Posted on: August 29, 2011 9:49 am
By Matt Moore
Amar'e Stoudemire had been organizing a Knicks team workout at IMG Academies in Florida this month. It's the same thing that's being done by multiple players across the league, as they try and keep team chemistry and cohesion sharp in a lockout. Since they can't train at the team facilities, they might as well train together somewhere else. It's been interesting to see who organizes these ventures, as it shows a certain level of leadership. Stoudemire organizing such a workout while Carmelo Anthony plays exhibition games with LeBron James and Eddy Curry isn't exactly a shocker.
But apparently that workout is on hold, and for a fairly big downer for NBA fans. Alan Hahn of Newsday reports that Stoudemire has postponed the sessions on account of the dismal nature of the CBA talks. In short: things are so bad, they're almost definitely losing games, so there's no rush. The push back is only to October, but that's still a fairly strong declaration that Stoudemire, like many NBA players, is certain that games will be missed and there's no reason to push things since they won't be playing for a few more months.
Stoudemire's been busy in the offseason with trips to China and teasing various overseas options before backing out, reportedly from an issue over insurance. This gives him some more free time for all those extracurricular activities of his. It's good to see Stoudemire taking a leadership role on the Knicks, and not being brought to the background by the arrival of Anthony. It's just too bad the lockout is going to stand in the way of the Knicks making progress as a team.
Posted on: August 19, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 9:36 pm
By Matt Moore
This is the eighth segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA.
Try ranking just the best power forwards in the league in your head. Really. Now go back and look at their numbers. Then go back and rerank them. Then factor in their team success. Then look at their ages and upside.
The point is, this is not easy, and that's before you try and stick them in among the best players in the league at all the other positions. Power forwards are elite right now in this league. Trying to determine who's better is nearly impossible. But that's what we've tried to do in this list and this section gets to the hardest part. Zach Randolph dominated the playoffs. Tim Duncan is a Hall of Famer. LaMarcus Aldridge was just brilliant. Amar'e Stoudemire was an MVP candidate for a brief time.
What do you do?
In between we've got Steve Nash, one of the best point guards ever, Deron Williams who's at the top of his game, Russell Westbrook who everyone loves and hates at the same time, and you know, Melo.
20. Steve Nash, G, age 37, Phoenix Suns
2011 Stats: 14.7 points, 11.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 49.2 FG%, 20.81 PER, 53.1 AST%
Composite rankings (random order): 25, 16, 18
The guy's 37. Thir-tee-sev-en. And yet last season Steve Nash averaged more assists per 36 minutes than he has in his career. He posted 53 percent of the Suns' assists. Which means if there was a bucket off a pass on the floor, more often than not it was Steve Nash making it. That's crazy production for his age. Nash continues to be a lightning rod as the Suns fall further and further away from contention. His defense has never been good due to a combination of physical limitations and a back condition that has forced him for years to lay flat on his stomach on the sideline. But his offense is showing signs of slowing down, despite all the slinging. Nash finally posted under 50 percent field goal shooting for the first time since he came to Phoenix last year, and shot under 40 percent from three for the first time since 1999. So he's "only" a 49 percent shooter, 39 percent 3-point shooter. But the bigger point is that Nash is starting to slip.
This is why so many want Nash traded. His time is running out to be effective, though with his conditioning, it's easy to see him playing till he's 40. But for him to be effective as a starter, to hold a shred of "Nashness" in him, he's got to get moved to a contender soon. But if he doesn't, it wouldn't shock anyone to see him make a comeback year next season.
19. Manu Ginobili, G, age 34, San Antonio Spurs
2011 Stats: 17.4 points, 4.9 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 43.3 FG%, 21.78 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 20, 15, 20
Manu Ginobili was a legit MVP candidate the first two months of the season. Being a legit MVP candidate for even a week should probably earn you a higher ranking than this, but such is the cost of a perceived slip as the season went on. At his best, Ginobili is a game-changer and one of the most reliable clutch performers in the game. His step-back elbow jumper is still deadly, and if that doesn't get you, the pump-fake will. Ginobili at full-health would probably have made a big difference in the Spurs' round-one loss to Memphis. (But given that he couldn't guard Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, probably not enough of one.)
