Everything We Could Have Asked For

This Western Conference Finals has given us drama, great soundbites, and (what do you know?) great action on the basketball court. This series has been the saving grace for this year’s playoffs. The Spurs-Thunder and Blazers-Warriors rounds had their moments, but this year’s Western Conference Finals has lived up to the hype that was percolating even as far back as last year (before Kevin Durant hurt his foot up in Oakland on the last possession in the first half of a regular season matchup).

I’ve spent most of the season bashing the Thunder for their histrionics, style of play, and lack of depth (for good reason), but they have been nothing short of impressive this postseason.

To many Thunder fans, the team fell into what felt like a mid-season swoon. This organization  faced some real life adversity;with deaths close to team members, front office heads and assistant coaches. Billy Donovan lost his best bench coach, Mo Cheeks (the Russ whisperer) to a hip surgery, during this difficult period (a lot of people are quick to praise Billy Donovan for making all the right moves. I agree that he has gotten better with his rotations and substitutions, but I also don’t think it is pure coincidence that Cheeks’ return had nothing to do with their success).

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Oklahoma City’s role players have really stepped up their games. Enes Kanter and Anthony Morrow have been put into situations where they can succeed (a product of good coaching). Dion Waiters has cut down on his bone headed plays. Kyle Singler is sitting on the bench where his ass belongs. The biggest leap, however; is Steven Adams’ sudden ascension as the third member of OKC’s “Big 3”.

Adams’ impact on the game has been the most  visible factor of this playoff run. Adams has influenced the rebound margins, defensive efficiency, and he is making a contribution on the offensive end; catching lobs, getting garbage buckets on offensive boards, and making nasty baseball passes for layups. When you think about all the front office moves made after the 2012 Finals run, (Perry Jones III, Jeremy Lamb, Mitch McGary, Kevin Martin) it may not be a stretch to think that the Adams draft pick (acquired in the James Harden trade) may have saved GM Sam Presti’s  job.

For the majority of this series, OKC has outplayed Golden State. Golden State’s role players have struggled this round–especially from the Oracle. The good news is that there is a game 7. Warriors blew game 1 with careless turnovers, and bad body language. People were shocked, but they deserved to lose that one. I didn’t care for their casual approach going into game 1, the way they played was disrespectful to the game, and the basketball gods made them pay for it.

The team returned to form in game 2, but they ran into a buzzsaw in games 3 and 4 (man those fans were loud).

The “Dray-gate” controversy and Warriors going back home with a 3-1 series deficit was exactly the type of drama this playoffs needed. Despite it being a “good ass game”, I knew there was no way they would lose in Oakland. draymond-green-030216-getty-ftrjpg_11yxu7bourk4613knzedu46jtp

Game 6 was going to be the true litmus test for both teams, with the Warriors facing an elimination game, on the road, in one of the most hostile environments in the NBA (Sorry Oakland, but the true Warriors fans have been consistently priced out ever since your team started winning again). Needless to say, game 6 delivered.

Klay Thompson put on one of the most memorable playoff performances I’ve seen that didn’t involve a certain young man from Akron, Ohio (no not Steph). The Warriors needed every one of the 41 points he put up, but the fact that he also played great defense, makes it even more impressive. He has been the playoff MVP for the Warriors this year.

The adage about road players not traveling well held true to form, as Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, and Draymond  Green did the heavy lifting. Andre Iguodala played timely defense, and had a clutch basketball to tie it up at 101-101. The reason I feel so confident about the Warriors wrapping it up tonight is that “No Buckets” Speights will turn into “Mo Buckets” Speights, Sean Livingston will contribute more offensively than he did on Saturday. I also think Harrison Barnes is going to show up. With the postseason Barnes is having, he may have cost his agent a family vacation in Rome this summer. I really thought he was going to make himself some money in April. I really wanted to see him take that leap this year (I’m sure I’m not the only one).

I think the game will be close until about the 4th quarter, and then the Warriors will go on a run to ice the game. I think the role players will be too much in this game. I knew the Thunder were in trouble during game 6 when they went to the half winning only by 5 points.

They’d dominated the entire half, and gotten the majority of the favorable calls, and still did not win. I would be incredibly shocked if the Warriors dropped this one tonight. Oklahoma City had their chance and they just couldn’t make it happen.

