Chris Webber's takeaway from some controversy surrounding the Fab Five: "Basketball talent is basketball talent, no matter if it comes from the suburbs or the city. Take the time to know and understand me before you judge me. Only God can do that. Roses do grow from concrete!"
Kevin Durant saw the documentary too, and took away a great message about love, as he describes to Rashad Mobley of Truth About It: "I did see it, I watched the whole thing, and it was just crazy how they were able to change the game and be so confident and good at such a young age. The best part about it to me was that they were family. They stuck behind each other when Webber called the timeout, when folks criticized their game and their coach through all that. That’s a lesson that can be applied on the professional level. You stand behind your team, your coach, your brothers no matter what. That’s family, that’s love, and I admired that."
Dwyane Wade got his kids, and the spring in his step, back.
Healthy debate about the role of dispassionate analysis in sports. There's some cultural element to all this (all those dorky guys at the MIT conference) but to me the story is really simple: You can make your sports decisions based on the best available information -- which is admittedly a little intense -- or you can decide based on something else. Now, the intensity of that information is nobody's idea of a good time, and it does move the conversation away from the dunks and the laughing and the sweating (and whatever craziness is in these photos ... wow). But if the only real option is to be poorly informed, and if the whole world is trending towards using more and better information ... is there really a case to be made for not going to the trouble to keep up with this stuff?
Lost plenty of time simulating the NBA playoffs. When it ends up Lakers vs. Heat in the Finals, the Lakers are heavy favorites. Also, the Bulls crush in this thing. And how about a Dallas vs. Orlando Finals! That's what came up the first time I played. I have not been able to play enough to get the Blazers into the second round, but I'm going to keep trying.
The state of Louisiana is preparing to write checks to the Hornets.
Casting around Ed Kupfer's charts (Via Zach Lowe on Twitter) you can see all kinds of interesting stuff. Opponents shoot few free throws against the Spurs and Lakers. Minnesota turns the ball over like crazy. Washington has a defensive rebounding problem. Boston and Utah dominate the assist game. The Heat, Nuggets and Thunder get to the line. The Bulls trail all their big East rivals in effective field goal percentage. The Bulls and Celtics are rare in that their defense has stayed good all year, or even improved, while a lot of teams -- the Hornets and Spurs, for instance -- have been getting worse. And, most interesting, the Bulls and Lakers really stand out in that their pace has gotten slower and slower as the season has progressed. Two smart teams ... wonder what they know.
For three straight games I really enjoyed watching Mario Chalmers be a big, strong, active pest on defense. It seemed to me that he was making a huge difference for the Heat. Wayne Winston was nice enough to kick over his defensive ratings, based on adjusted plus/minus, for the Heat in their last three wins. It's too small a sample to be conclusive, but it's fun. As we're talking defense, negative numbers are good: Joel Anthony -22, Mike Bibby -18, Chris Bosh -18, LeBron James -17, Dwyane Wade -10, Erick Dampier -9, Mike Miller -8, Mario Chalmers -7, Juwan Howard +2, Eddie House +8, James Jones +10. Also worth noting: When Chalmers is helping the Heat, Wade is almost always on the floor. Their style of defensive havoc works best, I'd bet, when more than one person is on the job.
Gregg Popovich vs. Tom Thibodeau for coach of the year. Thibodeau turned the NBA's 11th best defense into the best. Popovich has led the team with the NBA's best record without any candidates for MVP or any of the NBA's other year-end awards. Strong candidates.
If Tommy Hilfiger could redesign the Laker uniform, he'd add, among other things, a large Hilfiger logo.
The Warriors are spending more money to get better, and GM Larry Riley points to the team's spending money on Troy Murphy as a way to secure a second-round pick.
At issue in referee Bill Spooner's defamation suit against the Associated Press is the beating referees have taken since Donaghy. The innocent guys have been feeling it since 2007, which must be dreadful, and for which Donaghy owes a sincere apology. Also at issue is whether Spooner is a public figure (who can expect some controversial media coverage) or a private one (who can expect not to be criticized in the press). Being on TV every night would seem to suggest he's public, but as the complaint says, he just minds his own business: "Plaintiff Spooner performs his officiating duties outside of, and uninvolved with, any matters of public controversy ... does not grant media interviews ... eschews contact with the public ... does not participate in or seek to influence, any public issues in his professional life." UPDATE: A statement from the NBA: "We investigated the content of the tweet when it appeared, found it to be without substance, and informed Mr. Spooner that we considered the matter closed. We subsequently advised Mr. Spooner's lawyer that we did not think suing a journalist over an incorrect tweet would be productive. Nevertheless, Mr. Spooner and his lawyer decided to commence this litigation and any future inquiries should be directed to Mr. Spooner's lawyer." The NBA may well be right that they found this referee error did not occur, but forgive me if I'm reluctant to take their word for it. On what basis do they believe that? Can we see the video too?
A lot of NBA teams just won't trade with each other. Meanwhile, free trade favors the suppliers, so presumably teams that transact across the whole market will get better returns for their players. And the flip side is that some teams share a lot of the same players.
Post-Kendrick Perkins, do the Celtics have an interior defense problem?
Alongside a great point guard like Deron Williams, suddenly Brook Lopez is productive again. He is not just getting wide open in the pick-and-roll, but he is also getting the ball. Why didn't that happen with Devin Harris?
Ray Allen attempts the impossible: to calm down Nate Robinson.
Remember when I said the Bulls didn't have a good enough record for Derrick Rose to wow MVP voters? That could change.