Friday, October 26, 2007

If the Cleveland Cavaliers don't improve...would LeBron James blot for greener pastures?

The thought has entered my mind.

After all, the Cavs forward LeBron James didn't sign a long-term extension in 2006 (instead opted for a 3 year; $60 million dollar deal) unlike his good friend Carmelo Anthony who agreed to a 5-year; $80 million dollar contract with the Denver Nuggets that same year. offers a plausible explanation for James reluctance to ink a 5-year deal (the maximum allowable years for a pro with three years experience). By signing for fewer years and less money, LeBron puts himself in the position to seek a new deal that would be "worth more money (as an unrestricted free agent)" following the 2010 season.

Makes sense. But of course, there will always be two sides to the story.

By virtue of having a shorter deal, James can assess (in time) if the Cavaliers are able to compete for a championship. And with the Varejao and Pavlovic negotiations going at a snail's pace--the future doesn't look too bright--at least this late into the pre-season.

It would be imprudent and financial suicide for Cavs GM Danny Ferry and the Cleveland Cavaliers to overspend on Varejao and Pavlovic. They are good. But not that good.

In fact, MSNBC contributor Bob Cook put it best:

What insane person would give a six-year, $60 million deal to a player whose most marketable skill is flopping? (Varejao)

Enough said.

Now playing: John Mayer - Only Heart
via FoxyTunes

How trading for Kobe Bryant would hit your pocket

Columnist for the Detroit News, Rob Parker shared recently that he believes that if the Los Angeles Lakers are going to get "maximum value" for NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant, there is no time better than the present. Parker adds that a deal involving the Los Angeles Lakers superstar could be in the works "by Wednesday" (the 31st of October).

Kobe Bryant as a Maverick? A Piston? A Bull? Anything is possible in the NBA, as long as all parties are willing to make the financial numbers work. The centerpiece of this arrangement is of course Bryant, who holds "all the cards," due to the "no trade clause" provision in his contract.

But how about the financial complications?

New York Post columnist, Peter Vecsey sheds some light on the subject:

Attracted suitors have enormous economic decisions to ponder. Bryant is owed $19.5 million, $21.3M, $23M and $24.8M (I'm simplifying the numbers) and owns an out after next season.

Kevin Garnett's agent squeezed the Celtics for $16.4M, $18.8M, $21.2M in return for the surrender of his escape clause. Bryant's demands figure to dwarf that. Should the suitor not capitulate, there can't be a deal. It's doubtful any team would give up quality, if not its franchise player, with no assurance Bryant will stay beyond the next two seasons.

Oh, yeah, and then there's Bryant's trade kicker. Should he waive his early out, that means he's on the books for four seasons and that entitles him to an extra $11M in one lump sum.

Is Kobe Bryant then worth the future of whatever franchise would acquire his services?

The Pistons and Mavericks don't think so. The Bulls would consider it as long as it doesn't include rising forward Luol Deng.

Maybe another "brave" or "foolish" team would be willing to step up to the plate.

Welcome to the 07'-08' season folks! Enjoy the ride!

Now playing: The Peter Malick Group - Strange Transmissions (Chillout Remix)
via FoxyTunes

Making Cap sense out of the NBA Cap

The dollar-for-dollar NBA Luxury Tax is a term that I am very sure NBA team owners dread. To my understanding, "the Cap" is simply this: when the amount of the NBA Salary Cap is determined sometime during the off-season (a complicated process based on player salaries and team revenues from ticket sales, apparel, merchandise, etc.), team are mandated to spend a certain amount to run their respective franchises. But should their spendings exceed the cap budget, they will be penalized with a dollar-for-dollar fine that will be collected and distributed to the 29 other NBA teams.

For example, The New York Knicks, who are Luxury Tax alumni, used their mid-level exemption (see below) last year in order to sign Washington Wizards guard-forward Jared Jeffries to a 5-year, $30 million dollar deal despite being over the cap. How were they affected? Well, instead of spending $30 million, they actually spent $60 million with half that amount going into the luxury tax pool.

Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman, a Miami Heat insider, broke down the specifics of cap space and excemptions recently in his blog:

" can either use cap space or exceptions during the same free-agency period. You cannot use cap space and then spend an exception. It's one or the other, which is why if you're within mid-level space, you might as well use the exception, bypass space, and try to re-sign your own free agents with Bird rights."

"The (Larry) Bird Rights" that Winderman is referring too is the ability for an NBA franchise to exceed the NBA's mandated salary cap in order to resign their own free agents. The Boston Celtics and the Legendary Larry Bird, were the first to exercise such an option.


Now playing: Dave Matthews Band - #41
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The Atlanta Hawks may rue the day they didn’t sign Josh Smith to an extension

All in a day’s work for the man known as J-Smooth: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 90% from the line, 1-1 from three-point distance against the New Orleans Hornets on the road--and that was in 16 minutes. Josh Smith, the high school to pro, do-it-all guard forward (who’s link to his profile page at doesn’t seem to be working at the moment) is probably the Hawks most versatile asset offensively (aerial acrobatic shots) and defensively (2.9 blocks per game last year…for a guard!) after Atlanta legend Dominique “The Human Highlight Film” Wilkins.

Josh Smith is currently represented by two agents: Brian Dyke and Wallace Prather who were unable to come to an agreement with the Hawks’ brain trust this past Monday. With that said, both parties have decided to suspend talks until the end of the upcoming season.

Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution added:

“At this point let's just say negotiations have stopped," Prather said. "They made their one offer in July, we didn't agree with it, and they really haven't shown any interest in doing anything else."

NBA teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers (Anderson Verejao and Sasha Pavlovic this year, and Drew Gooden last summer) and Golden State Warriors (Mickael Pietrus and Matt Barns this year) seem to be more discerning these days as to whom to “break the proverbial bank” with. If you notice, I didn’t put the Hawks in that category because they overpaid Joe Johnson (to the tune of $70 million) a couple of years ago when they lured him away from the Phoenix Suns.

Speaking about Varejao and Pavlovic, Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon Journal breaks down the specifics of NBA dollars in one of his recent blog entries:

“Here is the nitty gritty: Money is so tight in the NBA right now that agents are getting radical. Only two free agents got more than the mid-level exception this summer while changing teams, Rashard Lewis and Darko Milicic. Guess how many free agents got the full mid-level exception for max years this summer? Try zero. Three years ago, there were around a dozen, last year there were just four. They were Joel Pryzbilla (Blazers), Nazr Mohammed (Pistons), Vladimir Radmanovic (Lakers) and Jared Jeffries (Knicks). Think any of those teams are happy with those deals at this point? Well, it’s showing in the marketplace.