You can call it a meltdown, or you can say that Golden State was clutch. I’ll believe either narrative. No matter what happens tonight, I dare anyone to dispute that this series saved the NBA postseason this year.

Fool’s Gold and Other Crazy Theories

Before we start the Western Conference Finals preview, I want to congratulate the 2015-2016 Spurs on a great regular season. Having broken the franchise record for wins, and securing the second best record in the league this season, a 2nd round knockout would appear to most people as a disappointing season. No doubt there is a sour taste for most Spurs fans, but to put things in perspective, this wasn’t a choke-job for San Antonio. They are just finally “too old.”

This didn’t just magically happen a couple of weeks ago, they’ve been that way. It just finally got exposed. Anyway who watched the Spurs play the Cavs, Warriors, or Thunder this season, could see the nicks in their armor if they looked hard enough. During the regular season, the Spurs had beaten a Curry–less Warriors team once in 4 games, the Thunder once in two games, and the Cavs once out of 2 contests.

The Spurs are old, their once mighty backcourt appeared slow and undersized against the top dogs, and they still managed to eke out 67 wins. That is a mixture of superior coaching, a watered down league this year, and highly intelligent ballplayers. What San Antonio lacked in size and speed, they made up for in technique and basketball I.Q. But let’s face it folks, basketball smarts can only get you so far in the vertical game.

The Thunder were stronger, and faster than the Spurs who got outhustled and outmuscled. Those two things are forgivable. What I did not expect was for the Thunder to outthink the Spurs.50-50 balls fell out-of-bounds, instead of Spurs players grabbing them–they would leave the refs to make a call on possession almost every time this happened. I was also surprised at all the hero ball I saw from players trying to make double and triple moves down in the post instead of working the ball around for a better shot. Role players like Boris Diaw, David West, and Patty Mills were largely ineffective. Danny Green has played well enough on defense, but San Antonio needed him to shoot better.

One big silver (and black?) lining to take from Game 6 was the incredible second half effort by the Spurs (led by Andre Miller and Tim Duncan) that got them to within 11 points. They’d fallen behind by 27 points and though a comeback was feasible, San Antonio could have easily laid down like a more busterish team would have done.

I consider those 67 wins to be Fool’s Gold. The league this year just wasn’t that good outside of the top 4 teams, and it was only a matter of time until the Spurs played a team younger, faster, and more superstar driven. This may sound crazy, but maybe they OVERachieved this season.

One of the main subplots to this year was “will this be the last run for Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili?” I may sound crazy for a second time in two paragraphs, but I think these guys still have something to offer. If there were a way for Popovich to work the roster to where Timmy, Manu, and Tony came off the bench, I would like to see it.

Neither of them are superstars any longer, but they are still good, serviceable players in small doses. Couple that with their veteran leadership, and you have something to keep them around for. Unlike guys like Iverson and Kobe, I think the Spurs big 3 realize their limitations. As elder statesman of the NBA, it would still be cool to see them around, and know they are on the bench, and in the locker rooms, pulling pranks and giving advice.

The Spurs will have to do something different going forward however, Boris Diaw isn’t getting any younger, Danny Green is who he is as a player, and it seems crazy to expect him to get much better. Rumors are swirling about Mike Conley Jr, and Pau Gasol moving down to San Antonio. Those would be good acquisitions, but free agency is always crazy, and you never know which of the younger guys on the Spurs roster will make a leap in the Summer Leagues. But forget all that noise, we still got basketball to watch THIS year.

I won’t even bother going into the Eastern Conference Finals, because you know, Cleveland.

Golden State vs. Oklahoma City will easily be the Good Ass Games of the Week, beginning tonight in about 15 minutes (so pardon any typos or grammar errors–I’m tryna get this shit done in time to watch tipoff).

How the Thunder can win

 

It will be easy to get caught up in the hype of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (yes yes we know–two of the five best players in the league) but its the role players who stepped up big time for the Thunder last round versus the Spurs. Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Andre Roberson, and (yes) Dion Waiters all chipped in to make the Thunder play the best they have played all season.

They will need that to continue in order to compete for the Western Conference championship. You already can count on the 60-70 points combined by Durant and Westbrook. The biggest question is where will the other points come from. Adams got some easy buckets against the Spurs off of stray rebounds and alley-oops. KD and Russ will need to find a way for him to get 2-3 easy buckets a game.

