Smush Parker: Playing with Kobe was Overrated, Playing with Shaq was Great

If ever there was an NBA player that embodied the term “knucklehead,” Smush Parker would be it. The guy was pretty much a joke of a player, especially for one who started at point guard in back-to-back seasons for the Lakers a few years ago, getting around 30 minutes per game. He tried a rapping career off the court which busted, and he’s been known to have serious struggles with valet from time-to-time. That’s why we take what he says with a grain of salt, including his remarks on this MSG program. Skip to the 40 second mark for the juicy stuff. (transcription below in case you can’t watch it)

Now just because he’s a bad player who’s currently unemployed doesn’t mean what he said wasn’t true. It probably is how he feels considering he was complimentary about Phil Jackson. The transcription of his remarks is below, and thanks to FanHouse for the video.

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Dwyane Wade’s Making His Move in the MVP Race

The MVP race in the NBA has become quite interesting since the All-Star break. To be fair, the debate for any MVP award is always interesting. Anyhow, prior to the break, it was in all likelihood a two-horse race between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James — take your pick. There were (are) compelling arguments for each player. Both players have had their teams at the top of the NBA standings all year long, and they’ve been jockeying for the NBA scoring lead as well. The Lakers lost Andrew Bynum and never really missed a beat, while the Cavs survived injuries to Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and now Ben Wallace. LeBron actually has Kobe across the board stat-wise, but the Lakers have beaten the Cavs both times this year head-to-head, and Kobe outplayed 23 in each game. But the third name that’s emerged since the break, the one that could be leading the race now, is Dwyane Wade.

Wade’s the overall scoring leader, second in steals, ninth in assists, and probably has one of the highest shooting percentages for his position. Since the break, D-Wade is averaging over 35 ppg, nearly 11 apg, almost three steals a game, over a block a game, and he’s 55% from the field and 90% from the line. Simply put, the guy’s been out of his mind and clearly more on top of his game than anyone else. Now here’s where I ask you this: should Wade be penalized because his team’s record isn’t that great (33-29), or is his case more compelling because he’s standing out and winning on a team without much help? Wade says the MVP should go to the guy who’s most valuable to his team, regardless of record. Cavs coach Mike Brown says the team’s record should be a factor.

I don’t think you can generalize like that because each situation should be judged case-by-case. Based on the way he’s playing in terms of all-around game, Dwyane Wade is shining more than any other player, even if his team lost by 30 when he scored 50 against Orlando, and even if they just got beat by Cleveland. If he starts to cool off, I’m fine with it going back to the Kobe/LeBron debate, but for now, it has to be Wade.

Shaq, Mr. Classy Once Again

Alright, so I like the fun, lovable Shaq as much as the next guy, but as a follow-up to the Van Gundy flopping story, I have to add a few things. First off, I never mentioned Shaq’s rant on Van Gundy where he ripped Stan a new one, calling the Magic coach a quitter who’s never been anywhere or won anything. Just because you’ve won four rings doesn’t mean you need to go out there and attack someone verbally in such an assaulting fashion the way Shaq did. In addition to that, there’s the Kobe rap, the Rupaul comments about Chris Bosh, and the way Shaq puts down Dwight Howard that makes me lose respect for The Big Fella. Last but not least, this got past me somehow last week, but it’s so compelling I felt it was necessary to post. Witness:

Like I said, Shaq: classy as always. I understand the spirit of competition but this seems to go slightly farther than that in my eyes. If that’s not his ego showing through, I don’t know what it is.

Minnesota Timberwolves Know How to Help the Fans, Dropping Ticket Prices

In these harsh economic times, not only should cuts be reflected in the amount of money players are being paid and the revenue a club generates, but first and foremost, ticket prices. Apparently the Minnesota Timberwolves have the right idea, and for that, they should be patted on the back. Check out this great announcement by the T-Wolves, a pattern I recommend most teams follow:

The average price for season tickets will decline 18.2 percent — 11.4 percent in the lower deck and 44.3 percent in the upper deck. More than 75 percent of all season tickets will be priced at $35 per game or less, with prices ranging from $5 per game in the upper deck to $1,550 per game for seats next to the bench in the Lexus Courtside Club.

The Timberwolves also introduced a new nine-month, zero-interest payment plan for all season ticket purchases, and a “No-Risk Pledge” that guarantees season ticket holders a full refund for their unused tickets if they lose their jobs in 2009.

