NBA Preview – Eastern Conference

I promised an extensive NBA Eastern Conference breakdown, and here it is.  The Raptors are going to be the worst team in the NBA and the Heat are going to be the best.  I challenge you to name 3 players on the Toronto Raptors without looking up their roster…John Wells Stevens couldn’t even do it.  He confesses to this and lends his sports prowess to the show.  Please enjoy.

Christmas NBA Television Ratings

Many have wondered if the fans would come back after a lengthy and sometimes messy lockout.  When the overnight ratings for the Christmas Day games came in earlier today, I think we got our answer…everyone just wants to watch some good basketball.  The games averaged 6.2 million viewers, which is up from 6 million last year.  According to the Associated Press, the Bulls-Lakers game was the third most watched regular season game in ABC history, and the Celtics-Knicks game on TNT that led off the coverage was up 48 percent over the same time slot last year (Bulls vs. Knicks on ESPN).  The NBA has as much if not more talent than any other era in the history of the game.  The story lines are compelling and the coverage of the games are second to none (except for when we have to listen to Jeff Van Gundy of course).  With the packed season we’re going to have games available to us just about every night of the week….perfect timing now that we can’t watch MAC football games on Tuesday night anymore.

Image: http://hot1079philly.com/sports/hot1079philly/is-david-stern-destroying-the-nba/

NBA Preview – Western Conference

I feel like the lockout didn’t even happen.  Couldn’t be more excited for opening day in the NBA this weekend.  We’re in for a thrilling and fast-paced season with plenty of story lines and more than enough phenomenal players.  This is part 1 of a two-parter previewing the NBA season, purely addressing the makeup of the Western Conference.  Find out why I think the Clips are going to be the second best team in the West this season.

Can the Lakers Still Contend?

The buzz around the NBA community all off-season was that Kobe Bryant has been voraciously preparing for this season because everyone has been saying that he had lost a step.  In his last press conference at the end of last season he told everyone how excited he was to start preparing so that he could prove he was still the best.

I’m not going to pretend like I don’t love stuff like this.  Kobe is one of the ten best players of all-time and seeing a guy like that perform in ways that no one else can is unbelievably enjoyable to watch and talk about.  You don’t have to like him.  I’ve never been a big fan of Kobe and the way that he handles himself, but as a sports fan, I love the fact that he is willing to offer up his firstborn child to win a championship.  That’s why we loved watching Jordan and Bird, and that’s why we love watching Tom Brady and Tiger Woods.  It doesn’t matter if you like them or love them, we will be forever interested in seeing what they do in that big moment because we know that they just might do something that we’ve never seen before.

That’s why seeing the Lakers (and David Stern) completely screw up this off-season has been so depressing.  Although I believe Kobe has actually lost a step, I still think he’s capable of being the alpha dog on a championship team, and I desperately want to see him try to take on Lebron and Wade in a seven game series.  Here’s what we clearly know: With the current makeup of this Lakers roster, they are going to be worse than they were last year.  There’s no way around it.  They obviously were getting older and slower, and the Mavs absolutely exposed them for what they were last year in the playoffs.  Well, the Lakers traded their third best player (Odom) to the team that rolled them in the playoffs and replaced him with….ummm….Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy (yikes).

If Kobe was playing for the Toronto Raptors right now (Current Starting 5 – Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani – check out the bench if you want to continue laughing… http://espn.go.com/nba/team/depth/_/name/tor/toronto-raptors) he’d still figure out a way to get that team into the playoffs.  Because of the state of the Lakers right now, maybe we’re in for another “screw this, I’m going to drop 50 every night” kind of a season from Kobe, which may be even more entertaining.  Having said that, unless the Lakers figure out a way to get Dwight Howard on the roster (seriously, give up Gasol and Bynum…you’ll immediately be better and be a title contender in 2012-2013…think how good Lebron, Bosh, and Wade were with a team full of “dudes”…the same thing would happen in LA with Kobe and Howard) they are a middle of the pack playoff team in the West.  OKC, Dallas, and the Clips are all going to be better, and the Trail Blazers, Spurs, and Nuggets are going to be competitive.  On the bright side, maybe we get to see Kobe drop 81 again….

Image: http://freddyo.com/kobe-bryant-slapped-with-100k-fine-for-homophobic-remarks/black-entertainment-television/attachment/kobe-bryant/

Dallas Mavericks Roster Moves

The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championship last year after years of coming up just short. The roster wasn’t hugely different from years past, but there were a few key players that seemed to be the X-Factor/lynchpin that pushed them over the top. Who were those players? JJ Barea and Tyson Chandler. Barea gave everyone fits throughout the playoffs and especially caused the Miami Heat all sorts of match-up problems in the Finals. Tyson Chandler revitalized his career after the World Championships and absolutely controlled the paint on both ends for the Mavs.

