Miami Heat

Around the Rim: The Heat burn the Suns

1. Suns drop it like its hot
Perhaps we misheard, but we could have sworn that the Phoenix Suns were going to use their embarrassing loss to the Timberwolves as motivation for the remainder of the season. Well, between Saturday and Monday, that plan flew out the window because in their very next game, the Suns got beat at home…by the Heat! We know that any team can beat any other team on any given night in the Association, but the Suns, who many consider to be the best in the West, just lost consecutive games to teams that are now a combined 9-30 on the season. Does the 117-113 loss spell the end of all hope for Phoenix fans? Of course not, but they are allowing the Lakers to creep back into the division race and the Suns’ schedule isn’t (and virtually can’t) get any easier. Here’s what’s on tap for Phoenix: vs. Utah, @ New Orleans, @ San Antonio, @ Dallas, vs. Toronto, @ Lakers.

2. The sleeping giant finally awakes

You might not know it by looking at the stoic, solemn expressions that almost never leave his gigantic face, but Yao Ming is a serious competitor. Labeled as a soft stick figure for the first few years of his career in Houston, Yao pretty much dispelled the myth that he’s got no heart on Monday when he called his club “soft” after losing to Philadelphia, their second consecutive defeat.

When you are soft yourself, everything will feel tough,” Yao said. “It’s not because they are so tough. It’s because of how soft we are.

“It’s weird that we changed that quick. I never had that feeling. I feel like they traded me to another team, a new team I’ve never been on before.

Finally! The Rockets have been waiting for over five years for you to step up and take control of this squad. Now Houston is, at last, ready to start winning. At least Yao is and that’s more than we knew before.

3. Another angry giant
We told you how Shaquille O’Neal is more than a little pissed about not touching the ball enough. Shaq is averaging career-lows across the board, but it’s not his age that is getting the best of him. Nope, as always, with Shaq it has to be someone else’s fault.

If I’m taking 20 shots a game and I’m only making two, then you can say my production is going down,” O’Neal told the Miami Herald on Friday.
“But I’m still shooting 60 or 65 percent from the field. So they’ve got to find better ways to get me the ball. It should be simple.”

Shaq was asked whether he had voiced his concerns inside the Heat organization.

“I shouldn’t have to [expletive] communicate that.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Josh Smith @ Orlando 45 min, 25 pts (FG: 7-20, 3FG: 2-4, FT: 9-13), 16 reb, 5 ast, 4 stl, 4 blk

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (17-3) @ Golden State (11-9)
Since Tim Duncan came to the Spurs, San Antonio is 42-5 against the Warriors, undefeated through 19 games at home and sporting a 33-5 mark in Oakland. Luckily for Golden State, the Spurs could be playing for the third consecutive game without the former two-time MVP who is still nursing a sprained knee and ankle. The bad news for the Warriors is that, even without their man in the middle, San Antonio has beaten Dallas and Utah to extend their current winning streak to five games. Golden State has slowed down a bit in the win column after going on a tear when Stephen Jackson returned to the lineup, but they are still racking up the points and have the ability to run anyone right out of the gym. This should be a great matchup regardless of Duncan’s availability.

Buzzer Beater: Heeee’s baaaack! LeBron James was cleared for the Cavaliers game against the Pacers on Tuesday and the move couldn’t have come at a better time. The Cavs have lost every contest that James missed – five consecutive – and now sit 5 ½ games behind the division leading Pistons. Before the injury, LeBron owned the entire NBA, racking up four triple-doubles while leading the league in scoring with 30.7 points per game. At least James got to show off his impressive wardrobe during the sick leave.

