Len On Da Association (What You Won't Hear On ESPN Or TNT)
There have been a bevy of sports events that have been worthy of my wrath and will get it over the next few days/weeks. From Favres retirement and his place within my very own book of All-Time Greats to the $20 Million Dollar remake of Rocky III at Wrestlemania 24 between Floyd Balboa and Thunderhips. (Oh and for anyone who thinks that boxing isnt dead, consider the fact that your best boxer would rather fight a dinosaur posing as a wrestler than fight some no-name just for kicks.). Oh yeah, I feel the need to debunk the whole concept of pinning ribbons on teams for doing stuff in free agency before a single down is played the following year. (This is more geared towards these Cleveland yokels, but again, another rant for another time.) Today class, Len E. Jersey will educate you all on the NBA in light of all these trades and signings as folks scramble like mad for the OBrien Trophy.
First and foremost, let me debunk the whole MVP Race and moreso, LeBrons place within it. STOP MENTIONING HIS NAME AND MVP IN THE SAME BREATH PEOPLE. He himself said hes got no chance if Kobe hasnt won one YET, so why are you all feeling the need to hype this boy up so much? (Rhetorical, dont answer that.) I mean, seriously, can anyone in the class give me a great reason why if Im David Stern, I give the MVP trophy to a guy whos probably looking at the 5th spot in a below average conference over the best player on this or any other planet whose team will probably be one of the top three in a far superior conference? Can anyone justify LeBron being handed the MVP trophy over Kobe when if the Cavs were in the West with the record they have right now, theyd be debating who they draft with their lottery pick? (Waits.) Didnt think so.
Secondly, I got a few trades to plunk through but Ill do that individually.
Phoenix- Great move dumping the unhappy Matrix for the Big Cactus. I understand theres some considerable backlash because youre going against the Phoenix equals 100 plus points and theyre exciting on offense grain, but listen to me. Thats gotten you a whole lot of nothing, FAST. I tell ya right now, what these experts are doing in more or less pronouncing you dead and Steve Kerr a moron, is great. Know why? Because come playoff time, it will only motivate the Big Ring Magnet to do what he does when he gets angry and properly motivated. Win rings. While I wont say Phoenix is the favorite in the West, this move DEFINITELY gets them closer to that title than before. Speaking of getting closer
The Lake Show Returns- In hands down, the second greatest sports robbery Ive witnessed (Dallas sending Herschel to Minnesota for magic beans that became 3 Lombardi trophies being #1), the Lakers get Pau Gasol for what in my mind more or less translates to less than what I paid for my lunch that Im eating right now. ($4 in case any of you were curious and this burgers probably done more in its existence than Kwame ever will.) Again, these experts are quick to make the Lakers the favorites and all told given what was in place before Kupchak went all Ski Mask Way on Memphis, even Im hard pressed to argue with it. Mitch, unlike certain GMs, heard his stars gripes and he responded the only way he knew how. Wait until the very last possible second and he ensured that Kobe stayed put. He now has a very good core to surround Kobe Bauer with through his prime and now, one has to wonder if Kobe will indeed catch Jordan for the most rings by one player with one team.
Help (Still) Wanted For The Prince- Here in Ohio, I tell ya, Ive never seen folks more happy over nothing than they are with this Bulls/Cavs trade. I called in to two radio stations to talk about it (I actually got hung up on once because I didnt agree with the status schmoe) and since only one of them seemed to get it (or be receptive to some criticism thereof) allow me to elaborate here.
LeBrons finally got himself a point guard in West who can and will handle the rock. I know most of you wouldnt be able to pick Delonte West out of a lineup, but trust me when I tell ya, the kids good. He played on the same team as Jameer Nelson in college that was thisclose to going to the Final Four a few seasons back. Joe Smith is a more than adequate forward who can give you some production off the bench. Wallys World returns home where he will give LBJ a good shooter who can hit the outside shot. Okay Len, if youre so high on these three, why so low on the trade? Because Ben Wallace will be the reason the Cavs dont repeat as Leastern Conference Champions. I understand theres an overspoken desire to want to see He Who Misrepresents 23 be a champion. I get that. However, someones got to explain to me how getting a lemon that Chicago grossly overpaid for that did next to nothing when it counted against the Pistons last year and the year before, will help LBJ fend them off again THIS YEAR. Am I the only one finding something wrong with a free agent who lasted less than TWO YEARS in his next stop being sent packing to a division rival? Wallace is good, but he wasnt much help against Rasheed last year in the playoffs and I doubt very seriously hell be much against KG this year if necessary.
So more than likely, Cleveland will have its ticket punched earlier than expected because due to the heights reached a year ago, the only way this trade gets justified is if LeBrons holding the trophy. In essence, this was Ferry and Gilberts, all in bet to either keep James home or well its gonna be BK all day is in his blood as he heads for Jiggas Nets. Speaking of those Nets
Kidds Play- I guess Ill knock out two birds with one stone here. Jason, you roody poo candy ass, have fun out West. Im glad youre back where it all started and in what will be in my book, the most ironic twist in my lifetime, the very coach you had fired is the very same guy that could punch your ticket home. Truth is, you more or less nailed the window shut that Dallas had to compete for a title. They lost way too much that wont really be noticed until the first round when they encounter a big body (with only Erick Dampier defending the low block) or a quick guard (ah damnit, damn near everyones got one of those). Without Diop or Harris, a team that wasnt exactly blowing people away with its defense gets that much weaker and unless theyre legitimately firing on all cylinders, I see one and done for the Mavs yet again. Oh yeah, what mental toughness do you bring to the Mavericks? I mean, having mental toughness means you dont start whining and crying about wanting to be traded midway through the year. It means you dont get coaches fired and you dont throw teammates under the bus. Fact is, youre a smaller version of Dirk, minus the shot from ranges that havent even been measured yet. But in a really weird way, Im actually glad youre gone.
