Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Best of the NBA's Northwest

Here are my starting fives in the history of each franchise in the Northwest division. On the left are my subjective starting fives and on the right are the starting fives according to win shares.

Denver Nuggets
Position My 5 Win Shares 5
PG Fat Lever Fat Lever
SG David Thompson David Thompson
SF Alex English Alex English
PF Antonio McDyess Nene
C Dan Issel Dan Issel

Minnesota Timberwolves
Position My 5 Win Shares 5
PG Sam Cassell Terrell Brandon
SG Doug West Anthony Peeler
SF Wally Szczerbiak Wally Szczerbiak
PF Kevin Garnett Kevin Garnett
C Al Jefferson Joe Smith

Oklahoma City Thunder
Position My 5 Win Shares 5
PG Gary Payton Gary Payton
SG Fred Brown Fred Brown
SF Kevin Durant Kevin Durant
PF Shawn Kemp Shawn Kemp
C Jack Sikma Jack Sikma

Portland Trailblazers
Position My 5 Win Shares 5
PG Terry Porter Terry Porter
SG Clyde Drexler Cllyde Drexler
SF Cliff Robinson Jerome Kersey
PF Rasheed Wallace Rasheed Wallace
C Mychal Thompson Arvydas Sabonis

Utah Jazz
Position My 5 Win Shares 5
PG John Stockton John Stockton
SG Pete Maravich Jeff Hornacek
SF Adrian Dantley Adrian Dantley
PF Karl Malone Ksrl Malone
C Mark Eaton Mehmet Okur

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top 10 NBA Players

Top 10 NBA Players Now
While this list consists of the top 10 players now, the past is taken to account, but it is not a list of the best players who happen to be active. Previous ranks posted on June 26, 2012.

# David (PR) Mike (Previous Rank)
1 LeBron (1) LeBron (1)
2 Durant (3) Durant (2)
3 Paul (6) Paul (4)
4 Parker (7) Wade (3)
5 Kobe (2) Parker (8)
6 Carmelo (10) Kobe (5)
7 Howard (5) Duncan (10)
8 Westbrook (NR) M. Gasol (NR)
9 Wade (4) Westbrook (9)
10 Deng (NR) Howard (6)

Top 10 NBA Careers Among Active Players
You're making a list of the ten best players in NBA history, but there's one caveat; you can only include players who played during the 2012-13 season. These are our choices, taking the players' entire careers into account. Previous ranks posted on June 26, 2012.

# David (PR) Mike (Previous Rank)
1 Duncan (1) Duncan (2)
2 Kobe (2) Kobe (1)
3 LeBron (3) LeBron (3)
4 Kidd (4) Kidd (4)
5 Garnett (5) Garnett (5)
6 Dirk (6) Wade (7)
7 Nash (7) Dirk (6)
8 Wade (8) Nash (8)
9 Parker (9) Allen (9)
10 Billups (10) Pierce (10)

Top 10 NBA Franchise Players
This list is about which players you would pick to start a franchise right now. They must have played in an NBA game. Previous ranks posted on June 26, 2012.

# David (PR) Mike (Previous Rank)
1 LeBron (1) LeBron (1)
2 Durant (2) Durant (2)
3 Paul (3) Paul (5)
4 Irving (8) Harden (NR)
5 Westbrook (9) Rose (3)
6 Rose (5) Howard (4)
7 P. George (NR) Westbrook (6)
8 Howard (4) Irving (NR)
9 Griffin (10) Curry (NR) 
10 Harden (NR) M. Gasol (NR)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another Obnoxious Pound-for-Pound List

Here is the updated version of my obnoxiously unnecessary and utterly superfluous list of the top 10 pound-for-pound boxers. The previous list was posted on March 22.

1) Floyd Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs), [Previous Rank: 1]
2) Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs), [PR: 2]
3) Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), [PR: 3]
4) Sergio Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), [PR: 4]
5) Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs), [PR: NR]
6) Wladimir Klitschko (60-3, 51 KOs), [PR: 6]
7) Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs), [PR: 7]
8) Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs), [PR: 8]
9) Carl Froch (30-2, 22 KOs), [PR: 10]
10) Timothy Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs), [PR: 9]

Exiting the list:
Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs), [PR: 5]

Friday, June 21, 2013

Game 7 - A Repeat Champion

The 2013 NBA Finals will always be remembered for its superior play, Game 6, Danny Green's three-point record, LeBron James's resiliency, Dwyane Wade's and Time Duncan's resurgence, and a Miami Heat championship.

The Spurs raced out to a 7-point lead, but the two teams played the entire game within a few points of each other. When Tony Parker sat down, Miami came back and ended with a two-point lead after the first. Parker's sitting would foreshadow future events.

