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Mixed Bag

This article is my first take on nailing down a couple of completely random thoughts/suggestions about the upcoming 2014/15 NBA Season.

Not one thing you look at may make sense to you, and that’s perfectly fine because the assorted array of conclusions I’m about to write about are my own personal views.

Want to know why compiling these kinds of lists are so much fun?

To show you how much fun writing these lists can be, I’ve made a list to break it down.

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MJ

Legendary Tales

This is only the beginning; I am planning on releasing a feature article every week and am going to try my best to ensure they are released at the same time. Friday mornings to ensure your day begins the right way and gets you primed for the upcoming weekend.

All right enough screwing around, lets get stuck in.

Granted this story will refer several times to the latest Hercules movie I tried my best to not divulge too many spoilers, actually if you are worried about this article potentially ruining your movie going experience you can rest easy.

After watching Hercules a few nights ago, the movie made a fascinating point. Although the legendary tales would have you believe that Hercules himself conquered the Twelve Labors, he actually had a band of battle hardened mercenaries helping him to complete the task.

Now I can see you sitting there reading this and thinking to yourself “what the hell does this have to do with the NBA?”

Short answer: Everything! (it literally has everything to do with the NBA).

Don’t believe me?

I’ve only written 117 words, give me a bit more time.

I consider myself to be an extremely lucky individual to have been able to grow up and watch the greatest player who has ever graced the hardwood ply his trade.

Granted I was only 9 when the Bulls completed their second three-peat but I can vividly remember watching some of these games with my brother.

With the age that we now live in, everything is available on DVD and having these readily available also makes it easier to take a look back through the ages and watch the master at work.

If you haven’t twigged on to who I am talking about, seriously if you haven’t then you may need to book yourself in for a psych test, it can be the one and only; Michael Jordan.

Still lost? Don’t worry we are slowly getting there.

Throughout history the stories of Michael Jordan have become the stuff of legends, much along the same lines as Hercules.

Taking absolutely nothing away from Jordan, I don’t know if that’s even possible to do, but if you didn’t know any better you’d bet good money after hearing some stories that Jordan single handedly destroyed the great teams of the 90s.

After watching the movie I left with little doubt that Hercules is as close to indestructible as anyone has ever been, but even this man needed the help of others to conquer the tasks laid out ahead of him.

Jordan was exactly the same, yes he was extremely blessed to be placed into the correct situation but he worked as hard as any man ever has to get his name where it belongs.

Ok, now lets get into some comparisons.

Hercules’ right hand man Autolycus was every bit as good of a warrior as the great man himself but never received the unbelievable accolades.

Michael Jordan’s right hand was, and is, still considered to be one of the 301 greatest players to ever play the game, of course I’m talking about Scottie Pippen. The man put his heart and soul on the line and loved going to battle perhaps more so than what Jordan did.

Now every great man needs a loyal warrior by his side, essentially an attack dog, in the movie Tydeus is discovered by Hercules in a burnt down village and although he never speaks he listens intently to his masters every word. He is feared by everyone else but is known to be as loyal a warrior as they come and no man fits this decription better than Dennis Rodman. Honestly, the man was, as close to insane as a human can possibly be but you just knew that he would have done anything had MJ given the orders.

Unfortunately, one of Hercules’ mercenaries was a woman which makes it kind of tough to somehow relate this to an NBA player but I think I pulled this off. 2

Atalanta is as tough as they come and isn’t afraid to let the boys know all about it, she’s a sharp shooting archer who could hit an apple on top of a cow’s head from 1,000,000 miles away. Every great team needs this type of long range assassin and a reliable one at that and there was no better player that garnered more of MJs trust than Steve Kerr, a man similar to Atalanta who wasn’t afraid to stand up when needed.

If you’ve seen the movie then you already know about Amphiaraus and his unique prophetic abilities. A man known to be able to speak to the gods and advise his adversaries about what paths may lay ahead, Michael Jordan was extremely blessed to have a Zen Master sitting courtside to help him out. Phil Jackson is one of the greatest coaches of all time and had an innate ability to be able to have his troops ready for any situation that they may have faced.

Now we all know that the only way for a legends tales to become so fabled amongst us mere mortals is for avid storytellers to continue preaching the stories of times past.