Devins Way- Ive always liked Devin Harris, really, I have. I think now that hes free from the Blue Cream Puffs in Dallas, hes going to show the league why he was a lottery pick so many years ago. With J-Wuss being removed from the equation, Ive accepted the fact that more than likely, theyre gonna be fodder for either Boston and Detroit. Im cool with that. Oh and for all you Net fans who are thinking of jumping ship when they go to Brooklyn, dont. Im not, because after simmering on that grand plan, I like it and you will too. Trust me.
Gregg Popovichs New Nightmare- Ya know what? Im kinda getting sick of people not giving the Spurs their due. Every year these guys are counted out, every year that they do not start hot, theyre instanteously counted out for the flavor of the month and then boom. They come back with a vengeance and are ultimately left standing. They really didnt do a whole lot compared to the other teams in the league, rather they didnt do as much but when youre the champions (something the Cavs conveniently forgot), you dont scrap the formula that got you to the dance. You improve on it. So the Spurs went out and got Kurt Thomas from Seattle for next to nothing, if you consider that Brent Barry will probably be back in the Silver and Black striped sweater soon enough.
The Sting And The Rockets Not So Red Glare- Well, even though they swapped bench guys, I think the Hornets are in better shape than the Rockets. T-Mac has yet to win a playoff series and is all but a clone of his cousin when it comes down to the crunch. Yao was starting to show signs like he was ready to own the league when his ankle cracked on him and well, with it, so go their playoff chances (not that they were really that big to begin with). Conversely, Im seriously digging these Hornets. In some ways, theyre making me think back to the Nets during their two year romp through the Least with CP3 playing a better Kidd and D-West being a much more efficient K-Mart. Im honestly taken aback by how quickly these guys have hit the scene and turned the Southeast into the best division in the NBA (its feasible four teams could make the playoffs from this division). The trade was meant to give them more punch off the bench and I believe it will help them going down the way, just not coming up next month and beyond.
So this brings me rather nicely to the crux of my whole thing. The Spurs will win it all again and its for this reason. Theyve been there, done that and to this point, they have yet to do it CONSECUTIVELY (as Elder Woman Jade pointed out last June). That in the end will override the desire of The G.A.P. Band which still has Doc Rivers as the conductor of that particular group and its supporting cast. Now dont get me wrong, I really, REALLY like what Bostons done since getting Allen and Garnett. Hell, with their supporting cast (once thought to be their glaring Achilles) actually becoming one, they will be a VERY tough out come May and June. Especially with Boston Garden being reincarnated as we speak at that really long named arena with the parquet. But yeah, despite the Mavs getting Kidd home, its about three years too late. He cant guard any of the premier guards off the dribble and theres not a ton of help once a Deron or CP3 gets by him. Think a 1 really fears Dampier or Dirk down low? Hell no.
Then of course, theres the Lake Show. The lone real nemesis that the Spurs have had since 1999 as history has shown us. Kobes got a different look in his eyes and a way different look in his game from what Im used to seeing. Ive long since said of all the wannabes that have drawn Jordan comparisons, hes the closest and hes starting to remind me why with what hes doing now. Unfortunately, I dont think Kobe can really do it alone. While they do have Pau, people forget, the Griz werent exactly boobs in the woods when he had them in the playoffs. They had talent on those teams and they NEVER WON A GAME. So if Bynum doesnt come back at full strength (which when youre talking about a knee and a big man that size, unless theres an S on his chest we havent seen, hes not back at 100% in under 8 weeks), youre asking Pau and career under/non-achiever Lamar Odom to carry the Lake Show past the Spurs. Again, a guy who hasnt won a playoff game and a guy who as the moment increases in importance will find ways to decrease in production along with a ton of guys who are just now showing they belong in the league. Laker fans have reason to hope, but then again, so does a guy doing life with the possibility of parole. Doesnt mean that guys getting out and this doesnt mean the Lakers will win it all. Its just too soon and more often than not, with the exception of Rasheed going to Detroit a few years back do you find teams that are active at the trading deadline making big deals having it pay off with a ring. It doesnt happen THAT quick, in spite of what most expect contrary to the fact.
So to recap
Long term speaking, the Lakers are scary. Oh and even if they dont make the playoffs, I really like the Blazers with a healthy Oden next year. Ditto for the Hornets and Jazz too, who I think have the potential to be a legitimate darkhorse come playoff time. Theyre young, theyve got Sloan whos still coaching em up and he has his new age Malone & Stockton in Williams and Booze. Oh and as far as reformatting the playoff system, Ive got no comment. Not because the Nets would be gone if they redid it, but because this cry is audible everytime theres something wrong with the seeding or a team getting hosed (which is what led to the division champion Nuggets having to travel to open a series against the Clippers a few years back, something that should NOT have happened).
In terms of the here and now though, the Spurs are it. Theyre the sweater wearing, razor glove wearing mofos that are here to invade your dreams and send your teams to a gory end. Stern and most of the public dont want to see another Finals series with the Spurs in it, but guess what? The new game you guys love so much that fits teams like the Suns and Mavs to a tee dont work after late April into May and June. Defense wins championships and right now, theres not another team in the Association that plays it better than they do. So yes, Im predicting the Spurs to win it, rather Im keeping my prediction from last year as is.