Good Ass Game Alert: Manu Giveth, and Manu Taketh Away

 

Random takeaways from rewatching this Spurs classic:

 

  • Really loved the assortment on role players on both sides. Carl Landry, Jarrett Jack (used to kill the Jayhawks when he played for Georgia Tech), David Lee, and Harrison Barnes on Golden State. For the Spurs, you had DeJuan Blair, Danny Green, Boris Diaw, and I liked Gary Neal enough.
  • This playoff run gave us a glimpse of what was to come for Golden State. Even though San Antonio knocked them out of the playoffs this round, the Warriors gave the Spurs all that they could handle (and arguably outplayed them outside of a couple of endgame scenarios that were costly). Golden State was ascending and San Antonio had plateaued as a dynasty, reaching the Finals the next two years, but leveling off the following six seasons. Warriors would beat the Spurs handily the next two times they’d face each other in the playoffs.
  • Warriors were a really scrappy bunch with Draymond Green coming onto the floor as an energy guy. You can already see the chemistry developing between he, Steph and Klay when the three of them are on the court together. At the time, it seemed like Harrison Barnes was knocking on the door of being a top player at his position. It is fascinating to watch an emerging dynasty in the works. The team had yet to pick up Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, David West, or Mo Speights. The Warriors weren’t quite the destination team yet, but you can see the nuts and bolts of the squad coming together during that run.
  • Watching this 2013 Spurs team is tough knowing what is ahead for them down the road. If you put that roster side by side with the championship team from the following year, its easy to understand why they couldn’t get the job done against the Heat during the Finals. Outside of Duncan, Ginobili, Matt Bonner, and Parker, no one on that team had been to an NBA Finals (which makes you wonder if they could’ve used Stephen Jackson who was cut right before the playoffs that year). The team lost Blair the next season, and Gary Neal, replacing them with Jeff Ayres and Marco Belinelli. Plus all those role players who’d lost in the Finals the year before were back and better prepared for challenge. It is also worth mentioning that the 2014 Heat were on their last leg having been to four Finals in a row with a core of slow aging veterans.
  • This game reaches its competitive peak in the 3rd, 4th, and second overtime periods. Steph Curry went on one of his epic third quarter runs that were still a novelty; scoring 14 points in 3 minutes (22 in the third quarter). Unfortunately for the Warriors their inability to finish the quarter would ultimately cost them. The Spurs went on an 8-2 run during the final 35 seconds that started with a Ginobili and 1 layup, then a Danny Green 3 pointer, and finally, a careless inbound violation by Curry, that was followed a silly foul by Jarrett Jack; which led to two free throws by Gary Neal.
  • The real turning point of the game came in the 4th quarter at the 3:51 mark when Tony Parker fouled out Klay Thompson on a baseline drive towards the basket. With Tim Duncan in the locker room battling the flu, it seemed like it was all but wrapped up for Golden State. Even Chris Webber says at the time, “luckily they won’t need him the rest of the game.” This is when “shit got real” for the young Dubs.
  • Down by 16, and less than 4 minutes left in the game, Tony Parker put the team on his back for an  18 to 2 run, and the Warriors shot themselves in the foot with every following possession–only scoring on a Jarrett Jack jumper with 29 ticks left in the game.
  • The Danny Green game tying three was the result of a well designed play by five individuals executing their roles with perfection.1)After the timeout, Coach Popovich elects to take out ball by the Spurs bench at full court instead of at half court giving the Boris Diaw room to inbound the ball to Tony Parker. 2) Parker brings the ball up the court– letting it roll til Draymond Green comes forward to make him pick up the ball. 3)Parker then passes it at midcourt to Diaw, who does a dribble handoff to Manu Ginobili, who releases from defender Harrison Barnes from the wing to the top of key to become primary ballhandler. 4)At the same time, Danny Green goes from the top 3 point corner to sets a pick for Kawhi Leonard (who started on the left block then shifts to right block) on Jarret Jack. 5) Kawhi dives toward paint moving back to left block on a defensive switch by Golden State and now has Steph Curry is guarding him.6) Diaw screens his man , Harrison Barnes, out on the wing after realizing he doesn’t need to run to set a baseline pick on Jarret Jack who due to a miscommunication on a switch with Steph Curry, is caught in no man’s land, and  leaves Danny Green free to roam along the baseline towards the 3 point line where 7) he catches a perfect pass from Manu Ginobili for a wide open, catch and shoot, game tying 3 pointer
  • The Warriors bench which at one point was going nuts during the Steph Curry 3rd quarter run, now looked shook. To the Warriors credit, they managed to regain their composure in the 2nd overtime and still almost stole victory from the jaws of defeat. I honestly saw enough to believe the snafu that left Ginobili open for the game winning three pointer would not have happened with Draymond Green on the court, but unfortunately for the Dubs, he’d fouled out earlier just a few minutes into overtime.
  •  

    Give it up for the assistants in the game, Mike Malone, Mike Budenholzer and Bret Brown. All three would go on to be head coaches very very soon, and for now still all have jobs with–playoffs teams– the Nuggets, Bucks and Sixers.