Last season, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban correctly predicted this summer would be a “nuclear winter” for free agents. For the most part, he was right. Guess what, a peek at next summer looks like it will even be worse because there is less money and better free agents. After heavy spending from 2004-2006 (including a big salary-cap jump in ‘05), many teams are very close to the luxury tax these days and spending likely isn’t going back up until the summer of 2009.”

In my mind, someone (the Hawks or someone else) will eventually give Josh Smith a contract with a lot of zero’s on it. However, I anticipate that it won’t be the kind of compensation he was expecting.

Will someone then break the bank for him?

Possible. If he has a monster year in 07’-08’. Heck, Jerome James got his paycheck after two monster playoff series a couple of years ago, and has done little (far too little) since then. So why not J-Smooth, who has done (WAY too) much to this point, get his due?

I don’t make the decisions upstairs, but signing people like Speedy Claxton (who’s knees may keep him out of action for awhile) and not Josh Smith just doesn’t make any sense!

The Hawks may end up ruing the day they let Josh walk…because he can next year, as he will be a restricted free agent who can sign with any team he wants.

Now playing: Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous Girl (Featuring Timbaland)
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Employee #8 takes his game over to the Twin Cities

Yahoo! Sports reported that the Miami Heat and the Minnesota Timberwolves have consummated a five-player deal highlighted by Antoine Walker leaving his conditioning problems and moving out West in exchange for one-time Heat player Ricky Davis and center Mark Blount (who both came from the Boston Celtics in a trade deadline deal almost two years ago).

The Boston Globe wrote:

"The Celtics sent Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Marcus Banks, Justin Reed, and two conditional second-round picks to the Timberwolves on January 27, 2006 in exchange for Michael Olowokandi, Wally Szczerbiak, Dwayne Jones of the development league, and a conditional first-round pick likely to be exercised in 2008."

While for these same two players (Davis and Blount), the Heat got the aforementioned Antoine Walker, third-string center Michael Doleac, forward Wayne Simien (who I know is there, but never really seen play) and a conditional first-round draft pick.

Gosh, it's either the Mutt and Jeff combo of Ricky Davis and Mark Blount isn't worth that much anymore (Davis is projected to be the Heat's third scoring option, while Blount should provide help to the trio of Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, and Udonis Haslem) or this is just another fine move by Timberwolves General Manager ( lists him as Assistant GM) Kevin McHale to dump salary because I don't think the T-Wolves fans would love the idea of trouping to the Target Center to watch the "spectacular" veteran tandem of Antoine Walker and Juwan Howard fill up the box scores every night.

Certainly, the University of Florida's Corey Wayne Brewer, who the Timberwolves drafted this year, would be more entertaining to watch in their frontcourt.

I mean, come on! They did, once-upon-a-time have the talented Kevin Garnett...

Now playing: Jars Of Clay - The Widowing Field
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Some things are more important than the game of basketball...

Even though I may live halfway around the world, my heart does goes out to the San Diego evacuees. The scale of the devastation caused by the raging fires in Southern California is unprecedented and something that I would never want anyone to ever experience.

I was in San Diego just last year to pay my graduate school a visit. It was March and the landscape and bay area was vast, beautiful, and surreal as it seemed as if nobody was in any rush. Shops opened at 11 AM like clockwork and everyone went about their daily business.

Now all of that has changed for tens of thousands. Its not right! But in this time of great need, I am happy to see that everyone in the area is doing their own small part to help. I recently got an email from my school informing the student body that classrooms would be converted into makeshift shelters to assist in the relief efforts. My prayers go out to all of them...

Aspiring professional player Rob Benson, a victim of this tragedy, put it best in his blog:

"Well, currently my family is on the brink of evacuation down in San Diego. I'm in LA safe and sound, but a number of homes of people I know have already started to burn. We live right on the water, so hopefully I'll get a call tomorrow telling me that everything is fine. If not, I know there are things more important than the material things that could go down in flames (well, my xbox and my wii are with me, so they are safe). My Vince Carter autographed shoe has less meaning now that I've shared a locker space with the guy. My Tiger Woods autograph became less important the day I dropped 24 on Stanford and he was there to see it. My family, my health, and my future are in the works now. I think it will all be ok, but who knows."

We all live in a very cynical world governed by material needs. Does it have to take a life changing event for us to realize that what is most important is our family, love ones, and our health?

I am the same as you guys: I aspire for a better life, hope to meet my idols, have that Dwyane Wade Autographed Rookie Card...

What I am trying to say is that I too forget what's really important sometimes...

I think we all do...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Robert Swift: Renaissance Man or Tatoo Addiction?

Seattle Supersonics 7'1 center Robert Swift was the 12th pick out of Bakersfield High School in the 2004 NBA draft. However, Swift is probably best known for being the first of Seattle's three-year center odyssey (04'-06') that produced the aforementioned Swift, Johan Petro in 05', and lastly, Mouhamed Sene in 06' (Taken mysteriously over Duke shooting phenomenon J.J. Redick).

Anyway, I caught the October 18, 2007 Sonics-Lakers Pre-Season match up on television and during the game--out of nowhere--came a guy wearing Robert Swift's jersey. Could it really be Swift sporting really long hair that would have put the locks of LA Clippers center Chris Kaman and 2-time MVP Steve Nash to shame? How about that array of tattoos...was it possible?

Turns out it was.

In a Seattle Times article dated October 9, 2006, Swift shares that his tattoos describe him best "without ever having to say a word."

And did he ever.

The Seattle Times added:

Robert Swift developed a love affair with tattoos during his rookie year and admittedly, he's addicted. By his count, he has 15, which decorate his back, torso, arms and legs. It's difficult to know for certain how many he has because a few of the intricate designs are intertwined and some are in varying stages of being complete.

"The easier way to say it is, over
all I've gotten about 40 to 43 hours of work," Swift said. And he's not done.

This article was written prior to an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury that cut Swift's season short last year.

I wonder how many more he's had done since that time?

He did have a lot of "hours" to work with in between his injury and rehabilitation...

In any event, what if Swift wakes up one day and changes his mind about all tattoos?

Just a random thought.

Now playing: dc Talk - Between You And Me
via FoxyTunes

The reason why Shaq didn't wear #34 in Miami

Saw this little tidbit of information in the April 23, 2007 issue of Sports Illustrated

NBA Back Stories

The Numbers Game

Shaquille O'Neal
Heat Center

"In college (LSU) I wore 33 for Patrick Ewing," says O'Neal. "I wanted it in Orlando, but Terry Catledge wanted to sell it for $50,000. I was not paying that. So I went with 32. With the Lakers, I couldn't have 32 because of Magic, or 33 (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). I took 34. Here (Heat), I wanted 33, but Zo" -- center Alonzo Mourning, who also wears 33 for Ewing -- "was coming back. SO I took 32." Why not stay with his Lakers digits? Shaq, bitter at being dealt by L.A., says, "I didn't go with 34 because 34 was stabbed in the back in Los Angeles."

