The Gonzalez twins, Dylan and Dakota Gonzalez are two Kansas University women’s basketball recruits from Idaho. They are about six feet with good ball skills, so the sky is the limit as far as their basketball career if they work at it. But these girls may be bigger than just basketball players. They are models, they sing, and they know how to social network. They may be just what women’s basketball needs to take the next step as far as growth.
Women’s college basketball lost 3 major stars this season, so there is a void to be filled. Brittney Griner was the dominant player, but she couldn’t advance the sport because she isn’t feminine enough. Since she is not feminine people want to compare her to men and ponder if she can play in the NBA, when she didn’t make the Final 4 in Women’s NCAA Basketball. Skylar Diggins did her part, and Candace Parker having a child and still playing is huge, but it isn’t enough. Not to generalize because there are many feminine basketball players, but they are the minority instead of the majority. The Gonzalez twins can change that perception because these girls aren’t just models because they are tall, and they can overcome the perception. Any advertisement that they are on will cause more people to follow them and thus the sport. Plus it may make other girls, who don’t fit the women’s basketball player stereo-type, more comfortable to play, also expanding the game.
The question about the twins won’t be about performance on the court because they seem to have the right type of work ethic. But the problem for them will be whether basketball can hold their attention once the world discovers them. Being from Idaho they are still a secret, and their journey is just beginning. Women with the looks and talent they possess have much more lucrative opportunities than women’s basketball, and it will be interesting to see how long they focus primarily on basketball. Whatever they decide to do I am sure they will be great. As they begin their journey it’s interesting to think where it may end up.
Spike Lee said it would take 20 to 30 years for the new generation of Nets fans to begin to reach the massive volume of faithful that follow the Knicks. Apparently Mikhail Prokhorov doesn’t want to wait that long. In yet another summer of making splashes, the Nets made a deal with the Boston Celtics in principle to acquire Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph and their first round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The deal will not be official until July 10th.
The trade will give the Nets a starting line-up feature 5 either hall of fame or all-star caliber players including Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez. Although the bench immediately becomes a problem after losing so much depth, if the Nets are able to limit Johnson, Pierce and Garnett’s minutes during the regular season you have to believe they have enough championship mettle needed to make a run at beating the Miami Heat. The window of opportunity is extremely short, but until it closes in a year or two the Brooklyn will be an immediate force. The Nets have come in and in a short time taken the city by storm.
The problem with that is that New York is already taken. Two of the biggest names in sports are Yankees and Knicks. Not only is the city already taken, but it’s taken by one of the premiere sports franchises in the world. We are talking Madison Square Garden, Rucker Park, St. John’s University…..basketball Mecca. Players have come through like Willis Reed, John Lucas Patrick Ewing, Earl “The Pearl” and Dave Debusschere (use Google if you must.) When it comes to basketball, the New York Knicks have been second to none in terms of popularity. Their fans are some of the most demanding but also most loyal. Being from New York is a state of mind, it’s a right of passage. Its about family and sticking together. The Knicks have been a part of New York’s culture since 1946. It is one of the most profitable and proud organizations in all of sports.
And now it might be the junior varsity squad in it’s own town. When Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudamire, Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler were brought on a few years back, it was with the idea of winning a championship. Knick fans have seen many successful teams come and go, but they haven’t been able to get over the hump, losing some memorable and historic playoff games along the way. This new regime was supposed to put an end to the curse that has been hovering over the city since the late 70’s and seemed to make a couple steps forward with a pretty successful playoff run this year despite injuries.
Yesterday that optimism has turned to disbelief. It’s one thing to see the dreaded Heat or Pacers making moves acquiring talent, but it’s an entirely different story seeing guys move into your area and steal your thunder. Brooklyn came into the city last year with a lot of fanfare. New city, new name, new arena, new uniforms and new all-star players. Backed by Brooklyn’s own Jay-Z helping to promote the team that had been previously view as step brothers across the river, Brooklyn stormed into city last year and immediately created a buzz. But although the buzz was loud, clearly the Knicks still owned New York. The media tried to hype a “rivalry” early on between these two teams, and there were some great subplots at play early on, but you could tell that the animosity that was attempted to be created was forced and commercial. Besides, the Nets fan base was barely audible over the Knick faithful, so the passion was’t there.
