Month: October 2012

The Time Has Come:Your 2012-2013 NBA Preview- Part I

How great has the NBA Season been so far… Not one regular season game has been played and we already have had a should be All Star/ is Olympian move because of his desire for 5 (25 million in actuality) million more dollars.  It arguably takes OKC out of title contention for this season and elevates Houston into that logjam for the West 8th spot (Utah, Dallas, Portland, Houston, Minnesota) will all battle for that 8th spot with 2/4 of those teams making it.

The East should also be interesting, although their is only one team outside the projected Top 8 that has any real shot of making the playoffs (Milwaukee).  Toronto and Washington will be improved but not quite enough to catch a playoff spot.

 

So Here’s Part I of II of the NBA playoff preview, starting off with some not some conventional projections that come to some surprisingly conceivable conclusions.

11 Bold Predictions for this coming season:

1.  Damian Lillard will be the Rookie of the Year.  I think that he is in the best position because he has Lamarcus Aldridge (more on him later), Nic Batum and Wes Matthews (all experienced veterans) on his team.  The Blazers will win more games than the Hornets, and the Hornets don’t quite have the personnel (aside from Eric Gordon) for Davis to put up the gaudy offensive numbers I think Lillard will put up.  Davis will be the better player on the defensive end and long term (best big man prospect since Duncan), but I am on the Lillard will take the League by storm bandwagon, and it shows by this prediction.

2.  Josh Smith will be an All Star and have a career year.  The most non-talked about story of the offseason has to be the beef there was in Atlanta between Josh Smith and Joe Johnson.  Smith wanted out of Atlanta all season last year, and his immediate reaction after Johnson was traded was “everything is good now.”  There was obviously something that happened (Iso Joe never being able to get ATL past the second round could be it, or the result of Joe’s $120 million contract) I just want some NBA Insider to get to the bottom of it.  Take the over on ATL’s 42.5 wins in Vegas and bank on the Hawks riding Smith to a playoff spot.

3.  Lamarcus Aldridge will re-join the discussion of best PF’s in the game.   Notice I didn’t say join, I said “re-join.” I’ve always been a fan of LA, and his All Star selection last season was LONG overdue.  Too bad his season ended with a shoulder injury.  LA should reap the most benefits from the addition of Lillard, as he should get a few more touches and opportunities.

4.  The only person stopping LeBron from winning the MVP is Rondo- It’s quite possible that LeBron will assimilate himself into the Jordan-like stratosphere this season… The man is on a mission to not just win another title, but become the best ever.  However, there is a man with a title, with a bitter taste in his mouth and with a pretty good team of his own to carry and his name is Rajon Rondo.  The Celtics aren’t exactly expected to win 60 games (I have them at 50) in the regular season, but the only player you can rely on night in and night out with Garnett and Pierce on their last legs.  Rondo will put up higher scoring numbers, slightly lower asst numbers and shoot better than that somewhat misleading 48% career average may lead one to think.

5.  The Denver Nuggets will win the Northwest Division- The team with the most to prove in the West during the Regular season is the Nuggets.  I think they are the underrated winners of the Dwight deal with the acquisition of Andre Iguodala (who fits perfectly on both ends).  They are in their second full season of P.C (Post Carmelo) and typically that is when franchises see the risk/reward of investments.  With a Top half player at every position (Lawson, Iggy, Danilo, Faried and Mozgov) in the starting lineup and a Top 3 bench (Wilson Chandler, who makes my All-Underrated team, Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Kosta Koufos and the enigmatic Javale McGee, with Jordan Hamilton possibly seeing some minutes.)

6.  Philadelphia 76ers will be the most disappointing team.  Philadelphia had something incredible to build on after their run last season.  After beating the Bulls, taking the Celtics the distance, Philly did what a middling NBA team should do… they took a risk.  And that risk was gargantuan.  They traded their best player for an enigmatic Andrew Bynum and let their leading scorer walk in free agency.  They acquired Jason Richardson and Nick Young, both one way players who have their deficiencies defensively( not to say that Williams wasn’t).  I’m fine with those acquisitions with Bynum in the picture, but once you take him out of the picture it becomes a problem.  Bynum is already going to miss the start of the season with a right knee issue that has been nagging him for most of his career.  It’s undetermined how much time he could miss, but aside from Bynum, Philly’s most complete players are Jrue Holiday (who is on my all breakout team) and Evan Turner. I’m not sure they can score enough to consistently win games in the regular season (averaged 102/game in preseason, 2nd in the league) Philly will be a middle of the pack team because of it’s struggle to find an identity.