Yet another classic Shaq story.

Who would have ever thought that both he and Mourning idolized fellow alum Patrick Ewing.

Now playing: Jars Of Clay - Love Came Down At Christmas
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, October 21, 2007

At least Jared Jeffries didn’t have to give #20 back!

Not long after Jared Jeffries joined the New York Knicks last year as yet another one of President of Basketball Operations Isiah Thomas’ $30 million dollar projects,
Jeffries sought out then-retired Knicks guard Allan Houston in order to request if he could use Houston’s #20 for his tenure with the Knicks. Houston, humbled by the younger Jeffries request, gave this blessing.

On October 10, 2007, things got a bit interesting as the booked camp of the New York Knicks added yet another body by signing Houston to a contract. Houston, who was attempting to come back from a knee injury that forced him to retire two years earlier, had a lot of factors going against him: playing rust, stamina, and competition for a roster spot in the Knicks’ final lineup.

At this point, I wondered if I would hear Jim A. Lovell’s classic line, “Houston, we have a problem.” This of course pertaining to whether or not Houston would again don his familiar #20.

Seven days later, Houston answered by question by sporting #7 in the Knicks drubbing against the Boston Celtics (101-61). Houston played a 6 insignificant minutes in that contest and only attempted one shot.

On the 20th of October, Houston had this prepared statement:

"While my body and my knees, in particular, feel fine, I know what is required for me to be truly effective in the NBA again, and it involves a timing and progression that would not be fair to Isiah and the Knicks right now," Houston said in a statement released by the Knicks. "With the season opening less than two weeks away, I think it is best for the team to move on without me. I appreciate the opportunity that Isiah and the Knicks have given me, and I wish the team nothing but success."

Ok…so much for that comeback attempt. Premature, but at least, Allan Houston got to go out on his own terms…with yet another contract at that!

Thanks Isiah!

Now playing: Jars Of Clay - Headstrong
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dwyane Wade: “He was like the Magic Johnson of our era”

And of mine…

Unlike NBA Superstars Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan who generated a buzz in their respective NBA comebacks, former Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, and New York Knicks guard-forward Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway situation is quite different. Returning after almost a two-year absence, Hardaway seems willing to forgo the luxuries once afforded to him by his ability to play basketball (without a guaranteed contract, Hardaway only received $109 daily for food and expenses)—for one final shot—an opportunity to play the game that has given so much to him and a chance at the elusive Larry O'Brien trophy.

Palm Beach Post staff writer Carlos Frias shares that Penny is quite serious with his return having enlisted the services of a number of individuals:

(Hardaway) moved to Miami last year and began working with Downs, who had helped players like Alonzo Mourning, Baron Davis and Jamal Mashburn extend their careers. The pain in his knee disappeared, but he remained invisible to the NBA.

Nine months ago, he moved back to Memphis to play in a semipro league. He maintained a personal team dedicated to getting Hardaway back to the NBA: Downs, who flew up on the weekends; a therapist from Houston; a strength coach in Memphis; and a shooting coach from Orlando.

On the court, he no longer lived above the rim, but he was throwing down windmill dunks, shooting from long-range and making dazzling passes against lesser but highly motivated competitors.

"Because of his star appeal, everybody wanted to show him up," said his shooting coach, Buzz Braman. "So he had to bring it every night."

Can anyone say, “Team Hardaway?”

But seriously, Frias adds that Hardaway is working on just having fun, regaining lost confidence, and taking on the role of a mentor by working with the Heat’s younger players.

Sun-Sentinel Miami Heat beat writer Ira Winderman had this to share after the Heat’s pre-season loss to the New Orleans Hornets (92-85) in Mississippi:

Penny Hardaway made his Heat debut (after missing the team’s first four games due to an injured quadriceps muscle) and played particularly well in the halfcourt game. At the end of the day, figure on Riley doing what he always does: getting rid of the kids (Jeremy Richardson, Devin Green) and keeping the veteran (Hardaway).

For Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway fans out there, let’s hope Pat Riley remains true to form.

Now playing: Jars Of Clay - God Will Lift Up Your Head
via FoxyTunes

Friday, October 19, 2007

James injured…again?

After four lackluster seasons riding the pines of the Emerald City, Jerome James, 32, turned up his game and actually started to play during the Seattle Sonics amazing playoff run (without the injured Rashard Lewis) in 04’-05’.

During that off-season, New York Knicks’ President of Basketball Operations *sigh* Isiah Thomas signed James to 5-year $30 million dollar deal based on that year's playoffs and not over the course of his career (which was paltry 4.91 points per game to that point).

Not long after, the Knicks’ gave up their future draft selections and traded for Chicago’s Eddy Curry, which basically ended any starting center aspirations for the overpaid James.

Since the end of the 04’-05 season, James has participated in only 86 of a possible 164 games (52%) for the New York Knicks. And now I hear that the often-injured James may have to call it a season again due to complications from knee surgery he had back in 99’ (Here's to a speedy recovery!)

In all honesty, I strong believe that whether he will or will not be able to suit up for the Knicks’ this year—Jerome James will not be missed. Primarily because of the off-season acquisition of Portland’s Zach Randolph as well as the emergence of Eddy Curry and David Lee.

But you knew that already…

Question: How does one become a millionaire?

Answer: Get into the good graces of Isiah Thomas…

But you knew that ONE already…

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Drills to improve your Ball-Handling

I took this off an old NBA Inside Stuff magazine in a bookstore somewhere in Hong Kong a couple of years ago. I believe this basketball tip is by former Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings head coach Eric Musselman.

Musselman's Ball-Handling Drill

1) Get two tennis balls. Dribbling these balls is a lot harder than dribbling basketballs--and they can teach you hard lessons about fingertip control in a hurry. (Steve Nash used to do this while walking around the campus at Santa Clara....A LOT! - Tedi31)

2) Stand facing the X (high on wall) on the wall, about 8 feet away.

3) Dribble one of the tennis balls with your right hand.

4) With your left hand, pass the other ball at the X on the wall (low on wall) and catch it again.

5) Try to keep this up for as long as possible, then switch hands and keep going.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Buzzer Beaters, Halle Berry, Signature Shoes, and Gilbert the Man...who says "Hibachi" everytime he scores...

The outspoken Gilbert Arenas, Jr. has done it again! In a "web-exclusive" interview by Complex Magazine's Joe La Puma, Arenas discusses a wide array of topics in a twenty-two question shotgun session.

This article has everything from David Stern to Wizard team policies and conduct, his love for MJ's (Michael Jordan) kicks, the possibility of competing with Marbury's Starbury's, Politics, *grin* Halle Berry, as well as his thoughts on Kobe Bryant and the "mental game," the Most Improved Player award in 03', and being a "shoot-first, pass-second" PG.

Be warned though, it took FOREVER for the Complex Magazine website to load (or it could have just been my this point, I'm not sure) so just be patient, it was funny and well worth it.

