What up world! This Earl, and I’m back with another edition of The Blog About Nothing. It’s October 24th, the World Series is tied up at a game a piece, the NBA kicks off on Tuesday, and Halloween is next week. Good times. Today is also Canadian rapper Drake’s 28th birthday. Happy Birthday shout out to the G, Aubrey Drake Graham. I’ll be bumping Drake in my headphones all day. So while I coast through the day to the sounds of Drake, this week’s blog I’ll be dropping some science on the end of Steve Nash’s career, Jeanie Buss’ interesting comments, the Knicks struggles to adjust to the triangle offense, and the awesomeness that is Bobby Phills’ #13 jersey returning to Charlotte. Let’s do this!
The Los Angeles Lakers have announced that Steve Nash will not play this season due to a back injury. This is the final year of Nash’s three year $27 million contract with the team, and the 40 year old is likely due to retire at the end of the season. It’s a sad ending to a brilliant career that saw Nash as the only NBA player under 6’6″ to win two Most Valuable Player Awards. His career stretched from an earnest beginning with the Dallas Mavericks, to an all-everything stretch with the Phoenix Suns, to a thud with the Lakers. Despite a disappointing injury filled stay with the Forum Blue and Gold, I think many fans of the National Basketball Association feel a little saddened by the end of Steve’s career.
The Lakers will be fine without Nash. While his $9 million dollar contract for this season hangs on the books like a noose around the team’s neck, the team did acquire Jeremy Lin this season from the Rockets, and Lin is now the starter at point guard for this team. Backing him up should be Ronnie Price, and I’d expect the franchise to pick up a third point guard for depth once teams start pairing down their rosters and players are cut. Also, considering Nash hasn’t played all that much for the franchise in the two seasons prior, it’s not like the team got used to playing with him. So you really can’t miss what you really didn’t have.
However, Nash’s ending takes me back to 2012 when the team acquired him, and Dwight Howard some time after. As a Lakers fan I couldn’t help but feel a team of Howard, Pau Gasol, Nash, and Kobe Bryant wasn’t going to win an NBA title. At the very worst, they’d be serious contenders in the Western Conference. Well, what happened? Dwight Howard felt alienated in his one season with the Lakers, and gladly left for Houston after a season where the team struggled to even make the playoffs. Last season, with Dwight in Houston, the Lakers didn’t make the playoffs, Kobe went down with another injury after just returning from one, Steve barely played, and Pau did all that he could leading a young team. Now, this season Pau is gone, Nash is gone, and Kobe has looked good this preseason but at 36 and coming off two injuries, shouldn’t really be counted on to lift a middling team back to glory.
It would have been nice to see Nash out there though. Yes, he’s the oldest player in the NBA. Yes, he would have likely only played a few minutes a game, and yeah not much is expected of the Lakers but to see Nash give one last hurrah would have still caught some attention. Now he’s gone. Not with a bang, but with a sad whimper. Kind of like the organization he ended his career with.
Speaking of the Lakers, and Kobe Bryant, the organization has taken some hits the past few weeks from writers at ESPN. In the last edition of ESPN the Magazine, there was a profile of the organization, and in summary the article stated that no one wants to play with Kobe, and that the organization is being completely hamstrung by the two year $48 million extension the team granted him last season. The article noted several agents, and Lakers execs, although none put their name on record. The profile came under fire from Laker fans, and Kobe apologists, and is seen by many to be another log to fuel the fire that is Kobe.
However, he does have one vocal defender in the Lakers organization. Lakers President Jeanie Buss, sister of owner Jim Buss, stated: “Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser, and I’m glad they wouldn’t come to the team.” Now, we all know Kobe Bryant is intense, driven, and honestly a bit of an asshole. He’s no different than Michael Jordan who set the standard that Kobe is chasing. Playing with Michael was difficult, as is playing with Kobe. We are all aware of his issues with Shaquille O’Neal, we’ve all probably laughed at Kobe’s beef with Smush Parker, and it was all to apparent that Dwight and Kobe wasn’t going to work. It takes a special breed of player to play with Kobe, and to thrive under him. All this is noted.