Iolaus is the cousin of Hercules and although he isn’t a warrior like some of the aforementioned names he is as big a piece of the puzzle than any of them. I’m not saying that Michael Jordan wouldn’t be as big as he is today if it wasn’t for a few storytellers, but did any man bring more spotlight onto the half man/half god of the NBA world than Sam Smith when he released his infamous book The Jordan Rules.

After having gone through all of this, I racked my brain trying to come up with a better NBA/Mythological comparison than MJ and Hercules.

Don’t even bother trying to come up with a better one; it doesn’t exist.3

Michael Jordan is as great, if not better, than any story you will ever hear any man tell. But if it wasn’t for the mercenaries he had on his side and at his disposal would the tales have been as legendary?

I also have to give a massive hat-tip to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson for becoming bigger than the Hulk. Seriously at one point you can see stretch marks on his shoulders, the man literally is too big for his own body!

Well there you have it, my first routine weekly feature for this brilliant website.

Not happy with it? Let me know, don’t worry I can handle criticism.

James McKern

@jLmcKern

1Please someone disagree with my Pippen being a top 30 all time claim, I’d love to have a discussion/argument about this.

2Apologise goes out to Steve Kerr for comparing you to a woman; in fairness she isn’t any woman. She’d comfortably kick my ass.

3If you did somehow manage to come up with a better comparison, I would honestly love to hear it.



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Carmelo Anthony Wraps Up Free Agency Tour

[Update 3.20pm 07/07/2014] Having met with all teams interested in signing him, Melo has spent the weekend largely in hiding mulling over the decision about where he’ll play next season. Yesterday the Lakers emerged as the Knicks’ top threat to sign Anthony, with reports emerging that the team had managed to have a significant impact, and leave him strongly considering their 4 year, $97 million offer. There have been multiple rumors surrounding Anthony, and how he’s spent his weekend in Los Angeles with the likes of Kobe Bryant, but none have been confirmed and most have simply been proven untrue.

Additionally, no team has been informed whether they are out of the Melo race or not at this stage, however Marc Spears at Yahoo! Sports believes there will be a decision within the next few days.

Initial Report:

Carmelo Anthony has today wrapped up his free agency tour in Los Angeles, following lengthy meetings with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavs, Lakers and Knicks throughout the past few days.

One of the NBA’s highest profile stars, Anthony has been entertaining potential suitors throughout the Eastern and Western Conferences, hoping to find the right landing spot for he and wife LaLa Vasquez to call home for the foreseeable future.

Kicking things off in Chicago first thing Tuesday morning, Melo met with Bulls management who took him on a fully guided tour of the team’s training facility and home arena, the United Center. The Bulls’ pitch also included a full workout of point guard Derrick Rose, in the hope it would encourage Anthony to feel comfortable with his fitness level. The Bulls pulled out all the stops, draping the walls of the United Center with images of Anthony wearing his number 7 jersey, and took him out to an exclusive dinner.

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Anthony’s meeting with the Houston Rockets was reportedly similar, with team Moray going the distance to give themselves the best possible chance at landing him. Jeremy Lin’s #7 jersey was Photoshopped onto an image of Melo this time round, which angered the team’s current guard, evidently coming to the realization the possibly incoming Anthony likely means the end of his tenure in Houston.

Meetings with the Mavericks and Lakers have not been as lengthy, or as glamorous, with both teams reportedly going for a much more minimalistic approach. Not much is known about Melo’s meeting with the Mavs, but it’s safe to assume Mark Cuban did everything in his power to persuade Anthony the Big D is the place where he’ll be most likely to win.

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The Lakers were next up this morning, with GM Mitch Kupchak, team President Jeanie Buss and VP of Basketball Ops Jim Buss running the show alongside Laker legend James Worthy, and executives from Time Warner Cable Sportsnet also in attendance. Kobe Bryant, who was expected to be in the meeting, was not present, although he is said to be meeting with Anthony later this afternoon. The meeting lasted two and a half hours, with the Lakers said to be “pleased” with the outcome. Anthony left the Lakers’ El Segundo practice facility smiling, stopping for photos and autographs with fans before giving a thumbs up, and heading off to his meeting with Phil Jackson and the Knicks.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA has reported that the Lakers’ offer to Anthony stands at 4 years, $97 Million. The maximum available to them.

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Chris Broussard, also of ESPN, has said that the Knicks have reiterated to Melo that they will give him the maximum 5 years, $129 Million should he choose to remain in New York next season. Their meeting with Anthony this afternoon reportedly ended with the team confirming that they would not ask their superstar to take less than the amount initially projected to be available to him.