Ginobili's slide will only continue as age and injury slow him down. He says he has a few more years left in the league. But his craftiness will only take him so far, which is why he isn't higher on this list. But given how many years he's been near the top of this list, that's not a bad career. And in the meantime, he'll keep drawing fouls and hitting big shots as the Spurs continue to try and suck the life out of the remainder of their contending years.
18. Kevin Love, F, age 22, Minnesota Timberwolves
2011 Stats: 20.1 points, 15.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 47.0 FG%, 24.39 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 15, 24, 13
Hello, power forwards. Kevin Love broke the record for consecutive double-doubles, had the first 30-30 game, showed terrific offensive range, dominated the glass, out-rebounded Dwight Howard and became an All-Star. And he's only the 18th best player on this list, and the fifth best power forward in this section!
Love's biggest liabilities are on the defensive end. He's still learning, so the hope is that he'll improve. Conditioning and health will both be important to that end with his frame, but neither are concerns with Love. With a coach that will hopefully appreciate him and a new system and point guard to work with, it's a good bet that Love will be in the top fifteen by the end of next season. His range makes him a versatile component, he's looking for his first big deal (good luck with that under the new CBA next season), and to boot, he's one of the most likeable players in the league.
Odds are this is the last time he'll bethis low again.
17. Tim Duncan, F, age 35, San Antonio Spurs
2011 Stats: 13.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.9 blocks, 50.0 FG%, 21.94 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 13, 19, 18
What loathesome thing age is, that robs us of our strength but not our integrity. Tim Duncan wasn't the same player last year. I mean, he was, but he wasn't. This is the problem. For players of Duncan's greatness, there's no huge cliff they fall off, its'a slow decline. But they're also held to a different standard. And as a result, Duncan slides down this list. Most jarring was the absence of a dominant Duncan performance in the playoffs. The Grizzlies managed to harass, muscle, and frustrate Duncan to the point of limiting his effectiveness. And as Duncan goes, so do the Spurs.
Duncan logged 76 games last season, missing just six games. The question is if he can have a bounce-back season after having a considerably healthy one in 2010-2011. The Spurs need a vintage Duncan performance all season long, but the reality may be that after so many playoff games early in his career, he may simply not have enough tread left on the tires. Why is he still this high? Because he's Tim Freaking Duncan, and he's earned the right for us to trust in him until the very end.
16. Deron Williams, G, age 27, New Jersey Nets
2011 Stats: 20.1 points, 10.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 43.9 FG%, 21.19 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 22, 18, 9
Deron Williams, Coach Killer? Didn't see that coming.
Williams had a good season. He did. 20 points, 10 assists, good PER, solid defense. The Jazz had a pretty decent start before the wheels came off. Then, you know, Williams may or may not have been the driving point behind Jerry Sloan deciding to pack it up after 25 seasons with the Jazz. Then, you know, Williams was traded to the Nets before he could hold the Jazz hostage like Melo did the Nuggets. Then, you know, he was a Net. Which causes trouble.
Williams turned 27 in June, so he can no longer be considered a "young" point guard. There's only so much room for improvement at this point. And he's still very good, and will fetch a huge price on the market. But you have to wonder if 2010-2011 was a career marker for Williams and if that will make an impact on where he ends up. The good news? He gets into free agency in 2012. Either the Nets will build around him with top talent, or he'll have a chance for a mulligan at 28.
15. Carmelo Anthony, F, age 27, New York Knicks
2011 Stats: 25.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 45.5 FG%, 21.82 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 17, 17, 13
You want to rank Carmelo Anthony in the 20-30 range? Fine. 30-40? You're getting out there. 1-10? We're not going to riot. You can spot Melo anywhere, it just depends on where your priorities lie.