 

I watched this game live at an Austin bar down on Red River and was the only one paying attention as the sound was off and some singer songwriter was playing her depressing music on acoustic guitar. My ill fitting and inappropriate yells, moans, and guffaws elicited some nasty looks from the other patrons, but I couldn’t contain myself during the second half and overtime portions of the game.

It was a different experience being able to listen to the announcers and stop the feed an replay different segments of the game to my heart’s content. I can’t describe the buzz I had that night of the game replaying that Ginobili shot over and over again in my head. Of all the most improbable comebacks, this was the craziest I’d seen outside of the Duke vs Maryland, “10 points in one minute game.” It didn’t look good for San Antonio, and somehow they still pulled it out.

I would be fortunate enough to see the Spurs clinch this series in person at the famed Oracle arena and it was quite the experience. The year before, I was in Oklahoma to watch the Thunder knock San Antonio out of the playoffs during the Western Conference Finals, and so it seemed fitting to be in Oakland to see them take care of the Warriors. Warriors fans joy was infectious and walking out of the arena that night, I felt bad for them. I’d lived in Oakland during the “We Believe” era that already seemed like ancient history. At the time I didn’t know that this was a team still on the horizon and that their playoff runs were just beginning. Of course, this also meant that the Spurs were a team that was already on the decline, but no one had time to think about that. Their run was still ongoing.

 

 

BM

 

 

IMG_0515 (2)

Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

A Little Pizzazz

Basketball never stops…..it only rotates

Nuclear Polio Vaccination

I spend my down time daydreaming

of snagging tough rebounds

then immediately throwing full court outlet passes

that lead to fast break points.

I visualize touch passes

to baseline cutters for easy buckets.

No look bounce passes hit my teammates in stride–

right into the hand that’s closest to the basket.

Dump off passes thrown over my shoulder

into the pal of someone curling from

the paint to the rim

and over the top lobs to big men

skillfully sealing off their defender.

I guess you could say that I miss hoopin’.

~Bob E. Freeman

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Local Legends: Seattle

                                     Best NBA Players to come out of Seattle

 

Jason Terry 

  • won back to back state titles for Franklin High School in 1994 and 1995
  • Won NCAA championship on Arizona Wildcats in 1997
  • Played in 2 NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks winning in 2011
  • Only Arizona player in school history to score 1,000 points and get 200 steals
  • Pac-10 player of the year with 21.9 points, 5 assists, and 2.8 assists his senior year at University of Arizona
  • 13. 8 points a game in NBA, 38% from 3, 44 % from field 
  • Sixth man of the year award in 2008

Jamal Crawford

  • 3 time sixth man of the award
  • 16.6 pts and 4.5 assists at University of Michigan
  • Started the Pro-Am Crawsover
  • At one point was considered the best volume shooter in the league
  • Only NBA player to 50 or more points for 4 or more teams
  • 2,000 three pointers made 
  • State title at Rainier Beach 1998

Nate Robinson

  • Started the local pipeline to University of Washington, teamed with Brandon Roy to take team to Sweet Sixteen 2004-2005 season with 29-6 record
  • State title in 2002 at Rainier Beach High School
  • 16.4 points 4.3 assists his junior year
  • 17.7 points 4.7 assists his Senior year
  • 3 time NBA slam Dunk Champion
    Brandon Roy

    • 2007 Rookie of the Year
    • Retire due to degenerative knee condition, zero cartilage in both knees
    • Took University Washington to Sweet Sixteen 2 years in a row
    • Pac-10 Player of the Year 2006
    • All American 2006 
    • 3 X NBA All Star
    • 14 pts 5.5. Rebounds, 3 assists at Washington
    • 18.8 pts 4.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists in 326 NBA games, 6 seasons (only twice played at least 70 games)
    • Won back to back titles as a high school coach with Nathan Hale (2016-2017)  and Garfield (2017-2018) 

    Doug Christie

    • 1988 title at Rainier Beach 
    • 16 pts, 5.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists at Pepperdine University
    • Solid role player 3 and and D player; 4 time all NBA defensive team
    • 35% from 3, 45 % from field
    • 15 year veteran 1992-2007
    • 11 points, 3 assists 4 rebounds for career