However, while I support Jeanie for backing her star and her organization, I wish she would have chosen her words carefully. There’s probably some merit to players not wanting to play with Kobe. While, the new NBA Collective Barganing Agreement makes it advantageous for players to stay with their current teams instead of jumping ship, it’s hard to ignore that Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, and Paul George all passed up on the opportunity to play for the Los Angeles Lakers (in the case of Dwight it would be to pass up an opportunity to stay with the franchise). I wouldn’t call those players losers. I wouldn’t call a player like point guard Ramon Sessions who thrived with the Lakers, but left for a LESSER contract, a loser. Playing with Kobe ain’t for everybody. However, I’d revert back to something I said in last week’s blog: the Lakers will be fine in the long run. Kobe’s likely going to have to retire before this team returns to the top of the National Basketball Association. When he retires, and the Buss family can concentrate on other things, this team will rise. For now, it’s where old players go to die, and where young players don’t want to tread on old man Kobe’s yard. It is what it is.
New York City, is about 3,000 miles away from Los Angeles but two former Lakers are implementing the triangle offense with the New York Knicks. Knick President Phil Jackson (and fiance of Jeanie Buss . . . I really do like tying my blogs together if you haven’t noticed) and neophyte head coach Derek Fisher are trying to teach the triangle to Carmelo Anthony’s squad. Carmelo had some interesting comments about the triangle last week. He said that his scoring will be down, because the triangle doesn’t lead to players winning scoring titles. Someone needed to hand Carmelo an NBA almanac. Why? Michael Jordan won a scoring title 7 times. Kobe Bryant won it twice. Shaquille O’Neal won it once. All three won it playing in the triangle offense, so the triangle won’t limit Carmelo’s scoring. What is should limit is the isolation game that Carmelo loves so much. The ball has to be moving in the triangle, so that the offense can create mismatches for the defense. It doesn’t completely eliminate the iso, but it does limit the amount of iso opportunities.
Carmelo talks a good game though, but he and other players (most notably J.R. Smith) have stated that the Knicks are having some issues learning the offense. It’s shown so far in the preseason where the Knicks have looked sloppy at times, but they’ve also looked formidable in moments. Carmelo has already scored 30 points in a game this preseason, so the offense has it’s potential. The thing is that when it comes to the triangle, everyone not named Phil Jackson, has struggled to coach it.
The reason why it worked so well with the Bulls and Lakers under Phil is because he had the stars to buy into it, but he also had the role players that suited his vision. I assume he’ll get the players he needs to fullfil his vision in due time, but if I were to preach anything to Knicks fans, and fans of the NBA in general: you better have patience with this squad. Some nights they are going to look great, and some nights they will look like dog shit. However, as much as Carmelo talks about curtailing his offense I’m going to make my typical Earl (EJ) prediction: Carmelo will win the scoring title this season. He’ll give Phil his 11th scoring title winner in the triangle and the Knicks will make the playoffs. Take it to the bank!
Finally, a cool story out of Charlotte, North Carolina. The Bobcats are dead! Long live the Bobcats! The team named after former owner Bob Johnson, and now owned by NBA great Michael Jordan (I really do tie this shit together people!!) has reverted back to the Charlotte Hornets. The buzz is back in Charlotte and it’s a great thing for the NBA. While the jersey’s aren’t quite the classics worn by Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, and Muggsy Bogues, the blue and teal of my childhood is back and I for one can’t be happier. While I wasn’t a Hornets fan, you can’t be a fan of the 90’s NBA and not acknowledge that the color pattern was cool, had some type of Hornets gear (I had a t-shirt) or give the franchise their just deserved props.
I’ll give the Hornets some props for returning Bobby Phills #13 jersey back to the rafters. Phills who played alongside Mourning, Johnson, Bogues, and was a part of the franchise’s early glory days died in a car crash in 2000 (I should also note that I’m exactly 12 years younger than Phills. We share a birthdate). The team retired his jersey shortly after and it was a part of the Charlotte community up until the Hornets moved to New Orleans. When the Hornets moved to New Orleans the jersey went with them, and despite basketball returning to the area with the Bobcats the jersey remained in New Orleans. However, now that the New Orleans Hornets are the New Orleans Pelicans and the Charlotte Bobcats are the Charlotte Hornets again, the jersey has returned. It’s home. Fear the Buzz!!
Tiny URL for this post: