Tag:Joe Johnson
Posted on: September 14, 2011 6:51 pm
 

Joe Johnson has a 500 square-foot shoe closet

Posted by Royce Young



OK, so take this in from Joe Johnson, via ESPN the Magazine:
"I wanted to display all of my shoes, so I had this 500-square-foot closet made. I just thought this would be a cool idea, and it would almost look like a museum. I had a fingerprint sensor put on the door to make sure I'm the only one who can get in here. I mostly wear Air Jordans. All of the Jordan guys are selected by Michael Jordan himself. It's kind of hard to tell MJ no. I have 436 pairs of sneakers in here, and they're mostly unworn. I'll wear all of them eventually."
Johnson of course has the money to do this because of his kind of outrageous $120 million contract. His money, his perogative. But remember, he's also the guy that owns this truck.

Considering these two factors, kind of tough to feel all that bad for him and players like him in this whole lockout thing. I mean, he must really be needing the players to hold out for more of that BRI in case he needs to expand his shoe close to 600 square-feet or something.

Look, we know professional athletes have money. They have it because of us. We watch their games, buy their merchandise, buy the tickets, buy their shoes. We're total enablers. But at the same time, it's a little tough to take something so in-your-face like this when all we care about now is getting to watch those games again. Good for you, Joe. You've got like a million pairs of shoes. And a giant closet to hold them. And a massive contract you probably don't deserve.

It's not fair to characterize every NBA player based off of Johnson's lavish lifestyle, but it's inevitable. I can't sit here and tell you that if I had that kind of money that I wouldn't have a 500 square-foot closet to hold a single pair of pants, just because I could. But this is the heart of the lockout. Owners know players live these type of lives and while maybe they can't bleed them broke, they know that players at least want to maintain their life of leisure and wealth. And why wouldn't they?

Again, it's really just an example and not the norm for all players by any means. It certainly doesn't help the stereotype.

Via BDL
Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 5:55 pm
 

The EOB Elite 100, 50-41: Hawks, beards and Bulls

Posted by Royce Young



This is the sixth 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

Once you break the top 50, you start getting good players. Former All-Stars, solid veterans and some up-and-comers. But the top 40, that's when you start breaking into some legit talent. The all-time 3-point king. A superbeard. An overpaid "star." A blossoming star point guard and a scoring savant. There are frustrating talents, disappointing stars, aging vets and a couple young studs that could jump 20 spots by next year.

As such, we march on towards No. 1 with 50-41.

50. Tyreke Evans, SG, age 21, Sacramento Kings
2011 stats: 17.8 ppg, 5.6 apg, 4.8 rpg, 40.9 FG%, 14.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 69, 49, 45

After winning Rookie of the Year in 2009-10, big things were expected from Tyreke Evans. Sure, he didn't quite have a position and the Kings weren't exactly committing either way in that regard, but he was a super-talented player that could score, pass and create.

One problem for him though in 2010-11: his foot. Evans suffered through plantar fasciitis for most of the season which caused him to miss a bundle of games -- 25, in fact -- while hampering him in the 57 he did play. He was never entirely totally himself. He'd have nights where he looked like the guy that tore teams up as he walked to the Rookie of the Year, but then you could just see how the injury nagged him. A good 2010-11 and Evans is probably in our top 40, maybe even top 30. Next season will be a big chance to bounce back for him. He's likely locked into a position as Jimmer Fredette will take over point guard duties and if he gets healthy, he'll settle right back in to a scorer/creator role for the Kings. And maybe a top 40 spot.

49. Ray Allen, SG, age 36, Boston Celtics

2011 stats: 16.5 ppg, 2.7 apg, 3.4 rpg, 49.1 FG%, 44.4 3P%, 16.42 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 49, 41, 63

It feels a little funny to have the NBA's all-time 3-point shooter sitting on the back end of the top 50. But that's what tends to happen when you get to the twilight of your career.

Funny thing about Ray Allen though: He might've had one of his best seasons last year at the age of 36. He shot a career-high 44 percent from 3, averaged an extremely efficient 16.5 points a game and did his usual thing of nailing big shots and backbreaking 3s. His game changed when he went to Boston. He wasn't the gunning shooting guard going for 25 a night anymore. But that was by design. He fits into a role and a system and he's reaped the rewards of that. He doesn't have a ton of time left, but if last season was any indication, he's going to put some serious distance between himself and No. 2 on the all-time 3s list before he's done.

