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Monday, Dec. 9


M E D I A W A T C H
For those who think hoops is a religion, let Moses take you to the Promised Land.
(Scott Cunningham, NBAE/Getty Images)

TAKE IT TO THE (MAGAZINE) RACK
How do we love thee (game of basketball)? Let us count the ways.

Better yet, let Steve Rushin do it.

Rushin, a senior writer with Sports Illustrated, pens the Air and Space column at the front of the magazine. In the most recent issue, the one with the faces of the NFL on the cover, Rushin reveals the heart behind the game of hoops.

From the smell of new shoes, to donning a freshly cut net after a title, to following Moses to the promised land, Rushin gives non-believers a reason to reconsider their athletic atheism while he moves the faithful to say "Hallelujah!"

Which, in my Moebius strip of a mind, brings me to this, our question of the week: What is the the thing you love most about basketball? Let NBA.com's Click and Roll know what you think and we'll print the best responses.

Speaking of loving the game, the folks at SLAM magazine have a new issue out. Kobe's on the cover sporting a black Lakers jersey with the old-school script Los Angeles on the front. Kobe talks about how he's perceived not by the media, but by the fans.

Also, love of the game must be in the air. Read Kenny Smith's piece about "Love & Basketball." Unlike Rushin, Smith likes his kicks broken in.


BETTER LAKE THAN NEVER

If you missed the Lakers' comeback against the Mavs on Friday, we have a question for you: Where were you? (L.A. Daily News)

In case you hadn't heard, the Lakers were down by as many as 30 points in the third quarter before they outscored Dallas 44-15 in the fourth quarter to storm back and stun the Mavs, 105-103. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

And if you did miss it, for shame. But like the old-school NBA when guys went to the line with three chances to make two free throws (three to make two), we'll give you that extra chance to check out video of the Lakers' amazing rally to beat the Mavs with "The Run," part of NBA Inside Ticket.

And from all indications people in L.A. think the Lakers are back. (Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, the Mavs started to heal the following night with a win over the Warriors. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Still, the Lakers have a long way to go before ascending to the top of the Pacific Division, let alone the NBA as the Kings keep winning. Despite enduring more injuries than a whole ultimate fighting tournament, the Kings continue to roll, thanks to contributions from guys like Jim Jackson.

Jackson was released by the Heat this off season, as youth won out in South Florida. Boy, the Kings are sure glad to have him around. (Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel)

And finally, let's stay out West for one last item. Being phlegmatic in nature, I'm not one to leap out of my chair when I see something exciting on television. But what I saw on Saturday night out of Seattle made me rise up!

Goodness, did you see Desmond Mason's two-handed reverse against the Heat? You should. I actually shouted "Oh my God!" when I saw the highlight.

In case you missed it (Holiday shopping this weekend, maybe?), here it is: 56k | 300k

Co-workers' and NBA players reactions were similar when we posed the question "Did you see Desmond's dunk?"

Co-worker No. 1: "Oh!" "YEAH!"

Co-worker No. 2: "Oh! That's incredible."

The Suns' Casey Jacobsen, who was visiting NBA Entertainment studios in Secaucus, N.J. on Monday, was also duly impressed: "That could be the dunk of the year so far."

It's tough to argue with him.

ON THE DEBATE RAGES

Apparently, people can't get enough of debating about who is the best player in the NBA: Kobe or McGrady (The Big Sleep).

They're debating it in the Pacific Northwest. (The Oregonian)

They're debating the topic on national websites. (ESPN.com)

No need to debate. Click and Roll users decided already.