That may no longer be the case. There are now several factors at play which will make the New York/Brooklyn rivalry begin to take form. The quickest way to create a rivalry with your big brother is to start beating him up. 3 seasons ago the Knicks were light years ahead of the hapless Nets, now it appears its Brooklyn who has championship aspirations while the Knicks are scrambling. JR Smith has elected to test free agency, and although I believe he will remain in New York it could drive up his going rate. The Knicks still have a below .500 record when Carmelo, Amar’e and Chandler all play together, so that dampens the optimism of good health begin the savior. Your best player can opt out of his contract at the end of next season, and oh by the way the point guard you had last year retired and jumped ship to coach the very team that is invading your territory.
Wait, there’s more. Not only did the Nets bolster their roster and steal a Knick player away to coach them, but they also brought in two players with a built in dislike for the orange and blue. Although the Celtics and Knicks have not faced off many times in the playoffs recently, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are very accustom to beating them up over the years. Add the fact Jason Kidd knows every in and out of the Knick’s strategies and you have a very difficult situation if you are New York.
We all know there will be great rush to join the already growing Net “band-wagon,” but still Knick fans will still greatly outnumber Nets in the city next year. But no matter how large your group, it’s hard to have a voice in sports when you are losing. The fun of a rivalry is trash talking, and if you aren’t winning your mouth is either shut or your spending most of your time justifying losses. Players like Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry will be sure to let MSG fans know who the new sheriff’s in town are when they play the Knicks. How frustrated will Carmelo be if he has to watch Brooklyn advance in the playoff’s if the Knicks do not. Speaking of frustration, that has to be the feeling to describe owner Jim Dolan’s after so many years of promising his city’s fan a title, to Mikhail Prokhorov swoop right in a create a championship environment immediately must burn. First it was Bulls, then the Pacers and Rockets, now it’s Lebron and Mikhail who are the primary thorns in the asses of Knick fans. The Knicks will be still be in the majority next year when these teams seasons start back up. It will be interesting to see which group is the loudest by season’s end. Hard to imagine a New York where the Knicks play second fiddle.
The Indianapolis Star is reporting that there will be a press conference Thurday morning to announce that Larry Bird is back as the President of Basketball Operations of the Indiana Pacers. Bird took a year off because of health issues, and there was a question of whether he would be back after the new Sacramento Kings ownership group tried to woo him to be a part of their organization. But seeing the team he put together play so well in the playoffs without Danny Granger had to inspire him to come back.
Larry Bird has been trying to bring a NBA title to the Pacers since Reggie Miller and last year was as close as they have been in a long time. Larry brought David West in so he realizes his importance, and one would think that David West has a bond with Larry considering Larry had the faith too sign West to a big contract coming off a knee injury. Plus with the emergence of Paul George, Larry needs to be there so Paul George will stay in Indiana. Larry Bird brings national media attention that today’s players crave, so having Larry there is a plus for any free agent acquisition. Next season will be very interesting in the Eastern Conference.
Khalif Wyatt out of Temple isn’t even projected to be drafted as ESPN ranks him as the 78th best draft eligible player. Wyatt had an impressive season against a tough schedule and he dominated some of the competition that is expected to go well before him in the draft. Wyatt led his Temple Owls with 33 points in a victory over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, and he had 26 points as the Owls fell just short of an upset bid over Ben Mclemore and the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. In the NCAA Tournament Wyatt had 31 of his team’s 52 points in a 6 point loss to Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Hoosiers.