48. Luis Scola, PF, age 31, Houston Rockets
2011 stats: 18.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 50.4 FG%, 18.43 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 44, 51, 57

Did you know Luis Scola has finished in the top 12 in scoring for power forward each of the last two seasons? I realize that's kind of a specific measure, but here's my point: Scola is really a pretty solid power forward.

He's easy to forget because he doesn't do a lot of anything that's flashy. He scores with tremendous touch and footwork. Nothing is really above the rim and nothing is really that eye-catching. It's a simple game, but it's ridiculously difficult to defend. He is a routine threat to go for 20 and when that soft little midrange jumper is happening, he's a serious problem.

47. Luol Deng, SF, age 26, Chicago Bulls
2011 stats: 17.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 46.0 FG%, 34.5 3P%, 15.58 PER
Composite rankings (random order):
42, 64, 44

The second best player on a team that just finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference should be higher than 48th, right? Seems so, but really, this is exactly where Deng fits. He scores just enough, is a premier defender, rebounds well and just kind of fills his spot.

But the Bulls needed more from him to advance past Miami in the Eastern Finals last year. Derrick Rose was often forced into being The Option for Chicago and it was always expected of Deng to do a bit more than just wait for an open look. On some nights, he would. Others, it was a quiet 14 points on 10 shots. It's probably not fair to expect more from him because that's not who he is. Instead, he's a quality role player that can give you points on a given night, but isn't that second option. Or at least he shouldn't be.

46. James Harden, SG, age 21, Oklahoma City Thunder
2011 stats: 12.2 ppg, 2.1 apg, 3.1 rpg, 1.1 spg, 43.6 FG%, 34.9 3P%, 16.42 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 45, 63, 41

If only these were beard power rankings. Because Harden would be the cream of the crop.

But 47th isn't a bad spot for him. He just wrapped up his second season and to some, he's was a disappointment for about three-fourths of his two years, mainly because he was selected third overall. But you've got to realize what Harden walked into. He was an All-American scorer from Arizona State that stepped on to a team that went on to win 50 games in his first season. He has come off the bench virtually every game for these two seasons. He has had to figure out where he stands alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

And as he showcased after Jeff Green was dealt to Boston and in the postseason, he's definitely Oklahoma City's third member of a potentially evolving new Big 3. The idea of him is that he's a Manu Ginobili type player and really, that's pretty accurate. He passes, handles and can score. He fits into a role instead of trying to force his way into every offensive conversation. He's a wonderful compliment to Westbrook in the backcourt and with Durant on the wing. Next season he should start from day one, which could mean Harden rockets up this board 10 or 15 spots. He's trending upward and catching attention and it finally has a lot more to do with his game than the outstanding beard.

45. Josh Smith, PF, age 25, Atlanta Hawks
2011 stats: 16.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.6 bpg, 1.3 spg, 47.7 FG%, 19.31 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 32, 37, 69


Talk about an infuriating talent. Josh Smith is 6-11. He runs the floor like a guard. He leaps like he's LeBron. He has long arms, a great build and by all appearances, should be one of the most uniquely gifted players in the league.

And yet as we saw last playoffs, he loves to hover outside and launch jumpers. The audible noise from Philips Arena every time he did said it all. It was one giant collective sigh as Smith pulled the ball up to fire from 20.

Thing is, he got it under control to some degree during the 2009-10 season. He went from shooting over a 3 a game to just 0.1. The official tally was 87 attempts to seven. That's a real effort to get shot selection under control. But then last season, he took 154 3s. So much for that.

In terms of straight numbers, he had a good 2010-11, because he really did. But it's about operating efficiently and in a way that helps your team win. I'm not sure Smith did that consistently last year. He's a top 20 talent that plays like a top 60 guy. Hence the 46th overall ranking I suppose.

Here's something that might blow your mind though: Smith is still just 25.

44. Joe Johnson, SG, age 30, Atlanta Hawks
2011 stats: 18.2 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.0 rpg, 44.3 FG%, 29.7 3P%, 16.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 43, 39, 54

Not too many guys making $120 million a year -- more than Dwyane Wade or LeBron James got last summer -- should find themselves on the fringes of the top 50. And I can't decide whose fault that really is. It isn't Joe Johnson's fault the Hawks overpaid drastically for him. What was he supposed to say? No thanks, I'm not worth that much?

But it's also not the Hawks fault that Johnson has never really realized his talent. Johnson seems to play his way or the highway. When he wants to isolate in the post, he's doing it. When he wants to launch a questionable 3, he's doing it. When he wants to stand harmlessly on the wing and fade into oblivion for an entire second half, he's doing it. It's a reason Johnson has always frustrated fans which led him to being booed by Hawk fans during the 2010 playoffs. Some worried if that would scare him away from Atlanta as he was to be a free agent that summer.

