DA's Morning Tip
Morning Tip Mailbag: Your questions on super teams, the All-Star Game's impact and more
Garbage in, garbage out. From Ismael Morillo:
With this season starting this week and the terrifying off-season we had … What’s your opinion on regards of Michael Jordan’s statement about “Super Teams” saying that is going to be great for at least two teams out of 28 remaining as “garbage???”
Is MJ being selfish on that? And we know that in Jordan’s era his team was also considered as a “Super Team.”
I think season is going to be amazing for several teams…. Not just for “2.”
I saw that Jordan interview with Cigar Aficionado. Wouldn’t go quite as far as Jordan, as that would mean that some combination of Cleveland, Boston, Houston, Oklahoma City, Toronto, San Antonio and Washington, depending on who you think is ranked third and further down, is garbage. And I don’t believe that. Clearly Golden State and Cleveland are the top two teams, but there are other very good teams that will be in the mix.
Pick and Roll Models. From Zane Aitken:
I was recently listening to the NBA Hang Time Podcast where you discussed, among other things, why younger viewers and athletes seem to look up to Kobe more than LeBron. While I totally agree with your analysis, that Kobe has the tendency to take over games in a sexier fashion than LeBron, with scoring vs passing and defense (although Kobe played pretty good D and LeBron has definitely taken over many games for Cleveland and Miami), I would add that Kobe also has a “cool” factor that LeBron doesn’t.
Discounting the court issues (which popular and NBA culture has decided to do), Kobe has left a larger imprint on society. It’s important to note that LeBron has done more (obviously) than Kobe to stand up for social issues etc, but Kobe is, at least for now, remembered as “cooler” in ways popular culture is more accustomed to. I was wondering if you thought that played any part in why the Kobe lore has remained so strong even when his credentials to be GOAT may not stack up with MJ, LeBron, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Bill Russell.
Because Kobe was an assassin. He was a killer. He was a guy that didn’t just want to beat you; he wanted to embarass you and make you never want to go up against him again. And a lot of young men tend to be drawn to larger-than-life personalities like that: athletes as conquerers, dominators. LeBron has never given off that vibe. He wants to win, sure, but he doesn’t want to humiliate anyone out there. And: LeBron always wanted, and wants, to incorporate his teammates in everything he did/does, on and off the floor. He always — always — wants to pass the ball. Conversely, I think it’s fair to say that while Kobe understood that he needed teammates to win games, he wasn’t exactly excited about the idea. Two very different personalities.
Well, I can’t dismiss this out of hand, anyway. From Ahmed Tahir:
I am from Sudan and I have watched NBA since 2011, but regarding the All-Star Game I’ve watched just one because of the lack of effort.
My solution for this: in The Finals, the team who represents the conference winner of All-Star Game will decide the formation of the series which is now 2-2-1-1-1. The conference-winning team can then decide to switch to a 2-3-2 format, which could work for me if I am the lower seed who doesn’t have the home-court advantage.
This way the All-Star coaches and the players will take the game seriously because likely the same coaches in the All-Star Game will be the same in The Finals. And also most of the players play for playoff teams who will have a shot of reaching The Finals.
It’s not a bad notion, Ahmed. But I don’t know that having that option would necessarily lead to better All-Star play. Baseball tried a version of this by giving home field advantage, regardless of regular season record, to the team whose league won the Midsummer Classic. It just seemed to annoy people, especially when a team won home field advantage in the All-Star Game, but didn’t have as good a record as the other team whose league lost. And I have never been able to figure out if it’s to one’s advantage or not to have three straight home games during the Finals. So few teams were able to win all three under the 2-3-2 format.
BY THE NUMBERS
830 — Games played, all with the Heat, by Miami’s Udonis Haslem, as he begins his 15th season with the franchise. As of Miami’s opener on Wednesday against Orlando, Haslem will tie Dolph Schayes and Hal Greer, both of whom played 15 seasons for the Syracuse/Philadelphia franchise, for ninth place in seasons played with one franchise. He trails Kobe Bryant (20 seasons with the Lakers) and Dirk Nowitzki (starting his 20th with the Mavericks), John Stockton and Tim Duncan (19 seasons each with the Jazz and Spurs), Reggie Miller (18 seasons with the Pacers), Tony Parker (starting his 17th season with the Spurs), John Havlicek (16 seasons with the Celtics) and Manu Ginobili (starting his 16th with San Antonio). Haslem is fourth among active players in seasons played, trailing Nowitzki, Parker and Ginobili.
In terms of games played with one team, Haslem currently trails Stockton (1,504), Nowitzki (1,394 and counting), Duncan (1,392), Miller (1,389), Bryant (1,346), Havlicek (1,270), Parker (1,143 and counting), Greer (1,122), Joe Dumars (1,018 games with the Pistons), Calvin Murphy (1,002 games with the Rockets), Schayes (996), Ginobili (992 and counting), Alvan Adams (988 games with the Suns), David Robinson (987 games with the Spurs), Wes Unseld (984 games with the Bullets), Isiah Thomas (979 games with the Pistons), Kevin McHale (971 games with the Celtics), Bill Russell and Fred Brown (963 games with the Celtics and Sonics, respectively), Jerry West (932 games with the Lakers), James Worthy (926 games with the Lakers), Tom “Satch” Sanders (916 games with the Celtics), Magic Johnson (906 games with the Lakers), Larry Bird (897 games with the Celtics), Nick Collison (895 games with the Thunder and counting), Mark Eaton (875 games with the Jazz), Michael Cooper (873 games with the Lakers), Sam Jones (871 games with the Celtics), Rik Smits (867 games with the Pacers), Elgin Baylor (846 games with the Lakers) and Julius Erving (836 NBA games with the 76ers).
