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Finals Cooking – @jLmcKern

Boof is here with another cracking write up! Fresh off the back of our joint venture with the Hoops Podcast, the boys will be contributing articles for the site as well so keep an eye out for more great content

NBA teams are like recipes from a cookbook, the good ones are simple and subtle yet have plenty of flavor whereas the bad ones can be confusing and taste like something that expired weeks earlier.

We are down to the point in the season were the remaining teams need every little piece of the recipe to come together and perfect that ideal meal.

In the Western Conference right now it looks like a complete mismatch, it’s a cook off going on between Heston Blumenthal and a burger flipper at your local McDonalds.

The Spurs have long been the Masterchefs of perfecting a rotation and having all of the key ingredients play their part without overpowering the entirety of the meal.

This showcase has somehow, beyond the realms of possibility, gone to another level this postseason. At times you feel sorry for the team on the other side of the court but as a fan you are left sitting in your chair watching on with your jaw to the floor.

Yes the Thunder have been weakened by injuries, losing Ibaka is like making a shepherds pie without the base. They have lost their foundation and without it they have simply fallen apart and look like a complete mess.

Now they face their biggest challenge yet, yes bigger than the NBA Finals from two years ago, they find themselves in a 0-2 hole and have the advantage of being at home, they will not won’t to disappoint their home audience.

In order to showcase their abilities and get this meal back on course to being a winner, they need the rest of their ingredients to evolve into pieces they are not used to being. The big men have to stand up and take the burden on and prove that they are not simple burger flippers but master class workers.

In the Eastern Conference you find a complete different story, it’s a battle of two 3 Michelin Star teams. Something that even right before the Playoffs began seemed like mission impossible as the big teams were all falling into the post season.

As we prepare ourselves for an epic game three battle, we dissect the two courses we have already devoured and dined on. The beauty of having such a spotlight on these games is that when somebody isn’t delivering as they normally would you can notice the ripple effect on the rest of the team.

Picture one of your favorite meals and the herbs and spices that may go into it, now remove one of them and the difference is monumental.

Both the Pacers and the Heat are missing ingredients from the first two games and whichever team can find the salt shaker or locate a different herb from their cupboard to replace the original will go a major way in deciding who wins the battle.

In Game 1 the Heat severely missed one of their key ingredients in Chris Bosh, the big man went an awful 4-12 from the field and a shattering 0-5 from deep. He ended the game with a +/- of -16 and the Heat showed that without his input and impact they are not what we expect. Let’s not get carried away, his second game wasn’t a thing of beauty but he showed a lot more effort and ended with a (-4) however the Heat won.

Game 2 for the Pacers wasn’t a complete disaster however there is evidence that the kitchen wasn’t far away from burning down. Paul George was the only starter who had major struggles from the starting group but the root of the problems lay beyond the main foundations, the bench was a complete shambles.

They (Mahinmi, Watson, Scola & Butler) combined for a total of 9 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist.

Most chefs will tell you that the best pieces of any meal consist of the hidden parts that nobody gives attention to; in basketball this is your bench. The players who hardly ever garner attention but make as much of an impact as the key players, if the Pacers bench can’t contribute to the recipe the Pacers team along with the fans will be left with a sour taste as they rue yet another lost season.

Which team will work their magic with the cookbook they possess and produce the better tasting dish?

James McKern



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Kevin Durant Named 2013/14 NBA MVP

The NBA’s worst kept secret is out! Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant has officially been named the league’s Most Valuable Player for the first time in his 7-year career.

Second in 2013 and 2013, KD finally won the majority claiming 119 first place votes, a long shot from 2nd placed LeBron James who finished with 6. You can see the full breakdown of the votes HERE. Durant’s season has been impeccable, averaging 32 points, 7.4 rebounds 5.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting over 50.3% from the field and 39% from downtown. He led the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating, win Shares, minutes played, points, field goals, field goal attempts, free throws, free throw attempts and usage rate.

Durant’s acceptance speech was filled with emotion, thanking his teammates individually, ending with Russell Westbrook stating “People think you’re just this emotional player but you’re so much more. You’d run through walls for me, and I love you, man”. He also thanked his ever-supportive mother claiming her to be “the real MVP”. When all was said and done, there were very few dry eyes left in the house as KD was presented as the MVP.

The job however, is far from done with the Thunder falling to the Clippers at home in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi finals yesterday. They’ll face off again tomorrow and attempt to recapture everything that makes the Thunder so watchable, with the MVP leading the charge.