Nope. Because the Hawks offered him $120 million. Not too hard to endure a few boos when you're making that kind of paper.

43. Stephen Curry, G, age 23, Golden State Warriors
2011 stats: 18.6 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.9 rpg, 48.0 FG%, 44.2 3P%, 19.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 38, 46, 46


I want to see Curry play a season without Monta Ellis in the backcourt next to him. I really want to see what Curry's completely capable of as a featured player. Because right now in Golden State, it's hard to figure where he fits or what his job is. I think he's the team's point guard, but I'm not really sure. Some nights he plays like he is, other nights he's the go-to scorer. Maybe that's by design or maybe it's a flaw within the roster structure.

Regardless, Curry has one of the most seamless strokes in basketball. It's just so very, very pure. When he lets a jumper fly, he's one of those guys you're convinced it's dropping through. It feels like he doesn't miss. He's undersized, sure, but that's never held him back in terms of ripping up defenses.

He's pretty overwhelmed defensively, which is one big reason he's not higher up. But in terms of offense, he's a borderline savant. He was born to score and that's exactly what he does.

42. David West, PF, age 30, New Orleans Hornets
2011 stats: 18.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 50.8 FG%, 20.51 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 37, 42, 51

I don't know if West's seemingly low ranking even has as much to do with last season's injury as you might be guessing. Yes, he suffered a devastating knee injury that could affect his career going forward. But that probably only dropped him 7-10 spots or so. West's a very good player, no doubt. But really when you start getting into the top 40 players, it's hard to really justify West being in front of a lot of those guys. Is he better than Lamar Odom? Better than Marc Gasol? Better than Rudy Gay?

I've always kind of had to wonder too if West simply rode the good fortune of having Chris Paul get him the ball too. How much better did Paul make West? All those 18-footers West has drilled -- how many came as a result of Paul drawing the defense and making it happen for him? Not to take anything away from West because he's a top power forward for sure, but I get the feeling people will say, "Forty-three!?! That's WAY too low!" Maybe it's the injury stuff or maybe it's just that West isn't a truly elite player.

41. John Wall, PG, age 20, Washington Wizards
2011 stats: 16.4 ppg, 8.3 apg, 4.6 rpg, 40.9 FG%, 15.85 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 50, 45, 34

I don't get the sense Wall will be staying anywhere near the 40s for long. His rookie season would've grabbed a lot more attention if it weren't for that mammoth dunking over cars out in Los Angeles. Looking at his year -- 16.4 points and 8.3 assists per game -- that's pretty darn good for a rookie point guard. Especially considering he was dealing with a mostly dysfunctional roster and teammates that may or may not have been told they were playing in the NBA.

Wall's place is temporary so really, it's more of a question of where he's going to eventually end up rather than where he sits currently. Is he going to be on the level of Rose and Westbrook? I absolutely think so. And if that's the case, in another year or two Wall will likely have carved out a spot at the table in the top 15. Point guards are making big jumps in their third seasons nowadays. And that's still another to go for Wall. Somehow he found himself overlooked a bit last year but as he progresses and trends more toward the top 20 and maybe top 10, he'll have plenty of attention.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 6:16 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:29 pm
 

2011 NBA All-Star likeability rankings

Posted by Ben Golliver.

wade-durant-bryant

It's one thing to be great on the court. It's one thing to be famous. It's one thing to be marketable. It's one thing to be respected. 

But how do we throw all those attributes together? How do we determine which of the NBA's brightest stars are the most well-rounded? How do we put our finger on which stars capture the imagination, drop jaws and tug on the heart strings? 

It's an impossible task, but that didn't stop the Eye On Basketball staff from trying. Over the last week, we pinpointed five characteristics that combine to make NBA players likeable: "Ballin' Ability" (how good a guy is as a player), "Winning Attitude" (how dedicated he is to the game), "Talking Softly" (how he comes across in public comments), "Commerical Appeal" (how visible he is in advertisements) and "Public Works" (charitable contributions and other character-defining achievements).

Our panel of four experts ranked every member of the 2011 All-Star teams on a 1-5 scale in each of these five categories. We then added up all the scores to get a ranking on a 1 to 100 scale. The higher the number, the more likeable the player. Pretty simple stuff. 

Without further ado, here are the CBSSports.com 2011 NBA All-Star likeability rankings, from worst (least likeable) to first (most likeable). 

24. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks: Johnson’s unassuming personality and solid perimeter game don’t stand much of a chance here due to his relatively invisible national profile and his team’s lack of playoff success. Score: 44

23. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks: Horford suffers from the same low-profile problem as Johnson but is perceived as more of a winner because he took home NCAA hardware at the University of Florida, and his game is predicated on doing whatever it takes to get the job done rather than jacking jumpers. Score: 48

22. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat: Bosh is intelligent, articulate and gentle off the court and a versatile talent on the court, so he should be prettychris-bosh-tears likeable, at least in theory. His goofiness -- the photo shoots, the secret wedding, the screaming at the preseason parade -- has become off-putting now that he’s teamed up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. His status as the league’s most obvious punch line hurts him here. A lot. Score: 54

T-20. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: Still just a half-touch too far up the “might be crazy” scale to be totally likeable at this point in his career. Westbrook is still stuck in Kevin Durant’s shadow, although he showed with his fearless play in the 2011 postseason that he might one day eclipse KD in terms of sheer star power. Could be a fast riser in future renditions of these rankings, especially if he can cut down his turnovers and shake a developing reputation as a bit of a late-game ball hog. Saying something interesting after a game once in a while wouldn't hurt either. Score: 55

T-20. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers: Much like the Lakers, Gasol took a step back in prominence this season when he didn’t show up as expected -- and as needed -- in the postseason. His gangly frame isn’t particularly marketable, at least not here in the United States, and while he is a true professional when it comes to the media, he’s known first and foremost as Kobe Bryant’s on-again, off-again punching bag. Score: 55

19. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: More than anyone else on this list, Rondo genuinely doesn’t care what you think about him. He can come across as curt and moody, and doesn’t expend much energy playing the media game. His authenticity can’t be questioned, but it does keep casual fans at arm’s length. Score: 58

18. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs: An egoless star on an egoless team in an egoless organization in a relatively small market, Ginobili has never sought the bright lights. Even after all these years, the average fan doesn’t have much of a connection with him. There’s nothing not to like, but nothing that reaches out and grabs you either. Score: 59

17. Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets: Williams gets bonus points for his amazing annual dodgeball tournament and rose to a new level of renown this year thanks to a blockbuster trade and a trailblazing deal with Besiktas in Turkey. The rumored spats with Jerry Sloan that surfaced when the legendary Utah Jazz coach abruptly retired briefly painted a very unlikable picture, although that didn’t seem to bother him too much. Score: 61

16. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics: Beloved in Boston, Pierce’s personal likeability suffers a bit nationally because he’s almost always talked about as one of Boston’s Big Three, with Kevin Garnett usually getting top billing. He's a bit past his prime, which surely costs him some spots on this list. Score: 62

15. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics: Allen is pretty much in the same boat as Pierce, although he’s got an energetic mother (the ever-present Flo), a picture-perfect jump shot and an unforgettable silver screen performance (Jesus Shuttlesworth) to give him a bit of a boost. Score: 64

14. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: Love is the anti-Rondo, fully embracing the media attention, putting his self-kevin-love-smiledeprecating humor to full display whenever possible. He’s blogged, starred in viral videos and, let’s not forget, put up mammoth statistics through sheer hard work amidst a dysfunctional mess of a team. All while remaining sane. No easy task. Score: 65

T-12. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics: Thanks to his on-court bullying antics and incessant trash talk, Garnett is as polarizing as anyone in the league, save LeBron James. But his reputation as a winner was sealed by Boston’s title, he’s been a fixture on the national endorsement circuit for years and his overwhelming competitive desire helps cover up some of the ugliness. Score: 66

 T-12. Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks: Near the top of his game and playing in a major media market, Stoudemire keeps the dunks and quotes coming, so everyone stays happy. The fact that he abandoned Steve Nash immediately following a Western Conference Finals playoff run to take more money without catching any flak for it is a testament to how he’s carved out a major place in the nation’s heart in his own, quirky way. Score: 66

11. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: Anthony’s steady focus during a half-season-long free agency and trade whirlwind last year won him a lot of goodwill, as does the fact that he’s put millions of dollars into both Syracuse University and Baltimore. Based on talent alone, Anthony should probably be higher on this list, but wife LaLa and his lack of playoff success hold him back. Score: 68

10. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: Griffin is still enjoying the “new-car smell” phase of his NBA fame. His audacious take-offs, explosive leaping and vicious finishing are so unique for a player his size that nobody much cares that he didn’t make the playoffs and still has a ways to go to fill out an all-around game. The centerpiece of All-Star Weekend in his very first visit, he’s got endorsements by the boatload and is arguably on the verge of over-exposure. He’s still a little stiff, but that seems to be fading. Once he gets a few playoff series wins under his belt, look for Griffin to be a perennial top-5 member on this list. Score: 71

9. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs: Duncan has been so good for so long -- and won so much -- that the respect factor afforded him is significant enough to make up for a bland, sometimes robotic, personality. Duncan can be subtly hilarious and occasionally sharp-tongued with the media. He is also unfailingly classy. Score: 72

8. LeBron James, Miami Heat: He should be No. 1 on every NBA list ever made given his otherworldly talent and global-marketinglebron-james-face-machine status, but James drops hard in terms of likeability due to his late-game failures in the 2011 NBA Finals, his out-of-touch comments towards fans following the Heat's eventual loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the self-unaware “Decision” and his overall child-star cockiness/obliviousness. Even given all of that, no one would be surprised if winning a title vaulted him to the top of this list next year. His talent is that absurd. Score: 74

7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls: You might have heard: Rose is humble. The 2011 MVP has so much going for him: He’s won at an early age, he’s winning for his hometown team, he’s lived up to expectations, he’s taken responsibility for losses and shared credit for victories, he’s managed to be a scoring point guard without getting written off as “selfish,” and he kept a safe distance from all the free agency politicking that soured a lot of fans on many top-name players last summer. He continues to battle his “shy” public nature, which is the only thing holding him back from much, much greater fame. Score: 79

6. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets: Paul checks off virtually every box on the likeability list. He’s cutthroat on the court and cuddly off of it. He’s raised loads of money for Hurricane Katrina relief. He’s a devout man without being preachy. He comes across as a caring father and thoughtful citizen. He’s -- so far -- steered clear of hijacking his franchise by demanding a trade or threatening to walk in free agency. The touching story of his love for his deceased grandfather has become an indelible part of his identity. And he is team-first, always. There’s so much to like that you actually hope he finds a better situation, where he will be able to fill out his playoff reputation. Score: 81

5. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: This is the top of the mountain for Nowitzki, both on and off the court. It simply doesn’t get any better than captaining a balanced team through a marathon playoff run that ended with the demolition of the league’s most hated team. The cherry on top is the fact that Nowitzki came through in the clutch time and again. He’s put an ugly past relationship totally behind him, moving forward with a new fiancé. His personality with the media is easy-going and honest. He plays with a childish love of the game and hits shots that make you marvel. It’s hard to imagine another seven-foot German man gaining this level of acceptance and respect in the United States. Ever. Also, he’s squashed the “soft” label that haunted him for years. Score: 84

4. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic: Howard has deftly positioned himself as the heir apparent to Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most likeable NBA stars in recent memory. His dominant two-way play serves as the basis for a superhero persona, and his active online presence and numerous endorsement deals make his zany personality inescapable. The fact that he hasn’t committed to the Magic and could be headed for a free agency bonanza could cost him points down the road, but right now he’s still the giant, lovable teddy bear who can swat shots back to half court. Score: 85

T-2. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat: It was a shocking scene when Wade joined James in mocking Nowitzki during the Finals for being sick: A very flat note for someone who has historically been pitch perfect. Throughout his career, Wade has been a Teflon Don, particularly charmed as a player and as an endorser. With a title under his belt and a megawatt smile, Wade has displayed a good sense of humor for years as a pitchman and also been a staple on NBA Cares commercials. Both James and Bosh lost points last summer for their decision to team up in Miami, but Wade came off as a big winner, the cool older-brother figure who pulled off the recruiting haul of a lifetime. Score: 87

kevin-durant-smile

T-2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: Colorado sure feels like a long, long time ago, doesn’t it? Bryant has made the most of the second half of his NBA career, winning rings by the fistful and growing his international popularity immensely. He’s played through pain, done things his way, taken a direct, often profane, tone with the media and become the closest thing to Jordan since Jordan. Age is slowly advancing, which has a way of humanizing people, and yet his ego and force of will push back equally hard, making it seem, at least for now, that his reign on top will last as long as he chooses. Right now, he’s the NBA’s most mythical figure. Score: 87

1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s virtually impossible to find fault with the NBA’s scoring champ. Durant combines Rose’s humble nature, Nowitzki’s impossible scoring touch, Griffin’s “new-car smell,” Howard’s technological accessibility and a Bryant-esque work ethic. He’s polite, he’s shown he has what it takes to win in the playoffs at a young age, he’s popular on an international stage already and the best is yet to come. He’s confident, but not cocky. He’s a gunner, but he comes off as unselfish. He’s team-first and loyal, much like Paul, and he’s locked in long-term so there’s no doubt or question about his future motives (at least not yet). Put it all together, and Durant is enjoying the ultimate honeymoon period with the NBA fans. We love potential, and Durant still has plenty of that. Also, he wears a backpack. Score: 88







Posted on: June 17, 2011 12:48 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Basketball players lead top 50 richest athletes

Posted by Royce Young

It's good to be a basketballer.

Sports Illustrated released its annual "Fortunate 50" list that compiles the top 50 earners in sports. And basketball players lead the way with 19 of the top 50. Baseball was second with 17, the NFL third with eight, NASCAR and golf tied for fourth with three.

LeBron James was the top basketball money-maker, coming in third overall with an estimated $44.5 million this past year. That included $30 million from endorsements alone. All that badwill created from The Decision didn't appear to hurt King James in the pocketbook. Maybe he can offer Dirk Nowitzki a couple milion to touch the trophy.

Kobe Bryant checked in sixth making $34.8 million total, Kevin Garnett was seventh making $32.8 milion total and Dwight Howard 10th making $28.6 million total. So if you count that up, four of the top 10 came from the NBA. Three came from the NFL, and two apiece from golf and baseball.

(One thing to note: The original 50 list doesn't include international athletes. Yao Ming made $35.6 million last year and would've ranked sixth, ahead of Kobe, but he's on a separate international list. Dirk and Pau Gasol both made around $21 million.)

The rest of the NBA list:

11. Dwyane Wade: $28.2 million
16. Amar'e Stoudemire: $24.5 million
21. Carmelo Anthony: $23.1 million
24. Tim Duncan: $22.3 million
27. Vince Carter: $20.5 million

29. Rashard Lewis: $20.3 million
31. Kevin Durant: $20.0 million
34. Michael Redd: $18.5 million
36. Gilbert Arenas: $17.9 million
37. Zach Randolph: $17.7 million

40. Kenyon Martin: $16.8 million
43. Joe Johnson: $16.5 million
45. Elton Brand: $16.5 million
49. Paul Pierce: $15.6 million
50. Chris Bosh: 15.5 million

Posted on: May 12, 2011 11:05 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 11:40 pm
 

Grading the series: Bulls top Hawks in six

Posted by Royce Young



The Bulls finished off the Hawks in six games with a 93-73 win in Game 6 in Atlanta. It was a Chicago clinic of defense, quality offensive execution, strong rebounding and really good stuff from Derrick Rose. Also, Carlos Boozer did something for once.

Let's hand out some grades.

Bulls:

Derrick Rose: In terms of shooting the ball, Rose wasn't great. He hovered around 40 percent took too many 3s. But he averaged 29.8 points per game in the series and provided the Bulls with just enough offense to get it done. I don't think anyone would say he was spectacular at any point, but he was most definitely always good. His 44-point, seven assist Game 3, though, was certainly something special. Grade: B+

Carlos Boozer: It was almost as if Boozer was trying to redeem himself with a great Game 6. At one point during the series in Game 1, Chicago fans actually had booed Boozer for his failing to produce. He finished the series averaging 13.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game on solid percentages, but the way he checked out in Games 2 and 3 were what concerned people. Maybe he's just now getting healthy, because he certainly looked good in Game 6, putting up 23 points and 10 rebounds. Grade: B-

Tom Thibodeau: The NBA's Coach of the Year gets a gold star for his brilliant move of letting Taj Gibson and Omer Asik finish out Game 5 for the Bulls. Most coaches would come back to their higher paid starters, but Thibodeau saw something in that second unit and rode them to the end. It paid off too, as Gibson put up 11 points in the quarter to squash the Hawks. The Bulls finally started showing consistent signs of being that feared 62-win defensive juggernaut in this series, and I think Thibodeau is getting them back into their style. Grade: A

The Chicago Bench: The role players always play a really key part for the Bulls because they have to spread things out a bit. When their bench is scoring and producing quality, productive minutes, they are really tough. Game 5 was a great example of how good the second unit can be, and they showed up again in Game 6. Somewhat inconsistent, but that's bench play in general. Grade: B+


Hawks:

Joe Johnson: The Hawks did an admirable job of pushing the Bulls in this series and took a surprising Game 1 because of a stellar performance from Johnson. And that's what it was going to take for the Hawks to pull this out. Johnson was going to have to rise to another level for at least four games and carry the Hawks. He wasn't able to. He was good in the series (19.7 ppg on almost 50 percent shooting), but he needed to be excellent. Grade: B