The George Mikan Lay-Up Drill

Jotted this down at a bookstore in Hong Kong several years ago. I believe it was an issue of NBA Inside Stuff.

Mikan Lay-Up Drill

The George Mikan Lay-Up Drill is basically a Hand-eye coordination drill. It teaches you also how to pivot and how to move your feet. Work on moving your hips too. Concentrate on pointing your side foot at the baseline. - (Assitant Coach Sixers Randy Ayers)

This may be the best drill to teach you to keep the ball high--use the glass. Keeping the ball high is the main thing. Catch it as soon as it comes through the bucket, and jump as high as you can. Don't let it bounce. That helps your legs, and it helps with your jumping. Do 20 straight at a time and don't count the misses. - (Former Philadelphia 76ers center Todd Macculloch)

1) The idea is to make 10 baskets with each hand from very close range.

2) Facing the backboard, stand almost under the basket.

3) Trying to use your best fingertip control, hold the ball with your right hand and sweep your right arm out to the side to make a lay-up off the backboard.

4) Catch the ball as soon as possible after it comes through the hoop.

5) Repeat the procedure on the left side. One of the most important things about this drill is that it teaches coordination with both hands.

6) Alternate shooting with your right and left hands, until you have made 10 shots with each.

In the Triple-Post Offense..."Point guards are like trophy wives."

This is an excerpt from an article I read in 2004. It talks about how Los Angeles Lakers free agents Gary Payton and Karl Malone have adjusted to the triple-post offense (triangle offense).

"After spending his entire career with the ball in his hands, once Karl Malone was hurt and the Lakers stopped running, GP was reduced to being the fourth option on a team that didn't need him. The way the triangle offense works, point guards are like trophy wives -- just stand there, look good, and occasionally, we'll let you launch an open 3-pointer."

Barkley on Heat "A bunch of Tito Jackson's without Shaq, while Wade is considered "a Janet"

December 14, 2006 - TNT's Charles Wade Barkley has been known to say what's on his mind from time-to-time. Wait! make that all the time, as The Montana had quoted him saying that the Miami Heat's lineup without the injured center Shaquille O'Neal was just "a bunch of Tito Jackson's without Shaq. Except for Wade — he's Janet, he can survive on his own."

You just got to love the repertoire of Sir Charles.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A good reason to sign an NBA player to a multi-million dollar deal

Gone are the days where National Basketball Association (NBA) players were able to sign outlandish contracts such as that of the Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin "Magic" Johnson's nonsensical 1984 deal that proposed to pay him "a million dollars a year for next 25 years" to a pair of astronomical 1993 rookie deals that gave then Golden State Warriors' forward/center Chris Webber a 15-year $74.4 million dollar contract and then Orlando Magic guard Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway a "100% guaranteed" 13-year $68 million dollar contract.

These days, the most "stars" can get is a 5 to 6 year deal depending on several factors. But not everyone can get a great deal and that's where this story begins.

Mercury News sports writer and blogger Tim Kawakami has been watching the NBA Golden State Warriors for quite some time. In this particular entry, Kawakami described a really funny story involving several of the Warriors' international players, forward/center Andris Biedrins (now GSW's starting center) and forward Nikoloz Tskitishvili (out of the NBA).

"Best story with Andris is when I asked him a couple years ago if the Warriors should pay Tskitishvili to stick around. "Yes!" Biedrins said immediately. Why? "Because he's COOL!" Biedrins said. That's worth what? I said. "Millions," Biedrins said. "Come on, being cool is worth a couple million." And damn, he almost convinced me. Didn't convince the Warriors, though." if only life were that easy we would all be cool and millionaires to boot :)

How "The Brazilian Blur" came to be...

USA Today's Greg Boeck, in an article dated 5-11-06, talks about Phoenix Suns Brazilian guard Leandrinho Barbosa's penchant for "picking up nicknames" such as "The Brazilian Blur," "Speedy Gonzalez," "The fastest guy on the earth," and the latest one given by his Suns teammate Boris Diaw: "The Roadrunner."

Barbosa has also been known to play at a high level and at times even look like he would be ready to run out of the gym. "Leandro," says back-to-back two-time MVP Steve Nash, the orchestrator of the league's run-and-stun, catch-us-if-you-can offense, "has a gear I'm totally unfamiliar with. It's fun to watch. I wish I could borrow it for a quarter or two just for kicks. I'll let him have my car if I can borrow his wheels."

This past summer, Barbosa was rewarded with a new $33 million dollar, 5-year deal, to stay with the Phoenix Suns.

Leandrinho Barbosa is a key part of the Phoenix Suns. Seems like it has always been so, doesn't it? But boy, it almost didn't happen that way.

From Henry Abbott's "True Hoop" Blog

- Don't forget that San Antonio drafted Barbosa in 2003. The Spurs then traded the Brazilian to Phoenix for a conditional 2005 first-round pick. That pick ended up going to New York (as a major component of the package that netted Nazr Mohammed for San Antonio) and became David Lee.

- Sources tell me that when the Seattle SuperSonics selected Luke Ridnour 14th in 2003, some people in the Sonic draft room were pulling for Barbosa instead. Barbosa, a relative unknown who had played only in Brazil, slipped to 28th.

- (This one is really interesting!!!) Blazer broadcaster Mike Barrett says the Suns were ready to deal Barbosa for a second-round pick in the summer of 2005: "I'm not sure if many fans realize how close Barbosa was to becoming a Trail Blazer ... Basically, if the trade of Shareef Abdur-Rahim to New Jersey hadn't fallen through at the last minute (the Nets said he flunked his physical) the Blazers would have used the second-round pick they would have gained in that trade, to trade to the Suns for Barbosa. The deal was basically done, and then everything fell apart when the Nets voided the Abdur-Rahim trade."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pondering the future of the Big Aristotle

As the NBA season draws nearer, one has to wonder how much Shaq Diesel has left in his proverbial “tank.” At 35, maybe he has one good run left in him considering that he will most likely be his team’s primary option until Dwyane Wade returns from injury and “hopefully” O’Neal would also not forget the bashing his Heat team took at the hands of the Chicago Bulls during their first round match up last year.

However, the O’Neal run seems to have taken a turn for the worst over the last few days. The signs are there…one just has to look.

A comment by longtime Heat beat writer Ira Winderman initially got me warmed up when he noticed that during a recent Heat loss to the Orlando Magic, that O’Neal “spent the night on (or near) the stationary bike, because, well, he could.”

Not long after, Heat coach Pat Riley (who probably at this point wishes he had not comeback after winning the title in 06’) eventually made calls for O’Neal to play in their succeeding games, which Shaquille did against the Charlotte Bobcats and played a grand total of 10 minutes and 29 seconds, all in the first quarter.

