Category Archives: National Basketball Association

The Ball Is In Your Court

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Larry Bird

Following the Indiana Pacers elimination in the first round the NBA Playoffs last spring, team president Larry Bird raised some eyebrows when he decided to fire longtime head coach Frank Vogel. Vogel’s 250 wins as Pacers head coach are second in franchise history to the 529 victories of Slick Leonard. And in Vogel’s tenure with the Pacers, only the Miami Heat and small forward LeBron James prevented him from getting to the NBA Finals. The Pacers missed the playoffs in 2015 as they only had the services of small forward Paul George for six games after he suffered a broken leg while playing for the United States Men’s Basketball Team in the summer of 2014. And after the Golden State Warriors would win the NBA Championship in 2015 via the “small ball” philosophy, the 2015-2016 season would the see the Pacers get on board with that notion which included George playing power forward. George did respond by averaging 23.1 points and 7 rebounds as the Pacers appeared to be building off of something. But when Bird decided to fire Vogel, the Pacers lost their soul.

Vogel would be replaced by assistant coach Nate McMillan whose head coaching record coming into this season was 478-452. McMillan was able to lead both the Seattle Supersonics and Portland Trail Blazers to the playoffs, but there appears to be a huge disconnect with him and the current Pacers team.

Last summer Bird went out to improve the talent around George by acquiring the likes of point guard Jeff Teague and power forward Thaddeus Young. However the Pacers have been unable to get in sync all season. The Pacers record of 37-40 has them tied with the Heat for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But if the season were to end today, it would be Miami that would be heading to the postseason. The Pacers were expected to be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, but instead there is a possibility that they’ll be watching the playoffs from home which all falls into the lap of Bird.

Over the past few years Bird has made some questionable moves for the Pacers which included him trading the draft rights of Kawhi Leonard to the San Antonio Spurs in 2011, along with shipping longtime small forward Danny Granger to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014. The firing of Vogel was the cherry on top and George more than likely has not turned a blind eye to all of this.

Paul George

In 2013, George signed a five-year, $90 million extension with the Pacers. At the time life was good for Indiana as they were in the midst of consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals. But since then the overall production of the Pacers has declined and George is noncommittal to signing another extension to remain in Indiana. For George’s seven-year NBA career he has averaged 17.9 points per contest, while he is chiming in with a career-high 23.2 points per game this season. George is a four-time NBA All-Star and as he’ll be 27-years of age next month, he wants to win. George is under contract with the Pacers through 2019, but if Bird doesn’t want an unhappy camper on his hands, the time fix things in Indiana is now.

Bird has tried to change with the times, but the Pacers have gotten away from their identity which is playing solid defense and grinding out games. Going back to Indiana’s last trip to the Eastern Conference Finals which came in 2014, they were second in the NBA in points allowed that season at 92.3 per contest. However this season the Pacers are surrendering 105.8 points per game which is 16th in the league. Indiana is 1-6 over their last seven games as they surrendered at least 109 points in each of those. And even if the Pacers were to make the playoffs this year, they would be a one and done in the postseason as they would have to either face the Cleveland Cavaliers or Boston Celtics in the first round.

But as good as George is, he is not a player that can carry a team as he needs to play alongside another very talented player. Teague is Indiana’s second leading scorer at 15.3 points per game, while he is averaging 7.8 assists per contest, however he is not a player who can consistently get 20 points per contest. And the same can be said about center Myles Turner who is averaging 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds this season.

Bird is a very competitive person as we’re talking about a man who led the Celtics to three NBA Titles, while he was also a three-time league MVP. Bird is going to give it everything that he has in order to turn things around for the Pacers and even if that means parting with McMillan in order to appease George, then so be it. The Pacers already have more than $80 million committed to player salaries for next season, while the trade route is also an option for Larry Legend in order to make his team better. Bird did some pretty amazing things on the parquet floor of the Boston Garden during his playing career, and he’ll need to once again be crafty if he wants to keep George in a Pacers uniform.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

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The Other Curry

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For Dallas Mavericks point guard Seth Curry, his journey to the NBA has not been an easy one. After Curry averaged 22.3 points as a high school senior, none of the big time college basketball programs came calling. Curry would average 20.2 points in his freshman year for the Liberty Flames before transferring to join the Duke Blue Devils. Curry’s first year at Duke saw him average 9 points as he was the backup to point guard Kyrie Irving who would go on to be the first overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. Curry would continue to improve during his time at Duke under head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski which culminated with him averaging 17.5 points per game as a senior en route to him being a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first-team in 2013.