MORE FUN STUFF

Apparently, the hoops is a religion theme this week is getting a workout. Here, the Nets' Richard Jefferson is a disciple. (NY Daily News)

So, that's where shootaround developed. We've been wondering. (ESPN.com)

And, this is how most teams spend their time leading up to the start of the game. (ESPN.com)

Rick Telander, author of one of the best basketball books ever, "Heaven is a Playground," notes that he has found hell. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Speaking of which, Bulls coach Bill Cartwright thinks some of the players are too young. (Chicago Tribune)

The rehabbing Antonio McDyess is on a strict Rice diet. Not rice, as in the grain, but Rice as in Jerry. (N.Y. Post)

Hey, Charlotte's going to get an expansion team and some high draft picks. One of these days, Click and Roll will ask you what the nickname should be for the new team. (Charlotte Observer)

In addition to the name the Charlotte team column, we're going to need to do a NBA players we love column. Here's one of the players you should get to know better: Philly's Eric Snow. (Courier Post Online)

Through Monday, Dec. 2, the Hornets are a perfect 11-0 at home. What's their secret? Could it the city itself is a sixth man? (N.Y. Daily News)

The Knicks will raise Patrick Ewing's No. 33 to the rafters of the Garden in February. (NY Daily News)

Funny we mention that. You know, says one columnist, the Knicks haven't been quite right since Ewing left town. (Newsday)

COUNTDOWN TO 70:

Bibby
Oh, man the Kings are hot, winners of seven in a row and their quest to reach 70 wins is still alive. As of Monday Dec. 9, the Kings have 5-game lead in the Pacific.

Win No. 18: 104-80 over Spurs
Wins needed to reach goal: 52
Games remaining: 59
Bibby's line: On injured list

YOU LIKE MIKE

Apparently, we still like Mike. A lot.

Mail arrived by the e-bushel, a huge majority for allowing Michael Jordan to play for as long as he wants, wherever he wants and whenever he wants.

But first, there was some reaction to Jordan's announcing his retirement by the press. First, one writer wondered where everyone else was on the issue. (CNNSI.com)

Others are asking you to see him while you still can. (Orlando Sentinel)

Jason, Brunswick, Me.
Michael Jordan redefined the shooting guard's role in the league and showed us that an explosive swingman could dominate the game. Sportswriters and critics want to badmouth him while he's on his way out. Even Reggie Miller gave him the eye in Indiana. Just don't forget who carried the league for a decade and a half. Don't forget why NBA beat writers are necessary and NBA players are multi-millionaires. Don't forget whose play made the NBA bigger than any other sport and carried the product overseas. Don't forget all that Air Jordan has done for the game.

NBA ENTERTAINMENT LEAGUE
Bill Bellamy, who lives life in Fox's Fastlane, takes a deep breath at the free throw line in the NBA Entertainment League.
(NBAE Photos)

ENTERTAINMENT LEAGUE
San Francisco Giant Kenny Lofton came to cheer on fellow Arizona Wildcat hoops alum Harvey Mason (now a top music producer) and his Suns, including teammates Bill Bellamy ("Fastlane"), Simon Rex, Drew Lachey (98 Degrees), Donald Faison ("Scrubs"), and Jamie Kennedy (Jamie Kennedy Experiment).

Derek, Mankato, Minn.
In response to your postings of the results of "Who is the best player in the NBA?" I really wish I would have seen this question posted in time to give my input. The results blew me away. Yes T-Mac is having a hell of a year. J. Kidd is the best point guard of his time. But putting Michael Jordan above KG is disgusting. MJ was indeed the best ball player of all time. Was. KG is averaging 5 points per game more, 4 times as many boards, double the assists, and 3 times as many blocks. KG puts up the numbers any and every night, and in my view is the best player. I wish people would get of the Nostalgia Train and accept that MJ is washed up, and give the kid his props for making the Wolves what they are.

Elyons, Stockbridge, Ga.
Play as long as you like Mike, don't worry about the media or any of that negative talk, it's your life and you only go around once. Just enjoy yourself in basketball. I am soon to be 52 years old and I still love the game, workout every Wednesday and have basketball trophies. Go for it Mike

Jason from Palatine, Ill.
All great things must come to an end, but legends are forever and that's what Michael Jordan is, a legend. You don't throw legends away or push them out of the door. Look at Jerry Rice, he was pushed out of the door in San Francisco for Terrell Owens. There are only a few MJ's and Jerry Rice's in our lifetimes, we should always honor them while they are here, for the memories of their legendary performances that they have shared with us.

