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Posted on: March 5, 2012 3:57 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 4:07 pm
 

Obama: Michael Jordan is NBA's best ever

Posted by Ben Golliver    

Barack Obama says Michael Jordan is the GOAT. (Getty Images)

Sure, gasoline is $14 a gallon and North Korea and Iran are in a race to see who can be first to end humanity as we know it. But it's all good, because United States President Barack Obama got the correct answer when asked the world's most important question: Who is the greatest basketball player of all time?

During a podcast interview with ESPN.com, Obama didn't hesitate in making his selection: legendary Chicago Bulls guard and Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

"You've got to go with Jordan," Obama said.

Point for point, Obama hit on all the major arguments in Jordan's favor: rings, passion, skill, clutch ability, marketing impact and swagger.

"You've got guys who are comparable in terms of talent," Obama said. "I think LeBron [James] is as talented as Michael is. You've got guys like [Larry] Bird or Magic [Johnson] who had that same will to win. But combining that package and then just always being there at the moment. Very rarely not hitting that shot. Like, Utah at the end... And the grace with which he played. There was a charisma to him on the court. You could not not watch him. Unbelievable."

Obama, a senator from Illinois before he became president and a big-time Bulls fan, was asked whether his selection was influenced by those factors.

"That's an NBA pick [and not a Chicago pick]. You never had a combination of talent and fierce will to win and longevity and rising to the occasion. I haven't seen it."

Since Jordan retired, the "Greatest of All Time" question has never been anything more than a two-player debate: Jordan or Boston Celtics center Bill Russell. No one else comes close when it comes to rings, individual accomplishments and overall dominance of their era. Jordan is the right choice, given his global impact and command over a larger, better, smarter league.

But Russell doesn't go home empty-handed. After all, Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal Of Freedom back in Feb. 2011.

"Bill Russell is the former Boston Celtics’ Captain who almost single-handedly redefined the game of basketball," Obama said in a White House statement at the time. "Russell led the Celtics to a virtually unparalleled string of eleven championships in thirteen years and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five times.  The first African American to coach in the NBA—indeed he was the first to coach a major sport at the professional level in the United States—Bill Russell is also an impassioned advocate of human rights.  He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and has been a consistent advocate of equality."
Posted on: March 5, 2012 3:22 pm
 

Duncan hits Birdman in head with ball before dunk

Tim Duncan clocked Chris "Birdman" Andersen in the head on his way to a poster. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver   

His body covered in tattoos and his past dotted with drug abuse, Denver Nuggets big man Chris "Birdman" Andersen is no stranger to pain. No matter, San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan was happy to re-introduce him.

The mild-mannered, strictly-business Duncan delivered one-two-three strikes to Birdman in less than five seconds during a Sunday night game at the AT&T Center.

With the Spurs trailing with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Duncan turned to face up on Birdman roughly 12 feet from the hoop. After a series of ball fakes, Duncan drew the ball back from left-to-right, clocking Birdman right in the face as he began his dribble drive.

With Birdman briefly stumbling and holding his face, Duncan took advantage of the opportunity, using a gather dribble to ascend through the heart of Denver's defense towards the hoop. By that point, Birdman recovered just in time to get put on a poster, as Duncan finished a one-hand dunk with authority over Andersen's challenge.

Then, for good measure, Duncan's momentum carried him into Birdman, causing Andersen to fall to the ground to further the embarrassment.

Let's review: clocked in the face with the ball, dunked on hard, thrown to the ground. That's a tough five seconds.

Here's the video of Tim Duncan abusing Chris "Birdman" Andersen via YouTube user nbaus3030 and @Jose3030.




Hat tip: IAmAGM.com.
Posted on: March 5, 2012 2:28 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 3:31 pm
 

Reports: Jamal Crawford draws trade interest

Jamal Crawford could be headed out of Portland just months after he arrived. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver  

The Portland Trail Blazers signed guard Jamal Crawford in December and, by NBA rules, he became trade eligible on March 1. Less than 72 hours later, the rumor mill was already swirling with talk that he could be headed out of town.

SI.com reports that Crawford is "available."
With the Blazers (18-18) underachieving and the 12-year veteran having struggled to fit in this season, sources say he's available. Crawford signed a two-year, $10 million deal on Dec. 15, but the second season is a player option and he plans to opt out this summer to retest the free agent market.

