Which Teams Did Their Homework?: A Critique of the 2011 NBA Draft by Timothy Watson III-June 24, 2011
Here is my opinion of the biggest winners and losers from the 2011 NBA Draft.
Cleveland Cavaliers- For a franchise that suffered so much heartbreak from the loss of LeBron James, the Cavaliers couldn’t go wrong coming into this draft with the No. 1 and No. 4 draft picks in the lottery. So for a team that regressed and suffered a 22-win differential on the negative side of the ledger, they needed all the talent they could get. As a result, they settled on a pretty good stock of new additions led by two freshmen: Duke Blue Devils point guard Kyrie Irving and Texas Longhorns power forward Tristan Thompson. These two will create a great inside-outside duo for years to come. Irving at 6’3 can drive, shoot and pass equally good and Thompson at 6’9 can both rebound and finish around the basket. Both are raw, but still will enjoy some productive years growing together as new faces of this franchise.
Utah Jazz- Unfortunately, the Jazz are in rebuilding mode, as the franchise is in transition from being a perennial playoff team to a lottery one. But it might just turn out to only be a one year hiatus, after all. That is because of the savvy additions of center Enes Kanter from Switzlerland with No. 3 pick and Colorado Buffaloes shooting guard Alec Burks at No. 12. Kanter is a phenom. He would have played for University of Kentucky. But he was ruled ineligible. As a highly-decorated youngster, Kanter could have definitely competed for national headlines with Ohio State Buckeyes freshman center Jared Sullinger last season. Kanter’s size is massive at 6’11 and 265 lbs, so his body is “NBA ready” now. He possesses a good back-to-the-basket repertoire. And that’s a real commodity nowadays. Add his athleticism, and this 18 year-old is a pure freak of nature. He just might become Shaq 2.0. Really.
Utah’s other gem, shooting guard, Alec Burks, is an athlete too. He doesn’t have a go-to-move. He does have a decent mid and long range jump shot. Plus he can get it off with ease. At 6’5 and 193 lbs, he possesses the ability to create. He can release a shot even with a defender playing close to him. Burks moves around adeptly behind screens too. What he lacks in “blow-by” speed, he makes up for with great agility. He is a good “sleeper” addition that will contribute immediately. Look for these two young studs to really provide some much needed athleticism to the Jazz’s style of play next season.
Charlotte Bobcats- Their draft selections are received with mixed reviews. Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is really impressed with University of Connecticut star and national champion Kemba Walker. He was selected with the No. 9 pick. And why wouldn’t he? As a national champion and Bob Cousy Award winner (given to the nation’s best point guard), the junior (who graduated early) received more accolades than anybody else in this draft class. So whatever the point guard lacks in size, he more than compensates with heart. Although his 6’1 and 184 lbs frame might not fit the standard NBA prototype of today’s floor-leaders, Kemba plays big, really BIG. He’s demonstrated that already. That leadership and killer mentality was on full display throughout last season. It’s no wonder why his new boss takes a likening to him: Kemba reminds Jordan a little of himself. With the Bobcats’ organization not satisfied with D.J. Augustin at the point guard position right now, Walker will have the green light, so to speak. And with the reigns loosed, Kemba will take the ball and run with it from the start-to-finish of his career.
But as great as Walker’s selection is, Bismack Biyombo’s choice is a head scratcher. This is because he is not at the top of anybody’s mock draft list. So for the Bobcats organization to covet him so much that it trades its original selection at No. 19, Tobias Harris, the versatile freshman forward from University of Tennessee who had very solid per-game-averages of 15.3 in points and 7.3 in rebounds last season, for a relative unknown in Biyombo is very bizarre. Biyombo has two years left with the Fuenlabrada of Madrid. A contract buy-out would have to take place for him to play in the U.S. One of the team officials that would help negotiate it, new Bobcats general manager Rick Cho gives his personal recommendation ever since watching the EuroLeague import-from-the-Congo during workouts last month. Now that’s when he was the Trailblazers GM until he was fired soon thereafter. Let’s hope that his faith in Biymbo is rewarded, but this is very risky.
