THE ASSOCIATION REPORT: Second Edition

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In the second edition of “The Association,” the primary focus is on the professional level…the NBA.

Here we are in the month of February and the Oklahoma City Thunder is playing like they want to be in the NBA championship once again, even without their floor leader Russell Westbrook. Reggie Jackson is definitely picking up the slack at the 1 position, Serge Ibaka playing magnificent ball at the 4 position and DEFINITELY should have been an All-Star this year (we’ll talk about that later) while Jeremy Lamb, 3-point veteran Derek Fisher and defensive specialist Thabo Sefalosha providing great contributions from the bench. This team has been on a roll have blown out opponents in the month of January…including their 17-point win against the Miami Heat. The person behind those epic wins is their MVP for not only the team, but the league as well…Kevin Durant.

Durant is without a doubt playing the best basketball of his career. It was ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that said about Durant that he can play “any of the 4 positions.” He can. He really can. He’s a great ball-handler, he can handle the wing positions and he can post up on just about anyone. He definitely a player that is hard to guard…just ask LeBron James. In their matchup on January 29th, LeBron may have won the point battle, 34-33, but it was Durant who had the last laughs. On three different occasions, Durant buried 3-point shots in the face of James. Both guys are definitely valuable to their respective teams, but you almost can’t go against either of them. LeBron is actually having a down year…at least if you are talking about his scoring average (which is at 26 points a game), but the other numbers have remained consistent. But the guy everyone is talking about in circles…is Durant. He clearly has made it known to fans and haters that he’s tired of being second best. So far, he’s the best player. I can hear the LeBron fans immortalizing the great Ric Flair’s line, “To be the best, you got to BEAT the best.” Still, Durant is the best player.

One team you should definitely watch for is the Golden State Warriors. This team is young, energetic, highly-entertaining and VERY exciting. I haven’t seen them look this good since the days of Run TMC (TIM Hardaway, MITCH Richmond, and CHRIS Mullin). If you are looking for a “one season to the playoff” team, this is not the team for you. Mark Jackson’s boys will be in the playoffs for a while. Stephon Curry playing all-star ball as usual. He needs to make sure to let his game do the talking and not his mouth. Klay Thompson is a dead-eye shooter and can give opposing guards fits. Andrew Bogut and David Lee are very solid in the post…but health will be the issue for these two. The addition of Andre Iguodala was genius by Golden State. He doesn’t have to be THE guy for this team, all he has to do is play his role where he’s needed. I can’t forget about young guys Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and the recent acquisition Jordan Crawford (from Boston), they bring punch off the bench. The Warriors are as young as the recent Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. It may look a little far-fetched that they would be in the NBA Finals this season but they have the right pieces to make themselves a championship contender.

While the New York Knicks have been the NBA’s biggest primetime drama (yeah they moved out the Lakers), the important piece of the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony has suddenly become an ultimate prize for other suitors. As the rumors continue to fly out about where ‘Melo could be going…whether it’s Los Angeles, Chicago or even staying in NYC…the question is: Is he worth it? It will depend on what squad decides to put him on their roster. If it’s the Lakers…you’re asking for trouble. As much as Laker fans want him there, he’s not the answer to their equation. Maybe a Kevin Love added to the mix could make it a championship contender but I just don’t see it. Yes, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics pulled off doing Big 3’s to help them win championships, but those teams were very different compared to what other NBA squads are trying to combine and make their own.  If he goes to the Clippers, it’s going to have to be in exchange for star Blake Griffin. Griffin could work well in NYC, he does like to run and the Knicks are a running team. The longshot is Chicago…yeah they don’t have Derrick Rose but they could use a scorer, the bad part is they won’t have a good defender unless head coach Tom Thibodeau can help him a great deal. Who wants an effective scorer but poor defender for their playoff-bound/championship contending team? I would choose Chicago. That’s not because I’m a Bulls fan either.

