The NBA Reset: 3/30/2011

New York, New York

Okay, so New York managed to fend off Orlando in OT to pick up what Carmelo Anthony had termed an “almost must win” game. As if that placing a label on a game then following through achieves anything. The bottom line is that they’re still 2 – 8 over their last ten and things aren’t exactly looking up.

During last week’s fourth quarter meltdown against Boston the Knicks allowed the Celtics to finish the game on a 23 – 4 run. ‘Melo and Amar’e tallied exactly 2 points and 0 FGs during the final twelve minutes of play. Wow, talk about coming through in the clutch. Later, according to ESPN, Carmelo was quoted as saying, “I believe, we believe that something will get turned around quickly. We have a little bit under a month to get this thing right to get ready for the playoffs. And right now, we’re just figuring it out on the go. As long as we figure it out by the time the playoffs come, I’m not really too concerned about what’s going on right now and how it’s going on.” New York came out two nights later and got worked over by Orlando.

The reality: As soon New York flames out in the playoffs Anthony will be raising more hell, D’Antoni will be fired, and Knicks management will be scrambling to figure out how to add talent to a team with two high salary superstars when in all likelihood, the new collective bargaining agreement will make adding such mid level talent increasingly difficult.

Under The Radar

Sometimes the things that get noticed (or in this case, don’t) during an NBA season make me stop and take pause. A week ago Adrian Wojnarowski published a bombshell that, if true, seems like it’s been jarringly under reported in the NBA media. According to Wojnarkowski, during All-Star weekend union director Billy Hunter delivered an impassioned, not so thinly veiled call to action while speaking to players, coaches and league executives, including the commissioner, on the eve of the big game.

Among other things, Hunter recounted how Oscar Robertson and Jerry West had threatened to boycott the 1964 All-Star Game unless the league agreed to concessions on medical benefits and pension contributions. The implications of Hunter’s speech were evident and David Stern was none too pleased. What allegedly happened next was, frankly, incredible.

“So livid, Stern would barely even look at Hunter when Hunter handed him the microphone. And soon, Stern started reciting his résumé, his decades of labor fights and legal battles in the NBA. Here’s how much the NBA was worth and here’s where I’ve brought it, he said. Everyone could see the anger rising within him, but no one expected the words that tumbled out of his mouth. Stern told the room he knows where ‘the bodies are buried’ in the NBA, witnesses recounted, because he had buried some of them himself.” (read the whole article here)

Call me a negative Nancy but this little anecdote doesn’t seem to bode well for a lockout free 2012 season. Even if/when the NBA does come back online after a lockout who knows how different it might look. Hard Cap? Franchise Tag? Maybe even contraction. It’s a brave new world, friends.

Stumbling to the Finish Line

My prediction of a Lakers – Bulls finals is looking like a sure fire bet. Boston is 5 – 5 over their last ten and with looming question marks over Shaq’s health and Rondo’s pinkie (not to mention the fact that they traded away the one guy who made them genuinely tough on the inside), who knows what kind of rhythm they’ll have for the playoffs. As for Miami…meh.

Meanwhile San Antonio has lost four straight and find themselves dealing with injury woes of their own (Parker, Ginobli and Duncan all sat during last night’s loss to the Blazers). Will they choke enough to relinquish home court to the Lakers? Probably not. But every loss and DNP due to injuries adds a little bit of weight to an increasingly shaky situation. Of course there are those taking a more optimistic view of the Spurs chances.

MVP on Lockdown

Stan Van Gundy on the MVP race:

“I don’t think it’s wide open. The media seems to have made their decision, and they’re the ones that vote. Derrick Rose has it. I haven’t really read or heard a media guy who is going another way at this point.”

I don’t know what kind of reverse psychology Jedi mind trick is at work here but I find it endlessly fascinating that SVG calls out the media for it’s hypocrisy while playing a media game of his own obviously intended to shift votes and attention to his player. Sounds like something straight out of the Phil Jackson playbook. Well played, sir.

Bits and Pieces:

– Former NBA All-Star Mark Aguirre was hospitalized this past week after collapsing on a treadmill at a fitness center near Plano, Texas. I’m sure I speak for everyone at LN when I say I wish Mark a quick and speedy recovery.

-David West is gone for the season with an ACL injury. Add it to the list of reasons that Chris Paul will not be staying in New Orleans.

-Carlos Boozer is suing a Florida business man for allegedly duping him and his wife out of a 1 million dollar investment. Well, it could be worse, Carlos. You could have bought swampland from that dude on CHiPs.

-The ripples of Scottie Pippen’s financial woes continue to amaze.

-How good could Len Bias have been in the NBA? Just looking at this photo makes you sit and wonder.

And finally from the Lakers Nation archives I present to you this week’s failbag, a weekly look at the best (and by best I mean worst) that the NBA has to offer. For our inaugural edition, a quick lesson in futility.

After losing a heart breaking double overtime to the Clippers last week I was convinced that the Washington Wizards quest for infamy was fated. At the time the Wiz were an unfathomable 1 – 34 on the road, on pace to match the historical ineptitude of the 1991 Sacramento Kings for the worst road record in the history of the NBA since the league went to an 82 game schedule.

Capping their road trip a perfect 0 – 5 seemed like a mere formality entering last night’s game in Utah. The Wizards played a spirited first three quarters, building a ten point lead heading into the fourth. But then came the obligatory collapse. Utah erased the deficit and held a two point advantage in the final minute when Jordan Crawford nailed a baseline jumper with 4 seconds left to tie the game. In overtime the Wiz managed to pull out a five point victory. History was, for better or worse, averted.

So I suppose a tip of my cap is in order for a team that managed to stave off being on the wrong side of the record books. Here’s to you Washington Wizards. You still suck, but you’re not the worst ever.

(A curious foot note to those ‘91 Kings: While only 1 – 40 on the road they were a playoff worthy seven games over .500 at home. Incredible. Who remembers the dynamic, high scoring front court of Lionel Simmons and Wayman Tisdale?!? No one. Guess that’s why they’re moving to Anaheim).

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