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This looks and feels very familiar to me. I’ve been here before. The Pacers are coming off of a devastating Conference Finals lost. Same core, young budding star and the belief that they can win it all.Image Where have I seen this before?

Oh, I remember now. Reggie Miller and company. They lost to Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the 1998 Conference Finals. How did they bounce back? By losing to New York in the Conference Finals the following season, To their credit, they did get over that hump and finally made it to the Finals in 2000. There they lost to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s Lakers. Their first in what will later become a three-peat.

The Jermaine O’Neal led Pacers did it as well. In 2004 they lost in the Conference ARTESTFinals to the Detroit Pistons. In 2005, same two team, same results. The following season, 2006, the year that I believed, I really believed, that the Pacers were going to win the championship…The Brawl. Need I say more? Possibly the best Pacer team ever, poof, up in smoke. Gone. Everybody suspended, D-Leaguers on the court.
I cried. Seriously.
That brings us to Paul George’s Indiana Pacers. 2013 Conference Finals lost against the Miami Heat. What’s going to happen next? To be honest with you, I can live with a repeat. I’m fine if they lose to Miami again in the Conference Finals. I’d be content with that. This coming season the Eastern Conference will be more competitive than it’s been in years. But Indiana deserves a break sooner or later. I mean, this is Indiana! Basketball is like a religion here.

I would like to go to Indianapolis for a parade. I want some Pacers championship gear, a fitted cap of course. It probably won’t happen this year but I do think we have one thing in our favor. You have no idea what Paul George is going to be this time next year.  Hibbert either.
George & Hibbert vs Hawks 2013Time to raise the roof because the ceiling is high (that sounded better in my head). Larry Bird is up to old tricks again. While everyone else was asleep he was building a contender.

Burning Questions:

Question: Should Indiana trade Granger?
MY Answer: No. According to reports, Granger is perfectly willing to let George and Hibbert have the ball and he’ll “score within the offense”. “Kick-outs, transition, mid-range jumpers”. When the game is on the line he “knows that ball is going to be in George’s hands” and he’ll “just spot up and be ready if Paul (George) has to kick it out”. Granger is happy that he’s “finally be playing for a championship contender”. He’s a great bargaining chip as his contract is expiring next off-season, but he can shoot as well as ANY other 3-point specialist in the league. If the George and Hibbert attract double teams, it won’t from Granger’s man. I think he’ll work with them on a new contract. He knows he’s not going to get anymore big money elsewhere either.

Question: Is Paul George a real superstar?
MY Answer: Not yet but I see no reason why he can’t be one. He’s still young, he’s mature, focused. Just a matter of time.

Question: Do the Pacers need a traditional PG?
MY Answer: No, a traditional PG would just limit George’s touches. Imagine Miami had Chris Paul for instance. Would Lebron be as effective? No. He’s the playmaker, they don’t need CP3. Same case in Indiana. As long as Hill can knock down threes, it’s good.

Question: What do I consider the biggest factors in the Pacers taking that next step?
MY Answer: The development of George, Hibbert and (drumroll please) Lance Stephenson. I call him X-Factor.  He’s physically gifted and a fierce competitor. He’s also turnover pron has no conscience. He made big stride last season and let’s hope that continues.

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Hello, and welcome back to BI08’s NBA Blog.  I know that it’s been a while, sorry but I was sidetracked by life.
Anyway…due to the long layoff, I will start my blog back up by giving you guys a inside look at the players and teams that I pay particularly close attention to and why. I must say though, ultimately I am a basketball and NBA fan before any one individual or team. If I feel like Kobe and LA are playing like garbage, I will put it out there.
By the way, Kobe and LA are playing like garbage!

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant & Carmelo Anthony

My Favorites:

First and foremost, favorite has nothing to do with best.

