Very soon now... no comments
Very soon now... no comments
More to come, very soon... no comments
Any who... his take:
10: Alex English - a pure scorer who never had the supporting cast around him to get anywhere near a title.
9: Dominique Wilkins - the Human Highlight Reel was exactly that. One of the most exciting players ever to grace the hardwood, but another who was not able to go the dsitance in the playoffs.
8: LeBron James - destined to move a long way up this list when it's all said and done. Has changed the way this position is played and has been a dominant regualr season force. Needs to get it done in the post-season to be one of the all-time greats.
7: James Worthy - Big Game James was an integral part of the great Lakers of the late 80s. His triple double in game 7 of the 88 finals -36/16/10 - was one of the all-time great Game 7 performances.
6: Rick Barry - after Larry Bird, possibly the least likely looking superstar ever to play at this level. One of the best shooters in the history of the game with one of the ugliest free throw techniques!
5: Scottie Pippen - Despite playing Robin to MJ's Batman, Scottie was a great player in his own right. A forerunner of the style now embodied by LBJ, but Pippen was a truly outstanding defensive player. At his prime, Pippen guarding LBJ would be worth the price of admission on its own.
4: Elgin Baylor - Rookie of the Year, 11 time All-Star, 10 times on the All-NBA first team, Hall of Famer and probably the best player never to have won a championship.
3: Julius Erving - When I started watching the NBA, our Michael Jordan was named Dr J. 16 time All-Star, 12 time All-NBA or All-ABA first or second teamer, four time MVP (NBA and ABA), two-time NBA All-Star game MVP and NBA champion. Air Erving was electrifying and with Moses Malone, Andrew Toney and Maurice Cheeks his Sixers team was a joy to watch.
2: John Havlicek - Started life as a 6th man, but quickly became an integral part of the Celtics engine room. Hondo could do everything - score, pass, rebound - but it was his defense which separated him from the rest. An 8 time NBA champion, 1 finals MVP, 13 All-Star games, a 4 time All-NBA first teamer, Celtics' all time leading scorer but still most remembered with that famous line "Havlicek stole the ball."
1: Larry Bird - Back in the 80s the two big choices you had to make were Madonna or Cyndi Lauper and Magic or Larry Legend.I was always a Larry Legend kinda guy. Couldn't run that fast, couldn't jump that high, but man could he pass and shoot! Coupled with a fierce desire to win (or simply beat YOU) the hick from French Lick was the ultimate competitor. Three NBA titles with the Celtics, 3 MVP's, 2 Finals MVP's, 12 All-Star games, 9 All-NBA first teams and finished with a career average of 24.3 points, 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.
Thus far, we've explored the top tens for the point guard (Hoops Manifesto result), the shooting guard (HM's). Just stands to reason where we're going next, huh?
10. Alex English - Simply a prolific scorer, the guy could score falling outta bed.
9. Dominique Wilkins - The Human Highlight Reel. His signature windmill dunk is one of the game's most dramatic images... but despite amazing athletic ability, and highly entertaining, thunderous jams, 'Nique never even really came close to the NBA Finals, his Hawks inevitably running into a green wall.
8. LeBron James - Until a few months ago, I would have said that undoubtedly, LeBron James will one day find himself at the very upper levels of lists like this... but now, well... I do have doubts. The melt-down in the NBA Finals not only sunk LeBron James down a few spots, but raised some very real question as to his NBA genetic coding. Is hard-wired to succeed, along the lines of Scottie Pippen? Or is his basketball DNA more akin to Dominique Wilkins? Flash, excitement... but no real bang for the buck.
7. James Worthy - Big Game James. No-one in the history of the game has a bigger reputation for the ability to "step it up" when the playoffs hit, and deservingly so - he had an almost uncanny ability to rise to the occasion. Perhaps the greatest testament to him is that he is one of only 7 jerseys retired by the LA Lakers.
6. Rick Barry - The patriarch Barry (his sons are John, Brent & Drew) possessed an incredible basketball IQ. Underrated, Barry was a prolific scorer who reinvented himself as a playmaker as he aged.
Perhaps most famous for his "bucketshot" or "granny-throw" free throw technique. It worked, as Rick Barry lead the league in FT% six times, and finished with a career mark just shy of 90%.