It turned out that Shaq suffered a left quadriceps contusion brought about by a freak offensive play against Bobcats big man Emeka Okafor.

Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald quotes O’Neal:

After the game, O'Neal said he didn't believe the injury was serious. He seemed more frustrated that he had another "freak injury" despite his wearing padded protection.

"The crazy thing about it is, I've got pads," O'Neal said. “I've got kneepads. I've got quad pads. I've got shin pads. And the place it's not padded, [Okafor] got me.

Man! I ranked The Daddy really high in my Yahoo! NBA Fantasy Leagues (and got him).

Here’s hoping that the O’Neal experiment does pan out.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Agent Arenas plays it straight

Washington Wizards point guard and NBA Live 2008 endorser Gilbert Arenas, Jr. finally posted on his blog (over at since the release of Live 2008. In his latest entry, Agent Arenas clears the air as to why he is the genuine article when it comes to HALO 3 Online gaming. Arenas also touches on several other topics in this comprehensive entry: Thoughts on teammate Etan Thomas’ open heart surgery, Live 2008, and his new interactive cartoon Gazo the Pranksta (An acronym based on his initials – Gilbert Arenas (G-A) and Zero (Z-O)).

Oh yeah, some enterprising fellows already got gazothepranksta and generationzero over at Yahoo Mail in

John Starks: My Life (Hardcover)

Category: Books
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Author: John Starks and Dan Markowitz

Outside of Patrick Ewing, former CBA veteran John Starks is probably one of the most recognizable figures in New York sports during the 90's. In his book, Starks talks about his humble beginnings--moving from four different college academic programs to making it to the New York Knicks on a technicality (as injured players can't be cut from their teams, John attempted to dunk of Patrick Ewing during the pre-season in 88' and got hurt in the process).

Through his words, Starks shares the will, desire, and tenacity which made him one of the most exciting and controversial players to ever play in the NBA. Starks shares stories that made him the most decorated guard to ever come out of the CBA with accolades such as the winning a spot on the NBA All-Star team and the 6th Man of the year award. He also talks about his horrible game 7 performance in the 1994 NBA finals as well as the trials and tribulations which he and a number of his family members had to go through.

If your a fan of the NBA, this is certainly one ride you wouldn't want to miss! Get your copy today!

The Fundamentals: 8 Plays for Winning the Games of Business and Life (Hardcover)

Category: Books
Genre: Business & Investing
Author: Isiah Thomas

In 2005, I began reading Isiah Thomas' book as part of my dissertation research and I found Coach Thomas to be a good storyteller capable of blending his experiences in basketball and business.

Among the highlights of his book, Thomas (2001) shares his Indiana University mantra which echoed qualities that every individual could aspire for: “self-development, preparation, concentration, and execution.” Thomas added that these characteristics were incorporated into the coaching drills and programs that he participated in during his time at Indiana University so as to teach “how to (use a skill) “what to (deciding between two or more skills), and when to (knowing the actual moment to use the developed skill)” (Paye, 1996). Thomas (2001) also leaves his readers with this thought, character is usually found in “unconventional places” as opposed to right in front of us.

Overall, I rate this book as an average read since the author only dabs into his core topics (business, basketball, coaching) without actually sharing concrete information which readers can apply to their everyday lives. It is basically a book of compiled life stories which Thomas tries to share with his audience.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wade out until third week of November?

Long time beat reporter Ira Winderman of Sun-Sentinel wrote:

“Dwyane Wade pushed back his earliest possible return date to the third week of November, saying he would need at least one week on the court after being cleared for contact. That would mean he would miss at least 10 games in his recovery from May knee and shoulder surgeries.”

Personally, I hope that D.Wade comes back stronger than ever. But from a Fantasy Basketball perspective, I wouldn’t draft him over Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant (Knicks anyone?), Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Gilbert Arenas, and Jason Kidd (in that order) just yet, especially in Roto leagues.

NBA Live 2008's Dynasty Mode (Part V) – The NBA Store and their Shoes

Fifth of a series of articles on my first ever Dynasty Mode Season.

Game 13: Suns @ Warriors (156-103)

Quarterback by best player Luke Ridnour (14 points, 12 assists, 4 rebounds, and 6 steals) and a 52-point blitz in the second quarter, the Suns never looked back and put the Warriors to bed. Final score: 156-103.

Dwight Howard led all Suns players with 29 points and two blocks. While Dwyane Wade (27 points, 7 assists, 5 steals), Chris Bosh (20 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals), and David Lee (10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) also joined the party.

Warriors Joe Johnson finished with 39 points in this losing effort. Rookie Aaron Brooks (21 points, 15 assists, 2 steals), Andrei Kirilenko (15 markers), Troy Murphy (12 points, 11 caroms), and Stromile Swift (4 blocks) also made significant contributions for the Bay Area Warriors.

Game 14: Rockets @ Suns (104-162)

Chris Bosh is judged the best player after the game (and to think I was worried that his performance was “dipping”) with a smooth stat line: 38 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals. Dwight Howard complements Bosh with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 block shots. While Dwyane Wade finishes with 20 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals.

I guess they are my “Big Three.”

As for the Rockets, they were lead again by the duo of Gilbert Arenas (who is as unstoppable as Kobe Bryant…hey, he is after all NBA Live 2008’s endorser) (42 big ones and 15 dimes) and rookie Kevin Durant (23 points). Other notables were Shawne Williams (19 points and 11 boards – guess the Pacers are wishing right now that they could get that kind of production out of him in real life!) and the immortal Alonzo Mourning (4 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks) who I believe should have retired when the Heat won their ring in 06’

By the way…three more Adidas pairs and I would have cleaned out the NBA Store. Hey NY! It’s time to restock! Hehehe….

Game 15: Magic @ Suns (126-161)

Did you know that the Florida based Magic and Heat as well as the Jazz are the only three teams whose names don’t end with the letter “S”? (e.g., Bulls, Lakers, Clippers, Suns, etc.) But you probably knew that already right?

Now to the game. The Magic’s quartet of guards: Manu Ginobili (34 points; 3 of 7 from downtown); Bobby Simmons (29 points; 5 of 8 from beyond the arc); and Kirk Hinrich (23 points, 14 assists, and two three’s from the top of the key) kept things interesting until my bench (usually Watson, Redick, Korver, Lee, and Varejao at Center) came in and brought our lead into the twenty’s.

Led by the unofficial Western Conference player of the month (November) Chris Bosh (who leads the league in points, FG%, offensive rebounds, rebounds per game, steals per game, and blocks per game…*whew*) finished as the contest’s best player with 44 points, 8 caroms, 7 steals, and 2 block shots. Fellow twin tower Dwight Howard came up with 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals. While D.Wade chipped in 20 points and 6 steals.

