In one of the longest episodes we’ve ever done, we talked about Phil Jackson joining the Knicks front office and what type of impact he’ll have, the challenges of being an NBA fan in Europe, Steve Nash admitting money is a motivator, and Kobe Bryant taking the Lakers’ front office to task.
Watching the Lakers’ two preseason games against the Denver Nuggets I realized that I really like their team: a scrappy underdog squad with an aging veteran core and unproven role players with something to prove. From a narrative perspective it’s an easy sell. Even better, they’ve got two of the most likable players in the league in Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, with Gasol on a mission to quiet his critics after a mediocre season last year spent trying (and failing) to find a way to fit into coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. Gasol already looks more aggressive and more productive in his early court time than he did at any point in the season last year. Back to crisp 16-footers, agile rebounding, and dizzying post moves.
Add journeyman center Chris Kaman, retread Jodie Meeks and Nick Young, the shot-aholic guard you love to hate, and you’ve got yourself a team with enough talent and grit to fight their way to a playoff berth, then use their veteran savvy to make it tough on whatever first or second seed they face once they get there. That’s a team I’m interested in watching. That’s a team I want to win. Nash looking for his first ring to justify joining a long time nemesis, Gasol looking to prove he’s still the player that tore up the US in the Olympics, D’Antoni looking to show the world he’s the kind of coach who CAN mesh superstars into a winning team, and Nick Young looking to prove he can hit contested 18 footers as well as anyone in the league. Continue reading →
This season, four NBA franchises have changed head coaches. These types of coaching changes occur when a team is struggling and failing to meet expectations, whether those expectations were realistic or not. Either that, or a head coach doesn’t get along with his player(s). Most of the time I’m not a fan of midseason coaching changes. To me it’s like trying to fix a brick wall with scotch tape. When a team struggles the reasons for the struggle go beyond just bad coaching. Sure, coaching could be part of it, but a sub-talented roster or bad chemistry could also be part of the reasons too. That being said, coaches are always easier to remove than players and I thought now would be a good time to examine the teams that have changed coaches both before and after the change happened. Continue reading →
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the showdown between San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and NBA head honcho David Stern. For those of you who haven’t been able to tear yourselves away from the cooling embers of the Petraeus scandal, I’ll give you the Cliff Notes: Commissioner Stern levied a $250k fine against the Spurs for sending home 4 of its starters before a nationally televised game against the Miami Heat. The mainstream media has turned it into a two gunslingers staring each other down, daring the other to blink. But is that really the case? Absolutely not. Despite pure tonnage of verbiage wasted on this topic I think there are two things that have been missed. The first is in regards to the entertainment value of basketball, and the second is about the intentions of Popovich.
While there’s no question that NBA fans love to watch the stars do battle on the hardwood (or whatever space age substance basketball courts are carved from these days) it’s certainly questionable, as many pundits have pointed out, that anyone in Miami showed up that fateful Thursday evening to see the aging trio of Duncan, Ginobli and Parker take the floor (and certainly if there’s a Danny Green fan club in Miami, then it’s a very lonely one). Stern levied his fine and issued an apology to NBA fans as though Popovich’s decision was a crime against their entertainment. If Stern is truly concerned how the fan experience is affected by Popovich’s decision, he’s evaluating through a single, highly myopic lens: the Marquee. Continue reading →