5. Scottie Pippen - Is there a man in sports more famous for being a sidekick than Scottie Pippen? Talk about a difficult position, for being in Michael Jordan's shadow, clearly Pippen's role is the smaller... yet equally as clearly, Michael Jordan needed Pippen. Given the man's (Jordan) arrogance and hubris - that's gotta be galling at times.
With no Robin to his Batman, do the Jordan years exist the way we know them? I doubt it. Obviously, Scottie Pippen doesn't win those titles without his Airness either, but MJ did need him.
4. Julius Erving - Doctor J... his generation's Jordan. The guy was amazing, and his dunks took the NBA public to places we'd never before been to. The guy seemed limited only by his imagination. The Doctor, is in.
3. Elgin Baylor - 27 points per game. Nearly 14 rebounds per game. Career averages. Perhaps the greatest statistical season ever: 38.3 ppg, 18.6 rpg, nearly 5 assists per.
Are you kidding me?
One of the greatest to ever pull on the jersey for LA, a legend of the game.
So... why at #3? This man of heroic status, of purple and gold, on a Lakers blog no less!
In addition to all of these accolades, Eglin Baylor is also unfortunate enough to also wear the title of "greatest player to never win a title".
2. John Havlicek - It is difficult for me to have not one, but two Celtics on this list. Even more galling is to have them #s 1 & 2. So here's 2: Hndo. One of the guys who kept Baylor from what seemed to be his birthright... 8 NBA titles, a Finals MVP, 13 All Star appearances, 8 All D teams, 4 All NBA 1st teams. The guy epitomised what Boston was/is.
1. Larry Bird - Bird... sigh. I hated Bird with a passion as a kid. As a fan of Magic Johnson's Lakers, how could I not? Probably for the same reason Rob/Brumbygg loved Bird, I despised him. The guy didn't look like a basketball player. He couldn't run, he couldn't jump. Yet at every turn, there he was. Winning.
If you haven't read the book he produced with Magic - When The Game Was Ours - I suggest you do. If you enjoy the game of basketball, and read: then I strongly suggest you do. Magic's story I knew, well... for the most part. Bird's I did not. And whilst I will probably never be written up as a "Bird fan", I appreciate him.
We often talk of passion for the game, the player's will to strive, to take their game to higher levels, ever higher. Kobe Bryant is oft-pointed to as an example of this. Of course, Jordan. But I don't think the story's complete without the inclusion of Larry Joe Bird. His will was legendary.
To finish, a quote from perhaps my favourite movie of all time:
"And then he showed these men of will what will really was."
I'm not sure if any other position could be as contentious. Picking the top 3 was a breeze, after that, well... things got hairy.
10. Allen Iverson - I tried hard not to put Iverson in this list at all. Very hard. Such is my dislike for the guy. I looked at the likes of Sam Jones, Joe Dumars and Dwyane Wade. But there's no denying that Iverson deserves a position on this list, as I discovered. Perhaps the toughest to ever play the game, Iverson's will was indomitable... the only problem was he took that warrior's mentality, that "me-against-the-world" attitude, off the court. On (court), it worked wonders. Off it? He eventually fought himself out of the NBA.
9. Earl Monroe - If I had to choose an adjective to describe Earl Monroe playing basketball, it'd be "smooth". The guy made everything look soooo effortless. Black Jesus, the guy's game waxed lyrically, singing sweet songs of hoop rhythms.
8. Ray Allen - Does anyone in the NBA - past or present - have a sweeter shot than Shuttlesworth?
7. Reggie Miller - "IT'S MILLER TIME!!!" Almost as much a marksman with his mouth as with the ball, Reggie Miller had some incredible match-ups. None more so than with Knick superfan, Spike Lee... But for Jordan's Bulls, Miller's Pacers might have been known as one of the better teams of their era.
6. Pete Maravich - Pistol Pete seemed to be able to do the nigh on impossible with a basketball. Hailed by opponent John Havlicek as being "the best ballhandler ever to have played the game", Maravich was just able to pull up and shoot from way, way outside (before their was a 3pt line). Guy could hit from just about any where.
5. Clyde Drexler - Clyde the Glide, electrifying on the fast break. A pure scorer, Drexler was an amazing athlete - his ability to finish had no parallels. He got his title when transferred to Houston to play with long time friend Hakeem Olujawon, winning in 1995. No Jordan that year.
4. George Gervin - From anywhere. That's where the Iceman could score from. And oh-so-often, did just that. Gervin metamorphized the position, forever changing the way the shooting guard position was viewed. Averaging a mean 25+ points per, his finger-roll is one of basketball's signature moves. George Gervin wasn't cool... George Gervin was cold.