Is Melo's defense lacking? Absolutely. Is he often-times too inefficient to the point that it hurts his effectiveness? Yes. Is his attitude sometimes an issue in terms of the superstar approach? Yes, but it never impacts his play (through everything in Denver, he never missed a game or gave a half-effort). The reality is this.
Carmelo Anthony still nets you 26 points per game, seven rebounds per game, will hit you a game winner more often than not, and can help win you games. He is not the most effective, most efficient, or most versatile. There is a lot that he needs to improve. But Carmelo Anthony is still an elite player in this league, and he needs to be ranked accordingly. He's here for now. If the Knicks keep building around he and Amar'e and if the two start working together better, he'll be among the best of the best. For now, we leverage his upside, his production, his efficiency, and his record.
Then we docked him five slots for his reality show.
14. Russell Westbrook, G, age 22, Oklahoma City Thunder
2011 Stats: 21.9 points, 8.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 44.2 FG%, 23.63 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 16, 16, 11
I'd love to give you an in-depth analysis of Westbrook, but the polar opinions of him rend any attempt apart.
Westbrook has a higher PER than Deron Williams. He's hyper-aggressive and can take games over. The comparison always made to him is Derrick Rose if he didn't have Kevin Durant needing the ball. But one, he's not as good as Derrick Rose, and two, he does have Kevin Durant needing the ball. Westbrook too often puts his head down and slams into the defender causing a turnover, too often is impatient with the offense and too often trusts his ability to dominate. Thing is, he can dominate more than half the time.
Westbrook's explosiveness and speed is top three in the league. His jumper's improved but hasn't made a phenomenal jump. The big question for next season will be what his role is with James Harden as more of a weapon and playmaker. Is Westbrook just a scoring point who can also provide some buckets, or can he use another weapon to be more efficient. It's a technical and mental adjustment that needs to be made.
13. LaMarcus Aldridge, F, Portland Trail Blazers
2011 Stats: 21.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.0 steals, 50.0 FG%, 21.57 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 12, 14, 14
Aldridge was arguably more important to his team than any of the players 12-10. He was huge in 2011. Aldridge is also the most versatile of any power forward in the league. Yeah, there, I said it. He's tough defensively, he's brilliant in the post, he's got great pick-and-pop ability, is a good rebounder (though if we're saying that, so is Amar'e Stoudemire, who has a 12.7 TRB percentage to Aldridge's 13.5).
Aldridge was the anchor for the Blazers who kept them afloat among the injury sea they sailed last year. He's always been overlooked for Roy, but he's also never been a problem in the locker room. He plays smart, tough, and efficiently. Oh, and he plays defense. Nice rare quality in power forwards, that.
12. Zach Randolph, F, Memphis Grizzlies
2011 Stats: 20.1 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 50.3 FG%, 22.67 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 17, 11, 11
Dominates the glass, puts the team on his back, shoots better than 50 percent from the field, creates more possessions, and delivers when his team needs him. That's a franchise player. And as good as Rudy Gay is, that's what Zach Randolph has shown himself to be for Memphis. His performance in the playoffs is what lands him above Aldridge, Love, and Duncan. A stats-only loser for so many years, Randolph not only found the playoffs last season, but owned them. His performance in both Grizzlies' series was out of this world. If making the Finals weren't a prerequisite, Randolph was arguably the playoffs MVP behind Nowitzki (which is probably why Nowitzki won the title).
Randolph's defense is not good, but just like his athleticism, he manages to hide it with savvy. He brings smart help, and communicates well. Randolph's intangibles are almost as great as his numbers. He's a consumate leader, always picking up guys who fall to the floor, and being the emotional rock for a pretty emotional team. As unlikely as it is, Randolph's as valuable as it gets to any single team.