During the home game that they lost back in February (the OT loss), the Thunder outrebounded the Warriors by 30 boards and still lost. That is unheard of. They will have to continue pounding the glass with their big frontline of Ibaka, Adams, and Kanter if they want to limit the Warriors possessions.

Lastly, the Thunder will have to take care of the ball. Turnovers are costly against any team, they are deadly against the Warriors, who have no problem converting a steal, or a poor shot, into a dunk or 3 point bucket. The Warriors are already efficient in their half court sets, not taking care of the rock is basically handing them points.

 

Why the Thunder won’t win

 

Besides sporting the best shooting backcourt of all time in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson,  the Warriors happen to have an undersized power forward out of Michigan State, who also doubles as a top 10 player in the league. Though Thunder may have an advantage with their bigs (with an ailing Bogut and clumsy Anderson Verajao) they will have no answer for Draymond Green. I cannot wait to see the Ibaka vs. Green matchup in the low post and on the 3 point line. Dray is going to eat, if Donovan rolls out the Kanter, Adams front line with Waiters, Durant, and Westbrook on the wings. Also, don’t sleep on 3 point threat Marreese Speights, who has no problem hoisting one up.

Russell Westbrook is going to have to play defense this series in a pick your poison scenario of guarding Curry or Thompson. The Thunder don’t have a deep bench when it comes to their guards. If Kyle Singler sees a minute of this series, I’ll be shocked, and Cameron Payne may get his lunch money taken from him if he sees more than 20 minutes a game.

If that weren’t enough, the Warriors sport a large mismatch anytime Harrison Barnes is on the floor, and Steve Kerr (coaching advantage:Dubs) can bring Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston off the bench anytime he needs to spell someone. Brandon Rush, and Leandro Barbosa will see significant minutes against whatever scrub the Thunder roll out, both are luxuries that Gregg Popovich did not have against Oklahoma City.

I think at least 4 of the games will be decided by 6 points or less, but I have the Warriors winning in 5 games. I think the Thunder found a favorable matchup last round, and their luck will run out against the defending champs. What we saw against the Spurs was an aberration and not a trend. This is not meant to disrespect to the Thunder, or their fanbase (though I am hearing a lot of Thunder in 7 predictions). I think OKC provides the best possible matchup for what I expect to be a thrilling Western Conference Finals.

Buen Provecho,

BM

Thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

#fullsass #thisagoodassgame

 

 

Last Time

This is the first time in years that I have felt serious doubt concerning the Spurs in a series. I was actively worried before it started, and now the uncertainty has turned into full-blown dread. The series against the ’08 Lakers was the last time I felt like the Spurs were just a little bit “too old”. That series, if you recall, had a controversial ending in game 4. The refs missed an obvious foul by Derek Fisher on Brent Barry, one that would have allowed the Spurs to shoot 3 free throws, and a chance to go to overtime.

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Three of the five games this series have been decided by less than 5 points, and the Spurs cannot let it stay close and hope that the refs will get things right. The game 5 loss hurt so much, because not only did the Spurs let a 4th quarter lead evaporate in a matter of 3 minutes (tops), but it amplified just how difficult a chance at a title was going to look.

Even if they somehow win tonight, and then again on Sunday, I’m not sure if they will have enough juice to get through the Warriors, and THEN the Cavaliers. Regular season records are nice, but I think everyone can agree that a 2nd round knockout is a disappointing way to end the season (a season that looks dangerously close to being Timmy and Manu’s last).

Regardless of score, I will watch until the very end. And if this is the last game for this era Spurs, then so be it. The Portland fans aren’t the only ones that have something to look forward to next season. All that being said, I don’t want Tuesday night to be the last game that the Spurs played this season. Don’t miss game 6 tonight.

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BM

#thisagoodassgame #fullsass

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

A Quick One (while he’s away) pt. 3

Last night was such a treat. Sunday and Monday night provided us with two of the better games of the playoffs. For all the talk about how the Eastern Conference was better than the Western Conference, I don’t think I’m out of line to use the trash, disguised as playoff basketball, as a counter to those claims.

Eastern Conference basketball has been awful to watch, and this has been no aberration. It has been this way for years. Just rip the damn thing up and start over. Send Memphis to the east, realign the conferences, and have the playoff seeding 1-16. If it weren’t for the Spurs-Thunder and Blazers-Warriors series, this year’s playoffs would be a bigger flop than the most recent Fantastic Four movie.

