Posted on: September 29, 2011 11:07 am

Please, Kobe, please. Stop lying.

I'm sick and tired of reading that Kobe Bryant is considering playing overseas during the NBA lockout. Turkey, China, Italy -- all destinations have been raised.

All are lies.

Kobe Bryant has a finite number of games left in his deteriorating knees, and he knows it. He also has some major individual goals left, not one of which -- not one -- can be achieved anywhere but in the NBA. Currently he is eighth on the all-time scoring list. Shaquille O'Neal is within easy reach at No. 7, but not if Kobe blows out what's left of his knees in Italy. And of course the big target is Michael Jordan at third. Jordan is two, maybe three seasons away. I'm telling you now, Kobe's knees will be a struggle to play more than two seasons. A third? Doubtful. And he knows it.

Do you really think he's going to waste a single game in what's left of his career to play in a foreign country, even Italy? Do you?

Do you?

Category: NBA
Tags: Kobe Bryant
Posted on: July 18, 2011 3:58 pm

Dwight Howard cries wolf. Townfolk believe him.

Dwight Howard isn't going to China. He isn't going to Europe. Not to play basketball, I mean. The only way he's going overseas is on vacation. Period.

If you believe he's serious about playing over there, well, shame on you. He's posturing, for the union or himself or both. But he's not serious. No way, no how.

Howard is a liar when it comes to his career. A few months ago he caused Orlando's heart to flutter when he vowed to stay in Orlando:

"I'm not trying to run behind nobody like Shaq or be behind somebody else," Howard said in May. "I want to start my own path, and I want people to follow my path and not just follow somebody else's path. I want to have my own path, and I want to start that here in Orlando."

And then this is what he said in June:

I'm going to become a free agent next year.

One thing in May, something else in June. And here we are in July, and Howard is saying a whole 'nother thing. About playing in Europe. Or China. Or Venus. Wherever.

And you believe him?

That's your problem.

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 5, 2011 6:50 pm

Nostradamus I ain't. But I know this about LeBron

DALLAS -- I'm not big on predictions, mainly because I suck at them because sports-writing isn't about predictions. If it was, the highest honor given to sportswriters wouldn't be named for Red Smith. It would be named for Nostradamus.

That said, I have a prediction for Game 3. It's not a win-or-lose prediction, though it is something that probably will decide the game, now that I think about it.

Whether it does or not, I'm not going to predict. But I will predict this:

LeBron James will shoot close to 20 free throws tonight.

He'll do it for two reasons. One, he is aware that he has been to the foul line just six times in two NBA Finals games, "and that's not me," he says.

Two, officials are aware that James has been to the foul line just six times in two games. They are now, anyway, after James went public with his thoughts on the matter Saturday.

Which means two things. One, James will be attacking the rim with a fury tonight. He is on record as saying "I'll be in attack mode," and also that nobody -- certainly not Mavericks forward Shawn Marion, who has been guarding him for much of the NBA Finals -- can handle him one-on-one. Two, officials will be inclined to give James some calls tonight.

I'm not saying it's right.

I'm just saying it is.

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 3, 2011 8:54 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 8:58 pm

Best 10 players in NBA history

This seems more relevant today than ever, what with Shaquille O'Neal retiring and LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki facing off in the NBA Finals after being compared -- favorably -- to Michael Jordan and Larry Bird by people who would know. Scottie Pippen says James could be better than MJ, and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle (a former Bird teammate) says Nowitzki is very much like Bird.

So it got me thinking. Who ARE the best 10 players in NBA history? Here's my list, in chronological order:

Bill Russell.

Wilt Chamberlain.

Oscar Robertson.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

Larry Bird.

Michael Jordan.

Shaquille O'Neal.

Kobe Bean Bryant.

LeBron James.

I left out Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, but do you really think those guys are any better than Dwyane Wade? Whom I also left out? If this list went to 11, you'd see Pete Maravich's name. If it went to 12? Elvin Hayes. To 13? No clue. I only feel strongly about those 12.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 31, 2011 8:10 pm

I'm not trying to cause problems, but LeBron ...

MIAMI -- LeBron James is the only guy with a special locker inside the Miami Heat locker room at American Airlines Arena.

That's a fact, and I know this because I toured both locker rooms -- home and away -- to mention (briefly) the differences between the two.

No news here, but the home locker room is, like, 12 times nicer than broom closet the Mavericks are using. The difference in carpet alone is staggering, something else I know not just because I walked on both -- the Heat's carpet feels like it's worth $40 a square foot, while the Mavs are walking around on the crap you find in your average elementary school -- but because I got down onto my knees and stuck my fingers into both.

Sad but true.

The Heat also have a double-wide loveseat in each stall, with mahogany closet and shelf space. The Mavs have two steel hooks in their hardwood lockers.

But again, that's not the news.

The news? LeBron! He has more locker space than Dwyane Wade!

Well, he does.

Wade, like Chris Bosh -- and like everyone else on the Heat -- has one locker. And those are nice lockers, don't get me wrong. But there's one empty locker in the entire room, and you'll never guess which player has the stall next to the empty one.

LeBron has it. And he uses it.

So really, LeBron has two lockers. Everyone else has one. I'm not sure if that's a metaphor or a harbinger, but it's something. In addition to being two lockers, I mean.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 25, 2011 8:02 pm

Mavs won, but what about that rebounding?

DALLAS -- The Mavericks won Game 4, so this gets glossed over in the papers, on the radio, on the internet. But it doesn't get glossed over in the Mavericks' locker room:

Their rebounding that night was abysmal.