Wyatt has proved himself against the best this draft has to offer on the court, but there isn’t anything exciting about his game, so he gets overlooked. Plus he is only 6’4″ and he is listed as a shooting guard, which is some what undersized. But he handled the ball in college and I think he will be able to do the same in the professional ranks, so I am projecting him as a big point guard. Wyatt can immediately be a difference maker in the right situation. He is the back up point guard the Indiana Pacers have been looking for, and he could also fit in at Golden State if they lose Jarrett Jack. Fundamentals are a lost art and Khalif Wyatt has them, even if he doesn’t get picked in the 2013 NBA Draft he is going to have a long productive NBA career. People may not know him now, but they will.
Game 6 of the NBA Finals was one of the greatest NBA Finals games in history. It may also be the signature moment of when the Miami Heat became a dynasty. San Antonio should have won an NBA Championship in game 6 being up 5 with 28 seconds to go, but they didn’t. Miami found a way to win a game they shouldn’t have and in the process kept there dreams of multiple championships alive. It was fitting that this happened in game 6 because that is the same game that John Paxon hit the game winning 3 for the Chicago Bulls in 1993. It was also game 6 when Steve Kerr won the 1997 NBA title for the Bulls, so it was fitting that Ray Allen hit a miraculous 3 for the Miami Heat in game 6.
Some may say that the Heat win was luck, but there is some element of luck that goes into all dynasties. The most recent football dynasty, the New England Patriots, not only had the benefit of the tuck rule, but they won their Superbowls on last second field goals. The last basketball dynasty, the Los Angeles Lakers with Shaq needed last shots from Robert Horry and Derek Fisher to complete their 3 peat, so luck, or whatever it is, is part of the game. Everyone needs some help in reaching their goals and athletes are no different.
This win was so significant because of what it should mean to Lebron James’ psyche. Even though he won the title last year, there was an asterisk in some people’s minds because it was a strike shortened season, so anything less than a title this year would label the ‘Big 3’ as failures. Considering all that, Lebron and the Heat still didn’t bring it in an elimination game which is an indication of their mental instability because the Heat were losing because of effort. But getting a second chance has to inspire the Lebron, doesn’t it? After all, he was 28 seconds from being labeled as a loser. The Heat still need to win game 7, but its hard to see the Spurs being able to rebound after one day off from that loss. It may be putting the cart before the horse, but this title hopefully will give Lebron the confidence he needs to dominate the NBA like he should have been for years. It is still dumbfounding how Lebron can dominate all season and all playoffs, only to shrivel up on the ultimate stage. Hopefully one day we can look back at this moment as historic, where Lebron’s career took off on a Jordan-esque path
Julius Erving also know as Doctor J took basketball by storm in the 70’s and was a superstar, the likes of which had never been seen before in basketball. Erving was the blue print for Michael Jordan. Dr. J not only carried a franchise, but a league, the American Basketball Association (ABA), as well. The ABA battled the NBA and eventually won membership for 4 ABA teams. The Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs trace their roots to the ABA. Since Dr. J started in the ABA, he doesn’t get his just due because his prime years in the ABA aren’t acknowledged, but basketball historians know about ‘The Doctor.’
Stephen Jackson is the realest in the NBA. He doesn’t pull punches which is why his interview on Highly Questionable is so great. Jackson went into detail about the brawl in Detroit, the strip club shoot out, and his troubled youth in ‘PA’ Port Arthur, TX, the home of UGK. The interview ran the gamut of emotions. It started funny as Jackson spoke about ‘The Brawl’, and how he got some enjoyment from knocking out fans. Then it got serious as Jackson discussed the dumbest thing he did out of loyalty and the death of his brother.
Enjoy all that and more when Stephen Jackson speaks with Bomani Jones, Dan Lebatard, and Papi on Highly Questionable.
Ed Werder is reporting that Tim Tebow has signed with the New England Patriots. The signs all pointed to Tebow going to New England considering the coach that drafted him is the offensive coordinator, and Coach Belichick has an affinity for University of Florida players because of his relationship with Urban Meyer. But the signing brings up more questions. It is reported that Tebow is adamant about playing quarterback, but Tom Brady is the quarterback in New England, so chances of playing are slim to none. This can’t be a good sign for Ryan Mallet, or could there be something else on the horizon?
