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Have Spurs, Tony Parker Improved Since Eva Longoria Divorce?

The San Antonio Spurs are fresh off a 15-point win over the Lakers and have the best record in the NBA. They’re 27-4 and have enjoyed winning streaks of nine and 12 games throughout the season. Point guard Tony Parker has had one of his best years, averaging a career high in assists and steals while shooting extremely well. His strong play, coinciding with the team’s impressive play, is especially surprising given the turmoil in his life.

Parker and soon-to-be ex-wife Eva Longoria filed for divorce, with each side suspecting the other of cheating. In light of the team’s stellar season, LBS contributor Big Daddy wondered if Parker and the Spurs have been playing better since the divorce. The hypothesis was so intriguing we had to investigate.

PRIOR TO EVA LONGORIA DIVORCE

    > Spurs: 9-1 record (.900 winning percentage)
    > Parker: 18.6ppg, 7.6apg, 2.8rpg, 52.4 FG%, 80.9 FT%

SINCE EVA LONGORIA DIVORCE

    > Spurs: 18-3 record (.857 winning percentage)
    > Parker: 17.6ppg, 6.8apg, 3.3rpg, 51.7 FG%, 69.5 FT%

Parker’s numbers were stronger pretty much across the board prior to the divorce, but both he and the Spurs have played so well the entire season it’s hard to say the Longoria news played any role in their season. The only question is if they’ll be able to stay healthy and keep up their strong year during the playoffs. With Parker playing as well as he is, they sure can.

Dwight Howard Makes Fun of LeBron’s Chalk Toss in Cleveland (Video)

Dwight Howard has become quite the joker this season.  We’ve always known Superman had a sense of humor, but he’s even funnier now that he has made a habit of personally ragging on other athletes.  First, Dwight tooled on Derek Anderson for his “I wasn’t laughing” rant.  On Tuesday night, D-Howard decided to make fun of LeBron James by impersonating his chalk toss to the Cleveland crowd.  Check out the video of Dwight Howard making fun of LeBron James’ chalk toss:

What would have made this bit funnier is if the Cavs fans appreciated it.  Is it just me, or do they not look enthused?  Howard was trying to get a rise out of them, but he wasn’t taking into consideration that they all suffer from PTSD and were probably having horrific flashbacks while he was doing it.

Beijing Ducks May Target Smush Parker to Replace Steve Francis

Smush Parker. Yes, that Smush Parker. The one who had a bout with a parking attendant and the same one who called out Kobe Bryant may actually be a savior for a Chinese basketball team. The Beijing Ducks are looking at Smush to replace fellow American Steve Francis according to Sportando via Ben Maller.

Franchise is leaving his Chinese team after playing just four of their 32 games. He reportedly only saw 14 minutes and showed up out of shape (SHOCKER! I know). Francis reportedly admitted Monday that he was not physically prepared to help the team and that’s a big reason he decided to leave.

Being overweight and unprepared to play seems to be a common occurrence for Francis. It’s one of the reasons the Rockets got rid of him and one of the reasons the Grizzlies did too. As well as Francis started off his career in the NBA, it’s hard to believe this is what’s become of the three-time All-Star.

Gilbert Arenas 75-Foot Shot Bounces of Shot Clock and In (Video)

The Orlando Magic recently acquired Gilbert Arenas, among other players, in hopes of building a strong team that can win a championship as soon as possible.  It took Orlando’s new core a little time to get going, but they seem to be off and running with a couple of big victories over the past week, including one on Christmas Day that snapped the Celtics’ winning streak at 14 games.

As for Arenas, Monday night’s game against the Nets may have given the guard a better understanding of why his new team is called the Magic.  Agent Zero (actually it’s Agent One now) hit nearly a full-court shot at the buzzer in the first half.  Unfortunately the shot didn’t count, as you basketball geniuses have figured out by reading the title of the post.  In any event, it was pretty impressive.  Check out the Gilbert Arenas 75-foot shot video, courtesy of Pro Basketball Talk:

Now if I were reffing the game, I would have given the Magic one point for the difficulty of the shot.  That would also make me a cheater and a fraud, so it would be a nice way to get to know my peers and start fitting in.

Could Shaquille O’Neal Be Fined For Talking About a Fine?

After the Celtics lost to the Magic on Christmas Day, Shaquille O’Neal was extremely unhappy with the game’s officials. During his postgame press conference, you got the impression that Shaq wanted to be fined if it meant being able to take a shot at the refs.  He accomplished that goal when he referred to the officiating crew as “control freaks.”

The NBA fined Shaq $35,000 for the comments, but the artist recently known as Shaqeeta made it clear that he didn’t give a crap when reporters asked him about it on Monday.

“Whoop-de-freakin-doo,” O’Neal said.  “That’s my reaction.  Here’s my quote: Over my 18-year career, I’ve probably paid $90 million in federal tax, $20 million in FICA and $1 million in David Stern Tax.”

Considering how long Shaq has been around, I doubt Stern will break his stones too much and slap him with another fine for basically laughing in the face of the NBA’s disciplinary system.  In reality, Big Daddy Diesel is just saying what everyone else in the league feels when they get a fine.  Imagine going to work, saying something about your boss, and getting a $10 fine for it.  I’m sure you’d be terrified into not doing it again, right?  The ability to blow off steam and dog the refs was obviously worth $35,000 to the big guy.

Lakers-Heat, Celtics-Magic Dominate TV Ratings on Christmas Day

Phil Jackson is sick of having basketball games get in the way of Christmas, but he shouldn’t look forward to any reprieves from the NBA until he retires. The ratings from Saturday’s blockbuster double-header on ABC are in, and let’s just say the NBA on December 25th has become a tradition like the NFL on Thanksgiving.

The Celtics-Magic and Lakers-Heat — the two games on ABC — saw a ratings increase of 45% compared to last year. Even the other three games on ESPN were up 20% from a year ago. The 6.4 rating for the Lakers and Heat was almost 50% higher than last year’s Lakers-Cavs game, proving the Miami Heat is one of the most intriguing teams in sports. In fact, only the 2004 Heat-Lakers Shaq revenge game on Christmas was rated higher during the regular season the past seven years.

Many people groused when LeBron, Bosh, and Wade all joined forces in Miami, forming a super team. I immediately said it was good for the NBA, and approved with a smug grin from Stern, because it would spark more fan interest. That has truly been the case, and these ratings only augment that point. Business is booming for the NBA, and you can thank the Miami Heat superteam for being the biggest reason why. It also doesn’t hurt that Kobe and LeBron seem to be legitimate rivals too.

Photo Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

LeBron and Kobe Talk a Little Trash on Christmas Day (Video)

There are very few times in my life where I’ve rooted for Kobe Bryant, but Christmas Day 2010 was one of them.  Like the rest of the people in the sporting world who aren’t Miami Heat fans, I’ve grown to despise LeBron James.  My Christmas wish fell short when the Heat dominated the Lakers, but it was fun to watch Kobe and LeBron jaw at each other in the fourth quarter.  As we showed you on Saturday, both players were debuting new Nikes, so wouldn’t Nike just want everyone to get along?  Oh well.  Check out the Kobe and LeBron trash talk video, courtesy of The Big Lead:

When asked about it after the game, Kobe told reporters he “just asked (LeBron) what he got for Christmas.”  It’s way too early to tell, but if these two superstars develop a hatred for one another over the course of the season and then meet in the NBA Finals, we could be in for a fun ride.