Minnesota Timberwolves- For a franchise that has been perennial lottery participants since the 2004-05 season, you would have thought this team has stockpiled enough talent to have been winning already. Obviously, with that not happening, the Timberwolves did themselves very, very well by selecting University of Arizona sophomore power forward Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick. Already a celebrity, this highly skilled, highly athletic talent is a beast both scoring and rebounding. And he rises-to-the-occasion when under the spotlight as witnessed by his tournament performance during Arizona’s Elite-8 run, highlighted by a 32-point, 13-rebound effort in an upset win over No. 1 seeded Duke. At 6’9 and 225 lbs, his size makes him a dreaded “tweener.” As a result, the Timberwolves have too many players around the same size with Beasley, Love and Williams now all vying for starter’s minutes at the forward position on next year’s squad. Inevitably, Williams might become an over-priced bench player at the start of his career. What a hefty price to pay for someone with such franchise-player potential.
Accompanying Williams is Donatas Motiejunas, the 7-foot Lithuanian rebounder who is weak at playing defense and rebounding. Sure he’s still young, but he’s more like 2nd round talent not 1st.
The T-wolves have fired head coach Kurt Rambus already, next should be general manager David Kahn for wasting choice first-round draft picks.
So how do you feel about the successes and failures of teams’ player selections from the 2011 NBA Draft?
Game, set, match, and a Mavs victory! As the Heat was on Miami (pun intended), it got too hot in the kitchen and their team got cooked, figuratively speaking. The trio of Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Dirk Nowitzki all proved that team will beat talent in the best way. Dallas won at Miami 105-95 to finish this highly competitive series with a 4-2 victory, and the franchise’s first-ever NBA Championship to cap off this joyful NBA season with the gloom and doom of a lockout looming.
Everybody loves a winner. But in the case of the Mavericks, this is really true. Move over Cowboys! Dallas has a new, true America’s Team.
Now, how ironic is it to give this honorable moniker to a franchise that in recent years (including their previous NBA Finals appearance in 2006 against the Miami Heat which resulted in a series loss after blowing a 2-0 lead), had rightfully earned disrespect around the league as well the country as choke-artists?
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was eager to point out this even during the trophy celebration:
“You know the whole world was telling us that we were ‘The One and Done Boys!’ That we would get knocked out in the first round!”
But as we saw Sunday night, NBA championships aren’t won based upon popularity (or in the case of the Heat, unpopularity) contests or on paper or even upon past success or failure. No. They are won on the court, and the court alone. That’s where the Mavericks did it, not the Heat.
The Heat’s challenges and obstacles have been much publicized this season. From the 9-8 record to start the season, to the 5-game losing streak that exposed their inability to close teams out, to Cry-Gate. (Notice I didn’t mention that off season team rally that officially introduced The Big Three where LeBron’s ill-spoken guarantee of multiple championships was declared, even well before literally breaking a sweat together, because that was off-the-court mess and I only deal with on-the-court matters. Sorry.)
But the Mavericks have experienced challenges and obstacles too. After a franchise best 24-5 record to start the season, they lost starting small forward Caron Butler (who was the team’s second-leading scorer at the time) to a season-ending knee injury, and franchise player center Dirk Nowitzki both at one stretch, endured a shocking 6-game losing streak in the process, lost a big nationally-televised showdown at the Lakers by 28 points, lost homecourt advantage, and even lost the faith of the media, as most had Dallas being eliminated in the first round again.
But after defeating Portland in six, sweeping the 2-time defending champion Lakers in four, meeting the challenge of upstart Oklahoma City in five, and redeeming the organization, its players, fans, and the entire city by saving the world, so to speak, from the arrogance and false pride of Miami and its team by eliminating them on their own home court in six, Dallas has earned the rightful support it receives.
“There’s billions of people rooting for you guys,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was told in the days before the Game 6 clincher.
