After last season’s transformation under then-rookie head coach Tom Thibodeau, 2011-2012 was supposed to be “the” season in which Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls would fully bloom into a team that could legitimately challenge the Heat for a spot in the NBA Finals.
But something was wrong from the start.
First and foremost was the NBA lockout which kept many players away from their typical off-season workout and conditioning programs in efforts to adjust to an unknown timetable of when the season might start up again. This affected every player.
Then, Rose was the passenger in a car when his buddy, the driver, was pulled over and arrested for DUI. While Rose wasn’t in any trouble personally, surely the incident shook the quiet 23-year-old who goes out of his way to keep his personal life private.
But things seemed to turn around in late December as Rose agreed to a five-year contract extension worth a whopping $94.8 million just days before the start of a shortened NBA season.
The much-deserved reward from his Chicago bosses would prove be the high point of Rose’s season which turned ugly quite quickly as the All-Star guard suffered a myriad of injuries.
Toe, back, groin foot and ankle injuries forced Rose to miss 27 of the Bulls’ 66 regular season games. Rose had only missed six games in his first three NBA seasons combined.
The Bulls logged a respectable 18-9 record without Rose and held on for the No. 1 seed in the East, despite the frequent absence of their superstar.
It was only fitting, in sports’ version of a cruel shakespearean tragedy, that Rose would wilt for good late in his team’s first playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers, sidelined for up to eight months with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Kyle Korver said after the game, “It’s the saddest win,” as Rose’s teammates were clearly shell-shocked by the severity of his injury and the impact it would have on what was, just minutes earlier, a postseason full of promise and potential.
Leading the series against the 76ers 1-0, the Bulls have enough talent to dispose of Philadelphia, even without Rose. As fate would have it, Rose’s teammates are fairly used to playing without him, having figured out a system that worked well enough in the regular season. Chicago’s stellar defense, combined with adrenaline and the competitive spirit will propel the Bulls for the rest of this series against an inconsistent 76ers team.
It’s the long-term prognosis that is worrisome for the Rose-less Bulls.
While the Bulls beat Miami once and Boston twice without Rose during the regular season, a seven-game playoff series is a completely different animal.
Rose is so important to the Bulls not just because of the points he puts up, but because of the opponent’s perception of him as a scoring threat, forcing double teams which allows open looks for his Bulls teammates.
Who will opponents double team now? It won’t be Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah. They SHOULD be the guys drawing a double team but they won’t be because neither is consistent offensively warranting the additional attention. Rip Hamilton and Kyle Korver certainly won’t draw the double team, thus the big guys shouldn’t get many easy scoring opportunities down low.
Ideally, opponents tried to force Rose to shoot outside instead of driving the lane, the place where he often put on a spectacular show while having his way with the defense. With veteran guard C.J. Watson set to start in Rose’s place, the defense will strive for the opposite in forcing Watson closer to the rim rather than allowing him to shoot from his comfort zone outside of the key.
This will be Luol Deng’s time to shine, even brighter than he has already this season. He has to make good choices and consistently execute offensively. Boozer, whose biggest knock as a pro has been that he doesn’t play up to his potential, finally has the chance to prove the haters wrong by stepping up and leading my example.
The biggest challenge for Chicago, in this series at least, will likely be mental, not physical. Losing your MVP can shatter one’s psyche. The Bulls have to find a way to quickly shake off the stench of losing Rose and focus on the immediate task, which is the 76ers.
After the lockout ended, remember how exciting basketball was in the first few days of the NBA season? Christmas day felt like the playoffs between the Knicks two-point win over the Celtics and the Bulls’ come-from-behind victory over the Lakers by a single point in L.A. as both games were intense and entertaining. Heading into the season without a lengthy training camp, I anticipated ugly, discombobulated basketball but instead was pleasantly surprised as we were treated to some fantastic games.
Four weeks into the condensed 66-game NBA season, the enthusiasm seems to have worn off a bit and the rust is showing as many of the league’s teams are struggling to find consistency. Teams are having issues with chemistry, several key players have sustained injuries and every team is playing at least one stretch of three games in three nights as well as four games in five, and even five games in six nights. That’s a lot of games, and not a lot of quality practice time.
Logically, we want to attribute things like injury, sloppy play, lack of understanding of a coach’s scheme, etc. to the fact that teams are playing much more often than during a full, 82-game regular season therefor they must be tired, hurt and practice-deprived.
