Player agent Arn Tellem has a column at the Huffington Post regarding the battle brewing between ownership and players over the collective bargaining agreement. Tellem issues a strong challenge to the players: "Given the NBA's hard-line stance, the players must decide whether they have the skills and the resolve to defend their basket. Will young marquee players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant form a united front? If they don't, the owners will score at will. Which begs the question: Has the union jumped the shark? If so, why even have one?"
Intellectual property issues can be sticky in our 21st century global village. Shaquille O'Neal hasn't taken kindly to his "Superman" nickname being handed down to Dwight Howard without authorization, as Brian Windhorst explains.
One of the interesting early subplots of last night's Cleveland-Orlando game was Stan Van Gundy's decision to sandwich O'Neal with Howard and Rashard Lewis. Van Gundy gambled that J.J. Hickson -- Lewis' primary matchup -- wouldn't hurt the Magic. Unfortunately for Van Gundy, it didn't play out that way.
According to Nazr Mohammed, the NBA's real All-Star destination this weekend is the Bahamas: "Everywhere I look another player."
24 years ago, Dallas native Spud Webb won the slam dunk contest at Reunion Arena. Tim McMahon checks in on Webb, who is now working with Donnie Nelson on building Frisco into a model D-League franchise.
Anthony Macri of Basketball Prospectus on the Nets' defense: "The defensive problems New Jersey has are apparent to even a casual observer. There is almost no ball pressure, the help-side rotations are slow if they happen at all and transition defense is largely about making sure players retreat. To put it bluntly, the Nets play like a bad high school JV team on the defensive end."
The Nuggets looked flat last night and their offense was uncharacteristically stagnant for long stretches of the game. Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company: "While Melo forced a good number of bad shots that lead to his 6-17 performance we once again have to go through the chicken and the egg discourse questioning if Melo did not pass because no one would cut or if no one cut because Melo would not pass."
Andrew A. McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell described the dynamic at the Pepsi Center: "Thursday night’s contest between the Spurs and Nuggets, the last game on the NBA’s slate before All-Star Weekend, had the feeling of a Friday afternoon class leading into Christmas vacation. The Nuggets simply wanted the time to fly by so they could get started on celebrating the occasion. The fourth quarter dragged on like the last 15 minutes of that class, with the Nuggets left wondering if the teacher was going to let everyone out early. And the Spurs were the annoying kid who kept asking questions."