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Welcome to the NBA Blog Squad, a varied collection of insiders, media members and fans from around the world who will share their thoughts about the NBA, WNBA, and whatever else comes to mind on an ongoing basis in online journals - or "blogs" - right here on NBA.com.

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  • Rafael Alique
    Director, Marca.com
    The director of Spain's largest sports web site, Rafael Alique has covered basketball for the Spanish newspaper Marca for nine years, as well as providing commentary for Radio Marca from basketball events worldwide. In 1997, Alique personally presented Michael Jordan with the Spanish sports award, Marca Leyenda. Alique will file his blogs from Spain with the help of his BA (Blog Assistant), Eduardo Schell.

    Detroit´s coronation
    Team spirit, defense and X and O's ended up beating a team of Hollywood Stars and individual talent.
    · Credit Joe Dumars for building this team. He was a bad Boy and now Kupchacks nightmare.

    · Credit Larry Brown for leading this team to the championship after making everyone think that Detroit didn't have any chance. Yes, LB won the war (and the battle) of the coaches. He simply ripped the triangle ofense and made useless the Zen spirit of Phil Jackson.

    · This team made of..

    1.A journeyman player that ended up being the astonishing MVP of the finals (Chauncey Billups).

    2. A player that wasn't good enough to play with Jordan in Washington and that prooved again that he's a lethal weapon and will play with Team USA in the Olympic Games in Athens (Rip Hamilton ot the Mask of Zorro).

    3. A throw in pick in the Grant Hill-Chucky Atkins deal between Orlando and Detroit on 8/3/00. At the end, Ben Wallace and his afro hair became the Lord of the Rims and outplayed Shaq, the Most Dominat Player in the League.

    4. A player that seems to have found 'his' place after playing in three different teams this same seasson (Rasheed Wallace)... The question now is: is he going to stay or will he move to NY and play for Isiah Thomas, the other Bad Boy, of the NBA offices?

    5. Two veterans like Corliss Wiliamson and Elden Campbell.

    6. A rising youn guy like Mehmet Okur that prooved that he can play and deserves more minutes.

    7. A young Prince that will end up being one of the kings of the NBA without any doubt.

    8. A number two pick in the draft that has just averaged 4.7 minutes in 34 games. The young Darko Milicic has seen that NBA is not a fairy tale (or yes, Mr. David Stern?)... But wait until next year, he'll get more minutes and he'll show his skills


    ... won a team made of:

    1. The Most Dominant Player in the League (Shaq).

    2. The most coveted free agent in this summer (Kobe Bryant).

    3. One of the best PG's in NBA's history (Payton).

    4. A man that showed this season that he can still deliver (K. Malone).

    5. A gifted mind in the bench that won 9 rings (Phil Jackson).

    · Team spirit, defense and X and O's ended up beating a team of Hollywood Stars and individual talent.
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Jun 18 2004 3:23PM

    And the winner is...
    It´s time for Playoffs. These are our 'Regular Season Awards' and Eduardo Schell´s predictions...
    Regular Season Awards:

    MVP: Kevin Garnett. No doubt about it. He deserved it last season and this year he's been red hot. He's no longer a lone wolf, but he's the hungriest of them all. Special mention: 1. Tim Duncan eventhough he missed too many games; 2. Kobe Bryant who made shot after shot and winning shots dispite being hours before in Eagle County with his nightmare-trial.

    Best coach: Jerry Sloan. he deserves all the credit for the Jazz extraordinary season. After loosing the combo Stockton-Malone he nearly classified Utah for the playoffs dispite his personal problems and not counting with Harpring. He gets the best of every player. Special mention: 1. Hubie Brown and his 10 man rotation system that led memphis to his first playoffs and a '50 W' season; 2. Rick Carlisle. With a worst team than the season before (with Isiah Thomas on the bench) he's made Indiana the Eastern Conference champ.

    Best sixth man: Manu Ginobili, a key player in the Spurs roster last season that has been performing greatly after satring in the bench. Special mention: Antwan Jamison. Arrived to Dallas as a starter but has adaptded well to the Mavs system.