Dallas Mavericks

Around the Rim: Now Mark Cuban has something to dance about

1. 4-1 in their last five against SA; too bad it’s not a playoff series
The Spurs came into Dallas as a sizzling hot team, but it didn’t take long for the Mavericks to toss a bucket of ice water all over San Antonio’s flames. Behind runs of 17-1 and 11-0, the Mavs hit the court running and never bothered to check their rearview mirrors, toasting the Spurs, 105-92. Tim Duncan (24 pts) and Manu Ginobili (25 pts, 9 reb, 7 ast, 3 stl) showed up to play for SA, but they were about the only ones. Mr. Longoria was 1-of-11 for seven points and Michael Finely went 0-of-6. Outside of four rebounds, Finely put up zeros across the stat sheet in 25 minutes against his former club. Meanwhile, Dallas was scoring at will with four players finishing the game with at least 17 points. Josh Howard had a team-high 23 and Dirk Nowitzki was solid with 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

2. Bulls get bullied, again

Chicago did what they could, but that wasn’t good enough to knock off the Suns. Grant Hill had a game-high tying 24 points to pace Phoenix as six of the eight Suns to record minutes finished with double-digits in the 112-102 win. What’s amazing about this team is that they continue to roll with just a seven man rotation. The only question surrounding Phoenix at the moment is if they have enough depth for when the playoffs roll around. But there’s plenty of time for that to develop, it’s Chicago that is running out of time. The Bulls are 1-6 now after having four full days to prepare for this game. They’ve got the Clippers, Lakers and Nuggets coming up on the schedule, so, like the old Flintstones Vitamins commercials, the Pistons division lead is at 4 ½ games…and growing.

3. Houston can exhale now
Good news for Rockets fans. After taking a shot to the right elbow, Tracy McGrady couldn’t even shoot a pair of free throws with the arm during Houston’s loss to the Lakers. Turns out that that there’s no damage to the elbow and it’s just a sprain. He’ll probably miss a week or so and then he’ll be putting up 40 on fools like nothing ever happened. Bad news for Rockets fans. Houston heads to San Antonio tonight for their second contest of the season against the Spurs. But it is not the end of the world. Back on the 6th, the Rockets survived a 4-for-14 shooting performance by T-Mac to beat their instate rivals 89-81. In fact, the Rockets might get through this without too much damage. Considering the Spurs got roughed up by Dirk & Co. last night, with a big effort, they might steal one on the road. They have to turn right around and host the Suns on Saturday, but after that they’re off until next Wednesday. Meaning McGrady could be ready to go just in time for a huge game against the Mavs.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Manu Ginobili @ Dallas 31 min, 25 pts (FG: 7-15, 3FG: 1-4, FT: 10-13), 9 reb, 7 ast, 3 stl

Friday’s Game to Watch: Miami (1-7) @ Boston (7-0)
It’s not too often that you’ll see a team as bad as the Heat make our Game to Watch, but today’s a little different. Pat Riley is on the edge of insanity after enduring the most embarrassing start of his career. Following getting drummed by the Sonics, he threatened to make “a massive shakeup” in his lineup. Well, “massive” really only describes one man on the Heat. So, don’t be surprised when Shaquille O’Neal isn’t jumping for the opening tip against the Celtics. And if Riley follows through, don’t expect Shaq’s absence to be the only new wrinkle in the starting five. So, will his tinkering pay off? Eh, probably not. We all know that Boston is on top of their game and the NBA at the moment. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are about as nasty a trio as the league has ever seen. All we know is that if this trick doesn’t smack some life into the Heat then Riley is probably going to be curled up in the corner of the visitors’ showers, mumbling and sucking his thumb after the game.

Buzzer Beater: Leave it to ESP-freakin’-N to go totally overboard with the Celtics quick start out of the gate. Now, we know that Boston has looked pretty darn good over their first seven games, but are we really doing this already?

NBA Best Teams Ever Comparison

2007-08 Celtics vs. 1995-96 Bulls

Twelve years ago, the Chicago Bulls set a standard of success that many think will never be matched: 72-10 in the regular season. Almost a perfect season.

Well, now we have another fast-starting team, and so far they are running with the Bulls. The Boston Celtics are on pace to surpass the Bulls’ 72 wins and become the second team to win 70 in a season.

Imagine that, they’re on pace to “become the second team to win 70 in a season.” Actually, right now, they’re on pace to win 82 games this season. This is so stupid; can’t we at least wait 10, 20, 30, dare we say, 40 games before we start clearing the pedestal for the new greatest team ever. These guys aren’t even the best Celtic team ever!

