Steve Nash Does Not Think Suns Are a Playoff Team Yet

The Phoenix Suns were one of the surprises of the NBA last season. They got on a role late in the year and became a force in the second half, winning enough games to grab the third spot in the Western Conference. On top of the strong second half during the regular season, the Suns swept the Spurs and made it to the conference finals before losing to the Lakers in six. Channing Frye had a career year, Goran Dragic and Robin Lopez emerged off the bench, Jason Richardson and Grant Hill were both solid, and Amare Stoudemire played like an MVP in the second half. Now that Stat left for the Big Apple in free agency, the Suns will be missing a huge weapon.

The changes have taken their toll on the team according to star point guard Steve Nash, who gave an honest assessment of the Suns on Sunday. “To be honest, if I was outside this picture and a betting man, I would probably pick us to be outside of the playoffs considering all the changes and the new guy,” Nash said after the 2-6 preseason showing. The new guy has to be Hedo Turkoglu who was acquired in a trade this off-season.

Turkoglu found his home in Orlando where he became a multi-threat player and fit into Stan Van Gundy’s system, but things were a mess last year in Toronto. In addition to Turkoglu, the squad also signed Josh Childress who spent the past two seasons in Greece. There are many talented teams in the Western Conference, most of whom have more continuity than Phoenix. The Suns will probably battle for one of the final playoff spots in the conference. It’s quite possible they’re left on the outside when the season is over.

Oscar Robertson Backs LeBron James Who Is ‘In a Class by Himself’

It’s nice to finally hear LeBron James getting some support from a Hall of Famer after the beating he took this summer. From Michael Jordan to Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley, LeBron took shots from the media and his fellow legends. Most of it was out of jealousy and a fear of having their legacies outdone by King James. In Barkley’s case, it was out of stupidity considering Charles couldn’t win on his own and went to Houston to chase rings. But getting back to it, ESPN had a few clips from an interview with Oscar Robertson where he praised LeBron. Here’s what he said, courtesy of a transcription from Sporting News:

Is Barkley trying to say that he thinks LeBron is not as good as Michael Jordan? Come on. LeBron is in a class by himself.”

The Big O also offered encouragement to James, whose departure from northeast Ohio caused a lot of hard feelings.

“All this legacy stuff people talk about before he even finishes playing? It’s all TV talk. They talk about you, they burn your jersey … Just grit your teeth and go harder. Just keep going harder. Keep going as hard as you can and wear ‘em out.”

It’s nice to see someone talk about LeBron from a level-headed perspective. The Big O was right on when he says all the legacy stuff is TV talk. If people could look ahead and think about things when James has three or four rings, what criticism will there be then? And as far as talents and skill sets go, LeBron is in a class by himself. Finally, someone looked at the situation fairly.

ESPN Took LeBron ‘Get Over it’ Quote and Sensationalized it

Alright, so we recognize that LeBron James is hated by people since holding his “Decision” show. When he’s not holding ill-conceived shows, he’s doing other things to make people hate him. Still, that doesn’t mean powerful sports networks need to pile on when it’s unnecessary, which is exactly what some people at ESPN did Thursday night.

You may have seen on ESPN’s Web site or heard on their shows or like SportsCenter or read a tweet saying LeBron James told Cleveland fans to “get over it” regarding his decision to leave the Cavs for the Heat. If that’s all you heard, then you would probably think LeBron is a penis. Luckily there are other reporters around to inform us what really happened.

Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post explains the sequence of events: LeBron was asked pregame “if he felt that his Twitter experiment accomplished anything. James said it didn’t. [Skolnick] then followed up with a question asking whether it ever surprised James that people took sports so seriously. While [LeBron] does refer to fans being “betrayed,” the words “Cleveland” or “Cavaliers” were never mentioned.”

ESPN must have recognized the error because the story on their site now more accurately portrays LeBron’s thoughts, using the headline “LeBron sympathetic to fans.” That’s a huge difference from telling Cleveland fans to “get over it.” It’s fitting this sensationalism went down the same week ESPN was upset the way a story about their network telling the Monday Night Football coaches to call timeouts got out of control. Now that’s a little something we like to call Karma at work.

