The Pittsburgh Steelers just keep winning. Earlier today, the NFL announced that Steelers safety and fan favorite Troy Polamalu has won the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year award in a close vote over his Super Bowl opponent Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers. Polamalu edged Matthews by only two votes, receiving 17 out of a possible 50 (Matthews got 15 votes).
While the 2010 season was not his best statistically, Polamalu's impact on defense was huge for the Steelers. He made a number of big plays to spark victories while racking up 63 tackles and 7 interceptions. He also make a key tackle causing a fumble against the Ravens that helped the Steelers win their division. Polamalu also had the NFL's highest selling jersey this season, which is another testament to his popularity around the NFL.
An argument can be made that Matthews also deserved to win the award as he had a monster season in his own right (60 tackles and 13.5 sacks) but that is a debate for another day. For now we will give Troy Polamalu his shine until the two teams face off on Super Bowl Sunday.
Now that the starters for the 2011 NBA All-Star Game have been announced (see here) there will be debates aplenty regarding which players are deserving of a spot on the East/West bench. Some will base their arguments strictly on statistics. Some will site team success as a viable reason to be named an all-star, while others will use pure player popularity as their deciding factor (Yao Ming is a great example of this). I prefer to base my all-star reserve picks on a combination of factors: statistics, team success, consistency and overall excitement level. We can't forget that the all-star game IS generally an exhibition, unlike in the MLB where the winner dictates World Series home field advantage (which is plain idiotic). So here are my pick for the West squad's reserves (two guards, two forwards, one center and two more of any position):
West Reserves Russell Westbrook, Thunder - 22.6 ppg, 8.5 apg, 5 rpg
In just his third season Westbrook is establishing himself as one of the most exciting guards in the NBA. He's lightning quick, plays defense, hits the glass and dishes the rock. He's also extremely durable, having yet to miss a game in his NBA career. Westbrook is as much a reason for the Thunder's success as Kevin Durant.
Manu Ginobili, Spurs - 18.8 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.8 rpg
Believe it or not, but Manu has been the best player on the top team of the first half. Ginobili leads the Spurs in scoring, has been equally effective both at home and on the road and has hit a number of big shots. Sounds like a strong application for an all-star candidate to me.
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks - 23 ppg, 7 rpg, 2.5 apg
Even though Dirk's rebounding numbers have slipped he has still played at a high level the entire first half. He has been slowed by injuries in January but Nowitzki is still one of the top shooting big men in NBA history. Need proof? 52% overall, 40% from the three point line and 87% from the charity stripe = All-Star.
Blake Griffin, Clippers - 22.6 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 3.5 apg
Yes, the Clippers still have a losing record. But if it weren't for Blake Griffin, would you even check their box scores or search youtube for anything involving the Clips? I didn't think so. Griffin leads all rookies in scoring and rebounding and is a triple double waiting to happen. And he'll put your favorite player on a poster. 'Nuff said.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Trailblazers - 21 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Aldridge should get the nod here strictly on the fact that he has avoided the knee epidemic that has plagued the Blazers. With Portland's star Brandon Roy on the mend Aldridge has been HMIC (head man in charge), upping his scoring to 25 per in January and keeping Portland in the 8th seed. I have him down as the impromptu backup center.
Deron Williams, Jazz - 22 ppg, 9.4 apg, 3.7 rpg
Williams gets my vote as the NBA's top PG right now, but that will be debatable for many years to come. D. Will is also having his best season as a pro, scoring at a career high clip while still finding his teammates to the tune of 9+ assists a night. He also has an overachieving Utah squad in the middle of the playoff hunt, which is quite an accomplishment in itself (see here for details).
Eric Gordon, Clippers - 24.1 ppg, 4.5 apg, 3 rpg
Before going down with a wrist and finger injury Eric Gordon was putting together an excellent season. He's provided the upstart Clippers with a dependable scoring threat from the perimeter to compliment Blake Griffin's post presence. Gordon is probably out until after the break but his great season should be acknowledged nonetheless.
Kevin Love, Timberwolves - 21.6 ppg, 15.6 rpg, .445% 3pt (injury fill-in)
Have to give Kevin Love his shine for the "Numb#rs" he's put up in the first half, which includes a 30-30 game along with six other 20-20 performances. Love is a throwback rebounding machine. And he can and will knock down the jumper, as his 44% shooting clip from 3-point range confirms. With vote-in starter Yao Ming injured that should open a spot for Love as either Dirk, Blake or Aldridge can move into the starting lineup.
That's how my reserves for the West shape up. A case could be made for a few other players having great seasons (Kevin Martin, Rudy Gay and Monta Ellis come to mind) but there just isn't enough room on the roster to accommodate everyone. Any counter arguments? Leave a comment or find me on twitter (@A_RamseyLTSB). I'll have my picks for Eastern Conference reserves tomorrow.
Blake Griffin has already become a youtube legend. There are thousands of videos of his above the rim antics just from this season alone. We can go ahead and add this insane 50-foot alley oop to Griffin's dunk contest resume:
Two things really stand out about this play; 1.) how quickly Blake got down the floor. When a big man runs that hard you have to reward him; and 2.) randy Foye put the pass on the money. The accuracy of that pass and from that distance was amazing.