Fav 5 Players

1. Kobe BryantThe total package. The most skilled basketball player I’ve ever seen. Inside-out, catch and shoot or off of the dribble. I personally think that he has the largest offensive repertoire in history…and he’s a lock down defender. Although I have been a “Mamba” fan for 16 years (his entire NBA career) he has “officially” been my favorite player since Reggie Miller retired. INDIANA REPRESENTING.

2. Derrick Rose The shy, quiet Chicago kid with a game so loud that everyone had to stand up and recognize. Despite all of the super DUPER stars in the NBA today, “Fast Don’t Lie” quietly zoomed by the competition two season ago to claim the MVP trophy. “Too big, too strong, too fast, too good” as Stacey King would say. I once heard a commentator call him “the Blake Griffin of point guards”. I absolutely love him to death.

3. Carmelo Anthony Poetry in motion. Like Kevin Durant, he makes basketball look so easy and effortless. What he can do at his size and stature is amazing. His ball handling, footwork, head fakes and jabs steps keeps defender off balance all game long. He’s  creative, crafty and one thing that I keep hearing more and more these days, strong as a bull. The hardest cover in the NBA.

4. Kevin Durant Dude can knock down shots in his sleep. There is no doubt in my mind that he will retire as the best scorer in history.  He’s almost 7 feet tall and he has small forward handles. His jumper is wet from the parking lot and if he gets anywhere near the painted area, watch your head. The only reason why he isn’t the hardest cover in the NBA is because he can’t play with his back to the basket…YET!

5. Paul George As you’ve probably noticed by now, my favorite players come from my favorite teams…and PG is the “next big thing” in Indiana. Long, athletic, dedicated. I love the strides that he’s making this season. He has MOST of the tools needed to be a big time talent in this league. The only thing that I haven’t seen from him yet is fire. As Coach Popovich would say “let’s get a little nasty”.

 

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Derrick Rose & Joachim Noah are just two of the reason why King James is considering Chicago.

In light of the big summer ahead of us, I just thought that I would take this time to pledge my allegiance to the Chicago Bulls. I’ve liked them for a few years now. I’m not sure exactly when I started liking them but by the time the curtain fell on that Boston series in 2009, it was official. Chicago is my Eastern Conference team. I’ve said it the entire year but I’m not sure who was paying attention. I just wanted to make it clear again before Lebron signs with Chicago and everyone accuses me of jumping on the bandwagon. You guys know me, I hate bandwagon jumpers.
As many of you know, and just as many may not know, I am a Derrick Rose fanatic. He’s been my favorite point guards since about March 2009 and now has catapulted into my overall “Fav Five”. Now, I would just like to remind you all that the words “favorite” and “best” are two totally different words with totally different meanings. I’m not even thinking of throwing Rose into a “best in the NBA” conversation, but as far as my favorite players are concerned he’s way up there.
Overall, the caliber of point guards in the NBA right now is at an all time high. Almost every team in the league has a good point, whether it be a wily veteran like Steve Nash or Jason Kidd, or a young stud like Tyreke Evans or Stephen Curry. Even New Jersey, the worst team in the NBA, has Devon Harris. Yes, last season he spent most of his time nursing injuries but in 2009 he made the all-star team. Some people were even questioning if the Jason Kidd trade was a good idea. In fact, the only team that played last season without an adequate PG was Washington, and next season they’ll have two. Gilbert Arenas will be back and they’ll more than likely draft John Wall later this month.
Still, D.Rose is my man!
Obviously he can use some maturing and developing, but that will come with experience. Other than that, Rose is one of the most physically gifted point guards in the league. He’s like the Lebron James of point guards. He’s big and strong but still small and quick. Of course, being that he has just completed his second season in the NBA and he is only 21 years old, his skills set could use some fine tuning before I can flat out call him the best point guard in the NBA. Hopefully taking part in the Olympic workouts during the summer will help expedite his development.
I also like Joakim Noah, a lot. Always have. I just like the package to be quite honest with you. He has length, agility, energy, work ethic and seems to be a genuinely good guy. The passion that he plays with is contagious. He has a great understanding of how to play defense be it zone, man-to-man or help/weak-side defense. He gets double digits points and rebounds, never falls asleep or skip plays and most importantly, you know that he is not going to get outworked. Add that with the things that you can teach or improve, things like footwork, rebound positioning, and a face up jump shot, and you have a very serviceable center for a decade. I’m also interested in seeing how bulky he gets this offseason, last summer he apparently became addicted to lifting wights.
In addition to that, you have Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. Luol has been through two uneventful, injury plagued seasons, but he’s healthy now. In his last full season, he averaged 18.8 points per game and 7.1 rebounds. Last season he averaged 17.6ppg and 7.7rebs, he just didn’t play enough games. If he do that for a full season, Chicago will be very, very good. Hinrich, as much as I like him, I would assign to back up duties. He would still play a lot of minutes at both guard spots and depending on who is starting at shooting guard, may play a lot of fourth quarters and tight, pressure situations. I’d just prefer having a taller shooting guard. I liked it when they had Thabo Sefolosha at that spot and Kirk coming off of the bench, but Thabo has finally found his place in the NBA as OKC’s defensive specialist. Other than that, I think Hinrich is genius. He can shoot and defend, and he’s one of the grittiest and toughest guys in the entire league.
If I were a free agent, Chi would definitely be on my radar. They have a lot of young talent, too bad they don’t have a coach yet. That could be the deciding factor.

