The Miami Heat’s 27 game–and counting–win streak is the talk of the NBA, as it should be. It’s one of the most difficult things to do in a team sport, and it should be cherished like it rightfully has been. They’re beating everyone, and even when it seems like they’ve let down their intensity–ahem, Cleveland–they still find a to right the ship and get the victory.
But they’re still six games away from tying the record held by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33-straight before falling to a Bucks team led by Lew Alcinder and Oscar Robertson (coincidentally, the Heat’s 34th game would also come against Milwaukee, but Larry Sanders is no Kareem and Brandon Jennings only wishes he was as good as late-career “Big O”).
The Heat are currently in the midst of a 4-game road swing that has them in Chicago Wednesday night, in New Orleans (a team, it should be noted, who ended Denver’s winning streak last night) on Friday and in San Antonio Sunday night. That tough road stretch could spell the end of their historical run. Read more…
If various reports regarding Michael Jordan’s cold refusal of accepting an even 50-50 BRI split are true, then he is the world’s most embarrassing spokesman for unnecessary self-preservation. Now, there’s a good chance this report is not an accurate one, but the details don’t sound ridiculous. For Jordan, they’re quite believable. By all accounts he has been an unreasonable, bitter man for much of his adult life. A refusal to give in, so admirable in him as a player, is ruthless and sickening as a middle-aged man in the real world, and it’s instigating rightful anger in the hearts of fans who used to scream his name until their throats hurt.
(While we’re here, I have a question: Why can’t Michael Jordan dress clean? He’s a multi-million dollar global enterprise who regularly associates with CEOs and business executives yet the man can’t tuck in a shirt or match his belt with a pair of $900 dollar Italian handmade shoes. The man’s style is downright shameful, and if he were to ever make a public apology for all the insensitive things he’s done and/or said in his life, this should be included. I feel bad for his family.)
Here’s Tim Hardaway doing what an uncountable number of people would love to accomplish: Embarrass a man who has it all but wants even more.
If you don’t feel sorry for Byron Russell, chances are your soul is imaginary. The guy is forever etched as a casualty in the league’s most picturesque, historic moment. Most men, thin skin and all, when put through something like that—in front of the world’s eye—would live an insufferable existence. And by all account Russell may be a thin skinned man. This double crossover courtesy of Michael Jordan is the exact opposite of something that might make him feel better.
This move is just…wow. An all-time highlight inside the all-time career. Metaphorically, the full speed fearlessness that Jordan goes at as he breaks Nick Anderson down really says something—and I’m not picking on Anderson here, that could be Gary Payton or Scottie Pippen, it doesn’t matter. This play encapsulates Jordan’s best, and nobody can keep up with Jordan’s best. The only option is a slow backpedaling stumble into a lower tier of basketball player. As you fall, he blows by. As you turn to recover, he’s flying through the air. Jordan was great at limiting your options, and in a way he makes the life of a defender comforting. No use in losing sleep over something that’s really out of your hands.
Recommended Reading is a daily (occasional) rundown of truly superb NBA related literature, pictures, and videos. Some is brand new, others are timeless. Enjoy!
7th Inning Sketch: Gary Finkler, creator of this delightful cartoon and sport hybrid of a website, reached out a few days ago to spread the word, so here it is: The site’s a must see. Especially if you’re into magic.
ESPN 5-on-5: In their daily series analyzing each position’s totem pole, various True Hoop scribes and some random people on Twitter take a look at LeBron James and everyone else. Or as it’s sometimes referred to as, the small forward position. Interesting who almost everyone agreed to be the position’s most overrated player.
Hardwood Paroxysm: It’s so hard to explain why Andrei Kirilenko is still a relevant basketball player. Yet he remains so.
Few Hall of Famers have lived a weirder post-playing days public life than Isiah Thomas. Rather than dive into the long list of reasons why, let’s celebrate what the man was truly put on this earth to accomplish: Playing basketball. (And more specifically, crossing up Michael Jordan.)
