2

Spurs are Growing on Me

I used to hate San Antonio. They were so boring to watch. So drama free and style deprived. So healthy all the time.
This year, watching them blow through Denver, watching them knock off Phoenix, witnessing them dog Utah, I have developed a sincere appreciation for the greatness of this team. They are so thorough.
I still dislike Bruce Bowen. He’s so overrated. He’s a hack who gets away with it because he’s supposed to be this great defender, and a cheap-shot artist to boot. He gets far too much kudos for someone so unskilled at basketball. Anyway, because of my disdain for Bowen, I disliked the Spurs. I cheered when they lost. I got angry when they won. I rooted for whoever they played against.
But now, being forced to look at the NBA from an objective perspective, I can see how good that team is. They are so disciplined, so cohesive. Gregg Popovich is so underrated.
They may not lose again. Maybe Detroit gets a game, but Cleveland gets swept. Easily.
See how San Antonio dismantled the Jazz, who bullied the Warriors. What would the Spurs have done to the Warriors? It would have been ugly. It might’ve been a good thing they lost to the Jazz. At least they were in there against Utah. Facing San Antonio could’ve been demoralizing beyond repair.
Or, how many of you actually thought the Warriors had a chance against the Spurs?

2

Kobe is Justified

The easy thing to do right now is to rip Kobe, call him selfish, a diva, etc. There is certainly truth to such. But part of me sides with Kobe.
These players get branded as selfish and greedy, but these owners are the same way. There is NO loyalty, on either end. So, to me, its unfair to brand the players for being disloyal when the franchises are often equally shady.
What if Bryant is right? What if Buss did make the decision to not give Shaq an extension independent of Bryant’s input? Isn’t that shady of Buss to let Kobe take the knife in the court of public opinion? Isn’t that a good reflection of Kobe to keep that information to himself for so long?
What if they did promise to surround him with more talent when he signed? Can we say they’ve held up their end of the bargain? And if they didn’t, shouldn’t he have the leeway to grow sour with the franchise and distrust their promises to make the team better in the future?
I can’t believe I’m defending Kobe!
Bryant clearly had his motives, which is why he went on Stephen A show, then on Dan Patrick’s show. Why not go back to Stephen A and recant? Why not tell this to the LA Times in your exclusive with them the day before? He clearly had a plan.
But so do these teams. They connive and scheme, too. They manipulate the news and save face in public perception regularly. The lie to the fans, go back on promises and con with the best of them.
Kobe is right for looking out for himself. Who else will?

5

Kupchak Must Go

No matter if Kobe stays or goes, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak needs to be shown the door. Seriously, what has he done well since taking over for Jerry West.
He got very little for one of the greatest centers of all time: Lamar Odom, Caron Butler (who they traded) and Brian Grant.
They made the deal worse by giving up Butler, who turned out to be an All-Star, to the Wizards for Kwame Brown and Laron Profit.
*He hired Rudy Tomjanovic and signed him to an obscene amount of money.
*His free agent signings have been Vladimir Radmanovic, Maurice Evans, Shammond Williams, etc.
I’m coming off the top of the head, so I could be missing someone. But obviously there aren’t too many great moves because they would be easy to remember. Really, what has he done? He got Phil to come back. Good move, but a no-brainer. He drafted Bynum and Farmar. Both nice picks, especially where they picked them.
But overall, he has failed to provide an ample supporting cast for one of the best players ever. For that, he should lose his job.

13

A + B = Kobe to the Warriors

Can you imagine Kobe in a Warriors uniform? He would have to either jack Monta for No. 8 (of course, if Kobe comes, Monta likely goes), or find a new number, because Rick Barry’s 24 is hanging from the rafters.
For the record, I would do it in a heartbeat. Yes, Kobe can play Nellie ball. It might even be the perfect system for him because he’ll be foreced to give up the ball to keep the tempo fast, yet he has the skills to carry the team in a slower-paced, half-court game (i.e., the playoffs).
Here’s my proposal:

Warriors get: Kobe Bryant

Lakers get: Jason Richardson, Monta Ellis, Adonal Foyle, the No. 18 pick, and next year’s first round pick.