Those specials are for people who sign up for season tickets by July 1st, so of course there is some caveat. The team knows it’s putting a product on the floor that isn’t too competitive, so the least they could do is cater to the fans. Seriously, 75% of season tickets at $35 or less? Now that’s a very fair range right there. And I also love the “no-risk pledge” thing, just as long as there isn’t small print involved. Now that’s the way to handle your customers and reward your fans! I hope other teams take notice and follow suit.

Stan Van Gundy Calls Out Shaq for Flopping Against Dwight Howard

It was a true pleasure to watch the Suns and Magic battle on Tuesday night and see Orlando’s original Superman go up against the Magic’s new Superman. Even at this age, Shaq can still out-muscle anyone in the paint just because of his sheer size and bulk. That’s not to say that Dwight Howard didn’t have his way on offense, either. The two were pretty even in terms of what they had done against each other until Shaq pulled off an AK47 flop after Dwight backed him down for a dunk in the 3rd quarter. That really got Magic coach Stan Van Gundy (Jeremy?) pretty steamed:

“I was shocked, seriously, shocked,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said of O’Neal’s flopping. “And very disappointed, ’cause he knows what it’s like. Let’s stand up and play like men, and I think our guy did that tonight.”

After Shaq got called for a tech, the Magic pulled away late in the 4th, getting a pair of big three-pointers by Rashard Lewis. It was a good game with the two sides pretty even throughout most of the contest. It’s just too bad that for all the funny and cool things Shaq does and says, he can be as equally jerky. The guy doesn’t like sharing the spotlight with anyone (unless it’s Kobe at the All-Star game and Shaq’s campaigning for a return to the Lakers), and he doesn’t like anyone encroaching on his legacy. For that reason, Shaq hasn’t been particularly nice to Dwight Howard, who clearly has taken the torch as the best big man in the game. Maybe Shaq will have a new perspective once he’s retired but I doubt it; he’s just that type of guy. Oh, and here’s the video of the flop in case you missed it:

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Pistons Finally Got the Picture, Started Rip Hamilton

Man, a lot happened in just like two days. Michael Curry finally announced (about effing time!) that Allen Iverson would be coming off the bench and that Rip Hamilton would finally be back in the starting lineup (after Hamilton initiated the movement). I guess all it took was an eight-game losing streak for them to figure things out. I’m surprised it didn’t take them dropping out of the playoffs first. Whatev. Finally someone got the picture, made the change, and now everything is right in the world.

The Pistons beat the Magic in Orlando and the Celtics in Boston their last two games. Both with A.I. out with back stiffness and Rip back in the starting lineup. Coincidence much? I think not. The Pistons are clearly better without Iverson anywhere near the court, as weird as that sounds. Oddly enough, it’s not even that shocking — my boy Matt Watson who runs detroitbadboys.com said as much to me a few weeks ago before the Pistons completely went into the tank. As Watson pointed out, Iverson may have faked the injury to get away from the team for a few days so he wouldn’t have to answer questions about his demotion.

Even though we anoint stars on a regular basis, sometimes teams are better-served devoid of big names. Aside from Detroit, the Rockets went on a six-game winning streak as soon as T-Mac announced he was shutting it down for the season. The Bucks continue to fight hard and win now that Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson are the focal point of their offense instead of Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut. Shaq’s picked it up with Amare Stoudemire out. Ditto with Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. Funny the way things work. Even the Celtics will tell you how much better the Pistons were without Iverson — a former MVP. They’re better off without him near the starting lineup without a doubt.

Reason 4,080 to Love Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard has rapidly become one of the more likable stars in the NBA. He’s super-strong and has become probably the most dominant big man in the game, leading Orlando to one of the top records in the league this year, and a strong record last season. Howard raised his profile in the dunk contest last year with the Superman act, and then showed what a good sport he was (and how insignificant his ego is) when he let Nate Robinson dunk over him to win the Slam Dunk Competition. And yet once again, Howard’s likability rating when through the roof when he answered this question about his pre-game ritual for the Chicago-specific sports site, Mouthpiece Sports. Believe me, you’re going to love it.

If that’s all it takes to be successful in the league, I’d be the second coming of Wilt effing Chamberlain. Seriously though, Howard may have taken the spot in the league vacated by the now “disappeared” Gilbert Arenas. Howard clowns around, is unafraid to speak his mind, has a million-dollar smile and he’s extremely skilled. Let’s just hope a knee injury (or three) doesn’t ruin his career while he’s on top.