    Other Notable Seattle Facts

  • Garfield High School has most state tiles in Washington history producing Brandon Roy, Tony Wroten,  and Will Conroy
  • Rainier Beach High School State titles (1988, 1989, 1998, 2002,2003, 2008, 2012, 2013 2014, 2016) Notable Alumni: Doug Christie (1988), Jamal Crawford (1998), Nate Robinson (2003),  C.J. Giles (2003), Terrence Williams (2002, 2003),  Dejounte Murray (2012, 2013,2014) 
  • Franklin High School state titles (1994, 1995, 2003, 2006, 2009) Notable Alumni: Jason Terry (1994, 1995), Aaron Brooks (2003), Payton Siva (2009)

     

    Other notable players from Seattle area

    Michael Dickerson (Federal Way High School)

    Martell Webster (Seattle Prep)

    Rodney Stuckey (Kentwood High School)

    Spencer Hawes (Seattle Prep)

    Marvin Williams (Bremerton Prep)

    Avery Bradley (Bellarmine Prep)

    Zach Lavine (Bothell High School) 

         Michael Porter Jr. (Nathan Hale High School)

 

 

BM

 

IMG_0515 (2)

Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

Sonicsgate: A (sort of) movie review

 

[The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other essays. Due out if and when we survive this global pandemic.]

 

 

When people bring up the city of Seattle, its typically to talk about Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain (maybe even Quincy Jones’ depending on who you’re talking to), coffee, and months of rain.

Outside of the diehard NBA fans, the normal American does not think of basketball. Seattle, however; is a fertile hotbed for talented basketball players. On top of that, it is a really dope city–one of the dopest cities in the United States. So dope– that the majority of the millionaires living in this country, live in Seattle. It is downright head scratching that a city so dope, does not have an NBA team. 

What the average person does not know is that Seattle has a rich history of hoop dating all the way back to 1967. They won an NBA title in 1979, and from 1993 to 1998–led by Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton and a collection of high level role players–had a 60% winning percentage. 

 

Things took a tumble for Seattle when they signed center Jim McIlvaine to an enormous contract (mistakenly) believing that he was the final piece to a championship puzzle. This alienated the franchise face Shawn Kemp (who was lobbying for a new contract) enough to the point that he demanded a trade before his contract was completed [Folklore has it that Kemp had already been dangled in a trade once before with the Chicago Bulls for then small forward Scottie Pippen]. The Sonics traded Kemp to the Cleveland Cavaliers–for a two piece and a biscuit meal– starting a gradual decline that culminated with George Karl not getting a contract renewal in 1998. The 1998-99 lockout immediately followed; which hurt the Sonics revenue when not all their fans returned to the Key Arena when the basketball did.

In 2001, the Ackerley family sold the team to Coffee baron Howard Schulz, and to quote Gary Payton, “he tried to run the basketball team like a coffee business.” Frustrated with low attendance, poor team performance, and a venue that was outdated compared to the new wave of NBA multi purpose arenas, Schultz sold the team to an Oklahoma City investment group–led by Aubrey McClendon and Clay Bennett–that had just seen promise while hosting the New Orleans Hornets for an interim period during post Hurricane Katrina. 

 

After realizing that the city was not going to pay for either a new arena or renovations (the city eventually passed initiative 91 More Important Things i.e. no sports subsidies) despite spending over $517 million on SafeCo field (for the Mariners) and $430 Million for the Seahawks’ new stadium, Questfield. The Okies saw their chance and took it, using this initiative as an excuse to move the team to OKC, even though they were sued for breaking the lease. The city settled for a 75 million dollar buyout, with 45 million of it paid upfront and the rest of the 30 to be paid out over the next 5 years; if the city could put together a renovation plan for the Key Arena (Are you confused too? Okay. Good I’m not the only one who can’t make sense of this deal) The city never put together that plan an forfeited the 30 million from the settlement. There is a prevailing thought that had the city of Seattle fought harder to keep the team, that the OKC based group would have eventually caved, and sold the team as majority stakeholder (Aubrey McClendon lost over 90 percent of his fortune in the upcoming 2008 economic recession). 

While it is true that the OKC buyers ( and arguably the league—err–David Stern) probably did some underhanded actions to acquire the team; with the agenda to move the team, the city of Seattle did everything it could to help give away their franchise. One could argue that in Seattle, basketball was this esoteric sport that only urban kids and hipsters supported. The city ponied up the funds for their baseball and football teams, but left the basketball team dangling in the wind. I know that no one wants to see a bad product, but historically, the Sonics were the only franchise at the time consistently winning [my argument against this would be Warriors fans who supported their team through thick and thin–although Oaklanders eventually lost their team too once it started winning].