To be honest I’m not positive that this actually took place in a playoff game, but being that it’s a timely topic let’s pretend it did. Whenever Michael Jordan falls over on a basketball court, chalk it up as the rarest of the rare—even rarer than Chris Paul keeping his mouth piece in to taunt a helpless defender or Kevin Durant smiling after a precise fourth quarter crowd silencer. The inconceivability of it all almost overshadows how brilliant the move is, the quickness in Joe Dumars’ legs to spin like that and then finish with a difficult reverse is the stuff of wondrous athleticism. And the way he runs back on defense praying Jordan was briefly stricken with short term amnesia makes the whole thing feel like there should be a “Part II: MJ Strikes Back” B-side. Props to Joe, didn’t know he had it in him.
This is one of the quicker crossovers you’ll ever see; Jordan doesn’t even give Mr. McHale enough time to fall over.
Despite defeating both participants in last year’s NBA finals and constructing an unbelievable comeback against the mighty Atlanta Hawks, all in the past week, the Charlotte Bobcats aren’t an elite basketball team. This year’s actually been quite disappointing. They’ve undergone a coaching change, are currently stuck in borderline playoff berth purgatory, and base their most interesting news around whether their owner will ever play again. Right now they’re a ninth seed in the East. Even if they make the postseason, they’ll surely be eliminated by either Boston, Miami, or Chicago in four or five games. Their aforementioned owner would love to trim payroll, blow up the current roster, and start from scratch—though, given Jordan’s history, it’d be through free agency instead of draft development. And so, over the past couple months, three of their most useful and highly paid players—Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, and Boris Diaw—have been rumored to be on the move.
This from the Charlotte Observer:
Bobcats management is apparently assessing its trade options. The two sources – executives with other NBA teams – spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “It would not surprise me at all’’ if the Bobcats move one of their top players, one source said. “I will say I think they’re asking for a lot.’’ … “I’d think they’re proposing different scenarios to different teams; maybe 15 or 20,’’ said one of the sources, adding that Chicago and Detroit might be two teams receptive to making a deal.
All three of them could help aid a title contender—most notably Wallace who is one season removed from an All-Star game appearance—but how and which ones? With the trade deadline approaching, Charlotte should find themselves in a Sell! Sell! Sell! situation, so let’s discuss each player one at a time, including contract situations, how they’ve performed this season, and what they could bring to the table for a hopeful suitor.
Contract Baggage: Two years, $22 million (player option in the second year). Not bad for a 28-year-old athletic marvel who’s supposed to be entering his prime.
Stats: 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 43 percent from the field, 34 percent from beyond the arc. His numbers are down across the board from last season’s All-Star campaign. He isn’t getting to the free thrown line as much either, despite his usage percentage remaining the same. But Wallace is playing like someone who’s screaming for a change of scenery and reading too much into a dip in his numbers would be a certain mistake.
Admirers: Granted this news broke exactly one month ago, but the most recent suitor in want of Wallace is the Cleveland Cavaliers—the exact opposite of a contender. What this would do is give Cleveland a legitimate small forward in their starting lineup for the next season or two, but unfortunately his name isn’t LeBron. From Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
The Cavaliers would use their trade exception to acquire Wallace, but have also pushed for a lottery-protected first-round pick for them to take on the two years and $22 million left on Wallace’s contract through the 2012-13 season, the source said. The Bobcats would receive a $10 million trade exception in return.
This likely won’t happen because of Wallace’s player option for the 2012-13 season. Nobody wants to play in Cleveland right now; their road to success is long, windy, and destined to go through the draft. Giving something up for a one year rental wouldn’t be the brightest move. Wallace’s skills would better be suited for a championship contending, business-like professional team like Dallas, where everyone knows and sticks to their roles. He’d be a more than suitable replacement for Caron Butler, someone to help cover the West’s more dynamic threats come playoff time (like Kobe, Manu, Carmelo, and Kevin Durant).
Ability: The best and, as just mentioned, the most permeable player of the three, Wallace doesn’t need the ball in his hands to impact basketball games; he made the first team NBA All-Defensive team last year and could seamlessly fit into the role of glue guy if not the primary offensive option for a team. Gerald Wallace can guard all five positions, while swooping up and down the court, helping facilitate easy baskets.
