By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
Back in June, just before the draft, scouts were singing the praises of international entrants into the 2003 NBA Draft.
With apologies to The Guess Who, scouts were singing a different tune when it came to American rookies-to-be.
American rookies/stay away from me-he
And a lot of us bought into the hype. These soon-to-be-rookies were turning in workouts that left scouts searching for new superlatives. Is No. 2 high enough for this guy? Super youth from Russia (7-5 and growing!) would change the way the game would be played. Passing would be crisper, shooting would be better, the water would be cleaner and the air would be fresher in the 2003-04 season thanks to these rookies.
But as Chuck D (don't worry, one of these days I'll get to a song from the 21st Century) said: Don't believe the hype.
The rookies worth paying attention to were right under our noses. Home grown. Skilled. Exciting and vigorous. And people are finally paying attention.
(Last night on SportsCenter, the ESPN tease drooled about how LeBron and 'Melo didn't play against each other on Sunday and that was good, because ESPN could show two different highlights packages instead of one.)
But others such as Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, T.J. Ford and Kirk Hinrich were cited as good players, but they probably wouldn't make an impact any time soon. Such was the woe of red, white and blue hoops.
Again, we were wrong. Before hurting his wrist, the Heat's Wade was on a tear.
The Bulls' Hinrich has worked his way into the starting lineup and has averaged an astonishing 39.5 minutes per game in the last eight games. Bosh has become so necessary to the Raptors' fortunes, Vince Carter answers questions about Bosh's abilities with a "Didn't-you-see-that-for-yourself?" type of response. And Ford is earning raves for leading the Bucks to a .500 record through Monday.
People are even noticing Philadelphia's Kyle Korver. "You mean Ashton Kutcher?" Paul Pierce brilliantly said in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Still, this is not to say that these home-grown talents won't stumble or that an international player won't break out in the second half. After all, everyone dreams of playing in the NBA. Realizing them is another story.
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
Thank god for Isiah Thomas.
If it weren't for him, New York writers (and many beat writers across the country), would have only two tri-state subjects about which they could write: How poorly the Knicks have performed and why the Nets' Byron Scott, despite winning two consecutive Eastern Conference titles, must continually fight for his job.
But then, out of nowhere (another reason for the media folderol: we didn't see this one coming), Thomas plopped into our laps last Monday.
(And Click and Roll would have written about the Garden shakeup last Monday, but once it's been sent out to the printer's …)
Anyway, lots of trees have been sacrificed in regards to Thomas' hiring, his philosophy, his intentions and even his job performance so far. So, without further ado, I'll let you sort through it all.
Boston Globe: Thomas needs to be a wizard in New York
Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Big job ahead for Thomas
The Oregonian: Thomas says firing gives him insight
Newark Star-Ledger: Patience isn't one of Thomas' virtues
New York Times: Thomas sees signs Knicks don't need an overhaul
Florida Today: Knicks' Thomas confident in new role
Orlando Sentinel: Thomas already has the Knicks improved
New York Daily News: Thomas starts in on Happy Knicks Year
One man even goes so far as to say we must show Isiah Thomas more love (and no, it's not Peter Vecsey).
However you wish to slice it, there's plenty of it to go around.
Along with Top Ten lists, the random thoughts column and the column calling for the head coach to hit the bricks, 'tis the season sportswriters (because we're all simple creatures of habit) trot out the old faithful holiday/New Year's resolutions column.
We start the soon-to-be-New-Year in San Antonio.
Best resolution: "Wish for a star-spangled season for Portland coach Maurice Cheeks."
Awww! That's sweet. Then we move west, where the L.A. columnists weigh in with their resolutions. First, the Los Angeles Daily News.
Best resolution: "Tracy McGrady: A playoff berth."
Don't look now (OK, you can look), but the Magic are only 6½ games out of the East's final playoff spot.
Then, the Los Angeles Times.
Funniest resolution: "Elton Brand: Next time they tell me I'm a free agent, I'm going to ask, "Is that restricted or unrestricted?"
Meanwhile, Brand contemplates what could have been in Clippers-land.
Joe Smith. Remember him?
-- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
One man's opinion on what's the what in the NBA through the first third of the season.
Let's see. On top of the millions they make per year, per diem is just another perk.
Lefties. Those freaks.
Finally, I "played" against Latrell Sprewell in high school. (He played for Milwaukee Washington, I played for Milwaukee Riverside. He left the game with five minutes to play with Washington up 30. As the last guy off the bench, I entered the game two minutes later.)
I must admit something. He's never had a bad word to say about me.