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Coach-of-the-year award wide, wide open

When it comes to voting for the 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year, I wish those ‘fortunate’ enough to be asked to fill out a ballot all the very best of luck.

Always a hotly contested award, this season has an even deeper field of worthy recipients, for which I personally struggle to nominate the one eventual winner.

Though there remain roughly 20 games left to play for each team in the regular season, it’s already evident that a number of coaches will be deserving of the accolade.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich has done a remarkable job of managing his roster through injures and advanced age, and once again has the Spurs positioned as one of the best teams in the West.

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Pop’s use of his bench has once again been brilliant, and the Spurs propensity to move and share the ball is a credit to their coach. They’ll once again make the playoffs, and it would be a brave man that writes off their chances of making the Finals for the second year in a row.

At the beginning of the season, I struggled to see how the Phoenix Suns would win double figure games. They promptly achieved that feat in the opening month of the season. Egg meet face.

Ex-Suns guard Jeff Hornacek has done a wonderful job with the team, who compete every night, and despite lacking the elite-level talent of other teams, play with energy and hustle.

Though any young team should play with enthusiasm, the most surprising aspect of the Suns’ season is their intelligence. The team plays smart basketball, and full praise for that must go to their coach.

Chicago Bulls Tom Thibodeau has become a victim of his own success. It’s now simply a given that his teams will be outstanding defensively, hustle their butts off, and do their best of overcome their offensive limitations via solid teamwork. And do so in every single game.

Never mind the fact the Bulls are once again without their most talented player and only true creator, Derrick Rose. Never mind the fact that Chicago are currently third in the Eastern Conference. Never mind the fact that they are still beating the league’s best teams despite all evidence suggesting they shouldn’t be.

Image Courtesy of NBA.com

Image Courtesy of NBA.com

‘Thibs’ deserves way more recognition than he gets. The Bulls aren’t just staying afloat and competitive; they actually remain an upper echelon team. It’s an amazing achievement, which could see Thibs take home his second Coach of the Year award.

Not much was expected of the Dallas Mavericks at the start of the year, but via a resurgent Dirk Nowitzki, the surprisingly steady play of Monta Ellis, and the tactical brilliance of Rick Carlisle, the Mavs are right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

The Mavs execute extremely well, and though the players receive the ultimate kudos, Carlisle is the mastermind behind it all.

Erik Spoelstra is criminally underrated as a coach. I can only assume he doesn’t receive the respect he deserves because people believe that any coach should have success with the stars on Miami’s roster. While there is unquestionably some truth to that sentiment, ‘success’ is subjective until you actually win the title, something Spoelstra has now done twice.

It also shouldn’t be forgotten that handling egos is a difficult but vital aspect of NBA coaching, for talent alone doesn’t guarantee championships.

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Yet even beyond the excellent man-management skills, Spoelstra has shown himself to be a great tactician. It was Spoelstra who implemented the offence which capitilises on LeBron James’ unique skill set. It was ‘Spo’ who refuses to give players traditional positions, but rather relies on a system that has constant movement and flexibility.

Miami’s smothering defense – particularly their half court press – is further proof that the Heat are a well coached side, of which Spolestra is the chief architect.

Scotty Brooks deserves credit for keeping the Oklahoma City Thunder at the top of the Western Conference standings, despite the fact he has been without the services of his second best player, Russell Westbrook, for large chunks of the season.

Brooks has made some subtle changes to OKC’s offense, however one feels that Kevin Durant will receive much of the kudos for keeping the Thunder rolling – rather than their coach – with KD’s sublime season probably having the averse effect of robbing Brooks of some votes.

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

That’s six coaches I’ve already named as potential recipients of the Coach of the Year award, yet it is far from an exhaustive list.

I could very easily be talked into Portland’s Terry Stotts, Indiana’s Frank Vogel, Los Angles’ Doc Rivers and Houston’s Kevin McHale being legitimate candidates as well.

Even the Charlotte Bobcats’ Steve Clifford has done a fantastic job reconfiguring the team around the offensive skills of Al Jefferson, and may be lucky enough to have the odd ballot with his name on it, yet I doubt he’ll actually take home the hardware.

Likewise, would anyone be really upset if Dwayne Casey’s effort in Toronto was recognised? The Warriors’ Mark Jackson? The Grizzlies’ David Joerger?