    Rookie of the Year: Carmelo Anthony. Has lead Denver to the 'playoffs' and is our winner in the Battle of the Rookies against LeBron James... but tha incident where he refused to play after some critics might cost him the award in favour of The Chosen One. Special mention: Dwane Wade (Miami) a great player who hasn't received enough media attention due to the rivalry 'Melo-James.

    Executive of the Year: Kevin McHale. He's sorrounded Garnett (and Szczerbiack) with hungry wolves like Sam The Man Cassell, Sprewell, Kandi Man. Minnesota has been the best in the wilder West of the recent years. Special Mention: 1. Shaquille O'Neal... uhhh, Mitch Kupchack, for convincing Payton and Karl Malone to sign with L.A.; 2. Jerry West, without a true superstar in the team he's put together a bunch of good players that together play hard and well. The arrival of Posey and Wells has been very important.

    Most improved player: James Posey, he's more than a defense specialist and has finally exploded in Memphis. Special Mention: Michael Redd (Bucks) and Zach Randolph (Blazers)

    Defensive player of the year: Ron Artest. No question about it. New attitude, new player: All Star player. Special Mention: 1. Bruce Bowen (Spurs) and Ben Wallace.

    ______________________________________________________________________

    The Playoff Poll:

    WEST: Minnesota will pass the first round for the first time but will loose against Sacramento, who will beat the Lakers (after defeating ths Spurs) in the West finals.

    EAST: Indiana won´t have many problems to reach the Est finals but will loose aganist Detroit. Indiana will beat Boston and Miami in the conference semifinals. New Jersey will win against NY but won´t be able to defeat Detroit. The Pistons will beat Indiana in the East finals.

    Finals: Sacramento-Detroit. The Sacramento Kings will become the new NBA Kings after dismantling Detroit's D.

    We will see...
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Apr 19 2004 8:50PM

    'Retro Coaches'
    Back to blogging again after very difficult times in Spain...
    Golden State being again The City, the Kings routing back to Kansas City, Atlanta playing in green, the new style Jazz wearing old uniforms (but not Stockton's pants), Clippers, Lakers, Spurs, Pacers... every team honors their past and their history with the so called retro uniforms. The Hardwood Classic Nights are a big hit and fans (with some exceptions) like the idea (we also do)...

    Retro Uniforms are hot... and so are 'Retro Coaches'. Just check the list:, Hubie Brown, 70; Lenny Wilkens, 66; Larry Brown, 63; Don Nelson, 63; Jerry Sloan, 61, and Paul Silas, 60... Is this a sequel of Jurassic Park? GM's seem to prefer the experience of veteran coaches and pray to have signed the next Jack McKeon, who won the World Series with the Florida Marlins at the age of 72...

    Two Retro-Coaches are our favourites to the Coach of the Year award: Hubbie Brown and Jerry Sloan... nothing to do with the fact that spanish Pau Gasol and Raul López play with them. Rick Carlisle also deserves some credit for what he is doing in Indiana after loosing Brad Miller and Ron Mercer last summer. Brown and Sloan have turned around two franchises that weren´t supposed to do what they're doing. Memphis will earn a spot in the playoffs for the first time in its history and Utah after loosing Stockton-Malone, having Harping in the Injured List for most of the season and being the team with the smaller payrroll it's battling for the eight seed in the West. A truly miracle.
    Couldn't finish without mentioning Lawrence Frank. From Assistant Coach to the Guinness Book of World Records.

    And what about an european coach in the NBA? There are lots of european players that rule in the NBA (Stojakovic, Nowitzki, Divac, Kukoc, Parker, Gasol, Kirilenko...) so why not a coach? There are good coaches here that dominate very well defense and ofense that could run with no problem an NBA team. Matter of time, suppose.
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Mar 21 2004 9:48AM

    Spanish King's Cup Quotes
    Eduardo Schell is not an NBA scout (yet). Anyway, he wants to try and he gives some clues on what happend on the court of the most amazing tournament in Europe: the ACB King's Cup.
    The Spanish King's Cup (Seville, 26-29 February) draws lots of interest. It's one of the most thrilling tournaments in Europe and lots of NBA scouts and GMs came to Seville. Here's a list of the players they studied. Some of them will end up in the NBA soon. Take it for granted.