A few quick thoughts before tonight’s game 5:

  • Game 4 was just as intense as I was hoping it would be. I’ve been to a couple of elimination games, both in the Oracle, and at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and Sunday’s game between Oklahoma City and San Antonio might have been the most intense basketball game I’ve attended in person. The folks in OKC finally understand how to be a fan base. For years they needed the P.A. announcer’s assistance to know when to get loud, when to cheer, and when to chant. I wasn’t even on the court and I was affected at how loud it was in the arena. The only time it got quiet was when Kawhi dunked on Steven Adams, and I may have been the only screaming at that point–that shit had me juiced. I will say this though, YMCA strikes me as a song you would play in the arena, when the game is secured, in the regular seasonnot in the 3rd quarter of a hotly contested playoff game.
  • The refs from Sunday should never be allowed to work a playoff game together again. They were horrible. If players can get their pay docked for conduct detrimental to the league, then the same should apply to referees. Danny Crawford (go figure) and his crew could not figure out how they wanted to call the game. They would let one thing go–like Kanter throwing elbows as he bullied his way into the paint, and then call a touch foul against the defender guarding him. It seemed like every other foul was a make up call, and it marred what otherwise was a beautiful game to watch in person. At least we can say it wasn’t one-sided; they were at least consistently bad for both teams. We’d have been better off if the refs were sent home, and the players called their own fouls.
  • Minus a couple of lulls, Game 4 was the best game I’ve seen  Thunder play. They were great on defense–especially down the stretch of that game. The Spurs were making tough shots, while the Thunder were consistently finding ways to get easy buckets. They had 23 assists compared to San Antonio’s 12. Both teams had 12 turnovers, and the Spurs were only outrebounded by 6 boards, but it felt like OKC was killing them on the glass. Stephen Adams has been the biggest X factor among the Thunder role players, notching a double-double in each of their wins, while only getting single digit field goal attempts in their losses. Every time the Thunder went to the Westbrook and Adams, good things happened.
  • Gregg Popovich will have some tinkering to do to counter the Thunder’s game 4 adjustments. The Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Dion Waiters, Russ Westbrook, Kevin Durant line provided the most challenges for the Spurs, and makes me wonder why it took Billy Donovan so long to try this out. While I wouldn’t call for him to make this his starting lineup, there seems to be merit for using this crunch time lineup for what is now a 3 game series. There are scoring options at every position, and OKC’s height gives each Spurs defender something to worry about. For as skilled as the Spurs are, their front line is a little too small vs.teams like Cleveland and OKC;who pound them into submission on the glass, and their backcourt is too small when facing teams like Golden State and Oklahoma City (who also happen to be bigger than them in the paint as well). It just goes to show well how the Spurs execute on both ends of the floor. Even with the size mismatches (and disparity in quickness), it still takes playing a perfect game to beat them.
  • As much shit as I’ve talked about Durant trying to play the villain, and the depths of busterdom befallen the Thunder, you have to be a real hater not to dig what happened Sunday night. KD put up 41 on the NBA’s best defense while his moms (the real MVP) danced in her courtside seats. When he got hot in that 4th quarter (scoring 17 points and having some timely assists to boot) it was eerily similar to the game 4 of the 2012 series where no one could guard him, scoring 18 points in the 4th quarter. With the ascent of Russell Westbrook and his scoring histrionics, it can be easy to forget the former Longhorn is still capable of outbursts like these.
  • Game 5 will be just as much of a dogfight as the past 4 games, if not more. Neither team wants to be one game away from elimination. The Spurs bench and role players output has been matched, (if not surpassed) by the Thunder supporting cast. Oklahoma City is outrebounding San Antonio, and they are getting way more easy buckets than the Spurs. I’m not sure if the Spurs can recover from losing two games at home in a series. Tonight’s tickets will read game 5, but it may as well read game 7. History has shown that most teams that win game 5 of the best of 7 series (when tied 2-2) end up winning the series.

 

I may have already said this before, but I think the Curry injury has been one of the best subplots of the playoffs. His injury had many ramifications for not only the Warriors, but for everyone who, up until the injury, were playing for second place. Cleveland has been feasting on bad teams during the first two rounds, and they’ll probably sweep the winner of the Toronto-Miami series (especially if the Heat don’t have Whiteside). I can only hope that Miami will at least make the Cavs work for those 4 W’s.