Jeff Teague: In terms of the future, the best thing that happened to the Hawks may have been Kirk Hinrich's injury. It gave Teague a chance to shine against the league's MVP and maybe prove he can be the Hawks point man of the future. In more than 229 minutes, he only turned the ball over seven times against the Bulls ball-hawking defense. He also had three games of scoring 21 points. Stepping up in such a big spot, he did a great job. Grade: A

Jamal Crawford: Much like Johnson, the Hawks needed something big from Crawford in at least four games. And he just never really showed up. He absolutely killed the Magic, but was a non-factor in five of the six games. It's is bad news when he's the team's X-factor. He averaged just 10.3 ppg on 35 percent shooting and never really got much going for Atlanta. Grade: D

Al Horford and Josh Smith: Matching up against Boozer and Joakim Noah, the interior battle had the feel of being where this series would be decided. Horford had just one good game, while Smith, despite being widely criticized for shot selection, turned a pretty solid series. Together, they needed to be better on the glass and defensively on the inside. Combined, they averaged under 25 points and 20 rebounds a game. That just didn't cut it: Grade: C+
Posted on: May 12, 2011 10:39 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 11:23 pm
 

Hawks go out with a whimper, but showed something

Posted by Royce Young



In a do-or-die Game 6, the Hawks bowed out rather humbly to the Bulls, 93-73, as Chicago moves on to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls looked strong and their season series with the Heat, so the East should be tremendous.

But let's talk about the Hawks for just a second. A round of applause is in order, because that was quite a postseason effort.

Think back to just the end of the regular season. The Hawks lost their last six games and limped into the playoffs with a meager 44-38 record. Most everyone in the world didn't give them any sort of a shot against Dwight Howard and the Magic. And not only did the Hawks take down Orlando, but they did it convincingly in six games.

And once again, taking on the East's top seed, not many felt the Hawks had a legitimate chance to unseat the Bulls. But Game 1 went the way of the Hawks, and a message was sent quickly: Atlanta ain't messing around here. You may not think much of them, but those Hawks weren't going to lie down and just let things play out the way everyone thought.

It's a pretty important development too for this team because, up to this point, they were sort of the NBA's paradise lost. They were a movement built on talent and youth, but a group that never had tasted real success or really even seemed destined to do so. The Hawks were one big ball of quality basketball players, but lacking whatever it takes to go a bit further.

No, they didn't win a title, much less get to the finals in the East. But they did, at the very least, give a renewed sense of hope around this still young core. All hope isn't lost, the dream isn't dead. At the end of March, it was certainly appearing that was the case. The Hawks had started their annual checkout phase of the season and didn't seem to represent any chance of pushing the Magic, much less getting out of the first round. And, not only did they bounce Orlando, but they also gave the Bulls a pretty solid scare.

Is this a title core? Probably not. They still lack something, even if we all have trouble putting our fingers on it. It's probably the fact that everything they have is very good, but not quite great. Joe Johnson is a very good star, but not The Star. Josh Smith is a very gifted, athletic power forward, but something prevents him from being all that he could be. The one overachiever of the bunch seems to be Al Horford and, while very, very good, I don't think he's the type of reliable big man that can shoulder a load and win a playoff series on his own.

So, like I said, it's just not all put together for the Hawks. And it might not ever be. There's a case to be made that this playoff run could've done more harm than good because now management may invest even more in this core. But that's the question: Did they prove something here? Was this enough to say they still deserve a chance? I think that's what we've all got to ask about this Hawks team.

There are some decisions to be made in the offseason. What do you do with Jamal Crawford? Do you still hang on to Josh Smith or do you dangle him on the trade market and see what you can get? Is Jeff Teague going to be your point guard of the future now? What do you do with Marvin Williams? And what else can you add to try and take the next step? The Hawks have to fix things, but at least there is now a level of success to reach for. This group was capable of a solid six-game out against the Bulls in the second round. Now what do you do next to take another step?

I'm a firm believer of reasonable expectations and always keeping them in check. Think back to before the season where you had the Hawks pegged. Think back to the beginning of the postseason where you had the Hawks pegged. Now look at where they've finished. It's moderate progress. Not the overwhelming jump towards a title, but it's something.

Until this point, there hadn't been much of a taste. The Hawks appeared destined to be playoff also-ran and that was it. At least in this run, they showed that they could still be something more.
Posted on: May 12, 2011 9:40 am
 

Playoff Fix: Hawks try to keep the window ajar

Bulls look to close out the Hawks in Game 6.