    DKV JOVENTUT (Badalona, Barcelona)

    Rudy Fernández: He's only 18 but he was named MVP even though his team lost the final game against TAU Cerámica. Last year, he was considered a future prospect in Spain but he has evolved so quickly that this season he has become a dominant force for his team. And he's gaining a spot in the Spanish national team for the upcoming Olympic Games in Athens.

    He's very thin (1.95 m) and still has to grow, but without any doubt his future is in the NBA. He handles the ball, has leadership, goes strong for the rebound and the way he shoots is simply incredible. The only doubt we have is how many years will pass until he jumps to the NBA.

    Josep María Guzmán: Young point guard (19 years old) that currently is beginning to play more. He's still raw material and including him in this list is exaggerated today, but scouts surely took note of him.


    TAU CERÁMICA (Vitoria)

    Luis Scola: He's a versatile young power forward (23 years old and 2.06 m) and was selected by the Spurs in the 2002 Draft. They didn't make a mistake with this player from Argentina. He might not be so strong as other NBA power forwards but he's quick, intelligent, has lots of skills and his low post moves are unstoppable.

    Andrés Nocioni: It's a complete mystery why no one chose him in the Draft. He's 24 years old and 2.03. He's very strong, goes very strong to the rebound and can either play inside or outside. He might shoot a little bit slow but he nearly always drains it. He can handle the ball and even though he's smaller than the German wunderkind, Dirk Nowitzki, he's playing style is very similar. He could contribute right now to any NBA franchise.

    Arvydas Macijauskas: He didn't show all his potential at the King's Cup but he's 100 percent an NBA player. He's another draft mystery: 24 years old, 1.93 m, very skilled and talented small forward. He's basically unstoppable and those who saw the European Championship in Sweden last September knows what we are talking about.

    He played last year in a small European team in Lithuania (Lietuvos Rytas) and his baby face can fool you. But every time he shoots the result is the same: basket after basket after basket. He makes 3-pointers easily and penetrates really quick. And from the free throw line he's simply incredible.

    Tiago Splitter: He's very young but skilled (19 years and 2.10 m -- yes, a seven-footer!). Some problems with his Brazilian passport didn't allow him to play in the Spanish League until one month ago. He can evolve into a dominant low post player. He didn't play much in the Cup but he's been playing in the Euroleague quite well. He might declare himself eligible for the draft and he will be a first rounder without doubt.


    ADECCO ESTUDIANTES (Madrid)

    Felipe Reyes: He's 23 years old and 2.03 m. His ability to register double-doubles is unquestioned in the Spanish League (ACB). He's team was beaten in the first round but scouts already know him well. This year he's not playing as well as he can, but he'll make the Spanish squad in Athens. He has to be more aggressive in the low post and can improve his "D" but he can score and rebound easily.


    F.C. BARCELONA

    Juan Carlos Navarro: Drafted by the Washington Wizards as a second rounder in 2002. He's 23 and with Pau Gasol he's the leader of the Spanish national team. He has a peculiar shot named 'bomba' (bomb) when he penetrates the zone. He's tough and very skilled, not afraid to take the last shot. He even scored 27 points in the semifinal round playing with a broken finger in his left hand.

    Dejan Bodiroga: Didn't play well this tournament but he's the best player today in Europe. NBA scouts know him very well as he's been saying, "No," to the NBA for longtime. He has preferred to play in Europe and will end his career here.

    Anderson Varejao: This young Brazilian power forward (2.08 m and 21 years old) will be a first rounder if he decides to enter the Draft. In last years Euroleague final he didn't play much and gave a bad impression to the scouts who thought he was still raw. He's versatile, quick, can score inside and outside and has good footwork.

    Christian Drejer: Just arrived to the team some days ago from the University of Florida. He hasn't played much because he doesn't know his teammates and their tactics, but he proved he can make 3-pointers easily (including two in a row against Real Madrid). He will end up entering the draft.

    Marc Gasol: He's Pau's brother. Very young but he's already 2.12 m at 19 years old. The team is working hard with him and it's his first year with Barcelona after playing in a high school in Memphis.

    Víctor Sada: A young point guard (19 years old and 1.92 m) with great skills. He can handle the ball, he's big and defends well. Quite a prospect for the coming years.


