Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sights and Sounds from All-Star Saturday

All-Star Saturday left us with many exciting sights and sounds to hold us over in anticipation of the game tonight.  The NBA once again demonstrated why its All-Star celebration is unparalleled in professional sports, with an extremely entertaining and theatrical evening, filled with familiar faces, up-and-comers, and a solid stable of celebrities ready to be entertained.  The entire evening felt like a celebration of basketball, which is after all, what All-Star weekend is supposed to be about.  There was a great balance between established veterans and fresh faces.  From Steph Curry’s impressive performance in the Skills Contest to James Jones stunning two Celtics to claim the three-point crown, Saturday night certainly worked to showcase some of the League’s up-and-comers.

Of course nothing demonstrated the power, ability, and potential of the young crop better than the always entertaining, albeit sometimes stagnant, dunk contest, which was capped, in case you missed it by Blake Griffin JUMPING OVER A CAR.

Yeah he only hopped over the hood and, as Charles Barkley pointed out on TNT,  it wasn’t physically the most amazing dunk ever, but presentation plays a big part, and the showmanship coupled with the hype surrounding the young stud was certainly enough to win over the crowd and the judges alike.  The entire contest was quality, producing several memorable moments such as Serge’s long leap to start the contest or Javale’s two-hoop trick.  I walked away from Saturday’s contest more satisfied than I have been in recent memory, especially after catching a glimpse of my man DeJuan Blair’s iced-out NBA chain, which looks as though it would be well-suited for a rap video:

DeJuan Blair NBA chain 

All of this excitement and the actual game hasn’t even happened yet.  Who knows what will happen, LeBron might have to put up fifty just to make up for all the NBA-publicity that he hasn’t been the centerpiece of.  I’m excited.  Happy All-Star Sunday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So Long Sloan

Thursday February 10, 2011 was a solemn day in professional sports.  Not only was I shocked by the news that Jerry Sloan would be stepping down from his seemingly permanent post as the head coach of the Utah Jazz, I was also saddened.  See, I djs2on’t really know what life is like without Sloan operating as the commanding officer of the Jazz. 

I was born in 1987.  Jerry became the head coach of the Jazz in 1988, but had been with the team for several seasons beforehand.  So basically, my entire life, for literally as long as I can remember, Sloan had been a staple on the Utah sideline.  Jerry Sloan was the Utah Jazz.  Other things changed, but not that.  Players, coaches, and even entire franchises have came and gone, but Jerry’s consistency could be counted on.  I changed also, as I went through the unavoidable ups and downs of adolescence, graduated college, and grew up, and all the while Sloan soldiered on, pushing out a playoff-bound product year after year.

Not enough people will be disheartened by this development because not enough people appreciated him while he was active.  He wasn’t overtly loud (maybe Stan Van could take a page out of Sloan’s script on that one), he wasn’t flashy.  No, he was just a consistent winner; winning both the respect of his players and enough basketball games to produce two decades of successful seasons and playoff appearances in js1Utah.  For all his accomplishments it is unfortunate that many will mar him for his lack of a championship.  It is possible that Sloan was even underappreciated by the League itself, as he was unable to secure a single Coach of the Year Award on his way to becoming the NBA’s third all-time winningest coach.

The circumstances surrounding Sloan’s departure are mysterious, as it seems out of character for the man to abandon his mission mid-season.  Whatever the case, quite a legacy was left, as Sloan was well-respected and appreciated by players and peers alike.  Such loyalty and continued consistency is uncommon in professional sports these days, and although everything must eventually come to and end, that consistency will certainly be missed on the sidelines in Salt Lake City, rings or not. 

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Go With the Flow (Charts)

LeBron James and Rajon Rondo have both had monster seasons thus far, carving up helpless defenses on a nightly basis.  Luckily, thanks to the power of the internet, some flow charts have been developed that illustrate to defenses what to expect from these stars in certain situations on any given possession.  Studying them may prove to be extremely effective, as I’m pretty sure that a thorough study of the LeBron chart has helped the Celtics to their 3-0 mark against his Heat this season.

Rajon Rondo flow chart:










LeBron James flow chart:














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Friday, February 4, 2011

The Simulated Celtics

The Celtics are stacked, solid, and have all the necessary pieces in order to make another Championship run. 

How do I know this?  Simple; video games. 

As a man who spends a good deal of time with a PlayStation 3 Dual Shock controller inserted in between his hands, I would like to think that I spend this time somewhat productively, picking up pieces of information and ideas here and there, and this season’s countless NBA 2k11 sessions habb3ve illustrated to me, among other things, Boston’s build and balance. 

Nowhere else besides the hardwood is the true merit of a team tested as much as it is on the sticks.  Running a couple straight games of 2k11 with the same squad will give you a great feel of how that team operates; what are their strengths and weaknesses, who should get the ball for big shots, where there are obvious holes, and where they are straight stacked.  Sports video games have made giant strides since the years of original NBA Jam.  Long gone are the days where you could simply dominate a basketball simulation with a single superstar.  Instead, in order to find success in newer basketball sims such as 2k11 you must employ the same team -oriented tactics seen by the real-life counterparts.  Every aspect is important as each position is as pivotal in the simulation as it is for postseason success, and the Celtics have all their bases covered; excellent point guard play, superior wing scorers, force in the frontcourt, and depth, which has become increasingly important in the video game world with the increasing inclusion of stamina in the games.

Yes, Boston is one of the League’s best built teams, as it trots out a top 5 point, two proven ice-cold killers on the wingbbrrs, a cycle of serviceable bigs, and a solid rotation of reserves.  The Celtics’ most glaring weakness, one which became apparent to me early on during my first full simulated 2k11 season running with them, is their susceptibility to injury.  A bad ankle and a bad knee sidelined Paul Pierce and Shaq respectively in my simulated season, and that same possibility looms large in real life.  

Barring such injuries, Boston will be a tough team to beat, so don’t be surprised to see them in the Finals of your simulated season, or the real one. 


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