The first quarter was sluggish and both teams felt the magnitude of the game. Fromt hat point onward, James could not be stopped. Neither could Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, or Wade. James ended with 37 points, 12 rebounds, and the Finals MVP. James's jump shot was on point. After struggling the first three games of the series, he had a legendary final four contests.

Coming off of his astounding Game 6 performance, Duncan added 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 steals. One of those steals came early in the game and resulted in an awkward coast-to-coast jam for Duncan. But he missed a layup and subsequent tip with less than a minute to go to tie the game. It was realistically the last chance the Spurs had to capture the crown. Before that, Duncan threw away a possession after grabbing an offensive rebound.

Manu Ginobili, who ended with 18 points, was hot and cold. He hit a key three late, but committed two boneheaded turnovers in the fourth. With the game on the line, Head Coach Gregg Popovich chose to take out Tony Parker, who had struggled all game long. The result was a failed Ginobili drive that resulted in a third fourth quarter turnover.

Kawhi Leonard's 19 points and 16 rebounds announced his arrival as a budding star. He nailed an important three late in the fourth. But he missed another one. Leonard's series was better than anything he could have imagined. And yet, a missed free throw late in Game 6 and that missed three late in Game 7 will linger throughout the off season.

Shane Battier, who had shot terribly all series ling, went 6 for 8 from three and scored 18 points. Wade added 23 and Mario Chalmers put in 14. Those points were needed because Chris Bosh and Ray Allen scored zero points in the game. In fact, the Heat had two starters, Bosh and Mike Miller, score zero in the game.

The Heat won 95-88, but the game was closer than the margin of victory. Miami won their second straight title 4-3. The Heat were the favorites to win all season long. Their second half was the stuff of legend. At one point, Miami won 27 games in a row, the second longest streak in NBA history.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Game 6 - A Game for the Ages

Game 6 had everything you could hope for in a basketball game. Quality play, great players playing great, and a miracle finish. There were heroes and goats, sometimes one and the same.

This game looked as if it would follow the same pattern as the previous four, a close game until one team broke it open in the second half. That team appeared to be the San Antonio Spurs, on route to the franchise's fifth ever title. But it was not to be. At least, not on this day.

Key missed free throws by Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, both men played great, late in the fourth opened the door for Miami, who trailed by 13 in the third quarter, but would not go gentle into that good night.

Tim Duncan poured in 25 first half points, but only five in the second half. Danny Green finally began to misfire from the three-point land. And Tony Parker, who scored 19 points and dished 8 assists, shot terribly. Late in the game, he was taken out for defense. The Spurs got the ball, but instead of calling timeout and trusting the ball in Parker's hands, Ginobili rushed up the court and failed to score.

LeBron James scored 32 and Mario Chalmers added 20. But Ray Allen, who saw his record for most three pointers in an NBA Finals go down this series, hit a game-tying, season-saving three pointer at the end of regulation to cap off a five point comeback in the waning seconds of the game. Tim Duncan was not in the game and the Heat's Chris Bosh was able to keep the possession going.

Bosh struggled offensively, but he grabbed key rebounds and had a couple of important blocks, including the game-clinching one on Danny Green in overtime. Leonard scored 22 points and added 11 rebounds for the Spurs in a heartbreaking loss.

The Heat won 103-100 in overtime. The Heat tied the series at 3 in one of the most remarkable games in NBA Finals history.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Game 5 - A New Star is Born?

Danny Green had another huge game. This time he scored 24 points, making 6 of 10 from downtown, and he added 3 blocks. But the leader of the Spurs is still Tony Parker. Parker is playing with a significant hamstring injury and yet, he scored a game-high 26 points on a ridiculous 10 for 14 shooting from the field. He was able to contort in the lane and sink his remarkable floaters.

The Spurs led wire to wire although Miami put up a decent fight. The Heat kept crawling back into the game. In the second quarter, the Spurs led by 17, but Miami scored 12 in a row. Midway through the fourth, the Spurs had extended the lead to 20, but Miami cut it to single digits.

If the Heat were leading, the story of the Finals would be Dwyane Wade's resurgence. He struggled with injuries for much of an up-and-down season. There have been times in the playoffs in which he has disappeared. But Wade added another 25 points and 10 assists in Game 5. LeBron added a quiet 25 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals. But a missed layup in transition that led to a Parker floater on the other end will likely be what LeBron is remembered for in Game 5.

Ray Allen had a hot fourth and ended with 21 points. Perhaps, he was sparked by seeing his record for most three-pointers in a Finals series go down. Danny Green raced by Allen's old mark in Game 5. Chris Bosh added 16 for the Heat.