    PAMESA VALENCIA

    Fabricio Oberto. He's 28 and 2.08 m but he could still try in the NBA. Some media in Argentina wrote that the Spurs were interested in him last year. Very intelligent, has a nice medium range shot and can rebound.


    REAL MADRID

    Antonis Fotsis: He's 22 years old and 2.08 m and he makes 3-pointers easily. Played one season with the Grizzlies (2001-02) but came back to Europe. He didn't have many opportunities in Memphis but he is NBA material without doubt. He has to get stronger and play tougher but he's a gifted player.

    Kaspars Kambala: After leaving UNLV, he played two seasons in Turkey. Now he's one of the leaders of the team. He's harder than a rock, goes very hard for the rebound and he's 25 years old. He can play in Europe as a center but not in the NBA (2.06 m). He has a peculiar shot inside and good movements. Quite a versatile player who doesn't get intimidated by any challenge.

    Antonio Bueno: He's 23 years and 2.08. Very large and has a nice shot. Defends well. Young and talented, he'll make again the Spanish team in Athens.

    Eduardo Hernández Sonseca: Out because of an injury. Quite a pity for the scouts but here's a brief look: 2.10 m and 20 years old: a no-brainer for the Draft's first round. Playing for this team is tough, but on another team of the Spanish League he would have more minutes and could make 20 points and 10 rebounds per night. He has to develop more his game and work hard but he's very talented.
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Mar 1 2004 6:08PM

    Isiah's best move: bringing Kareem to NY
    Isiah Thomas has really shacked up the Knicks roster since his arrival to NY: Marbury, Penny, Mohammed, Tim Thomas. Eventhough some 'boos' have been heard in the MSG, fans have reasons to cheer 'now'. The Knicks are surely now a East Title contender... if they could have landed Rasheed or the pair Van Exel-Dampier we really don't know what coul'd have happened... We say 'now' because their future, financially speaking it's not very bright with so many big contracts. But fans don't worry about that. What they look is 'what is our roster now and what can we do'....

    Yes, Isiah has made some nice movements but the one that we like the most is the arrival of Kareem Abdul Jabbar to the organization. He was and will be one of the greatest all around player in the history. It really astonishes me the little love he's received to the moment since he left the NBA. He had a tryout as an assitant with the Clippers and he had then to work hard in the USBL with the Oklahoma Storm.

    There's been a lot of coaches changes since last season: Knicks, Nets, Hawks, Heat, Rockets, Magic, Sixers... and with so many changes no one called to Kareem. It really leaves me wondering why. 'Magic' said during the All Star that NY contacted him before and that if he had said 'YES' he would have brought Kareem. Now Isiah has called him and I'm particularly happy for 'Mr. Sky Hook'.

    What role is he going to play? Well they've said: "Kareem is going to be simply Kareem". What role can he play? He can advice the younger player, monitore the centers, scout, assist the coach and also I. Thomas... Who would be better for the job than Kareem? I can't truly think of another one better than Kareem. I grew up watching him play and when he left the NBA I watched him in the 'Big Screen' (Airplane, Fletch, Forget about Paris BASEketball, Game of Death and many others with Bruce Lee). Must say that I really admired him with his double role of player-actor and after the All Star I wrote an article in Marca.com with the ten highlights of the weekend. Number nine said clearly: The Georgie Award and coaching the Rookies is Okay for Kareem but he deserves two things: an Oscar for his actor career and also a head coach job in the NBA. Good luck, Kareem.
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Feb 22 2004 6:24PM

    About the All Star weekend
    Some quick thoughts about what happened in Los Angeles.
    WEST· Yao played really well. He showed he's going to become a player for the ages. Just a pitty he doesn't get the respect he deserves. He was a starter that only played the initial minutes of the quarter an then was sent to the bench when he was playing extremely well. He deserved more playing time.

    · Shaq. Diesel was great... but to us the las impression is that 'Flip' Saunders paved him the way to the MVP award. The story had a happy ending for the Lakers center after starting from the bench for the second straight year.

    · Why did Ray Allen played so much time? (We know he is a great player but he wasn´t playing really well).

    · And why did Saunders left so much time Peja and Dirk in the bench?

