points a game. He could average a double-double with more than 30 points a game. He could do a lot of stuff. That's the point.
But he's a committed team player that doesn't necessarily care about the above except for the fact that playing well helps his team win. As the leader of the youngest team in the postseason last year, Durant took his team to the brink of the NBA Finals. And he added some pantheon playoff moments to go with it. Remember that Game 5 against the Nuggets where Durant completely took over in the final three minutes? Darn near legendary. And that's the future with Durant. We could be settling in for a whole lot more of that. If that's the case, it's not going to matter how good the six players in front of him are. He'll be right on top. -- RY
6. Kobe Bryant, G, age 32, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant’s days of being the NBA’s best active player are behind him. He still holds the title of “fiercest competitor” and “most confident in the clutch,” but his body and age have started to betray him ever so slightly and a much lighter minutes load (he played just 33.9 minutes per game, his fewest since he was a teenager) brought down his scoring average, shooting numbers and most of his other statistical contributions in 2010-2011. The drops were all marginal, though, suggesting that Bryant didn’t fall very far down the pecking order and indicating that he should remain a productive player for years to come. His diverse offensive game, elite shot-creating and shot-making abilities, and well-honed veteran craftiness will all help extend his career, too.
One thing that didn’t change last season was Bryant’s perception of his own abilities. Bryant actually led the league in usage, meaning that he finished more plays than everyone else, including ball-dominating lead guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. His 21.2 shots per 36 minutes were also near a career high water mark, eclipsed only by his 2005-2006 gunning campaign which resulted in his career-best scoring average of 35.4 per game. If Bryant plans to add to his five rings, his field goal attempts and usage rate will have to come down to make room for the rise of Andrew Bynum.
With any luck, this summer’s treatment on his knee should allow Bryant to keep on trucking towards Michael Jordan’s all-time point scoring total, a chase that will captivate the NBA’s media as he gets closer and closer. At this stage of his career, it’s less important where Bryant falls in the top-100 and more important where he winds up in the Greatest Of All Time discussion. While he will almost certainly continue to fall on the former, he should only keep rising on the latter. -- BG
Posted on: July 29, 2011 12:45 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Superpals Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony are having themselves quite an adventure. They've spent the past week in China and besides posing with panda bears, they've also taken in some opera, and even participated in said opera.
Proof is this strange video of them holding framed masks over their faces while "dancing."
Man, that one guy thinks this is REALLY funny.