It is official, Larry Bird will not be returning to the Indiana Pacers next year. The Pacers were the #3 seed in the East behind the Bulls and the Heat, but they did give the Heat somewhat of a scare in the second round of the playoffs. With Derrick Rose being out for the Bulls, Dwight Howard wanting out of Orlando, and Ray Allen apparently leaving Boston, the Pacers were expected to challenge Miami for Eastern Conference supremacy. The Pacers have many good players and they have salary cap flexibility, so it was feasible to think that they may be able to improve. But with Larry Bird gone, it doesn’t look like that will happen. Larry left the Pacers in a good situation, but for some reason the Pacers brought back the man who put them in the bad position they were in, Donnie Walsh. Walsh has a good name around the league because he has been in the game so long, but I wonder if the game has passed him by. He was in the ABA, and his claim to fame was drafting Reggie Miller. Those days are long gone, and recently he was credited with helping the New York Knicks. I don’t know how any one should get credit for the Knicks because from my perspective they aren’t in a good position. It’s a sad time for any Pacers fans because it seems like this is a sign that they aren’t going to even try to take the next step. Larry Bird always said he would stick around as long as ownership would pay the money to win, but now he’s gone so what does that say? I think this opens the door for an easy road again for Miami to the Finals, even if they don’t do anything in the offseason.
Many people will say that Derrick Rose can come back for the playoffs, but anyone who thinks he will be the same is kidding themselves. No matter how hard he works out, it usually takes 2 years to fully recover from tearing up your knee. Rose’s game was predicated on explosiveness, so I don’t think he will ever be the same. He is going to have to reinvent himself as a jump shooter and passer because he isn’t going to be able to make those cuts and get to the basket, but the Bulls have no one to pass to. Everything was based on him getting to the basket, so they are going to have to rebuild in my opinion. The Celtics time has passed, and even if they keep Ray Allen, how do you think those guys will hold up over an 82 game season? who thinks Brandon Bass can have another season like that? The Philadelphia 76ers may improve, but the Heat own them. The Sixers made it clear in this year’s playoffs that they want NO part of the Heat, and I can’t see that changing because usually when a team owns another team that doesn’t change. Who else is left? The Knicks may think they are contenders, but is Jeremy Lin really good? He played 20 games last year, and then sat out with an injury everyone says he should have came back from. Plus the Knicks have no depth and no chemistry. With Larry being gone, I can’t see the Heat being challenged in the East until Cleveland comes up, which is still a couple of years away in my opinion. This is not saying that the Heat are guaranteed titles, but they are guaranteed to be there, and when they can coast through the East, I like their odds against a team that has to fight through the West.
Apparently the Houston Rockets haven’t given up on Dwight Howard, and they are making moves in hopes of trading for Howard. Their trade of Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the number 18 pick has done nothing to quell the rumors. The rumors say that the Rockets are trying to get 2 lottery picks to give to the Magic.
Even though Dwight is trying to scare them off, they don’t appear to be heeding his warning. Many say their belief is that if they get Howard then maybe they can get Deron Williams as well and possibly other free agents, which would convince Dwight to stay, and if not when Howard leaves they would have nothing so they could begin to rebuild through the draft with high picks. It makes logical sense for Dwight to go there because they have Kevin McHale as coach and Hakeem Olajuwon living in the city, so he should be able to take his game to the next level.
Plus Houston has won titles in the past, but this free-agent process has been anything but sensical for Dwight. I guess the Rockets are like you got to let ’em hang sometimes. If you are not going to be great you may as well be horrible and rebuild. I admire the Rockets for taking a chance trying to get out of the middle of the pack, especially being out West. They need to do something to remain relevant considering they have missed out on all the recent free agents. We will keep you posted, but this draft is going to be exciting.
The Tony Parker eye injury is more serious than expected, and he had to undergo surgery to have the shard of glass removed. In an interview he commented again that he almost lost an eye. Parker is quetionable to participate in the Olympics, and he has filed a $20 million lawsuit against the club. The club has also been cited by the state of New York for numerous fights, excessive noise, and using unlicensed or unprofessional guards. Parker’s lawyer commented that others may be named in the suit once the police report becomes final.