While it's not known whether the Clippers and Blazers have discussed a deal involving Crawford, a source close to him said they showed significant interest when he was a free agent but lacked the flexibility to get a deal done.
CSNNW.com reported that both the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves are "very interested" in Crawford's services, while HoopsWorld.com added three other teamsto that list. 
The Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves are pursuing him the strongest, but the Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks have also expressed interest. 
Crawford signed with the Blazers because of regional ties, a solid financial offer (a 2-year, $10 million deal with a player option), a chance to make a playoff push and the opportunity to play the clearly defined reserve scoring role in the absence of Brandon Roy, who was waived using the amnesty clause due to knee injuries.

But Portland's season hasn't played out to those expectations. At 18-19 entering Monday night action, the Blazers currently stand as one of the NBA's biggest letdowns. As recently as January, they touted themselves as contenders for the Western Conference title but currently sit outside the West's playoff picture with a daunting 7-game road trip beginning later this week.

With fellow guards Raymond Felton and Wesley Matthews struggling and lineups juggling as a result, Crawford has seen his minutes and shots vacillate, and he's also been asked to step into the starting point guard position, a role that clearly doesn't suit his well-established skillset. Given how poorly Felton has played, Blazers coach Nate McMillan likely felt like he had no choice to make the move, but Portland has lost three straight with Crawford as a starter and the team now plans to move Felton back into the starting lineup on Monday, according to The Oregonian. It's as messy as it sounds for all involved.

It get worse for Crawford, in particular, because McMillan has also moved forward Nicolas Batum into the starting 2-guard role, meaning that Crawford must compete with Batum and previous starter Wesley Matthews for minutes and touches there or continue to take on point guard duties in the reserve unit. Promising second-year two guard Elliot Williams is showing flashes that he deserves regular minutes in the rotation, too. On Portland's roster, this qualifies as a glut. Crawford made a lot of sense for a veteran team pushing for playoff success. On a middling team spinning its wheels with decisions to make at his position, he's extraneous. 

Clearly, something has to give. One way to fix the situation is to move forward Gerald Wallace, returning Batum to his natural three and restoring minutes for Crawford. Another, obviously, would be to ship out Crawford, whose contract and production make him one of Portland's best trade assets. With Matthews on a long-term deal, Williams starting to emerge and Batum figuring to command big dollars this summer, selling early on Crawford makes more sense than letting him walk in three months for nothing.

The Blazers and Timberwolves have been regular trade partners over the years, and a trade centered around a swap of Crawford for guard Luke Ridnour makes almost too much sense. Minnesota has a surplus of ones and a need for a solid two; Portland has a surplus of twos and a desperate need for a solid one.

Ridnour, a point guard by nature, has played out of position off the ball as rookie sensation Ricky Rubio has taken the Timberwolves by storm. Ridnour, 31, is on the books through 2013-2014, long after he will be useful for the Timberwolves. As of Monday, he represents a minor upgrade over Felton in terms of PER (he's ranked No. 41 in the league, Felton is No. 50). Portland has been looking for 3-point shooting from the point guard position to complement franchise forward LaMarcus Aldridge, and while Ridnour is shooting just 32.3 percent from deep this season, he's a career 35.9 percent shooter. Felton, meanwhile, is shooting just 24.6 percent from deep and averaging a full turnover more per game than Ridnour, in similar minutes.

Ridnour is a known commodity for Blazers coach Nate McMillan from their shared time in Seattle and could represent a low-risk transition from what has been a tumultuous time between Felton and McMillan in Portland. Felton is also set to be a free agent this summer and, if he's not moved by the deadline, would seem to have a murky (at best) future in Portland. Ridnour, then, would serve as a low-cost, reliable placeholder.

For Minnesota, Crawford plugs in at the team's weakest position, bringing his scoring and shot-creating ability to a team that can use it as it tries to make its first playoff push in years. He wouldn't be asked to carry the load or handle the ball all that much and he would find more room to work thanks to Rubio and All-Star forward Kevin Love. Recently, he spoke highly of Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman and his offense to the Star-Tribune. Whether Crawford decides to test free agency this summer would seem to be of little concern to Minnesota, as they are simply looking for better roster balance and the flexibility created by shedding Ridnour's future dollars.

The questions here are whether Portland can locate a better point guard option than Ridnour via trade, whether someone will offer more for Crawford prior to the deadline and whether moving Wallace instead of Crawford would bring back a significantly better package. (Wallace also holds a player option for next season.) For Crawford, moving on to a place that can offer the consistency in playing time and responsibilities that he thought he was getting when he signed up in Portland makes all the sense in the world, whether that is Minnesota or somewhere else.