I crunched some numbers and noticed that our conspiracy theories surrounding the shortened season could be off the mark. Lets take the Lakers, for example. Last season, the Lakers played 82 regular season games in 170 days over approximately 24.3 weeks. If you break those numbers down, the Lakers played 3.37 games per week last season. This year, the Lakers will play 66 games in 124 days over 17.7 weeks, thus playing 3.72 games per week. That’s only about one third of a game more per week than last season. I’m no statistician (although I took social statistics in college… it was dreadful) but I don’t think that figure is of any true significance.
Basically, the number of games being played in this shortened time frame is proportional to the number of games played over a full-length season last year.
There is a learning curve every season, especially through the first 20-30 games. It usually takes teams a while to get their ducks in a row even when they have a full-length training camp and preseason.
Here’s where it gets tricky. What about all of the back-to-back games? Many have suggested that the back-to-back sets, and especially the back-to-back-to-back games would give younger teams an advantage because their youthful bodies can bounce back quicker than the veteran players.
Guess what? Age doesn’t seem to be a big factor when it comes to back-to-back games, at least not yet.
Take a look at the five oldest teams in the league (Dallas being the eldest) and their records when it comes to wins and losses on zero days rest:
Now lets look at how the five youngest teams in the league (Minnesota being the youngest) fared on zero days rest:
Again, I’m no math major but it doesn’t appear as though we can draw any correlation between age and wins/losses of games played on consecutive days. Because it’s still early in this season, this could change down the road, but as of now, those young, fresh legs aren’t making much of a difference as wisdom and experience has proved tough as well.
What role could back-to-back games play over the duration of the season? I’ll let you be the judge.
I looked at the schedules of four teams and compared them to last year in terms of how many times they played on consecutive nights (back-to-backs). Below are the number of times the Clippers, Celtics, Lakers and Mavericks played on consecutive days/nights.
Clippers 23 20
Celtics 19 19
Lakers 15 19
Mavericks 17 20
While the Celtics are playing exactly the same number of back-to-backs as last season, the other three teams are in a different boat. The Lakers and Mavs will both play more back-to-backs this season with LA playing 26 percent more back-to-backs than last year and 18 percent more for Dallas. Meanwhile the Clippers are playing 13 percent fewer back-to-back games than they played last season. Lucky them!
This tidbit does seem significant. It looks like the Lakers got lucky last season, as 15 back-to-backs is quite different from the Clippers down the hall who played 23 such sets. Playing 26 percent more back-to-backs than in the previous year has to hurt, especially as the Lakers are the second oldest team in the NBA. I would think it will catch up to them eventually, well, everyone but Kobe that is (unless his wrist actually falls off at some point), and I guess time will tell.
I wonder if travel might be more of an issue than playing on consecutive nights, especially because plenty of the back-to-back scenarios involve travel. Only eight teams have road records of .500 or better. That’s pretty pathetic.
At the end of the day, I think true talent will win out despite age, long flights, late nights and little rest between games. As mentioned above, the condensed schedule isn’t really much tighter than a normal schedule. Look at the league’s top two teams. The Bulls are the 19th oldest team in the league, they are 12-3 overall (7-3 on the road) Derrick Rose is injured and they are 6-2 on zero days rest. Conversely we have one of the league’s youngest teams in the Thunder who are also riding high at 12-3 overall (6-2 on the road) and 5-1 on zero days rest. Both teams follow the trend that at this point in the season, age isn’t much of a factor and that back-to-back games haven’t proved detrimental just yet. With more than two thirds of the season left to play, we have plenty of time to dissect and diagnose the failures of struggling teams.
Update: At around 10:00 p.m. PST , Cousins tweeted the following:
@boogiecousins: Dnt listen to everything u hear …smh glad to knw who the real fans are tho …thanks
What second-year NBA player, coming out of a lockout, has the audacity to demand a trade from his team? Apparently DeMarcus “Diva” Cousins has one big set of stones as his behavior prompted his head coach to launch a public preemptive strike against the Kings center.
Sacramento head coach Paul Westphal released the following statement (credit InsideHoops.com) in regards to what smells like a hot mess brewing within the Kings ball club:
“Whenever a new season begins, in any sport, there is great hope that everything will progress in only a steady, upward direction. As we all know, it seldom happens like that in this life!
As coaches, we can only ask that our players do everything they can to improve themselves as individuals and teammates. If they do this with all their hearts, we live with the results.
Everything that happens on a team does not become known to the public. This is how it should be. However, when a player continually, aggressively, lets it be known that he is unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team, it cannot be ignored indefinitely.