The Mariners had a brief run in the late 90’s and early 2000’s (with an expanded playoff format starting in 1995), and the Seahawks were perennial doormats until the early 2000’s. Sonics fans just have to face up to the fact that the city didn’t care about basketball enough. They even let Bennett and the other okies take all the team records, banners, stats, and history with them to Oklahoma. Say what you will about the whole process being unfair, the fact is that the city didn’t want it enough. As Sir Mix A lot said, Seattlites were always “fair weather fans when it came to the Seahawks and Sonics”, comparing them to the wine and cheese crowd that 49ers fans are reknowned for. He called them “Upscale cats drinking 4.50 cups of tea.” I WOULD LOVE to see a team back in Seattle (and Vancouver while we’re at it. Move Memphis to the east where they belong) but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Outside of the hardcore hoop heads up there, no one in Seattle really misses basketball. 

 

BM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0515 (2)

Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

Good Ass Game Alert

 

Random thoughts from watching this game:

  • This game illustrates how silly the Draymond Green/Charles Barkley comparisons sound. If anything, maybe Green should be referred to as the Dennis Rodman remix? The various ways that Chuck scores buckets and dominates this game could never be duplicated by Draymond (even in today’s NBA). I would argue that from about 1992-1994, Chuck was the second best player in the world.
  • I just realized from watching this game (for the first time ever–didn’t have cable until the following season) that I actually saw these Warriors in person that season when they played the Mavericks in Dallas. I was obsessed with Chris Webber so I wore my blue Warriors Webber road jersey (with shaved head of course). I was such a novice back then that I didn’t realize that Latrell Sprewell and Chris Mullin were also on that team. I saw Mullin and Sprewell play in person and did not even remember until yesterday when I watched this game. Kind of sad, huh?
  • Speaking of, my two favorite NBA players at this time were actually Webber and Barkley. Despite my height, I would work on my post moves and picked up my bassline spin move off the right shoulder from watching both players.
  • Hard to think of a better time to be in the Bay–especially in Oakland: 1994 was the peak of the golden era of Bay Area hip hop, the A”s were still near the top of the AL West division in baseball, and the Warriors were still exciting despite breaking up Run TMC. Its also nice to see Warriors fans back the Oracle was still lit.
  • Seeing Gregg Popovich on the bench as an assistant coach with Donnie and Don Nelson was kind of mind blowing considering what lay in store for the three of them down in Texas–along with backup point guard Avery Johnson. Makes you realize how small of a world the NBA really is.
  • Lastly, It was fun watching peak Chris Mullin again. It would only be a couple seasons later when Mullin would go on to play with another Fab Five member, Jalen Rose, at Indiana–for those of you who like random trivia.

 

Don’t let the final score fool you. This was a good ass game and very entertaining with lots of good runs. Its worth the sit down. Trust me.

 

BM

 

IMG_0515 (2)

Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

 

In Retrospect: Examining the 2009 NBA Draft First Round

[The following is a chapter from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other essays. Due out if and when we survive this global pandemic.]

The NBA draft is a fascinating social phenomenon. Front offices use it as an opportunity to pitch entice their team’s fan base to renew their season ticket packages (sometimes before the season is even over). Some fans use it as a beacon of hope for their favorite team and some players see the draft as a harbinger of what is to come for their own careers. 

A great draft can create a dynasty, a good one can extend it, and a bad draft can set a franchise back five to ten years. The line between bust and boom depends on two important factors: the health of a player and the health of a franchise. Would Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard be the same kinds of players had they landed in Brooklyn or Indiana? Would we think of Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant the same had their careers started in Portland?

Sometimes it really is just a matter of a player landing in the right situation. Successful organizations invest in their draft picks and put them in situations to succeed. Not all superstars come into the league ready made; some need to be developed and coached and polished into the diamonds they eventually become.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Veterans carry value within the locker room as well as on the court. As is in life, sometimes its all about meeting the right people to help steer you in the right direction. But NBA success isn’t guaranteed. For every Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Butler, there are tons of players who eat themselves out of the league, have substance abuse problems, and even cases of mental illness. The NBA draft is a crapshoot, and some organizations were good, some bad, and others were just plain (un) lucky.

In this chapter we examine a few select draft classes–ones which altered the league indefinitely–that were springboards to some franchises success and doomed others to being league doormats. These drafts were full of generational talent that changed the league for years to come. Some teams set themselves up to contend for the decade, while other teams set themselves up for failure. You can take a look and see from the drafts which teams trended where.