Both sides have tried to make it work and so far it hasn't. The long-term prospects don't look good for a turnaround, either. That rumors popped up immediately after Crawford became trade eligible says it all.
Posted on: March 5, 2012 1:39 pm
 

Baseline Awards: Lakers on the hunt

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are playing their best ball of the season (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore


The Baseline Awards celebrate the week that was and give you a track of where the awards are at throughout the NBA season. Some are serious, some are not, but all took way longer than necessary to compile. 

Eastern Conference Player of the Week: Rajon Rondo

Three guys have had a triple-double like the one Rajon Rondo had Sunday against the Knicks. Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and Rondo. That's the list. Rondo's 18-point, 17-rebound, 20-assist 3D is the stuff of legend. It's enough for him to win outright this week. We're a league absolutely obsessed with the pull-up mid-range jumpshot. We make a big deal about dunks, and we talk a big game about team defense, but really, what we care about is rising up and hitting a mid-range jumper with a hand in the face. That's what Jordan did, and many of us are colored one way or another by the Jordan era. What Rondo does is so phenomenally different in its style than anyone else's approach, it almost makes Sunday's game more impressive.

The Celtics need so much every night and Rondo continues to provide it. He wasn't even offensively efficient on Sunday. But he creates so much action on a per-minute basis that you're left wondering if he's the entire Celtics team, in reality. These trade rumors are nonsense, barring an unbelievable offer. Rondo's one of the best in the game.


Western Conference Player of the Week: Kobe Bryant


There's a perception that those that look at advanced metrics and efficiency "have it out" for Kobe Bryant. Or "are haterzzzz" or whatever. But as a guy who's a big fan of analytics and efficiency, I'm telling you right now, Kobe Bryant is playing his best ball of the season. Yes, better than the 40-point stretch. He's working in the flow of the offense, finding good shots, hitting them at a great clip, getting to the line, everything. He's been simply brilliant. He's creating for his teammates, he's playing better than usual defense (and his defense is usually above-average). These are the stretches for Bryant where you understand the constant calls for him as the best player in the world. That those are usually based on inconsistent and flawed data regarding "ringz" and "clutch" are irrelevant. The Black Mamba is striking everything right now.


The Puzzling Enigma Award: Strangest week from player or team


Phoenix Suns

How have they won three in a row? How? How is this possible? Schedule advantages aside, they knocked off a near-playoff team in Minnesota, a playoff team in the Clippers, and a feisty Kings team. All at home, sure. But that's three games in a row and they're within spitting distance of .500 and throwing distance of the 8th seed. Steve Nash is still doing this at his age. It's incredible. I have zero understanding of how they are even out of the basement.


The Horde Award: Team you should fear


Los Angeles Lakers

There are a lot of teams on impressive runs right now. But the Lakers are playing their best ball of the season. They're just tearing through teams right now. Sunday's win over the Heat was a statement game. The fact remains that if this team gets home court advantage they're going to be a killer out in the playoffs. With their size and wing defenders starting to play well, their only real deficit is at point guard and they're getting by. They're not the invincible Lakers of years past, but they're exceptionally good.


Cub Scout Troop Award: Team you should not fear


Portland Trail Blazers

It's a train wreck. The players are divided in the locker room by all accounts, there's rampant talk of Nate McMillan getting fired, and they're losing games along with the soul of their team. There isn't a more mentally weak opponent right now


Searching For Bobby Fischer Award for Stratagem:


Tom Thibodeau's late-game adjustments to San Antonio. Thibodeau recognized the damage perimeter penetration was creating and packed the lane against the Spurs, daring them to beat them on rushed shots from the outside against a super-long lineup. It worked, Tony Parker was stymied, and the Bulls got a big win over the Spurs.


Awkward Water Cooler Conversation Award for Coaching Struggle:


Doug Collins late-game scoring options

The Sixers need to seize on the wonderful season Andre Iguodala is having and put the ball in his hands late in games. He doesn't have to shoot it all the time, but Lou Williams is trying to go NBA Jam every time and opponents know it. They need to be able to close and even if Iguodala isn't a superstar he can play one for thirty seconds. Against the Bulls and Thunder the Sixers blew opportunities to get their daggers in by squandering possessions. Rare criticism for the presumptive Coach of the Year.


Blog of the Week: SilverScreenAndRoll.com

The Lakers have a pretty nutso fanbase, I'm going to be honest. All fans are nuts. Lakers fans think they can trade Luke Walton for Chris Paul and Matt Barnes for Andre Iguodala. To be fair, they've been on the receiving end of some of the most lopsided trades in history. But they take it far. Which is why it's great SilverScreenAndRoll.com exists. It's a site that clearly shows the Laker side of history but gives hones and open criticism, has a sense of humor about itself, and doens't stray into too much cheerleading or moping. It gives great insight into multiple ways to approach the game and should be essential reading for you.