Posted by Matt Moore





One Big Thing: If the Hawks want to stave off elimination and force a Game 7, Jamal Crawford is going to have to get loose. The Hawks' offense is about 25% ISO against the Bulls, and it's pretty high normally. The Hawks just love the feel of a crossover, step-back jumper. But in an elimination game, the Hawks can't afford to squander possessions. Every possession has to be valued, cherished. And that means getting Crawford involved, and it should be off-ball movement that does that. Getting Crawford open looks will cause the Bulls' defense to shift. That'll open up the inside for Horford and Smith, which will create more spacing for Joe Johnson when he goes into isolation, instead of dribbling into multiple defenders. Everything opens up. But it's got to start with Crawford. The Bulls have done a great job of keying in on Crawford as this series has gone on. If they contain him for one more game, it may be enough to make their way to meet the Heat.


The X-Factor: The Bench Mob for Chicago mixed with the starters at the end of Game 5, and they were the difference. The Bulls, surprisingly, have a very capable bench unit, and it's been doing damage in this series. If Omer Asik, Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and Kyle Korver can make an impact, the Hawks won't be able to counter, not with Teague having to start. It's a huge advantage for the Bulls. Can they keep up this kind of surprising play? With the defense anchoring them, it looks good for the Bench Mob to make an appearance in Game 6.


The Adjustment: The Hawks were making a comeback by putting the ball in Jeff Teague's hands. They stopped doing that. They stopped making a comeback. Teague needs to be the focal point of the offense with how he's playing right now. He doesn't have to take all the shots, but his drive and kick abilities force the Bulls' defense to react instead of just waiting for the Hawks to dribble into them. The Hawks need to trust the young point guard and let him get them opportunities. Trying to do it on their own won't fly.


The Sticking Point: Chicago is a much better team. It honestly should not have gone this many games, given how talented and capable Chicago is. It took a run from Omer Asik and Taj Gibson to close out Game 5 at home, for crying out loud. Credit the Hawks' effort. Had the coaching been better, this may have gone differently. But this is a close-out game the Bulls know they need with the Heat starting to get their rest. Derrick Rose will be in close-out mode. The Hawks have shown us a tougher version of themselves mentally than we're used to seeing this postseason. They're going to have to come out with an even more impressive to push this thing back to Chicago and give themselves another chance.  
Posted on: May 11, 2011 1:46 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2011 2:08 pm
 

Report: NBA proposes 'franchise tag' to players

The NBA has reportedly proposed a "franchise tag" to the National Basketball Players Association. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Player movement is one of the key issues facing the NBA as it negotiates its next Collective Bargaining Agreement with the National Basketball Players Association. The NBA is a copycat league, and with each playoff series victory that the Miami Heat accumulates, the likelihood that other star players will team up to pick a destination spot in free agency increases.

SI.com reports that the NBA has proposed a "franchise tag", a designation that would potentially increase the incentive for star players to remain with their current team rather than bolt in free agency.
A team would be allowed to designate one player for preferential contractual treatment, including more overall money, more guaranteed money and at least one extra year on his contract. A player would have to agree to such a designation. It is designed to work as an incentive to get a player to remain with his team rather than as a roadblock to free agency, the sources said. 

...

The idea behind the league’s new proposal would be to increase the gap between what teams can offer a “designated player” and what non-designated players can get on the open market.
The National Football League's franchise tag essentially delays free agency by granting the team the ability to lock a player into an extra year. The NBA's version, as described in the report, would work more like a negotiating tie-breaker than as a method of restriction. 

Teaming up isn't a new phenomenon and it's one the league has worked to control for decades. Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, star players like LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard had an extra financial incentive to remain with their current team. In the case of James and Bosh last summer, though, that incentive wasn't enough to keep them from bolting to the Heat. Strengthening those incentives makes sense.

If a star player like, say, Joe Johnson hit free agency under this system, the Atlanta Hawks would be able to go financially above and beyond any other offers to retain him. After testing the waters last summer, Johnson re-signed with the Hawks in part because they were able to make him the largest contract offer. This franchise tag, as outlined, would have further strengthened Atlanta's position by increasing the distance between their maximum offer and the offers his other suitors were able to make. Bolting, therefore, would come at an additional financial cost to him.

Money is a powerful motivator. It's already the single biggest reason why many players choose to stay put rather than team up. Providing an additional incentive in this manner would marginally decrease player movement and provide an added protection to the teams, especially to those located in smaller markets. 

As described, there's no reason for the players to balk at this proposal because it would only affect the most highly-coveted players and it would incentivize their loyalty rather than limit their options.  The vast majority of teams should welcome this development. At first glance, this looks like a win-win.
 
 
 
 
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