Contract Baggage: One year, $9 million. Slightly pricey for the underachieving Frenchman, but not too terrible for a general manager looking for a dependable body with playoff experience. Also, depending on the new CBA’s resolution, he could be dangled as a valuable expiring contract next season.
Stats: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 49 percent from the field, 35 percent from beyond the arc. Playing in his eighth season, Diaw has had plenty of time to paint a picture on what kind of player he is, and this season’s performance hovers right around his career averages. He’s not miraculous or terrible, just solid.
Admirers: Teams looking to add Diaw could be contenders, or someone interested in shedding salary next year. One team that’s in dire need of a backup big man is Orlando, but it’s questionable as to what impact a player like Diaw would bring in the role of Dwight Howard’s backup. This from the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn in late December.
“The one thing I want to do is to bring energy to this ball club,’’ [Bobcats head coach] Silas said. “We are going to have to try to get up and down so the fans can see us at our best.’’
First, the Bobcats need a front-line point guard. They would love to move the final two years of Jackson’s deal to get one, but Wallace seems more likely because he’s younger and comes with less baggage.
Also, look for the Bobcats to try to gain cap relief by offering Boris Diaw to Orlando for the expiring contract of Jason Richardson, a former Bobcat. Diaw has a player option for $9 million next season, while Richardson’s $14.4 million comes off the books.
Come playoff time when Orlando needs to defeat either Boston or Miami to advance, Diaw’s numbers this season are nothing special: 8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and that’s as a starter. (Although against Boston, this year, he’s shooting 64 percent from the floor.)
Ability: As doughy as a professional basketball player can get; it’s almost as if every time an announcing team covers Boris Diaw, a contractual obligation requires them to mention his weight problems. He’s the third or fourth best player Charlotte has, depending what you think of D.J. Augustin, and how much of a contribution he can have on a contending team is debatable. For the most part, he doesn’t get injured and was the league’s Most Improved Player in 2006. So yea, that’s pretty much what he’s got going on.
Contract Baggage: Two years, $19.3 million (guaranteed). A contract for the desperate.
Stats: 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 41 percent from the field, 34 percent from beyond the arc. Looking at Jackson’s career numbers, his consistency as a scorer is actually quite surprising; since 2007 he’s averaged at least 20 points per game. Unfortunately, due to what he’s chosen to partake in off the court, this doesn’t mean too much, especially if Jackson is traded to a winning team with their scorers already set in place.
Admirers: Not sure how anyone can truly admire Jackson, for several reasons. Maybe “approaching at their own peril” would be a better description for the teams trying to get him. According to Hoopsworld, several teams have reportedly inquired about him.
Among the teams rumored to have interest in Jackson are the Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls and, of course, the Los Angeles Lakers. All three are a lock for the playoffs but, at one point or another, felt like they needed a spark at the guard position.
Sources say Dallas expressed interest in Jackson shortly after Caron Butler went down with a season-ending knee injury in early January. The Mavs interest faded shortly thereafter due to the high price they would have had to pay for the 32-year old shooting guard (Butler’s expiring, cash and a pick was likely the ceiling for Dallas) and now, coming off of a 10-game winning streak, it appears their infatuation with Jackson is over.
In late December it appeared Chicago was interested in the Bobcats’ swingman, but the Bulls purportedly didn’t want to surrender Taj Gibson as a part of the deal to pick up Jackson, and feel there are better, younger options on the market such as the Nuggets’ J.R. Smith and the Grizzlies O.J. Mayo.
The Lakers were rumored to have discussed the prospect of sending the struggling Ron Artest and cash to the Bobcats for Jackson.
Of the three Bobcats on the trading block, Jackson is the one Jordan would most like to move. He’s also the least likely.
Ability: He’s a pure scorer with some decent length. He’s also an underrated passer and pretty good teammate. His reputation on the court is one of a hard working, emotional, savvy veteran. An above average player in the league, and someone who’s worked on his game and improved dramatically throughout a decade long career. With that being said, now that Rasheed Wallace is gone, Jackson is the craziest person in the league (until Ron Artest burns his house down).