For the Spurs, Green was great, Parker was amazing, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard were also quite valuable (scoring 17 and 16 respectively). But Manu Ginobili's play likely carried the Spurs to this crucial Game 5 victory. Ginobili had been looking all of his 35 years in this series. He finally snapped out of his slump and scored 24 points on 8 for 14 shooting. Many of his makes were incredible awkward shots that deflated Miami's defensive will.

The Spiurs shot a remarkable 60% from the field, although 18 turnovers hurt their output. San Antonio won 114-104, taking a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 will be ion Miami and, if necessary, so will Game 7.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Game 4 - All Even

The Spurs took a ten point lead in the first quarter and it appeared as if they were heading to a commanding series lead. Tony Parker was healthy and effective. But Miami came back thanks to Dwyane Wade, who has recaptured the ability he seemed to have lost during this playoff run.

The game was close midway through the third. The Spurs employed a balanced attack. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Danny Green, Gary Neal, and Kawhi Leonard all scored double figures. Boris Diaw finally played well, scoring 9 and guarded Wade to about as much success as one can hope for when Wade is hot.

Miami thrived thanks to their big 3, LeBron James, Wade, and Chris Bosh. Each scored over 20 points. It was the first time any Heat player has scored over 20 during the 2013 NBA Finals. Wade had 32 and James added 33. Ray Allen also scored 14.

Miami began to push out to the lead late in the third. But it was a stellar fourth quarter that helped the Heat capture this one by a wide margin. Miami ended up taking back homecourt advantage with a 109-93 victory. That evened the series at two games apiece.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Game 3 - Spurs Dominate Heat

Gary Neal and Danny Green both had the games of their lives. It came at an opportune time for the Spurs, who now lead the series 2-1. Neal got the ball rolling as soon as he game into the game int he first. In 25 minutes, he wound up with 24 points, including a last second three to end the half.  Neal was 9 for 17 from the field and 6 for 10 from three. Green scored 27 and made 7 threes on only 9 attempts.

The great shooting performances by both men overshadowed Tony Parker's ankle injury. For Miami, only Dwyanbe Wade played well and only in the first quarter. Still, Miami was in the game heading into halftime. The game quickly broke open in the third quarter and was effectively over by the fourth.

The Spurs won 113-77, erasing the pain of Game 2's blowout. But Parker's injury must be a concern for the Spurs going forward.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Game 2 - Miami Pulls Even

With the threat of falling into a 2-0 hole heading to San Antonio for Game 3, Miami used balance scoring to blowout the Spurs in the second half of Game 2.

The Spurs looked like they were in control early. Hot three-point shooting helped their cause. But it was a ll a mirage. Three-point shooting and turnovers characterized the first quarter for the Spurs, but only the turnovers kept going throughout the rest of the game. The Spurs had only 4 of them in Game 1, but amassed 16 in Game 2.

  Danny Green led the team with 17 points, making all 6 of his shots. But no other Spur made an efficient impact. Tony Parker went cold shooting only 5 for 14 and committing 5 turnovers. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili combined to score 14 points. If the big three all struggle, the Spurs will lose every time. Kawhai Leonard grabbed 14 rebounds, all in the first 3 quarters, but he shot poorly as well.

The Heat used a balance attack, which is contrary to their norm. Mario Chalmers led the team with 19 points. LeBron James had 17. He was absent during the first quarter, but sparked the late third quarter/early fourth quarter run. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh scored in double figures. Ray Allen and Mike Miller combined to go 8 for 11 from beyond the arc and Chris "Birdman" Andersen added 9 points.

While James added 8 rebounds and 7 steals, one of his three blocks epitomized Miami's defensive expertise int he game. Tiago Splitter glided to the rim uncontested when LeBron left his man, leaped, and denied Splitter's dunk. Had LeBron not been as strong, Splitter might have dunked his fingers, breaking them int he process.

Miami made over 50% of their threes and committed only 6 turnovers on route to 103-84 win that expanded to 20 in the fourth. Before then, Miami's biggest lead had been 10, which happened late in the third. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sat his regulars down with about 7 minutes to go, choosing to rest them for Game 3 at home in two days. The series is even at one.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Best of the NBA's Southwest

Here are my starting fives in the history of each franchise in the Southwest division. On the left are my subjective starting fives and on the right are the starting fives according to win shares.

Dallas Mavericks
Position My 5 Win Shares 5
PG Derek Harper Derek Harper
SG Rolando Blackman Rolondo Blackman
SF Mark Aguirre Michael Finley
PF Dirk Nowitzki Dirk Nowitzki
C James Donaldson James Donaldson

Houston Rockets
Position My 5 Win Shares 5
PG Calvin Murphy Calvin Murphy
SG Clyde Drexler Mike Newlin
SF Tracy McGrady Robert Reid
PF Rudy Tomjanovich Rudy Tomjanovich
C Hakeem Olajuwon Hakeem Olajuwon

Memphis Grizzlies
Position My 5 Win Shares 5
PG Mike Bibby Mike Conley
SG Mike Miller Mike Miller
SF Shareef Abdur-Rahim Shane Battier
PF Pau Gasol Paul Gasol
C Marc Gasol Marc Gasol

New Orleans Pelicans
Position My 5 Win Shares 5
PG Chris Paul Chris Paul
SG Dell Curry David Wesley
SF Glen Rice Anthony Mason
PF Larry Johnson David West
C Alonzo Mourning P.J. Brown

San Antonio Spurs
Position My 5 Win Shares 5
PG Tony Parker Tony Parker
SG Manu Ginobili Manu Ginobili
SF George Gervin George Gervin
PF Tim Duncan Tim Duncan
C  David Robinson David Robinson

Friday, June 07, 2013

Game 1 - Spurs Control the 4th

The San Antonio Spurs started Game 1 with a 9-2 run to open the game in Miami. But the Heat roared back. Miami maintained a slight lead through much of the game thanks to effective long range shooting and LeBron James's passing.

Tony Parker wouldn't let the Spurs lose contact with the Heat, however. And despite early foul trouble for Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs were down by one after one and three after two. But San Antonio wasn't able to close the gap all the way at any point until the fourth. Whenever the Spurs would creep to within a point or two, they would inevitably settle for long range shots.

James scored 18 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, and dished 10 assists, but only Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen provided a scoring lift. In the fourth, the Spurs came back because they took the ball to the hole and Miami settled for threes, finally going cold from beyond the arc. Duncan, who scored 20, helped the Spurs race past the Heat and actually take a comfortable lead late in the fourth. But Miami wouldn't go away.

Parker was the hero of the game with 21 points, including a floater that beat the shot clock by a fraction of a second with five seconds left to play in the game. That put the Spurs up four and essentially sealed the victory.

San Antonio won 92-88, snatching home court from the Heat and taking a 1-0 lead in the series.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

An Ineffective Protest

At the Wilson Center yesterday former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke. He was interrupted by some pro-Palestinian protesters who screamed that he was a war criminal and that the Wilson Center should be ashamed for inviting him to speak at their institution.

The protest was ineffective. I went into the talk perceiving Prime Minister Olmert as a warmonger- I was against the Lebanon war. I left with a new appreciation of Olmert. That's probably not what the protesters- who were from SAIA (Students Against Israeli Apartheid), at least according to their t-shirts- were hoping for.

When the protesters' shouts weren't incomprehensible, they were hyperbolic. Their interruptions were rude at best. This was not a case of the voiceless making themselves heard. There was a question and answer period after Olmert spoke and they could have raised their hands and asked an informed tough question, which would have been a better alternative. If they were ignored then, that would have been the time to protest. Instead, they shirked their chance to add to the conversation productively and resorted to a gimmick.

The protesters could have asked if the justification for killing numerous innocent Lebanese and stoking the flames of anger against Israeli were really worth the short-term goals of the war. They could have asked what kind of impediment the Jewish settlers will present to the peace process. Instead, they turned their positions into a caricature by shouting nothing of substance.

Olmert answered the heckles with patience, grace, and humor. He was in complete control. He later received an inappropriate question from a Judge Grossman, who apparently is extremely right wing, and answered it convincingly. I came away impressed with Olmert's calm after receiving attacks from all sides. Jane Harmon, the head of the Wilson Center, reaffirmed her belief in free speech, but noted that the protesters, though well within their rights, had shown bad judgement. Her comments were appropriate and well-received.

For their part, the students were more nervous than anything else. The first boy paused in horror after Olmert's bodyguard motioned to security personnel. The boy cried, "What?!" in panic. Another boy's voice cracked as he whispered his inaudible protest.

Perhaps the protest would have been more effective if the students had been better trained, but I've never seen the interrupting tactic work well. I once went to a talk where Karl Rove of all people was the speaker. Rove made an ass of himself, yelling offensive rants at students who asked tough questions. The only time Rove looked good was during the interrupting protests. He merely sat there and smiled.

I also witnessed a Jewish group who berated Al Jazeera English's Washington correspondent. The Jewish group ruined the evening with their accusatory questions and statements, which were calmly and effectively answered by the journalist. But the Jewish group wouldn't quit and a chance at meaningful dialogue was missed.

I'm sure SAIA has some important things to add to the Middle East discussion. It's a shame they marginalized themselves yesterday at the Wilson Center.