DeMarcus Cousins has demanded to be traded. In the best interest of our team as we go forward, he has been directed by me, with the support of management, to stay home from the New Orleans game tonight.”
Interestingly, Cousins’ agent John Greig told SI.com his client did not ask to be traded, saying, “DeMarcus never demanded a trade. I’m surprised the Kings, if they believe the player wanted a trade, wouldn’t have made a phone call to his representative. Maybe Westphal is just feeling the Heat early this season.”
Sure, perhaps the exact words “trade me now” didn’t come out of Cousins’ mouth, but when you are asked about your team’s offense and you respond by saying, “What offense?” you aren’t exactly giving your coach or teammates a ringing endorsement. Remember Mr. Greig, actions speak louder than words.
I do know that while the 21-year-old is talented, Cousins has caused trouble before and appears to have an attitude issue. Remember when the Kings sat their 6-foot-11 center for a game last season after Cousins reportedly got into an altercation with a teammate for not passing him the ball for the final shot of what turned out to be a Kings loss?
Cousins finished third in Rookie of the Year voting last season after averaging 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, but his first year in the League wasn’t all upside. Playing only 28.5 minutes per game, Cousins averaged 3.3 turnovers and 4.1 fouls while shooting a measly 43 percent from the field. When you’re a near-7-foot center, there’s little excuse for such a poor shooting percentage.
As soon as I read Westphal’s statement on InsideHoops.com, I immediately thought back to an interview I heard a few weeks ago. John Calipari, Cousins’ former college coach at Kentucky offered some insight on his former player on the Jim Rome radio show recently. Here is part of the transcript:
"You know what, I always have. The greatest compliment I had was from DeMarcus’ Cousins’ mom. She said, ‘You know why my son is with you?’ I said, ‘Why is that?’ ‘He respects you, and that’s why I wanted him here, but the biggest reason is you’re not afraid of him. That’s what he needs and that’s how he needed to be coach.’ Well, I’m not afraid of these guys. I’m going to coach them the right way."
I don’t think Calipari intentionally threw Cousins under the bus here as I think his intention was more along the lines of tooting his own horn about how he doesn’t let entitled college athletes boss him around.
Later in the interview, Calipari continued, saying of Cousins, “I had him on a couple of occasions to tears. But he knew I cared about him. He is one of those guys that if he needed my kidney, it’s there. But you know what, if I needed a kidney, that would be the first kid they would call, and I was hard on him. I was tough. My wife used to get on me, ‘Quit yelling at him. Go yell at somebody else.’ But I had to get him to mature quickly and grow up and take responsibility and I couldn’t get off point.”
Calipari needed him to mature quickly as he correctly anticipated Cousins would be yet another one-and-one college player. Had Cousins stayed in school longer, perhaps the Cousins/Calipari honeymoon phase would’ve thinned out in time. Just ask Paul Westphal, right?
"Maturity" is the word that keeps popping up in regards to Cousins. While it’s true that most 21-year-olds should not be upheld as models of maturation and responsibility, if you are going to play with the big boys and make big boy money, you have to figure out a way to act the part. The Kings have talent, thus they have potential which isn’t worth spoiling to keep one bad apple on the roster. If the Kings need to drop a player who is shooting 32% from the field, averaging 13 points and 11 rebounds through four games AND has a selfish attitude, well, good riddance.
2011 can’t end fast enough for Charlie Bell. Apparently being locked out by his employers was the least of Bell’s problems. The Golden State Warriors reserve guard was busted for driving drunk in February, allegedly stabbed by his wife with a box cutter in May, followed by another DUI arrest in Flint, MI in October, which leads us to our story today.
Bell, 32, had a hearing Thursday in connection with the October DUI , which included a previously scheduled breathalyzer test… I think you know where this is headed… Mr. Bell blew a .09 during Thursday’s alcohol assessment. Yes, Bell showed up to a DUI hearing legally drunk. Yikes.
According to SFGate.com, Bell’s case was going to be resolved on Thursday, that is until he arrived in court with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit. “Bell was held, in a district court holding cell, on a bond violation until he sobered up,” wrote Rusty Simmons of SFGate.com. “He’s expected back in court Friday, which marks the start of Warriors training camp for the rest of his teammates.”