7.  Paul George will be the be the face of the Indiana Pacers franchise- When you think of the Indiana Pacers, you think of a team that fell just short in the Eastern Conference Semis because they didn’t have a go-to guy.  They struggled to get the ball to Hibbert (in fairness to him, it was a bad matchup since the Heat decided to go small after Bosh’s ab injury), Danny Granger tried to establish himself unsucessfully (more-so as a punk than anything else, but be that as it may).  Paul George was an after-thought, struggling offensively for most of the series, but he made his mark defensively.  George is 6’10, 22 years old with the ability to three positions.  One of his close friends told me that he spent all summer in the gym after the Heat disappointment refining his offensive game.  With Danny Granger recently expressing doubt that he can make it though a full season with a knee, David West an aging veteran in the final year of his contract, and a year removed from an ACL surgery and Roy Hibbert having some injury troubles of his own (not to mention the pressure of living up to a max deal), there is no question who the future of the Indiana Pacers is.

8.  The Chicago Bulls will be a Top 5 Eastern Conference Team-  Let me start of by saying first of all- Thibs is the best adjustment coach in the league and the fact that a first time head coach can win back to back regular season titles in today’s NBA speaks to how much of an impact Tom Thibadeau has on that bench.  With Derrick Rose being sidelined indefinitely, Thibs has the challenge of assimilating a whole new roster (six new players, and promising 2nd player Jimmy Butler) to play with Boozer, Noah and Deng.  It should also be noted that Chicago played half the season without Rose and went 24-9.  I expect more of the same this year, and Chicago should be in the thick of the Central Division race with resurgent Indiana. It will be interesting to see the development of Taj Gibson during the absence of Rose.

9. San Antonio Spurs will win the Western Conference- The big winners of the Harden trade were the San Antonio Spurs.  They were the best team in the NBA and showed it prior to Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, where they ran into the buzzsaw that was the Oklahoma City Thunder.  OKC was a bad matchup for the Spurs, but I don’t see that being the case vs. the Lakers this year.  The Lakers don’t have a dynamic wing or an ultra quick PG that can beat the Spurs the way Durant and Westbrook beat OKC.  Also, continuity favors the Spurs more than any other team this season as they have been the only team not to make a trade during the offseason.

 

10.  The Dallas Mavericks will miss the playoffs- The state of the Mavericks franchise is a precarious one.  Two years after winning the World Championship, they finish 7th in the West.  They lost Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Brendan Haywood and replaced them with two guys who were amnestied Elton Brand and Chris Kaman, a mercurial OJ Mayo and a punchline for one liners in Eddy Curry.  As if that wasn’t a trying time, think about which team could have had a worse preseason when you lose your franchise player for the first month and your projected starting 2 guard in Delonte West.  I do like the addition of Darren Collison, but without Dirk it’s a collection of aging veterans that lacks an overall identity.  Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Brand, Kaman, Mayo, Brandan Wright and an inefficient/underacheiving Roddy Beaubois in your rotation, does that sound like a team that can make the playoffs in the competitive West?

11.  These notable players will have new teams by midseason: Amare Stoudemire, JJ Redick, Andrea Bargnani, Tyreke Evans and  Anderson Varejao.

Eastern Conference Standings- Division champs in bold

1. Miami 61-21

2. Indiana 53-29

3. Boston 50-32

4. Chicago 52-30

5. Brooklyn 48-34

6. Atlanta 46-36

7. New York 44-38

8. Philadelphia 42-40

9. Milwaukee 41-41

10. Toronto-35-47

11. Washington- 32-50

12. Cleveland 30-52

13. Detroit-27-55

14. Orlando-21-61

15. Charlotte-18-64

West:

1. San Antonio 59-23

2. Denver 57-25

3. LA Lakers 56-26

4. OKC 55-27

5. Memphis 51-31

6. LA Clippers 49-33

7. Utah 46-36

8. Houston 45-37

9. Minnesota 43-39

10. Dallas 42-40

11. Portland 37-45

12. Golden State 34-48

13. Phoenix 30-52

14. New Orleans 30-52

15. Sacramento 27-55

 

We’re not done yet….. All NBA Teams and other accolades coming in Part II tomorrow.