Fast forward six months, and the Mavs are just about to start their first season as defending champs. You’d think they’d battle to bring back that same roster with as few changes as possible with the hope of repeating. On the contrary. The Mavs let Chandler, Barea, and Caron Butler walk away without much of a fight (Chandler to the Knicks, Barea to the T-Wolves, Butler to the Clips….) and then they proceeded to go out and acquire three players that make very little sense with this team….Vince Carter, Delonte West, and Lamar Odom.

Carter is DONE, West has more baggage than maybe any player in the league (please always remember that this is the man that was carrying a shotgun in a violin case while riding his motorcycle around town…maybe the best NBA arrest story of all time), and I’m not quite sure what role Odom plays on this team. Vince Carter isn’t going to work hard off the court and is going to give you basically nothing on the defensive end. Can you play Delonte West and Jason Terry at the same time? Is Delonte going to be the backup point guard for Kidd? Are Odom and Dirk going to be able to share the ball when their style of play is so comparable? Does Odom play the three or the four? Can you have Odom, Dirk, and Haywood on the floor together? And what happens to the chemistry of this locker room? Everyone knows that one of the main reasons why this team won the title last year is because they were more tightly knit than the Heat, so swap out three great locker room guys for a has-been that isn’t going to positively motivate a single player on the team, a dude that may or may not have spent some time with another player’s mother (yeah, I went there), and lastly a guy that just demanded a trade from his team because his feelings were hurt.

This mash-up of veterans may be the right move for a shortened season, but from what I can tell, the Mavs have just gone away from exactly what pushed them to the top of the mountain.

The Chris Paul Trade Disaster

Chris Paul was traded to the Lakers, and then he wasn’t, and now he might be again.  In an odd chain of events yesterday, Chris Paul, of the New Orleans Hornets, was traded to the LA Lakers in a three team deal.  The deal was constituted as follows:

Lakers get – Chris Paul
Rockets get – Pau Gasol
Hornets get – Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, Goran Dragic, and a first round pick from the New York Knicks

When the trade was announced, many of the other owners in the league were in an uproar because another big market team was acquiring a big-name player that forced himself out of a small market team. (please see Dan Gilbert’s email for reference – http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/7335431/text-dan-gilbert-email-david-stern) David Stern obviously felt the pressure from the owners in the league (remember, the Hornets are owned by the league itself…which means each owner in the league actually owns a fractional portion of the team) to not let this trade go through because the Lakers were getting Paul, and were saving a ton of money in the process. In retrospect, the Hornets made off like bandits, possibly receiving a better trade than the Utah Jazz in their trade with the New Jersey Nets last season involving Deron Williams. Luis Scola – very solid big man in the league, Kevin Martin – averaged 25 per night last season for Houston, Lamar Odom – 6th man of the year last season for the Lakers, Goran Dragic – playoff tested point guard, and a first round pick…and the Lakers got a perennial all-star with bad knees in return. Is Chris Paul one of the absolute best players in the league? Yes. Is it a huge gamble for them to trade away Gasol and Odom leaving Andrew Bynum to fill the lane on his own hoping that Paul and Kobe can figure out a way to share the ball? Absolutely.  Could the addition of Paul add a new dynamic to Kobe and Bynum’s game to push them back into the title picture?  Absolutely, again.  (Think about the Paul and Kobe chemistry thing…this very well could create a similar problem to the Lebron and D. Wade offensive issues of last year. You would have two guys that love to have the ball in their hands and run the offense through them. With them on the floor together, Kobe would have to become more of an off-the-ball player, which could become and absolute disaster.)

The backlash from the media and the rest of the league has been vicious and loud. Many feel like this is as ugly a situation as the Tim Donaghy “game-fixing” scandal of a few years ago. I wouldn’t go that far, but vetoing a trade without really clear grounds to do so and a possible conflict of interest stinks of conspiracy. Supposedly the three teams are back at it trying to come up with another possible scenario to push through a deal, or they may just take legal action against the league to accomplish the same task. In the end, this deal is probably going to go through in one way or the other. The big question is, how long is it going to take.

Image: http://fullcourtpumps.com/2011/12/chris-paul-is-officialy-a-laker-joins-kobe-bryant-in-los-angeles/

(for a longer article and great read on the topic: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7334835/the-sixth-day-nba-christmas)

Coach Shuffling, Championship Rematch, and a Quest for Perfection

John Wells Stevens lends his soothing voice to the program to discuss the glorious return of the NBA, the Packers quest to perfection, and the thrilling close to the college football season….and some brief commentary on the Robert Allenby v. Geoff Ogilvy upcoming cage match at Wrestle Mania.

