nba playoffs fun

i hope you indulge me as i engage in some plain sports analysis, and not the social commentary that i usually try to do. there's plenty to talk about, including hearing about charles barkley playing $20,000 hands of blackjack, but i have to say, i haven't enjoyed the first round of an NBA playoffs in a long time. lots of interesting subplots and all of the NBA premier stars are really putting on a good show. so good basketball and good personalities = good times. anyways, here are a few thoughts and observations.

1) kobe
i'm like everyone else in that i'm amazed at the new, "there is no I in Kobe" kobe. earlier in the year, i said it looked like the lakers thought that instead of having a higher score, kobe scoring 45 is what counted as wins. well, kobe hasn't been the ball hog he has been during the first 2/3 of the regular season. and the lakers, particularly lamar odom and luke walton have been playing like their pants are on fire...all the while, kobe is still dominating, just without taking 40 shots a game. it will be interesting to see how kobe reacts after the whole raja bell thing. for those of you who didn't catch it, raja bell (career avg - 8.8 points a game) had these intelligent words to say about kobe, "I have no respect for him. I think he's a pompous, arrogant individual." the mightymjd put it best,
Kobe? Arrogant and pompous? Ya don't say. What are you going to call him next, black?
anyways, add that to the fact that bell used a great wrestling move on kobe in the last game. knowing kobe, he goes crazy and scores 50 points in a game. lakers still win it. but then does he regress back into selfish immature kobe, and more importantly, can phil jackson keep the worker bees playing their ass off, if kobe reverts back to selfish kobe. phil jackson has a good reputation for being able to do this, so all of a sudden, the lakers become a legitimate threat. and then the possible clippers/lakers battle...good stuff.

one more thing on kobe that i'm going to put in this post to inflame the haters into their entertaining comments - there is no question...none whatsoever...as to who the best player in the game is today. even with lebron playing great...not to say that he won't be greater one day...but the best player in the game, by a mile, i might add: kobe. end of story.

2) lebron
i'd say that lebron has done quite well for his first time in the playoffs. similar to kobe, that cav team doesn't even win 20 games without him. and let's see what he's done so far in the first round, a triple double, and two game winners. of course, i don't see the cavs getting past the pistons, but i think we should really appreciate how lucky we might be. i was lucky enough to live in chicago when jordan won those titles, and we got to see him on television in all the time. but i always wondered what it would have been like to see wilt, bill russell, earl monroe and all those kickass guys play. unlike football, you can make a comparison between ages. anyways, the point is, i really wonder if people understand the magnitude of lebron's potential. no one, and i mean not even mj was as good as lebron is at his age. does anyone remember when lebron came out in the draft and people pretended that carmelo anthony might end up being better than lebron? not that carmelo is not any good, cuz he is good, real good, but their career trajectories aren't even in the same ball park. to sum up, let me put it this way
. if lebron's career progresses the way we think it is going to, then we will have been lucky enough to see the two greatest basketball players of all time in their primes in jordan and lebron.

another thing...on last night's buzzer beater....man antawn jamison has got to be about the worse defensive player in the league.

3) the pistons
notice how no one is talking about the pistons other than saying that they're the favorite? their dispatching of the bucks was so routine and so effortless that it surprises me that they didn't sweep. when i see the pistons play ball this year, i see a really entertaining brand of basketball. i've bitched and moaned about how super defensive teams ruin basketball, but i'm going to take this opportunity to recant....partially. the first pistons dynasty (the isaiah thomas and bill lambier pistons) absolutely destroyed basketball. it turned basketball into a wrestling match that bordered on unwatchable. i've complained about the lack of quality in the NBA for about the last 6-7 years. this year, i have to admit, the quality is getting better, and as much as it kills me to admit this, it is because of the pistons. everyone (except the lakers) are simply playing much better team basketball. i see less isolations, i see much better passing, better shooting, and most importantly, i see defensive schemes that rely on athleticism rather than brute strength. and of course, the proof is in the pudding...scoring is up, partly due to the rule changes about defense, but watching the games, i can see a marked difference in the overall style of the league. and it's good stuff. it might have been that for a few years, everyone in the league except for shaq and a.i. sucked. but people saw that what the pistons did was different and it was working. i'm not saying it's all due to the pistons, i give a lot of credit to the kings of three years ago, and to lebron, but i can't deny that watching a pistons game is highly entertaining, even though they usually end up blowing out teams. and i can't deny that the NBA is better this year than last, and all the top teams are playing like the pistons do. erik, you can still kiss my black ass.

