Dan Feldman of PistonPowered, with some real insight into the Allen Iverson/Rip Hamilton problem. It appears it was mainly a problem of both being good, but not together: "Pistons with Iverson and not Hamilton: 6-2 (.750, equivalent to 62 wins during a full season). Pistons with Hamilton and not Iverson: 14-7 (.667, 55 wins). Pistons with both: 18-28 (.391, 32 wins). Pistons with neither: 1-6 (.143, 12 wins)."
A status report of Mark Cuban's battle with the SEC. He's also on Bill Simmons podcast, and makes clear once again that he dips into his pocket to pay the Maverick salaries. It fascinates me that the NBA has a business model whereby very good teams (not in New York or L.A.) generally lose money, while the Clippers generally make money -- and get better draft picks! Cuban also says he has talked to groups like the Rolling Stones about playing a private concert in his backyard during All-Star Weekend in Dallas next year. Cuban says All-Star is the biggest party in the U.S.
A big question for Mike Brown: Double Dwight Howard or not? David Thorpe has insight: "As anticipated, Cleveland started Game 4 by not doubling Dwight Howard on paint catches. Brown was likely hoping that either Howard would miss some shots or the Magic would not feature him early. He was wrong on both counts, as Howard scored 11 points in the game's first six minutes. In Game 3 the Cavs left Rafer Alston alone in the first quarter as they were trying to deal with both Howard and the perimeter threats (more on this later). Forced to choose his poison, it's likely that Brown will again make Alston get Orlando off to a good start. Once Howard proved that he needed extra attention, the Magic started bombing away to counter the double-teams Howard drew. It took them more than seven minutes to finally make a shot (any shot), but when they did, they hit 3-of-4 on 3-pointers in less than a minute. Still, Brown's strategy of mixing up when and where the doubles come from is the best option for him. The hope is to coax Howard into a turnover by surprising him with the double."
Peter Mickeal, who had a cup of coffee in the NBA, has been playing in Europe and raves about Ricky Rubio.
Every website wrestles with rowdy commenters. Dave from BlazersEdge lays down the law: "If you call someone a moron or uninformed you will be banned. If you say a post is a waste of space or time you will be banned. If your post includes the words, 'You must not watch much basketball" you will be banned. If you say, 'This should be a fanshot' you will be banned. If you snidely correct someone's grammar you will be banned."
Wynton Marsalis on video talking about how basketball is like jazz. The theme: a form, plus virtuosity.
John Salley asked about rough play, by Ariel Herwani of Fanhouse, while with the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons: "(Laughs) I didn't do anything dirty. I'm a clean player (laughs). I never did anything; it wasn't me; I wasn't there; I don't know what you are talking about (laughs)." Salley also says the entire nation has gone soft. Which, of course, is total bunk. (I know he's not talking to Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I know their toughness didn't come from a uniform.) Except ... am I the only guy who thinks it's odd that at some point it became considered gross to sweat while playing basketball? Seriously, a huge chunk of players I know feel sweaty people ought to keep changing shirts so no one gets sweat upon. It's not a bad idea, and actually I do it ... but I'm just saying, when I was a teenager not in a million years did I imagine people playing basketball would be alarmed at the idea that they might get some sweat on them.
Jrue Holiday is really high (fourth overall) in Chad Ford's latest mock draft. In an interview, he compares himself to Deron Williams and Chauncey Billups. That's great PR. Who doesn't love a big strong 18-year-old point guard who harkens after some of the League's less-flashy winners?
Some good insight into Kevin Garnett's knee. An expert calls one of his injuries very unusual for a basketball player.
One of the biggest obstacles in coming up with real solutions to the big mess of issues that are the crime-ridden inner-city (where so many basketball players come from) is that as soon as you open the topic, everyone starts pointing fingers at each other, and yelling. Makes it hard to build consensus around the best ideas. One solution: If people are being sincere, and if they want the world to be a better place, let them speak! No need to get all upset if you disagree about this or that point. It happens. There are all kinds of reasons to question Ron Artest's judgment. He has anger issues, and has made plenty of mistakes. But I don't think there is any reason to doubt his passion for Queensbridge where he grew up, nor his sincerity. Here he is on video, talking about it. And here's somebody getting mad at him for it. My thought: To thank Ron for stating his views on a complex and hurtful issue with tremendous candor and respect for people he disagrees with.
Chad Ford (Insider) with a funny note from the pre-draft combine in Chicago: "A number of NBA executives were comparing notes on interviews late Wednesday night. They were getting chuckles over what seemed to be some serious over-coaching by players' agents. Many agents hire media coaches to help players prepare for interviews. A few executives noted that players represented by the same agent were giving identical answers to questions. My favorite? 'What are your hobbies?' Their answer? 'My hobby is doing community service. That's what I like to do in my spare time.'" Media coaching, to me, is not at all giving people lines to memorize. Can't just about everyone see through that? Oh really, you've been passionate about community service your whole life? I notice very few teenagers are like that, and you haven't done much of it. Real media coaching is getting people to be relaxed, engaging and at their smartest even in the high-pressure situations. Trying to recite lines is like t
he opposite of that.
A lot of Orlando's success comes down to having made a lot of 3-pointers that they might normally miss. That's a fact. The Magic have made shots! But the deal is, you have to play well enough in every other facet of the game that some extra made shots will get you the win. Many a bad team loses games even with some hot shooters on the floor. Great defense all night long makes it so a few extra made shots (Rashard Lewis' crazy catch, turn and shoot a 3 anyone?) will be enough to push you over the top.
When they're in Milwaukee, most NBA teams stay at the Pfister Hotel. Which may or may not be haunted.
Suns executive David Griffin, in a bigger Suns.com interview about the trend of teams running group draft workouts together, had this to say about the 2009 draft generally: "It's probably not a pretty top-heavy group. I don't know that there's a traditional franchise building block there at the top of the draft. But we think it's very deep. We have two second round picks at No. 48 and No. 57 and I think those are picks that we're really optimistic that we'll get real value with this year. There were 25 kids who didn't attend Portsmouth this year that were invited. The vast majority of those kids made a terrible decision not to play because I can come up with 83 kids right now that we think are draftable. And given that you can't play five-on-five anymore in Chicago (pre-Draft camp), a lot of those kids that passed on Portsmouth are going to realize that they should have taken the opportunity to play. There will at least be one or two of those kids that go undrafted because they thought they were too good for Portsmouth. If we can be consistent with our process as a league, people will get hip to the fact that if they really want to participate in this draft they need to be available to work out."
The model for Greg Oden: Dwight Howard.
UPDATE: One of those guys who soured on the NBA years ago, and much prefers college, can't help but admit that these playoffs have been tremendous.