The NBA Lockout is Over! (well…almost)

We all woke up yesterday morning to the phenomenal news that the NBA Lockout was soon to be over.  The owners and players have agreed to a new 10-year deal in principle.  The deal still needs to be ratified by both sides, and some other secondary issues still need to be decided upon (i.e. drug testing, minimum age to enter draft, etc).  Throughout the day I was following the fan response on Facebook and Twitter and was shocked to see the animosity that so many had for the NBA.  “I don’t care if the Lockout is over.  All the players are overpaid anyway.  It’s going to take a long time for them to get me back watching games.”  (Note: The idea that players are overpaid is absurd.  The market sets their value based off of what you and I are willing to pay to watch their games either on TV or in the stadium.  As long as we keep showing up and paying what we do…the players will continue to make the same amount.  I believe the phrase is, “don’t hate the player, hate the game.”)  Do you remember this kind of angst towards the NFL players when the Lockout was finally ended?  I don’t, and I frankly don’t understand why people are so upset at the NBA for this.  Sure, the Lockout lasted a few weeks longer, and the debate was a bit more contentious, but was it really that much different?  I would have loved it if they would have wrapped it up sooner, but let’s be honest, none of us were going to start watching until Christmas anyway….

I Want to Watch Tom Brady in the Super Bowl…There, I Said It

Goodness gracious the NFL is having a great year.  I feel like I can’t take my eyes off of a game even when the Jags, Chiefs, or Seahawks are involved.  Anthony Dinwoodey Morris brings his unmatched expertise to discuss the NFL playoff picture, pick our favorite teams for the Super Bowl, and to discuss the tragic current state of the National Basketball Association.

Why Can I Not Stop Reading About the NBA Lockout?

I think it might be because it’s a full-on train wreck happening right before our eyes.  The two sides continue to go back and forth on topics that they seem miles apart on.  Now, supposedly the NBPA has given Derek Fisher the go-ahead to accept the 50/50 basketball related income split, but only if they can have some new concessions with the mid-level exception and other “system” issues.  I don’t know if the players aren’t paying attention or what, but rumor has it that as many as 13 owners are willing to cancel the full season today to make sure they get the best deal.  I doubt that almost 50% of the players are willing to take a similar stance to get what they want out of this deal.  Billionaires beat millionaires 100 times out of 100.  I think the owners have put out the best possible deal for the players at this point.  If I’m Derek Fisher, I’m pushing the NBPA to take this thing and run….immediately.

The Graham Anderson Show 10.10.11

I think I’m having deja vu.  If you have watched the University of Utah football team play the last two weeks, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

You’ve got to give Tim Tebow the ball at this point.  The 49ers and Lions are for real.  The Packers are without question the best team in the league, but don’t go to sleep on the Saints just yet.

The NBA is in shambles.  Owners have been overpaying players for years…so the players are being overpaid.  Watching Stern and D. Fisher talk about the status of the talks last night made me physically ill.

Tiger Woods will dominate the sport of golf again.  There is nothing I am more sure of.

The Graham Anderson Show 6.15.11

Who is going to take James Fredette (seriously people, he’s an adult now, let’s call him by an adult name) in the draft?  Are my hometown Jazz going to pull the trigger under community pressure?  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.  Please sit back and enjoy the last podcast about meaningful sports for the foreseeable future….NBA season is over, NFL in lockout, no Tiger Woods, no World Cup, no Summer Olympics…we are now to be tortured with 18 hours per day of Peter Gammons and Baseball Tonight.

The Graham Anderson Show 6.10.11

I lost a little bit of respect for D. Wade when I found this picture, but I spend enough time praising him in this podcast that it should make up for it.  Lebron James being the best player in the world for weeks at a time and then showing up and playing like C.J. Miles the next, T. Pryor and the mess in Columbus, Tiger Woods hurt instead of dominating majors, Rep. Weiner, and some movie catch-up….you’re not going to want to miss a thing.

The Graham Anderson Show 5.18.11

I hope Deshawn Stevenson isn’t a regular listener of the show.  My own flesh and blood, Stuart B. Anderson, makes his second official appearance to talk about breathtakingly important topics: triathlons, Miguel Angel Jimenez’s ponytail, and our favorite athlete tattoos.

The Graham Anderson Show 5.10.11

The summer movie season was kicked off by just the right movie…if you haven’t seen Fast Five yet, it’s time to make it happen.  Full review of Fast Five, Thor, and a look at the upcoming movie scene over the next two months.  Oh…and you know I couldn’t go through a full podcast without talking NBA Playoffs.  Dwight Howard will be a Laker in a few short months.  Count on it.