(Editor’s note: This round of NBA musings come courtesy of someone who has so much NBA knowledge, you might as well call him Spalding; my good friend Ryan Wahl. Read and be enlightened.)
This has been an amazing year in the NBA Playoffs. The individual performances, the games, the emergence of new stars, the disappearance of old stars and the hype of the Heat have made these more memorable than any playoffs in a long time. Here are some musings on not only the playoffs, but some NBA chatter over the last month.
- There seems to be an opinion that has popped up comparing Dirk Nowitzki to Larry Bird. To quote the wise philosopher Chad Ochocinco, “Child, please”! Now don’t get me wrong, Dirk is a monster and one of the best in the league. He’s having a legendary playoff run so far…essentially Bird-like. I must say, though, that one or two playoff series does not a career make. Larry Bird is a 3 time NBA champion, 3 time league MVP and 2 time Finals MVP. No disrespect, Dirk, but you are not in the rarified air that is Larry “Legend”.
- While watching the Chicago Bulls, I can’t help but think a solid offensive threat off the bench is needed. Here’s a wild “out of the box” idea…Allen Iverson. At this point of his career, AI would have no problem coming off the bench for a title contender. Why wouldn’t you want a guy who can get you to the free throw line, give you 15-20 points off the bench, keep an up tempo style of offense and has shown toughness few guys have?
- Before the series against Miami, the Chicago depth was the hot topic on every ESPN show I watched. “They have too many pieces.” Now that we are 4 games in to the series, they have all backed off and finally saw what I saw all season. Their depth is not what you may think. Other than Derrick Rose, what do they have? Carlos Boozer – Overpaid underachiever. He will give you two games worth mentioning in a seven game series. Luol Deng – Someone who will consistently disappear, occasionally making an appearance to make you remember he could be good. Kyle Korver – Good outside shooter and…oh yeah, nothing else. Keith Bogans? Joakim Noah – Hustle player but won’t give you anything you can guarantee. I never know if he’ll get a double-double or foul trouble. Taj Gibson? Really?
- Speaking of Taj Gibson: yes, his dunk on Dwyane Wade was impressive. Let’s get real folks. It wasn’t the series-defining play so many media members want you to believe. Why was that dunk any more impressive than Udonis Haslem’s dunk on Derrick Rose? It’s because of the nationwide Heat Hate. Let’s be real. Haslem’s dunk and overall game in game 2 changed the complexion of this entire series. Gibson had one game with 2 good dunks. That’s it. So really, who’s play was more impressive?
- The real key to the Heat-Bulls series is defense, but I ask you, why does this surprise people? It seemed to me that media and fans were shocked the Heat were this good defensively. Did we not watch LeBron James in Cleveland? He’s a 3 time NBA All-Defense First Team player. Dwyane Wade is a 3-time NBA All-Defense Second Team player. These guys play defense! This is why they are a title contender. They know how to contain teams.
- Speaking of the Heat, can we please stop asking “Is it LeBron’s team or Wade’s team?” It is a pointless question. We wonder who will take the shot at the end. You know who? The player who is hot and playing well! LeBron will always make the smart basketball play, whether it is taking the shot or passing it to a teammate. His basketball IQ is higher than any of the talking heads on TV so please, stop asking this foolish question.
- I may be alone, but I have grown to dislike Kevin Durant. I get it. He’s clean cut. There’s no tattoos or controversy around him. Congrats. Just a note for him, if you are going to flex and yell “It’s my team”; take control of your team. He’s a soft outside shooter with minimal post game for a guy almost seven feet tall. Carmelo is a superior offensive player. He can beat you inside and outside. Their defense is similar, as both don’t put forth full effort all the time.
Since I mentioned the Thunder, I’ve got a few more thoughts on them…
- Russell Westbrook…you are not Allen Iverson. You are not Derrick Rose. You are not even Stephon Marbury and he’s awful. (Editor’s thought: Yes, but is he Stevie Franchise?) Know who you are. You are a high volume shooter who should be shifted to the 2 guard spot. If I were the Thunder, I’d call the Hornets and get Chris Paul for him. The Lakers would also be in the market for a “point guard” and you could get something for him. The Durant-Westbrook dynamic will not work. That’s obvious.
- Kendrick Perkins is garbage! Yes, I have said it before and I will say it again. He has no offensive skills. He’s slow which makes him a defensive liability. He can act tough (a performance he learned from Kevin Garnett in Boston) and look mean, but come on. He flexed on Nene of the Nuggets, who got in his face while so tough Perkins backed down. Nene proceeded to abuse him and throw him around like a rag doll. Stop with the Perkins hype, please.
- The Washington Wizards new jerseys are sweet. I can’t lie, if they had a player worth a damn, I would buy one. They are sweet. Can I get a Chris Webber in the new style?
- LeBron James is great. Admit it. Stop the hate. No, he isn’t Michael Jordan but he never claimed to be. The media and fans put labels on him. He didn’t try to be anything he wasn’t. He is what he is, one of the greatest players the league has ever seen. He’s a guy who skipped college and has exceeded expectations. The other guys who skipped college never carried a team to the level he did at such an early age. Not only did he carry the Cavaliers, he carried them to become the top team in the league for a while. No he didn’t win a title but who wins titles with Anthony Parker, Mo Williams and Delonte West (or Anderson Varejo and aging vets Antawn Jamison and Shaq for that matter). Really?
- Dwight Howard will be in Orlando next year. Lakers fans should just stop it. Stop hoping. Quick fact for you; size wasn’t your issue. Poor point guard and aging superstars were. They should be doing whatever they can to get Chris Paul or Derron Williams. A few other issues with the Howard/LA nonsense:
- The collective bargaining agreement will prevent it. There will be a hard cap and they won’t be able to pay him his market value. Will he really take a pay cut to play in LA with a team aging and in flux? Doubtful.
- The alpha dog issue with Kobe Bryant. He’s arrogant enough to think he’s still the best player in the league and will likely always think that, despite physical evidence to the contrary. That dynamic will not work. Howard will not take Bryant’s volatility and it will be ugly.
- Orlando will continue to trade and try to build around Dwight Howard. He is their centerpiece and he knows it. He runs that town and franchise. They’ll do right by him and he knows it.
- The media and fans will turn this into another Carmelo Anthony situation thus causing unneeded public backlash towards him. Let it play itself out. Stop with the internet articles and talk shows beating it to death. We get it. He’s a free agent after next season. He’ll make a decision when he wants to. He has that right. Stop trying to force a decision. Stop with unnecessary distractions.
- Finally, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is asking for a statue. What happened to the days when players were honored to get anything, such as a retired number or something like that? Now we have players begging for statues and saying they feel “disrespected” and “slighted” about not getting a statue? This is ridiculous. Quick note to Kareem; you are not a Greek God. You played basketball with one of the best players ever in Magic Johnson. The 5 titles in LA had more to do with him than you, in my humble opinion. Be proud your number is retired by the Lakers. Maybe your poor attitude towards media and management didn’t exactly endear you to them. Fact is no one is owed a statue. No one. It’s an honor if they decide to, but come on. This is ridiculous. I will thank Kareem for one thing, though. His comments sparked a great discussion amongst friends regarding statues. Let’s have some fun; if you could give just one statue to represent an NBA franchise, who would you give that honor to? Have some fun with that. I’ll post my choices next time.
I’m out but always remember one thing…Wahl knows Ball.