4) the mavericks
as a MFFL, i could go on and on about this team, but in the interest of not sounding like a complete sniveling jock-sniffer, let me just say this. i like this team as much as any mavericks team since 1987, when mark aguirre and ro blackman were running the show. every team has one or two guys that you can't stand, but the only guy that i even remotely dislike on this team is keith van horn, and luckily, he's been hurt. for the past few years, i've found myself having to defend the no-defense style of the mavs, when deep in my heart, i knew that it wasn't going to work. those days are gone and i can say without any hesitation, that this team is going to make it to the NBA finals. everything seems to be going their way, in that dirk is peaking, they have the NBA coach of the year, and everyone is healthy. that last one can't be overlooked, as it is a major reason why detroit has been so good the past few years (no major injuries! i mean, you can't bitch about it really, but how can any team not have at least one major player hurt in three effin years!). anyways, i hate to sound whimsical, but this team just feels right to me....dare i say it?......team of........destiny? who knows how they will do against the pistons, but i'm locked in as mavs superfan #1 right now.

anyways, sorry to bore you with all of this, but it's been a long time since i've been this excited about basketball. anyways, i'm sure that some of you will want to comment on some of these things, so by all means, let's start the flame war.


Erik said...

1) You're welcome.

2) While I'll agree that the NBA playoffs have been more exciting this year than in recent memory, a large part of this has to do with the referee's manipulation of the game. A jump ball in the final seconds of overtime to give the ball back to the Lakers? And it's just coincidence that there's a LAL/LAC series about to tip off? Please.

3) The Pistons of 89 and 90 did not ruin basketball. They enhanced it and helped define the NBA in the 90's. And now, the team is back, thanks to the Pistons.

4) Bring on the Mavs.

H8R said...

of course bob after todays performance it should be clear that the championship still goes through San Antonio and not Dallas so settle down and erik im not sure detroit will even make it pass the diesel and the heat...

speaking of detroit this story below just illustrates why the crappy lions will NEVER win a Super Bowl...


Ian said...

Ruined basketball?! The 1989 Pistons? The guys that averaged 110 points per game? Those guys? The ones who had 10 players average more than 7 points per game and 6 that averaged double figures? They're the ones you're talking about? The first team in donkeys ages to win a championship without a dominant, low-post center, and one of the only teams ever to do it? The team that lost only 2 games in the entire playoffs, sweeping three series in the process? The team that beat Bird's Celtics, Jordan's Bulls and Magic's Lakers in the same playoff run? The team that Michael Jordan was 1-3 against in playoff series?

Nah. You wouldn't be talking about them.

Bob said...

you're missing my point ian. i'm not saying those bad boys teams weren't good. they were freakin' awesome. however, they were assisted that nba officiating had evolved where there was a ton of contact allowed. so when other teams saw that this was working for the pistons, they decided to adopt this style themselves, because NBA coaches figured out that it was much easier to win by winning wrestling matches than it was to win by actually playing basketball. basketball devolved slowly for the next 10 years. we were partly distracted for 6 of those years from the horrible play by his airness. but make no mistake, when bad boys won out over showtime, the whole league adjusted to this style of play. i'll agree with you erik that the pistons defined 90's NBA, however, the 90's version of the NBA sucked except for jordan. and only now, thanks in part to the new pistons is it starting to recover.

Ian said...

I know. =) I was actually just using the opportunity to hype the greatest team in the history of Detroit sports because you left the window open and because I had five minutes to spare.

Actually, I tend to cite the league's expansion as the primary contributor to 90's basketball sucking. By the time Jordan came back in 1996, there were (I'm counting out loud ... Heat, Hornets, Magic, Timberwolves, Raptors, Grizzlies) six more teams in the league than there were in 1988. At 12 players per team, we're talking about 72 players in the league who WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN TALENTED ENOUGH TO PLAY IN 1988. That's about three additional scrubs per team. That's why the 1989 Suns would sweep the 2006 Suns. They started Kevin Johnson, Tom Chamber, Jeff Hornacek, Eddie Johnson and Armon Gilliam. Plus they had Tyrone Corbin and Dan Majerle on the bench. It would pick quick and sick.

By the way, because I know you'd appreciate both this and the fact that I appreciate THEM, the 1988 Mavericks would CRUSH the current roster. It wouldn't even be close. Aguirre, Blackman, Harper, Tarpley, Perkins and Schrempf? They'd ALL be All Stars in this league. I don't think my beloved Pistons could have handled them.

Seriously, is you dissolved 6 NBA teams RIGHT NOW and let the rest of the league adjust, you'd be amazed at how much better the league would become.

As one of my assignments for Lester Munson, my sports and society instructor at Northwestern, I did an evaluation of the championship and runner-up teams for every NBA season since 1980. Almost invariably, the championship team and the runner up had 5 double figure scorers or more. This trend lasted up until the first Chicago Bull teams, continued with the 1996-1998 Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers dynasty with Shaq and Kobe. You can check this out at the Basketball Reference site.

Part of the point is Jordan and Pippen taught teams that you could win with two stars and a pack of scrubs. This would have been impossible in 1987, but in a diluted league it became the norm.

Thankfully, European players have been filling in the talent void that expansion created. I still contend that if you downsize the league it will get much better (just four teams... I'm pleading!).

Other factors: free agency getting out of control and more players jumping directly to the league, or at least foregoing the last few years of college development.