    · Shaq dominated but at the end it was Tim 'iceman' Duncan the one in charge to make the crutial baskets.

    EAST

    · Too many critized the election of Jamaal Magloire. We said in a recent blog that he could be starting center and he showed his skills. He played really well and it didn´t seem that it was his first All Star.

    · Will Jason Kidd accept a role in the next film of Harry Potter? Everyone saw his a magician with the ball.

    · Oops.. He did it again: McGrady threw the ball to the board and performed a thunderous dunk that deserves a copyright.

    DOUBT

    · Hours before the All Star tip off, Isiah Thomas made another trade. There are rumours circulating about Philly and Houston swapping A.I. for Steve 'Franchise'... Imagine a trade like this happens hours before the game starts. With what team shirts should they play? With the new one or the old one? And should they change the All Star Team?

    · THREE POINT CONTEST


    We said our love was with Peja. He deserved to win and join Hodges and Bird in the club. Stojakovic couldn´t make the 'threepeat' but he can become the player to win more contests in NBA history.

    · NBA: Please eliminate the 'three colour' ball and its two point value. All balls should count the same.

    · DUNKING CONTEST

    We didn´t like it too much this year. A change here is necessary... Why only 'rising stars'?

    ROOKIE GAME

    Rookies vs Sophomores seems like a good format. The newcomers against second year players, some of them players that missed the game in their starting year like Murray... but what we saw last saturday was more a circus show than a basketball... We like to see spectacular plays and we understand that the idea is to present in some way new players but some Defense would also be good.

    We just said in the previous blog about the Rookie game that we didn´t knew what to say about Amere Stoudemire. We wrote that he was simply amazing. After what we saw we still don't know what else to say. Man among boys, he's simply Ama(re)zing Stoudemire.

    NBA future is in good hands.

    PAST AND PRESENT

    Betting for the Lakers was a no brainer... We simply love 'Magic'.

    SKILLS

    Some media don´t like this contest but we find it quite interesting and amusing.
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Feb 16 2004 3:36PM

    All Star Weekend predictions
    Eduardo Schell plays hard. These are his bets.
    Couldn't resist to start our All Star predictions without saying that we were very surprised that Kareem Abdul Jabbar wasn't nominated to a
    Gheorghie Awards for his Oscar performance in 'Airplane!'.


    Three Point Shooting Contest. Clearly Peja Stojakovic is our favourite and foremost he deserves to win for the third year in a row and join Larry Bird and Craig Hodges as the only ones to do it. Peja is the King of three's. They say he´s got a strange mechanic, we prefer to say that he shoots like Picasso: rare, unique but excelent. At the end we always hear the same noise: swosh!!... (the ball passing through the net).
    All the love for Peja... We would have liked to see the german Wundekind Dirk Nowitzki shooting deadly three pointers... and also T-Mac.

    Players and Legends (RadioShack Shooting stars): Lakers win by a narrow edge against San Antonio. Why? They pplay at home, they have Derek 'Bulls Eye' Fisher, Lisa Leslie and the majour reason: 'Magic' Johnson. We would also like to send our greetings from Spain to 'Magic' and join him in some way in his tribute. NBA wouldn't have ever been what it is nowadays without him.

    989 Sports Skills Challenge. Tough to decide here.... but we bet for Gary Payton, he's a magician with the ball. He deserved a spot in the West Squad. Message to Earl Boykins: we love your style. You make everything look so easy in Denver....

    Got milk? Rookie Challenge. This one is going to be one for the ages. No doubt about it. Sophomores must beware because the Rookies are much more than the new Dynamic Duo LeBron-Carmelo. We will see them soon with the 'big' ones but also Bosh. Lot of good players there with bright future... perhaps one of the best class in the past years. Follow carefully Josh Howard, an amazing player.
    But the Sophomores look really good. Yao will play twice this weekend,
    Ginobili is a deadly shooter with pure All Star skills, Carlos Boozer
    deserved in our opinion a spot in the East, Tayshaun rocks, Nene Hilario rules and he can evolve into a truly dominant player... and what can we say about 'Amazing' Stoudemire?
    Our bet is with the Sophomores... they have more experience, they know more the game and the Rookies are going to have in themselves their major enemy becasue they are all willing to proof more.