(I’m going to try to be nice with this one) The beginning of the month saw a 30-year tenure for David Stern come to an end. Stern took the NBA to an international phenomenon, taking the game all over the world, and even returning with some of the Non-American’s best players. Stern made the NBA very marketable…turning people like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James into household names. He even was the brainchild with the WNBA and did his best to bring substance to his league. Adam Silver takes over the commissioner’s position and hopefully will bring a lot more positivity to the league.

A-Train

The Heat Dominates The Thunder

I will not elaborate so much on Miami Heat win in game 4, although Miami Heat is one game away of claiming the NBA Championship!  Oklahoma Thunder played a magnificent 1st qtr of game 4, defense was there, and the offense was there from everybody. OKC came out strong and played as hard as they could. This was their game to win, they needed this to be a 2-2 series, but now they are down 3 games to 1. I watched this game with my heartbeat racing as if it was me on that court last night.  I felt the pace of the game and I felt every bump from each foul, I felt the frustration and the urgency to win. Unfortunately, despite Russell Westbrook’s 43 points, Harden’s 10 rebounds and Durant’s 28 points, it wasn’t in the cards for them to win.  Lebron James and his “whole” team came through last night! Chalmers may have played the best game of his career with 25 points.  Last night proved that no matter how good OKC is, Durant and Westbrook cannot and will not win the championship alone. D. Fisher needs to produce a few hot 3’s he is famous for and K. Perkins will need to sit his attitude on the bench and dominate the paint, it is evident that OKC needs him. OKC may squeeze out one more win, but this series is in favor of the Miami Heat, but I will be cheering OKC, all the way.

Gyb…THE ROOKIE!

The Tainted Title…Thanks Mr. Stern

66 games. 2 teams. 1 championship. I see you looked at the title and are literally saying things like “What the hell?” or “He can’t be serious.” Something that will make you either stop reading or get mad as you read this. But the last time I checked, the full season was 82 games. Oh yeah, I forgot. Thanks to a lockout, the season was shortened by “the god of basketball” David Stern and Oklahoma City (formerly LA Lakers) point guard Derek Fisher. If you didn’t know, Fisher is the president of the Players’ Association. Yet, somehow he’s in the Finals…conspiracies??? Another time for that conversation.

But anyways,  here we are at the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Seattle Sonics aka Oklahoma City Thunder, which begin on Tuesday night at 9PM EST on your ABC affiliate. To many, this is going to be as good of a series since the Lakers/Celtics matchups of 2008 and 2010. The media (especially ESPN) are hyping this series as LeBron vs. Durant.

Why do I call this a “tainted title?”

I call it that because 1) 66 games for the regular season, it hurt a lot of teams and their postseason runs. 2) The scheduling. No way in the world that Stern thought playing 5-6 games a week would help the athletes do well on their respective teams. Some of them weren’t used to that. Many star players like Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard both have significant injuries and can’t even participate for the Olympic team in London. Those are two key losses to a team that just got back to prominence after winning the gold back in 2008 in Beijing. 3) Terrible officiating. Oh my Lord. I bet anyone on here that reads this can name the sorry officials from each game that made you throw something or even cuss at the TV. The way they put this season together made it seem like they went and got high school officials to call these games. I mean this was absurd and just plain ridiculous. It was like Stern meant to put those guys out there to get this outcome that we are at now. The NBA Finals. I almost swear this was a complete set-up from the jump.  4) Money. There shouldn’t be anything said after that. But that is what this whole thing was all about. Like any other sport, money is the key to having a season. This season was almost lost in its entirety. Stern and his staff had to rush through and put together which is what was supposed to be an “effective” season. All Stern thought about was those advertising dollars, the under the table deals (don’t act like there weren’t any), the TV contracts, the attendance for the respective games and IMHO nothing about the players’ themselves. Even though the players’ were just looking for their piece of the pie. While we get mad at them about their egos’ and all, they still go out and play every night. Am I ok? Am I really defending the players? The ones that tick me off so bad that they should play overseas somewhere and not in the States. I’m defending players like Carlos Boozer, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant…the names I can’t stand?? Really? Yeah I am. Because at the same time, they get a check cut every two weeks like you and I (the ones that have jobs).