Top Ten Basketball Movies: #1

We are only a few days away from the start of our Basketball season! And to help kick things off I will be counting down the top 10 basketball movies over the next 10 days. This list is solely my opinion and I respect the fact that other fans of these movies may have a different order. Nevertheless these are still great movies about Basketball!

#1: Hoosiers (1986)20121028-113304.jpg

This is one of the top sports movies of all time and the basketball movie that wrote the book on how all other basketball movies would be made. Hoosiers is a cinematic classic and a must have for a sports fan’s collection. No other basketball movie has had as big of an impact as Hoosiers has.

Hoosiers is the story of Coach Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman) as he becomes the new basketball coach in the small town of Hickory, Indiana. Coach Dale’s checkered past has led him to this rural town and he isn’t accepted very easily. The towns best player, Jimmy Chitwood (played by Maris Valainis who was the only player/actor on the Hickory team not to play high school basketball. He did play college golf at Purdue his freshman year.) has decided he doesn’t want to play basketball this year. With such a small town Jimmy’s absences is greatly noticed and Coach Dale’s team struggles.

“I would hope you would support who we are. Not, who we are not. These six individuals have made a choice to work, a choice to sacrifice, to put themselves on the line 23 nights for the next 4 months, to represent you, this high school. That kind of commitment and effort deserves and demands your respect. This is your team.”
– Coach Norman Dale

The town has also become frustrated with his playing style, as he teaches a slower defensive game and a more patient and disciplined four pass offense.

“I’ve seen you guys can shoot but there’s more to the game than shooting. There’s fundamentals and defense…My practices aren’t designed for your enjoyment.”
– Coach Norman Dale

Then to make matters worse, Coach Dale enlists the help of the towns drunk, Wilbur “Shooter” Flatch (played by Dennis Hopper who was nominated for an Academy Award for this role), because of his love and knowledge for the game of basketball. As the towns frustration reaches a new high they come together to vote on Coach Dale’s future but the meeting comes to a streaking halt when Jimmy Chitwood asks to speak. He says he has decided to play basketball this year but only for Coach Dale.

“I play, coach stays. He goes, I go.”
– Jimmy Chitwood

This movie may seem dated to a younger audience but it’s characters and story are timeless. A true cinema classic worthy of our number 1 billing and should be in the movie collection of every coach, player, and fan of the great game that is Basketball.

“If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.”
– Coach Norman Dale

Hoosiers Trailer

Top Ten Basketball Movies:
#1 Hoosiers
#2 He Got Game
#3 White Men Can’t Jump
#4 Space Jam
#5 Coach Carter
#6 Love & Basketball
#7 Blue Chips
#8 Finding Forrester
#9 The Air Up There.
#10 Glory Road

Honorable Mention (no particular order)
Like Mike
The 6th Man
Above The Rim
Semi-Pro
Believe in Me
AirBud

There are also tons of great basketball documentaries out there! Maybe a post for another time…

A Quick Rant on Oppression

Marcus Lattimore has just suffered the second serious leg injury of his college career. I hope he has it within him to recover and fulfill the promise of his immense talent, but this is unknown and somewhat more imperiled than it was before he took the field today against Tennessee.

Life is full of unknowns. We don’t know what type of professional career Lattimore will have now, and we don’t know what type of professional career he would have had, if he had been able to leave South Carolina for the NFL after his freshman year. We do know that based on the body of work he submitted during that season, he would have been drafted and signed to a professional contract and been paid for his services.

The NCAA and the NFL did not allow him to do so. It requires college football players to be on campus for three years before being draft eligible. College basketball players are held to a different standard, only one year of service. College baseball players to a third standard, either sign a pro contract before you get to college, or you must serve three years, unless you go to a junior college. The rules are different for each because they represent compromises among the entities that control these sports and that are in the best interest of the controlling entities.