Bell seems to be only a shadow of the young man who helped lead the Michigan State Spartans to an NCAA Championship back in 2000, as he has jumped around between the NBA and overseas basketball over the last decade. Bell played in only 19 games for the Warriors last season, and according to Eric Freeman of Yahoo Sports, Golden State is considering using the amnesty clause to dump his contract. The Warriors can waive Bell along with the $4 million owed to him without it counting against the salary cap.
Clearly, this young man has serious problems and hopefully he has somebody around him to lead him in the right direction and convince him to seek professional help. In the internet age of youtube, public humiliation and bullying, Bell’s misfortunes make him an easy target for ridicule. But Bell is beyond that point as perhaps he has hit rock bottom.
Should the Warriors waive him, it would be nice to see the organization do the right thing by offering him whatever medical or psychological help he might require, as Bell needs the support of a team now more than ever.
Between Adrian Wojnarowski, Marc J. Spears and their fellow hoops writers, Yahoo Sports’ coverage of the NBA is absolutely top notch.
The aforementioned Wojnarowski hasn’t slept since the lockout began, and apparently the tentative deal between the owners and players hasn’t cured his insomnia as he posted the following scoop in the wee hours of Wednesday morning:
"As Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge aggressively pursues possible deals for Rajon Rondo, the Indiana Pacers have emerged as an intriguing suitor for the point guard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
For the past few days, Pacers officials – and third-party surrogates – have been making calls and gathering information and insight into Rondo’s reputation as a teammate and leader, sources said.
The Pacers and Celtics have discussed the preliminary framework of a deal, but two sources said Indiana would need a third team to provide Boston with the talent it wants to do a deal. The Celtics are likely trying to gather the necessary pieces to make a bid for Ainge’s ultimate target: New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, sources said.”
Could Danny Ainge do it again? Could he swing yet another blockbuster trade? Which players are off limits? Could we possibly see a new Big 3 in Boston?
Time will tell, because due to the recent end of the lockout, the trade deadline for this shortened season of 66 games has yet to be established. I think it would be pretty tough to execute three-team trade of this magnitude before opening day on Christmas, but surely the league will provide ample time for trades given the lockout.
As far as the Hornets finding any of this discussion attractive, it looks like swapping for players on the Celtics roster doesn’t top their priority list.
"New Orleans has shown no interest in a deal that would include Rondo and any combination of Celtics teammates," wrote Wojnarowski. "Yet, New Orleans GM Dell Demps is determined to get maximum value for Paul, if it’s clear the point guard sees his future elsewhere. Demps has no desire to simply let Paul walk away as a free agent to New York."
According to Wojnarowski’s article, the Celtics have been assessing Rondo’s trade value for more than a year despite the lack of consensus among the coaching staff, locker room and front office in regards to moving the two-time all star. Wojnarowski raises the issue of Rondo’s sometimes-sour attitude as being a factor in whether or not he would be a good fit for the Pacers and Frank Vogel, their young coach.
Having covered the Celtics, I sometimes wonder why Doc Rivers doesn’t win the coach of the year award every single season. The Celtics players are a good bunch; nice, smart, decent sense of humor, charitable, driven, hardworking and extremely talented.
At the same time, the group is volatile with its mix of veteran all stars, youth and ego. Rivers is the voice of reason and has proved to be a mastermind personality manager. Regardless of his disposition, Rondo’s teammates respect his talent immensely and I find it hard to imagine him anywhere else right now.
Should Rondo be forced to take his talents elsewhere, yes, he will still be a great player. A different logo on his jersey won’t change that, but I can’t help wanting to watch this star-powered yet aging Celtics nucleus go for the title one last time.
To read Adrian Wojnarowski’s article on the Pacers interest in Rajon Rondo, click here: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-wojnarowski_boston_celtics_rajon_rondo_112911
I feel like we’ve been talking about Dwight Howard leaving Orlando for the last few years, and sheesh, he still has one more year left on that dang contract with the Magic. With the NBA now back in action after a 148-day lockout, the rumor mill is spinning double time as sources say the Magic center might be on the move.
The suitors? My favorite NBA newcomer in recent years, Mikhail Prokhorov and the New Jersey Nets. Sources told ESPN.com that the Nets are willing to trade center Brook Lopez (who is no slouch, might I add) and two future first-round draft picks to Orlando to get Howard, the reigning NBA Defensive Player Of The Year, winner of the award for three seasons straight.
Oh ya, New Jersey is also ready to pony up about $35 million — yes, the Nets are willing to absorb the remaining three years of Orlando forward Hedo Turkoglu’s contract, which is a huge financial incentive for the Magic. Not only would they get an emerging center and two draft picks, but they would also ditch a stinky contract, the kind owners were hoping to protect themselves from in reworking certain systems issues during the CBA negotiations.