NBA General

Around the Rim: The league is upside-down from last year

1. Role reversals
The season is just getting underway and there is still a whole lotta basketball to be played, but we always love looking to see who the last teams to grab victories are and who the final clubs to suffer defeats are. This year is a classic case of “What the …???”

For the undefeateds, we’ve got the Pistons at 3-0 (no shocker there) and then there’s Boston at 3-0. That’s a heck of a turnaround from last year’s routine double-digit losing streaks, but Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and a healthy Paul Pierce make winning much easier; even in Boston. Out West, the lone team without a blemish is the Clippers (4-0). But, give `em time, they’re the Clippers, this can’t last too long, right?

Turning our attention to the big losers of the league and immediately we see some usual suspects: Seattle is 0-5 (Kevin Durant’s still too skinny to carry a team) and Minnesota is sitting at 0-3. But what really caught our eye were all the playoff caliber teams who were anemic in the W column. Chicago (0-4), Washington (0-3), Miami (0-4) and Golden State (0-4) have all dropped into the cellar after making the second season last year. Miami we are willing to barely overlook seeing that D-Wade isn’t breaking ankles, but other than that, these guys should be ashamed of their play. Golden State has the most to worry about, already falling four games back in a division that houses the surprising Clippers, the Suns and the Lakers.

2. The Diesel’s needle broke off

After seeing the Spurs handle Miami with ease last night, 88-78, one thing became glaringly clear and it is not that the Heat desperately needs Dwyane Wade in the lineup. No, as much as it pains us to say it, Shaquille O’Neal’s days are numbered. It’s been clear for some time now that the Diesel is on the decline, but that decline has finally leveled out and Shaq is sitting in the pit of a crater that’s about 10,000 feet below sea level. Say what you want about saving gas for the down the stretch, but in four games this year, Shaq has 51 points, 26 rebounds and six blocks to go with six assists and zero steals. That was a typical game during O’Neal’s heyday. Oh, and the Heat are 0-4. Slow start to the season? No; this is the creeping finish of a career.

3. What’s up with the Hawks?
If the Hawks could ever make it to the finals they’d be set. So far, those wild and wacky Hawks are playing some impassioned ball. Against their Eastern Conference foes, Atlanta is 0-2 with a couple of close losses to Detroit and New Jersey. But against the big boys, the studs from out west, the Hawks are 2-0. They opened the season with a 101-94 victory over the Mavs and last night they set the Suns with a 105-96 win. Granted, Amare Stoudemire wasn’t on the court during the game, but Grant Hill, Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw, Steve Nash and Raja Bell is still an imposing starting five. This Hotlanta crew could be the real deal with Josh Smith, Al Horford, Joe Johnson and Acie Law IV leading the way, but growing pains are inevitable. However, if these guys continue to gel then they could be in contention for a division title against a weakened Southeast.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James @ Utah 41 min, 32 pts (FG: 12-27, 3FG: 1-4, FT: 7-15), 15 reb, 13 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Dallas (3-1) @ Golden State (0-4)
The Warriors are struggling out of the gate and the Mavericks love it. And Dallas is hoping to take advantage of their misery as well. After getting bounced from the postseason by Golden State in humiliating fashion last year, the Mavericks have jumped out to a 3-1 record and look like they could be on course for another top seed in the playoff brackets. Whether they hold onto it this time is yet to be determined. The Warriors, on the other hand, are winless through four games and have been outscored by 54 points during the stretch. But you can never count Golden State out when they take the court against Big D. At least not as long as Don Nelson is calling the shots for the Warriors because if there is a breath left in Nellie’s lungs then he’s dead set on ruining Mark Cuban’s life.

Buzzer Beater: Anybody who is born in 1988 and playing in the NBA in 2007 is a freak. Of course, that freak is still just a kid. So, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that rookie Kevin Durant would hit a wall at some point; it’s just that nobody expected the head-on impact to come so soon. Five games in and K-Smoove finally went flying through the windshield as he finished with 17 points on 3-of-17 shooting and two rebounds in a loss to Memphis. Thank goodness for free-throws, huh Kevin? We know he’ll bounce back and even get better as the year goes on; after all, with a 0-5 record, P.J. Carlesimo can’t allow for too many of those games from Durant, now can he?

