In a recent meeting with Philadelphia’s press, incoming Sixers guard Nick Young was asked about the Most Improved Player trophy—as in, his new head coach, Doug Collins, had previously said it should be Young’s goal, and was he interested in winning it? The answer was an interesting one:
When I first saw this press conference, it intrigued me. The prospect of Nick Young wanting to be the NBA’s Most Improved Player is an interesting one because if in the unprecedented case he were to find himself in the running at the end of the season, it wouldn’t be due to an incredible scoring average or improved shooter’s touch. In order to win the award, Young would have to correct his largest flaw: an inability to pass. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Read more…
Interested in having your mind blown? Listen up. Derek Fisher was on the court for the final 17:15 in Tuesday night’s Game 2. Let me repeat: Derek Fisher was on the court for the final 17:15 in Tuesday night’s Game 2! This is the Western Conference Finals we’re talking about. For Fisher to play 17:15 straight minutes in my BSSC league would be an absolute travesty. How is this possible? Why on Earth would the Thunder ride Derek Fisher down the stretch in a crucial game that they technically weren’t out of, over someone like Thabo Sefolosha, a longer defender who can shoot threes just the same. It’s my guess that Scott Brooks’ logic here was trying to catch up with San Antonio’s dominant offense, but even with the league’s best scorer, best scoring point guard (who’s healthy), and third best scoring shooting guard (who’s healthy) on your roster, that’s an utterly inane strategy. That’s how great these Spurs have been. You don’t put out a fire by flicking matches in its direction. Read more…
Sometimes a simple positional designation isn’t practical. Recently, there’s been a slew of talented, successful players who’ve entered the league with an awkward size and skill set pairing. Big guys who don’t know how to rebound but can shoot like two guards, or players in the backcourt who aren’t the most adept at handling the ball but on the defensive end take on the persona of their team’s toughest player. When the game was created there were only five positions and each participant was crammed into one, making it their definition. Today, it’s different. Read more…
Last night against the Celtics, in what just so happened to be the very first start of his promising professional career, I was able to watch MarShon Brooks play basketball for the very first time. As the Boston Herald’s Dan Duggan points out in this piece, Brooks was astonishing. He scored 17 points on 16 shots, (with 0 assists; sad face) and confounded a Celtics defense that is just beginning to round itself into their elite level. In the first half he was active off the ball, using screens to get open like he’d been doing it all his life; according to Synergy, of the nine plays New Jersey ran with isolation, Brooks scored on four of them. Read more…
A few nights ago, Jazz starting center Al Jefferson was deplorable in his first game of the season. Before we get into analyzing the plays that created such disfunction, lets look at the actual numbers that were, for lack of a better word, produced. In 25 minutes, Jefferson was 2-16 from the field, had no trips to the free-throw line, was rejected three times, and grabbed 10 rebounds. After the game, he explained his difficulties to reporters as being due to the “basketball Gods” failing to keep him company. Read more…
Jamal Crawford is officially a member of the Portland Trailblazers, and all I can do is exhale. In the days before making his ultimate decision to head for the Pacific Northwest, Crawford was rumored to have narrowed his destination down to three teams: Portland, New York, and Sacramento. Indiana entered the cookie jar, but after short-changing the former Sixth Man of the Year with a reported two-year, $10 million offer, left empty handed.
In the end, both parties made fitting decisions. With no Brandon Roy—and to a lesser extent, Rudy Fernandez—the Blazers had a hole to fill in their backcourt, preferably with an unafraid scoring two guard who could create for himself with no outside help. That’d be nice. Read more…
Yesterday, it was reported that Tyson Chandler, the much desired free agent center who’s assumed a fair share of praise for helping Dallas defeat Miami in last year’s NBA Finals, will meet with Golden State team officials this week. The cement mix is far from dry—Houston, New Jersey, Dallas, and an always lingering team in the shadows all want him badly—but if the Warriors are able to use Chandler as an announcement to the league that they’re serious about trying to win big—and soon—then we might be witnessing the birth of a legitimate contender, sooner than anybody could’ve imagined. Read more…
For the past 15 years basketball enthusiasts across the world have united on a mad treasure hunt, eyes wide, in search of the next Michael Jordan. For analysts and writers who’re naive enough to believe this person exists or has yet to take his first dribble, stop and take a look here. Slowly process the information; let the incomprehensibility of these numbers seep through the eyes and into your brain. My mother used to tell me in an enlightened tone to “never say never”—that I’ll get burned every time. For the most part I agree with the adage. That being said, there will never be another Michael Jordan. Not in 10 years, not in 200…never.
Now on another, equally unfair level, people have been making “side-kick” comparisons to Scottie Pippen for just as long. Every time a modern day superstar comes along, whoever the team’s second best player is (unfortunately for him) gets measured against one of the greatest all-around players to ever take the court. People aren’t looking for the next Scottie Pippen with the same fervor as they do Jordan, but his place in history is as firmly cemented in its own way, as the greatest right hand man of all-time (I deliver this title with full admiration and the highest regard). Just as there will never be another Michael Jordan, no basketball player will ever match the varied skill set, mental resiliency, and overall, well-rounded ability that Scottie Pippen put on display for 15 memorable years.