If Blake Griffin doesn't put on a show ruring All-Star weekend it may go down as one of the biggest upsets and dissapointments in recent memory.
Per this report by Yahoo Sports Adrian Wojnarowski, the Indiana Pacers have fired their head coach Jim O'Brien this morning. Here is some info on the firing, according to Wojnarowski:
O’Brien’s firing comes after the Pacers lost seven of their past eight games to drop to 10th place in the Eastern Conference. After a strong start to the season, the Pacers have faded in recent weeks and O’Brien’s abrasive and erratic coaching style became a greater issue within the organization. The front office wasn’t happy with how O’Brien had publicly chastised promising young center Roy Hibbert(notes), despite the player’s earnest efforts to improve.
Assistant coach Frank Vogel will coach the Pacers for the remainder of the season. Reports are also saying that Indiana will target ex Cavs head coach Mike Brown, who has a history with the Pacers as an assistant under Rick Carlisle.
Maybe a change in philosophy will be good for the Pacers who have a bevy of young talent on their roster, including Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison. I think if the Pacers decide to take on a more uptempo approach to offense they can be a competitive group. They definitely have the pieces to make it work.
Jim O'Brien was brought in prior to the 2007-08 season and had a 121-169 record as the Pacers head coach. O'Brien's previous coaching stops include coach the Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers before taking over the Pacers.
Preface: I've been hearing the hype about Jimmer Fredette for a while now, but I wanted to reserve my opinion until I actually saw him play for myself. The games I saw were against San Diego State (highlights and commentary courtesy of LTSB's ALR) and New Mexico. With that, here are my thoughts on Jimmer...
Offense Offensively, I don't see too many individuals or schemes containing him on the college level. His offensive, and I do stress offensive, IQ is extremely high. As a defender you want to make an opponent settle or do something out of their comfort zone, but you really can't do that with Jimmer. All you can do is hope he takes a bad shot, but he'll still probably get the bucket. I think one thing people may not notice is that he plays at his own pace, which makes it tough to get him outside his comfort zone. He seems to jog up the court, kind of lulling a defender to sleep, one or two cross-overs later he has buried a step back 3. BYU also seems to run a high ball screen offense to get him into open space. I mention the offensive set because Jimmer's handle is very smooth. Running off high screens he often splits the defenders and has a clear path to the basket or pull up jumper. He also has the ability to run off curls for the catch and shoot, range probably not limited to 30ft and moves well without the ball. With all that said, Jimmer Fredette can flat out hoop on the offensive end of the floor and I if you haven't seen him play, don't wait until March Madness to do so... 7 games of 40+ points, just saying...
Defense The coaching staff of BYU deserves credit for primarily playing zone because Jimmer's man to man defense is not a strength. To his credit he plays well within the zone. Jimmer covers his area well, and often has a hand up when he is supposed to. If a play breaks down though, more often than not, he will get scored on. I don't mean that disrespectfully, like he just can't play defense. I'm just saying that his lateral quickness is not where it needs to be and if he gets a dribble move put on him, the recovery may not happen. I know defense is not what BYU is concerned with, but I also know it needs to be for Jimmer if he wants to be on the floor to make an impact in the NBA.
Diagnosis Obviously there are comparisons to BYU and Boston Celtic great Danny Ainge. I think Jimmer Fredette is more gifted than Ainge offensively, but defensively and an intangible of intensity is where any team now or past will take Ainge over Fredette. I've also heard comparisons to Stephen Curry, but I think that's due to the green light that Jimmer has at BYU. Curry put up ridiculous numbers at Davidson and took them to the Tournament promised land, but during that process Steph learned to be a point guard. That is something Jimmer is not focusing on right now, which is highly understandable. With that said, I think Jimmer could be a valuable role player at the next level if lands in the right system. I could see him being an asset to teams like the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, or maybe even the San Antonio Spurs (system shooter).
No, these two are not related... In the last minute of last night's game between the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks, mild mannered Hawks forward Marvin Williams got into some fisticuffs with the Knicks resident hot head Shawne Williams. Here's footage:
Marvin Williams was going for the quick K.O. That right he threw was PPV worthy. They say its the quiet ones you have to look out for. Marvin was in just his second game back from an injury. M. Williams usually has a reputation of having a calm and subtle demeanor on the court so who knows what Shawne Williams said/did to instigate the scuffle.
At this point we're not one bit suprised by Shawne's antics. He's from Memphis and seems to just not give a damn (as you can tell in the picture above). S. Williams has been arrested a couple times already, once for marijuana possession back in 2007 (surprised? Me either) and again in 2010 for selling codeine (known on the streets as syrup). But he might want to get back in the ring and put in some work on his close quarters boxing skills. Maybe he should get Roger Mayweather on the horn.
Oh by the way, The Hawks won the game and are now just 2.5 games behind the Heat for the Southest Division lead.
That thought raced through my head while listening to the most recent B.S. Report from Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons of espn.com. He and guest, Henry Abbott had crunched the numbers and deduced that despite what your lying eyes (and record books) may tell you, it isn't a great idea to have Kobe Bean Bryant take the reigns of the Los Angeles Lakers' offense down the stretch of a game.