Miami Heat

Could VH1 be bringing The Love Shaq to a TV near you?

Hey ladies, wanna be dwarfed by
your man? Shaq’s about to be on the
man meat market.

You can add a new moniker to the ever growing list of names that Shaquille O’Neal has collected like custom cars since joining the league: the Big Bachelor. Apparently, Shaq and Shaunie O’Neal are splitting ways after five idyllic years of wedded bliss and the big fella decided to be the dumper instead of the dumpee and slapped his ol’ lady with divorce papers on Tuesday.

According to the filing, which was first reported by The Miami Herald on its Web site Tuesday night, Shaquille O’Neal is asking Shaunie O’Neal to provide a “correct accounting of all money, funds, stocks, bonds, and other securities” that she had access to or obtained during the marriage.

They are the parents of six children; Shaquille and Shaunie O’Neal had four together, and each had one other before their Dec. 26, 2002 wedding.

Damn, six kids! But at least they managed to spit four of `em out together. Are you listening Travis Henry? But back to the chedda’ chedda’; there’s no way that Shaq’s gonna get stiffed on this whole deal and he’s asking this potential gold digger to fork over some receipts. Doesn’t sound too unreasonable too us; after all, we are talking about the potential future fat face of law enforcement in Florida. He’s going to need all the campaign money he can muster up.


[]: Heat’s Shaquille O’Neal seeking divorce

NBA General

Santa Shaq can stay, but Kobe isn’t welcome at Christmas this year

If you’re already getting burnt out on all the Tim Donaghy chatter that has dominated the NBA landscape for the past few days, here’s something that might distract you from the incessant coverage. It seems that the NBA and ABC have finally given up on the holiday bad blood between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal and for the first time in a long time it appears that the fans won’t be settling into a Lakers/Heat game on Christmas afternoon. Instead, the scheduling gurus have decided to focus on the on-court feud of the future between LeBron “Baby Dunker” James and O’Neal’s sidekick, Dwyane Wade. Of course, this could have a little something to do with the fact that Bryant is pushing to get outta Los Angeles too.

Now, the schedule isn’t final and this is all speculation at the moment, but we’re really hoping that this is true. We were getting sick of all the hype that went along with the LA/Miami game and the James/Wade battle has a lot more sizzle to it anyway, considering that both are able to compete at extremely high levels still. Sorry Shaq, we’re not saying that you’re washed up just yet, but if you’re going to be the main billing in a X-Mas day contest, you should at least be in better shape than the obese kids you’re profiting off of.


[]: Stockings void of Shaq-Kobe

Miami Heat

Sheriff Shaq; hmmm, it has a nice ring to it.

Shaquille O’Neal has a reputation for taking it easy during the off-season, but nobody can say that about the big fella this year. The Miami Heat took a beating in the playoffs when they were humiliated by the Bulls, but that seems to have lit a fire under Shaq’s colossal butt. Not only is he helping obese kids lose weight every Tuesday evening on ABC, now he’s planning his future career as possible sheriff of Broward County in Florida.

Giving the guy a badge and saying he’s a cop is one thing, but putting the Big Baryshnikov in office is a whole other story. We know that Shaq has a love for law enforcement and despite the bullying he does on the court, he’s got a big heart with good intentions, but the Diesel has been known to hold a grudge or two or three. You’d have to feel sorry for any poor sap getting busted in his jurisdiction because a petty crime could turn into a long term stint in the joint if he’s in sour mood. And don’t expect any second chances from O’Neal either because if he doesn’t get his way he’s probably just going to split town.

But, hey, if Charles Barkley has a chance to become the governor of Alabama then we’re not going to put it past Wilt Chamberneezy to become a law enforcement big shot. After all, 15 years of carrying a league on your back can earn you a few fans. Especially after he gave the state their first NBA Championship; Dwyane Wade helped out a little bit, but we don’t think that will hurt Shaq too much in the polls.