The Lakers get a proven scorer in JR, a budding star to cling to in Ellis, they get a contract that will come off the book in two years and two first rounders. If they insist, I’d give up Al Harrington instead of Foyle and keep one of the two picks.

So, what would you give up to get Kobe?

5

Blog Question

“The Warriors’ incredible run is even more incredible when you realize they played as a team something like 32 games together! What if this same team has next year to gel together? Did we really see holes in the Utah series (yes); but more than a team that could have won more games with a year playing this style? Or do you think the talent did reach its limit and needs major torking (big man, trading a key component)? Except for Powell, Foyle, and Sarunas, part of me wants to see what the same team can do in a season!” – jim

I just don’t see it happening. Things don’t go that perfect over a season. You know how they say all you have to do is get hot at the right time? Well, the Warriors got hot. At the right time.
Can they do that for a season? The answer to that question can be found in another question: Can Baron Davis do that for an entire season?
My money is on no. The way he had to work to create shots in the halfcourt set, the way he hustled on defense, I don’t think he can play all out like that for an entire year. He needs help. He needs to be able to sit on the bench and have Nellie feel comfortable with whoever is running the show. Baron needs to be able to be just a threat sometimes, while someone else creates offense for others without mixing in four or five turnovers.
And even if they do run through the regular season at the same clip they did at the end of 2006-07, how much will they have left for the postseason?

5

C’mon, Larry Hughes

It’s amazing to me that an NBA shooting guard can’t make a wide-open 7-footer.
Everyone’s talking about LeBron’s last shot and whether he was fouled, etc. But Cleveland lost the game because Larry Hughes pulled the string on a gimmie.
What are the chances Rip Hamilton misses that? Derek Fisher drills it with his eyes closed if he’s playing the Warriors. Ginobili wouldn’t even have to shoot it. Once he catches the ball and no one’s around him, Flip can call the timeout because no way Manu misses.
Seriously, Larry? You missed that. Why not bank it? Why not lean in rather than fade away? Why not take one step in and dunk it? Dude, you have to make that shot! You just have to!

7

Blog Question

“Marcus, are you worried (or more importantly) should the league be worried about the increasing lack of parity between the East and West, now worsened by the luck of the two northwest teams getting two potential franchise players in the upcoming draft? I know one of the great appeals of the NFL is the parity that is now in place. Is the East becoming irrelevant in terms of talent and competitiveness? Maybe even more importantly, will some of the Eastern small market franchises ( Memphis , Milwaukee , Charlotte , etc) begin to lose their fan base?” – commish

I don’t think the league is worried as much about the East as it is about New York and Boston. As long as the big four have their fan base in order (New York, LA, Chicago, Boston), I think the league is fine. But because of the sponsorships and partnerships these big markets bring, it’s not good for the league to have Boston and Knicks sucking. From a historical and puritan perspective, the Knicks and Celtics fans are the most die hard, so there is a concern that since they have been bad so long now, they are starting to become irrelevant. That can’t happen. Especially not in NY. The Lakers are fine, the Bulls are rejuvenated. But the Knicks and Celtics fan base, which is national, is struggling. National teams bring in national dollars. Memphis certainly isn’t bringing national dollars.
As far as the East-West thing, that’s no matter. It will eventually shift back to the East at some point. There was a time when the West was clearly inferior. All you really need is one or two good East teams to make the Finals interesting, and everything will be fine.
A competitive integrity complaint might be coming. If three or four teams miss the West playoffs but would have made it in the east, you might start hearing more murmuring. But that’s not a bad thing because the league loves when the NBA is a national conversation except for when its about its players being unruly thugs.
Here’s a thought. With all the untapped resources in the Bay Area, which is usually locked up by the NFL and MLB, it seems like the league would love for the Warriors to be good. This is a large market, lot of money here. The Warriors have the potential to really rake in the dough out here.