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Shaq Trade Officially a Bust for Suns

That’s it, I was critical of the trade when it first went down, and now I officially declare the Shaq trade a bust. The bludgeoning in Phoenix administered by the Pistons last weekend got me started thinking something was wrong. The ass-kicking in New Orleans was another light bulb. And now the home loss to the Sixers was the bright neon sign officially announcing that the Shaq trade isn’t working for the Suns. I know Shaq keeps insisting that we need to wait because he’s a new player playing with a new team but I’ve heard enough of his song. He can keep signing the tune and tell us we need to be patient and wait for them to get in sync. You know what I say to that, Shaq? Tell us to keep waiting and before we know it, the Suns will be out of the playoffs.

Honestly, at this point, I don’t even think the Suns will manage to make the playoffs. Sure, they’ve played four difficult teams since Shaq started playing minutes and gone 1-3, but they’ve also played two poor ones and gone 1-1. Yes, the Suns are only 2-4 with Shaq in the lineup. They keep this type of performance up, they’re not going anywhere. They lost at home to the Sixers Saturday night! That is absolutely inexcusable. I don’t know how Shaq can even talk his way out of that one. With Marion, they would have played the Hornets close. With Shaq, they got smacked by 17. If there is a silver lining to this debacle of a trade for Phoenix, it is that Steve Kerr sacked up, threw his balls on the line, and took a shot. He decided his team wasn’t good enough as it was and made a move. Looks like he missed, but at least the dude has some guts (I guess).

NBA Is Absolutely Thriving

This is the most exciting and competitive season I can remember in years. I really couldn’t understand why the last issue of ESPN the Magazine was bringing up the “image problem” of the NBA. What’s the problem? The way I see it, the NBA is thriving right now. What we witnessed over the last month in terms of trades, signing, and roster movement, was most likely unprecedented. It’s like every team is fighting, clawing, and scratching their way to try and come out on top in what’s become a lion’s den lately. And I’m only talking about the Western Conference. As it stands, all eight teams that would make the playoffs in the West have winning percentages over .600. The Nuggets wouldn’t even make the playoffs despite being more than 10 games over .500. This is the same team that also set the season high mark for points scored in a game last night. That’s absolutely insane.

In the Eastern Conference, the teams are much weaker top-to-bottom, but the top teams are fighting to improve. The Cavs shook up their roster adding Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Delonte West, and Wally Szczerbiak. The Celtics just signed veteran P.J. Brown for depth. The Pistons keep rolling along, while the Magic did their damage in the off-season signing Rashard Lewis. The Western Conference saw the Lakers acquire Pau Gasol for nearly nothing, setting off a chain reaction. First the Suns took a risk getting Shaq, then the Spurs got Kurt Thomas, and then the Mavs responded by getting Jason Kidd, and the Hornets even got Mike James and Bonzi Wells. That’s not to mention the Jazz acquisition of Kyle Korver. Nobody is content letting their team stand as is; they all are hyper-competitive trying to win.

Oddsmakers have installed the Lakers as 2:1 favorites to win the title, but truthfully it’s completely up for grabs. It’s wide open, and best part is there are so many teams out there who not only want to win, but are fully capable of winning. Honestly, there are 10 different teams I could easily picture being handed the trophy by David Stern at the end of the season. There’s not going to be one easy matchup in the playoffs — the eight seed will be nearly as tough as the top seed in the West come the post-season. I don’t know about you, but I’m loving what I’m seeing right now, and I credit all the active GMs and owners for making this the most exciting season in memory. It’s like watching a fantasy basketball season unfold between a bunch of drunk fraternity boys, only this is real life!

Yao Ming Cares More About the Beijing Olympics than the NBA

And I don’t mean that to be a negative commentary about the man. His statement at the press conference on Tuesday sort of slipped under the radar for me. Upon incurring a season-ending stress fracture in his foot, Yao said it would be the biggest loss in his career if he were to miss out on the Olympics because of the injury. Here he is, in a country where most of the top stars decline an invitation to play for team USA, and he’s saying that not representing his country would be the biggest disappointment for him. That’s insane. It makes news headlines for us when a star NBA player says he will play for the U.S. — this news is incredibly difficult for us to comprehend.