It’s a large field, and to those tasked with naming the NBA Coach of the Year, I don’t envy your job one little bit.



Image courtesy of www.nba.si.com

Allen Iverson – The Highs and Lows

Image courtesy of www.nba.si.com

Image courtesy of http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nba/

“We’re talking about practice. I mean listen, we’re sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, but we’re talking about practice. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last but we’re talking about practice man.”

Even the most casual of NBA fans would be familiar with the quote above. Allen Iverson was a man who created headlines. In his 14 years in the NBA, the diminutive point guard certainly lived large on and off the court. His brash attitude and ‘street look’ were often the focal point of the mainstream media and despite being one of the greatest to ever play the game he suffered from such scrutiny, whether fairly or not.

Whatever off-court issues Iverson had, and he had a few, the way he played the game was mesmerizingly beautiful. As a six foot, 165 pound guard, he was always up against it, every time he stepped foot on the court, but he never backed down and his talent shone through over the years. He was honoured by the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday, with the franchise retiring his jersey to the rafters.

Iverson’s NBA career began back in 1996 when he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the number one pick. He would go on to win Rookie of the Year honours that season whilst putting up 23.5 points, 7.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game but the 76ers finished with an abysmal 22-60 record.

Iverson’s numbers in his rookie season were impressive but the team’s horrible record caused some to blame Iverson for his score first attitude. In John N. Smallwood’s book entitled Allen Iverson: Fear No One Iverson was quick to point out the lack of support from a team of role players with little ability to score.

“You saw the team we had last year, who was going to score? I’d throw a pass; somebody would miss, the next time I’d say I’d rather do it myself. That’s not the right way. You have to go to the guy again. People said I was trying to win Rookie of the Year, but I was trying to win games.”

This kind of criticism was to follow Iverson throughout his whole career. Being a shoot first point guard was a fairly new thing in the late ‘90’s, unlike today, where the league has so many scoring point guards so it was Iverson who really paved the way for guys like Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose but it was also Iverson who would have to take on the critics too.

Iverson would endure a second season with a team that struggled and failed to make the playoffs and the question marks over Iverson’s ability to be a team player and guide his team to the playoffs continued.

Thankfully, the following season, the 76ers reached the post season and whilst the criticism didn’t completely disappear, it wasn’t as loud as it had been previously.

The 76ers would reach the playoffs for the next four seasons, led by the play of Iverson and along the way he would pick up a league MVP in 2001, as well as numerous All NBA first team selections, All Star appearances, including two All Star MVP awards as well as his much vaunted scoring titles.

The 2000-01 season will forever be remembered in NBA folklore as A.I’s year. He was named MVP, putting up 31.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game and took a rag tag bunch of players all the way to the NBA Finals. Iverson exploded for 48 points in the first game of the series, including an amazing crossover, step back jumper over a falling Tyronn Lue, the ensuing images of Iverson stepping over Lue’s fallen body will be forever ingrained in hoops fans minds. The Sixers took the first game of the series against a Laker team stacked with stars that were on a 19 game winning streak and were supposed to just turn up to win the title. Iverson explained via ESPN.com what drove him when interviewed after the historic victory.

“I’m glad nobody bet their life on it because they’d be dead now. Everyone says we can’t do it, and that drives us.”

The game was indicative of what Iverson was all about, an underdog who always came to fight. The fight however was one that was unwinnable. The star studded Lakers, led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant would win the next four games and take out the championship.

Iverson would never again experience finals basketball. He would toil away in Philadelphia with mixed results, a few playoff appearances and a few disappointing seasons before he was traded away to the Denver Nuggets.

He would see his scoring output decline whilst playing for the Nuggets but they were to have some successes, even making the western conference finals in 2009 but once again it was the Lakers who stood in his way.

He would endure a few seasons of trades and clashed with management and coaching staff on both the Nuggets and Memphis teams before finally ending up back where it all began in Philly, but it wasn’t to last long.

The NBA career of Allen Iverson ended in 2010, he was seen as too demanding and troubled for any franchise to risk signing him and he went overseas to continue playing. His marriage fell apart and he’d spent most of his career earnings, he had reported alcohol and gambling problems and it all looked very bleak for the once mighty Iverson.

He has since retired from playing all forms of the game and it was yesterday that his jersey was retired to the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and there was an outpouring of respect and gratitude from many players, coaches and fans for what was an incredible, albeit controversial career.