All teams have been informed not to expect a decision from Carmelo Anthony until after the weekend, giving him time to consider his choices, and listen to any additional offers that may arise.

Of course, there is another free agent out there, who’s movements will likely impact Melo’s decision greatly, and the rest of the league for years to come.

The story continues.



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Is Phil Jackson on The Comeback Trail?

Widely regarded as the greatest coach in NBA history, with 11 titles to his name with MJ’s Bulls in the 90’s and Kobe’s Lakers in the 00’s, Phil Jackson’s NBA status is nothing short of legendary. Throughout his tenure as coach of two of the greatest dynasties in league history, Jackson remained an ever constant subject through both glory and despair, with his teams enjoying shining victories and humiliating defeats. His ever watchful, compassionate presence was to players as a father is to a son. Caring, nurturing and understanding whilst always ensuring lessons were being learned every day. Jackson’s success, as he claims, doesn’t stem simply from talent, but from the ability to connect with the people around him on a level unseen to the outside world. This why his nickname, The Zen Master, is synonymous with who he really is. A believer in accepting and understanding your surrounds, and not just focusing on oneself.

This is Phil’s pursuit of success and happiness, and one he’s been able to pass down to several of the NBA’s greatest ever players throughout the years.

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Phil’s journey since leaving the Lakers in 2011 has been a rocky one. Dealing with his own illness, while being by his fiance Jeanie Buss’ side throughout her dear father, Dr Jerry Buss’ sickness and eventual death, and a potential new contract with the Lakers which for reasons largely unknown fell apart at the last minute. After retiring from NBA coaching, it’s hard to imagine Phil would’ve been subjected to the drama he’s seen since being swept by the eventual Champion Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Playoffs. Yet here he is. Not only a celebrity in his own right, but still a very much sought after asset for every team in the NBA. A part of Phil must relish the spotlight, and one team has created a new opportunity for him to be a part of it. The team with which he began his NBA journey. The New York Knicks.

It has been written to death for a week now, by a thousand NBA writers, that the Knicks have extended a big offer to Phil Jackson which they are hoping will help propel them into the next era of New York basketball, and provide them with a new lease on life. It’s no secret that the biggest market in the NBA has been one of the great disappointments in the league for many years, with millions of fans being let down year after year because of poor decisions and bad financial management. Now more than ever, with a new team across the river in Brooklyn, it is important for the Knicks to start becoming a regular threat in the playoffs. No one is scared of the Knickerbockers, and they haven’t been for a long time. Can Phil Jackson change that fact? It’s a long shot, but one most Knick fans would agree is a chance they are willing to take. With several bad contracts on the books, no draft picks and a disgruntled superstar’s free agency looming, things are looking grim for the immediate future of this franchise.

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

What Jackson will do is encourage stars to sign with the Knicks in the future. It’s a well documented fact that he’s a fan of superstars, as they are him, and as it stands, there is little the Knicks have to garner the attention of players that they want to sign. The Carmelo Anthony factor is a big one for the Knicks, and now that the trade deadline has passed, they are banking on his re-signing come free agency. Should Jackson take the job, it will go a long way in helping ensure his signature stays in Manhattan. Be it the right move or not it is what the Knicks, and their fans, desperately want.

Jackson seemingly is ready to make his move and re-enter the NBA stratosphere. After the failed attempt to get back to coaching during last season’s tumultuous events in Los Angeles, it was expected he would resign to the fact he would never coach in the NBA again, even putting a fork in it himself at one stage. The decision by the Lakers to hire former Suns/Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni angered many involved with the Lakers including fans, players and even a Buss herself. Jeanie has since explained her distaste at her brother Jim’s decision to hire D’Antoni over Phil, but speculation also continues to circle that it was indeed her late father Jerry who decided against re-hiring Jackson. It’s neither here nor there, and the truth will probably never be known. All we do know, is that Phil Jackson was ready to coach the Los Angeles Lakers last season, and was snubbed. One could argue that snub not only upset Phil (he would argue it didn’t), but also motivated him even more.