[]: Shaq Sets His Sights On Being Broward Sheriff

NBA General

Around the Rim: The great postseason series just keep coming

1. Late night fun in Utah
Well, the excitement has worn off and the Golden State Warriors are now in an unfamiliar position in the postseason; they are losing. Utah got huge nights from almost all of their starters as they squeaked out a late victory in Salt Lake City, 116-111. But the Warriors had a pretty good game from their starting five as well; in fact, four of the five scored at least 20 points in the loss. That’s the first time that has happened in a non-overtime playoff game since the Pacers fell to Celtics, 124-121, back in 1991. Oddly enough, the last time it happened prior to that was in the same series when the Boston lost to Indiana despite four guys racking up 20 or more.

2. Will the real Chicago Bulls please stand up?

It was another game and another spanking on Monday when Detroit handled their business against Chicago with virtually no interruption from the Bulls by beating them, 108-87. The Bulls which looked so ferocious in the first round against Miami are now resorting back to their old baby Bulls tactics of simply running and hiding when the bigger kids come on the court. But what do you expect when their coach is coming out to the public and saying that his team has no chance against the veteran Piston squad. Looks like the ol’ Don Nelson reverse psychology backfired on Scott Skiles.

3. Tweakin’ time
So, what happens when you are the best team in the league with the league’s best player and you immediately get humiliated out of the playoffs? Well, you get desperate and that might be exactly what is happening to the Mavericks after the Warriors sent them on an early vacation. Now there are rumors that Dallas could be looking to go after that interior stopper that could have filled up the lane against guys like Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson. And who’s the biggest guy in the league? Why the disappointed Shaquille O’Neal of course. So, what are the actually odds that Shaq jumps from Miami to Dallas at the age of 36? Probably not too good, but when Mark Cuban’s endless mountains of cash are involved almost anything is possible and desperate times often require desperate measures so don’t be surprised if Dallas starts courting the Diesel.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Carlos Boozer vs. Golden State 42 min, 17 pts (FG: 6-15, FT: 5-8), 20 reb, 3 ast, 3 stl

Buzzer Beater: Apparently the Madden curse has the reverse affect with the NBA Live series of video games. Normally great players appear on the cover of the latest Madden game and then promptly have their careers ended the next season on the field. Well, in the NBA if you get seriously injured during the season you are then placed on the cover of the game. At least, that’s what happened with Gilbert Arenas after he tore a meniscus earlier in the season. LeBron James was reported to be second in the voting. Hopefully for Arenas he’ll be back to carry the name of the game like several of his coworkers have. Tracy McGrady, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan have all made the cover in the past and they have all had pretty stellar careers. Sorry Madden, no curse here.

NBA General

Around the Rim: That’s all she wrote, folks

1. Bye Bye AI (and the rest of you guys)
Tim Duncan put on quite a show during Wednesday’s Game 5 against the Nuggets, but it was Michael Finley who lit up the scoreboard and put an end to Denver’s dreams of advancing to the second round. Finley hit 8-of-9 from downtown en route to a game-high 26 points as the Spurs swept the Nuggets out of the first round, 93-78. Oh, SA lost Game 1? We forgot all about that opening loss after Robert Horry reminded us why they call him “Big Shot” in the final minute of Game 4. But Denver gave it the good ol’ college try and George Karl will get another shot next year to make his Carmelo Anthony/Allen Iverson two-headed monster become one of the beasts in the league. But Denver was just 2-23 when they didn’t score 100 points during the regular season and unfortunately they ran into a team that thrives on keeping teams below 90.

2. See ya in the fall Kobe

Kobe Bryant might be the best basketball player on the face of the planet but it doesn’t matter when you’re playing one on five. Even when the Lakers finally get a big time game out of their second best player as Lamar Odom put in a career playoff-high 33 points to go along with Bryant’s 34 point performance, Phoenix still had more firepower. The Suns’ big three of Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire combined for 70 points in the 119-110 Game 5 victory to eliminate Los Angeles from the post season. The losing has got to be becoming more than Phil Jackson can take. He’s been bumped in the first round in each of the past two years and still has another year left on his contract. Guess he should’ve stay retired after splitting up the greatest one-two punch in the history of the game.