And even afterwards, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gave credit to the team’s fans that made the trip to American Airlines Arena to support.
“Our fans just punked the shit outta Miami fans, you know?? I mean that’s the only way I could say it.”
Unfortunately, for “The Heatles,” most of the country has disliked them all season long from day one and it continued throughout The Finals. Charles Barkley even recently came out publicly against the Heat saying:
“They just a whiny bunch and I can’t root for them.”
And to really bring it home, Clevelanders (even though their fans were the scorned-ex lovers, so to speak, of LeBron James) all still watched in large numbers just to root against the Heat. They wanted to see James denied the ring again, but this time as the enemy. Cleveland Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, (who has always jumped at every opportunity to publicly scold LeBron) tweeted:
“Congratulations to Mark C. & entire Mavs org. mavs NEVER stopped and now entire franchise gets rings. Old lesson for all: There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.”
So at the end of the series, the better TEAM won. Miami just as well may have their ‘fun in the sun’ in the future, but for the Mavericks theirs’ is NOW. And just as Heat superstar Dwayne Wade said earlier this season:
“The world is better now since the Heat is losing.”
Ask anyone who follows college basketball (and for that matter, even ask anyone who does not follow) and these two players’ names probably will come up more times than anyone else’s: Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette. Why, you might ask? Simple: They were the most talked about.
Even at the time of writing this article, these two both ranked in the top 5 of trending topics at Yahoo.com’s website, here on the night of the 2011 NBA Draft.
Jimmer Fredette is a “lights-out”, long-range assassin, who can also put it on the floor, but has no defense. Kemba Walker is a clutch scorer with the ability to break your ankles, but lacks the size to take the physical pounding the league demands.
Jimmer Fredette is the national Player of the Year Award winner. Kemba Walker is the Bob Cousy Award winner (given to the nation’s best point guard).
Kemba Walker is a reigning national champion. Jimmer Fredette is America’s most popular college player now.
Both are excellent players and a team could not do bad picking either one.
But my question is: Who is better? Only the future will tell. But for now, I’ll let you decide.
Why Cleveland State University’s, Point Guard, Norris Cole Would Make a Good Addition to Any NBA Team Interested by Timothy Watson III-June 23, 2011
Hip hop legend Rakim, once said: “‘Cause it ain’t where you’re from, but where you’re at.” And being a graduate from a small inner-city university (Chicago State), I know that it is not where you start but how you finish. And sometimes lacking a reputation that precedes you brings little fanfare thus motivating you to carve out a name for yourself.
The critics say: he is undersized, played for a very small school, from a mid-major conference, played against inferior competition and was not a part of a program with a winning tradition. Point guard Norris Cole from Cleveland State University is used to being underestimated. But he has already defied the odds so far. He had 41 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists in a game this season alone. And for any general manager interested, he is a “diamond-in-the-rough” that would be a steal in today’s NBA draft. Here is an analysis of his game, and how it translates on the next level:
He can do it all
“In my estimation, there is only one other guard in the nation who has the total package that Norris has. He scored off the dribble and from the perimeter, passed the ball, rebounded and most importantly, played defense. I couldn’t have asked any more from him,” according to Cleveland State University head coach Gary Walters recently after Cole was named as an honorable mention to this past season’s All-America team.
In comparison against his fellow point-guard counterparts Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith and Jacob Pullen, Cole “was the only player in the nation to average 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists this season,” according to an article on the Horizon League Conference’s website.
This speaks well about Cole’s overall game especially at his position of point guard. And at only 6’1 and 175 lbs. he is still able to not only run the offense, but create shots for himself and his teammates, while also guarding taller players on a regular basis.
He has an upside
Cole has consistently improved through all four years in college, particularly scoring, where he has gone from a measly 4.9 to an outstanding 21.7 points per game. So he still has not reached his plateau. The doubters will say, “Who was the competition?” Sure, it is true that Horizon League prospects are a far-cry from the blue-chip talent of the Big East or other power conferences, but Cleveland State University is still, the last time I checked, a Division I conference. Competition is competition. And he has improved from season-to-season without the benefit of a redshirt.