Since the Knicks first extended an offer, the stories have been running rampant about whether Phil will indeed accept the job, or fall by the wayside once again. It has been said that Jackson wants full control of basketball decisions. It’s also been written that he wants to coach too. All this along with a huge asking price. Speculation of course, but similar terms were said to be in play during negotiations with the Lakers a little over a year ago. Whatever the price, you can be sure the Knicks would be happy to entertain him until he gives them an answer. Would Phil be successful in a front office role? It’s hard to say, but he was influential in the hiring of the now fired Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks last off season, after he extended his hand to the Pistons in the decision making process. Hardly a lynchpin by which to judge his future successes or failures, but an interesting point nonetheless.

Image Courtesy of FoxSports.com

Image Courtesy of FoxSports.com

Phil’s interest in the NBA since retiring is indicative of his everlasting love of the game, and an example of how hard it can be to let go. Wise move or not, Phil Jackson wants back in the NBA, and the Knicks are providing him with that opportunity. Whether he takes it or not, is a whole other story. Can his attitude towards basketball and life in general be an asset to the struggling Knicks, or will it make no difference at all? These questions are worth pondering, and you can be sure Jackson will be doing just that, but the simple fact he is even considering it tells us all we need to know. The Zen Master is ready to make his return. Which team is lucky enough to accommodate it, remains to be seen.

As mentioned earlier, Phil Jackson’s view on life and all it holds is incredibly important to him, and in turn the decision making process. You can be sure that his eventual reconciliation will not only revolve around himself, but also his family, his friends, the players he’ll work with, colleagues and probably even the weather. Being in touch with who he is, and surrounding himself with who and what he needs to be successful is probably the most difficult aspect of any choice he eventually makes.

We’ll keep you updated with any developments.



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Keeping A Close Eye On You!

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While the title of this feature may sound a little creepy, stick with me, this isn’t me declaring my stalker habits. Far from it.

With the new season just around the corner, I get to thinking about the players that I would be keen to follow and watch closely. Obviously most fans will be eager to see if LeBron can win his 3rd ring, or Durant can bring his Thunder back into genuinely challenging for the Championship again. My players to watch list looks a little different from the norm. I’m keen to see players who sit underneath that ‘Superstar’ banner, the players who to some fans may even think aren’t that great at all. Personally I like to see progression in players who obviously work hard at their game. Now, enough of the rambling let’s get to it…

Jeremy Lin – Houston Rockets

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NBA Nation’s Season Previews: Part 2

CHICAGO BULLS:

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The huge story for the Bulls is, of course, the return of their super star guard Derrick Rose after more than a year and a half out of the game following his crippling knee injury during the 2011/12 playoffs. The big questions about Rose’s ability to return at full strength and be the competitive force we all know and love remain the talk of the town, and any Bulls fan will tell you they are as anxious as ever about the return than ever before. After so long out of the game, it’s no secret it will take time for Rose to settle back into his role as the leader of the team, and help them win the games they need to in order to remain a threat to Miami come the business end of the season. Their success this year will depend on it, and if he can’t guide them back to the top of east, the Bulls and their fans will see season 2013/14 as a bitter disappointment. But the Bulls are far from irrelevant, with a lineup that remains competitive enough to warrant being in the conversation when discussing the upper tier in the Eastern conference when playing well. Their tall front court of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng is one of the more defensively tough lineups in the NBA and should continue to plague team’s who depend on high scoring players to win games. The second string should also provide some valuable minutes off the bench with the likes of Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich, as well as new recruit Mike Dunleavy and Jimmy Butler who are all capable of playing their roles well on a team desperate for some talented depth. Overall, the Bulls should enjoy a more consistent season after having dropped the dead weight and simplifying their lineup.

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Video: Nets @ Bulls 3OT Thriller

Chicago took a 3-1 lead over Brooklyn earlier today after battling it out in a 3OT classic.

Final Chicago 142 Brooklyn 134

Sit back and enjoy the highlights below.



VIDEO: Derrick Rose dunking – how long before his return?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7J5KrdAwukc&feature=youtu.be

Derrick Rose warming up by throwing down a dunk before tonights Bulls @ Thunder game. How long before we see him back ?



NBA unveils Christmas Day Uniforms.

Basketball for all this Christmas

The NBA today unveiled the uniforms teams will be wearing on Christmas Day this year.

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Dirk cant figure out who it is ? Can you ?

Most surprising start to the new NBA season…

Most surprising start to the new NBA season… 

Two weeks into the new season an we have already seen some teams struggle while other teams are relishing a new start. We had a quick look over each teams record and present you with 5 teams that have surprised us so far…

Dirk cant figure out who it is ? Can you ?

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