MVP rankings:

1. LeBron James: Yup, even still. Sorry, I'm not going to throw out being the most dominant force on the planet for 45 minutes because he passes to an open man in the 48th. His legacy is compromised, his MVP resume is not.
2. Kevin Durant: Started chucking a bit against Atlanta, and falls back to the pack a bit. If James falls out because of the clutch nonsense or because they rest him, it's going to be a fight down the stretch between Durant and the two behind him.
3. Derrick Rose: Oh, hey Derrick. Good to see you back. What's that, you want to destroy all of us in a fire of impossible floaters? OK.
4. Kobe Bryant: If he does what he does and doesn't need as many bad shots to do it, this is the best pound-for-pound offensive player on the planet Earth.
5. Chris Paul: Hard to get the kind of assist numbers he should have when none of is guys can hit a shot right now.
6. Tony Parker: I'm one of the few who believes there's a big gap between Parker and the top five based on his perimeter defense. Parker ballhawks but too often is caught out of position. Which would be a problem if he hadn't been insanely brilliant this year.
7. Andre Iguodala: If I'm willing to say he's the DPOY (and I am), he should get a shot here.

(Honestly, this completes the list at this point.)


ROY Rankings:


1. Kyrie Irving: That Anderson Varejao injury may have cost us the chance to see Irving put the Fear of God in someone in the first round of the playoffs, Rose '09 style.
2. Ricky Rubio: If Rubio bounced a pass off his nose like a seal for an assist, would you be surprised? Me either.
3. Isaiah Thomas: Mr. Irrelvant is doing some special things in Sacramento, if you can bear to watch.
4. Kemba Walker: I was impressed with Walker's control during the Nets game, improving more than I thought he would.
5. MarShon Brooks: The re-emergence of Brook Lopez is giving him some issues in terms of flow. Just 20 points total in his last three games.


DPOY Rankings
1. Andre Iguodala: Night and night out the most versatile defender in the NBA.
2. Luol Deng: When Deng sticks you it's like getting snuggied by an anaconda.
3. Dwight Howard: He's so good his effort level is way down this season and he's still third.
4. LeBron James: Same deal as Howard.
5. Tony Allen: Dwane Casey called him "a pitbull." Here was his response.

Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:49 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 7:23 pm
 

Mamba strikes for revenge as Lakers top Heat

Kobe Bryant took it to Dwyane Wade and the Heat Sunday. (Getty Images)


By Matt Moore


Maybe all he needed was a reason to make it personal. Kobe Bryant has struggled against LeBron James over the past four years as James has risen to become one of, if not the best players in the NBA. Bryant's Lakers lost games to James' Cavaliers and both matches with the Heat last year, and one earlier this season. But after a hard foul from Dwyane Wade in the All-Star game gave him a concussion and broken nose which required him to wear a mask Sunday against the Heat, things changed. Despite Bryant saying that he didn't take offense to the foul, he certainly looked like a man possessed. 

Bryant scored 33 points on 23 shots, a model of efficieny as the Lakers downed the Heat 93-83 to improve to 3-0 since the All-Star Break. He hurt the Heat from every angle with every type of shot. He worked in the flow of the offense, something he's struggled with this season and which has hurt the Lakers' offense repeatedly. Bryant would never admit that Wade's foul on him during the All-Star game had an effect, but it was clear that Bryant was zoned in to win this game. 

It may not have been a revenge game, but it sure looked like it.

In the bigger picture, the Lakers bullied the Heat defensively Sunday, and that was the real difference maker. They shut off their transition opportunities and in the halfcourt bodied, shook, jarred and shoved them around. It was a physical contest and yet the Lakers were the more aggressive team overall. That tough defense only drew 15 free throws on 17 personal fouls versus the Lakers' 29 free throws on 23 personal fouls.

Most impressive may have been Metta World Peace, who has struggled the past two seasons, but had 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals, hitting 2-4 from the thraee-point line and a series of dagger turnarounds. Basically, if the world ended Sunday night you couldn't be all that surprised. MWP was everywhere defensively, badgering James and making steals and saves to dirsupt the Heat offense.