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Artest, Brand and Ruffin...1999 Draft

I was never a Bulls fan. I was never a Michael Jordan fan. In fact while most of the world was watching in awe as Michael Jordan rewrote the record books in the 90’s, I was angry and bitter. I hated the Bulls with every ounce of blue and yellow Pacer blood in my body. Some of my friends call me a hater but in reality, it’s just competitiveness. In my opinion, if you were a Pacers fan in the 90’s you were suppose to hate Chicago. I know that I’m not the only one that feels that way. I have a close friends from New York that hates the Bulls too, wonder why.

Tyson Chandler was drafted 2nd overall in 2001 by the LA Clippers and traded immediately to Chicago for Elton Brand. Eddy Curry was drafted by the Bulls with the 4th pick.

Even though I was not a fan of Jordan, I have no problem with giving M.J. his props. Oh, I’m very fair when it comes to who has game. I’ve said it 1 million times and I will say it again for the record. Wilt is #1 and Jordan is #2 of all times. I have a huge problem with putting anyone over Wilt. I don’t think anyone will ever pass him…in my mind anyway. I also believe that you can argue that Oscar Robertson is the greatest of all times. So, even though M.J is widely considered to be #1, I don’t see it as clear-cut as everyone else.

With that said, I love today’s Bulls. I’ve tried to like them in the past, when they drafted Elton Brand back in 1999. He won the rookie of the year award and it looked as if Chicago had someone to build around. In addition to Brand, Chicago drafted R0n Artest the same year and Jamal Crawford the next year. They also had Ron Mercer and Brad Miller, and a few years later they drafted Jay Williams from Duke, remember him? So I thought Chicago was basically set for the future, but the never made it to the future.

First they traded Brand for Curry and Chandler, both of them on

Jamal Crawford was drafted by Cleveland in 2000 and traded to Chicago for Chris Mihm on draft day.

the court together could never match the production that Elton Brand was putting out. Two years later they traded Crawford to New York and a year later Artest and Miller to Indiana. Two year later, Artest is the defensive player of the year, Miller makes the All-Star team in Sacramento and Crawford…well, is Crawford. He’s never made an All-Star team nor won any individual awards, but we are well aware that he can score with almost anybody in the league.

Fast forward to 2004-2005. Chicago Bulls add Ben Gordon, Chris Duhon and Luol Deng through the draft and trades. Kirk is already there and Scott Skiles is beginning his first full year after taking over as head coach in the middle of the 2003-2004 season. That year Ben Gordon become the first rookie in NBA history to win the 6th man of the year award and Chicago made the playoffs for the first time since Michael Jordan’s 6th championship in 1998. Even though they were eliminated in the first round by Washington, the season in considered successful ending a 7 year playoff drought in Chi-town.