 

2009 Draft First Round Picks

  1. Blake Griffin PF Los Angeles Clippers
16. James Johnson SF Chicago
2. Hasheem Thabeet C Memphis 17. Jrue Holiday PG Philadelphia
3. James Harden SG Oklahoma City 18. Ty Lawson PG Minnesota (traded to Denver)
4. Tyreke Evans SG Sacramento 19. Jeff Teague PG Atlanta
5. Ricky Rubio PG Minnesota 20. Eric Maynor PG Utah
6. Jonny Flynn PG Minnesota 21. Darren Collison PG New Orleans 
7. Stephen Curry PG Golden State 22. Victor Claver Portland
8. Jordan Hill PF New York 23. Omri Casspi Sacramento
9. Demar DeRozan SG Toronto 24. Byron Mullins C Dallas (traded to Oklahoma City)
10. Brandon Jennings PG Milwaukee 25. Rodrigue Beaubois PG Oklahoma City (traded to Dallas)
11. Terrence Williams SG Nets 26. Taj Gibson PF Chicago
12. Gerald Henderson SG Charlotte 27. DeMarre Carroll SF Memphis
13. Tyler Hansborough PF Indiana 28. Wayne Ellington SG Minnesota
14. Earl Clark SF Phoenix 29. Toney Douglas PG Los Angeles
15. Austin Daye SF Detroit 30. Christian Eyenga SF Cleveland

 

All Stars

 

Jrue Holiday, James Harden, Jeff Teague, Demar Derozoan, Blake Griffin, Steph Curry

 

Notable Role Players 

 

Jonas Jerebko, Dejuan Blair, Taj Gibson, Danny Green, Demarre Carroll, Austin Daye, Dante Cunningham, Jeff Pendergraph (later Ayres), Darren Collison, Jodie Meeks, James Johnson, Omri Casspi, Wayne Ellington, Patrick Beverly, Toney Douglas, Patty Mills, Chase Budinger, Eric Maynor

 

Busts of 2009 Class

 

Tyreke Evans, Thabeet Hasheem, Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, Brandon Jennings, Tyler Hansborough, Rodrigue Beaubois

 

Steal of the Draft

 

Steph Curry not only turned out to be the best player in the league, but one of the most destructive offensive forces the league has ever seen. After he overcame ankle problems (which were a legitimate concern for other teams, Steph proved that players from mid- major colleges could compete at the next level (you couldn’t name another player on those Davidson teams can you?). Steph revolutionized the game of basketball with his other-worldy shooting ability and absurd accuracy from anywhere on the court. Just having Curry was enough to get the Davidson Wildcats to the elite eight in the NCAA Tournament. When I watched him in the 2008 tournament, I predicted to my friends that Steph Curry would be the next Reggie Miller, because of his 3 pt shooting. Boy was I wrong……. turns out he is way better than Reggie Miller. 

 

Undrafted Notables

 

Joe Ingles,Wesley Matthews, Aron Baynes

 

NBA Champions

 

Jeff Ayres(2014), Danny Green(2014,2019), Stephen Curry(2015,2017,2018), Patty Mills (2014), Jodie Meeks (2019) 

 

 

 

Draft Notes

  • Its hard to decide who had the worse draft, Minnesota, or the Memphis Grizzlies. Many executives in the league had yet to forgive Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace for trading Pau Gasol for his brother Marc[At the time, the trade looked unbelievably lop-sided as Pau Gasol was a perennial All Star stuck on a well coached overachieving team of role players. No one knew Marc was going to be the beast he grew into becoming]. If you look at the lottery picks that year, you will notice the names of three All Stars (and Olympians) that were picked after # 2 pick, Hasheem Thabeet who played in only 224 games during his career, starting in only 20 of them. Thabeet was selected before James Harden (imagine a backcourt of him and Conley Jr.), Steph Curry and Demar Derozan.
  • Minnesota passed on Steph Curry twice, grabbing Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with consecutive picks. They drafted Ty Lawson with the 18th pick (who was better than either player for when he was in the league) but traded him to Denver.
  • This was a good draft for finding point guards.  Jrue Holiday went on to be a more than serviceable point guard. At one point (before he worked himself out of the league) Ty Lawson was considered the fastest player in the league. Darren Collison, Jeff Teague and Eric Maynor became great role players for their teams.

 

 

And the Winner is…..

 

The Golden State Warriors and the NBA. Three NBA titles and five finals appearances later, there is no argument that Steph Curry has become one of the faces of the league. Every time you’re playing pickup ball and someone takes a crazy heat check jumper from damn near half court, they are channeling their inner Steph Curry. NBA teams go to outrageous lengths to draft players who they hope to be the face of their franchise. Some succeed, most don’t.