3. Spurs + Suns = fun, fun, fun
If you’re enjoying the Mavericks/Warriors series or the Rockets/Jazz series, just wait until you get a load of Phoenix vs. San Antonio. You’ve got five All-Stars; you’ve got sixth men, MVPs galore, and lots of defense to go along with lots of offense. It’s gonna be a whirlwind of fantastic match-ups at every position on the floor with Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire highlighting the series. And if you remember back to the 2005 Western Conference Finals when these two teams hooked up, Stoudemire averaged 37 points per game and had a pair of games in which he topped 40 against SA. Too bad the plethora of points was in vain as the Spurs took the series in five games before winning their third trophy against the Pistons in the Finals. This year’s winner only gets to face the Mavs, Jazz, Rockets or Warriors in the finals out west. But can you say “battle tested?” Whoever emerges from this war will be able to.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Shawn Marion vs. Los Angeles Lakers 38 min, 26 pts (FG: 11-21, 3FG: 1-5, FT: 3-3), 10 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk

Buzzer Beater: Well, Pat Riley came out and said it. He said that his team had a severe case of being too big for their britches or, in his words, thinking they could “turn it on” whenever they wanted. Riley went on to add that it “will never be uttered again or though again.” We’d hope not, because that appears to be a reoccurring problem for the Big Broom. Shaquille O’Neal might have four rings on his humongous fingers but he has also been swept out of the playoffs six times during his career. Shaq literally and figuratively has a big head, but we just never expected his coach to call him on it.

NBA General

Around the Rim: The month long first round has begun

NBA playoff action is fantastic!

1. Home-court disadvantage
Most teams won their home games when the opening round of the playoffs began this weekend, but there was a trio of teams who failed to please the fans inside their own gym and they are now looking to crawl out of a 1-0 hole. New Jersey grabbed a victory from a very inexperienced Raptors team in Toronto, but that wasn’t all that surprising. What was really shocking was that Denver and Golden State took advantage of a couple of Texas powerhouses by utilizing some great games from their stars. Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson combined for 61 of the Nuggets 95 points against SA, while Baron Davis, Jason Richardson and Stephen Jackson hooked up for 69 of the Warriors 97. These series aren’t even close to being over but for the clubs that dropped game 1 at home, their next game is pretty darn close to a must win.

2. The Big Ticket’s possible big mistake

Nobody in Minnesota is talking, but rumor has it that Kevin Garnett is talking with the Timberwolves management about getting a contract extension. Why, KG, why?! Garnett seems to be the only person, besides the organization and their fans, who is content with him simply wasting away the remaining years of an incredible career as the big brother for a revolving door of lottery picks. Open your eyes Garnett; you might want to think that you can turn this team around but you can only do so much with the garbage that Kevin McHale surrounds you with. Garnett is signed through next year, then he’ll become a free agent, but we suggest that he faces the truth and forces a trade. He might not even have to go very far; the high-priced Jermaine O’Neal is need of a change of scenery as well.

3. Suns are too hot to handle for LA
Kobe Bryant tried to carry the Lakers on in game one of their series against the Suns, and it worked for about three quarters. That’s when the weight became too much, and Phoenix’s team ball offered too many solutions for problem posed by Bryant’s one man show. Bryant had 28 points in the first half but was then limited to just 11 in the second and, if that’s not devastating enough for LA, the team only scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. Phil Jackson said that his superstar “ran out of gas” down the stretch as he went 1-for-10 during the final 12 minutes. The odds are already stacked against the Lakers, but if Bryant can’t be stellar in this series then they won’t make it back to Phoenix.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Baron Davis @ Dallas 44 min, 33 pts (FG: 11-20, 3FG: 4-7, FT: 7-8), 14 reb, 8 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk

Buzzer Beater: Just one game into the post season and Shaquille O’Neal is already complaining about the refs. And he’s not doing it quietly either. “My intention was to come out and be myself, until Eddie Rush derailed me,” said O’Neal. Shaq seems to feel that Ben Wallace was dropping like the flop king Vlade Divac and so he’s going to retaliate in the only way he knows how; by crying. Considering that he’s the biggest, baddest kid on the block, the Daddy sure does whine like a spoiled brat every time he doesn’t get a call. Sad thing is that his rant will probably change the way things get called in the next game. Now it is going to be up to Wallace to adjust his game accordingly or he’ll be the one watching the end of game 2 from the bench, instead of O’Neal.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Ron Arrest