Everyone says Tebow won’t switch positions, but I can’t see him not. He is a football player and football players play football. With Rob Gronkowski being hurt, Tim Tebow has a tremendous opportunity in front of him. Tebow has a chance to step in immediately as a tight end and be a major contributor on a Superbowl contender. It’s not inconceivable that Tebow could be a top tight end next year. Not only that, but he would join college teammates Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Spikes. I can’t imagine that Tebow would turn down an opportunity to play and be a part of that. I also can’t imagine that the Patriots signed Tebow to be a quarterback, but we will soon see. At the very least it will be fun watching how Bill Belichick handles Tebow questions.
Sources in the media are reporting Kevin Durant will soon be represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports agency. The young Oklahoma City swingman is looking to build his brand much like his rival Lebron James has been able to and believes the hip hop mogul will be able help him accomplish that.
Jay-Z is currently in the process of selling the small share of the Brooklyn Nets he owns so that his agency can represent NBA players. Until he does NBA rules prohibit him from having it’s players as clients, but that has not stopped him from signing players from other sports. Roc Nation Sports currently represents young stars such as New York Jet quarterback Geno Smith, former Notre Dame point guard and 3rd overall pick in the WNBA draft Skylar Diggins, as well as Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees. Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and DeSean Jackon of the Philadelphia Eagles are also possibly interested in joining the fast growing firm.
You have to think there is little to loss and much to gain for Durant with this move. He has already signed his latest contract extension with Oklahoma City, and to be honest I doubt it will be difficult negotiating his next contract as it will surely be a max deal. Jay-Z has shown his master marketing abilities to grow several over his different business ventures over the years and there is no reason to believe he can’t do that for sports stars.
Personally, I’m done. Just like each time Harry Potter comes out with another movie I simply cannot take anymore. So I don’t want to give this very much attention at all if I can avoid doing so. Why, because I’ve been here before. In fact, this is simply a remake to the show that played out here back in 1996. Simply put, I don’t care where Dwight Howard goes next year.
You see, I live in the Orlando area and although I am not a fierce Magic fan being that I am from Louisiana, I do have a soft spot for the hometown team. I was here when Shaquille O’Neal decided the bolt Central Florida for the hills of sunny California, ending a partnership with Penny Hardaway which ironically ended up being the prequil to Shaq and Kobe. I’ve seen stars such as Penny, Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis attempt and fail to revive a team whose championship promise faded upon The Big Fella’s departure. And with dominant centers being on the endangered list with so many bigs wanting to show their perimeter skills these days, you can understand why some teams bend over backwards to ensure there star 5 man is taken care of and happy.
Since Michael Jordan retired and graciously began allowing others to win championships, every team who has hoisted a banner has had studs in the frontcourt. The Rockets won twice with Hakeem Olajuwon. The Pistons, Celtics and Mavericks once each with Ben Wallace, Kevin Garnett and Tyson Chandler respectively. Pau and Andrew Bynum have two together, and four times for Mr. Tim Duncan with the Spurs and Shaquille O’Neal with the Lakers and Heat. In fact, no team can boast winning an NBA championship since the Jordan era without an All-Star center or power forward on its roster. There’s a reason the Michael Olowokandi’s, Kwame Brown’s and Darko Milic’s of the world are drafted so high. You have to have talent down low to win championships.
So that brings up the question, why do I think the Lakers should be so comfortable with letting Dwight Howard leave in free agency? Why, after being forced to view the product the Orlando Magic put on the floor this year, would I not appreciate how decimating it can be to lose such a dominant player. If having a monster in the middle to win in the NBA is a prerequiste, how do you let the best the league has to offer leave without getting so much as a free jersey in return?
The thought seems even more insane considering the Lakers current predicament. They are in the process of managing the backend of one of it’s most prominant figures careers in Kobe Bryant. They have lost the leadership of the great Dr. Jerry Buss and it’s clear son Jim and daughter Jeanie Buss are in a sort of power struggle. LA is locked into contracts with players like Nash, Gasol and Artest who all have high miles on their bodies. Their coach is seemingly an old dog who can’t be taught enough new tricks to lead this current team as currently constructed. The direction of the franchise which has been one of the best models in sports is in temporary flux.