Just think, only one full season removed from a 10-win debacle of 2009-2010, the Nets could truly compete with Deron Williams and Dwight Howard in the starting lineup. If Jason Kidd could take Kerry Kittles and Brian Scalabrine to the NBA Finals (sorry Scal, you know you’re my boy!), DWill, Dwight and company can at least make the playoffs.
Not only would this trade make a great rap lyric in the future, but it would be one heck of a shower gift from Prokhorov and Billy King to part-owner Jay-Z and his wifey Beyonce. The combination of Williams and Howard would help make a roster full of young guys and journeyman players better and coupled with the excitement of moving to Brooklyn in 2012, the Nets would be a team worth watching for the first time in a long time.
For more information about the Nets’ interest in Dwight Howard, click here: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/7297170/sources-new-jersey-nets-prep-big-trade-offer-dwight-howard-orlando-magic
Less than two days after Thanksgiving, it looks like I can toss out my depressing Halloween costume for good…or for at least the next 10 years.
On the 148th day of the NBA lockout, the owners and players reached a handshake deal to end the five-month work stoppage. News of the tentative agreement, which was first reported by cbssports.com, came after 16 hours of negotiations which ended after 3 a.m. in New York.
Aside from players, owners and team personnel, thousands of “peripheral workers,” such as stadium employees and outside vendors will get their sense of financial security back. Hopefully Staples Center employees will now have enough hours of work to qualify for health care benefits through their union, one of the many disasters threatened by a long-term work stoppage.
NBA commissioner David Stern said in a news conference (starting at 3:40 a.m. EST), “We’re optimistic that the [agreement] will hold and we’ll have ourselves an NBA season.” Players Association executive director Billy Hunter and player president Derek Fisher were with Stern as he made the announcement.
Assuming the tentative deal passes a player vote and is signed by both sides, Dec. 9 would be the start date for training camps and free agency while Dec. 25 would be the first day of a 66-game season. Stern said opening day on Christmas would feature a triple-header of the Celtics and Knicks in the early game followed by the Heat at the Mavericks and finishing off with the Bulls taking on the Lakers at Staples Center.
Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski explained how the players union will proceed from here:
"After disbanding as a union and filling an antitrust suit against the NBA, the Players Association can immediately reform as a union and hold a vote to ratify the deal. The terms of the agreement included a 50-50 revenue split, a source said."
After posting his story, Wojnarowski posted the following tweets:
@WojYahooNBA: One vet player texting me, doubting he’ll vote to approve deal. “We (bleeping) caved,” he said. He’s been entrenched on issues entire way.
@WojYahooNBA: There will be a significant number of players who will not vote to approve this deal, but there won’t be a majority. The deal will pass.
"Ratification requires a simple majority of the N.B.A.’s 30 teams and a simple majority of the 430-plus players," wrote Howard Beck, who has covered the lockout for the New York Times. "The players must first reconstitute their union and drop the antitrust lawsuit they filed against the league last week. The deal features a 50-50 split of revenues — a $300 million salary cut for the players — along with shorter contracts, smaller raises and harsher penalties on the top-spending teams. The 10-year agreement is the longest in N.B.A. history, although either side can opt out after the sixth year."
At a birthday party Saturday night, I stood in the kitchen with a group of my girlfriends’ husbands talking about the lockout. While the guys were adamant that there would be no NBA season (much to the delight of their wives) I was the only person who said I thought we would indeed get a shortened season. I told them that I just had a gut feeling that these latest negotiations would yield real results.
Less than two hours later, the phone rang, and it was one of the party guests calling me from a taxi cab to let me know the handshake deal had been reached. As usual, the girl was right, and the boys were wrong. ;)
To read Howard Beck’s article on the likely end of the NBA lockout, click here: http://nyti.ms/uxnSTP
At least somebody has found a way to make money off of NBA players during the lockout - that somebody is President Barack Obama who, according to his website is holding “a game featuring basketball’s greatest super stars in support of the Obama Victory Fund.”
Shell out $200 for a general admission ticket or up to $5k for a courtside seat at the first ever Obama Classic Basketball Game on Dec. 12 in Washington DC at a location to be announced later.