    All Star Game. The West Squad is a no brainer here. The East has power with true scoring machines like Carter, T-Mac or Iverson; they'll have help with Redd, Pierce and Davis; Kidd is one of the best PG's in the game; they have J-O'Neal's power and the deffense of Artest and Wallace... but the West looks better overall.

    Shaq, Miller and Yao can cause lots of trouble under the East's rim; Duncan and Garnett are the two best PF in the NBA, Kobe brings the points and Francis the show. Then we have Stojakovic and Nowitzki, without doubt two of the better players in the NBA that can score at anytime from any place under any situation. Two franchise players as reserves, that says all about the West. Finally, the rejuvenated Sam Cassell and Kirilenko...Simply too much.
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Feb 11 2004 7:15PM

    Ten 'All Star' thoughts
    Some facts about the All Star rosters we would like to share with the Blog Comunity. All of them inspired by Eduardo Schell.
    1. When choosing the five starters what do we have to ponder? How well are they performing in the first half of the season or also their ability and quality to generate spectacular plays?

    · Regarding only their performances, Michael Redd and Ron Artest should have been included in the starting five of the East: Iverson-TMac-Redd-Artest-J'O'Neal (yes we know he wasn´t in the centers list); In the West, Sam Cassell deserved a starting job instead of Steve Francis. In the center spot: Brad Miller, or even Dampier, deserved to start ahead of Yao and Shaq.

    · But regarding their All Star potential and ability to make the public shriver with thunderous dunks, spectacular plays, etc, the East starters are okay. In the West we would prefer to include Brad Miller ahead of Yao... Dampier is playing real good but his grade for ShowBizz isn´t an A.

    2. The Yao Ming controversy. Does he deserve a starting spot in the West? Fans say yes, and not only asian fans. Yes, Shaq is a more powerful and dominant center but the rules are the rules. Yao is a good player with incredible skills and if he continues to work hard he is going to become one of the most dominant players ever.

    3. Here in Spain we love Pau Gasol but we assume his time hasn´t arrived yet. Nowitzki, Stojakovic, Duncan, Garnett and the injured Webber are tough rivals (we don´t forget Elton Brand). But we hope he can evolve into an All Star player... If only he played in the East...

    4. What about Zach Randolph??? He clearly deserved a spot in the West roster ahead of AK-47 Kirilenko. The russian is a very good player but Z-Bo deserved it.

    5. Ray Allen? Not saying that he didnd´t deserved it... We doubted between him and Gary Payton.

    6. Magloire's reward. Incredible player... Happy to see him in the All Star. Starting as a center? Why not.

    7. Will miss Stephon 'ALLSTARbury'... Yes, we know Jason Kidd has to be there and that Baron Davis is playing incredibly well, but Starbury could have been included instead of the Hornets guard... We think he can generate more spectacular and thunderous plays than Baron. Starbury win is by a narrow edge. No wait, the three should have been included.

    8. East fowards... We agree with Kenyon Martin´s addition because his All Star abilities; and also with Paul Pierce's call, but LeBron James (and even Carlos Boozer) deserved a spot here... Lamar Odom? Maybe.

    9. The youngsters must wait. LeBron could have made the East roster, Carmelo had it more complicated.

    10. Watch out the Rookie Game... We would have loved to see Raul López there. Yes, he could have been included with no problem as a PG reserve. Follow him carefully, this guy is astonishing.
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Feb 3 2004 5:49PM

    How the Fantastic Four became the Muddy Lakers
    Shaq phoned Karl Malone last summer and told him: "I need you, you need me. Come to L.A. and we'll rule the world". Diesel's plan to rule the world and the NBA quickly made the rest of the teams shriver. Four future hall of famers in the same team? No one thought it could be possible before, but it came up for real: 'The Fantastic Four'.... even better than the X-Men.

    Media, fans and the rest of the teams had it very clear at the begining of the season: the Lakers looked unstoppable. Four super players with superhero powers... Any solution to stop them?: Van Gundy's Defense... umh, no; Magic tricks? Not Orlando's; Send them hungry Wolve's? Possible...; The Three Kings? It could be... There are more than Three in Sacramento; Recruit some of the best international players (Parker, Ginobili, Turkoglu, Nesterovic, Duncan...) available like the Spurs has done? Maybe...; Dallas and it's Maverick owner? It could work...