Last night’s heroics by Curry ( 40 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists–17 points in OT) only proved why he is the unanimous MVP. But did anyone else see the game Draymond Green had? Not only did he fill the stat sheet, (21 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 7 blocks) but he also set the tone for the Warriors second half comeback.

The consecutive defensive sequences where he blocked first Plumlee, and then McCollum energized the team, and that was the point when I knew we were in for a #goodassgame. Make no mistake about it, last night’s game was the game of the year. With Curry’s status in limbo, Livingston getting ejected, and Portland having a chance to tie the series at home, those things only served to make things more lit.

Lastly, how beautiful was that inbounds play that Kerr and co. designed—the one to get the game tied at 3? Curry threw the pass before Harrison Barnes (maybe their  3rd best option to shoot a 3 pointer) had come off of screening Klay Thompson’s man. The Warriors’ floor spacing on that play was almost as gorgeous as the pass.

Though this series is pretty much over, I do not expect the Blazers to fold up like lawn furniture. They’ll take an L, but the Warriors are going to have to work for it. There is nothing to hang your head about Blazers fans. Everyone (including me and other contributors for this site) picked this year’s team to SUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK, and they didn’t. That is a win in itself.

Last night’s game proves why it is always more important to make the playoffs (with the possibility of getting bounced) than to tank and hope for lottery ping pong balls. You can’t put a price on experience. The guys in that Trailblazer locker room will never forget the growth they experienced this year–from making the playoffs, to bouncing the Clippers, to giving the Warriors all they can handle in the semi-finals, and this can only help them in aligning next season’s goals.

If you are a free agent frontcourt player looking to play a prominent role for a contender, you have to at least take a meeting with Portland right? The draft is always a crapshoot. You never know what the ping pong balls will reveal, and not all top 3 picks are can’t miss franchise players (Portlanders certainly knows this is true). The Blazers run this year proves that if you put in the work and try your best, you never know what can happen. Sure the Blazer improbable run was helped by collective slides by Houston, New Orleans, and Utah, and then again by the Clippers suffering major injuries to key players, but their hard work, focus, and belief in each other put them in a position to succeed. Blazers fans should be greeting them at the airport when they get back from Oakland after Wednesday’s game.

Enjoy tonight’s game.

 

Peace,

BM

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

#thisagoodassgame #fullsass

 

Good Ass Games of the Week 5/8/16

Some quick thoughts before we get into this week’s slate of games:

  • Tomorrow’s Spurs-Thunder could have huge ramifications down the road for San Antonio. If they win, they go home with a 3-1 series lead and a chance to go for the juggular. I’m not liking the body language for KD or Russ during their pressers, and it seems as if everyone is pressing as the intensity ramps up. As the oldest team in the NBA, the Spurs need as much time off as possible, and with a team like Oklahoma City, you don’t want to ease up when they are on the ropes. I expected this to be a dogfight, but the Spurs could lose more than a game if they don’t take care of business. The Thunder will not give up, so it is important for San Antonio to keep their foot on the gas. I think the Spurs chances of winning the title decrease the longer this series lasts. All that being said, this is easily the best series of the four, with games 2 and 3 being nailbiters. I don’t expect tomorrow’s game to be any different.
  • San Antonio did catch a break (or did they?) with a Warriors loss tonight in Rip City.Lillard went illard and put up 40 points while “dropping” 10 dimes. I’m almost certain that Golden State will win the next two games convincingly, but the way the Warriors flexed the other night without Steph Curry…….. well let’s just say I was almost sure they could beat ANY team with or without him. Now I’m not so sure.
  • I been sleeping on  Jonas Valanciunas as a viable front court threat against the Miami Heat. The man has been cleaning up on the glass, and now with Whiteside’s health in doubt, the Rappers Raptors have a chance to ruin Amin Elhassin’s dream vacation on “Heat Island”.  Big ups to Dwyane Wade for reminding people (including me) why he’s a Hall of Famer (he still dirty as hell, but that didn’t stop John Stockton from getting inducted).
  • Tomorrow is most definitely a #pitinogame. By 5:00 in the evening tomorrow, there will only be 7 teams left in the playoffs. This is exactly why I wanted the Celtics to advance, because Cleveland has barely broken a sweat these first 3 games. People are pushing each other down to jump on the #Cavs’Dad’s bandwagon, but they are forgetting that a) Kyrie Irving is a shaving accident away from being on the IR, and b) the Cavs haven’t played anyone yet. They got the easiest draw out of anyone in the playoffs, and there were two teams that had much better records than they did. What sense does that make? I’m still in wait and see mode on them.