"He's not good." Abbott said at around 2:50 into the podcast. "He's too selfish. He's too much of a ball hog, and the Lakers actually end up being an average crunch time team, even though they have the personnel to be the best offensive team."
"Ask me, though, (as Ryen Russillo did last week and Mike Trudell the other day)," Abbott wrote. "And I'll tell you I don't know who's the best, but with all due respect to Bryant's amazing abilities scoring the ball, there's zero chance he's the king of crunch time."
On the podcast, both Abbott and Simmons almost sounded mystified as to why anyone would believe Bryant would be considered a viable option in the final five minutes of a close NBA game. They cited PER statistics, that placed Bryant below average in the crunch time statistical category. In fact, they deduced that Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowitzki are both head and shoulders above Bryant in likelihood of coming through in clutch situations.
This despite, as Abbott surveyed, 79% of NBA's GMs saying they wouldn't want Bryant to have the ball against their team in a clutch situation. The ninth straight season that he's "won" that praise.
Abbott argues that Bryant takes a lot of tough shots, and dominates possessions, even going as far as to call him a "ball hog".
Simmons, a lifelong Boston Celtics fan, and an admitted detester of Bryant as a player and a person, says that the two are simply doing the sports world a service by "attacking a false narrative about their career."
Both Simmons and Abbott agreed Bryant was a great player, but "clutch" he was not.
My question: Do you really trust Carmelo or Dirk more in the clutch than you trust Kobe? Because I don't.
Bryant has a flair for the dramatic. Just last season, Bryant added six game-winning shots to his resume', further pushing the "narrative" that he is the NBA's premier clutch performer.
Abbott, an admitted stat geek, used a "Game on the Line" compilation that measured performances when "trailing by one or two points, or tied, in the final 24 seconds of regular season and playoff games since 1996-1997, with a minimum of 30 shots."
Anthony came out on the top of the list, connecting on 21 of 44 attempts, a 47 percent clip.
Bryant was 36 of 115, 31 percent. Case closed, right?
As Charlie Murphy would say, "Wrong!"
Bryant's stats by that particular measurement, aren't that impressive, until you realize that the total number of NBA titles won by the 26 players ahead of him is 5; four by Tim Duncan (23 of 62, 37 percent) and one by Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson (14 of 36, 38 percent). Throw Robinson's out since he didn't play in the clutch (or much at all) when the San Antonio Spurs won their last title, and all the titles are with two players who both shoot below 38 percent with the game on the line.
Another look at the list shows that aside from Anthony and Nowitzki, the list isn't exactly a sampling of the NBA's most elite players from 1997 to today. From 2-27 (Kobe) there is Chris Paul, Shawn Marion, Brandon Roy (decent start), Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Big Dog (WTF), Deron Williams (Okay again), Mike Bibby (Negro no), Dirk, Jalen Rose, Duncan, Eddie Jones (Really didn't see that coming), Karl Malone (Playoffs included? Really?), Ben Gordon, Chris Webber, Raymond Felton (Weirdest stretch), Lebron James (Hey, an elite player!), Ray Allen (No doubt), Gilbert Arenas, Vince Carter, Steve Francis, Damon Stoudamire, and Nick Van Exel.
Of those names, I would pull out four (Dirk, Ray, Lebron, and Duncan), maybe five (Vince Carter, because his 31 of 96, 32 percent is very close to Bryant's) can be included in an argument of being as clutch than Bryant. But none could be considered more clutch.
Much of Abbott and Simmons' criticisms of Bryant in crunch time centered around the degree of difficulty of the shots he takes.
"Kobe wins the 'who can take the most impossible crunch time shot and actually make it'," said Simmons. "He's the best guy since Larry Bird. One-point-eight seconds on the clock, double-teamed, falling out of bounds, he's the one you want taking (the shot)"
So what is your argument again? I thought you said he wasn't clutch.
Abbott was adamant that the Lakers high powered offense became below average down the stretch of close games, going from 109 points per 100 possessions, to 82 points per 100 possessions. He attributed the decline to Bryant's ball hogging and abandoning of the offense.
But what about the defense? Can it not be said that if a game is close, and a team is inclined to want the win, they step up the defensive effort? It's only logical that the offense won't operate as smoothly in that situation, but to a stat geek, I imagine it does not compute.
It has been said that you can get a statistic to prove whatever point it is you want to, and I find no truer NBA example than this argument. I love Simmons' work as a writer and a podcast pioneer. I know his passion for the NBA is genuine. I respect Abbott's tireless coverage of all things NBA. But we're all capable of being blinded by bias. Neither cares for Bryant's style of play, which is admittedly an acquired taste.
But it isn't dogma that leads people to believe Bryant is clutch. Clutch is subjective, and the subjective cannot be swayed by numbers alone. The times he's actually come through (36) are more than anyone else during his 15-year career. Add to that the fact that he's attempted more of those shots (115) than anyone else, and take for granted that people know what they're seeing when their seeing him play.
It's not about PER, or any saber mathematics, or being a ball hog. It's about getting the job done when all the chips are down, and Kobe Bryant has done it better than anyone else throughout his entire career.