Heading into the 2013 NBA Draft, Curry was looked at as a possible second-round pick as people mainly knew him for the younger brother of Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry and the son of former NBA guard Dell Curry. Surprisingly the younger Curry went undrafted by the NBA, but he would quickly sign with the Warriors to join his brother. Curry never appeared in an official game for the Warriors as he instead was relegated to their Development League affiliate the Santa Cruz Warriors. Curry would spend the next few years bouncing back and forth between the D-League and various NBA teams as he appeared in games for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, and Sacramento Kings. Last summer Curry would become an unrestricted free agent as he opted to join the Dallas Mavericks which has worked out good for both he and the team.

Prior to this season Curry had never averaged more than 6.8 points per contest, but he has nearly doubled that in his first season with the Mavericks as he is averaging 12.8 points per game. Curry has appeared in 70 of the Mavericks 75 games which has included him scoring 31 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 24 and 29 points against the Miami Heat on February 27. For the season Curry is shooting 42% from behind the three-point line which is sixth in the NBA. And although that Curry is only signed through next season, I have the feeling that he is on the verge of finding an NBA home in Dallas.

Initially I was shocked to see that it took Curry this long to find stability in the NBA, but unlike his older brother Steph, Seth had trouble creating his own shoot upon coming into the league. At Duke, Curry shot nearly 40% from behind the three-point line which primarily was the result of him coming off of screens, or as the result of players such as center Mason Plumlee being double teamed. There was never a question about Curry being able to shoot as he is from one of the best deep shooting families in NBA history. And even though that Curry had to go through the D-League in order to get to the NBA, the journey is paying off for him in a big way.

With just a few games left in the regular season the odds are against the Mavs making the postseason as they are 6.5 games behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. This would also mark just the second time since 2001 in which Dallas has failed to make the postseason, but things could be trending upwards for them heading into next  season.

Curry has given the Mavericks some stability in their back court as this is an organization that has been spurned in recent years in free agency. Curry might not be on the level of his famous brother who has an NBA Championship to his credit, while also being a two-time MVP, but he is a shining example of how hard work pays off as he is showing the ability to be a solid contributor to a team.

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You Can’t Have It Both Ways

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With the start of the NBA Playoffs right around the corner, the subject of “resting” in the league is front and center. This past decade has seen teams more than ever occasionally rest their star players for at least one contest during consecutive games on consecutive nights, or stretches of four games in five nights. The godfathers of resting are the San Antonio Spurs as their head coach Gregg Popovich has been known to occasionally sit out his star players during consecutive nights in the hopes of keeping his squad fresh for the postseason. Popovich has at times drawn the ire of the NBA over this as he’s not a fan of how the league schedules games at times. But even with the resting of key players, the Spurs will still take the court and give maximum effort which more often than not has led to victories. However the same cannot be said for other teams around the league.

There hasn’t been a team around the NBA that isn’t currently on the resting bandwagon as it is the new fad in the league. And whether they know it or not, this practice is damaging the NBA’s image.

Resting has been brought into the spotlight due to the fact that we’ve seen marquee teams such as the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers invoke this practice during nationally televised games. On Saturday February 25 against the Chicago Bulls and Saturday March 18 versus the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cavaliers rested some of their key players such as LeBron James. Cleveland would go on to lose both contests by a combined 48 points. On March 11, the Warriors would rest a trio of All-Stars in power forward Draymond Green, point guard Steph Curry, and shooting guard Klay Thompson as they lost to the Spurs 107-85. Each one of these contests were marquee games that were televised on Saturday night on ABC, but the product was far from being top of the line.

