Lakers' Time Is Now Or Never
The Los Angeles Lakers have arrived at the make-or-break juncture of the season, and if the schedule and standings weren't daunting enough, the Lakers also must contend with time and the fundamentals of physics.
First, the facts. The Lakers (15-16) play the Clippers on Friday, the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, back-to-back games in Houston and San Antonio next Tuesday and Wednesday and a home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder next Friday. Five games in eight days against five teams on track to qualify for the playoffs. If we're going to take them seriously as contenders, the Lakers need to go 4-1. Normally, a 3-2 record in this challenging period would be encouraging; in this case, that would leave them at .500 for the season. That won't cut it.
"It's a big stretch for us," Kobe Bryant said. "We've got to turn things around. At this stage of the year, going against these top teams, it's a tough stretch but it's a chance to see what we're made of."
Miami Heat: What's Their Motivation?
Over the past few weeks, LeBron James has slowly been becoming perturbed about the Miami Heat's overall effort level.
It has manifested itself in several ways: A postgame workout session he used, rather transparently, to set an example to teammates; a handful of statements in which he liberally used the word "urgency"; and some recent body language that has reeked of disappointment during lackadaisical stretches against what should be inferior opposition.
But here is the reality: Why should the Heat care all that much about playing well now?
Their motivation to play their best basketball is lacking and it is hard to fault them. The Eastern Conference is shaping up to be the weakest it has been in a decade. Although it's never easy to repeat as champion, there's no mistaking that the Heat's road back to the Finals this season could provide less resistance than in the past two seasons.
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Jamal Crawford Has Arrived
ESPN The Magazine
Is it possible for a player to have been in the NBA for 13 seasons and still seem as if he just came out of nowhere?
Meet Jamal Crawford.
Well, nowhere might be a bit of a stretch. He has actually put together a remarkably unique career: He's one of four players who has scored 50 points in a game with three different teams, is the NBA's career leader in four-point plays, won the Sixth Man Award and is the 2000 draft's career leading scorer.
But his lack of postseason hoops -- just 23 career playoff games -- has had a way of removing Crawford from our line of sight. This season, however, Crawford is making the league take notice by doing things he has never done before in the NBA.
When Greatness Becomes Boring
MIAMI -- Are we taking LeBron James for granted?
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is making sure he doesn't. Just the other day, Spoelstra was strolling around the offices at the Heat's AmericanAirlines Arena and noticed a highlight being played on one of the televisions hanging from the ceiling. It was a play from the Heat's miserable 15-win season back in 2007-08.
The pre-LeBron days in Miami.
And the coach got an idea.
"We should probably just play that on loop in our office," Spoelstra said at Thursday's Heat practice. "I don't think anybody here is taking it for granted, that talent. We know what it's like to be on the other side."
Spoelstra, like many of us, might need a little reminder from time to time. Just a little nudge not to take James for granted, to realize that an NBA player like him comes around only once in a generation, if that.