Friday, November 21, 2008

No Breaks Allowed, Part 6

The “No Breaks Allowed” posts are my way to write about all the stuff that happens around the League which finds a place in my peanut-sized gray mass (also known as my brain), and sometimes has to come out. And why are these posts numbered? I don’t know, but might as well keep it going.

-So now the Warriors are playing with two shooting guards, two small forwards and a center? This is not Rucker Park, Nellie! But gotta admit; the Warriors still have an entertaining team. If I may add one more thing: Brendan Wright must play.

-Speaking of the Warriors, wouldn’t it be cool if Anthony Morrow plays with no. 2 instead of 22? Get it? Yeah, I know, I’m just not that funny.

-Hi Kiki and Rod, here’s a word of advice. Please don’t trade for Adam Morrison. Or Matt Carroll. We need a guy who can score about 15 or 20 points every night next to VC and Devin Harris. Wait, Charlotte is also trying to move Gerald Wallace? Let’s talk.

-Baron Davis is back. Marcus Camby is back, but enough with the naming names here, and enough with all the losing. I understand that being a good team doesn’t happen overnight, and that you should be patient. But there’s no reason for the Clippers should to suck as much as they do now. I wish Baron was still a Warrior. In fact, Stephen Jackson said something like this last week too. And maybe Baron Davis secretly longs for those days too, but hey, at least he’s home right?

-Since Russia is also dealing with a financial crisis, a lot of teams over there stopped paying their players. Boki Nachbar, Carlos Delfino and Nenad Krstic are in a horrible situation right now, because they don’t get a single Ruble for their actions. Somewhere, David Stern is smiling.

-To Gilbert Arenas: You say a lot of stuff, and usually it’s quite amusing. However, what you said Thursday was embarrassing: “….if this is one of those years where we don’t make the playoffs or we finish in last place … that’s what happened to San Antonio and that’s how they got Tim Duncan and look at them now … and that’s for the better.” That’s not very fair to your teammates, is it? Hang in there Caron and Antawn, I’m sure Agent Zero didn’t mean it like that. At least Gil said he’ll be “good to go” by January 1st. Not that the Wizards play that day, neither does any other team in the League, but it’s something to look forward to.

-Hi Kiki and Rod, it’s me again. I’m about to lose my job within two or three months because the company I work for is going down like the Atlanta Hawks in the standings. My schedule is free for the next six months; maybe I can work as a Lawrence Frank stunt-double?

-Since the League is constantly fining or suspending every player who shows any kind of emotion or rubs the NBA the wrong way, I’m surprised that Rajon Rondo hasn’t been fined yet for always wearing his headband with the NBA logo upside down. Blasphemy! Don’t get me wrong, I like it, it’s Rondo’s thing. Just like his move where he fakes a behind-the-back pass to confuse his defender, and then finishes with a nifty lay-up. It always looks so cool when he does it. However, it surprises me that a lot times Rondo misses the lay-up. Am I the only one who notices this? Weird.

-It’s still early in the season, so can we move the Thunder back to Seattle, call them the Sonics and pretend it never happened? Just like we did with the microfiber ball two years ago?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Me, Myself and Iverson

When Allen Iverson entered the League in 1996, I didn’t know too much about him. In The Netherlands it’s damn near impossible to see college ball (not that I mind), so I never saw him play at Georgetown. Since it was also not easy to find quality basketball magazines like SLAM, who gave AI ink before AI had any ink on his body, I could only judge AI by the stats he put up for those atrocious Sixers back then. The problem for me was that until 1999 I wasn’t able to watch live NBA games on television. So all those years before that, I only saw some game highlights on CNN, and sometimes NBA Action. I thought of him as a very talented yet egocentric basketball player, bad shot selection, and a ballhog with a very bad attitude. My opinion of Allen Iverson early in his career was based on stats and some highlight clips, nothing more. Looking back on it, the above could be summarized as “ignorance”.

Finally in 1999 I was watching live games, and two years later AI single-handedly carried the Sixers to the 2001 Finals. Watching all five games in those series, I finally understood the love Iverson received by so many of his peers, by SLAM, the people in Philly and many more. Before that I was like the others, the haters, who are oblivious to the talent displayed right before our eyes. Not knowing anything about him, his background, his passion, his fearless attitude on the court, I didn’t know shit. Those ’01 Finals opened my eyes and I went all Monkees because I was a believer from then on.

I always was excited when there were Sixers games on TV, no matter how mediocre the rest of his team was, they always had a chance to win because of that 6 foot lightweight warrior running all over the court. Always one of the leaders when it comes to scoring and minutes per game, AI sacrificed his body which made me wonder when I would see any decline in his game. It didn’t happen though, and after a rough period it was time for a change, and that change brought him to Denver in 2006. We all know what happened after that. Iverson still knew how to score, actually played better than I expected next to Carmelo Anthony, but this summer Denver tried to free up some cap space by trading away Camby for nothing, and not even attempting to re-sign Eduardo Najera. It’s contradictive, because if they wanted cap space, why did they trade Iverson to Detroit for hometown hero Chauncey Billups, who has a contract running ‘til 2011?

AI has played one game for Denver this season, and the rest of his season will be in Detroit. It’s a great situation for the Pistons, because they also signed Rip Hamilton for another three years, and have a lot of talent on the roster in the form of Jason Maxiell, Amir Johnson, Rodney Stuckey and of course veteran Tayshaun Prince for the next couple of seasons. With the signing of Iverson, the Pistons have a plenty of cap space to pursue LeBron and/or Bosh in 2010 (LeBron and AI have the same agent in Leon Rose by the way). Will they really let Iverson walk after his contract expires in the summer of 2009? From a financial standpoint, I understand what Joe Dumars is doing, but it would be a bit weird for Iverson if he indeed manages to win it all with the Pistons, and within a month after celebrating the title, he’s without a team. But I’m getting ahead of myself, we have a full season to go, and by no means am I saying that the Pistons will win it now. But who doesn’t want to see them battling for that Finals spot against the Celtics in May? I know I do, I know you do, and AI does too. I never should’ve judged Iverson only by his shooting percentage when he came into the League, because it said nothing about the one essential thing of his hall-of-fame career: his heart.