July 5th is a big date in this case because that is when Parker will be able to travel, and he will return to New York to have a specialist look at him. Depending on the specialist’s opinion, the Spurs will decide whether Parker will be able to play in the Olympics. But the situation could get worse for whoever started the melee. I saw comments online where people think Parker is looking for a big payday and it’s too much money, which is an absolutely ridiculous statement. Any kind of impaired vision in his left eye will hinder Parker’s ability in the NBA, and the $20 million figure is low in my opinion.
Parker is a franchise player and these franchises are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. After all what is a point guard without peripheral vision? and where are the Spurs without Tony Parker at a high level? Eyes are very sensitive and there is no guarantee that he will ever be the same. Parker is coming off one of his best years and he has about 3 years and $30 million left on this contract. When this contract is up he will only be 32 years old, so it’s not a stretch to think that he could have made another $50 million in his NBA career. Look at Steve Nash.
This doesn’t even take into account that the injury all but ends France’s hopes of medaling in the Olympics. In the States, I think that it’s hard to relate to the pride and loyalty others have for their country because many of our players are shamed into playing, but there is definitely a monetary value there as well. It’s ironic because rappers nowadays are always talking about what they have, but make no mistake it isn’t NBA money. The rumor is that the club may close over this incident, and depending on who was at fault, someone famous’ life is going to be ruined. When you think about it, it was over nothing. I hope it was all worth it to them because someone is going to pay a steep price.
NBA Finals Game 4 will tell us a lot about the character of the Oklahoma City Thunder. With the Thunder being a young team, everyone assumes that they are the team of the future, but that’s not necessarily the case. Nothing is promised, I remember when everyone thought Lebron would win one in Cleveland because he went to the Finals early in his career, but it didn’t work that way. It’s ironic because everyone was talking about the Heat being broke up if they lost, but I think the Thunder will be the team making changes if they don’t step up in this series. It was already questionable whether the team would be able to keep their big 3 together beyond next year because James Harden is due for a payday, and he will have to sacrifice money to stay in Oklahoma City. I question whether he would be willing to sacrifice for a team that came up small when it mattered most.
The other sub plot is Russell Westbrook. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wanted out of OKC, or at least wanted Scott Brooks gone. It was obvious game 3 that Brooks tried to rein him in because Westbrook was very tentative, and OKC couldn’t score. I will admit sometimes he is out of control, but when he plays at a frenetic pace, the game becomes faster and OKC is a better team. Scott Brooks should know that. There is a saying that you dance with the one that brought you there, but Brooks dumped Westbrook for Magic Johnson. Magic Johnson was a great player, but he lasted about 2 weeks as a coach. Plus Michael Jordan is showing us that being a great player doesn’t necessarily translate to running a team. Right now the whole Thunder organization is at a cross roads, which way will they go? Game 4 is going to answer a lot of questions.
Yahoo Sports is reporting that Ladainian Tomlinson is going retire as a San Diego Charger, the team that drafted him. Tomlinson is an All-Time great holding the record for most rushing touchdowns in a season at 31 and second on the all time rushing touchdown list with 145. Over 11 years he ran for over 13,000 yards, which included 2 uneventful years with the New York Jets. By all accounts, Tomlinson was a great man as well as player, so I just wish his success in the next phase of his life. Hopefully he got out before the game took too big of a toll on his body.
The Miami Heat are being psycho-analyzed to figure out why they aren’t playing better. Is Lebron James just not clutch? Can Eric Spoelstra coach? Is their supporting cast good enough? But no one is asking the obvious question, is Dwyane Wade really a superstar? The expectations of the Big 3 were because Lebron and D Wade were 2 of the top 5 players in the world, and with a skilled big man in Chris Bosh, sky was the limit. But right now Wade isn’t playing anywhere close to a top 5 player in the league, and it got me thinking was he ever on that level?