Even rarer than drafting a franchise player is the good fortune to nab a player who can also be the face of the league. These sort of acquisitions can carry a franchise for a decade if everything goes right. Seeing all the things that had to happen for Steph Curry to fall to Golden State, only further illustrates this point. Of the six players selected before Curry, none of those players are on the team that drafted them, and three of those players are out of the league (Tyreke Evans, Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet). Hell, go back and look at the first round again, and see if you can name all the players still playing in the NBA. Tyreke Evans was Rookie of the Year, Ty Lawson was at one point the fastest point guard in the NBA, and Steph Curry had weak ankles. A little more of a decade later, and the drafts grades get a bit harsher. Minnesota had three chances to get it right and they didn’t. Golden State had one shot and they made it count. It was the perfect storm.

 

 

BM

 

IMG_0515 (2)

Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

In Retrospect: Examining the 1996 NBA Draft First Round

[The following is a chapter from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other essays. Due out if and when we survive this global pandemic.]

The NBA draft is a fascinating social phenomenon. Front offices use it as an opportunity to pitch entice their team’s fan base to renew their season ticket packages (sometimes before the season is even over). Some fans use it as a beacon of hope for their favorite team and some players see the draft as a harbinger of what is to come for their own careers. 

A great draft can create a dynasty, a good one can extend it, and a bad draft can set a franchise back five to ten years. The line between bust and boom depends on two important factors: the health of a player and the health of a franchise. Would Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard be the same kinds of players had they landed in Brooklyn or Indiana? Would we think of Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant the same had their careers started in Portland?

Sometimes it really is just a matter of a player landing in the right situation. Successful organizations invest in their draft picks and put them in situations to succeed. Not all superstars come into the league ready made; some need to be developed and coached and polished into the diamonds they eventually become.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Veterans carry value within the locker room as well as on the court. As is in life, sometimes its all about meeting the right people to help steer you in the right direction. But NBA success isn’t guaranteed. For every Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Butler, there are tons of players who eat themselves out of the league, have substance abuse problems, and even cases of mental illness. The NBA draft is a crapshoot, and some organizations were good, some bad, and others were just plain (un) lucky.

In this chapter we examine a few select draft classes–ones which altered the league indefinitely–that were springboards to some franchises success and doomed others to being league doormats. These drafts were full of generational talent that changed the league for years to come. Some teams set themselves up to contend for the decade, while other teams set themselves up for failure. You can take a look and see from the drafts which teams trended where.

 

1996 First Round

  1. Allen Iverson G PHI
16. Tony Delk G Charlotte
2. Marcus Camby C TOR 17. Jermaine O’ Neal F Portland
3. Shareef Abdur Rahim Van 18. John Wallace F New York
4. Stephon Marbury G Mil (traded to Minnesota) 19. Walter McCarty F New York
5. Ray Allen G, Minnesota (traded to Milwaukee 20. Zydrunas Ilgauskas C Cleveland
6. Antoine Walker F Boston 21. Dontae Jones F New York
7. Lorenzen Wright C Los Angeles Clippers 22. Roy Rogers F Vancouver
8. Kerry Kittle G New Jersey 23. Efthimios Rentzias C Denver
9. Samaki Walker F Dallas  24. Derek Fisher G Los Angeles
10. Erick Dampier C Indiana 25. Martin Muursepp F Utah (traded to Miami)
11. Todd Fuller C Golden State 26. Jerome Williams F Detroit
12. Vitaly Potapenko C Cleveland 27. Brian Evans F Orlando
13. Kobe Bryant G Charlotte (traded to Lakers) 28. Priest Lauderdale C Atlanta
14. Peja Stojakovic F Sacramento 29. Travis Knight C Chicago
15. Steve Nash G Phoenix

 

All Stars

 

Zydrunas Illguaskas, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakic, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Antoine Walker, Stephon Marbury, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal, Ray Allen

 

Notable Role Players

 

Malik Rose, Othello Harrington, Jermaine O’Neal, Erick Dampier, Lorenzen Wright, Derek Fisher, Kerry Kittles, Marcus Camby, Peja Stojakovic, Samaki Walker, Tony Delk, Zydrunas Illgauskas, John Wallace, Jerome Williams

 

Busts

Erick Dampier, Marcus Camby

 

Draft Day Steal: 

 

Kobe Bryant with the 13th pick is the easiest choice; considering the players who were chosen before him (only five of the twelve players taken before Bryant made an All Star Game). Although Steven Nash went two spots after Bryant, Nash never won a title, and actually left Phoenix for a spell, before returning back to the Suns during the peak stretch of his career. Draft lore reads that Kobe leveraged his way down the draft by refusing to work out for certain teams and informing others that if they drafted him, he would sit out rather than play. Some teams took his bluff seriously while behind the scenes, Jerry West was working the Hornets to draft and trade Bryant in exchange for Vlade Divac. 