The size advantage for Miami was huge, especially with Chris Bosh missing another game due to personal reasons. The Heat had no way to stop or deter Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and the twin towers pounded them on the offensive glass. Let me put it this way. In the fourth quarter, LeBron James was trying to wrap-around passes to Juwan Howard for finishes in traffic. You can imagine how that worked out.

The Lakers are playing the best ball of their season right now, the Heat on the third game of a West Coast road trip without Bosh. But it was a statement game for L.A. all the same, and one they needed.

The worst of the night has to go to Dwyane Wade, who shot 7-17 for 16 points and fouled out with five fouls, including one late useless bump on Kobe Bryant. Wade was frustrated with the physical play by L.A. all afternoon (Wade only shot two free throws), and seemed bothered by the intensity of the game and Bryant in particular. 

Turns out it's never wise to make a snake angry.
Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:32 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 6:46 pm
 

LeBron James steps on lady's sandal video

LeBron James crushes a woman's sandaled foot. (ESPN Broadcast)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

Falling short late in games is surely frustrating, but that's no reason to pick on a defenseless woman.

On Sunday, Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James suffered a second straight defeat, as the Los Angeles Lakers emerged from a nationally-televised showdown with a 93-83 win at Staples Center. This after James had been ridiculed for passing on the game-deciding possession during a Friday night loss to the Jazz in Utah.

On Sunday, James' late-game folly was less about choking and passing and more about crushing and stomping. Indeed, James just demolished a gray-haired woman's sandaled foot during the game's closing minutes, rolling his left ankle in the process.

With a little bit more than a minute left to play in the game, James attempted to intercept an inbounds pass and went crashing into the courtside crowd. There, his foot landed squarely on the sandal of an elderly woman, who seemed none too pleased about it. James rolled around on the court briefly in pain but was able to continue playing. The woman, however, looked shocked, mortified and terrified, all in one.

James is listed at 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds so that's a lot of force coming down on the toes and toenails. He finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in 43 minutes on 12-for-26 shooting. 

Here's the video of Miami Heat forward LeBron James stepping on a woman's sandaled foot during the fourth quarter of a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.


Posted on: March 4, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 3:09 pm
 

Is that LeBron James carrying a... purse?

Posted by Royce Young



Kevin Durant has the backpack. LeBron James has... the purse?

Decide for yourself: Did LeBron walk into Staples Center ready to take on the Lakers carrying a purse? Or is it not a purse, but simply European? Or a man-purse? Here's how you know you're a bad man: When you can totally pull it off. And LeBron is pulling it off. Kind of makes me want one.

The question is, what's in the tiny little bag? Is it a bag carrying a toothbrush and shaving tools? Shampoo and conditioner? Or maybe that's where he keeps his clutchness? Who knows.

Via Deadspin
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 3, 2012 7:26 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 7:36 pm
 

Report: David Stern done after two more seasons

An NBA world without David Stern is an NBA world tough to picture. (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young

David Stern has made it pretty clear that the end is near for him in the commissioner's seat. He stressed at All-Star Weekend that he would not be around for the next collective bargaining agreement, whether that comes in 10 years, or six.

But as for how soon? Maybe just two seasons from now, reports the New York Daily News:
Insiders say that David Stern is planning to tell NBA owners at their April Board of Governors meeting that he’s good for two more seasons, and that he’ll step down as commissioner then. “At one point, he had talked about doing it for one more season, but it looks now like two more,” said a league source. League suits say there probably won’t even be a search conducted to find a successor and that deputy commissioner Adam Silver is a lock to succeed Stern, with one source saying Stern’s lieutenant has the backing of almost 90% of the owners. All he needs is a simple majority.
Stern has almost been as much a constant in the NBA as the basketball itself. He's been around for 27 years since taking over for Larry O'Brien in 1984. To think of the league without him is, well, strange.

He's likely ready to go. He at least sort of seems prepared for it. He emphatically endorsed deputy commissioner Adam Silver in Orlando and really appeared completely at ease with passing the torch.

But it's the sort of thing where you believe it when you see it. Stern's been at this a long time and has probably been planning his exit route for a while. He wants to make sure the game is as healthy as it can possibly be when he hands the keys to the big car to Silver. With a new CBA in place, Stern is going to be sure that the game is in a great place.

Whenever it happens, he's going to leave behind quite a legacy. Which he should over 27 years. He's always been considered one of, if not the best commissioner in sports history, and once he finally leaves his post, we'll all spend plenty of time evaluating that I'm sure. As for Stern, he put it simply this year in Oklahoma City how he wanted to be remember: "Both teams played hard," he said.
Category: NBA
 
 
 
 
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