1. Tech Vet
The NBA is buckling down on players complaining to officials, and technical fouls are on the rise as a result. Leading the way is the poster child for badmouthing, Rasheed Wallace, who has received four technical fouls and has one ejection on the year. While players, especially Wallace, are known to get out of line from time to time, all the blame cant be placed on them. Referees are becoming far too whistle happy as they attempt to lay down the law early on in the season. Players argue that refs are removing the passion from the game; the league office says that they understand the emotional aspect of the game and that any heat of the moment reactions will not be penalized. However, the numbers tell a different story. In the first 51 games, 62 technicals were issued to 46 different players. Last season, through 50 games, only 20 technicals were issued. It’s almost to the point where I’m like, well, I don’t want to go too hard because I am going to get psyched up and get a tech, said Wallace. While Wallace has never been a model citizen, he has also never been swayed from playing with emotion, so if Sheeds losing his passion for the game then something is definitely wrong with the system.
2. No Refunds
What is wrong with this picture? The New York Knicks, a 2-3 team that has not won 40 games in any of the past five seasons, have the highest payroll in the league, spending a whooping $140,595,134 for 2006-07. More than $45 million more than any other team! Chicago made the playoffs last year, added a high profile center in Ben Wallace to their lineup and is expected to compete for a division title this year, and the teams salary is only $52,861,780. The ridiculous overpaying of players, regardless of talent level, is simply further proof that New York is currently the poorest run organization in the NBA. While its true that money talks, it, obviously, doesnt motivate. At least Atlanta at $44,363,696 and Charlotte at $33,418,833 can afford to be pathetic.
3. Contract Sport
The Knicks were ordered to pay former head coach Larry Brown $18.5 million out of the over $40 million that was left on his contract when the team fired him after his team went 23-59. David Stern was made the arbiter of the case due to a clause in Browns contract. After 15 hours of testimony over a two day period, Stern was able to get both sides to settle. Gregg Popovich and George Karl are two coaches that have expressed concern over the way the ruling affects coaches in the future and whether a precedent has now been set. Coaches believe that their salaries should be guaranteed unless it is otherwise written within their contracts. Players receive full salaries despite poor performance or injury, so why shouldnt a coach? New York was a poorly assembled team before Browns arrival, and to expect him to turn a group of b-ball toads into the 2004 Pistons or even the 1988 Jayhawks in one season is ridiculous. The Knicks organization offered him the deal, the Knicks organization fired him before his contract was up and the Knicks should be forced to pay Brown the remainder of his cash. Then again, Zeke always was a threat to pick somebodys pocket
4. The Big Boo-Boo
Shaquille ONeal has been bitten by the injury bug after playing in only two games and has now missed two games. Shaq missed 23 games last year after an injury early in the season, and while the Heats main concern is having ONeal ready for the playoffs, they certainly dont want to have to rely on Dwyane Wade to shoulder the load as he did last season. Wade had to step-up and carry the seven foot giant on several occasions last year when ONeal played like a Datsun instead of a Diesel; including the Finals where Wade averaged 34.7 per game and chauffeured Shaq to his fourth championship parade. Pat Riley would love to have Superman and Flash at 100 percent because, this year, the weight of an aging franchise with a target on its back might be too much to overcome for any one hero.
Wednesdays Player of the Day: Gilbert Arenas vs. Indiana 32 min, 40 pts (FG: 14-20, 3FG: 4-6, FT: 8-9), 1 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl
Thursdays Game to Watch: Chicago (2-2) @ Cleveland (2-2) This could be a preview of the eastern conference championship in the next few years. Both teams are up and coming and both are trying to be the team to take the central division away from the Pistons. LeBron James will have to get past a four time defensive player of the year, Ben Wallace, if he is going to provide fans with one of his aerial showcases at the rim. Tim Duncan knows from personal experience that being defensive minded isnt always enough to keep from appearing on the wrong end of one of James highlight dunks.