Rules Do Not Apply When Yao Ming Is in China with Rockets

The Houston Rockets recently returned to the U.S. after a lengthy trip to China for the preseason. Lots of teams and players have been traveling abroad to help promote the NBA, but things are different when the Rockets make a trip. When Houston goes to China, they bring center Yao Ming who is one of the most well-known athletes in the world. The Chinese center is a god back home. Don’t believe me? Just let some of his teammates tell it:

Patrick Patterson: “When we first got off the plane in Beijing and went through customs, they had big signs all around that said you’re not allowed to take pictures in that area. But then you’ve got security guards, police officers and all the people behind desks taking pictures of Yao. So I picked up the sign and walked right beside Yao holding it– and they just kept taking pictures (laughs). Obviously the rules didn’t apply when Yao was there, so I think that’s a great indication of how much he means to China.”

Can’t say you’re surprised, can you? What’s incredible is how popular the Rockets are as a team in China, and how Yao’s hero status has resulted in his teammates becoming popular as well. Tracy McGrady used to have one of the best selling jerseys in the league because he was Yao’s teammate for so long, and now Shane Battier says he’s become a popular player because of the association. Battier also noted that the chemistry on the team is incredible and that it could take them to the next level. I love the optimism Shane, but there is still a ton of work to be done. I’ll keep the sentiment in mind as we watch Houston’s season unfold.

Mark Jackson Has Interesting Take on New NBA Technical Foul Rules

In case you haven’t heard, the NBA’s new stance on technical fouls is completely absurd.  Referees have been instructed to hand out technical fouls when players make aggressive hand gestures, demonstrate on themselves the way they were fouled, complain to an official about a call, walk a long distance to argue a call, and inquire about a call excessively (even if done in a civilized tone).  If that sounds like a joke to you, I’m afraid it’s not.

Although it’s only the preseason, we’ve already heard a ton of complaining about the new rules.  Refs have been fully enforcing them, and it remains to be seen if the authoritarian style of ruling will die down a bit in the regular season or if the zebras are just trying to mark their territory before the feast.  We’ll soon find out.

ABC color commentator Mark Jackson has an interesting take on the new technical foul rules.  Rather than focusing on the negatives that come along with being T’ed up, Jackson points out that great free throw shooters could benefit from it.  “If I was a guy like Reggie Miller I’d love the rule because it would add three or four points a night to my scoring total from technical fouls.”

I’m going to take the liberty of saying Jackson is joking, but with the way things are headed his thought may not be that far-fetched.  If the Kevin Garnetts and Ron Artests of the world are getting slapped with more Ts than they’re used to, the Ray Allens and Chauncey Billups will be sitting back and improving their resumes.

Athletic Propulsion Labs Concept 1 Shoe Banned by NBA for Jumping Advantage

We’ve all heard about the shoes guaranteed to make you run faster and jump higher. At first, those dream loafers were called P.F. Fliers. Then Seinfeld let us know about Jimmy’s training shoes. Now, the NBA is banning a pair of shoes because they provide wearers an “undue competitive advantage.”

The shoes, called the Athletic Propulsion Labs Concept 1, were banned because: “League rules regulate the footwear that players may wear during an NBA game. Under league rules, players may not wear any shoe during a game ‘that creates an undue competitive advantage (e.g., to increase a player’s vertical leap).’ In light of that rule…players will not be permitted to wear the APL shoes during NBA games.”

The Concept 1s go for $300 a pair and advertise a “Load ‘N Launch device is implanted in a cavity in the forefoot of the shoe and serves as a ‘launch pad’ by taking the energy exerted by the player and increasing lift with the aid of an intricate, spring-based propulsion system.”

Apparently anyone who puts them on will see an average increase in their vertical leap of 3.5 inches. Great, now I might be able to touch the net!

Toronto Fan Heckles Hedo Turkoglu: ‘You Have Zero Work Ethic’

What’s more sad, that there were so few fans at a Toronto Raptors preseason game we could hear a fan heckling Hedo Turkoglu, or the fact that Hedo was pwned by said fan? I’m not sure, but it was nice to see someone from Toronto get a little revenge after Michael Jordan of Turkey forced his way out of the city this off-season and got traded to Phoenix. Check out this video of a fan heckling Hedo Turkoglu at a Raptors-Suns preseason game via You Been Blinded:

Turkoglu apparently heckled back when he checked in at the scorer’s table, booing back at the fans. I’d say the fan got the better end of things. By the way, how about that for Toronto fans? We know they boo Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady whenever those guys return to the Air Canada Centre, and apparently Hedo has cracked the list. I don’t even want to know what will happen to Chris Bosh.