He has experience
In this day and age, with so many college basketball players not playing all four years, Cole is a throwback. Not only in a way just good for conjuring up positive sentiments, but also in representing the era when college basketball players worked hard at developing their craft. The college experience used to serve as an apprenticeship. Now it does not. And so many over-night sensations generally turn out to be either overhyped, immature, or just a ‘flash-in-the-pan.’ Of these players, one clearly comes to mind. Can you say “Sebastian Telfair?” Could had not the college experience done him some good? So there’s no substitute for experience, especially as a 4-year player at the point guard position, because it works well to only sharpen his decision-making skills in the league.
He has versatility
Cole is not great at one particular thing but rather good at many. And this will allow him to receive playing time on anybody’s team. As a point guard, he is not explosive, but is fast when given a full head-of-steam down the court. He is a good shooter from both the mid and long range, a decent 3-point shooter (which is noteworthy for a true point guard), and also has the ability to both drive and finish in the lane. Cole brings with him multiple skill-sets that will definitely be an asset to a contending team coming off the bench. This ideal scenario will allow him to grow properly. And of course, he has the humility to do so as a good character guy.
He is motivated
MVP Derrick Rose, who is also a point guard, repeatedly talks about “playing with an edge,” and we all see that took him to great success. Norris Cole has employed that “edge” usefully, as he has continued to put in the long hours in the gym to consistently improve, as evidenced by the upswing in his career statistics across the board and his 2010-11 Horizon League Player of the Year Award. So even now as he is still overlooked, believe me, Cole will still have something to prove. Watch out world! He just might take the league by storm.
Although Cole probably does not even remember those old lyrics from the great Rakim (made reference to at the beginning of this article), it can still serve as an inspiration to this day. How so, you might ask? Like the title of the song from which those have come, draft night still provides his opportunity to get out of “The Ghetto” and make a name for himself.
Q&A session with Dr. Thabiti Lewis, who speaks candidly, about his writing debut Ballers of the New School: Race, Sport and American Culture with Timothy Watson III-October 27, 2010
1. Who is a “Baller of the New School” (BNS)
Thabiti Lewis: Of course the topic of the book begins with Baller athletes but my vision is much larger. You are a BNS, I am one. “Ballers of the New School” are individuals of this generation that is hip hop infused and post-civil rights who break the racial contract. They are writers, lawyers, professors, executives, and other folk, especially folk of color who reflects the bluntness of the latter portion of the Civil Rights generation. BNS are very much connected to the hip-hop music and culture which expresses their views of the world, what they feel, when they feel, how they feel to convey the turbulence and chaos in their lives. In my book I describe BNS as “somewhere between a young Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan (particularly the young Jordan), and Allen Iverson.” This is quite accurate for while many BNS are very individualistic, some of poor moral character and perhaps ungrateful to the civil rights generation for their good fortune,but they do know poverty and the failed promises of “The Dream.” Their general determination is to maintain control of their bodies as a way of expressing freedom and agency in opposition to mainstream Anglo cultural ideology and morality.
BNS are the modern generation of athletes who are different from the previous generation of athletes in good and bad ways. But again, I attempt to define what this generation of folk are all about and why this presents problems for contemporary media and fans that expect a certain type of athletes that is more humble, less outspoken, affable at all times, knows his or her place. Barry Bonds, the Williams Sisters, Etan Thomas, Randy Moss, and now an outspoken Lebron James is not what the vast majority of the white public is willing to accept. Bret Favre can be problematic. Mark McGuire can use steroids. And so can Roger Clemens, while throwing bats, but they are still considered good guys.
Ballers of all professions are doing their thing, the way they need to, without concern for approval from “mainstream” America. They are fine with who they are and if “mainstream” America wants to interact with them they will have to do so on BNS terms. This is problematic for most of the white media, teams, and even fans, especially when non-white professionals are involved. So when you’ve seen double standards with racial implications surface in sport, know that the racial contract has much to do with it.