He's getting older, so this is probably the last time he'll be this high. But it's been a fun ride for Randolph with the Grizzlies and he deserves the respect.
11. Amar’e Stoudemire, F, New York Knicks
2011 Stats: 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 blocks, 50.2 FG%, 22.78 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 14, 12, 10
We don't blame you for gawking at this. I scored him a 12, truth be told, and even I am sick just thinking about it. Stoudemire is a pretty solid help defender, except no one will believe that. That's where those 1.9 blocks come from. Again, not good, but solid. But man-up? Bad. Really bad. Not good. At all. Stoudemire will never be confused for a defensive stalwart. His rebounding is sub-par. He's got knee concerns and an eye condition following a pretty horrific injury that required surgery. On his eye.
But he's at this spot because Stoudemire can kill you from the elbow, and if you crowd him, he's going to the rim. He plays aggressively, efficiently, and can deliver. He lost his former-MVP point guard and still produced 25 points per game, and that's even after Melo came in a-gunning. He produces a world of offense and that still counts. As much as the statistical revolution and advanced analysis emphasizes defense, it tends to overlook offense, especially from bigs. The Knicks will never hurt for inside scoring as long as Stoudemire is on the floor. That shouldn't be overlooked. Neither should his defensive liabilities, but his offense out-performs it enough to land him here.
Posted on: August 12, 2011 9:20 am
By Matt Moore
The Eductors series of commercials last year were pretty inventive for Nike. Solid concept, well executed, and a smart selection of athletes. They're back this year even if the NBA isn't. The new series has the same style, a nice rhythm, more of the same theme, and the added benefit of a hilarious Blake Griffin spot. Take a look:
I now want to shout "I love detention!" whenever Griffin jams it. Additionally, the drama school angle with Rondo is nice, particularly with the bow afterwards. And the whole "regulators" riff is pretty sweet, too, what with the combination of scholastic and paramilitary themes. Gets you excited enough to want the NBA season to start. But that's not going to happen until late Octo... oh, right.
Anyway, awesome commercial.
Posted on: August 1, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 4:22 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Those cufflinks could be made of solid gold, the cuffs constructed from the finest ivory.
Yahoo! Sports reports that NBA commissioner David Stern could make more in salary than all but a handful of the league's players.
Many owners don’t even know what Stern makes. “I’d say three or less know,” one NBA owner told Yahoo! Sports. Several believe it’s somewhere in the range of $20 million to $23 million a year, but no one knows for sure. Maybe it’s more than that, but the fact that some owners don’t know the answer is beyond belief.That salary ballpark squares with a New York Daily News report from February -- noted by CBSSports.com's Matt Moore in a piece on the league's opulent culture -- which pegged Stern's salary at $23 million.
Only one NBA player is set to make more than $25 million during the 2011-2012 season: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who is on the books for $25.2 million.
Only three other players are set to make more than $20 million: Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett ($21.2 million), San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan ($21.2 million) and Washington Wizards forward Rashard Lewis ($21.1 million).
Stern is reportedly set to bring home more bacon than the league's worst contracts: Orlando Magic guard Gilbert Arenas ($19.3 million) and Phoenix Suns guard Vince Carter ($18.9 million, although only a fraction of that is guaranteed). He will also reportedly make more than most of the league's biggest stars, including Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki ($19.1 million), Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol ($18.7 million), New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony ($18.5 million) and Amar'e Stoudemire ($18.2 million), Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard ($18.1 million) and all three of the Miami Heat's Big 3 of LeBron James ($16.0 million), Dwyane Wade ($15.7 million) and Chris Bosh ($16.0 million).