Juudging strictly off oftatistics, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love is having an all-star caliber season. He's contributing 21.6 ppg, a league leading 15.7 rpg (which is amazing) and also knocking down three pointers at a .447 clip (63-141). So to help Love's all-star campaigning, the Timberwolves released this video (you can also check out the full campaign at 612allstar.com/):
Very well done. The mascot toasting was PRICELESS. But here is my counter argument for Love to not be an all-star; his game is not attractive. The NBA all-star game is more of an exhibition than an actual basketball game. Love's main competition for an all-star berth would be Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. While Love's "numbers" are slightly favorable over Griffin's 22.6 ppg and 12.8 rpg, the sheer excitement Griffin's style of play generates is far superior. Maybe with vote-in center Yao Ming out due to injury both with have a shot at an all-star berth.
And honestly would you rather see Griffin catching an alley-oop on the break from Chris Paul or Love tipping a rebound to himself then throwing a pin point over-the-head outlet pass? My point exactly.
This just hasn't been O.J. Mayo's season. First he gets beat up by Tony Allen over a game of cards, then he loses his starting 2-guard spot and now per this tweet by Commercial Appeal word is out that he will suspended for ten games by the NBA for violating the league's anti-drug program. Here is an except from the NBA's press release:
The NBA announced today that O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies has been suspended without pay for 10 games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program. His violation of the program involved a positive test for dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
Per CBS Sports, here is a statement released by Mayo through the Grizzlies organization:
“I’m extremely disappointed that I’m going to miss the next 10 games, particularly as our team is making a push for the playoffs. I had no idea that the over-the-counter supplement that I took was a substance banned by the NBA. It was an honest mistake, but I take full responsibility for my actions. I apologize to my fans, teammates and the Grizzlies organization for regrettably not doing the necessary research about what supplements I can put in my body.”
If I lost 10 games pay equaling up to $405,000 I'd be pretty disappointed too. We've said before that it may be time for a change of scenery for Mayo, who is a still a very capable NBA scorer and defender and near the beginning of his career. If I were in the Bulls front office I'd be blowing up the Grizzlies phone lines because I'm sure right now Mayo can be had for the "low", and Memphis' season is all but in the tank anyway.
So far this season O.J. "Da Juiceman" Mayo (courtesy of @DragonflyJonez) is averaging 12 ppg and about 2 apg. Hope the young man can get it together and become the star many people believe he can be.
That would be a big blow to the Lakers to lose Jackson, who has won 11 (ELEVEN!) NBA titles with the Chicaho Bulls during the Jordan Era and has had a losing record in any season. Never. Not Once. That is absolutely amazing.
So the question immediately can be asked; who would fill Jackson's shoes once he ssteps away from the bench? Brian Shaw? Possibly, or owner Jerry Buss might bring in another big name to remain a contender while Kobe Bryant still has a couple years left in the tank. Either way, Coach Jackson will go down as one of the greatest (if not The Greatest) coaches in any sport.
You can see the full interview during ABC's broadcast of the Lakers vs the Celtics Sunday Jan 29th at 3:30p ET.
BYU guard Jimmer Fredette is quickly becoming a household name, and for good reason. The kid simply get BUCKETS. In bunches. The 6'2 senior is averaging a NCAA leading 27.4 ppg this season including 33 on Arizona, 39 at UNLV, 47 at Utah and just last night hung 43 while handing #4 San Diego St. their first loss of the season. Here are the highlights:
Wow. The double crossover for the open three at :31 sec mark was just nasty. SO you can see all the hype is legit. In college basketball. I say this because there have been a more than a couple excellent college scorers in recent memory that didn't immediately transfer well into the NBA (Ben Woodside and Lester Hudson come to mind) but none with the media attention that Fredette is receiving so far. Many say he compares very favorably to Steph Curry when he was at Davidson and I can agree with that as they have similar size (Curry is listed at 6'3) and playing styles. But Fredette is playing with a better supporting cast than Curry ever had at Davidson, although I do believe Curry was a better passer. Worth noting.
I will say this, Jimmer's ability to score is undeniable. Even Kevin Durant thinks highly of Fredette, which is evident by this tweet from last night;
Fredette tested the draft waters last season and would have gone pro but the Knicks reportedly would not guarantee they would pick him with their second pick in the 2nd round, which was used to draft Andy Rautins (I still think that was a mistake, but what do I know...) If "The Jimmer" can test out well athletically at the NBA Combine I see no reason why he shouldn't be picked in the latter half of the first round in the 2011 draft as he has the ability to be a J.J. Reddick type scorer in the pros.
Until then, we'll keep watching the kid from Glens Falls with the unique name and sweet jumper get buckets in bunches.
Heard about this yesterday, but I was waiting for the video to pop up... John Stone, who worked as a car salesman for Webb Chevrolet in Suburban Chicago, was fired after working there a little over a month and sold 14 cars for wearing a Green Bay Packers tie. Here's some of the owner Jerry Roberts' reasoning for cutting Stone loose:
"If he loves the tie more than his job, he's welcome to keep wearing it -- elsewhere," Roberts said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Roberts says the dealership has done promotions involving the Bears and he was afraid the tie could alienate the team's fans and make it harder to sell cars.
"We spend $20,000 a month on advertising with the Bears on WBBM during the season, and we have Bears players including Corey Wootton driving loaner vehicles, and here was a salesman openly undoing that work," Roberts said, according to the Sun-Times.