Allen Iverson did it all his own way and whilst he made many mistakes along the way he will be remembered as one of the greats of the game. Perhaps he summed it up best himself after the ceremony.

“It feels good, but some part of my heart hurts because I know its over.”

His playing days are over, but they will never be forgotten.



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Finally, a legitimate NBA MVP debate – @RyanOak

After a number of seasons of forced and artificial debate over which NBA star is the Most Valuable Player, the 2013/14 season has finally provided us with a race worthy of heated discussion.

In recent times, LeBron James has had a mortgage on the prestigious award. Over the past five seasons, ‘The King’ has taken home the trophy four times, and rightfully so.

During that span, the lone time LeBron didn’t win was in 2010/11, when Derrick Rose was named the league’s best player. Rose had a fine season, yet it’s debatable whether he should have even been the runner-up, let alone the winner.

However, it was a ‘nice’ story to have the classy Rose named MVP, while conversely the same could not be said if LeBron took home the silverware that year.

It was LeBron’s first season in Miami after unceremoniously dumping his previous team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, via the now infamous The Decision television special on ESPN. As such, LeBron was public enemy No.1, and the voting journalists appeared unable – or unwilling – to see past that.

Conspiracy theorists may claim that it was a calculated move by the journalists, as the snubbing of LeBron helped grow the narrative of LeBron’s newfound villainy and the drama surrounding it. Drama which, in turn, sold papers and increased hits on sites.

However, whatever you believe, LeBron simply couldn’t be denied his greatness the two following seasons, with his sublime play resulting in two historically brilliant statistical campaigns, two championships and two MVP trophies.

Though some pundits made a half-hearted case for Kevin Durant in that time, it never carried any serious weight, for LeBron was simply better in every way you could conceivably measure.

This was especially true last year when LeBron was just one vote shy of becoming the first unanimous MVP in history.

Of 121 journalists, 120 placed LeBron number one on their ballot. Somewhat comically, in hindsight, the lone other vote didn’t even go to the eventual runner-up Durant.
Instead, some idiot – Gary Washburn to be precise – voted for Carmelo Anthony. That decision still defies belief, but I digress.

This season is a different story.

Though LeBron has once again been outstanding, he has slipped ever so slightly, while players like Paul George and LaMarcus Aldridge are playing outstanding ball and have their respective teams racking up the wins.

Yet it’s perennial bridesmaid Kevin Durant who has taken his game to another level, and threatens LeBron’s stranglehold on the MVP plaudits.

Missing fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook through injury for the majority of the season, Durant has put his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates on his back and carried them to the second best record in the league.

Durant is leading the league in scoring – nothing new, as he’s already achieved this feat three times in his young career – by a full four points per game over Melo, and is shooting with his usual eye-popping percentages.

He’s also improved his playmaking and defence, while his rebounding has remained extremely impressive for a small forward with a slight frame.

Perhaps most remarkable, Durant leads the league in PER (Player Efficiency Rating), a category that LeBron has finished first in for the past six seasons.

Yet it’s Durant’s leadership and intensity that have really stood out this season.

He’s now willing to get in the face of teammates when required, or talk trash to opponents. Furthermore, he rarely lets the game drift away from him without attempting to ‘take charge’ of the game situation.

Though the improvement has come somewhat through necessity, courtesy of Westbrook’s absence, one cannot deny that it’s definitely helped Durant’s game, and his team.

So much so that should he maintain his play, he very well may steal LeBron’s MVP trophy.

LeBron’s fans will rightly point out that the season is only halfway over. ‘The King’ has plenty of time to defend his throne, and he’s realistically only slightly behind Durant on the imaginary MVP ladder.

The second half of the season may see an intense race to the finish line, and ensure that we have a legitimate MVP debate on our hands.

(This content was originally published on The Roar at www.theroar.com.au)



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‘The Backpack Baller’ – Interview With Brad Graham

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This weekend past, I clicked into my ‘Podcasts’ app on my iPhone to see which of my favourite NBA Podcasts had been updated with new episodes. It was then that I noticed the brilliant CRTSDE podcast had posted a ‘Mini-sode’ which had regular B.G discussing his new project ‘The Backpack Baller’. At first, I thought it may have been a story involving a backpacking traveller trekking the world while taking in as much hoops as possible. How wrong I was!

In fact, B.G (Brad Graham) has put together a book, actually, a much needed book about Superstar Kevin Durant.