Adam Silver

In recent years NBA players have complained about having too many back-to-back games which is something that league is addressing. NBA commissioner Adam Silver is attempting to spread out the 82-game regular season slate for each team in order to not have as many consecutive games in consecutive nights, but led by James, is it time that the players hold up their end of the bargain.

As the NBA has its new television deal with their national broadcast partners in ESPN and Turner Sports, player’s salaries have skyrocketed. This was illustrated last summer when guard Tyler Johnson received a four-year, $50 million to remain with the Miami Heat, or point guard Mike Conley Jr. resigning with the Memphis Grizzlies to the tune of $153 million over five years which is the richest contract in NBA history. James who got tired of taking less money throughout his NBA career is receiving $30.9 million this season. But when players signed their names on the dotted line, there were responsibilities that came with it as well.

At times James feels that he has been unfairly scrutinized by fans and the media, but as the face of the NBA, it comes with the territory. James wants to win titles, but when the NBA advertises you being available for a marquee game and you’re not performing, it sets a bad precedent. ESPN and Turner were willing to overpay in order to bank roll your product thus you owe it to them, along with the sponsors who back them, and the fans to perform. It’s not right to expect fans to spend their hard earned money to pay top dollar to watch an NBA game, but instead be relegated to watching a glorified D-League contest.

James and other NBA players will complain about the riggers of the regular season in the NBA. But in previous eras of basketball, the NBA and its teams didn’t provide their players with the amenities that the current league has such as chartered flights, meals, five-star lodging, and state-of-art facilities, which includes top notch trainers as well as physicians. Players such as Hall of Famers Bill Russell, Karl Malone, and Michael Jordan never asked their respective coaches to have a night off in order to preserve themselves for the postseason as they competed on a nightly basis. And these players never made excuses either if they came up short in the playoffs as they always embraced the challenge of competing.

Current stars in the NBA such as James approached the league about extending the All-Star break from three days to seven days in order to have time to rest, along with spending time with their families due to the riggers of All-Star weekend. Silver granted them their wish, while he is also opening to cutting down the consecutive games on consecutive nights and it’s time for the players to put the excuses to bed. But the players haven’t been living up to their end of the bargain which includes the All-Star Game becoming a glorified walk through with each side scoring nearly 200 points.

Yes the riggers of an NBA season are taxing on a body, but that comes with the territory. Every player in the NBA is there because they want to be as it is not a requirement. And if you can accept the money of these billionaire owners, then you also accept the responsibilities that come with it. I guarantee you that if players were only compensated for the actual games that they played in, this whole resting aspect would go out of style like the jheri curl. But like everything else, it has become a problem due to overkill.

For years the NBA had a problem with flagrant fouls and fighting until “The Malace At The Palace” in 2005 and now brawls in the league are a thing of the past. Former NBA commissioner David Stern did fine the Spurs for resting in the past, and you can expect Silver to attempt to flex his muscles in the same way on the entire league in order to put a stop to this practice.

I understand that Silver works for the owners, but he also has to answer to the corporate sponsors who have forked over money and they have to protect their bottom line. It’s going to be complicated to find the proper answer to fix this problem of resting, but the best way to solve it is to begin the process of brainstorming.

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Feel The Heat

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After the first 41 games of this NBA season for the Miami Heat, they appeared to be headed for one of their worst campaigns in franchise history. The Heat were 11-30 and they were barreling towards having one of the top picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. The Heat’s roster is comprised of youngsters and relative unknowns who appeared to not have the ability to cut it at this level. But what has happened for the Heat since then has been downright magical.

The Heat would go on to win their next 13 games which included a victory over the Golden State Warriors who are the defending Western Conference Champions. And even after Miami’s 13-game winning streak, they have yet to slow down as they’ve gone 20-4 since their dreadful start. And now the Heat are just a .5-game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with nearly a month remaining in the regular season.