Two pieces of information worth pointing out. First, Stern has held the commissioner title since 1984, so he's had more than two and a half decades to rack up pay raises. There's a very good chance he is the league's highest-paid employee by leaps and bounds. Second, Stern pledged not to accept any salary in the event of a work stoppage at the 2011 All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
Stern was asked whether he would reduce his salary to $1 if the two sides could not reach a labor agreement, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has pledged recently. Stern said: "Last time, I ddin't take any salary. I think a dollar would be too high in the event of a work stoppage."Still, that seems like an awful lot of money for the league's chief executive. Windfall salaries for chief executives in many industries are often tied to periods of peak company performance. The NBA, though, claims never to have had a positive operating income during the duration of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 11:30 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 11:32 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Will he, won't he? Will he stay or will he go? The new Melodrama is Amar'e Stoudemire's potential European vacation. One day, he says no chance. The next, he says he's interested and might even play in Israel.
And as you might imagine, teams are definitely giving him a call. Via ESPN New York, Stoudemire is getting offers and is at least giving the courtesy of weighing them.
That's a major change in what Amar'e tweeted earlier in July. He said then, "Europe teams are calling, I think I'm going 2 stay here in the states. My loyalty is with the State of New York an the NYK's. Who's with me?" He then backed it up again on SportsCenter in an interview saying he was planning on just resting and staying in New York.
But speaking from his home in Hollywood, he said he's still considering going overseas. His first order of business though is to get fully healthy and recover from a nagging back issue that sidelined him in the postseason. Before he can play anywhere, he has to be healthy. And you know the Knicks are going to be pretty anxious if Stoudemire goes anywhere, especially with his injury history.
My opinion? Stoudemire's just kind of talking. He's getting offers so naturally he's listening. He probably has no plans of going anywhere, but is at least going to hear everything out so he keeps his options open in case the lockout extends. No reason to just rule everything out right now.
But I can definitely tell you, I'm not looking forward to daily Amar'e updates about his potential Eurotrip. It's August. The drama's supposed to be over.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 6:16 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:29 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
It's one thing to be great on the court. It's one thing to be famous. It's one thing to be marketable. It's one thing to be respected.
But how do we throw all those attributes together? How do we determine which of the NBA's brightest stars are the most well-rounded? How do we put our finger on which stars capture the imagination, drop jaws and tug on the heart strings?
It's an impossible task, but that didn't stop the Eye On Basketball staff from trying. Over the last week, we pinpointed five characteristics that combine to make NBA players likeable: "Ballin' Ability" (how good a guy is as a player), "Winning Attitude" (how dedicated he is to the game), "Talking Softly" (how he comes across in public comments), "Commerical Appeal" (how visible he is in advertisements) and "Public Works" (charitable contributions and other character-defining achievements).
Our panel of four experts ranked every member of the 2011 All-Star teams on a 1-5 scale in each of these five categories. We then added up all the scores to get a ranking on a 1 to 100 scale. The higher the number, the more likeable the player. Pretty simple stuff.
Without further ado, here are the CBSSports.com 2011 NBA All-Star likeability rankings, from worst (least likeable) to first (most likeable).
24. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks: Johnson’s unassuming personality and solid perimeter game don’t stand much of a chance here due to his relatively invisible national profile and his team’s lack of playoff success. Score: 44
23. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks: Horford suffers from the same low-profile problem as Johnson but is perceived as more of a winner because he took home NCAA hardware at the University of Florida, and his game is predicated on doing whatever it takes to get the job done rather than jacking jumpers. Score: 48
22. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat: Bosh is intelligent, articulate and gentle off the court and a versatile talent on the court, so he should be pretty likeable, at least in theory. His goofiness -- the photo shoots, the secret wedding, the screaming at the preseason parade -- has become off-putting now that he’s teamed up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. His status as the league’s most obvious punch line hurts him here. A lot. Score: 54
T-20. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: Still just a half-touch too far up the “might be crazy” scale to be totally likeable at this point in his career. Westbrook is still stuck in Kevin Durant’s shadow, although he showed with his fearless play in the 2011 postseason that he might one day eclipse KD in terms of sheer star power. Could be a fast riser in future renditions of these rankings, especially if he can cut down his turnovers and shake a developing reputation as a bit of a late-game ball hog. Saying something interesting after a game once in a while wouldn't hurt either. Score: 55
T-20. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers: Much like the Lakers, Gasol took a step back in prominence this season when he didn’t show up as expected -- and as needed -- in the postseason. His gangly frame isn’t particularly marketable, at least not here in the United States, and while he is a true professional when it comes to the media, he’s known first and foremost as Kobe Bryant’s on-again, off-again punching bag. Score: 55
19. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: More than anyone else on this list, Rondo genuinely doesn’t care what you think about him. He can come across as curt and moody, and doesn’t expend much energy playing the media game. His authenticity can’t be questioned, but it does keep casual fans at arm’s length. Score: 58
18. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs: An egoless star on an egoless team in an egoless organization in a relatively small market, Ginobili has never sought the bright lights. Even after all these years, the average fan doesn’t have much of a connection with him. There’s nothing not to like, but nothing that reaches out and grabs you either. Score: 59
17. Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets: Williams gets bonus points for his amazing annual dodgeball tournament and rose to a new level of renown this year thanks to a blockbuster trade and a trailblazing deal with Besiktas in Turkey. The rumored spats with Jerry Sloan that surfaced when the legendary Utah Jazz coach abruptly retired briefly painted a very unlikable picture, although that didn’t seem to bother him too much. Score: 61
16. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics: Beloved in Boston, Pierce’s personal likeability suffers a bit nationally because he’s almost always talked about as one of Boston’s Big Three, with Kevin Garnett usually getting top billing. He's a bit past his prime, which surely costs him some spots on this list. Score: 62
15. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics: Allen is pretty much in the same boat as Pierce, although he’s got an energetic mother (the ever-present Flo), a picture-perfect jump shot and an unforgettable silver screen performance (Jesus Shuttlesworth) to give him a bit of a boost. Score: 64
14. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: Love is the anti-Rondo, fully embracing the media attention, putting his self-deprecating humor to full display whenever possible. He’s blogged, starred in viral videos and, let’s not forget, put up mammoth statistics through sheer hard work amidst a dysfunctional mess of a team. All while remaining sane. No easy task. Score: 65
T-12. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics: Thanks to his on-court bullying antics and incessant trash talk, Garnett is as polarizing as anyone in the league, save LeBron James. But his reputation as a winner was sealed by Boston’s title, he’s been a fixture on the national endorsement circuit for years and his overwhelming competitive desire helps cover up some of the ugliness. Score: 66
T-12. Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks: Near the top of his game and playing in a major media market, Stoudemire keeps the dunks and quotes coming, so everyone stays happy. The fact that he abandoned Steve Nash immediately following a Western Conference Finals playoff run to take more money without catching any flak for it is a testament to how he’s carved out a major place in the nation’s heart in his own, quirky way. Score: 66
11. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks: Anthony’s steady focus during a half-season-long free agency and trade whirlwind last year won him a lot of goodwill, as does the fact that he’s put millions of dollars into both Syracuse University and Baltimore. Based on talent alone, Anthony should probably be higher on this list, but wife LaLa and his lack of playoff success hold him back. Score: 68
10. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: Griffin is still enjoying the “new-car smell” phase of his NBA fame. His audacious take-offs, explosive leaping and vicious finishing are so unique for a player his size that nobody much cares that he didn’t make the playoffs and still has a ways to go to fill out an all-around game. The centerpiece of All-Star Weekend in his very first visit, he’s got endorsements by the boatload and is arguably on the verge of over-exposure. He’s still a little stiff, but that seems to be fading. Once he gets a few playoff series wins under his belt, look for Griffin to be a perennial top-5 member on this list. Score: 71
9. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs: Duncan has been so good for so long -- and won so much -- that the respect factor afforded him is significant enough to make up for a bland, sometimes robotic, personality. Duncan can be subtly hilarious and occasionally sharp-tongued with the media. He is also unfailingly classy. Score: 72
8. LeBron James, Miami Heat: He should be No. 1 on every NBA list ever made given his otherworldly talent and global-marketing-machine status, but James drops hard in terms of likeability due to his late-game failures in the 2011 NBA Finals, his out-of-touch comments towards fans following the Heat's eventual loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the self-unaware “Decision” and his overall child-star cockiness/obliviousness. Even given all of that, no one would be surprised if winning a title vaulted him to the top of this list next year. His talent is that absurd. Score: 74
7. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls: You might have heard: Rose is humble. The 2011 MVP has so much going for him: He’s won at an early age, he’s winning for his hometown team, he’s lived up to expectations, he’s taken responsibility for losses and shared credit for victories, he’s managed to be a scoring point guard without getting written off as “selfish,” and he kept a safe distance from all the free agency politicking that soured a lot of fans on many top-name players last summer. He continues to battle his “shy” public nature, which is the only thing holding him back from much, much greater fame. Score: 79
6. Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets: Paul checks off virtually every box on the likeability list. He’s cutthroat on the court and cuddly off of it. He’s raised loads of money for Hurricane Katrina relief. He’s a devout man without being preachy. He comes across as a caring father and thoughtful citizen. He’s -- so far -- steered clear of hijacking his franchise by demanding a trade or threatening to walk in free agency. The touching story of his love for his deceased grandfather has become an indelible part of his identity. And he is team-first, always. There’s so much to like that you actually hope he finds a better situation, where he will be able to fill out his playoff reputation. Score: 81
5. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: This is the top of the mountain for Nowitzki, both on and off the court. It simply doesn’t get any better than captaining a balanced team through a marathon playoff run that ended with the demolition of the league’s most hated team. The cherry on top is the fact that Nowitzki came through in the clutch time and again. He’s put an ugly past relationship totally behind him, moving forward with a new fiancé. His personality with the media is easy-going and honest. He plays with a childish love of the game and hits shots that make you marvel. It’s hard to imagine another seven-foot German man gaining this level of acceptance and respect in the United States. Ever. Also, he’s squashed the “soft” label that haunted him for years. Score: 84
4. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic: Howard has deftly positioned himself as the heir apparent to Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most likeable NBA stars in recent memory. His dominant two-way play serves as the basis for a superhero persona, and his active online presence and numerous endorsement deals make his zany personality inescapable. The fact that he hasn’t committed to the Magic and could be headed for a free agency bonanza could cost him points down the road, but right now he’s still the giant, lovable teddy bear who can swat shots back to half court. Score: 85
T-2. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat: It was a shocking scene when Wade joined James in mocking Nowitzki during the Finals for being sick: A very flat note for someone who has historically been pitch perfect. Throughout his career, Wade has been a Teflon Don, particularly charmed as a player and as an endorser. With a title under his belt and a megawatt smile, Wade has displayed a good sense of humor for years as a pitchman and also been a staple on NBA Cares commercials. Both James and Bosh lost points last summer for their decision to team up in Miami, but Wade came off as a big winner, the cool older-brother figure who pulled off the recruiting haul of a lifetime. Score: 87
T-2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers: Colorado sure feels like a long, long time ago, doesn’t it? Bryant has made the most of the second half of his NBA career, winning rings by the fistful and growing his international popularity immensely. He’s played through pain, done things his way, taken a direct, often profane, tone with the media and become the closest thing to Jordan since Jordan. Age is slowly advancing, which has a way of humanizing people, and yet his ego and force of will push back equally hard, making it seem, at least for now, that his reign on top will last as long as he chooses. Right now, he’s the NBA’s most mythical figure. Score: 87
1. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s virtually impossible to find fault with the NBA’s scoring champ. Durant combines Rose’s humble nature, Nowitzki’s impossible scoring touch, Griffin’s “new-car smell,” Howard’s technological accessibility and a Bryant-esque work ethic. He’s polite, he’s shown he has what it takes to win in the playoffs at a young age, he’s popular on an international stage already and the best is yet to come. He’s confident, but not cocky. He’s a gunner, but he comes off as unselfish. He’s team-first and loyal, much like Paul, and he’s locked in long-term so there’s no doubt or question about his future motives (at least not yet). Put it all together, and Durant is enjoying the ultimate honeymoon period with the NBA fans. We love potential, and Durant still has plenty of that. Also, he wears a backpack. Score: 88
Tags: Al Horford, Amar'e Stoudemire, Ben Golliver, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Russell Westbrook, Tim Duncan
Posted on: July 19, 2011 10:51 am
Edited on: July 19, 2011 11:11 am
By Matt Moore
Carmelo Anthony was traded after the Knicks had already visited the Pepsi Center last season, which meant there was no return for him as a Knick to the city he was drafted to. If we do get a season, a report out of New York says when he'll be making the trek back to the Rockies.