I have to call BS on that excuse, especially since Roberts offered Stone his job back according to the report...
Stone is a father of two who had worked at the dealership for a month and a half, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He said that he has been a Packers fan since he saw running back Ahman Green play.
"I liked the way he played, and I liked Brett Favre before he left, and I love Aaron Rodgers, the coaching staff -- the whole organization," he said, according to the newspaper.
Roberts told the newspaper that Stone was a good salesman who sold 14 cars last month and that no customers had complained about the tie. Stone agreed.
"I was just showing my love for my team and it was a nice, smart tie that matched my clothes -- none of the customers minded: They had a sense of humor about it," he said.
According to the Tribune, Roberts said later Tuesday he would hire Stone back if he returns to work. Stone said that would not happen.
"I'm not going," said Stone, according to the Tribune.
Sounds like a bitter Bears fan to me. As his boss, Roberts has the right to hire & fire whomever he chooses but to fire a good salesman for wearing a tie representing the team your squad lost to is petty and childish. If thinking that Stone wearing a Packers tie would damage your relationship with the Bears & the community imagine how much worse damage Roberts has caused his business with all the negative publicity they're getting because of it. Not a very bright move.
It's starting to sound like Utah might have a disgruntled Employee #8 on their hands... Per this story in the Salt Lake Tribune Jazz guard Deron Williams, arguably the top PG in the NBA (see here for our take onthe pg debate), is growing frustrated with the inconsistent play of his team this season. Here are some of his comments;
Williams said that a much-changed Jazz squad had a “better mesh of guys” in 2009-10, longing for the days when ex-Utah guards Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver could command attention and respect from opposing defenses, in turn stretching the floor and balancing out the team’s offensive attack.
And Williams again pointed out the Jazz’s inability to run Sloan’s offense like it needs to be executed, as everything from Utah’s poor floor spacing and timing to the simple inability to set hard screens has prevented his team from “flowing.”
“We’re trying to run half of a system and then half just freelance,” Williams said. “We can’t do that. We’re not the Phoenix Suns. We’re not the New York Knicks. We’re not just coming out here and playing one-on-one. But that’s what’s happening. Things are breaking down and we’re going one-on-one the last five seconds of a shot clock.”
When Williams was asked if he has the ability to ask Sloan for on-the-court changes, his response was layered in sarcasm.
“We’ve been running the same plays for 23 years. Why change now?” Williams said. He added: “I’m just going to play basketball, man. That’s all I can do.”
Can't say that I fault Williams one bit for his frustrations. During the summer Utah lost Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver to the Bulls while only acquiring Al Jefferson via trade from Minnesota to fill the void. But in that same regard, one thing DW needs to realize that the Jazz may be overachieving as it is. The current roster doesn't have much talent or depth, yet the Jazz are 27-17 and Williams is having a career year. I can understand Deron's competitive approach to the team but in this case reality has to prevail. The Jazz were not supposed to be very good this season.
I think one of two things will happen in Utah:
1.) DeronWilliams can stick it out in Utah and follow in the footsteps of previous Jazz Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone. But this is only a good option if the Jazz upgrade the talent to compliment Williams and Paul Milsap/Al Jefferson as they did by adding Jeff Hornacek to the Stockton/Malone combo.
2.) DW8 plays out the remaining year and a half of his current deal without conflict and then explore his options in free agency where he can will generate plenty of interest from legit contenders, where I would almost go as far to guarantee the Lakers and Mavericks will be the top suitors. I'm no psychic, but I see this as the more likely result.
So we got Bruce Willis, zombies, and Kobe getting buckets. About what should be expected from Hollywood, right? You can check for the flick during All-Star weekend which also just happens to be out in Los Angeles this year.
And by the way, Kobe is still top 3 in the league.
New Orleans Hornets PF David West is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. You can pretty much put him down for 17-20 points and 8-10 rebounds a night and he's a perfect fit for the pick-and-pop with Chris Paul. He's also clutch...
Don't look now, but the Hornets are streaking again, having won 9 straight and have moved up to third place in the western conference. Now if only they can keep Chris Paul healthy...
Terrence Jones is one of the top freshman in the country, and this cross up and smash puts some of various talents on display. So far this season the 6'8, 240 lb manchild is putting up 18ppg and 9 boards and may be next in a line of Coach Calipari one-and-dones. For good reason.
I hope Mike Dunleavy got a nice rate on some ankle insurance because J.R. Smith aka "Young Money" crossed him up pretty bad. In Mike's defense, defense has never been a strong suit. See how I did that there?
J.R. Smith has always had a ton of talent. I think if he fully applied himself he could play like an all-star every night. Maybe if Carmelo Anthony does end up getting shipped out of Denver by Feb. 24th Smith can finally crack the starting lineup. Which means more highlights for us to enjoy.
Here's video of #1 HS player and Duke commit Austin Rivers (son of Doc Rivers) as he squared off against Kentucky bound and also top recruit Mike Gilchrist from a game that was played back on 1/14 (s/o to slamonline.com for the vid)...