2. We all know that sports is rapidly becoming one the most desirable professions that young people from all demographics are seeking as a career, so what will your book help to do?
Thabiti Lewis: I want to inform and remind youth that there are options beyond playing! I outline a bunch of jobs that are sports related.
3. In the book, you talk about your participation in sports as a player during adolescence, and then include “A Letter to My Cousin.” What is the message you want to share with your audience?
Thabiti Lewis: That letter was originally written to my younger cousin who was a genius. At the time, he was being pulled by peer pressure and popular culture, which emphasizes anti-intellectualism. He had been an honor roll student up until his sophomore year in high school but puberty and peer pressure notions of masculinity converged all at once. It was not macho or cool to be smart. So he shifted his investment in knowledge an education to basketball. He was going to be the next Iverson.
Our family was devastated. We all knew he was a math prodigy and he was about to blow it. My aunt called me upset about what was happening to him. She suggested that I talk to him. She was at her wits end. Now check it! His parents are married, college educated, conscious folk, yet like many in our community, struggling with their man child. So we had a family network to reach out towards him, hoping to make an impact. I wrote him a letter that was about 30 percent shorter and a little less academic than the one in the book. I wanted to let him know that I understood the pressures of a smart male, especially in the black community, struggling to assert an authentic masculine persona. One fashioned by sport is much easier, much more acceptable.
I realized that his plight, at the time, is faced by many young men of all races struggling with adolescence in an American society that is sports crazed. My goal was not to preach but to show him the options that are out there that are sports related but require intellectual achievement. As I was writing to him, I recalled the week he spent with me one summer with his younger cousin. They made me play basketball every day. They also read about three books each that week. We had a great time. His parents pushed intellectual pursuits, yet he was struggling with a culture that all too often chides “smartness” among youth.
I recall as a student teacher a young man asked me, “what is the point of learning math, science, english for me in the real world?” His name was Leon and he had a profound impact on me because he was asking what most kids want to know. When they play sports, they know that the drills and practice will lead to victories and perhaps a professional career. But we do not use the same type of language or strategies when it comes to education. Kids need to see homework and study sessions and drills as practice for winning in life and being whatever they want to be.
Inspired by James Baldwin’s essay to his young nephew, I decided to trace similar terrain in my own voice to speak to my cousin as well as the millions of young women and men out there struggling with a similar problem.
Now, I cannot say that my letter changed his life (a very smart and focused young lady who had caught his eye takes much of the credit), but I like to think that it made him think twice about the path he was beginning to trod. My message in the letter is to tell young folk that sport is not the best place to invest all your efforts, it is a long-shot, and few make it. Instead, I want them to know that with an education they can be involved with professional sport in so many different ways without limiting themselves to being a professional athlete when they can think about being CFO of the organization, the team doctor, trainer, or involved with marketing. All of these entities require education.
I want kids to know that while the hurdles are real, they can stride over them. And although they may knock a few down along the way, victory is still possible, so to speak.
4. With recent scandals involving amateur athletes like Reggie Bush, I find “Big Pimpin’ In Amateur Sports” to be quite relevant. How do you access the treatment of minority athletes when it comes to sanctions or disciplinary actions they receive from governing institutions like the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)?
Thabiti Lewis: I believe that the treatment of Bush was completely unfair. It reflects exactly what is wrong with collegiate sports. His former coach Pete Carroll received a lucrative contract to be the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks right before the punishment was handed down and walked away clean. He feigned ignorance to Reggie and all other athletes getting paid.
Look, as I detail in my book and in a recent essay in the Crisis Magazine (Fall 2010) these kids are being pimped, exploited. When it is revealed that they are getting money under the table, they are villains, immoral people. The coaches and athletic directors who know that players are being paid get off the hook because so many people, especially them, profit from these kids. The minority athletes do not comprise the majority of NCAA athletes nor the overwhelming majority in a sport like football. But when it comes to top revenue producing programs and sports like football and basketball, the starting players are often non-white kids like Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. How dare USC give back the Heisman Trophy Bush won or take down photos of him and Mayo after all the money these kids brought to the university!