I got to throw a few questions Brad’s way about this amazing project, including what areas the book touches on, and what it’s going to take to make it happen.

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Why The NBA Is Now A Small Man’s Game

The NBA is now a small man’s game.

In the 90s, the NBA was known as a big man’s league. With superstars like Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and Alonzo Mourning roaming the paint, the prevailing thought was that if you didn’t have a dominant – or at the very least, a capable – centre on your roster, then you were going to struggle to compete with the league’s elite teams.

Either that, or you needed Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

Not only was there a number of great players at the ‘C’ position, but the second and third tier of centres in that era were also very good players. Rik Smits, Brad Daugherty, Dikembe Mutombo, Vlade Divac, Arvydas Sabonis, etc, were no slouches.

In fact, if any of those players were playing today, they would probably be ranked in the top 2 or 3 centres in the game, rather than being placed much further down the pecking order, like they found themselves in the 90s.

Such a sentiment highlights a not-so-subtle shift in the NBA in recent times. Though there remain a number of very good low post players in the league, the position with the most superstar depth at present is actually point guard.

While in the 90s many believed that you simply couldn’t do without an elite centre, that narrative has now changed to having a high caliber point guard on your roster.

Which suggests that the NBA is now a small man’s game.

Actually, that line – and the heading – is a little misleading. It’s not that the NBA has suddenly shifted to being a league for midgets, but rather that there is a feeling that you need a playmaker to be truly successful in the modern NBA.

In essence, the belief is that you need a point guard if you want to win, because it seems like every NBA team has a good-to-great one calling the shots at present.

Photo Credit: www.kaskus.co.id

Photo Credit: www.kaskus.co.id

At the elite level, there is Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo.

On the second tier, there’s John Wall, Mike Conley, Damian Lillard, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Eric Bledisloe and Ricky Rubio.

Behind those players, there is a solid cast including Jeff Teague, Jose Calderon, Andre Miller, Kemba Walker, Jarrett Jack, Brandon Jennings, Jeremy Lin, Raymond Felton, Steve Blake and Jameer Nelson.

You also have this season’s rookies with amazing potential, Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo.

That’s 27 quality point guards, and I haven’t even considered primary ball-handlers like LeBron James, Andre Iguodala and James Harden, who aren’t listed at ‘PG’, but very much play that role for their teams.

Another player absent from the list is two-time league MVP Steve Nash. Considering how quickly he has succumbed to Father Time, there’s a good reason he has his own paragraph: he still deserves a mention, but he’s no longer anywhere near elite, and there have even been whispers he may retire at any moment due to his injuries.

With so many quality floor generals, NBA General Managers now treat the ‘1’ position the same way they did the centre spot in the 90s. In other words, their thought process is “I gotta get me a point guard!”

The NBA has always been a copycat league. As soon as a team has some success with something slightly different, everyone jumps on the bandwagon.

Such trends have included: getting a center, needing 3 All-Stars, going small, going big, pressing, Twin Towers, building around one high volume scorer, tanking, going ten deep, implementing run & gun offenses, stretch 4s, building through the draft, hiring a college coach, playing zone, corner threes, recruiting international players, rough and physical defense, and the list goes on.

Photo Credit: www.projectspurs.com

Photo Credit: www.projectspurs.com

And so we come to point guards, somewhat the 2013 phenomenon.

Though the desire to have an elite level point guard is born out of the depth at the position at the moment, it’s always made sense to have a good NBA quarterback.

Good point guards handle the ball, display leadership ability, control the flow of the game, get all their teammates involved, play the role of ‘coach on the floor’, initiate the offense, break down the D if the offense falls apart, get easy buckets, push the fast break, and generally run the team.

Without all those qualities, most teams today – and throughout history – would struggle to win basketball games.

Though many will disagree, I personally think the point guard is the most important position in basketball. Of course, I would say that as an ex-point guard myself.

Yet regardless of your own opinions on which position in basketball is the most vital, one cannot deny that it is currently the era of the great point guard in the NBA, and it’s making for some highly enjoyable play.

This content was first published on The Roar at www.theroar.com.au



NBA: Chicago Bulls at Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook’s Army of Detractors

No NBA superstar is more polarizing than Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook. The Thunder point guard is undeniably talented, and unquestionably one of the best players in the NBA. However, that hasn’t stopped him from having what seems like an army of detractors.

Every player in the league has their critics. This is certainly not new news. But Westbrook has a disproportionate number of vocal knockers compared to his contemporaries, and more importantly, to his talent level.