 

Notable undrafted players

 

Erick Strickland, Chucky Atkins, Adrian Griffin, Darvin Ham

 

NBA Champions

 

Kobe Bryant (2000,2001,2002,2009,2010), Ray Allen (2008, 2013), Derek Fisher (2000, 2001,2002,2009,2010), Darvin Ham (2004), Peja Stojakovic(2011) , Samaki Walker(2002), Travis Knight (2000), Malik Rose (1999, 2003), Antoine Walker (2006)

 

Draft Notes:

  • In 2016, Kobe Bryant was the last player from this draft to retire.
  • This was my generation’s version of the 1984 draft. Kobe Bryant went on to become a poor man’s Michael Jordan (which I guess makes Nash this generation’s John Stockton[Stockton of course was a much better defender. He still leads the league in All Time steals and assists.])–winning more titles than anyone else in his draft class. No one knew this yet, but the Lakers GM Jerry West’s draft day trade with the Charlotte Hornets would shift the power of the NBA back to the Western Conference (and subsequently , back to Los Angeles). We all know what followed next; as the Lakers signed Shaquille O’Neal as a free agent, and paired the two with Phil Jackson. The Lakers under the direction of Bryant and Jackson would win five titles in a 10 year period (Shaq would contribute to the first three titles before taking his talents to South Beach).
  • The East would only win 3 titles during this decade run: Detroit (2004), Miami (2006) and Boston (2008). The Spurs were the only other team from the Western Conference to win championships in this period (2003,2005,2007).
  • Derek Fisher won 5 chips but I’m sure that had something to do with playing with Kobe. One of the beauties of the Triangle Offense is that it found a way for players like D. Fish to have an impact on the game despite being the 9th or tenth best player on the court at any given time.
  • To be fair, there is no evidence to support that any of the franchises (save Indiana) that passed on Kobe Bryant would’ve been able to put Bryant in the position to be the winner that we know today. Most of these franchises were in the lottery for a reason. Although it is frightening to imagine (both on and off the court) a Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett led Timberwolves squad. 

 

And the Winner is………..

The Los Angeles Lakers, of course; with five Finals wins in seven appearances during Bryant’s entire career. Not that every other team drafted poorly, on the contrary; this is one of the best in NBA history. It just shows you how dominant Kobe’s Lakers were during his peak years. There were five franchise players picked in this round, but only Ray Allen came close to sniffing the post season success that Kobe Bryant achieved (R.I.P.) as a Laker; winning two titles of his own late into his career.

 

 

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

In Retrospect: Examining the 2011 NBA Draft First Round

 

[The following is a chapter from my upcoming book, Tao of the Passing Big Man, and other essays. Due out if and when we survive this global pandemic.]

The NBA draft is a fascinating social phenomenon. Front offices use it as an opportunity to pitch entice their team’s fan base to renew their season ticket packages (sometimes before the season is even over). Some fans use it as a beacon of hope for their favorite team and some players see the draft as a harbinger of what is to come for their own careers. 

A great draft can create a dynasty, a good one can extend it, and a bad draft can set a franchise back five to ten years. The line between bust and boom depends on two important factors: the health of a player and the health of a franchise. Would Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard be the same kinds of players had they landed in Brooklyn or Indiana? Would we think of Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant the same had their careers started in Portland?

Sometimes it really is just a matter of a player landing in the right situation. Successful organizations invest in their draft picks and put them in situations to succeed. Not all superstars come into the league ready made; some need to be developed and coached and polished into the diamonds they eventually become.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Veterans carry value within the locker room as well as on the court. As is in life, sometimes its all about meeting the right people to help steer you in the right direction. But NBA success isn’t guaranteed. For every Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Butler, there are tons of players who eat themselves out of the league, have substance abuse problems, and even cases of mental illness. The NBA draft is a crapshoot, and some organizations were good, some bad, and others were just plain (un) lucky.

In this chapter we examine a few select draft classes–ones which altered the league indefinitely–that were springboards to some franchises success and doomed others to being league doormats. These drafts were full of generational talent that changed the league for years to come. Some teams set themselves up to contend for the decade, while other teams set themselves up for failure. You can take a look and see from the drafts which teams trended where.