Here’s the roster of confirmed players thus far, straight from barackobama.com :
Ray Allen - Carmelo Anthony - Chris Bosh - Vince Carter - Tyson Chandler - Jamal Crawford - Kevin Durant - Baron Davis - Patrick Ewing - Derek Fisher - Rudy Gay - Blake Griffin - Tyler Hansbrough - Dwight Howard - Juwan Howard - Antawn Jamison - Dahntay Jones - Brandon Knight - Kevin Love - Jamal Mashburn - Cheryl Miller - Alonzo Mourning - Dikembe Mutombo - Chris Paul - Quentin Richardson - Doc Rivers - Steve Smith - Jerry Stackhouse - Amare Stoudemire - Tina Thompson - John Wall - Russell Westbrook
Nice mix of super stars, role players and retirees on the roster, but who will coach? I vote for either Doc Rivers and Cheryl Miller, or Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as surprise guest coaches. Just a thought.
Man, if I weren’t unemployed and without any income right now, I’d definitely be there (in the cheap seats, of course). Even if you don’t like President Obama’s politics, he has impeccable taste in various areas of the arts and entertainment, as was evident in the Motown tribute concert he and the First Lady hosted at the White House that I watched on PBS last night. DVR it if you get a chance; Martha Reeves’ diva on-stage takeover of the finale is absolutely classic.
Okay, I digress. From filling out brackets on ESPN to sitting courtside at the Carrier Classic on Veteran’s Day, it’s no secret that President Obama loves hoops. He has hosted a BBQ and pick-up game for NBA players in the past and even got elbowed in the lip (requiring several stitches) while playing with his staffers.
According to ESPN.com, “Proceeds will go to the Obama Victory Fund, which is jointly held by the Democratic National Committee and Obama’s re-election campaign. Whether Obama will directly take part in the event was left an open question.”
For the sake of entertainment, I hope Obama suits up and even better, since it’s a co-ed event, I would love to see Michelle out there too. I bet she could post guys up, no problem.
Since the event is a fundraiser, I doubt it could be televised on a network because of equal time laws, but what about Pay-Per-View? People could pay $60 to watch from their couch for a cause. This way folks who might not normally pay attention to politics can find a way to get involved while simultaneously getting perhaps the only opportunity to watch NBA players this season.
Good call on this one Obama. Sounds like fun. Now, if you could somehow convince both parties to compromise…. and by both parties, I mean the owners and players :)
For more information or to purchase a ticket to the Obama Classic Basketball Game, click here https://donate.barackobama.com/page/contribute/o2012-decemberobamaclassic?source=20111118_Athletes
Update - 11:00pm est : Apparently, the NBA read this blog post and got the message, loud and clear, from the media and fans regarding the confusion surrounding the league’s latest collective bargaining agreement offer to the Players Association. Check out a summary of the owners’ latest offer, from the NBA itself… http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/11/14/sports/basketball/20111114-nba-proposals.html?src=tp
I don’t know what to believe anymore.
Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher are fighting. No they’re not.
Players can be sent to the D-League and have their salary dropped to $75k in their first five seasons. Not true.
Players have no idea what is going on and team reps aren’t effective. Yes they are, everybody is informed.
If they players don’t take this deal, the league will stop negotiating. Not true.
Well which is it? What the hell is going on with this lockout?
Chris Sheridan attempts to clear the air in his piece, “Lockout Update: Misinformation Rules,” by exposing allegedly false reports that nobody has bothered to correct (read his entire piece here, it is quite enlightening: http://shar.es/onN4z ).
I say “allegedly” because I don’t know who to believe at this point. It seems like neither side can be trusted, nor have their words taken at face value.
One point of contention is the story about the owners’ right to send players down to the D-league during their first five NBA seasons and drop their salaries to $75,000. This notion had twitter abuzz as fans, media and players alike openly criticized this part of the owners’ latest proposal.
But according to Sheridan, this clause is nowhere to be found in the owners’ current proposal. HUH!?!?!
Sheridan cites a New York Times article by Howard Beck (that includes comments from NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver) in trying to make sense of this nonsense.
From Beck’s story, “These and other concerns filled Twitter timelines on Friday, a day after labor talks concluded. They turned out to be unfounded, speculative or simply false. The D-League is not mentioned anywhere in the seven-page proposal that was delivered to the union on Friday — a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. Nor are there any measures that could curtail “Bird” rights. While some provisions might crimp the N.B.A.’s middle class, others could boost it. In the absence of official documentation — neither the league nor the union released the proposal publicly — the rumors have prevailed.”
I’m at the point of becoming a nutty conspiracy theorist. Since the documents have not been made public, how can the New York Times be positive they have the actual proposal given to the players?