My point is: This is not the real 82-game season, just like San Antonio back in ’99 which wasn’t a real title win with the 50-game season. Look who they played against in the Finals…the 8th seeded New York Knicks…with “I’ll choke my coach because I don’t like what he tells me” Latrell Sprewell on (LITERALLY) “Grandmama” Larry Johnson. So what about their banner sticking up in the AT&T Center being a title team. That season was a joke from start to finish. Just like that game on Showtime which was called “The Game on Showtime” where it featured 10 NBA players playing in Vegas for charity. I might as well just had that and didn’t need the season. The reason why all of this was going down…again MONEY!

Anyways, the match-up is great honestly (even though I still think it’s a set-up), these two teams do have effective teams that (believe it or not) provide championship experience from both sides. The Thunder are definitely young and Durant should enjoy this series win or lose. The Heat however are under a microscope…if they lose, they might as well dismantle that team. I want to see that happen, so bad. OKC’s legs should be fresher than the Heat’s after their 7 game affair with Boston. But maybe it was a blessing for those teams. This is what the fans have been really waiting for which is the top 2 players in the league right now going head-to-head for that picture, aka the Larry O’Brien trophy.

All from the destructive mind of David Stern. Thanks Mr. Stern for destroying the league that you have built up. You wonder why most sports fans wait for football season to come around. You’re an imbecile and an idiot. But I still will watch your sport till there is no more.

NBA Fan

The A-Train

 

Congratulations To The 2012 NBA Champs…Oklahoma City Thunder!

YEP! It got your attention and trust me I know it’s a bit too soon to say that. I got happy and started writing again. But anyway, this team is the new hottest team in the NBA. I mean “C’mon son!” This team despite all the crap they have dealt from fans and the media. Damn, that makes me a part of all of that. I mean look at the past series; they walked over the defending champs in Dallas, destroyed the Lakers in 5 and ran 4 straight on San Antonio after being dropping the first 2 on the road. If you remember the 2nd game, that loss was very close which meant a turnaround was clearly coming. It’s almost clear that this team…is a team. Timely shooting from (the should have been MVP in) Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook with his significant drives (although mixed with bad shot selection), James Harden and Derek Fisher with their deadly 3-point shots and timely defense from Serge Ibaka, guard Thabo Sefolosha, and Kendrick Perkins.

SIDEBAR: Man (sighs) I wish Thabo was still in Chicago but former coach Vinny Del Negro downplayed him (in my opinion).

Going back N THE ZONE…This Thunder team could be on the brink of a nice playoff run if this team stays together (which will be so tough). This is a strong team. If they have to play the Celtics, I think the Thunder could take them down. The same can be said if they played the Miami Heat, and the TV ratings for this matchup would be stronger and greater than the Celtics. I mean after watching Games 3, 4, and 5, you would think that the Thunder would not let up and have San Antonio force a Game 7. Well, It looked like that wasn’t going to happen in the 1st half, but my father told me that San Antonio was done because all their energy was gone. He was so correct. As I watched that 3rd quarter, the game shifted in the opening minutes. OKC buried shot, after shot, after shot till they were down by only 1. It didn’t stop there. They went harder and harder until there was enough time to celebrate a Western Conference title. I can’t say it enough. This is not because I don’t like the Heaet. This is because the Heat don’t have a team compared to this one. I don’t feel the need to go into detail about stats for this team. This is a team with such championship significance on the roster like Fisher and Perkins. And I think Durant and Westbrook look ready to celebrate a championship in Oklahoma City.

And I don’t think they anyone can stand in their way.

The A-Train