Promising PG Jay Williams was drafted by Chicago 2nd overall in 2002 but only played one season before suffering a near fatal motorcycle accident.

The following season, same results. Chicago, again, was eliminated in the first round, but this time by the eventual champions, Miami Heat.

Even though Chicago made two consecutive first round exits, spirits were still high in Chi. The Bulls were confident that this team could become special. They still needed a few pieces though before they could be considered an elite team, size and athleticism was one of those pieces. Along came Tyrus Thomas. Being that I live in Germany, I don’t have the chance to watch a lot of college basketball so I had never seen Tyrus Thomas play. Wow, was I in for a treat. When he first checked into the game, I remember thinking to myself  “so this is the rookie, let me check him out”. The first thing that I noticed was his hustle, his energy. At that time he was only a rookie, so it was more hyper than hustle. He was like a 12-year-old on his third cup of coffee. He chased every loose ball, jumped for every rebound and contested every shot. I like those type of players anyway, but little did I know, Tyrus also had a flair for the spectacular. In the following weeks and months, Tyrus kept popping up in Top 10 dunks and Top 10 blocks and the bandwagon just rolled downhill from there. I started watching the Bulls play more often and I became attached to the others on the team. Then came Noah, I like everyone from that Florida team, and last but not least Mr.Rose. Now I’m hooked, I like the Bulls, and just like any true sports fan, I think I can run the team better than the

Tyrus Thomas was drafted 4th overall in 2006 by the Portland Trailblazers and traded to Chicago for LaMarcus Aldridge who Chicago drafted 2nd in the same draft.

people in charge.

Unfortunately, my first move would be to trade T-Time. I really like him and I wish him a long prosperous career, but it’s the best move for the Bulls right now. Reason number one is because Chicago needs a change in personnel. It’s obvious the team that they have now is not going to succeed, and considering the way the East looks going into the future (Cleveland, Orlando, Miami,Atlanta) they’re not really any long-term expectations for this group either. And secondly, who else is Chicago going to trade? Or better yet, who else can Chicago give up and get something back? They have a lot of throw-in pieces but Chicago doesn’t want to throw-in…and I can’t say that I blame them. I wouldn’t want to give up Hinrich or Miller. We all know D.Rose is not going anywhere and Noah is probably pretty close to untradable as well.  I assume that they really like Taj Gibson and is banking on him as their future power forward which makes Tyrus Thomas expendable. I mean a 6’10” jumping bean. With long arms and great timing, passion and energy, an improving outside stroke and he’s only 23 years old. Now that sounds way better than, let’s say John Salmons. Can you possibly get anything back for John Salmons that is going to get you over the hump?

I’ve heard rumors that Chicago and New York is working on a deal to trade Tyrus Thomas and Al Harrington. That’s what I’m talking about! That’s a trade that would be good for everyone…including me. I’m already an Al Harringtom fan because of his Indian days, but over the last few years he’s really become a efficient scorer. I guess his time wasn’t wasted in Golden State and New York. I think he will open the floor up quite well in Chicago. He has league wide respect as a scorer, so he will not be left unguarded. He is older and more of a leader, more vocal than most people would think. He’s a professional.

T-Time, on the other hand will be able to run like the stallion that he is in D’Antoni’s free-for-all offense. He will step right into the starting line-up at PF in place of Jarred Jeffries and he will flourish. He will block shots, he will dunk on everyone and he will play a huge part in rebuilding the Knick’s pride and dignity and ultimately landing Lebron James.

Just when everyone thought I was turning on Tyrus Thomas, I’m doing him a favor and he will be thankful for it.