Meanwhile, some players are skeptical of the owners’ alleged need to split basketball related income 50-50. Months ago, NBA Commissioner David Stern said that 22 of the 30 teams in the league were losing a combined $300 million.
Check out this tweet from Omri Casspi of the Cleveland Cavaliers:
@Casspi18 : I have a question! I wasn’t really involve in all the talks between the Nba and the players… My question is…If the NBA claim loses of 300mil dollars, why they aren’t opening the books to the players and letting us see it?
Casspi is saying quite a bit in this tweet. First of all, the union has representatives for a reason, but I get the feeling A LOT of players are in the dark and don’t know any more about the situation than the public does.
Casspi went on to tweet about his desire for union decertification as well as the public relations mess caused by the lockout:
@Casspi18: It’s sounds like we are the bad guys here after we agreed to 50/50 which means 2.8 billion dollars to the owners in the course of 10 years.
I’m pretty close to giving up on this situation considering I can’t believe any of the information, rhetoric or gossip coming from either side. I wish the mediator (who has been present during some of the negotiations) could disseminate information to the public so we could trust somebody, anybody to tell us the truth.
In the mean time, thousands of working and middle class families are without paychecks as the lockout not only keeps players off the court, but leaves every day employees struggling to stay above water.
Kudos to Sheridan for attempting to sort it all out. http://shar.es/onN4z . Hopefully the league and it’s players will soon do the same.
**In case you were wondering, I went as the “NBA Lockout” for Halloween. Sad, but true.**
Yes, the NBA and the NBPA are in a third day of mediation which is certainly a better sign than silence between the owners and players, but who knows when professional basketball will truly be back. In the mean time, I strongly suggest that hoops fans turn to hockey to fill the void. Here’s why.
When I asked a former coworker to teach me hockey, the first thing he said was, “just think of it as basketball on ice.” Huh??? Come to find out, he was kind of right.
Both sports are up and down, fast pace games involving both a transition game and a half court offense. The word “goal” appears on stat sheets of both and you can play zone or man on man. Hockey and basketball both feature, assists, passing, blocked shots, rebounds, deflections, players on the wing and a five minute overtime period. A face-off is a more complex version of the jump-ball. When comparing the NBA and NHL, both leagues have 30 teams that play an 82-game regular season with the top eight teams in each conference make the playoffs.
But there are stark differences as well. Ball vs. Puck, for starters. Hands vs. No Hands. Hockey plays six men on the ice while hoops is a true 5-on-5 game. Basketball is played in four 12 minute quarters while hockey is played in three 20 minute periods, and there is constant scoring on a basketball court while often the best hockey games involve very few goals scored.
If a regular season game remains tied after one 5 minute overtime period, hockey settles the score with a shootout where players go one-on-one against the opposing team’s goalie for the win. The NHL uses a points system (2 points for a win, 1 point for a loss in overtime or a shootout and no points for a loss in regulation) to rank its teams while the NBA uses a straight wins and loss record.
Once the playoffs begin, it truly is a new season for NHL teams as the lowly eight seed routinely beats the top dog in the first round. That is a rarely accomplished feat in the NBA, making the Stanley Cup Playoffs positively exciting and fascinating regardless of the matchups.
Then, there’s the fighting. If a basketball player as much as throws the basketball down at his feet after the whistle blows, thats a technical foul. Two of those, and you’re tossed from the game. Don’t even consider throwing a punch because if ya do, you’re looking at an ejection, suspension and fine. In hockey, you can throw off your gloves, go one-on-one (or engage in a brawl if you choose) and wrestle your opponent to the ground with your only punishment being the equivalent of a child’s “time out” on the playground. In fact, there’s usually one guy on each team whose primary objective is to strategically use fighting to benefit his team.
Basketball is considered a contact sport, as players do a bit of bumping down low, and perhaps get a tad physical setting screens, but the physical contact is minimal compared to hockey which is a collision sport. These guys throw their bodies into each other while traveling at high rates of speed, sometimes sending the opponent flying into the air resulting in a crash landing back on the ice. Players slam one another into the boards which makes for a dramatic in-game soundtrack. The physical exertion of both athletes is remarkable but between the padding, hitting, high speeds, and the skill level of skating, stick handling and shooting, hockey players take the cake. It’s the most physically demanding of the major American team sports.