None of these rules are in the best interest of the athlete, who’s body pays the price of competition. It is, in this election year, a disgrace to the free enterprise conceptions upon which our democracy is built. If at the age of eighteen or nineteen, a supply and demand circumstance that would enable a player such as Lattimore to be paid millions of dollars then he should have the opportunity to pursue it.

South Carolina features one other player, who in my mind should have this right, Jadaveon Clowney. I watched him play last week against Florida and was not alone in saying he needs to be playing NFL football on Sundays. He must play another “uncompensated” year at South Carolina, and Lord I hope you see to it that he gets through that year healthy.

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Top Ten Basketball Movies: #2

We are only a few days away from the start of our Basketball season! And to help kick things off I will be counting down the top 10 basketball movies over the next 10 days. This list is solely my opinion and I respect the fact that other fans of these movies may have a different order. Nevertheless these are still great movies about Basketball!

#2: He Got Game (1998)20121027-140658.jpg

Jesus. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus for Jesus Shuttlesworth. Coming in at number 2 on the FBGM top ten basketball movies is He Got Game. A Spike Lee joint that really captures a father’s love for his son and his love for the game of basketball. If you’ve ever played a game of one on one with your dad or son then you can relate to this movie.

Jake Shuttlesworth (played by Denzel Waahington) is the father of the number 1 high school basketball prospect in the country, Jesus Shuttlesworth (played by NBA veteran Ray Allen). But Jake hasn’t seen his son in years because he has been incarcerated for murder. Until Jake is presented with an offer by the Governor of New York and the prison Warden that he can’t refuse. They ask him to try to convince his son, in one week, to attend Big State College, the alma mater of the Governor. If he succeeds they will try to shorten his sentence. The rest of the movie follows Jesus’ recruiting process and Jakes attempt to fit back into society and into his son’s life.

The combination of NBA All-Star Ray Allen and Academy Award winner Denzel Washington surprisingly works on screen. Denzel carries most of the movie but the scenes with Ray Allen acting are just as believable. There’s no question that Ray Allen can play basketball but Denzel’s game is the true surprise. His form on his shot is a bit unconventional but his handles are smooth like a veteran ball player. The epic one on one game between the two Stars really feels like an old school street pick up game. Overall this movie is a wonderful basketball film with some good life lessons about living in the spotlight and taking care of your family.

Look for cameos by:
Rick Fox
Dean Smith
Lute Olson
John Chaney
John Thompson
Roy Williams
Nolan Richardson
George Carl
Rick Pitino
Jim Boeheim
Dick Vitale
Bill Walton
Shaquille O’Neal
Reggie Miller
Charles Barkley
Scottie Pippen
Michael Jordan

He Got Game Trailer

Top Ten Basketball Movies: #3

We are only a few days away from the start of our Basketball season! And to help kick things off I will be counting down the top 10 basketball movies over the next 10 days. This list is solely my opinion and I respect the fact that other fans of these movies may have a different order. Nevertheless these are still great movies about Basketball!

#3: White Men Can’t Jump20121026-163112.jpg

If you’ve ever played a pick up basketball game at the park then you’ve met some strange people. Some that can play, some that can’t and others that know how to play you.

White Men Can’t Jump is the story of former college basketball star Billy Hoyle (played by Woody Harrelson) who makes a living hustling streetballers who assume he can’t play because he is white. He uses their assumptions of him against them, normally targeting black players eager to prove a point. Billy then meets Sidney Deane (played by Wesley Snipes) who falls for this trick not once but twice. But instead of remaining bitter in defeat Sidney recognizes how Billy’s trick works. So the two of them decide to play together and hustle other players in 2 on 2 games. It takes awhile for the two players to trust one another and they end up double crossing each other. Until finally they make it work and end up as friends.

“Sometimes when you win, you really lose. And sometimes when you lose, you really win. And sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic globule, from which one extracts what one needs.” – Billy’s girlfriend Gloria

This movie is an all time sports classic. The characters, dialog and basketball are each phenomenal and you’ll be quoting this movie for years. The basketball is well played as Snipes and Harrelson went through extensive training to prepare for their roles. According to their basketball instructors, Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson reached the skill level to be able to start for an NCAA Division III team.