The bottom line is that every player has their weaknesses; no one is perfect. But why does Russell seem to have his weaknesses dissected with such ferocity, and so frequently?

Personally, I believe it’s simply because his weaknesses are so clearly on display, and so easily identified. Other players either hide their weaknesses better, or they simply aren’t as profound as Westbrook’s.

In fact, Westbrook’s biggest strength – apart from his amazing athleticism – is also his biggest weakness: he’s emotional. Plain and simply, Westbrook’s greatest attribute is that he plays the game with intense passion. Yet Westbrook’s biggest concern is that he plays the game with intense passion.

Passion is a wonderful asset for a professional athlete. It means you care, and it drives you to train harder, and to play harder. It ensures that you compete with commitment, and that you give your maximum effort at all times.

These are not bad labels for an elite level basketballer, and when it comes to Westbrook, they’re all apt and accurate. One criticism you could never level against Westbrook is that he’s lazy or doesn’t care. The guy competes in every game. He’s passionate, no question.

But passion is a double-edged sword.

Passion needs to be controlled. It needs to be channeled in the right way. It needs to be harnessed. For if you play on emotion alone, it means you’re not playing with your head. It means you’re not making rational decisions. It means you’re not thinking.

And so we get to the real issue with Westbrook: for stretches of some games, he plays on passion and emotion, rather than on intelligence and using basketball IQ.

Which invariably means he takes ill-advised shots. Or gambles on passing lanes. Or argues with referees instead of getting back on D. Or gets into a verbal altercation with a teammate. Or concentrates on trash-talking instead of calling a play.

Or misses a wide open Kevin Durant in the corner. Or tries to dunk over three defenders. Or calls a time-out when his team doesn’t have one. Or jacks up a three-pointer with 22 seconds on the shot clock. Or sulks on the bench when his coach subs him out. Or reaches for a low percentage steal and instead picks up his fifth foul.

I could keep going, but I think we all get the picture.

The biggest concern about some of the examples I just used is that Westbrook plays point guard. He’s the general. The floor leader. The initiator of the offense. The coach on the floor. Whatever cliché you want to use, the fact is that the point guard is relied upon to lead his team, and it’s a bit of an issue when your leader is a wild and emotional hot head.

Though some of Westbrook’s harshest critics say he’s dumb, that’s not fair or accurate. Westbrook’s mistakes come from not thinking, rather than being dumb; and there’s a subtle but important difference. Someone who is dumb cannot be smart. But someone who doesn’t think, can think.

Westbrook simply needs to get better at controlling his emotions, and using them in a positive way. By doing so, he will cut down on his mental errors, lose the ‘dumb’ tag, and be an even greater asset for his team.

The good news is that we’re not talking about a complete headcase here. Westbrook is no Dennis Rodman or Metta World Peace. During his career, he’s shown improvement each year, and he’s not some nutbag who can’t be controlled.

Most importantly, Westbrook is still just 24 years of age. He’s got plenty of growth and maturity left in him, both on and off the court. Combine that with him getting more experience, and it’s not hyperbole to believe that Westbrook hasn’t even scratched the surface of his emotional potential as an NBA player.

It’s also worth pointing out that for all his weaknesses, he’s still one of the top ten players in the league.

As mentioned, his athleticism is breath taking, and he might be one of the top two or three athletes in the NBA. His pull-up jumpshot – always the sign of a good player – is fantastic. His playmaking has improved each year, as has his outside shot. He can be a lockdown defender at times. And though he’ll never be a classical point guard, he’s been the playmaker in one of the most potent and efficient offenses in the NBA.

He’s a great, great player.

Oh, and he also plays with passion too.

Ryan O’Connell



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NBA Fashion: Part 3 The Fashion Show

Now this is a topic that I could continue to talk about forever but it has to stop somewhere. That somewhere is here and now. This piece on the best and worst of NBA fashion will be everything that hasn’t been discussed so far. Think of it as a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show… without Miranda Kerr or Heidi Klum. Without the bras and underwear. Without any glamour or a catwalk. Straight up, it isn’t like Victoria’s Secret after all but continue reading none the less… (more…)



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Top 10 Players Heading into the ’13-’14 Season

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So I caused a bit of a kerfuffle earlier today when I claimed that Russell Westbrook wasn’t as good as most people make him out to be and as such, I decided I’d give you my top 10 players heading into the 21013-3014 season.

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