So now I pose the question to you: is Yao off base in his thinking or does he have his priorities straight? Was his statement a noble one? Is being patriotic more important than being there for one’s NBA team? Have I lost complete sight of proper values by thinking players’ commitments to their NBA teams are more important than how the country performs in the Olympics? I just don’t think the Olympic team is a big deal for us; everyone already knows the best basketball is played in the U.S., what else do we have to prove? But for Yao, I can see why this would be a disappointment. He represents what, the largest country in the world? He was their hero, their savior? Possibly their largest international sportsman when the Olympics happen to be in his home country? I can see why this would be a major disappointment for him — he has the weight of his nation on his shoulders. I understand his comment and think most of it stems from patriotic pressure. I do have to say though that I don’t think it means our players have their priorities out of whack.

Pat Riley with the Quote of the Night

Much like most other people in the media, I love it when guys step out of the norm and get creative with their pre or post-game comments. That’s why we love Gilbert Arenas so much — dude says stuff that’s completely off the wall, like when he told us about his pube-shaving incident. Anyway, when the Miami Heat won Tuesday night breaking their 11-game losing streak, head coach Pat Riley could have settled for the typical “It’s nice to finally get a win, hopefully this will set us in motion for the rest of the season so we can finish strong,” or something to that effect. Instead, Riley delivered what was likely the top simile by a coach this year:

“I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony,” Riley added. “I know what to do. I just don’t know where to start.”

I’ve never even heard anything remotely similar to that line. Where does Riley come up with this crap? Damn, his team may be boring as all holy NBA putridness this year, but at least this dude is providing us with some entertainment. Oh, and Riles, for the record, head for the hottest chick first (not exactly sure how that translates in a locker room situation, however).

Kobe Bryant: Martial Arts Master?

Apparently Kobe Bryant trains in a discipline called jeet kune do, which was developed by none other than Bruce Lee. In the video, Kobe says he’s good enough to kick your ass, making you wonder why he even needed a bodyguard in the first place. Video evidence courtesy of none other than Elie Seckbach:

Jeet kune do is all about visualizing where your opponent will go next, and trying to beat him to the punch. Sounds like a pretty good practical application for playing basketball. I doubt it has much of an impact on Kobe’s game, but it’s still pretty cool. Hey, gotta figure if it works for Bruce Lee, it has to be pretty good, right?

(via Seattle PI)

LeBron to the Brooklyn Nets Eventually?

LeBron’s close relationship with rapper Jay-Z has been well-chronicled. Jay-Z is a part owner of the group called Yankee-Nets, meaning he’s a part owner of the New Jersey Nets. There’s been talk about the Nets eventually moving from East Rutherford to Brooklyn even. Currently LeBron is signed with the Cavs through the ’09-’10 season but he’ll be a free agent after that, and his relationship with Jay-Z gives reason for Cavs fans to panic, says Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports.

LeBron doesn’t want to just win titles. His stated wants include becoming sport’s first billionaire athlete. Among his advisors, he counts Warren Buffet. Jay-Z has helped James focus his mind on chasing something bigger than basketball.

And whatever these grand dreams of LeBron are, the prevailing thought suggests LeBron would have a better shot at achieving them in New York rather than Cleveland. As you could probably tell in my Twins to keep Johan argument, I’m all for the “little guys” keeping their star players rather than New York teams getting a hold of them. I’m guessing a lot of his decision will have to do with the success of the team over the next few years. If he wins a ring in two years it would be hard to leave after a championship season. That’s about the only chance Cleveland has — Cavs fans better start praying.

Larry Brown ‘Doesn’t Do Anything’ as Sixers VP, Wants Back into Coaching

Yeah, I realize I’m phasing out my own google-ability with such a post, but I really can’t help but not pass on the monster tip sent over by The Wiz. There have been lots of rumors floating lately that my namesake could end up going back to coaching, most notably the Chicago Bulls. Turns out the guy is interested in coaching because, well, he’s bored:

“I desperately miss the teaching.”

The previous night in Philadelphia, where he now lives while serving as executive vice-president of the NBA’s 76ers (“That means I don’t do anything,” he said)

“Yeah, I want to badly,” said the man who has spent 33 years coaching at the pro or college level. “I know I’m 67, but I don’t feel old until I look in the mirror. Every place I go, people ask how I am. Maybe they thought I’d broken down. I feel great.”

“I still have a passion to coach,” Brown added. “I feel I still have something to offer. I don’t want it to end the way my last year went.”

Just as many of the “Bobby Knight back to Indiana” rumors have resurfaced, could Larry Brown return to coaching? Would anyone want him? How many years could he give you? Wouldn’t he just leave you high and dry? And wouldn’t it have to be the ideal situation? Could he really deal with a clown like Joakim Noah? I guess these are all worries for another time. Bottom line: LB’s back on the market, baby. And that mofo don’t do jack ish in his current job! At least many of us can relate to the basketball coach — that’s a good sign.