If hockey is so fabulous, then why is it still not considered mainstream in America? Most kids in the U.S. grow up playing basketball in their driveways, neighborhoods and schoolyards. You don’t even need a real court to play and improvising is easy. The same cannot be said about ice hockey in many parts of the country which is why I think the popularity difference is so great. It’s harder to understand a sport you’ve never played and many Americans have never played hockey. I think that is the root of the problem.
The NBA is my first love. My unwavering affection for my hometown Lakers as a kid is what made me want to be a sports reporter. I grew up “liking” the Kings, but I didn’t understand hockey, therefor wasn’t a true fan. Once I moved to Boston, a place where hockey is king, and began covering the Bruins for work, I had to learn the sport real fast. The truth about hockey is that once you learn it, you can’t not love it. In the last two seasons, I found myself choosing to watch NHL games over NBA games at times, which shocked me.
The point is that if you are an NBA fan, you do have an equally enjoyable alternative during the lockout; it’s called hockey.
Charles Barkley sure had a lot to say last week when he called into the Rich Eisen Podcast. As usual, he was funny, informative and interesting but he said something that really struck me.
Talking about the NBA lockout, Chuck said that he doesn’t feel sorry for the owners, or even the players. Instead, he is concerned for those who will be hit hardest by the feud between the owners and the players association; team and arena employees. Not billionaires or millionaires, but your working class, average Joes. Thousands of people on the periphery, working inside the arenas and for outside contractors. The front office receptionists, video guys, ushers, security, box office workers, janitors, salespeople, food service workers, team store cashiers, etc. The list goes on and on.
Jim Peltz of the LA Times wrote an article detailing the potential affects of a long term lockout on these employees using NBA arenas in California and Phoenix as examples.
Take the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which, unlike the other 28 NBA arenas, has 81 home games a year, hosting both the Lakers and Clippers. Peltz says the Staples Center employs 700 food service workers alone, not counting any of the other hundreds of positions in the arena. Not only will these workers miss out on paychecks, but they could lose their health insurance too.
Missing several games would prevent Staples Center employees (who are members of the SEIU-United Service Workers West union) from working the minimum number of hours to qualify for health insurance benefits.
Canceling pre-season games alone will do significant damage. Take Ontario, California, where the Lakers and Hawks are scheduled to play a pre-season contest. Between the city, arena and local businesses, the event is expected to bring in $1 million. No game, no money.
Peltz also explains how teams who play in city-owned arenas must pay rent to the government, regardless of whether or not any games are played.
Barkley’s sentiments reminded me of something Tom Brady said when I was covering the Patriots training camp in 2010. This training camp preceded the final season before the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement was to expire, and Brady was also in the last year of his contract with the Pats. In his first interview of training camp, he fielded questions about the CBA and his own contract by saying he didn’t think fans at home wanted to listen to people complain about making millions of dollars.
Both Brady and Barkley hit the nail on the head. The real losers here are you and me. Not only do we miss out on entertainment and a hobby that brings us such joy, but thousands of people will lose their livelihoods if this dispute isn’t resolved soon. The owners and the players will be able to pay their bills at the end of the month and have roofs over their heads at night. But many arena workers might not be afforded the same luxury. While employees with paychecks on the line probably won’t find any comfort in Barkley & Brady’s comments, I think we can all appreciate their recognition of the true lockout victims.
To read Peltz’ article, click here. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-nba-arenas-20110928,0,7995187.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fsports+%28L.A.+Times+-+Sports%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher
Clippers teammates Craig Smith, Chris Kaman and DeAndre Jordan, seen here in happier times at the team’s Media Day before the 2010 season, seems like a distant memory, with no official reunion in sight.
Kaman and Jordan exchanged some sweet tweets just moments ago:
@ChrisKaman: I miss @deandrejordan
@deandrejordan: Miss you too Hogan!!!
Hogan… I see the resemblance.
Between official summer leagues and team training camps, usually teammates would have plenty of work-related opportunities to see each other during the summer months.
Instead, Kaman and Jordan are not together in Los Angeles, or anywhere near each other for that matter, resulting in this public display of affection.
Jordan is in Las Vegas, playing in Impact Basketball’s two week tournament for NBA players in Sin City, while Kaman, according to his twitter feed, is “staying in MI and working out in my gym and staying in shape until something happens. I might even go play overseas!”
With recent talks between the league and the union going nowhere and rumors of union decertification in the works, it looks like Kaman and Jordan won’t be hugging it out in person any time soon. Hopefully twitter PDA will hold them over for a while.
(picture by Reed Saxon)