At game's end, Oklahoma City had a 55-33 edge on the boards, but it was even worse than that midway through the fourth quarter. When the Thunder had that 99-84 lead with less than five minutes to go -- a lead that should have been insurmountable -- the Thunder also had a 48-22 edge on the boards. That's plus-26. That's more than double the Mavs' rebounding output.

What that really is?

"A big problem," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said before Game 5. "We're going to have to play a lot better. The plays where our bigs are scrambling and trying to get back to rebound, that's one thing. But the ones at the free-throw line where [OKC] guys are just stepping into us and taking the ball away? That can't happen."

So about that rally in Game 4. Two days later, Carlisle was ready to call it what it was.

"We pulled off a miracle," he said.

"We're going to have to play a lot better than we've been playing. We played pretty good in Game 3, but there were 5-6 minutes there late -- not good enough. We're going to have to put together 48 minutes of basketball. This is an opponent that causes a lot of problems."

This is an opponent, according to OKC coach Scott Brooks, that wasn't done in, emotionally, by that Game 4 meltdown.

"They're a resilient group," Brooks said. "The spirit of this team is good. We're going to play as hard as we can tonight. There's a never a doubt in my mind that's not going happen. They came today fresh. They're ready to play."

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 23, 2011 7:51 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 8:08 pm

I beg the OKC coach to change his lineup

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Three games in a row, Oklahoma City has fallen rather significantly behind the Mavericks in the first quarter of these Western Conference Finals. No surprise, really, given that three of the Thunder's five starters are on the court for their defensive prowess. Other than Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the bulk of the Thunder's offensive firepower -- mostly James Harden, with sprinkles of Eric Maynor and Daequan Cook -- comes off the bench.

So it's a no-brainer move -- right? -- for the Thunder to replace a defensive-minded starter for someone off the bench who can score. Say, Harden (12.7 ppg in the playoffs) for Thabo Sefolosha (4.5 ppg).


No, says OKC coach Scott Brooks.

"We've won a lot of games with what we have," Brooks said. "I know there's a lot of talk out there about [changing our lineup], but I feel we're pretty good. We've won 55 games this year, won a lot of games in the playoffs."

Look, I like Brooks and think he's really good at his job. But to see the results of the first three games -- all started by large Dallas runs -- and to dismiss outright a change to the starting lineup? That's dumb. That puts the "no" in no-brainer.

Especially since the Mavericks' starter at shooting guard is DeShawn Stevenson. If James Harden doesn't start because he can't defend anybody, well, there you go. Stevenson can't score. Harden can't defend? Match made in heaven, sounds to me.

But not to Brooks. And he explains it in a way that makes sense. I'll give him that. Here's what he said when someone in the media -- OK, it was me -- basically begged him before the game to replace Sefolosha with Harden.

"I just feel that's not the right thing to do," he said. "We've had a lot of success with what we've done building our team. ... One of the things you want your team to do is practice good habits every day and be consistent with those habits. They get that from me -- they know where I stand. I hate to talk about this, but we're a young team. If you give a young team instability, you're going to get very inconsistent results. Everything we do or I do, they know where I'm coming from."

Makes sense, it really does.

But so does replacing a starter who can't score with a guy who can, especially after watching his team struggle to score in the first quarter three games in a row.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 21, 2011 8:29 pm

Controversy and cursing before Game 3

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Controversy has come to the Western Conference Finals. Both coaches had to deal with it before Game 3, and both did fine -- though Dallas coach Rick Carlisle handled his answer with profanity.

Well, he did.

First, though, the Thunder controversy. And you know what it is. It's Russell Westbrook, one of the best 10 players in the NBA, being benched for the entire fourth quarter as the Thunder won Game 2. About an hour before Game 3, Brooks was asked repeatedly how Westbrook has handled that turn of events.

"He's good," Brooks said. "Russell's a winner. ... Was he disappointed? He should be. You should be disappointed when you play [a lot] and don't play [down the stretch], but he's a team guy."

Westbrook has been roundly criticized for his shoot-first style of play, but Brooks made an excellent point in defense of his point guard: He plays on a unit that has just one other scoring option, Kevin Durant. The rest of the Thunder's first unit features defensive players Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha.

"Kevin and Russell have to keep the scoreboard moving, and they don't mind," Brooks said. "That's why Russell gets a lot of hits for taking a lot of shots, but he plays with a [mostly] defensive unit."

Now then, Carlisle.

And let it be known, I'm really starting to like that guy. He was asked about Mavs reserve center Brendan Haywood's comments after The Dunk Heard 'Round The World, Durant's nasty throw-down in Game 2. Haywood, as we noted in that link to the dunk video, blamed that play on bad perimeter defense by Peja Stojakovic and even on suspect coaching schemes.

Carlisle's reaction?

"Without hearing the quote or seeing his delivery or body language, it would be a mistake for me to comment," Carlisle said. "I just don't see that as being wise."

Carlisle then added that he didn't want to get into a "sh-t throw" about the whole deal. Puzzled, I asked him to repeat that word.

"Sh-t throw," Carlisle said.

Someone else asked him if "sh-t throw" has a hyphen.

"It can," Carlisle said.

Not here it can't. Because too many hyphens would be confusing. Watch. Here's that phrase, with a hyphen: Sh-t-throw.

And here's without: Sh-t throw.

See? Without, definitely.

Enjoy Game 3, folks.

Category: NBA
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