    We're coming close to the final solution... Yes, this is the only one who can make the 'Fantastic Four' and their partenairs look like the Muddy Lakers: Kryptonite. It nearly killed Superman so it will surely work: O'Neal (strained calf), Bryant (sprained right shoulder) and Malone (sprained right knee) have left Payton as the Lone Ranger... The only star in Hollywood Boulevar. The rest of the crew is working hard to step up but it isn't working: 9 'L' in a row. Kryptonite does.
    But don't let the rest of the team sing hurray... This is only Regular Season. The real world comes with the playoffs. That's crunch time. And the Superheroes will be ready. Mud will turn to caribbean water and laker's ship will be a cruise ship... Or maybe not.
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Jan 23 2004 4:29PM

    Ten things to do in Denver (to turn around a franchise) before you are dead
    How one of the brightest GM's in the NBA has turned around a franchise to be a contender in the West after being last year the poorest team in the NBA.
    Denver smelled last year; now is red roses fragance in the Rocky Mountains. Nuggets are again a golden mine in the NBA, is it for real or just another X'mas Miracle? Blame Kiki Vandeweghe for the huge success in Colorado. Here is how he did a very good job:

    1. Don't fear trading your go-to guys (Nick Van Exel, Raef LaFrentz, Tariq Abdul-Wahad and Avery Johnson to Dallas in exchange for Juwan Howard, Tim Hardaway, Donnell Harvey and a first round pick in 2002)...

    2. ...Especially if you clear around 100 million dolars in salary cap.

    3. Repeat another blockbuster trade the following season (Antonio McDyess and the rights to Frank Williams (selected with the pick obtained from Dallas) to New York in exchange for Marcus Camby, Mark Jackson and rights to Nene Hilario (the seventh pick in the draft).

    4. Make the team younger. It´s your bet: Nene Hilario, Carmelo Anthony, Tskitishvili , Rodney White...

    5. ...And surround them with veteran players (Jon Barry, Lenard, Andre Miller)... who can explode in your team and weren´t performing at their highest level in their former teams.

    6. A good selection of coaches is always a guarantee (John MacLead, Doug Moe, Clyde Drexler... Jeff Bzdelik, Adrian Dantley)

    7. Good draft picks (Nene Hilario) and more than good draft picks (Carmelo)

    8. Change the logo and the uniform: It's a statement of a new era

    9. After all this, there is still room enough for next summer free agent market. See what you get.

    10. But before, this last one, sit and relax. You've done your job for the moment: the team is really good. Enjoy it.
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Jan 10 2004 10:19AM

    2003: The year of the change
    A fast view over the highlights of the ending year and a quick look on the upcoming future
    Event though I try to admit it, it's time to come back to reality and turn the page: MJ is gone for good. We'll not see him again on court and without doubt 2003 is the year of the change for the NBA. But before The GREATEST ONE said 'that's all folks' but he assured himself he left the game he loved in good hands. There will never be another Michael Jordan but we' can all consider very lucky to have the chance to watch Kobe, T-Mac, A.I. T-D, KG, the reborn Carter, etc... and the imported Stojakovic, Nowitzki, Gasol, Ginobili, Parker and Yao Ming.

    And what about the so-called 'Next Rivalry'? LeBron and Carmelo top a generation of great basketball players who at their young age have to carry over thier shoulders the load of an entire franchise. Its hard to compare them to Larry-Magic or Russell-Chamberlain but we'll see in what it ends... Sure its something very good. But here again we have to underline one of the biggest problems of the NBA nowadays: age limit. LJames and before them KG, Kobe, T-Mac, J-O'Neal -as the most recent examples- jumped directly from HS to the pros and their future is as shinny and brightful as it could be, but what about the others? The ones that jumped without net on the floor and have crushed? Age limit is risky business but its necessary to put one. It will be good for the players as they'll play mor mature and it will be good for the game as players would arrive more developed.
    Posted by Rafael Alique - Dec 30 2003 12:20PM

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