Oh yeah, I also finally purchased all the stuff at the NBA Store. Maybe EA should have put in more “unlockables.” What am I going to do with the Game Points now? A minimum per game for me is about 250 points (if the entire 12-man roster scores at least a point).

Well, that’s it for now. Happy weekend to all and I hope you are enjoying the ride so far.

NBA Live 2008's Dynasty Mode (Part IV) – The revelation of the jump shot

The fourth of a series of articles on my first ever Dynasty Mode Season.

Game play:

The last couple of games have really been frustrating as shooters like J.J. Redick, Jason Kapono, Kyle Korver, and Matt Carroll are unable to hit any three point shots with any regularity (even the “super wide open, how could you have missed that!” variety). However, I did discover that if a shooter (who is in their comfort zone) gets the ball off a pass or steps into a mid-range jumper without within one or two dribbles, they should make the shot.

Another tip. Refrain from playing shooters out of position. If they are a small forward or shooting guard, keep them there. It has something to do with their positions on the court and where they get the basketball.

Every little bit helps towards making a jump shot.

Now where did I put that three point shot…

Game 10: Suns @ Rockets (176-106)

The Suns finish this contest with their highest output in a quarter this season (58 points…Don’t ask me how it happened…it just did.) Spearheaded by the game’s best player (BP) Chris Bosh (43 markers and 6 swipes) and Dwight Howard (32 points and 5 steals), the Suns made this match “hard on the eyes” of Rockets fans.

Dwyane Wade (6 steals) and Jason Kapono 6 rebounds, 4 steals) each finished with 16 markers. While point guard Luke Ridnour (14 points, 6 steals) orchestrated several highlight slams with 18 assists.

The Rockets were led by HALO 3 Online’s ( own “Agent Arenas” (34 points; 6-10 3 point FG) and 28 points each from Jamal Crawford and rookie Kevin Durant.

Game 11: Kings @ Suns (109-165)

The fallout of the Kings and Suns trade days earlier (Suns gave up Josh Smith, Mike Miller, and Jose Manuel Calderon for the King’s Dwyane Wade) turned into a royal bashing at the valley of the Sun!

Despite a slow start (Suns led 36-32 after one), a 52-point second quarter and the efforts of best player Dwyane Wade (36 points, 6 assists, 9 steals) put this one safely away by the half. Chris Bosh also came up another brilliant performance (28 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocks). While Dwight Howard chipped in 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 steals.

The Kings were led by Mike Bibby’s 49 points (7 for 14 from long distance) while new Kings Mike Miller (28 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals (4 of 9 from downtown)) and Josh Smith (9 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists) held their own.

Other notables: Chris Kaman finished the game with 5 block shots…Jose Manuel Calderon, the other player involved in the Dwyane Wade trade, did not play in this contest (DNP-CD).

Game 12: Clippers @ Suns (99-173)

The Clippers are only the second team that I have been able to hold below a hundred points in a game (the first one being Game 5 against the Hawks wherein they came up with 90 points). This doesn’t speak well for my ability to play defense (well, it can be very (insert a couple of more “very” here!) well as I believe you can’t truly shut down anyone in this game.

The Kobe Bryant’s, Pau Gasol’s, and Gilbert Arenas’ of the NBA Live 2008 world will always get their points because: 1) They play the whole game and 2) the dominate the ball.

Teams in Live 2008 have a tendency play to their strengths. Just look at their players. Take the Bulls for example in my Dynasty Mode Season; with Gasol and Yao down low, the AI would literally jump at every opportunity to get those guys the leather in premium (that wonderful yellow star that lights up underneath the player who currently has the basketball) scoring positions. While in the case of Kobe Bryant (slash and drive) and Gilbert Arenas (set up teammates, hit an occasional trifecta at the top of the key, and drive), they too mirror and play similarly (to some degree) to their real life counterparts.

Now to the Clips and Suns match up! Dwyane Wade is adjudged as the game’s best player (39 points and 8 steals) in this one. While Chris Bosh (who I believe should have been my best player) finished with 37 points, 4 swipes, and 2 blocks. Dwight Howard and David Lee also dominated down low with 22 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 steals respectively.

The Clippers camp was lead by forward Tayshaun Prince (36 points) and all-star guard Chris E. Paul (31 points, 12 assists, and 4 steals).

Part V is right around the corner….and here it is!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Another day in the life of an NBA rookie

A couple of years ago, I saw an NBA Training Camp segment wherein several NBA veteran would punt basketballs into the bleachers section of their practice facility and shout to their rookies, “go get em’ rook!” Needless to say, the veterans couldn’t stop laughing as the rookies scampered up a flight of stairs to retrieve the leather basketballs.

Recently, Chicago Tribune staff reporter K.C. Johnson, (,1,6391472.story) wrote about another classic initiation story involving donuts.

“(Ben) Gordon said he took Joakim Noah's per diem for failing his rookie responsibilities and bringing Dunkin' Donuts to practice and not Krispy Kreme.

"Dunkin' Donuts are very good," Gordon said. "It's just the majority prefer Krispy Kreme. It's not even about the taste. Krispy Kreme is farther away to give the rookies more trouble."”

Interesting. But I think what point guard Jose Manuel Calderon had to go through several years ago as a rookie was far worse—being made to wear a Dora the Explorer backpack for home games.

Now nothing beats that :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

NBA Live 2008’s Dynasty Mode (Part III) - Trade and Triple-Double

This is the third of a series of articles on my first ever Dynasty Mode Season.

Finally had a chance to sit down and check out the latest NBA Live 2008 Dynasty GM features. Here are some highlights:

• Free agency – Josh Smith, Anderson Varejao, and Jose Manuel Calderon all have one-year pacts. Looking ahead, I’m sure they are expecting big paydays and I just know I can’t keep all of them, especially since I am over the salary cap. This early, I foresee Anderson Varejao holding out (the real one has, why not his NBA Live counterpart).
• Team Chemistry – A majority of my players don’t think too highly of Anderson Varejao. Is he my team’s albatross?
• Free Agents – Charlie Bell and Matt Carroll are available.

Game 7: Suns @ Magic (139-118)

Looking at my schedule so far (6 wins – 1 loss), I’ve only had two home games to this point but all things being equal, I would most probably have a slew of consecutive home games :) Now down to business.

Best player: Dwight Howard (30 points and 3 steals); Chris Bosh (my team’s Shawn Marion) comes up with 23 points and 9 caroms. While Luke Ridnour is a steady force with 11 assists and David Lee has his second straight productive game finishing with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals off the pine.

The Magic were led by point guard Kirk Hinrich (41 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists), Manu Ginobili (29 points), and Haiti-born center Samuel Dalambert (16 points and 15 rebounds).

Game 8: Knicks @ Suns (133-170)

Before I get to the game, I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to deal with free agency. I know that it sounds premature but it is still something that needs to be considered. With this in mind, I proposed a trade (Josh Smith, Mike Miller, and Jose Manuel Calderon) to the Sacramento Kings for Dwyane Wade.