3. Jerry West - An amazing scorer, most don't realise that West was also a phenomenal defender. Mr Clutch made 9 Finals appearances, but only won one... continually running headfirst into the buzzsaw that was Bill Russell's Celtics. The only man to ever win a Finals MVP from the losing side.
2. Kobe Bryant - Blessed with a veritable arsenal of scoring moves, Kobe forever strives to better his game - as age removes something, he seems to have the ability to add something else. No player, now or before, has remained as relevant 15 years into their career as Kobe Bryant is now. Both to his team, and to the game.
1. Michael Jordan - His Airness. The man transcended basketball, and for a very long time was perhaps the most recognizable human being on the planet. No more arguments, no more dissension. There's only one Jordan.
As with all lists of any type, there'll be some disagreement on where players fall in their particular place in history. I'm fine with it... basically, 'tis the nature of the beast.
Anyway, on with it.
10. Jason Kidd - A lot of other guys could have appeared at #10. Guy Rodgers, Lenny Wilkens, even Allen Iverson. But Kidd's last season guaranteed his place in the top ten. His best years were just past the turn of the millennium, when we saw him take an underpowered New Jersey team to nigh on unfathomable heights... nearly taking them all the way to a championship.
9. Gary Payton - The Glove took swagger to extremes. That glare long annoyed me as an LA fan... but there's no denying the ability or the presence he brought to the hardwood. Perhaps the only guy that could lay claim over Frazier as being the best point man ever.
8. Steve Nash - Two time MVP. The guy has vision like no other I've ever seen, and whilst there might be some that are more accomplished, doubtless they've done it with more than Nash has had at his time in Phoenix. Nash's been the man in Arizona.
7. Nate Archibald - Once lead the league in both scoring and dimes in the same season, not a solitary other has done that. Guy practically invented "dribble penetration".
6. Bob Cousy - Basically the first ever true point guard. Way, WAY ahead of his time with ball-handling and dishing. The Cooze lead the league for 8 seasons in assists. Pretty much everyone else on this list owes at least something to Bob Cousy.
5. John Stockton - Another guy I completely despised growing up. The shorts. The socks. The hair. Ugh. But... (begrudgingly) one helluva point guard. All time assists leader, all time steals leader.
4. Walt Frazier - Quite a bit before my time, but watching footage of him and it's difficult not to be in awe of him. A true leader, able to do it all - including take over when he had to. And with more style than 100 cardigans.
3. Isiah Thomas - Has their ever been a guy who has had such a disparate career when you combine him on the court, to off-court? As a player, he was the baddest of the Bad Boys, despite also being the smallest guy on the floor. Tough, and a phenomenal player. Off-court? Hell... I don't even want to go there.
2. Oscar Robertson - This is tough. I'm currently reading Bill Simmons' Book of Basketball, and he wasn't overly impressed with The Big O's triple double season... and he explains well as to why that's so (you want to know? Buy the damn book!)... but when you actually string together the numbers for his first five seasons, he STILL averages a triple double for each one.
1. Magic Johnson - Surely, this needs no explanation.
Rhet(orically?)t Butler: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
I've been having these ideas for the last 2/3 weeks that usher/malice (Don) and I would do some internet synch-up thing and do mock draft, team gradings and that sort of thing but since I can't be bothered sorting all those boys out I thought I'd just ask myself questions and answer them - so much easier and so much more polite.... So now onto interviewing myself:
Q: So TBF - how bad WAS this draft?
A: Great question TBF. This drat was so bad that had any of the top 4 players, currently projected, from next years draft nominated they would have gone #1. That means in 2013 I'm calling Rookies to beat Sophs now....
Q: Wow TBF that's a pretty big call. So there were no diamonds in the rough then?
A: Settle down TBF you devilishly good-looking scholar... No there were plenty of diamonds to be found - I just don't think they're going to show their "glimmer" for a couples of seasons is all.
Q: So who is your #1 diamond?
A: It's a big call but I'm going to say Nikola Mirotic. When that kids gets to the NBA he'll be so much better than he already is, and will slot into a twin-tower position for Chicago right alongside Noah. Flatout scary.