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I remember when I was young and had no real sense of time, I would ask my father “when is Christmas?” and he would answer, “shortly after basketball season begins”. So every year when basketball season began, I would start narrowing down my Christmas list. Over the course each year, I had looked at and like many different toys, but when basketball season came around I had to decide what was more important than what.  Well, baskeball season is still a ways off so I can be quite free with this list. I don’t expect to get all of it anyway.

1. Lamar Odom under contract ASAP.

Lamar Odom 001

Lamar Odom is not the only one tired of waiting

This has gone on long enough. This is a no brainer, WE NEED ODOM! Okay, LA is my team and Kobe is my man, but I think he should’ve renegotiated his contract to free up some money for Odom. He won’t miss a couple of millions dollars (easy for me to say). 18-19Mill per year is enough for any human being. Everyone wins with that senerio, Odom is happy, Artest is happy and ultimately Kobe, Pau, Coach Jackson and the entire organization will be happy for another three or four years because they will always be contenders and probably will win another championship within that time frame.
I would personally feel better as a representative of the “Kobe is the Best Player on the Planet” movement when I’m arguing his legacy ten years from now. Not only would it help Kobe (and I) in his personal goal (and mine) of 6 championships, it would really show his commitment to the Lakers after the fine job that they’ve done since he demanded a trade two years ago. Sacrifices must be made by you too Mr.Bryant.

2. Luol Deng healthy.

Did anyone watch that Boston vs Chicago first round series? What am I talking about?…Of course you watched it, everyone did.  I was really pleased at what I saw from those young guys Rose, Noah and Thomas.  I like Ben Gordon but I am glad that he is gone. I wanted him gone, but I would’ve traded him a long time ago and tried to get something in exchange. He is a lot like Allen Iverson in my opinion, he’s very explosive and can score in bunches but doesn’t really make your team better. Chicago and Derrick Rose will be better with Hinrich on the court. He has a higher basketball IQ, he’s more of a pass first guard and he plays hard-nosed defense, but to keep everything in perspective, he is still a role player. Noah and Thomas too. I mean, Rose is good but just ask  Lebron and D-Wade, it’s difficult to succeed in the NBA without another scorer riding shotgun.  That’s where Deng comes in. He’s riding shotgun this year, and I hope his rifle is pointing out of the window and not sitting in his lap as he’s had the tendency to do in the past.

Greg Oden 001

Greg Oden holds Portand's future in his hands

3. Greg Oden play 70 games.

I know what you are thinking, and you’re wrong. Oden is not a bust. He is still all of the potential that he was coming out of Ohio State. First of all He’s only 21 years old. Shaq is almost 37 now and Kareem and Mutombo played into their forties. Theoretically, Oden can still play 17-19 years.  As far as the injuries are concerned, you know what they say about young bones and healing. I have no boubts that he is 100% right this minute. He’s also stronger and has a firmer grasp on how basketball is played in Portland and his role. To be quite honest with you, I was even a bit hazy on his expectations coming out of college myself. He was coming to a team that already had two 20 point scorers, so I never expected him to be a big scorer or go-to guy anyway. I did expect him to average over ten rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game, and I still do. If he could score somewhere in the mid-teens, which is not totally out of the question, that would also help out considerably.  In conjuction with Lamarcus Aldridge’s near 20 points and 10 rebounds, Brandon Roy dropping someting in the mid-tewnties and adding 5 or 6 assist and rebounds next season and hopefully Bayless evolving into a solid point guard, they’re going to be tough to deal with for years to come.

Stocking Stuffers

It’s always nice to see a couple of Indiana guys get contracts. Congratulations and good luck to Sean May on his new contract with Sacremento.  I hope it works out for you. Also congratulations to Josh McRoberts for getting extended by the Pacers.

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Is His Airness the Greatest of all Times?

Is His Airness the Greatest of all Times?

Is it just me or does this question just get on your nerves. There is no correct answer, but still people love to sit around and argue their point. Honestly, that’s not what bothers me though. I will never turn down a nice basketball debate over any topic, as long as it is a proper debate, with both sides presenting evidence and/or meaningful grounds to support their argument. What bothers me is the basketball knowledge that these “debaters” have. Just the other day a guy at work asked me if I consider Michael Jordan the best NBA player of all times.