Erik Spoelstra

The coaching job that has been done by Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra cannot be overlooked. In 2012 and 2013, Spoelstra led the Heat to the NBA Championship, but he never got the credit that he deserved due to the fact that Miami had small forward LeBron James, shooting guard Dwyane Wade, and power forward Chris Bosh on the roster for those titles teams. And when James decided to opt-out of his contract with the Heat in 2014 to re-join the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami’s chances of winning another title faded. The Heat still had Bosh and Wade as they were able to make the playoffs last season. But things changed drastically when Heat team president Pat Riley allowed Wade to leave last summer as a free agent to join the Chicago Bulls. Riley wasn’t willing to break the bank for an aging Wade, while health issues forced Bosh to unofficially retire as the only player left from Miami’s last title team is veteran power forward Udonis Haslem.

The Heat have attempted to rebuild, but one of their building blocks in small forward Justise Winslow would only appear in 18 games this season after he suffered a torn labrum. However Riley is one of the best to have ever done it in the NBA when it comes to being able to evaluate talent and put a team together.

Center Hassan Whiteside was a relative unknown who had spent the majority of his professional basketball career playing the NBA’s Development League. However Riley saw talent in Whiteside and signed him in 2014. Whiteside has gone of to be an overnight sensation for the Heat. Whiteside led the NBA in blocks last season at 3.7 per contest, and he’s leading the league in rebounds this year (14.1). Whiteside is a double-double machine as he has posted at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in 52 games this season and he has turned into a building block for the Heat.

Goran Dragic

For nearly eight years point guard Goran Dragic was an underrated player during his time with the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns. Riley acquired Dragic from the Suns in 2015 and after he struggled to play alongside Wade and Bosh, he has begun to flourish on South Beach. Dragic is averaging 20.2 points this season which is a career-high, to go along with 6.1 assists per contests as he has given Miami a solid floor general.

Throughout the basketball journey of shooting guard Dion Waiters he has been a player who has been overlooked. In Waiters’ last collegiate season with the Syracuse Orange, he was the Big East Conference’s Sixth Man of the Year. Waiters was selected fourth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Cavaliers, but he quickly clashed there with point guard Kyrie Irving who he accused of playing “buddy ball” with center Tristan Thompson. And not long after James returned to Cleveland, Waiters would find himself traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder where he was bench player in the shadow of small forward Kevin Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook.

Dion Waiters

Waiters would sign with the Heat last summer, but for only $2.89 million which was shocking with money being thrown around the league as the result of a new television deal. But Waiters has done nothing but shine in Miami as he is averaging 15.9 points per game and he has brought the tough-minded approach that he developed on the playgrounds of Philadelphia to Miami.

Pat Riley

Riley would receive a ton of criticism last summer when he re-signed point guard Tyler Johnson to the tune of $50 million over four years. However Johnson has turned into a key contributor off of Miami’s bench as his 13.8 points per game are fourth on the team.

Aside from Dragic and power forward James Johnson, none of the regular contributors for Miami are more than 30-years of age. The Heat have a team of players that have yet to figure out how good they can be and thus they are playing with house money which is a credit to Riley and Spoelstra.

Riley has once again made the Heat into playoff contenders by using his thinking cap as opposed to relying on help. In the four years that James was with the Heat, the Cavaliers had the first overall pick in the NBA Draft three times, yet they were unable to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference once. However the Heat are in the mix for their second playoff appearance without James as they’ve gone about their business in a different way. The Heat never whined and publicly complained about James leaving like Cavs owner Dan Gilbert did, nor have they ever won the NBA’s Draft Lottery. But since Riley has been a part of nine championship teams as a player, head coach, and team president, he knows how to win. And even though that James has gone on to win an NBA Championship since leaving Miami, the Heat are still a franchise that cannot be overlooked due to Riley’s influence.

Riley has lobbied for Spoelstra to be the NBA’s Coach of the Year and he has a valid case as this was written off a few months ago. When critics questioned Spoelstra’s coaching ability during James’ tenure with Miami, Riley backed his coach, and it’s time that the rest of basketball world gives him some credit as well. The Heat might not be a title team at the present time, but if you give Riley the opportunity, he will bring another Larry O’Brien Trophy to South Beach sooner than you think.