 

 

Good Ass Games of the Week:

 

Sunday

Cleveland vs. Atlanta   ABC  2:30 pm CT

San Antonio vs. Oklahoma City

 

Monday

Toronto vs. Miami  TNT 7:00 pm CT

Golden State vs. Portland TNT 9:30 CT

 

Tuesday

Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio TNT TBD

 

Wednesday

Miami vs. Toronto TNT 7:00 pm CT

Portland vs. Golden State 9:30 pm CT

 

 

Thursday to Saturday games are TBD–games are scheduled as necessary.

 

BM

Thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

#thisagoodassgame #fullsass

 

 

Crazy Basketball : A Book Review

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I first discovered Charley Rosen in the summer of 2004, when I went from being a mild basketball fan, to developing a full-blown love for the sport. Growing up, I gravitated towards baseball and football because both sports were relatively easy to pick up. The basketball players at  school were from a different physical mold altogether.

I always loved playing in P.E. and in friend’s driveways, but it wasn’t until I was about 21 that I started playing pickup ball on the regular. This was when I got my first inkling of the many nuances to playing hoops. I only knew to dribble ball, shoot the ball, and sometimes (if I wasn’t double teamed) pass the ball. The concept of rolling towards the basket after a screen was foreign. I thought rebounding was about outjumping the other people in the paint (What? Me? boxout? Why?).

I had found a summer job, at my university, working as a clerk in the biology stockroom. When I wasn’t running errands across campus, I was on ESPN’s Page 2 (think Grantland but without all the cursing) and FoxSports.com. FoxSports was more football heavy, but they had some decent basketball writers on their roster. Mark Kriegel (wrote a biography on Pistol Pete Maravich), and Jeff Goodman usually had something interesting to say, but Charley Rosen’s articles always had a nugget of basketball insight that I could think about on the court during those late night runs at the school recreation center.

For example, it had never occurred to me that at best, a non superstar player would get to touch the ball 20 percent of the time, and that the other 80 percent of the time spent on the court is how a player should be judged. From that point on, I started to pay attention to watching off the ball activity just as much as the ballhandler.

It was through Rosen’s column that I discovered that he’d help Phil Jackson write  More Than a Game, and Maverick. I spent the summer reading those books in an attempt to absorb anything I could to help me understand the game better. All of this happened to coincide with the 2004 Pistons-Lakers NBA Finals, and it was fascinating to take what I was reading and apply it to what I was seeing on television.

Charley Rosen was also the first person I’d ever seen write in print that Kevin Love was overrated. This was around 2010-2011, and he said something to the effect of “look at that roster (in Minnesota) someone has to get those points and rebounds.” Keep in mind that he’d also once said Lebron James would be an average NBA player at best.

There was also one column that Rosen had written about a trip he’d taken to Amsterdam with his wife and another couple, where he and his friend ditched their wives on the way to the Van Gogh museum to play pickup ball at a park. That’s the kind of madness I can  get down with (I personally enjoyed the Pablo Picasso “Blue Years Series” exhibit more than the Van Gogh stuff on my visit there. He probably didn’t miss much).

You may have also heard about the famous “Phil Files” he wrote for ESPN a year ago, after Phil Jackson’s first year as Knicks Team President. I still have yet to read all the installments, but its been highly discussed (at times ridiculed) on various blog and media sites.

His book, Crazy Basketball resonates with me because Rosen wasn’t the most skilled individual to play the game. His best offer for a scholarship was at Hunter College in New York City. He was a 6’9 bruising big man whose game was predicated on strength and will. He played in the Eastern Basketball League before taking on various jobs as a free-lance writer, college professor, summer camp counselor,  and basketball coach.