“No”, I said calmly “I’m going to have to go with Wilt.” I already know what’s coming next. He’s going to say “Are you crazy, nobody is better than Jordan!” or something to that effect, everyone does. Then he totally cathces me totally off guard,

Wilt Chamberlain once scored 100 point in a single game

Wilt Chamberlain once scored 100 point in a single game

“Who?” He asked puzzled as if this is the first time he’s ever heard that name in his life.

“Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain!” I replied. “You know that guy that once scored 100 points in a game. The guy that averaged 50 points in an entire season.”

“Nope, never heard of him” he said “but I guarantee he wasn’t as good as Jordan.”

What!? I’m really confused now. How can you have an opinion of someone that you’ve never heard of? I, of course, think that MJ was an exceptional player and definately in the top 2 or 3 in history but I can’t put him above Wilt Chamberlain. I’ve never seen Wilt play but his stats are mind boggling to me. The guy averaged 37 point and 27 rebounds as a rookie! The stats that I have linked here do not mention blocks but I am willing to bet he averaged more than 5 per game. OK, so, Dwight Howard is presently  averaging 22 points, 14.5 rebounds and 4 blocks. Have you watched him play yet this year? He is everywhere, doing everything. He appears to totally dominate, he’s involved in almost every play offensively and defesively. Now imagine that Wilt did roughly twice as much as Howard. Impressive.

Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to average a tripple-double for an entire season

Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to average a tripple-double for an entire season

I also believe that Oscar Robertson can be thrown into the conversation. Robertson was a point guard that averaged more than 30 points and 11 assists five times in his professional career. In the 1961-62 season he averaged a tripple-double, and I’m not talking about one of those Jason Kidd barely tripple-doubles, I’m talking 30 points, 11.4 assist and 12.5 rebounds. In addition to that, 4 years he was either 1 rebound or 1 assist shy of averaging a trip-dub. Lets put that into perspective, shall we. This time I’m going to use His Majesty King James to validate my point. Lebron is, in my opinion, clearly the best player in the NBA right now (Kobe is my favorite but I knew that this day would come sooner or later). Lebron is presently averaging 27points, 6,8 rebounds and 6,3 assist and when you watch the game he sticks out like a sore thumb. He is by far the Alpha Male on the court.  In fact, right now at this moment, there is no one in the NBA averaging over 30 points. D.Wade is first with 29.5 points a game, but he is only averaging 5 rebounds and 7.5 assists.

Now, I’m not in any way, shape or form trying to discredit the many outstanding accomplishments of Mr.Jordan, I’m just stating that it’s not clear, to me, that he is the G.O.A.T. He very well may be, but since the NBA was already 30 years old when I was born, and then it took me another 15 years to understand all the different dynamics of the game, I don’t consider myself qualified to answer that question. I will continue to have my favorite players and you will continue to have your favorite players and we can debate forever about who’s the G.O.A.T.  But, once again, there is no right answer,  so don’t take it personal when I say “I’m going to have to go with Wilt”.

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    76ers                

I just read an article on NBA.com calling the Philadelphia 76ers “a disappointment” and I must say I was a little surprised. I know that a lot of people were under the impression that Phily was going to be a lot better this year but I never would have thought that NBA.com was one of those people. I will admit that they are playing even worse than I expected, but I never once thought of them as championship contenders as it seems a lot of other people  have. I don’t even see how Philadelphia is better than the Clippers, especially now with Baron Davis.  Chris Kaman is, in my opinion, better than Dalembert, Corey Magette is as good if not better than Igoudala and Al Thornton is better than everybody on Phily’s roster.  I actually think that Igoudala is overrated. I like him as a role player, like James Posey or something, but if you are relying on A.I.2 to carry your team ,or even be your second option, this is the type of season you are going to have.

 

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