It looks promising, but I worry about my team’s chemistry as in NBA Live 2008, it seems to have repercussions – I haven’t seen it yet but I hope I don’t rue the day I pulled the trigger on this one.

Now to the game. Despite Kobe Bryant’s Herculean scoring effort (Judged the best player in this contest after finishing with 89 points and little from everyone else) and all-around game of rookie PG Morris Almond (20 points, 5 rebounds, and 12 assists), the Knicks fell to the Suns 170-133.

For the Suns, Chris Bosh topped all Suns scorers with 28 points and 4 blocks. Dwight Howard contributed 18 points (9-9 FG) and 10 caroms in this effort. While guard J.J. Redick broke out of a slump a finished with 20 points (2-11 3-point FG).

Mike Miller (25 points and 5 steals) and Josh Smith (20 points; 10-10 FG) also gave a good account for themselves despite rumors of a blockbuster trade swirling around the two players.

November 14, 2007

• Sacramento Kings approve the deal of Josh Smith, Mike Miller, and Jose Manuel Calderon for Dwyane Wade. The Kings added that they believe that this trade “would benefit both teams.”

I hope so…

• Charlie Bell signs with Suns

November 15, 2007

• Matt Carroll joins the Suns.

Game 9: Bulls @ Suns (134-184)

After the Chicago Bulls took one point lead at the end of the first quarter (44-43), the Phoenix Suns never looked back as they scored a blistering 65 points in the next period on their way to their best performance in a half (108 points). Inspired by Luke Ridnour’s 1st triple-double of the season (20 points, 18 assists, 12 steals, and 14 TO; Best Player), the Suns survived the dominating post presence of the Bulls Twin Towers: Paul Gasol (70 points and 6 rebounds) and Yao Ming (32 points and 9 rebounds).

When the smoke cleared, all but three of the eleven Suns that suited up for this contest scored in double figures with Wade (37 points), Varejao (25 points, 6 steals), and Bosh (20 points) leading the way.

Team Chemistry: I really don’t know…the feel of the team was different. Right now, I have a ton of two-guard shooters who are playing out of position at shooting forward (either Jason Kapono or Kyle Korver). I need a slasher…this is where I really miss Josh Smith.

Oh well…adjust…adjust…adjust…

Move over Bill Walton and Ron Mercer...Boston’s New Employee Number 5 is Kevin Garnett

Longtime Minnesota Timberwolves insider Steve Aschburner brings up a very good point in his article ( on newly acquired power-forward Kevin Garnett.

In the 12-years that KG has been with the T-Wolves, how many teammates has he played with?

“… someone call the Elias Sports Bureau -- that Garnett had more teammates come and go, during his 12 seasons in Minnesota, than any other one-, two- or even three-team star in the NBA in that span. From Terry Porter, Sam Mitchell, Doug West and Stephon Marbury near the start, through Tom Gugliotta, Terrell Brandon, Malik Sealy and Wally Szczerbiak in the middle, to Sam Cassell, Latrell Sprewell, Ricky Davis and Randy Foye near the end, Garnett stayed, giving the franchise its face through three or four Wolves generations. Actually, mutations might be a better word, given the often grisly results.”

Now that would be a noteworthy stat or just the work of someone who has too much time on their hands.

But interesting nonetheless…

I wonder if the Elias Sports Bureau does keep such a statistic. Hmmm….

When Nothing Else Matters (Hardcover)

Category: Books
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Author: Michael Leahy

Published in 2004, author Michael Leahy shares his experiences during Michael Jordan's last comeback to the National Basketball Association.

Leahy's potrayal of Jordan showed a different side of the basketball legend which is not normally seen in the eyes of the public. Jordan, the "the most marketed player in the history of the NBA," was finally..."mortal" and did go through the same trials and tribulations (from a heightened perspective) that we all go through at some point in our lives. Leahy accounts the days wherein Jordan was at his best and would score 35 points over the span of several games to the days wherein he wasn't unstoppable and hit his career lows of 8 and 2 points respectively.

What stood out for me was Jordan's lambasting of players who didn't play up to his standards. Leahy quotes Jordan on numerous occasions wherein he would lambast teammates. Coach Fred "Tex" Winter, an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers and former assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls summed it up best, "you either work hard or Michael has no use for you."

But the one paragraph in Leahy's entire book which rocked my very foundation of emulating Michael Jordan was the following:

"His people had held him up as a man to be emulated, making Jordan more than a half-billion in endorsement dollars in the process...he had raised the bar on his behavior during 17 years of unremitting self-promotion, in campaigns approved by the Jordan camp and coordinated by Nike and other corporate sponsors that elevated him from great athlete to hero and, finally, to moral symbol.

...when you present yourself as virtuous in years of ad campaigns and TV commercials, you will be fairly held in time to that standard. Fairly held because uou have sold your basketball shoes to people plunking down in excess of $100 not merely for a chance at better Ups but for a way to rub up against your aura, to feel a tiny sense of you in that admittedly silly way people feel when they wish to emulate anybody, to be inspired by your class and elegance, your morality and grace, as they've heard it told. And if some of that was artifice, then so, too, was everything you sold with your likeness on it."

Disturbing but quite true, personally, I have seen myself on many occasions wanting to "be like Mike." I've bought the shoes, worn the clothes, gotten the cards, read the books...and it is only now I realized. What about me? Leahy's book showed me that. In the years that I have been collecting "Jordan" in order to be inspired, all I needed to do in the end was look in the mirror in order to be inspired.

This is a great book that puts any not only Michael Jordan's life in perspective but also that of your own, especially if you are a Jordan fan who has collected his paraphernalia over the years.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Back to the Mint

When I first heard that Miami Heat coach Pat Riley was considering giving 36-year old Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway another chance at the big leagues after almost two years of shelf time – I was ecstatic! Ecstatic because I grew up watching the duo of Shaq and Penny strut their stuff for the Orlando Magic in the early 90’s. Now, more than a decade later, I’d get to see them again…

But based on the observations of Miami Heat insider Ira Winderman (, it looks like it may not happen.

Winderman wrote:

"Hardaway, though, is different. He is not assured a spot and still must play his way onto the 15-man regular-season roster. His quadriceps soreness not only opens more playing time for the likes of Jeremy Richardson, Devin Green and even Marcus Slaughter, but makes one wonder how much longer Riley can justify the comeback bid by the 36-year-old who has been out of the league for nearly two years."

And to think I was looking forward to a picture with Shaq, Penny, and D.Wade.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

NBA Live 2008 - And The Season Continues...

Given my recent success after my loss to the Seattle Supersonics on opening night, I immediately set my game preferences to “Superstar” level in order to give me more of a challenge. Here is how my next three games went.

