Once upon a time, Shawn Marion was nicknamed the Matrix for his ability to defy the dual existential forces that are gravity and reality on a nightly basis. But the nickname might be better tailored for another non-physically related reason: Mysterious unpredictability. Marion’s abilities on the basketball court and his sometime selfish off the court persona disagreed so vehemently throughout his career that had it not been for this very playoff run with Dallas, the professional v. personal confrontation almost certainly would have provoked his collapse. He was this close to falling off the edge, but thanks to the cure- all-ailment that is winning, Shawn Marion is now living to fight another day. Read more…
The Laker Killer B’s could be the least intimidating, most inaccurate nickname for a threesome in the history of professional sports. Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, and Shannon Brown; a band of journeymen who’ve collectively played for 15 different teams and in these playoffs, only Brown managed to post a double digit scoring game (twice, in LA’s final two games of the season). Nobody in particular played well for L.A. in their unexpectedly short postseason. In the aftermath, starters like Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, and Andrew Bynum carried an almost unfair percentage of the burden while the team’s bench was really the most glaring weakness.
Of the three B’s, Shannon Brown is the only one who has anything left to offer moving forward. Apart from his athleticism, which is more or less what he’s most known for, Brown’s true shooting percentage stayed the same despite taking over two more shots per game—a definite good sign—but while his three-point percentage took a two point hike, his rate from 16-23 feet took a noticeable fall from 41 to 33 percent. Sometimes players try to prove they can do what they can’t, accentuating their weaknesses instead of playing to their strengths. For Brown, that’s attacking the basket and staying aggressive when those more talented teammates are diverting the defense’s attention. More crossover, less fadeaway.
Not sure if this is true, a rumor, or just an unfortunate lie, but the latest out of South Beach has Nuggets guard J.R. Smith crossing fun’s legal limit late last night. I like J.R. Smith: The way he shoots threes completely out of sync with the game’s flow yet make them 70 percent of the time is very Manu Ginobili, and when all the great athletes in the NBA are boiled down his distinct agility sets him apart more than any tattoo ever could or should. Smith was blessed with Household-Name talent but has a Should’ve-Gone-To-College mind. A murky combination for someone entering free agency.
The league should give out an annual “Youtube Award” for the player who did the most eye-popping, acrobatically insane moves throughout the season. If you know what Youtube is then the criteria to win is self explanatory; the moves—whether they be dunks, crossovers, or 360 layups—would be powerful enough to inspire conversation during awkward downtime at the office. They’d have friends shooting each other text messages all over the country and word would spread through Twitter like a new flu strain. The 2011 winner by majority decision would have to be Blake Griffin, but if we could somehow calculate the per 36 minute stats on who’s making jaws drop the most, my money would be on J.R. Smith.
Today, the good people over at the New York Times blessed us with this phenomenal mini-documentary on the crossover dribble. If you haven’t seen or heard about it, please watch right now. Don’t even read the rest of what’s written in this post. Scroll down and watch. Right. Now. (Then scroll back and read.)
The only grievance I have is its contracted length (only six minutes and 30 seconds), but the informative throwback spots with guys like Pearl Washington and Dean Berry are simply priceless, and their words are well worth every taped moment. The video stimulates one of my all-time favorite basketball related arguments: Who has the most effective crossover in NBA history? Iverson owns the most iconic, and Hardaway’s basketball legacy might be most entwined with the move, but the way modern day guys like Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams break out their shimmy at the drop of a dime to not only score, but embarrass their opponents, it’s so tough to say who fits snuggest on the Crossover’s throne.
But, honestly, who cares who’s the most effective with it. The move represents so much more than evading the defender. It’s stylish. It’s elegant. It’s a big jumble of speed, power, deception, and confidence rolled into a never ending split second. And this video, combined with Shaky Ankles in its much smaller venue, has begun to recognize just how special such a simple dribbling maneuver can be.
Wait, I know that earlier I said I only had one complaint in regards to the video you’re either about to see or just saw. That was a lie. I wish I made it.
When the May 2011 Vanity Fair was delivered to my front door about a month ago, I was a smidge disgusted. Not with the shirtless, devilishly handsome Rob Lowe puffing his biceps out in a desperate attempt at affect, but the scandalous headline just above the masthead. It read: Bill Gates Tried to Screw Me Out of Billions! By Paul Allen. The same Paul Allen who’s worth roughly $14 billion and doesn’t come off playing the role of victim with a natural flair. I mean, the guy has his big toe dipped into three separate professional sports leagues as an owner, and boasts two of the 100 largest yachts in the world. Nobody need feel bad for something that (supposedly) took place over 30 years ago. To write the book was petty, but it pails in comparison to an inconceivable act two days ago. The sightless firing of his general manager, Rich Cho, not only makes him look bad, it embarrasses one of the league’s proudest organizations and could eventually restrict an all-time great fan base from expanding. Read more…
Back when I was in high school, at least twice a month I elected to get my hair cut at a communal barbershop located just outside Cambridge’s Central Square. Each time I visited I was greeted with vivacious conversation surrounding one of three topics: Basketball, boxing, and African-American artistry. The discussions were almost ceremonious in their consistency; questions were posed, debated, and ultimately resolved by whoever happened to be holding the long, potentially threatening, wooden broom. Men of wide ranging knowledge such as Henry Louis Gates Jr. were regular participants, and the chatter which made the shop palatial would put any talking head program airing on popular television today to permanent shame. Read more…
Physically speaking, this shouldn’t happen. A seven-footer shouldn’t have the hand eye coordination to cross anyone up, let alone an NBA All-Star. But this is arguably the league’s most athletic freak ever put together. He was a supreme rebounding Kevin Durant with post moves, better court vision, and defensive ability while the real Kevin Durant was in elementary school. He’s a once in a lifetime player and watching his career come to and end has either been very difficult or filled with vengeance, depending on what side of the fence you’re leaning.
As the Celtics saddle their horses for one final go at a championship with Garnett as their defensive anchor, a small measure of consequence remains on the line. Garnett’s a first ballot Hall of Famer, there’s no denying that. But as a new wave of audacious talent springs itself into the league, ready to take what’s isn’t necessarily theirs before their time has come, can Garnett further reinvent himself and help prop up the Celtics fast closing window? If any player has what it takes inside, it’s him.
Nick Van Exel was such an enigmatic player. In a way he was a bit ahead of his time, especially early in his career. The arrogant, semi-egomaniacal little guy who had to play the unenviable dual role of being the most talented player on his team while also directing everyone else as the point guard. He was the subject for one of FreeDarko’s final posts, and for basketball fans seeking some revisionism I suggest reading it. Here, you can catch him embarrassing Kenny Smith, one of my all-time favorite TV personalities, with a spin move and laser beam mid-range jumper. Good times.
For all the wonder and magic this postseason has brought basketball fans all over the world these past few weeks, nothing impresses me more than J.J. Barea, the 5’2″ (Ron Artest guesstimate) Puerto Rican point guard currently backing up Jason Kidd in Dallas. He’s the Mavericks instant satisfaction; the lighter in their back pocket when nobody seems to have any fire. I wrote in detail on the virtuoso that is Barea a few weeks ago for Both Teams Played Hard so I won’t go too much into detail in the space here. But I will ask this: Can you think of a more unreal, totally non-believable story than this guy’s? (He went to Northeastern!) Each time he drives to the basket he’s putting himself in harms way, yet he keeps coming back for more, like some sort of half Oliver Twist, half Michael Myers monster. I realize most of his success is coming by way of the defense refusing to leave Dirk on the high pick and roll, but come on, seriously. If you’re Scott Brooks, how much more of this guy getting free layups can you stand to take? On second thought forget about him, Scott. This is making some great prime time television.
Penny, Penny, Penny. Few primes do we miss more than yours. That left to right, between the legs, spin back left shimmy was mind blowing visual ecstasy, and if we could somehow freeze the 24-year-old version of you, thaw it out, and replace Gilbert Arenas’ name with yours on the current roster, there’s no telling what type of dominant tandem the league would have on its hands down in Orlando.
Penny, you shot 51% from the field in your second year, taking only 15 shots a game. Just icing on the cake for a four board, seven assist, two steal, and 20 points per game season. Magical. You started in all four All-Star games you participated in, and registered double digit scoring for all but one (on 62.5% shooting). This clip is for all fans of the Orlando Magic. With Dwight Howard inching out the door things may look bleak in the years ahead. But as tonight’s lottery both humbles and rewards the unfortunate teams who had a rough go of it this year, a reminder is placed on an important life lesson: Patience is rewarded. Hopefully, for fans in Orlando, it takes the form of another Anfernee Hardaway.