But this is the Lakers we are talking about. The team located in the city everyone wants to play in. The flashy light, sunny weather and abundance of celebrities in the area make southern California a prime location for superstars. The downside is not only do you have to win in Losa Angeles, but you have to win often regardless of circumstances. The media is relentless and you have to have strong skin to navigate the pressure which must be burdened to carry the LA Lakers. Dwight Howard had an opportunity to do this in Orlando. I was able to watch him grow from a young 18 year old from Atlanta, GA to become the second most dominant player in Magic history. I’ve witnessed his development as a player and a leader. I have a great appreciation for him as a person and player. The problem is in Los Angeles championships are a necessity and Howard may not have the type of fire in his belly to fit in to what fans feel they need from their star.
Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan have conditioned us to believe only fierce competitors who are consumed with winning are capable of being legendary. Kobe has displayed trait, and the results have yielded 5 rings. Tim Duncan may not be menacing but his conviction to winning can’t be discredited. Lebron is learning and he has since transformed into a player he has become today on his way to possibly winning his second championship. Dwight? Not so much….and that’s the problem. That is why I nor the Lakers should even worry about this Dwightmare sequel.
After 8 years in the league I can’t say one thing Dwight does a whole lot better than when he came into the league. His post moves are limited. Other than a sweeping hook and his quick first step, he is not a player you can throw the ball to on the block and ask to go get you points consistently. No reliable jump shot. Limited face up game with nothing much besides that hook. Howard came into the league shooting 67% from the free throw line. He is now lucky to hit 1 out of 2 each time he is up there. Howard also had problems with his leadership role towards the end of his Orlando days, drawing ire from even his closest teammates. He did take the Magic to the finals only a few years back, but has since seen his reputation take numerous hits. Many consider Dwight to be a diva who must be pampered and loved to make feel wanted.
That being said, how do you replace Dwight Howard? Outside of Kevin Love and David Lee, what other player has the capability of giving you 20 plus points and 10 plus rebounds per game? Who else not named Tyson Chandler can affect a game so dramatically on the defensive end in the middle? Andrew Bynum, the guy we thought was the second best center in the league as of last year has not played a game in over a year. What gives?
First thing is, Los Angeles is no longer the best fit for Dwight. Sure he will make more money along with all the other frills that come along with playing in Hollywood, but Dwight can stomach a life without winning championships. Don’t get me wrong, I believe he wants to win, but he understands there is life outside of basketball. Unfortunately Laker Nation doesn’t. Spoiled by West, Wilt, Magic, Kareem, Shaq and Kobe, Laker fans need multiple championships from it’s stars for the relationship to be deemed a success. They won’t live with conference finals appearances alone. Add to the situation a coach who has no idea how to deal with having a dominant center and all of a sudden it’s no longer a match made in heaven. Without another superstar who is ok with having their feet held to the fire whenever the team fails, Dwight’s personality is not in line with the LA crowd.
Enter H-Town. The Houston Rockets have always done whatever it could to be relevant in the league. Since their last championship in the late 90’s, the Rockets have never been a team to sit back wait to become a good team. They have acquired big name free agents such as Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Cylde Drexler, Steve Francis, Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest, James Harden and Jeremy Lin. Now with a young team with budding stars in Harden, Chandler Parsons (a favorite of this writer) Omar Asik and JLin, plus a coach in Kevin McHale who was one of the most skilled power forwards to ever play the game, you have the perfect fit for Howard. Harden will be the face of the franchise and the player responsible for making winning plays towards the end of games. There is plenty of cap space and young role players to make Houston a prime contender with Dwight for years. Expectations will also be more realistic. To bring a championship to Houston would elevate Howard to Olajuwon or Nowitzki status in that area. The bar is a lot higher in LA considering Wilt, Kareem and Shaq’s credentials. There is no state tax in Texas, so the money Dwight leaves behind in LA really isn’t as much as you might believe.