Rivers gets buckets. Plain and simple. He finished the game with 38 while Gilchrist put in 22, but Gilchrist's squad came away with the 'W'. Whether or not Duke/Kentucky's star freshmen from this season stick around or jump to the league, it looks like both programs will be fine next year. Rivers is a legit 6'4 with deep range and insane handle, while Gilchrist is already 6'7, 210 and skills to play the small forward as well as anyone in the country.
Keep an eye out for these two for the next decade or so. You'll be hearing their names mentioned in hoop circles more often than not.
Found this video of rare footage of the Los Angeles Lakers and future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant on youtube. The video highlights Kobe's championship senior season while playing for Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, right before Bryant declared for the NBA draft in 1996. The rest, as you know, is history (and still being wwritten):
You can see flashes of Kobe's skill even back then. Goes to show, you can't teach greatness. You're either born with it or you're not. Enjoy.
Sports and beautiful women go together like peanut butter and jelly or Los Angeles and traffic. So what happens when you combine the two? You get the Lingerie Football League, where teams all-women teams play 7-7 full contact competitive football. Yes, in lingerie. Got your attention right? Right.
The LFL was created in 2009 and currently has 10 teams across the nation. But if you think these ladies don't take the sport seriously think again (click here for the 2010 season trailer that aired on MTV2 this past fall/winter). These women are serious. They're also pretty sexy. You can see for yourself as some of the ladies will be featured in the next issue of Playboy Magazine which hits newstands January 21st (cover shot on the left).
LTSBlog caught up with the gorgeous Stephanie Noel Psick, who plays running back and center for the defending champion Los Angeles Temptation and modeled for the Playboy shoot. We were able to pick her brain about football, the LFL, her picks for the Super Bowl (and of course posing nude for Playboy).
LTSBlog: Who are your biggest competitors, on the field and off?
SNP:My biggest competition would be my own teammates. They are the strongest and most athletic girls I have gone up against. They hit the hardest too! There is so much talent on our team that your starting position never comes easy and is never guaranteed. That’s why we win championships!!!
LTSBlog:What are your hopes for the Lingerie Football League?
SNP: My hope for LFL is that it continues to grow and be successful like is has been. More teams would be great because then we would have more games and more young women have an opportunity to play in this amazing league.
LTSBlog: Where you a football fan before the LFL, or did your interest peak after signing w/ the L.A. Temptation? Did you have a favorite team/player?
SNP: I grew up loving football and wishing that girls could play too! Now we can! My favorite team is the Niners!
LTSBlog: What was it like posing for Playboy? Were you nervous? Is it something you would do again?
SNP: Posing for Playboy was an incredible experience. I was a little nervous at first but everyone was super nice and professional. It is definitely something I would do again. (we approve - Ed.)
LTSBlog: What would you like to be known for more: the greatest LFL champion ever, or the sexiest Playboy centerfold in the magazine's history? SNP: Both! Being a champion is super sexy! But if I had to choose one, which is tough, it would be to be a champion because being a champion is an incredible feeling and is something I take so much pride in and I’m hoping for a repeat this season!
LTSBlog: Who are you picking for the Super Bowl? SNP: Steelers vs Packers but I want the Steelers to win.
LTSBlog: What are your plans for the future? SNP: I plan on playing in the LFL until I collapse and am unable to play. Then have some babies and travel.
Hot, athletic, and loves sports? We're sold. You can catch Stephanie and her L.A. Temptation teammates play the Chicago Bliss for a berth in the Lingerie Bowl Jan. 29th on MTV2 at 8p ET (5p Pacific). Also go pick up the Playboy issue for a closer look at some of the ladies of the LFL.
In the meantiime, here's a few SFW pictures of Stephanie to hold you over. Don't say we never gave you anything.
THIS is why I roll with the Clippers. They're just a fun collection of players. Here's video of center DeAndre Jordan as "Gordon Limbaugh" and campaigning for your all-star votes...
The blonde wig was a nice touch. When Jordan pointed the giant finger at the camera I couldn't stop laughing. Both Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin have made strong cases for an all-star berth. You can vote for your favorite players here.
To his credit, Vince Young is trying really hard to say the right things. He just may need a translator to express them for him. Every time he speaks I'm reminded of just how little he grasps the use of the English language. See this interview conducted by ESPN and judge for yourself...
Someone please get this man a 2nd grade grammar textbook and some Hooked On Phonics tapes ASAP.
Vince Young has the talent and athletic ability to maintain a solid NFL career. But I honestly don't think he has the mental capacity to be "Elite". And he still seems a tad bit clueless. He just doesn't get it. Who knows....
Just know that I will not be a believer until he learns how to form proper sentences, as a 3-year college student at Texas University should be able to.
Per this report from nba.com's "Hangtime" blog, Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings will not be participating in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest that will be held all-star weekend in his hometown of Los Angeles. Jennings will be replaced in the contest by Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who is also a native of Compton, CA and participated in last year's event finishing second to Nate Robinson (DeRozan got robbed in my opinion).
So as of right now the competition will include DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, JaVale McGee and everyone's favorite, the beast that is known as Blake Griffin. This may be the first time in recent memory that we have had a dunk contest that won't include a guard or "little guy", with all of the contestants being at least 6'6 and up (DeRozan is listed at 6'7).