I do have to mention one other notable and that's Kenneth Faired in Denver. It's kind of ironic that K-Mart only started showing any remote signs of validating his contract in these last 2 seasons at Denver but I think Denver are about to be rewarded for their patience in a big way with Faried. He'll be the ying to Gallinari's yang with the two of them offering one hell of an inside-outside punch.
Re-sign Nenê and Denvers front line becomes extremely tough to handle and I imagine they won't give up too many second chances with Nene and Faried cleaning up inside.
Q: Zyrconia mistaken for diamond?
A: Say what?
Q: Sheesh... who went for a reach?!!?
A: JJ Reddick... I mean Jimmer Freddette.
Wait - same thing? Sacramento did all that work to get the Freddette pick when really he's a JJ Reddick clone with a "tad" more dribbling ability.
Honestly, for a team looking to rebuild I would have taken Biyombo and paired him with Cousins.
OR I would have just moved the pick in exchange for a future pick or experience. Jimmer will be a bust until he returns to Utah/Indiana where all white players go to retire....
Q: Best team on the day?
A: Best team on the day would have to be the Spurs. They turned George Hill into Kawhi Leonard and David Bertans - two things they needed for a player they were going to lose next off-season regardless. Many say that this now guarantees the now Ex-Mr Longoria's spot on the team - I don't buy it. They'll swing for the fences with Parker and get in someone more past first orientated or even an Aaron Brooks/Monta Ellis and let Ginobili run the show. Either way the Spurs just took 1 year off their re-build.
The Wizards did pretty well too - will be interesting to see if Vesely can fix that J because if he can then they got a great SF to run alongside Wall. And he can flat-out run.
Refusing to trade JaVale McGee was as good as an extra draft pick too.
Q: Hold on what about Milwaukee - surely their use of Ctrl-Z has to get a mention?
A: You said "on the day" - sheesh man what am I a mind reader???
Overall Milwaukee will be the team everyone is standardised against so far. They managed to lose the dead weight from last off-season, obtain one of the most underrated SF's in the game, and still grab two decent picks!! So i guess Milwaukee manouvered best on the day, but the Spurs draft best on the day - happy?
Q: So who was the biggest reach or is that obvious...?
A: It is and it isn't obvious!
I think Cleveland would have taken any half decent offer for pick 4 once Kanter was off the board and Utah had taken the phone off the hook because they had another white guy. By the same token, Valanciunas wasn't coming over for 2 years, Vesely was not a need, Knight was not a need, and Biyombo was an even bigger reach than Thompson!!!!
So in all honesty they "did what I would have done" but saying that I would have tried to trade down for a Morris twin plus a half-decent youngster. Charlotte for example - S-Jax + Morris twin for pick 4 and something..... You get the idea.
Q: Thanks for chatting!!!
A: Oh get f#%@ed you pretentious git...
Boy am I sick of 'Mock Drafts' at the moment... but like any good hypocrite the reason is because mine is right and theirs is wrong so without further ado, with one week to go here's my Mock...
1. Kyrie Irving. Personally I'm not convinced and if there was ever a year to trade the #1 pick this is it. Heck if Indiana offered me Danny Granger I'd take it. It's not that Irving is bad - he isn't - but he's not, imo, a player who in 5 years we'll be talking about on par with the surrounding years #1 picks.
I bet if Jared Sullinger nominated the Cavs would have already declared their intent to draft him via a press conference... That's where it's at.
2. Derrick Williams. This depends largely on what the Wolves can get for Beasley or for the Williams pick. If either are half decent offers then Williams gets picked.
BUT if the ceiling of the offers is JaVale McGee then I think the Wolves draft Kanter. He's NBA ready, not afraid to bang, has range, and can still develop.
3. Enes Kanter. I fail to understand the Brandon Knight obsession.
Knight is great but my feeling is that if Irving is better (long and short term) then Knight is not a PG of the future especially for a team that demands a point guard run offense. Kanter on the other hand fills two major needs in Utah - size and skin color...
4. Jan Vesely. Valanciunas in nice, Montejunas is good too but Vesely is the player in this draft with the highest ceiling. He's athletic, tall, he hustles, and has a high IQ.
The only suspect part of his game is his shooting from distance which, from all reports, is a very minor mechanical adjustment. If this is the case then the strength and shooting are worth it because when he does get them right you're looking at a young AK47. This pick changes if the Cavs can get a suitor for Hickson - in which case Valanciunas goes here.