A few other teams make sense for Dwight as well. The Dallas Mavericks may be able to make a run a CP3 and D12 at the same time. Pairing those two with the end of Dirk’s career could be tempting. Atlanta, Dwight’s hometown, also has enough cap space to go after both free agents. Golden State has expressed interest and also has the assets to make the Lakers take a couple looks. All things being considered, I think Houston makes the most sense.
So where does this leave LA? As a Laker this has to be your worst case scenario. Kobe is injured and may not play next year. Pau is stuck in the twilight zone having been in the front of trade rumors for the past 2 years and stuck with a coach who admittedly doesn’t know how to use him. Nash and Metta World Peace best days are well behind them. Going into next year with Dwight would be difficult enough, so suggesting a year without him is lunacy right?
Yes it is. Laker fans I hate to tell you, 2013 is done. This Laker team will be a year older, no more talented and also missing the Mamba. OKC, Golden State and Houston will be better next year simply based on it’s younger players maturing, not to mention adding talent due to having cap space.
See year 2014. This is the year of doomsday in Miami, New York and Indiana, but brings hope to everyone else. The Big 3 in Miami all have player options to leave during this time, as do the Knicks Carmelo Anthony and Paul George of the Pacers. Let me name a few other free agents to be year after next…Avery Bradley, Jamal Crawford, John Wall, Tony Parker, Luol Deng, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger, Kevin Garnett, ZBO, Dirk Nowitzki, Greg Monroe, Ed Davis, Andrew Bogut, Demarcus Cousins…you get the idea without me going through the entire list. It’s deep. If Miami does not win a championship this year, it’s safe to say they will have a big decision to make the following year with Wade and Bosh. Carmelo also could be looking at a career without a championship if he stays with the Knicks. The point is the landscape of the NBA and it’s pecking order will be flipped on it’s head in 2014. There is no better franchise to be with Kobe, Pau, Howard and World Peace all possibly off your payroll during this time than the LA Lakers. If you are Jim Buss, the possibility of going after both Lebron and say Paul George has to wet your whistle. Not only can the Lakers go after them, but what if Kobe and Pau decided to come back to LA for less money? It is not out of the realm of reality for the Lakers to be able to sign two top tier free agents while at the same time bringing back its two or more pillars from the old regime. Getting Lebron would be a long shot as I am sure his ties will be with Miami or Cleveland first. But if it’s not the King the Lakers still will be prime for a superstar to jump right in and have enough leverage to help recruit another A-list player to join him. Miami will be about the only other prime market available with as much flexibility.
So this brings us full circle to Dwight. Let me be clear, if Dwight wants to be a Laker for life then regardless of the dream scenarios which will be available you have to take him without question. A bird in hand is better than two in the bush, and ask Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks, gambling on free agents is a dangerous game. Besides, the Magic bounced back when Shaquille O’Neal first left. After injuries shortened Penny Hardaway’s career, they were able to woo and sign guys like T-Mac, Steve Francis and Grant Hill through free agency. The Lakers allowed Shaq to walk in the mid 2000’s and only 3 years later where back in the NBA finals. Cleveland has rebounded from “The Decision” so quickly that people are considering them as one of the most intriguing places for the same player who dissed them a few years back to possibly make his return.
Dwight said in an interview a few days ago that he is tired of trying to please everyone. He should be tired, because in his attempts to please he seemingly has pissed off the last two cities, organizations and fan bases he has been in. I believe the bridge Howard used to get to Hollywood is in danger of burning down similarly to how the one leading to Mickey Mouse’s Kindom here in Orlando did.
It’s unfortunate Dwight is being vilified because of his diva behavior. Is he a primadonna? Yes. Bad guy? No. He’s done amazing things in this community here in Orlando. Houston and just about every other team in the league would be very appreciative of Dwight and his glowing personality. If Dwight wants to stay in California than Lakers will marry him for better or worse. I’m just not sure they are willing to shed tears for him in the event he tries to leave them at the alter.