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Mr. 30K

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The basketball journey of Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki has been a unique one. Nowitzki was the ninth overall pick of the 1998 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks who quickly traded him to the Mavericks. Nowitzki entered the NBA as a relative unknown in the United States from his native Germany. And there wasn’t much expected of Nowitzki upon his arrival to the NBA as he was joining a Mavericks franchise that hadn’t made postseason in nearly a decade.

Dirk Nowitzki

As a rookie, Nowitzki would average 8.2 points per game in the lockout shortened 1998-1999 NBA season. But as the Mavericks barely missed making the playoffs in the following season, Nowitzki began to emerge. During the 1999-2000 NBA season, Nowitzki averaged 17.5 points per game, and by his third season he was able to average 21.8 points per contest as he helped the Mavericks reach the playoffs for the first time since 1990, along with their first postseason series victory since 1988. The 7-foot Nowitzki was beginning to be a household name among NBA fans and the best was yet to come.

Nowitzki was flourishing in the wide-open offensive system of head coach Don Nelson as he along with point guard Steve Nash and shooting guard Michael Finley made the Mavs one of the NBA’s trendiest teams. Nowitzki would earn his first All-Star Game appearance in 2002 as he and the Mavericks were holding their own in the tough Western Conference against the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers and center Shaquille O’Neal, the San Antonio Spurs and power forward Tim Duncan, the Sacramento Kings and power forward Chris Webber, the Minnesota Timberwolves and power Kevin Garnett and the Portland Trail Blazers and power forward Rasheed Wallace. 2001 would mark the beginning of a string of 12 consecutive playoff appearances for the Mavericks as you could all but pencil in Nowitzki to drop 25 points per night.

But as Nowitzki continued to put up stellar numbers, while the Mavericks were one of the better teams in the Western Conference, they couldn’t get over the hump and win the NBA Championship. The Mavericks finally won the Western Conference Title in 2006, and they would win the first two games of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. However Dallas would go on to lose the next four contests. The following season would see the Mavericks have the best record in the NBA at 67-15, while Nowitzki was the league’s MVP as he averaged 24.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. But unfortunately for the Mavericks, they would be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors. Nowitzki would continue to be one of the NBA’s best players, but the only thing that was missing from his resume was an NBA Title.

That would change in 2011 as the Mavericks made it back to the NBA Finals where they would once again face the Heat. And whereas the Mavs lost in six games to Miami in 2006, they would turn the table and win it all. Nowitzki would shine bright on the big stage as he averaged 27.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists to be named as NBA Finals MVP. The giant Nowitzki would be lauded in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by other professional teams in the area such as Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League who honored him for bringing the Mavericks their first NBA Championship.

Since then the Mavericks haven’t had a title team around Nowitzki, but he has still gone about his business. Nowitzki has made three more All-Star Game appearances after winning the NBA Championship, and even at the age of 38 with his best years behind him, he continues to add to his soon to be Hall of Fame resume.

This past Tuesday night saw Nowitzki head into that rare air. Against the Los Angeles Lakers, Nowitzki scored 25 points in the Mavericks 122-111 victory. But the cherry on top of the Mavs victory was that Nowitzki was able to reach the 30,000-point plateau for his NBA career. Nowitzki joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to reach the feat. Rightfully so when it happened, Nowitzki’s teammates along with team owner Mark Cuban who arrived in Dallas around the same time that he did mobbed him on the court and showered him with the praise and accolades that he deserved as he is truly one of the best to have done it.

Nowitzki had some intense battles with Duncan and the Spurs in the regular season and playoffs alike as there was a mutual respect, while he has carried the German banner on his 7-foot frame. Nowitzki wasn’t the first European to play in the NBA, but he helped to revolutionize the game. Before Nowitzki there weren’t too many big men attempting three-point shots. But for Nowitzki’s NBA career he has shot 38% from behind the three-point arc, while his 1,755 made three-point field goals are 15th all-time. Nowitzki has never averaged a double-double in a season, but he has managed to average 7.8 rebounds for his career, while routinely coming up big on the boards when Dallas has needed him to.