1. The NBA’s Equivalent of Iron Mike
Apparently it’s thug life or no life for Ron Artest. No matter how many chances this guy gets, he will always blow it. Artest’s latest episode got him thrown in the slammer for suspicion of domestic violence and suspicion of using force or violence to prevent the incident from being reported after he allegedly shoved a woman to the floor of his suburban Sacramento home. The Kings president of basketball operations, Geoff Petrie, also said that Artest has been excused from the team indefinitely. If it’s not animal abuse, it’s spousal abuse and if it’s not spousal abuse it’s auditory abuse. The question is what’s worse? Ron-Ron throwing his old lady to the floor, leaving his dog’s in the city pound for 77 days or subjecting an audience to a live performance of “Workin the Pole.” They’re all despicable offenses worthy of imprisonment in my book.

2. Hey, Yao, Break a… Nevermind
After missing 32 games, Yao Ming made his much anticipated return to the Rockets lineup last night but by the end of the game it was LeBron James who was basking in the spotlight. Yao was struggling to find his timing from the very beginning of the game and ended with just 16 points on five of 15 shooting, but he did manage to grab 11 rebounds. But there’s no reason to rush Yao back for his defensive effort when the 40-something year old Dikembe Mutombo is gobbling up rebounds like his vocal clone Cookie Monster devours a pack of Double Stuf Oreos. Nevertheless, no player, man or Muppet, was going to stop LBJ last night as he put together a near triple-double effort in the Cavs 91-85 victory. Cleveland is now only three games behind Detroit for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

3. Oh No-ah!
Boy, one year and one boneheaded Dick Vitale conversation sure can make a big difference in a kid’s life. Just ask Joakim Noah. After leading Florida to the national championship last year, Noah could have decided to go pro and possibly be selected first in the draft. Chicago has admitted to being enamored with the 6-11 forward/center before last years draft and would have selected him with the second pick, should he have fallen to them. But that was when Noah was hot, now he’s not. In fact, some scouts are saying that he isn’t even worth being picked in the top ten. Even Noah has admitted that he hasn’t been fully contributing to his team of late. Throw in the fact that two of the biggest prospects in recent history are probably coming out this year and Noah’s decision that school is cool will probably end up costing him some serious cash.

Monday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James vs. Houston 42 min, 32 pts (FG: 12-24, 3FG: 3-6, FT: 5-9), 12 reb, 8 ast

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: New Jersey (28-32) @ Dallas (50-9) If the Mavericks aren’t must watch basketball then what is? Every single night it seems that Cuban’s kids are breaking records and extending streaks. At this point, every victory is setting a new franchise-high for consecutive wins, currently at 15, as they are now the sixth fastest team in NBA history to reach 50 wins. New Jersey is beginning the dreaded Texas road trip that includes stops at all three of the gyms in just five days. While the task is daunting, the duo of Vince Carter and Jason Kidd have been combining for some serious efforts of late. Jersey is fighting for their playoff lives as they are currently sitting just outside of the top eight in the conference. Presently, the last spot is up for grabs between Orlando, New York and New Jersey so every game is critical for the Nets.

Buzzer Beater: As if there aren’t enough reality shows on the tube already, now Shaquille O’Neal is getting into the act after agreeing to a six-episode series which has yet to be titled or scheduled for release. However, unlike reality gurus such as Flavor Flav, Johnny Knoxville and Dog the Bounty Hunter, Shaq’s show will be beneficial to society. That’s because the Diesel is going to be tackling a topic that he is quite familiar with, childhood obesity. Listed at 325 pounds (uh-huh, right), O’Neal will follow the lives of select kids as they participate in the ABC program and also lobby politicians on health related causes including school nutrition. You have to appreciate Shaq for using his fame to promote a worthy cause, but is the Big (fill in the blank) the right guy to show our nation’s future how to properly eat? Were Charles Barkley, Oliver Miller and Shawn Kemp busy or something?