2011 First Round Picks

  1. Kyrie Irving PG Cle
16. Nikola Vucevic C Philadelphia
2. Derrick Williams SF/PF MIN 17. Iman Shumpert SG New York
3. Enes Kanter C Utah 18. Chris Stapleton SF Washington
4. Tristan Thompson C Cleveland 19. Tobias Harris SF Charlotte (traded to Milwaukee)
5. Jonas Valanciunas C Toronto 20. Donatas Motiejunas PF Minnesota (traded to Houston)
6. Jan Vesely PF Washington 21. Nolan Smith PG Portland
7. Bismack Biyombo C Sacramento (traded to Charlotte 22. Kenneth Faried PF Denver
8. Brandon Knight PG Detroit 23. Nikola Mirotic PF Houston (traded to Mirotic)
9. Kemba Walker PG Charlotte 24. Reggie Jackson PG Oklahoma City
10. Jimmer Fredette SG Sacramento 25. Marshon Brooks SG Boston (traded to New Jersey)
11. Klay Thompson SG Golden State 26. Jordan Hamilton SG Dallas (traded to Denver)
12. Alec Burks SG Utah 27. Jajuan Johnson PF New Jersey (traded to Boston)
13. Markieff Morris PF Suns 28. Norris Cole PG Chicago (traded to Miami)
14. Marcus Morris PF Rockets 29. Cory Joseph PG San Antonio
15. Kawhi Leonard SF Indiana (traded to San Antonio) Jimmy Butler SG Chicago

 

All Stars

Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Isaiah Thomas, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Vucevic

 

Notable Role Players

Norris Cole, Jonas Valuciunas, Iman Shumpert, Tobias Harris, Reggie Jackson, Cory Joseph, Enes Kanter, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Bismack Biyambo, Kenneth Faried, Brandon Knight, Bojan Bgdanovic, Shelvin Mack, Davis Bertans

 

Busts

Derrick Thompson, Jan Vasely, Jimmer Fredette, Brandon Knight, Derrick Williams, Bismack Biyombo, Jonas Valaciunas, Enes Kanter

 

Steal of the Draft

Jimmy Butler easily with the 30th pick of the draft.The guard out of Marquette was drafted to be a defensive specialist, but soon worked himself into a viable offensive option and eventually into an Olympian. Now Jimmy Butler is known throughout the NBA as one of the best two way players in the league (considering there may only be ten legitimate two way players left).

 

Notable Undrafted 

Zoran Dragic, Justin Holiday

 

NBA Champions

Kyrie Irving (2016), Klay Thompson (2015, 2017, 2018),Cory Joseph (2014) , Iman Shumpert (2016), Tristan Thompson (2016), Kawhi Leonard (2014, 2019)

 

Draft Notes

 

  • Kyrie was the number one pick out of Duke after playing 14 games entire season
  • Of the top 15 players drafted, other than Klay Thompson, can you think of a player who made more of an impact in the league than Kawhi Leonard?
  • Klay Thompson best two way player at his position, and won multiple titles at Golden state as one half of the splash brothers. Sacramento can kick themselves for drafting Jimmer Fredette a pick ahead of Thompson, but management would’ve found a way to stunt his growth, or alienate him to the point where he would leave for another team. Then again, a building around a core of Thompson and (pre-injury)Boogie Cousins could change any team’s fortunes–even the Sacramento Kings.
  • Isiaiah Thomas, out of Washington, was the last player picked this draft. He worked himself into an all star, and was in line for a massive contract, but that was derailed by a hip injury that he aggravated in the playoffs playing for the Boston Celtics. The next season, he was traded for Kyrie Irving.
  • Detroit found another way to shoot themselves in the foot, drafting Brandon Knight one slot ahead of Kemba Walker; a point guard from the northeast who could’ve matched the grit of a blue collar town like Detroit and would’ve certainly been a fan favorite there.
  • In hindsight, Klay Thompson probably should’ve been picked at number 2 behind Kyrie Irving (Not even the Spurs knew that Kawhi Leonard would become the player that he turned out to be).
  • Three of the best two-way players in the league came from this draft with Thompson, Leonard, and Butler.

 

And the Winner of the 2011 Draft is…

The Golden State Warriors. Klay Thompson not only became one of the most recognizable faces of the league, but made a name for himself as one the most clutch, earning the nickname “Game 6 Klay”.  The Warriors also managed to select one of the best shooting, shooting guards in league history. So far, they have three NBA titles to show for it. No other team in this draft yielded as high a return on their investment as Golden State did (Sorry Spurs fans!). In conclusion, Jerry West knows basketball.

 

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found in the KDVS studios making on air playlists. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com