D Wade did put on an inspired performance in 2006, motivated by Dallas reportedly planning a victory parade after being up 2-0, but that team had respected veterans, so he had room to score. Shaq didn’t do much, but you had to guard him, and when he went out they still had Alonzo Mourning. They also had shooters on the perimeter to give Wade free rein to operate. Since he became the focal point of the team, his team hasn’t done anything. But he is the only one from the ‘great’ 2003 draft with a ring, so everyone assumed he was a star. No one remembers the little things required to win, just who scores the points. Wade scored the points, but that was before defenses focused on him. Now with defenses focused on him he is very stoppable. After all he is a 6’4″ shooting guard, who appears to have lost a step. He is small for his position and therefore needed to compensate for that with speed, quickness, and explosiveness. Those ‘Flash’ days are a distant memory, and in hindsight those days didn’t last very long.
How many great seasons did Dwyane Wade have? Think about it, he is always hurt. I can’t remember him EVER playing a full season. Judging off the Game 1 press conference, he seems to agree with me that he isn’t a superstar. When the media asked him about why he sometimes doesn’t attack, he replied that he was attacking because attacking is basically taking shots, and that is how he has been all season. To me it seemed like he was admitting that he isn’t considered a star because he can’t get to the basket anymore. Maybe history will repeat itself, and if they get down 0-2 again he will get inspired and lead the Heat to a championship. It would be a great moment for him, but I still wouldn’t consider him a superstar. He’s going to have to prove it over the long haul because his body of work isn’t as strong as some make it out to be.
We will never see the Pacquiao-Mayweather mega fight because Manny Pacquiao lost a split decision to Timothy Bradley. It was surprising because by all accounts Pacquiao was easily winning the fight. After the fight, Teddy Atlas, a reknown boxing trainer and commentator, went on ESPN and said this decision shows how corrupt boxing is. It is ironic because Pacquiao was one of the few big names remaining in the sport. Some seem to think that now that fight will happen because Pacquiao can’t demand a 50/50 split, but I disagree.
As Americans, we are naive to think that because someone comes from a third world country that they are broke and need the money. But in reality, third world countries have money, it is just that the people making the money keep it and don’t share the wealth with average citizens of the country. Pacquiao has parlayed his fighting career into a political and music career. I believe he is now one of the, if not the most, influential people in the Philippines, and I question whether he needs or wants to fight anymore.
Pacquiao is a fighter not a boxer. Mayweather and Bradley are boxers who have mastered the sweet science, and out point their opponents, while Pacquiao wants to beat you. I wonder if he even has the desire to continue in the sport because there are easier ways to make money. Plus there was a report before the fight that Pacquiao said God told him it was soon time to retire. I imagine that his success has grown boxing in his native Philippines, and there are probably numerous up and coming fighters that he could promote. There is always more money on the business side of events. Look at Jay Z, he is a great rapper, but it was when he became an executive that his income went to another level. Too often people get fame and money confused. Most of the time, the people who make the most money are behind the scenes. It seems logical to me that Pacquiao would make that transition, but I hope that I am wrong because the sport needs him more than he needs the sport.
There was a media uproar about Diddy’s son, Justin Combs, accepting a football scholarship from UCLA. When the story came out, it was just said that he received a merit based scholarship, but he got a football scholarship, which is a lot different. If he is good enough what is the issue? Any college football player will more than earn their scholarship, and in Justin’s case UCLA will never be able to repay him for what he has done already.
UCLA has been the B team in Los Angeles. USC had been on a tremendous run, and they “run da city” as Diddy would say. Justin Combs puts UCLA in the spotlight. Would anyone be talking about UCLA football if he wasn’t there? Do you think his signing will spike apparel sales? Of course it will. I bet the school has already made Justin’s scholarship money back based off of Diddy wearing the UCLA gear in the picture celebrating Justin’s committment. People need to get off of their high horse thinking that a college education is worth that much.
Look at the economy, a college degree doesn’t guarantee anything. There are plenty of college graduates out here struggling. The school of UCLA is struggling, and the state of California is struggling. For that reason Justin deserves the scholarship and much more. The economic impact that he has on the school will be much more than $50k over 4 years. The Combs family will probably spend that themselves on apparel. If he was going to pay, why go there? I’m sure the big programs would have loved to have him because in my opinion having him around would make it easier to funnel money to players if they did that sort of thing in college football.