Late last week, Horace Grant announced his belief that Carlos Boozer could become the Scottie Pippen to Derrick Rose’s Michael Jordan. From ESPNChicago:
…to take the next step toward becoming a perennial championship contender, Grant knows that the man who currently fills his old role as power forward, Carlos Boozer, must take another step in his progression and rebound from a lackluster postseason. “Boozer needs to be, for lack of a better phrase, Scottie Pippen to a Michael Jordan,” Grant said Friday morning after a breakfast at Dandenong Stadium.
This statement mixes delusion with visual impairment. Grant, who criticized Boozer for a lack of mental toughness/basketball ability during last year’s playoffs, is doing a complete 180 on that previously correct assertion. Obviously, he isn’t saying here that Boozer would be capable of switching positions and emulating the Hall of Fame point forward, but instead take the role of reliable secondary scoring option, and do-it-all everyman who consistently does the right thing, outside the spotlight.
When asked if he agreed that Boozer could fill a Scottie Pippen type role and eventually lead the Bulls to a championship, Ron Harper—a man of noted superior intelligence when compared to Horace Grant—had one word: No.
“I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic. I don’t like it…I hate gay people.”
Four years ago Tim Hardaway uttered those words. Words powerful enough to alter a legacy and shatter a reputation. Words with enough meaning to create a destructive, likely irreversible consequence. The league’s reaction to their speaker was swift separation, like a butcher knife to a steak’s artery clogging fat. The public reaction was horrified disbelief. How could someone be dumb enough to say that on the radio? Faster than it once took him to magically transform his defender into a folding chair, Hardaway’s image mutated from King of the Killer Crossover to homophobic bigot; it was well-deserved.
Speaking as someone who grew up in a particularly accepting environment—with well over a handful of homosexual friends and members of my family—my personal reaction to Tim Hardaway’s intolerance was strenuous. Growing up he was a basketball player I emulated everyday, practicing elusive ball handling moves on make-believe opponents until I was confident enough to showcase them in a real game; watching the mid-90′s Miami Heat with no rooting interest besides Tim Hardaway’s individual success.
When it came time to make this website, Hardaway hung over my conscience. I tried to separate “I Hate Gay People” with “I Love When Basketball Players Make Each Other Fall”, but, obviously, that’s a very difficult thing to do. I stayed away from including him for a few months and chose not to place his image on my banner, realizing in the end what he represented spreads wider than a simple basketball move, and it wasn’t something I aspired to align with.
But deep down a small part of me felt bad for Hardaway. Everyone in this country has a fair opportunity to speak without fear of imprisonment or punishment, and the five-time All-Star chose to take advantage of that right and express himself demonstratively—as a public figure unaware of his own cultural significance, and the self-destructive aftermath his words would quickly create. Hatred is strong enough to project people as one-dimensional. Hardaway learned this the hard way. But he learned, nonetheless.
“It’s not right to not let the gays and lesbians have equal rights here,” said the 44-year-old, who has been working with gay rights groups in Miami and is now lending an assist to El Paso’s “No Recall Group,” opposing the recall of Cook and City Reps. Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega, who voted to re-establish domestic partner benefits for gay and unmarried partners of city employees.
“If I know El Paso, like they came together when the 1966 team won a championship and Don Haskins started those five guys,” Hardaway said, “I know the city will grow and understand that gays and lesbians need equal rights.”
Hardaway told ABC-7 his “change of heart” came from those closest to him.
“My family and friends came to me and were like, ‘What are you doing?’” Hardaway said. “I talked to them and they made me understand that wasn’t right.”
Hardaway, whose jersey was retired last year by the Miami Heat, has only recently begun to gain acceptance back in NBA circles. He is currently the vice president of community relations for the Heat.
Just as freedom of speech is one of our great nationalistic satisfactions, so is redemption. When mixed with time and an understanding majority, a sincere apology will usually yield forgiveness. But a sincere apology does not come in the form of words. A sincere apology in such a serious circumstance is only powerful when presented in physical action. Last Thursday Tim Hardaway subjected himself to the public in a non-basketball related way once again, standing up for the equal rights “Gay and Lesbian people have no right not to have.” He could easily have sat for his remaining days as a recluse, living in the shadows as a private dweller whose legacy was bulldozed from beloved NBA player to condemned philistine, but he didn’t. It was brave for him to speak out in what could publicly be seen as an artificial attempt at regaining the admiration he once had, and if he truly believes what he’s saying—which I believe to be the case—then Hardaways’s cultural standing should change once again. Instead of celebrated professional athlete and owner of one of the most feared basketball moves this game has ever known, Tim Hardaway should be seen as something far more important: A compassionate human being.Follow @ShakyAnkles