He was a free-lance basketball writer living in New York City, when he met Phil Jackson–then a player for the Knicks, and they became good friends (both really big fans of Grateful Dead apparently). The joint collaboration on Maverick cemented their friendship, and during Jackson’s coaching days in the now defunct Continental Basketball Association, Rosen served as his assistant, on the Albany Patroons. When Phil took an assistant coaching job in Chicago, Rosen went on to serve as a head coach in Rockford, Illinois, Savannah, Georgia, and Oklahoma City.

There are some great stories culled from these experiences, as the CBA had a roll call of NBA names who stopped through on their way to the league. It is easy to forget that it hasn’t even been 10 years since the CBA went belly up. Rosen brings the league back to life with his anecdotes of players like John Starks (Rosen says he wasn’t shocked when Starks choked in game 6 of the ’94 Finals), Steve Javie, and Dick Bavetta (something tells me Rosen doesn’t have him on his  Hanukkah list).

Things were not always easy for Rosen (the salaries he made as a head coach seem laughable at best compared to what NBA coaches get), he battled health problems, anger issues, and endured 3 divorces to still make the life he wanted to create. I find Crazy Basketball such an inspiring read because Rosen admittedly wasn’t the best player, and wasn’t the best X’s and O’s coach, but his passion for the game is contagious. Charley Rosen proves that you don’t have to be a genius coach, or an elite level athlete to find a way to honor the game and become an ambassador for the sport.

Phil Jackson credits Rosen for coining the phrase, “Basketball isn’t just a metaphor for life–it’s more important that!” and writes a very eloquent foreword that illustrates the deep bond between the two men. For anyone interested in more than the flashier aspects of today’s NBA–the dunks, memes, and highlight reels, then I recommend that you at least skim through it–even it is just for the Dick Bavetta anecdotes.

BM

Game Notes

A few quick thoughts from last night’s Good Ass Game of the Week:

 

  • The Thunder did everything they were supposed to do to win that game and they still only won by a point. They outrebounded San Antonio 48-37. The Spurs bench only outscored the Thunder bench 24 to 17. No one on the Spurs besides Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, and Lamarcus (!!!) Aldridge had good games for the Spurs. Oklahoma City also had five players scoring in double figures. And they still almost (literally) threw game 2 away.
  • What a wacky final minute of the game. As mad as I was about the wack-ass officiating,  that was not the reason the Spurs lost. On the surface, it looks as if the Thunder played great defense. Compared to Saturday night, they were better, but San Antonio helped them out. Their standard ball movement (and movement without the ball) wasn’t as crisp as I was used to seeing. They took a ton of bad shots. Tony Parker posted a +/- rating of negative 14, shooting 3 for 9 with 6 assists. The Spurs only had 19 assists for the whole game.
  • I know he hasn’t said anything one way or the other, but it feels like this will be Tim Duncan’s last year. He scored 9 rebounds last night, but the offense seems more effective when he is off the floor. Tim Duncan’s days as a destructive two-way player have been long gone, but nowadays, he doesn’t pose much a threat to score; opting instead to facilitate shots for other players. Duncan is not the type to have a farewell tour and take away from the team.  Knowing that this could be his final playoff run (which could very likely end with an L) makes me a little sad.
  • My increasingly growing irritation for the Thunder throughout the season has blossomed into full on hate. Behind the Clippers and Houston Rockets, the Thunder have become a team I hate to see win games. They really bug the shit out of me. I don’t like Steven Adams, Ibaka is busterish, Dion Waiters is very hard to like, Westbrook is too ugly to be scowling all the time like he does, and Durant just publicly admitted that his favorite rapper is Drake. That is all I’m going to say about that. Speaking of Durant, it is crazy to think that he and Aldridge just missed each other at UT. University of Texas could have had Aldridge, PJ Tucker, Daniel Gibson, D.J. Augustin, and Kevin Durant all on the same team, and I’m convinced that Rick Barnes would have still found a way for them to get knocked out in the second round of the NCAA’s.

 

Miami vs. Toronto should be a good ass series. I think Hassan Whiteside has a chance to guarantee himself a fat contract with a shutdown performance this round. I think he is going to EATTTTTTT.

Also I need to (ugh) watch some Cleveland soon. They look like they are gelling. There are worse guys you can have on your bench in the playoffs than Channing Frye. I think he’ll win a game or two for the Cavs when the moment arises. Keep an eye on him.

Friday can’t be here soon enough. I’m clearing the schedule for anything not involving watching game 3. Maybe I’ll even drive to the arena and see it in person.

Peace,

BM