Overall it’s a fantastic sports movie and a classic pick up basketball flick.
White Men Can’t Jump Trailer

Side Note: Charlie Sheen was the first choice for the role of Billy Hoyle. WINNING

Support Randall

Just after Bryson joined FC America in June, I had a dilemma, ODP training camp and Rollins Team Camp conflicted. I knew one of Bryson’s new teammates, Randall Congreaves would be at the ODP training camp, and I asked his father Rodney if you could keep Bryson while I coached at Rollins. Though we had only met the preceding weekend, there was no hesitation, Rodney said we’re family now, and my conflict was resolved.

Rodney is a passionate man, and Randall a terrific young soccer player. For the last two weeks, they have lived at Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando, Florida. Randall is suffering with Stevens Johnson Syndrome, a serious illness (google for more information).

I am told Randall is making progress and I am praying that continues. I know that this is a good family going through a very tough time. FC America has set up a website to support Randall (supportrandall.com). Please visit the site, offer supportive words or even a donation to defray the medical and living expenses uncovered by insurance.

Get Well Soon Ran!

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Top Ten Basketball Movies: #4

We are only a few days away from the start of our Basketball season! And to help kick things off I will be counting down the top 10 basketball movies over the next 10 days. This list is solely my opinion and I respect the fact that other fans of these movies may have a different order. Nevertheless these are still great movies about Basketball!

#4: Space Jam (1996)20121025-111633.jpg

Whether you remember this movie as a kid or you took your kids to see this movie I think it’s safe to say most people have seen this movie. It’s truly a remarkable movie in terms of how it was created, who was involved and when it was made.

Space Jam is the story of a rag tag group of aliens that have come to Earth to enslave the actual Looney Tunes. Bugs Bunny recognizes their lack of size and IQ and challenges them to a basketball game to decide their fate. These aliens wise up and start stealing powers from real NBA players like Shawn Bradley, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley. After seeing the new and improved aliens (or MonStars) Bugs Bunny goes on a mission to find his own basketball help. During this period of time Michael Jordan had retired from the game of basketball and is pursuing a career in baseball to honor his passed Father. With the best basketball player to ever play the game playing baseball and having slipped under the radar of the MonStars, Bugs Bunny saw his chance. During a golf game with Larry Bird and Bill Murray, Michael Jordan is captured by Bugs Bunny and pulled into Looney Tune land. Jordan then is convinced to lace up the sneakers again and to play for the Looney Tunes (Tune Squad).

This movie holds a special place in my heart because I remember watching it as a kid. There is a timeless quality to this movie and it still holds up today. Not many people got to see Jordan play or even remember what the Jordan brand represents. I’d like to think of this movie as a fun way to share with my kids the story of the best basketball player that ever played.

But there are many other elements to this movie to admire. The technical aspect of combining live actors with computer animation and cartoons was a huge achievement back in 1996, and the end result is a seamless blend. It was also quite an accomplishment by the filmmakers to even get Michael Jordan to do this. Jordan was known worldwide for his basketball play but also his constant presence in the media, mostly in commercials. Jordan wasn’t in a lot of movies back then and he certainly wasn’t the main character in those movies. However he wasn’t just the main character in Space Jam, he was primarily the only live action actor. The majority of his scenes were on a green screen passing to imaginary cartoons! This movie also reaches classic status in the category of music. A lot of songs became popular with and because of the movie, like R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly. The Space Jam Soundtrack is full of classic basketball tracks. And I’d be remiss if I actually never talked about the basketball from the movie. The main basketball game is entertaining while unbelievable since dealing with cartoon characters. But one of the most rewarding basketball elements was watching the NBA pros who lost their powers attempt to play and fit in with society. Seeing Charles Barkley get packed by a girl never gets old. Sorry Chuck.

Overall this movie holds a special place in my heart and I have fond memories associated with the film as I’m sure most of you do. There is a little bit of everything in this movie and its re-watch value is incredibly high with all the interesting cartoon characters and cameos throughout the movie. And who doesn’t love watching Bill Murray play basketball?
Fan Made Space Jam Trailer