Andy from Toronto
Michael Jordan, even the name screams superstar. Last year as I watched from the upper deck at The MCI Center while Jordan poured in 51 points in a performance that matched some of the best in his career. I felt blessed that I had seen the ultimate basketball player of all time. It was the first time I got to watch him live and it is everything about him that makes him great. It is the way he finds space on the floor without the ball, it's the confident swagger and it's even the way he stands when talking to Doug Collins during a time out. You can tell that when he is out there he is going to try his hardest to win every game. I think this is something that is lacking in some of the young stars today. I know many people say that he's old and he's had it. The fact still remains that on any one night if he is feeling it, he can still score 50. There aren't too many players that you can say that about in their 20s in the NBA today.

In short Jordan's the MAN.

DOUBLE DRIBBLE
"Just don't forget who carried the league for a decade and a half."
-- Jason of Brunswick, Maine on Michael Jordan's retirement
Roy of Cincinnati
I feel that Jordan is just maintaining his agreement to play two years in Washington. I saw him play the day after Thanksgiving in Indy for the first time and the aura was still there, but he didn't give me that feeling. What I saw was not what I expected. I have to be honest, for a fan that grew up watching MJ, I felt kind of cheated after that game. I bragged about having the tickets to see him play, but that was hardly the case after seeing him play. What started out as THE GAME turned out to be just another game. Despite everything he is and will always be the greatest and maybe starting him is the best way to honor the man on his third and final exit.

Mike from Kensington, Md.
MJ should retire, and focus on what he can do for basketball off the court, where I believe he can give a better contribution. He cannot physically last an entire season playing a lot of minutes and his competitive nature does not allow him to play with reduced minutes. Furthering this, he may be hindering Doug Collins' coaching by still indirectly being his boss. This influence on Coach Collins together with his competitive drive might be yielding bad decisions when games go down to the wire.

Kat from New York
It's time for Michael to call it a day. As a Chicago native, I wanted to remember the Michael in Game 6 against Utah in '98. That was the way to go. He has nothing else to prove. It's painful seeing him in another uniform with a mediocre team. More painful are the flashes of mediocrity from him. Michael, let it go. Move on.

C of Simsbury, Ct.
This is a sad day for me. For as long as Michael has played I have watched EVERY televised game. I have never had the privilege of seeing him play in person and would love that opportunity. I am a happily married lady of 13 years who simply just loves to watch Michael play. He will be greatly missed by me and I am sure the rest of the sports world.

Daniel, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Michael Jordan, the one man in the world I would like to see playing basketball before I die. I'm not sick or anything, but I will make it my New Year's resolution, to save some money and make the trip from Honduras, Central America to the U.S.A. next year to see him live in what would be my first assistance to an NBA game (before "His Airness" says his last goodbye to this game he greatly helped define). He always gives in the court the very best he has to offer, inspiring many of us to get into the game, and for that, and so much more, I thank M.J., who is and will always be the epitome of basketball.

Ryan of Ellwood, Ill.
Unfortunately, at only fifteen years old, I was too young at the time to watch Michael play in his early days. But ever since the very first Bulls game I watched I have been an avid Jordan fan. The first time Michael retired I was heartbroken. But he came back better than ever and succeeded in winning three more championships, proving his relentless will to win. When Michael announced his second retirement I kept faith that he would return due to his evident 99.9 percent chance that he wouldn't return, leaving that slim tenth of a percent that his glorious career was not over. As happy as I was for him to return to the game it hurt to see him in a color other than Chicago red, white, or black and I had worries he would not be able to live up to his image because of his growing age. However I believed in him and he proved everyone wrong, scoring even more 40-plus games and adding a few more buzzer shots to his long list of heroic game winners. But as the year rolled on it hurt to see him struggling and hobbling in pain and was a shock to see Michael Jordan fail to make it to even the first round of the playoffs. To me his choice to continue to play this season is a mistake. Although I still follow his every game and leave my walls covered with his valuable memorabilia, it's painful to see a man with such ability and greatness repeatedly score under ten points in a game. It is smart of Michael to now recognize that his body can no longer keep up with his athletic ability and competitive drive and that it is his time to close the book on his flawless career and step aside, still known as the greatest player to ever play the game.

Rob Peterson, NBA.com