If anything I'm glad the NBA chose a fellow southern California resident to replace Jennings, with both young stars hailing from Compton. DeRozan won the McDonald's Slam Dunk Contest after his senior year in HS before spending a year at USC and declaring for the 2009 NBA draft. So far this season DeRozan is averaging 15 ppg and 3.4 rpg.
Will this year be as much of a snoozer as last year's contest? Unless Blake Griffin jumps from the 3-point line and simultaneously does a 360 it just may be. But least all hope for the best.
(ed. note: click the links for highlights and dunk videos)
As the saying goes "Money Talks"; and AEG Worldwide has plenty of it. Per latimes.com Lance Pugmire, AEG President Tim Leiweke made his first presentation on construction of an NFL stadium to Los Angeles.
AEG President Tim Leiweke was well received in his first presentation before a Los Angeles City Council committee, telling Chair Janice Hahn of the council's Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee and Councilman Tom LaBonge of plans to build a possible Super Bowl site capable of being the home to two NFL teams.
"The case to bring a team here is a great case," Hahn said.
After the meeting, Hahn said there was reason to move on the massive project expeditiously.
"We get a better convention center out of this, more hotel rooms, more tourism; that's an increase to our general fund," she said. "We want all hands on deck."
AEG's plans for a privately financed $1-billion, 64,000-seat stadium include the need for $350 million in city-approved bonds, which Leiweke said would be repaid with a seat tax, "the same thing we do at Staples," he said. He said any shortfall will be paid off by AEG.
"We are beginning a process officially today to bring forth a vision that will bring the NFL back to Los Angeles ... a catalyst to the largest downtown development in Los Angeles, with 20,000 to 30,000 jobs created," Leiweke said.
Bringing an NFL team back to Los Angeles, one of the biggest media and sports markets in the nation, would be a great thing for the city that already hosts championship caliber basketball and an improved college football scene. Also according to the story, the proposed stadium with be capable of seating 78,000 people for Super Bowls and Final Fours, include a retractable roof and offer more convention center space if necessary:
Authorities who addressed the committee referred to the current convention center as "in need of a major renovation," with one noting Los Angeles ranked 15th among U.S. cities in drawing conventions.
By renovating the convention hall, Leiweke said, a new stadium would provide a massive 1.4 million square feet of contiguous convention space and add 1,400 parking spots.
Being a current resident of the renovated downtown Los Angeles area, of course a huge concern will be one of LA's biggest drawbacks will be traffic, as the commuting area currently includes interchanges to multiple southern California highways (I-10, I-110 and I-101). Per AEG's president:
Leiweke additionally defended traffic concerns, noting AEG studies found that "you could've landed a helicopter on the freeway here" on Sunday mornings when fans would arrive and said AEG will fund improved rail access.
Apparently the NFL has encouraged the endeavor, as a new stadium in Los Angeles will be quite attractive to any teams in need of an upgrade and looking to move into a bigger market. There hasn't been an NFL team in L.A. since the Raiders relocated back to Oakland and the Rams jumped ship to St. Louis in 1995.
AEG currently owns a number of arenas across the country, including the Staples Center, Rose Garden in Portland, Prudential Center in NJ and American Airlines Arena in Miami (home of the Heat). You can check out more of the LA Times story here.
But professional football back in Los Angeles? I'm all for it.
They say shot blockers and rim protectors are succeptible to getting dunked on occasionally. Bust Joel Anthony just had to know there was no way he was blocking this dunk attempt by Josh Smith, who won the dunk contest back in 2005 (his rookie season)...
Not only did he get hammered on he also took an elbow to the chest in the process. The Miami Heat also lost the game 93-89, their fourth straight loss. So in theory, they took two L's last night.
Athletes and celebrities getting arrested is nothing new. Happens once or twice a week on average. The bigger story here is Denver Broncos running back Laurence Maroney's mugshot above. He will from now on be referred to as the Black Raggedy Andy. The cops should have put out an APB on whoever agreed to braid his hair like that.
Yesterday against the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers rookie forward Blake Griffin (yes, THAT guy) put on a show against the Indiana Pacers, finishing with 47 points (28 in the first half) and 14 rebounds. Here's a video of every basket (courtesy of nba.com):
And the scary thing is, the kid is still getting better. They can go ahead and ship the ROY trophy on out to Staples.
And don't forget to check out this post with a prediction on how the rest of the regular season may play out for the Clippers (looking pretty accurate if I may say so myself).
At some point it had to put to rest. But not before TNT analyst and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley gives us his rendition of the dance that's all too popular with the kids (and adults) these days. I apologize in advance...
Admit it, Louis Williams kinda killed it on this freestyle over Rick Ross' "Imma Boss". At least by today's no-rapper-left-behind standards (see: Flocka, Waka).
Given the history of athletes-turned-rappers, the expectations are understandably low for the fifth-year point guard. But check out some of these bars:
"Thank God, all these games I done played, At 60K a game, all this money I done made, Got my first mil before I ever got laid I was only 17, ain't that some sh--? Now look at me..."
(Fact: Williams has made roughly $11 million since entering the NBA out of high school.)
Honestly, Williams presence in the booth is very favorable to his presence on the court. He's a career 10.7 ppg, 2.9 apg point guard (12.7 and 3.4 this season). He's started 38 games in five seasons. Not exactly a stat sheet stuffer.
