Friday, April 30, 2010

Proceed With Caution

As Larry Brown ponders his potential future in Philadelphia, Sixers fans should take a moment to reflect as well. After another disappointing season, it seems only logical to scoop the  successful coach and allow him to put us back onto the postseason path. After all, Larry Brownlbai has brought eight different teams into the NBA’s second season. He is the only coach to boast both an NCAA and NBA title, and he led the Sixers to their most recent Finals appearance in 2001. So considering the Sixers current standing, it would seem silly not to pursue a coach with such credentials. However, the decision is not as clear cut as it seems, and serious consideration is required by the Sixers brass and fans alike before bringing back the well-traveled teacher.

Larry Brown is an excellent coach. That is not up for debate. He is even considered by some, such as franchise icon Allen Iverson, as “the best coach in the world;” a strong compliment coming from someone notorious for clashing with the coach in the past. So, the questions surrounding the Sixers in this decision do not have to do with Larry’s credentials or coaching ability, but rather his commitment and whether he is the right fit for the struggling squad.

With no momentum to build upon and a glaring void in the requisite “superstar” department, the Sixers are clearly in rebuilding mode, and require a coach ready to tackle such a task. The Sixers recent run of musical coaches has hampered the team, and stability in the coaching position is crucial in order for the team to return to success. It may take several seasons to straighten tlbhe ship that is the Sixers, and it seems sound to secure a coach who is in it for the long haul; not one of Larry’s strong suits. Brown is notorious for short stints, as he has served as the headman for four squads since the turn of the century. Although there is no denying the success Larry has attainted with these teams, the last thing the Sixers need is another short-stinted coach. Success doesn’t necessarily motivate Larry to stay either, as evidenced by his abrupt departure from Detroit, and his apparent willingness to entertain other offers after only two successful seasons in Charlotte. If the Sixers were going to bring Brown back would he be willing to dedicate several seasons to fixing the franchise, or would he quickly bore of the task as he has in the past?

Another area of concern regarding a potential reunion between the Sixers and the acclaimed coach is Larry’s noted distaste for young players. Larry often tends to bury young bodies on the bench, preferring to rely on proven veterans. While this method has garnered him success, it would not work well with the current state of the Sixers, which is characterized by a youth movement. Several prominent players on the squad, such as Lou Williams, Marreese Speights, Jrue Holiday, and Thaddeus Young, have less than a handful of years experience in the League, not to mention whatever lottery pick they are lucky enough to land. So, would hiring Larry jeopardize the development of such players and thus the future of the franchise?

The Sixers squad is in desperate need of a shake-up, and Larry Brown could certainly help push the team back to prominence. His ability and accolades speak for themselves, and he has already proven to Philadelphians that he knows what it takes to win in the notoriously tough town. However, it is important to consider his foibles before fantasizing about a potential return to Philly. An undedicated coach could spell disaster for an already floundering franchise, and dedication has proven to be hard to gauge with Larry.

It seems the best advice available to the Sixers regarding this situation is: Proceed with caution.


Thursday, April 22, 2010


Cool billboard illustrating how Clevelanders feel about the King:


Thursday, April 15, 2010

So Long Season: Year End Awards


As the 2009-2010 NBA regular season comes to and end I have decided to share my selections for some year-end awards:

Most disappointing team:  Philadelphia 76ersAfter an early exit from the playoffs in 09, this team, with the addition of highly-touted rookie Jrue Holiday  and healthy Elton Brand, was supposed to make a splash in the shallow East.  They belly flopped.

MVP: Lebron James: Arguments for Dwight or Durant provide good bar fodder, but Ms. Cleo isn’t needed to predict the winner in this year’s MVP race.  Lebron will take home his second straight by posting 29,8,7 per.

Most surprising team:  Oklahoma City Thunder: The potential was there, and so was the potential star, but a 27-game improvement from last year’s campaign, capped by a scoring titllebrone for Durant and a secured playoff spot for the 50-game winning franchise? Wow. Too bad they  couldn’t avoid a first round matchup with L.A.

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard: Since the MVP is already Lebron’s, the DPOY can go to Dwight, who lead the League in blocks and boards while serving as Orlando’s defensive anchor all year long.

Coach of the year: Scott Brooks:  Turned a 23 win team into a 50 win franchise in one season while coaching the League’s youngest team and is quickly turning the Thunder intro a true title contender.

6th Man of the year:  Lamar Odom: The team was noticeably better with L.O. on the court , and although injuries forced him to start almost half of the season’s games, he anchored a suddenly shallow second unit with his versatility. 

Anti- Coach of the year: Eddie Jordan:  Swallowed the  team’s potential with eddiejpoor play-calling and schizophrenic substitutions.   Eddie could have been released midseason, but will now be heading to the unemployment line as the Sixers are headed to the lottery.

Most Improved Player: George Hill: George demonstrated that he is a starter in this League by steadying the Spurs during Tony Parker’s extended absence, while increasing his scoring and assist numbers by seven and one, respectively.

Under-the-radar Rookie of the Year: DeJuan Blair:  Tyreke, Brandon, and Steph all had spectacular seasons, and a compelling case can be made for all three as rookie of the year candidates.  This award does not go to the best rookie necessarily, but rather the one who did his business while flying slgilberightly below the radar.  After slipping all the way down to the second round, DeJuan began the season with something to prove and he certainly made the most of his minutes, putting up 7 and 6 grabs in a paltry 18-per.  He has the confidence of his coach and should be a fixture in the Spurs playoff rotation, as well as in the future. 

Least Valuable Player: Gilbert Arenas: Imploded a much-hyped return by bringing guns into the locker room and further proliferated the NBA’s perceived image problem.  Agent zero for sure.

Assassin of the Year: Kobe Bryant:  It wouldn’t be right to have an awards list without mentioning Kobe, as his consistent late game heroics this season have cemented him as the League’s most deadly player with the game on the line.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I was going to publish my annual Gilbert Arenas-bashing column.. gilberbut he made it too easy this year.

Monday, April 12, 2010

San Antonio Sunset

For the past decade, the San Antonio Spurs have been one of the NBA’s premier franchises, posting ten consecutive 50-win seasons, while adding four championship banners to the rafters of the AT&T Center.  They have been a p erennial power in the Western Conference, while their “big three” (Duncan, Parker, Ginobili) have accumulated accolades, both ispursn the NBA and internationally, at an astonishing rate.  Duncan, of course, is widely considered as one of the best to ever ball, while Parker and Ginobili are hailed as international ambassadors to the game.  During San Antonio’s decade of dominance the team h as been run exquisitely by mastermind Gregg Popovich, who along with Duncan, will be a unanimous choice to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

During this ultra-successful stint it sometimes seemed as though the Spurs could slip through the regular season; Doing enough to secure a spot in the playoffs, but not notching a top seed in the Conference.  This tactic allowed them to rest key players, while riding a traditionally deep team into the playoff push, where the well-rested team would thrive.  This under-the-radar approach has served the Spurs well, as it has certainly helped spur some of  their deep playoff runs, as Popovich himself has often acknowledged the correlation between rest and playoff performance.  However age and injury may have finally caught up with San Antonio, as they have struggled with seeding all season, and with it winding down find themselves in a tight race to avoid the eighth spot and potential first round matchup with the powerful Lakers; a team that Popovich would admittingly like to avoid early. 

For a team almost three years removed from its last title run, this year’s playoffs appear to be a pivotal point.  The Spurs have shown that they can sduncan and poptill compete with anyone on a given night, and you can never count out a Duncan/Popovich-lead team.  The main question surrounding the Spurs heading into the NBA’s second season is if the can conjure up consistent success.  Does the aging team have enough left in the tank to fuel another deep playoff run in a fierce Western Conference?  With injuries exposing an unfamiliar lack of depth and the aging of the nucleus, one has to wonder how much longer this Spurs success streak can last.

The Spurs certainly have enough talent to vie for a title,as the trio of Duncan-Parker-Ginobili is enough to give any contender trouble.  Another early exit however, would not fit well in San Antonio and may be a cause for future concern, a feeling the success-spoiled Spurs fans are not accustomed to.  But until then, do not count the Spurs out.  Remember: slow and steady wins the race. 


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