Miami Heat

Around the Rim: South Beach Bums

1. Heat hate
If Pat Riley was considering suiting up for the Heat after they were trounced by the Cats then he’s probably considering pulling Magic, Kareem and Worthy out of retirement following Miami’s loss to the Sonics on Wednesday. Seattle came into the game with a 0-8 record, before leaving South Beach with a 9-point victory, 104-95. What makes things even worse for the 1-7 former champs is that Dwyane Wade was finally back in their lineup and it didn’t really help. It’s obvious that Riley is getting absolutely sick of all the losing and we’re figuring that if this goes on too much longer he’ll probably bail on his boys, again. He’s tried everything he can think of, including attacking their manhood. Last night, he went after their pride.

If you don’t feel like the Heat mean something to you … you have to have a real meeting with yourself about what you care about. I don’t see a team that really feels like they have anything at stake here. They come in, they play, they get beat, they go home, they go out into the night.

Guess Antoine Walker wasn’t your biggest problem after all.

2. Miami isn’t alone

The Golden State Warriors are scratching their heads following their 0-6 start. Don Nelson guided his team to the biggest upset in NBA postseason history last year, but the Warriors can’t even get a W in the win column this year. On Wednesday, GS blew a 22-point lead to the Pistons and lost by seven, 111-104, on their home court. There is no excuse for blowing a huge advantage like they did, but it’s the Pistons we’re talking about, so we’ll cut them a little slack there. Not much, but a little. In all reality, the Warriors have endured a really tough schedule so far: Utah (twice), the Clippers, Cleveland, Dallas and Detroit. Don’t look for things to get any easier though, they’ve got a five-game, east-coast road trip looming. We’re praying Jessica Alba isn’t being subjected to this torture, we just couldn’t stand that.

3. See, Minnesota can win without K.G. Just not very often
The Sonics weren’t the only squad to snap their winless streaks. Minnesota finally emerged from the depths to capture their first victory of the post-Kevin Garnett era with a 108-103 squeaker against Sacramento. Rashad McCants led the way with a game-high 33 points while Al Jefferson chipped in 23. Even the overweight Antoine Walker managed to hoist himself off the bench for 19. It’s a good win for the team, but, c’mon, it was against the Kings. Even with Ron Artest back in the lineup for Sac Town, the team is still a joke. They haven’t won on the road in five tries and both of their victories came against winless teams at the time (Seattle and Minnesota). Mike Bibby is out of the picture and they’ve been outscored by 69 points in eight games. Other than that, the T-Wolves should be thrilled about the outcome.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James vs. Orlando 47 min, 39 pts (FG: 15-27, 3FG: 2-4, FT: 7-9), 13 reb, 14 ast, 2 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (7-1) @ Dallas (5-2)
Outside of the Celtics, there’s no team in the NBA that is hotter than the Spurs. They’ve won five consecutive games and they look like they’re already in Finals form. Tony Parker is leading the way, averaging 20 points and six assists while Manu Ginobili is coming off the bench and getting 19.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Manu could probably break both of his legs right now and still win the Sixth Man of the Year award. Oh, and some guy named Tim Duncan, maybe you’ve heard of him, is patrolling the paint. But the Mavs are no slouches, they’ve got their own MVP in the starting five and we all saw last season how easy it is for these guys to click and rip off a 15-game win streak. With a win tonight on their home floor, the Mavs can move within ½ game of the Spurs for the Southwest Division lead.

Buzzer Beater: Phil Jackson probably shouldn’t quit his day job anytime soon. Well, actually with all the headaches from Kobe and just plain sucking, he might want to consider it. But that’s not the point, the point is the Zen Master should leave the jokes to Frank Caliendo. Jackson got fined by the NBA after saying this following his team’s loss to San Antonio on Tuesday.

We call this a ‘Brokeback Mountain’ game, because there’s so much penetration and kickouts,” Jackson said.

Actually, that was pretty funny. It was just dumb to say considering whom you are and the position you hold. But he made a sincere, heart-felt apology to anyone he’d offended, so all is forgiven.

If I’ve offended any horses, Texans, cowboys or gays, I apologize,” Jackson said.

LA Lakers

NBA Basketball is back and so is the Chuckster’s big ol’ mouth. Yippee!

After news broke of Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson’s little spat the other day, it was just a matter of time before the Round Mound of Rebound weighed in on the situation. Especially considering that the season tips off tonight and Sir Charles just happens to have his weekly forum back. You’re going to have to tune in to TNT to see what he says live, but we already have a pretty good idea of what it might be.

What Phil Jackson said yesterday, that was like they’re at the point of no return now. There’s a point where you know you can make a marriage work, but what Phil Jackson said yesterday, that was the end of it,” Barkley said at a luncheon with fellow studio analyst Kenny Smith.

“That’s the one thing I respect most about Kevin Garnett. Even though he played on terrible teams, there is not a player in the last 10 years who played harder than Kevin Garnett. And that’s the one thing that disappoints me. Phil said that Kobe’s just going through the motions. … And if your coach tells you you’re just going through the motions, that’s pretty much the end of the straw.

“The end of the straw”??? Charles, have you been hanging out with Emmitt Smith again?

But Barkley wasn’t done with the drama in La La Land just yet.

Smith said Bryant broke “etiquette rules” by publicly criticizing teammates during his trade demand. Barkley was harder on Bryant’s actions since camp opened. Bryant skipped practices and games – Barkley called it a “sabbatical” – after Buss said he would consider trading his star, and Barkley blames both of them for creating the situation.

“When Jerry Buss comes into training camp and says they’re going to trade Kobe, Kobe says, All right, I’m going to take a week’s vacation,’ ” Barkley said.

“Jerry shouldn’t have said that. Wasn’t no doubt in my mind (Bryant) was just blowing off games and practice because he was (mad) about what Dr. Buss said. They shouldn’t have said that. He should have went to Kobe Kobe you want to be traded, we’ll try to make it work.’ But the guy’s skipping practices, going through the motions.

Okay, we haven’t even started the season yet and we’re officially sick of the Lakers. Can we just skip the games and go straight to `Where We At?


[]: Barkley calls out Kobe

LA Lakers

The rift is growing between the Zen Master and his pupil

The Kobe Bryant saga with the Lakers has been going on for months as the dispute over whether he’s staying or going rages on. Well, after having all off-season to hash this thing out, here we are one day from the start of the regular season and we still don’t know what is going on. What we do know is that Bryant and the Zen Master traded a few shots the other day.

After Kobe Bryant didn’t practice Saturday because of a sprained right wrist, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he expected Bryant to play Tuesday night in the season opener against the Houston Rockets, but he was critical of Bryant, questioning his commitment, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

“Obviously he hasn’t thrown his heart and soul into performing on the floor,” Jackson said, the Times reported. “That hurts me a little bit. . . . He was going to work at this thing and (would) put his full being into this. Right now, he’s having a hard time doing that.”

Bryant shot back with comments of his own.

That (should be) the least of (Jackson’s) concerns or anybody’s concerns,” Bryant told the Times. “You don’t have to worry about that. . . . I’m ready to play. Period. You don’t have to worry about me.”

Bryant didn’t travel to Las Vegas with the team and his status was day-to-day, Lakers spokesman John Black said. Bryant was injured after Utah center Mehmet Okur struck him Tuesday night in an exhibition game in Anaheim.

If Bryant is anything, he’s a baller. We don’t need to go all A.I. on you, but, c’mon, we’re talking about practice. Not a game. Listen, Bryant could be in a coma for 20 years like Rip Van Winkle, wake up and go off for 55 against the Pacers. We gotta agree with Kobe on this one, when you’ve got a roster with Kwame Brown, Maurice Evans, Chris Mihm, Sasha Vujacic and Coby Karl then the last person Jackson needs to be complaining about is No. 24.


[]: Jackson questions Kobe’s commitment

LA Lakers

Enjoy it while you can, Phil Jackson might be going fishing soon

Phil Jackson gave lots of advice to Michael Jordan over the years they spent together winning championships and breaking countless NBA All-Stars’ hearts in the process. Now it appears that the Zen Master might be stealing a page out MJ’s personal playbook.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Jackson is considering retirement, again, after the end of this season. Of course, he’s going to wait out the year and see how everything shakes out before he makes the leap. Basically it means that he’s going to have to see where the always indecisive Kobe Bryant ends up after the Lakers drop their first round series to the Suns, again.

We know that Phil is desperate to get that 10th ring as a coach and go out like basketball’s version of Liberace with diamonds on every finger of his hands, but sometimes you’ve just got to know when to fold `em. It’s his legacy and he can do whatever he wants with it, but there’s no way we’d put up with Kobe’s crying as the one man show in LA continues to hover amongst mediocrity. And sorry, but a broken down Jermaine O’Neal isn’t going to bring this franchise back to glory.

We fully expect for Jackson to call it quits after this season, but we’re sure he’ll come running as soon as the next head coaching opportunity for a preassembled, championship caliber team becomes available.


[]: Phil Jackson Heading To Retirement?

NBA General

Around the Rim: It’s just a matter of time now

How did this guy not inspire
the Cavs to victory?

1. “I was fouled!”
It’s all over folks. But we didn’t need Game 3 to tell us that. San Antonio put a hurtin’ on the LeBron James gang when the series was in Texas, so why should anything change because the finals shifted to Cleveland? The Cavaliers let a golden opportunity slip through their hands as Manu Ginobili didn’t score a point in the game until the final 11 seconds. And Tim Duncan struggled from the field to a 14 point night. But LBJ couldn’t connect on a long 3-pointer as time dwindled away and the Cavs fell down 3-0 in the series with a 75-72 loss. Of course, there’s was a little controversy surrounding Bruce Bowen‘s defense of James on the game-tying attempt and the refs blew a critical call that could have forced overtime but that’s no excuse for losing the team’s first ever home finals game. In the end, it simply came down to the fact that SA hit the big shots when they needed to and Cleveland didn’t.

As fans, we’d much rather see back and forth games that end in the 120’s, but the Spurs are a team that will beat you anyway you choose. Their versatility is unmatched as they can win an exciting, up-tempo game against the Suns or they can win a game that ties for the second lowest scoring game in the history of the finals. It’s not always pretty but you can’t fault the guys for being good; just don’t get unappealing confused with boring. The Spurs can run with the best of ’em but they will always be unappealing to the masses. Even if they hang four banners in the rafters and a sweep out the league’s golden-boy.

2. Sad, sad story

J.R. Smith was released from the hospital on Tuesday after being involved in a horrific car accident that claimed the life of his passenger and good friend Andre Bell. By all accounts, Smith drove through a stop sigh before colliding with another car and ejecting both himself and Bell. Unfortunately, this could have all been prevented if Smith had been just a little safer on the road. And what makes a sad situation even worse is that Smith had numerous traffic violations on his license that should have indicated to himself, if no one else, that he needed to become more cautious when behind the wheel. The Nugget had 27 points against his license stemming from eight violations in just seven dates, with five being for speeding. His license had also been suspended on five separate occasions in less than one year. Obviously fines and tickets just don’t affect supremely wealthy individuals the way they are intended to; it’s just a drop in the bucket to them. But hopefully this tragic accident will teach Smith a lesson that could end up saving someone else’s life in the future; perhaps even his own.

3. Is Rick Carlisle gonna get first crack at coaching Kevin Durant?
The NBA coaching carousel continues to turn and while Rick Carlisle might have been booted out of the coaching slot in Indiana for a far lesser coach in Jim O’Brien, Carlisle’s future looks like it could still be pretty darn bright. Especially if he ends up as the new head man in Seattle with the possibility of leading a Sonics squad with the untapped potential of Kevin Durant at his disposal. Despite getting fired as the head coach, Carlisle was still with the Pacers’ organization as the Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. However, now Carlisle is free to go anywhere he wants since he’s completely cut ties with Indiana. And regardless of where Carlisle ends up, we’re pretty certain that he’s going to land on his feet. Of course, it would be a heck of a lot easier to hit the ground running if he ends up with the young and hungry Seattle club as opposed to a sorry Sacramento franchise that is just waiting to fall apart at the seams.

Game 3’s MVP: Tony Parker @ Cleveland 39 min, 17 pts (FG: 7-17, 3FG: 1-3, FT: 2-4), 5 reb, 3 ast

Buzzer Beater: Phil Jackson went in to the hospital the other day and had his left hip replaced just eight months after having his right hip replaced. So, needless to say, the Zen Master is no stranger to pain. In fact, he would probably rather deal with the physical pain of an operation over the mental anguish that a coach’s personal worst season can bring on. Jackson’s biggest headache this season is also his most potent pain reliever: Kobe Bryant. So, Jackson better get back into form quick because there is no telling when the next time Bryant flips or flops might be. And after he seemed to be the only guy to talk Bryant out of his “trade me” demands, Jerry Buss had better hope that the doctors don’t give Jackson any medication that causes drowsiness. Who knows, he could fall asleep for ten minutes and wake up with Bryant blasting the management on the radio again. For the Lakers’ sake, get well soon Phil.

LA Lakers

Phil Jackson doesn’t care about March Madness

Turn that crap off!

A lot of people in Memphis last night might have considered Kobe Bryant to be the enemy as he dropped 60 points on the lowly Grizzlies. But there were a lot more people who would have preferred to get their hands around the neck of the Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson.

Last night’s LA/Memphis contest was being played at the same time as Memphis was matching up with Texas A&M in the Sweet Sixteen and the game was being shown on the jumbotron as Bryant was humiliating defenders live. There were sudden outbursts from those in attendance over the game on TV instead of the game on the court and Jackson got fed up with the fans loyalty to their school after Lamar Odom started clanging free throws because of the unexpected cheers.