But as a rapper, he's got a lot going his way. He's young (24), rich (that $11 million is likely more money than your favorite rapper will ever see legally in their entire career), and he's sufficiently tattooed.
Fact is, it isn't beyond the realm of possibility that Williams could be this generation of NBA's Wayman Tisdale; a modestly talented professional basketball player who pursued a side career in music, and made quite a name for himself. Tisdale averaged 15 ppg and 6 rpg over 12 years in the NBA, and also released eight contemporary jazz albums, including a 2001 Billboard number one, "Face to Face".
This is easy to piece together; the Lakers play in Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood. Kobe Bryant is one of the game best and most recognizable players (if not the biggest). So it's only fitting that Nike and director Robert Rodriguez team up for a viral movie to be released during all-star weekend, which will be hosted at Staples Center in February. Here is some info about the film, per this report by the OC Register's Kevin Ding:
The movie will be released – and figures to go viral, Nike surely assumes – in its entirety in mid-February at All-Star weekend, when the game for which Bryant is the leading fan vote-getter will be played at Staples Center. It is all being done as a promotion for the Zoom Kobe VI shoe and Bryant’s new “True Colors” apparel line.
The movie will be billed this way: “The world’s best basketball player. … Biggest challenge yet. … Kobe Bryant is the Black Mamba. … A Robert Rodriguez film.”
Another day, another distraction maybe? I would say yes but if you think about it, how many Phil Jackson coached teams were without drama of some kind? And the man HAS won 11 championships, so he just might know what he's doing when it comes down to it.
Here are a couple short trailers for the movie. Enjoy.
Will it be the New York Knicks or the New Jersey Nets? Madison Garden or Brooklyn in a couple years? Amidst the numorous trade rumors that have been swirling around Carmelo Anthony since July, he has surprising handled the media like a "pro"fessional. In this interview with ESPN's Coleen Dominguez, Carmelo speaks on the rumors and his "ultimate dream" to play at home in NY. Here's the video:
#6 should get 'Melo's PR people on the horn ASAP. I respect how Anthony says just enough to make you wonder without saying too much. Who wouldn't want to play professional sports in their home town? The latest trade rumor has Anthony going to NJ in a 15 player mega-deal, but we'll have to wait and see if anything actually happens before the February 24th NBA trade deadline. The Knicks have been playing well this season but another scorer of Carmelo's caliber would definitely improve their chances in the East, while a Anthony move to the Nets will make them better, but they would still be a season away from contention.
Either way, whoever ends up with Carmelo Anthony will land one of the top 5 scorers in the league, hands down. So far this season Anthony is averaging 23.8 ppg and a career high 8.2 rpg.
Who knew Wes Welker had a good sense of humor? This is a day or so old, but it's still damn funny, given all the shots in the media that have been fired back and forth between the Jets and the Patriots. Here's the video:
According to ESPN's Joe Schad, Auburn star defensive tackle Nick Fairley will skip his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. The 6'5, 298 kid from Mobile, AL projects as one of the top prospects and joins quarterback Cam Newton as early draft entries fresh off of from Auburn's National Championship team, which Fairley flashed much of his formidable talents while dominating Oregon's offensive line.
The Carolina Panthers hold the draft's top pick and could use the disruptive DT on their front line, but the last time a defensive tackle went #1 overall was Dan Wilkinson back in '94. Fairley has also been rumored to be a dirty player and a bit immature, but talent such as his may be hard to pass on. Think a slightly taller and less quick version of Warren Sapp. This past season Fairley accumulated 12 sacks from the DT position, which is no easy feat.
Defensive minded Ron Rivera was recently named the Panthers head coach so expect Carolina to take a serious look at Fairley. Either way, Nick is set to make a ton of money.
Fifteen seasons in the NBA. One thousand and sixty-one games played. Thirteen playoff appearances, including seven in the NBA Finals. Twelve all-star appearances. You can go one and one with the resume of Kobe Bryant before you stop to realize that he's done all of this before the age of 33. Even more amazing is that he is still arguably one of the best players in the NBA. Per this story seen over at the OC Register, Kobe comments on his age and physical ability:
"In my prime, I couldn't do the things Dominique could do," Bryant said.
"I should be nowhere near playing at the level I'm playing at right now, 15 years into the league, the draft class that I came in," Bryant said. "I'm still running with these young pups."
Basically what he is saying that he may not be as quick or be able to jump as high as he could in his younger days but Bryant is still more than capable of dominating a game, as he displayed while scoring 30 points in the final 19 minutes of a victory against the Warriors Wednesday night. There is a big difference between physical prime and mental prime, as Kobe pointed out after the Warriors game;
"It doesn't matter who's on me. Go time is go time. ... You've got a responsibility to your team to try to come through in those situations and make the right play. Tonight, I did that."
That kind of mentality is exactly why as long as the Lakers have Kobe Bryant on the floor they are a title contender. You can stack your squad with all-stars (Miami, anyone?) but if those players don't have that competitive fire it may not be enough. I think we really take for granted how great of a player Kobe truly is.
Oh and for everyone that thinks Kobe is washed up; how does 25 ppg, 5 rpg and 5 assists with 9 fingers and a bum knee in your 15th season sound? Sounds like greatness to me.