3 — Original WNBA franchises, of eight, that remain in their original cities: the New York Liberty, L.A. Sparks and Phoenix Mercury. The San Antonio Stars, the only other original franchise still in existence, announced last week that they are to be sold and relocated, with multiple reports indicating the new buyer plans to move the team to Las Vegas. The Stars moved to San Antonio from Utah in 2003.
72 — Age of Gary Gregor, the first-ever Draft pick of the Phoenix Suns, who begin their 50th season of play this season. Gregor played one season for the Suns, averaging 11.1 points per game, before being traded to the Hawks in 1969 for power forward Paul Silas. Gregor played four-plus NBA seasons for Phoenix, Atlanta, Portland and Milwaukee before finishing his pro career in the ABA in 1974 with the New York Nets.
I’M FEELIN’ …
1) Opening Week. This is gonna be fun. (And thank you, shortened preseason!)
2) Good on Damian Wilkins, at 37, not having played in the NBA since 2013 with Philly, making the Pacers’ roster this season. Wilkins, the nephew of Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins and the son of longtime NBA guard Gerald Wilkins, played in the G League last season and got a shot at a roster spot in Indy, unfortunately, when Glenn Robinson III suffered a badly sprained ankle during camp. (Was also pulling for 35-year-old Emeka Okafor, who hadn’t played in the NBA since 2014, to make the Sixers’ roster, but he was among the final cuts Saturday; he’s going to play for Philly’s G League team in Delaware in hopes of getting an NBA gig soon.)
3) You deserve it, Grindfather.
— Tony Allen (@aa000G9) October 12, 2017
4) A lot of folks wondered if Patrick Ewing would be up for the modern recruiting game when he took the Georgetown head coaching job earlier this year. He seems to be doing just fine so far, with a couple of very solid prospects.
NOT FEELIN’ …
1) I get that Portland’s C.J. McCollum technically violated the NBA’s rules about bench players staying put during an altercation, lest they take part in escalating the fight. He stepped about eight feet onto the court in the Blazers’ exhibition with Phoenix last week. And for that, the NBA suspended him for the first game of the regular season in which he’s physically able to play — presumably, Portland’s opener Wednesday. But there’s the letter of the law and the spirit of it, and it seems silly to penalize McCollum for an actual game for a technical but hardly dangerous violation that took place in a preseason game.
2) I know next to nothing about soccer, but I know not making the World Cup is a major setback for the U.S. men’s program.
3) It is more than fair to note and criticize the very slow reaction of what is, to also be fair, the very liberal part of Hollywood to the allegations of rape and other sexual assaults by mega-mogul Harvey Weinstein that were first detailed in a New York Times story earlier this month. Assault is assault, whether committed by a potential president of the United States or a generous contributor to the Democratic Party. Condemnation should be swift and unforgiving no matter who the (alleged) perpetrator is or who his friends are.
4) This country is making my right temple throb in frustration. Making people uncomfortable was THE WHOLE POINT OF THE BOOK.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
— Hassan Whiteside (@youngwhiteside) October 14, 2017
— Hassan Whiteside (@youngwhiteside), Friday, 11:15 p.m., throwing vicious shade at Philly’s Joel Embiid after Embiid criticized Whiteside’s play in the Sixers’ last exhibition game Friday against Miami. Whiteside’s bromide led to a series of Embiid responses, which made my heart soar. NBA players who aren’t longtime pals, who haven’t played on each other’s AAU teams since they were 10, who might actually have some enmity toward one another! I love this. I love this more than I love Chilean Sea Bass, and I love Chilean Sea Bass.
THEY SAID IT
“None of it made any sense. It still doesn’t make any sense. I’m still asking, ‘What the hell happened?’ It’s a trade you make in NBA2K. It’s not a trade you make in real life.”
— Isaiah Thomas, in a Sports Illustrated piece by Lee Jenkins, on the deal that sent him from Boston to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving. Thomas said he may “never” speak to Celtics GM Danny Ainge again after the deal.
“It’s exciting to be back on the East Coast. It’s fast-paced. A lot of different cultures, food and people. You get it all, especially in Boston. You would go to Cleveland, and it would be at nighttime, and things would be going on, but you just see a vast difference…Boston, I’m driving in and (thinking), ‘I’m really playing in a real, live sports city?’”
— Kyrie Irving, to reporters in Charlotte before the Celtics’ preseason game there last week, personally detonating the last remaining bridge that connected him to his former work town of Cleveland, Bridge on the River Kwai style.
“I prefer to own 100 percent. If somebody as special as a Beyonce or somebody like that wanted to come in for a tiny percentage because they wanted to be an ambassador for the team because this is their hometown — would I sit down and discuss it with them? Yeah, I would sit down and discuss it with them. It’s a compliment to have somebody like Beyonce to want to be a part of your team.”
— New Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta, on the Bloomberg Business of Sports podcast, on potentially allowing the superstar performer and Houston native to purchase a piece of the team after he bought it from Leslie Alexander for $2.2 billion in September.
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