And the NCAA profits quite nicely from football and basketball revenue as well. I argue in my book that a system needs to be instituted to pay these kids and all the scandals would end. How can these institutions generate billions, function as a capitalist entity yet claim a non-profit status? Coaches earn millions yet their success hinges on super star players like Mayo, Bush, and others. Who should get paid? Who is really the bad guy?
5. For the most part, your book provides a sociological analysis to the business of sport, how so?
Thabiti Lewis: It does provide some sociological perspective as well as a focus on critical race theory and justice. What I sought to do is use sport to have a conversation about race in an America that desperately wants to be post race before being post-racism. It requires dialogue and truth. Since our culture is so obsessed with sport culture, I felt it prudent to use it to get into discussions that many can relate to and debate. What I have found, especially while living in the state of Oregon, but in most of America, is that people are hesitant to get into the dialogue because it initially promises to be too difficult, controversial, edgy, angry and challenging. However, dialogue is the key to reconciliation. It is my entry into a racial-healing dialogue.
My goal is to critically re-examine the mythologies and socially uplift narratives that dominate our airwaves and Internet today. Once we set the past and present straight, we can move toward a future that will allow sport to effectively achieve its potential to produce social harmony and racial progress.
Is He the Best Black Quarterback in the History of NCAA?: Leading Heisman Trophy Candidate and Leader of the No. 1 Ranked Team in the Country, Auburn Tigers, Cam Newton is Playing His Way into All-Time Status by Timothy Watson III-December 5, 2010
On Saturday December 4, 2010 as the final seconds ticked-off the game clock, not only was the University of South Carolina Gamecocks relieved, but even amidst the roaring crowd noise, I could hear Cam Newton inhale deeply. His Auburn Tigers finished off an SEC Championship with a 56-17 blowout victory. Newton, junior starting quarterback, not only passed but ran his way to an almost guaranteed Heisman trophy, and arguably the best overall single-season of any quarterback in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) history.
Newton’s gasp was also because just two days earlier, amidst overwhelming uncertainty, the NCAA ruled favorably: His athletic eligibility was officially retained, no more drama. That is because Newton had been the object of intense speculation from the media, crooked sports agents, and even the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations). All-the-while, Newton kept a calm and tough exterior, which was very essential. He never let it serve as a distraction to his teammates. And for the past month, Newton has refused to speak to the media instead he let his play on the field do all of the talking. These numbers make a huge roar, so to speak.
According to the NCAA’s official website, here are the individual FBS (Football Bowl Sub Division) statistics and rankings for Newton’s 2010 season: Pass Efficiency, 188.16, 1st; Rushing, 1,409 yards, 15th (2nd among quarterbacks); Total Offense, 307.54, 10th; Total Scoring, 126 points, 6th (1st among quarterbacks) and Points Responsible For, 22.62 per game, 2nd. These numbers all contribute to not only front-running in Heisman race but also in the Tigers No. 1 ranking and appearance to play in the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) Game on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. With these accomplishments, who can argue that Cam Newton is enjoying perhaps the greatest single-season as a quarterback in NCAA history? If not that, with a national title, he definitely will fair the as the greatest amongst Black quarterbacks who lead there school to a BCS title, because there’s only one other, at this time, who has done it before, Tee Martin of the 1998 BCS Champions University of Tennessee Volunteers.
Among major quarterback categories Passing Efficiency and Total Offense, Martin ranked 21st and 40th respectively during his championship season of 1998. Tee Martin did set the NCAA record for consecutive completions (24) that same season, but that was the biggest personal accomplishment of his, as running back Ricky Williams of University of Texas won the Heisman that same season.