So, completely devoid of any school spirit, Jackson went to referee Bob Delaney and demanded that he turn the close college contest off the big screen. And he did; with three seconds remaining and the Tigers up by a deuce.

I went to the scorer’s table and said, ‘That’s not right,’ “Jackson said later.”This is the game that’s being played here. Delaney did the right thing.

Eventually Memphis would advance to the Elite Eight after defeating the Aggies and the crowd in attendance would give a standing ovation when the score was finally revealed. While Jackson acted like his normal pompous self, at least Lamar Odom could roll with the punches.

Their team is in the race for a national championship,” he said. “It wasn’t surprising
at all.

The Zen Master could learn a thing or two from his pupil.


[]: NCAA action is distraction to Jackson

NBA General

Around the Rim: Is 17 Straight The Best You Can Do?

1. We Own You!
Not too many teams can say that they have the Mavericks number, but Golden State can. The Warriors improved to 2-0 on the season and 5-1 (4 straight) over the past two seasons after they snapped Dallas’ 17 game winning streak with a 117-100 victory in which the Mavs never led after the first quarter. Dirk Nowitzki struggled all night long to maintain his composure both on and off the court as he struggled to finish with just 13 points on 3-of-11 and managed to pick up a technical foul while sitting on the bench. But it’s hard not to get frustrated when eight different players light you up for at least 16 points a piece. What’s even worse for the defending Western Conference champs is that with the victory the Warriors are now one game behind the Clippers for the final playoff spot out west. If the season were to end with Golden State grabbing the eighth seed and Dallas remaining atop the league it would produce a best of seven series between the two. And you know Don Nelson is licking his chops at the opportunity to get even more revenge on his old boss and current enemy, Mark Cuban.

2. The NBA’s Teflon Don

No foul was called after an abnormally high elbow from Kobe Bryant caught Kyle Korver on the face during the Philadelphia/Los Angeles game on Friday night. But after reviewing the tape, the NBA decided to issue Bryant a flagrant 1 foul which is worth one point (a flagrant 2 foul is worth two points) and, as difficult as it is to comprehend, it’s only his first flagrant foul of the season. So, three players have felt the wrath of the Mamba but he only has one lousy flagrant foul point?!?! It takes at least five before David Stern starts handing out suspensions. Bryant can’t be suspended for the latest elbow because any suspension would have needed to be announced before the Lakers played in their next game which was against Dallas on Sunday. Basically, Kobe got off the hook without a scratch once again. Looks like even Bill Clinton and O.J. Simpson could learn a thing or two from No. 24.

3. JC And Kobe Would Be An Awesome Combo
It’s obvious that Phil Jackson is getting a tad depressed over the Lakers current situation but the Zen Master might be going a bit overboard with his latest comments. When asked about the team’s injuries and losses Jackson said, “The way they are playing now, it doesn’t matter who comes back. Jesus Christ could come back and we still wouldn’t have a chance because we’ve ruined the mix by not playing together.” Don’t be so sure about that Phillip, from what we hear Jesus has a pretty smooth outside jumper. Apparently it’s awfully tough for a nine time champion to suffer through a career-worst six game losing streak twice during the past 15 games. But look on the bright side Jackson; you’re still in the playoff picture and you still have Kobe Bryant at your disposal. Things could be much worse; you could be Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Vince Carter @ Memphis 41 min, 30 pts (FG: 10-19, 3FG: 3-6, FT: 7-8), 10 reb, 5 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Utah (43-19) @ Miami (33-29) No Wade, no sweat. Well, at least when you have Shaquille O’Neal playing like he did back in the purple and gold. Shaq is averaging 23 points, 10 rebounds and four assists during the Heat’s current six game win streak. And Miami has played remarkably well at home this season where they are 21-10. But Utah is on a six game roll of their own as the Deron Williams to Carlos Boozer connection is back in full swing for the first time since Boozer returned to the team in late February. Throw in the poor man’s version of Dirk Nowitzki in Mehmet Okur and you’ve got a Utah club that is on the brink of making some serious playoff noise.

Buzzer Beater: What happened to the meaning behind the cause? In just one short month since John Amaechi came out of the closet because he hoped it would be a catalyst for intelligent discourse, he has changed his mind and decided to use his sudden new found celebrity to make a quick buck by pushing a brand of head-shaving razors. But, hey, no corporation says intelligent discourse quite like HeadBlade Inc. Amaechi is now just inches away from becoming the new Jared of Subway.