5. Jonas Valanciunas. Raptors need a legit C. Valanciunas is worth the wait because let's face it: Toronto are lottery bound next year anyway so why not let Valanciunas wait O/S and then bring him in more mature along with another top 5 pick.
Big V is also a legit 7 footer who can play pick n roll very well so teamed with a half decent PG he can play executable offense straight up.
6. Kawhi Leonard. Washington would really love a big here but in truth Leonard is the best fit for them now.
Rashard is on the way out and Leonard can be a good glue guy/role player coming off the bench first season. In this draft, you can't ask for more than that.
7. Brandon Knight. Walker is a shooting PG - the Kings already have a very adept shooting PG, so what they really need is a pass-first PG and Knight fits that to a tee.
He's also a good kid which may rub off on Cousins/Evans. My other option here was Tristan Thompson - a legit defensive 4 which would go nicely alongside Cousins for a future frontline. However Knight has too much upside so I think he goes here.
8. Tristan Thompson. This was easy with Greg Monroe already in place, Thompson should complement nicely and is a contrasting alternative to Charlie "I can rebound from the 3 point line if the ball gets out here" Villaneuava.
Though I am calling a trade here for ANYTHING that involves offloading Hamilton/Charlie V.
9. Marcus Morris. I want to say Biyombo or Vucevic here because they fit a need for Charlotte but Charlotte also need to cash in on a pick for once rather than constantly swinging for the fences.
Morris can play the 3/4 spots and has a high IQ which Charlotte desperately need. He's a player who, no matter what, will have a 12 year career purely due to his work ethic and ability to play different roles.
10. Klay Thompson. I think Alec Burks is dreaming if he's going here - Thompson is a prodigious talent who is smart to boot.
A 6'6 PG? Yes please!
Jennings aside, Thompson also has a sweet stroke and plays D so he's fits their 2 guard needs as well.
11. Kemba Walker. Walker is my slider pick for this year just because he doesn't do anything well for his size/position.
I see a Ben Gordon clone but even more lacking in height than Gordon - this is not good even for the Warriors... BUT he is a trade chip for other teams and the Warriors need to get assets if they're going to get Iggy/Deng/DeRozan.
12. Jimmer Fredette. This is a dream scenario for Utah who will go 3 for 3 on white people in the last 2 drafts.
But in all seriousness Fredette will fit in beautifully in Utah and give them a marksman they haven't had since Kyle Korver left.
During the playoffs last year I wrote a piece called The man Who Would Be King.
Without wishing to rehash the entire post, this is how it started off.
Along time back Rudyard Kipling wrote a short story in 1888 with this title. It is a story of two British adventurers who become kings in a remote part of Afghanistan. If Kipling was around today he might write of another man who would be king – LeBron Raymone James.
LBJ has been called "great" since before he came out of high school to 'save' the Cleveland Cavaliers. To quote another great writer - Be not afraid of greatness: Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. While I don't usually try to
improve on the writing of Shakespeare, for LBJ you might want to add and some don't live up to the billing.It might be another season, it might be a new champion, there might be a different (and superior) supporting cast, but the outcome, the legacy and the attitude remain the same.
Throughout this season LBJ has continued to state the ridiculous, act like an immature spoilt brat (and take D-Wade down with him) and, yet again, fail to deliver when it mattered. 17.8ppg in the finals is not going to cut it. Claiming that he was doing great work on D and letting D-Wade take care of the other end is not going to cut it.
The great ones want the rock in their hands. Dirk was a great one in this series. Dirk had a horrible night in Game 6 shooting 9-27 from the field, but Dirk wanted the rock and in the 4th quarter he showed up. At both ends of the floor.
Still, even the most Miami/LBJ/new Big 3 ardent haters out there (FYI – I'm right up there) might be prepared to cut them all some slack. They improved dramatically over the course of the season, made the finals, and they may just go that extra step next season. Greatness is a journey.
And then LBJ is asked if it bothers him that so many people are happy that he failed and he comes out with this -
"Absolutely not, because at the end of the day, all the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today," James said. "They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about, not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point."
For anyone who can't translate this, I'm pretty sure what he said was -
"Get back to Burger King and flip some burgers because I'm rich, I'm talented and my life is awesome!"
I hope that when LeBron wins his championship that a little humility comes with it. Not surprisingly, I don't have any great hopes of that.
A little fact that probably amuses me more than it will LeBron – Celtics 'legend' Brian Scalabrine and Lakers 'legend' Adam Morrison both have more championship rings than LBJ...