Nowitzki played in arguably the best era for power forwards in NBA history and came out of it smelling like a rose. Hands down Nowitzki is the best player in the history of the Mavericks, while he joins other big men in Texas such as Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon to carry a franchise for an extended period of time. Nowitzki continues to get it done in the NBA, and 30,000 points simply adds to the fact that he is one of the best to have ever done it.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

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Windy City Bull

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Fred Hoiberg

The transition from Tom Thibodeau to Fred Hoiberg as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls has not been a good one. In each year that Thibodeau was the head coach of the Bulls, he got them to the playoffs. But since Thibodeau was unable to get along with Bulls general manager Gar Forman, he was asked to leave in 2015. In Hoiberg’s first season with the Bulls they posted a record of 42-40 but failed to make the playoffs, and things have gotten worse during this campaign.

The Bulls won their first three games of the season, but they have struggled ever since. Chicago’s record of 31-32 has them tied with the Detroit Pistons for third place in the Central Division and seventh overall in the Eastern Conference.

When the NBA season began, the Bulls were expected to be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. However with the regular season set to finish in about a month, there is a possibility that the Bulls could be watching the playoffs from home for a second consecutive year.

Gar Forman

There was optimism last summer for the Bulls when Gorman was busy making moves. The Bulls traded longtime point guard Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks, while they also allowed center Joakim Noah to leave in free agency as he joined Rose in the Big Apple. The Bulls would also sign shooting guard Dwyane Wade who is a native of Chicago whose career has been highlighted by helping the Miami Heat win three NBA Championships. Along with Wade, point guard Rajon Rondo would join the Bulls as these two were expected team with small forward Jimmy Butler to give Chicago a solid trio.

Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler

Wade has had a solid season for the Bulls as he is averaging 18.9 points, while Butler is leading the way with 23.9 points per contest. Rondo’s reputation as being a malcontent has followed him to Chicago as he’s been benched, while also clashing with Wade. Rondo is only averaging 6.9 points and 6.5 assists after he led the NBA in assists last season with 11.7 as a member of the Sacramento Kings. And even when you take Rondo out of the equation, the Bulls have individual talent, but that alone won’t win as the issues with the team fall right into the lap of Forman who has put this team together.

In nearly two seasons with Hoiberg as the Bulls head coach, Chicago has yet to find an identity. Under Thibodeau you knew that the Bulls were going to grind out games due to their defense which was one of the best in the NBA. The Bulls were up and down last season primarily because Hoiberg attempted to open things up on offense, while concentrating less at the defensive end of the floor which has been Chicago’s bread and butter. But Hoiberg tried to do this with Thibodeau’s players and there was never any middle ground.

This season those struggles have been magnified as everyone on the Bulls appears to be playing for himself as there isn’t a concept of team basketball; especially when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter. Wade has criticized some of the younger players on the Bulls for “not wanting it enough”, while Rondo became the spokesperson for the team’s young talent as he went to social media to criticize the leadership of Wade. And although that Wade and Butler are big names, neither former Marquette Golden Eagle has provided the Bulls with the leadership that is needed. And as the Bulls are languishing through this NBA season, the term “starting over” is not that far-fetched for them as it might be time for team owner Jerry Reinsdorf to pull the switch on this team.

A house cleaning would make sense for the Bulls as the team parted with the wrong guy in Thibodeau instead of Forman. The Bulls need a new voice that will provide this team with structure and the emphasis of once again providing this organization with an identity. Hoiberg is not the man to lead the Bulls on the sideline as in spite of the fact that he played in the NBA for a decade, he can’t get his message across in the same manner that he did collegiately at Iowa State University where he was the head basketball coach for five years. Each roster spot for the Bulls needs to be evaluated; including Butler who in spite of being Chicago’s best player is not expendable.