So as great as Cam Newton is already, just think how his legend would be cemented with Auburn winning the BCS Title Game. And I’m sure he will again take a deep breath to take in the air and really appreciate how much this season has meant to him.
At half-court, a huge huddle was formed, comprised of both Lakers and Kings players in solidarity (assumedly in prayer), after a hard fought battle on the court had finally ended. This game even needed an extra session to decide its outcome. How fitting an end to 64th regular season of the NBA (National Basketball Association). Just as the Kings fans all stood-in-attention to not only acknowledge their hometown team’s valiant effort, but also to collectively savor the memories made over the last 23 years there on the court of Power Balance Pavilion (formerly known as Arco Arena), I got off my couch in observance too for a very entertaining season. I was one of the fortunate fans to have an NBA League Pass (given how it cost me a hefty $180). And I enjoyed every penny of it, too. I viewed nearly every game broadcasted (Obviously, I had a whole lotta time on my hands), even up-to-the final day of the regular season. And even then I got a treat because all 30 teams played (this occurred for only the second time in history). Here are some of my highlights from the 2010-11 NBA season:
Kevin Love’s 30-30 Game
November 12, 2010-In an early season game, this was Kevin Love’s “Coming out Party,” so to speak. Love’s stat-line in a 112-103 victory at home over the New York Knicks read: 31 points, 31 rebounds, 5 assists. Unbelievable!
Heat lose to the Celtics
October 26, 2010-The NBA season could not have made a better premiere than the Miami at Boston matchup. The Celtics opened defense of their Eastern Conference Championship against champion want-to-be Heat, who most of the country saw as “Public Enemy No. 1.” Boston’s “Big Three” of Allen, Garnett and Pierce proved that it takes team-chemistry, rather than just talent alone, to win. This is not NBA 2K. The games are decided on the real court. Boston 88, Miami 80.
Blake Griffin versus Amare Stoudemire
November 20, 2010-“Tinseltown” had two stars on display, except this time it was for a Los Angeles Clippers game instead of a Lakers’ one. Power forwards Blake Griffin and Amare Stoudemire both provided an array of dazzling dunks, difficult jumpshots, along with tough rebounds. Griffin had 44 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. Stoudemire had 39 points, 11 rebounds and 2 assists. And although it was Stoudemire leading the New York Knicks to a 124-115 road win, Griffin was the star of this show, as the rookie created the first of his many national-dunk highlights that night when he posterized then Knicks rookie center Timofey Mozgov. Griffin jumped so high until his crotch reached Mozgov’s face: Take that! Take that!
Derrick Rose’s fourth quarter comeback performance against Indiana Pacers
March 18, 2011-Although the Chicago Bulls lost at the Indiana Pacers 115-108 in overtime, Derrick Rose provided fearless fourth quarter heroics as he put the Bulls team on his back and carried them into a tie at the end of regulation, thanks to his sheer will to draw a foul with just 1.2 seconds to play on a desperation three-point attempt. He precisely followed up, and calmly swished all three free throws, and then, just for good measure, blocked a shot to ensure the extra five minutes of play. Rose’s fourth quarter was Jordanesque, as he scored 19 points in the period in route to tying his career high of 42. Even in defeat, this game solidified Rose as MVP-frontrunner.
Kings give valiant effort against world champion Lakers in a likely farewell to Sacramento
April 13, 2011-They didn’t want it to end. The Kings did their best to at least say goodbye to their loyal fans in Sacramento with a victory. They tried very hard to do it. So much that they even wiped away a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit against the 2-time defending champion Lakers, even held the lead with game-in-hand, but The Black Mamba sunk an extremely difficult 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. And just like that, the Lakers stole the momentum and regained control by winning in overtime 116-108. OMG. This game reminded me of Kings vs. Lakers battles of the early ‘00s! And in the same fashion, the Sacramento fans’ hearts were broken.
For a hardcore NBA fan like me, the close of this regular season leaves impressionable memories. I give a shout out to the players and teams for giving me so much to look forward to in the playoffs to come!