Game 4: Suns @ Bobcats (137-135)

Have you every watched a blowout game wherein the winning team already rested its starters, but had to bring them back in because the other opposing team made a game out of it? That’s what happened here. If it were not for a Robert Swift missed bank shot as time expired, I think the outcome may have been a lot different.

Best player: Chris Bosh (44 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 steals); Dwight Howard chips in 26 points and 9 rebounds and Josh Smith calls it a night after filling out the stat sheet with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals.

The Bobcats were lead by rookie (what is it with NBA Live 2008 rookies? They all seem to have Superstar Stats!!!) Alando Tucker (41 points), Stevie Franchise (37 points), and Mike James (29 points).

Game 5: Suns @ Hawks (169-90)

Not an error folks, it was simply a drubbing. Despite an early 14 point lead, the Hawks relied too much on the jump shooting trio of Earl Boykins, Larry Hughes, and Ron Artest without deferring to their inside game. Then again, this team simply didn’t run down on defense, so I guess they got what they deserved. In hindsight, I think this development may have been caused by NBA Live 2008’s “role playing” function. Not sure how that works, but it is the only plausible explanation that I could come up with after they lost by 79.

Bosh, the best player (again) lead the Suns to four forty point quarters with 56 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 steals. Dwight Howard scores 32 and grabs 15. While Luke Ridnour dishes out 30 dimes and Josh Smith goes (14 of 14 FG) and finishes with 28.

As for the Hawks, well, I don’t think they would survive the season if Ron Artest (20 points) keeps on jacking up fall away jumpers and three pointers from the corners. Larry Hughes shot selection was also non-existent despite finishing with 20 points as well. Boykins, at 5’5’’ was the high man for the Hawks with 37 points. (It does pay to hold the ball in every possession…hehehe)

Game 6: Suns @ Miami (145-123)

Prior to the start of the game, I learned some nifty moves (drive and hop back; drive and step back) using the training segment of NBA Live 2008. Now all I need to learn is how to convert a three pointer with some consistency as I have had players go 1/10, 1/5, and 2/9 – all in the same game!

Highlights: Dwight Howard gets top honors with 36 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 steals (most, if not all from inbounds passes). David Lee makes a case for more playing time with 20 points and 4 steals. While J-Smooth (23 points) and Chris Bosh (27 points and 3 steals) are their usual silky smooth selves.

As for the Heat, Vincent Lamar Carter drives and twists his way to 49 points; Carlos Boozer provided an inside presence with 18 and 10 caroms. While ROOKIE (these rookies again) Javaris Crittenton (who is this guy!) finishes with 33 points and 13 feeds.

Oh man, I’ve really got to get back to work now. Hope you guys found this interesting. Have a great week ahead everyone!

The New Big Three Loves Rondo

From what the Celtics veterans: Kevin Garnett, Walter Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce have been saying, the sky's the limit for sophomore point guard Rajon Rondo.

Here is an except of Garnett's comments from Steve Bulpett's article in (

"I didn't know how good of a defender he was. I just thought of him as an average defender, knowing what little I did from last year."

"He's come in and he's a very, very hard worker. You know I respect that right off the bat. He comes in and gets his nose dirty. He plays really, really hard. I love him. He's unselfish. I'm trying to get him acclimated with Ray and Paul and myself."

"If Rondo's not good, it'd only be because he doesn't want to be good. The sky's the limit for that kid."

Pierce added:

"You can tell he really worked on a lot of aspects of his game this summer. His confidence is a lot higher. There's times where he's taking his shot. We encouraged him to take it last year, and now he's stepping up and taking the shots that are there. He just seems more comfortable. I think he's really building on the end of the season and what he did last year."

Wow huh? And to think that Ray Allen has even taken Rondo under his wing. I forsee an increase in points, rebounds, assists, and steals for the 21-year old Yarbarker Blogger!

Have a great season Rajon!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

NBA Live 2008 - Introducing the New Phoenix Suns

Just got my copy of NBA Live 08' today. And to be honest, the game play is still similar to how it was in past NBA Live editions (So what was Shawn Marion and Co. so excited about?) with the exception of the power hop (which they brought back) and player "hot spots" (which are areas in the basketball court wherein a player shows some proficiency to convert shots).

I also decided to finally play a Dynasty Mode after more than a decade of playing every version of NBA Live. I really haven’t gotten around to doing it, so I guess this version is the best time to do it.

Here is what I ended up with after drafting 30th with the Phoenix Suns (I just dig their Orange alternate road jersey). In alphabetical order: Chris Bosh, Jose Manuel Calderon, Dwight Howard, Jason Kapono, Kyle Korver, David Lee, Mike Miller, J.J. Redick , Luke Ridnour, Josh Smith, Anderson Varejao, and Earl Watson.

As for my preferences, I set them at “Superstar” level for the first 10-15 games of the season in order to acclimate myself to the intricacies of Live 08’. 8 minutes quarters (Any more and the final scores would be simply atrocious)

Game 1: Suns @ Sonics (125-157)

What is it with rookies? Sonics’ Josh McRoberts lights me up for 75 points, 15 rebounds, and 6 blocks; while his frontcourt partner, Amare Stoudemire finishes with 42 points and 14 rebounds. It was really ugly, as I couldn’t stop Damon Stoudamire’s penetration (36 assists).

My bright spots were a Chris Bosh triple-double (45 points, 12 steals, and 13 rebounds) and Dwight Howard’s 27 points. Despite how it looks, I forced a ton a threes with my designated gunner J.J. Redick shooting a horrendous 22% (5-23) from downtown.

This doesn’t look too promising…

Game 2: Lakers @ Suns (100-145)

Redemption! Now that’s more like it! I made some lineup changes and started Josh Smith in lieu of J.J. Redick and just kept on pounding the ball inside. J.Smith was the player of the game with a 35 point, 6 rebound, and 4 steals effort. While Bosh was again spectacular with 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

Aside from this new appreciation for Chris Bosh, I also played Andy Varejao and to my surprise, he was effective defensively (3 blocks and a steal). As for Redick, I don’t even want to go there (2/12 from downtown).

The Lakers were lead by Steve Nash (36 points and 9 assists) and Marcus Camby (21 points and 12 rebounds).

Game 3: Cavaliers @ Suns (115-146)

Home sweet home! Another win! I also discovered that back-to-back games lower the stamina of players. Basically, their stamina is not 100% at the start of new games. I guess, this puts a premium on putting teams away and letting the bench play in lieu of the starters.

Highlights: Bosh gets his second triple-double in three games (50 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 steals); Dwight Howard scores 31 and grabs 9 caroms; Ridnour finishes with 11 assists.

Redick finishes 1-5 from three-point land. I really need to stop taking all these threes, especially in transition, as they never really go in with any decent consistency.

I’m stopping here for today. I’ve burned enough time in front of the PS2.