It’s not as if we haven’t seen Reinsdorf start from scratch before as after the Bulls won the NBA Championship in 1998 for their sixth title of the decade, this team was quickly dismantled. And it was seven years before the Bulls made it back to playoffs, while they’ve never won another NBA Championship. It might appear to be insane, but the Bulls are no closer to an NBA Championship now than they were the day that Forman hired Hoiberg as the past two seasons are clear evidence that the Bulls at best are nothing more than first-round cannon fodder for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

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The NBA’s Fakest Tough Guy

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When power forward Draymond Green entered the NBA in 2012 as a second-round pick of the Golden State Warriors, he had the reputation of being a hard worker. Green spent four years playing under head basketball coach Tom Izzo in his Michigan State Spartans basketball program. And by Green’s senior season, he was the Big Ten Conference’s Player of the Year, along with being a first-team All-American. In Green’s first two years with the Warriors, he was a bench player who barely averaged 20 minutes per game. However when the decision was made to fire Mark Jackson and replace with him with Steve Kerr as the Warriors head coach in 2014, Green now found himself in the starting lineup. In Green’s first season under Kerr, he would average 11.7 points and 8.2 rebounds as he would be key in Golden State winning their first NBA Championship since 1975. Green has gone on to become a two-time NBA All-Star, and although that his teammate in point guard Steph Curry is the reigning two-time NBA MVP, there is a consensus that feel that Green is Golden State’s best player due to the fact he can facilitate, rebound, score, and play defense. However as good as Green can be, there are some negative attributes that he brings to the table as well.

Green has taken it upon himself to become the NBA’s bad boy. Green has received his fair share of flagrant fouls and fines in the past few years due to his unnecessary contact with opponents. Two of the most infamous incidents occurred last year during the NBA Playoffs. In Game Three of the Western Conference Finals, Green kicked Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams in his groin. Green was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul and fined $25k by the NBA, and even with that some people felt that he got off light. In the Game Four of the NBA Finals, the Warriors were well on their way to taking a 3-1 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers when Green got himself into a tussle with Cavs small forward LeBron James. Both players would be assessed technical fouls, but since it was Green’s fourth technical of the postseason, he would be suspended by the NBA for Game Five. The Cavaliers would have new life as they rallied to win the NBA Championship, and many pointed to Green’s blunder as a big reason why.

And after the Warriors blew a 3-1 series lead, you would think that Green would have had a new outlook on things coming into this NBA season, but that hasn’t been the case. Green is still the glue for what the Warriors want to do, however he continues to make boneheaded decisions.

In the Warriors 132-127 loss to the Houston Rockets on December 1, Green could be seen kicking Rockets point guard James Harden in the face while attempting to secure a rebound. Green was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul, but he was not suspended by the NBA. During the Warriors 123-113 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on February 23, Green kicked Clippers power forward Blake Griffin while tussling for a loose ball which resulted in no fine or suspension by the NBA.

Green has yet to learn his lesson as gone are the days in the NBA when teams had enforcers who would be put into the game simply to retaliate against players such as himself. Early in the Hall of Fame career of Michael Jordan, if anyone were to breath on him in the wrong way, they had to deal with Charles Oakley. The Detroit Pistons of the late 1980’s were the ultimate intimidators who dared opponents to cross them. But ever since “The MalIce At The Palace” in 2004, the landscape of the NBA has changed with a no-nonsense policy as far as fighting goes, and Green has taken full advantage of it.

Green knows that he can continue his on-court antics because there aren’t that many players left in the league who are willing to confront him. And at this point the only way to slow Green down is a physical altercation due to the fact that fines and a suspension in the NBA Finals have not made him change his ways. However it will only take Green to try his luck against the wrong player in the NBA that would escalate into brawl before the league would be forced to sit him down.

There’s nothing wrong with playing with intensity in order to win. But there is a fine line playing hard and being stupid. Green is taking the latter approach and I don’t understand why this is being allowed to happen. Once again the Warriors have a very good chance of winning the NBA Title. However if nobody is able to get Green under control, all of the fantastic shooting ability that is possessed by Curry, shooting guard Klay Thompson, or small forward Kevin Durant won’t mean a thing.

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