From the New York Post:
According to a person debriefed on the Knicks' 2011-12 schedule, the club embarks on a West Coast trip in November and will play a snazzy, nationally televised back-to-back, facing the Nuggets Nov. 16 on ESPN and the Lakers at Staples Center Nov. 17 on TNT's Thursday night showcase.via Knicks' western trip in jeopardy - NYPOST.com.
Now, of course with the lockout, that means we could easily miss that Nov.17th date which will be less than 21 days from the start of the season. That would mean Melo wouldn't return to the city he cajoled his way out of until 2012, possibly 2013. Traded in February 2011, may not return until as late as April 2013. That's pretty crazy.
But if we say the season does go on, what kind of atmosphere should Melo expect? The Post expects a Cleveland-LeBron-like response, which is probably a bit much. Melo wasn't as much of a star in the NBA or in Denver as LeBron was in Cleveland. His circumstances of departure weren't quite as dastardly (even if you think about it, he may have made them worse as he basically held the team hostage for six months, but no one wants to talk about the possibility of anyone being worse than LeBron). And Denver doesn't have the baggage Cleveland does. So while Melo will definitely get his fair share of boo birds, its hard to see it being the same kind of "we need security" situation that James' return to Cleveland was.
Posted on: July 9, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2011 12:52 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Last summer, Amar'e Stoudemire spent the hot months exploring his Jewish roots by taking a huge trip to Israel and has since been extremely interested in his Jewish ancestry.
So with players like Deron Williams signing up to play overseas, Stoudemire might consider it as well and naturally, he's looking at playing in Israel.
Two major problems here though: 1) Stoudemire's health concerns make it a challenge because he'd be risking his NBA contract plus he wouldn't have insurance. 2) He is still under contract in the NBA so like Williams, would have to get FIBA clearance to be eligible to play. Not a hurdle that can't be jumped, but it's something that stands in the way.
And a third: Stoudemire is still recovering from the back injury he battled during the playoffs.
Hard to know if Stoudemire is really serious about this or if he's just kind of joking about, but whatever the case, New York's franchise player (or one of them) considering playing overseas and risking injury is something that has to catch the attention of the Knicks and James Dolan. It would be at least a little added pressure applied.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is the biggest team in Israel, winning five Euro titles and 49 Israeli league titles. If you remember, Tel Aviv came to Madison Square Garden last preseason to play the Knicks. It's one of those European franchises that's big outside of Israel and one of those franchises that has money. So they could give Stoudemire a little money I'm sure.
But don't expect this to happen. Like I said, Stoudemire's knee issues are a major concern. The Knicks didn't have an insurance policy on his knees before the 2010 World Championships and as a result, he had to sit out. The risk of injury is probably too great for Stoudemire to actually play in Israel. He was likely just thinking out loud.
Still, it would be pretty neat if he did.