Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Bad News Wolves

Last year, the Minnesota Timberwolves had one of the weirdest seasons I have ever seen of any team in any sport.

What started as a season of promise and potential devolved into a season of misery and frustration and left Minnesota without a coach and without a major step forward in the process of winning.

I want to take a look back at some of the unbelievable things which happened to Minnesota last season and contributed heavily to their comic losing.

Sometimes you have to laugh to stop from crying.


Things actually started quite well for them.

They came out in the preseason and jumped out to a 5-1 record, and Martell Webster was looking like Michael Jordan the way he was able to finish difficult layups in traffic.

On top of that, he was on fire, drilling shots from all over the court and establishing himself as a powerful weapon for the team.

Minnesota created a little national sizzle after their fast start.

Then an old back injury flared up and required surgery and required Webster to miss the first six weeks of the season.

Even when he came back, he rarely was able to have the same impact he was having in those few preseason games or that he had at times in Portland.

It was the first sign of many bad things to come.

The Timberwolves played at Orlando in early November.

Orland was scheduled to play in New York the night before, but the game was postponed due to asbestos at Madison Square Garden.

Instead of playing an Orlando team which had flown in and played in New York the night before, they played a team on more than four days rest and which still had the bad taste in their mouths of being blown out by Miami in their last game.

The result was a disaster.

Not saying Minnesota would have won the game or anything, but they probably wouldn't have lost by 42 points.

In what had to be the funniest moment of the season (not the ankle sprain but the timing), Darko Milicic sprained his ankle against Portland on the opening tip.

The opening tip!

How do you sprain your ankle on the opening tip?

And I'm not lying. You can look it up. This is tragic stuff.

And Nikola Pekovic, one of his backups, sprained his ankle in about two minutes in the same game.

Again, tragic stuff.

Minnesota played the early part of the season without the injured Jonny Flynn.

When Flynn finally came back, he was to play a few games in the development league to help his rehab.

At least one more game in the development league was scheduled for Flynn. But he got caught in a snowstorm and couldn't play because the game was canceled.

I swear I'm not making this up.

After losing 11 of 12 games, Minnesota was able to get a breakthrough win in a blowout over Toronto only to see Luke Ridnour have to leave the team for personal reasons before the next game and miss the next six.

And after winning four of eight games in early March it seemed the team was undone by untimely reports that Kurt Rambis would be fired after the season.

They would lose their next 15 games.

And that pretty much sums up the season for the Timberwolves.

It was a disaster movie.

As bad as Kurt Rambis was, and he was bad, you can't blame him entirely for the 17 wins.

And you can't entirely blame the players.

Last season it was like the Timberwolves were riding on the Titanic as the special guests of a man named Murphys and his favorite son Law.

It was that bad.

So as Minnesota looks for a new coach and tries to capitalize on the buzz created by the breakout seasons of Kevin Love and Michael Beasley and the arrivals of Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams, we can only hope that next season is better than last.

It can't get any worse.

But that's what I thought last year.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

LaMarcus Aldridge: All The Right Moves

LaMarcus Aldridge really came into his own last year.

For about two months he basically set anyone who stood in front of him on fire, and his season is the perfect example of why you can't measure someone by All-Star appearances.

This is his reel to "All the Right Moves" by OneRepublic, a song I love.

And for good measure, let's throw in some Gerald Wallace from his time in the Great Northwest.

I like the way things are looking up there.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

John Wall Mix: Put It On The Line

These are John Wall's rookie season clips to the song "Put It on the Line" by CIU.

Washington has a lot of good, young players and added three more prospects in the draft last month.

And they have new uniforms. Things are getting interesting in DC.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Look Around The NBA

I tried to put together a list of top free agents yesterday and ran into a huge problem.

I couldn't do it.

This is my top five: (1) Tyson Chandler, (2) Marc Gasol, (3) Samuel Dalembert, (4) TJ Ford and (5) Jeff Green.

The list was based on making myself the general manager of a NBA team trying to put together a group to win a championship and listing the guys in the order that I would try to sign them.

But what about Oklahoma City?

There is no way they would go after Chandler when they already have Serge Ibaka, who does essentially the same thing.

Marc Gasol would be their first choice.

As I looked through the rest of the 15 guys, I saw this same thing everywhere.

You can't definitively rank individual players. You have to know the teammates they will be playing with and the coach they will be playing for.

I ended up scrapping the list and killing the story.

Mike Prada completely disrespected DeShawn Stevenson and himself last week when he wrote that there are "plenty" of guys in the D-League who can fill in for Stevenson in a pinch.

He deserves a $1,000 fine and a one-week suspension for lack of basketball knowledge.

Reducing Stevenson's contributions to threes and D is insulting and makes me wonder what games Prada was watching, not to mention that Stevenson's threes and defense were against the best players and teams and on the biggest stage the game has to offer.

I'll let Tyson Chandler, someone who knows what he is talking about, describe some of the other things Stevenson provided Dallas.

In short, Chandler is saying Stevenson knows how to play basketball.

Knowing how to play the game may be a "minimal" contribution in Prada's eyes, but it's invaluable to this little thing called "winning."

Being unselfish and a total team player? Means nothing. Minimal contributions.

And Chandler forgot to mention that Stevenson can bring the ball up the floor and initiate the offense, like he did at times during their playoff run.

Zach Lowe, in a wildly inaccurate and reckless statement, wrote that Mike Bibby "can't guard anyone." Lowe should know better.

Ask Rajon Rondo about Mike Bibby's defense.

And ask Derrick Rose. Bibby played so well against Rose that even the player-haters at Heat Index had to give it up to him for his defense.

Bibby did struggle against JJ Barea in the Finals, and I can't explain his playoff-long shooting slump, but to write that he can't guard anyone is false and irresponsible.

If Lowe made that statement on the witness stand, he would be prosecuted for lying under oath.

Finally, David Kahn made the news again.

Not that he actually did anything, so the best way to put it would be that the media made David Kahn make the news again.

Kahn fired Kurt Rambis, but apparently there are standing orders at every media outlet that no story about Kahn can be written without portraying him in the worst possible light.

So the narrative developed that Kahn took too long and is some sort of bad guy for not firing Rambis three months ago.


As far as I'm concerned, anyone towing the "David Kahn is a buffoon/bad guy" company line is a peon.

Fortunately for you, I am my own man; so you'll never have to worry about me following the crowd or being bullied into writing something I don't truly believe.

It's one of the many perks of being independent.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DeMar DeRozan Mix: Toronto Star

Everyone should remember DeMar DeRozan from the dunk contest.

His "Show Stopper" dunk was one of the best we've seen and certainly had the crowd and the announcers buzzing.

But most people probably don't know DeRozan from watching Toronto games.

He's turned into a pretty good player and is a rising star in the NBA as long as he continues to work hard and improve his game.

Here are some of his highlights. Music starts at 2:07.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Film Room: Michael Jordan's Defense

These are the highlights that didn't make SportsCenter.

But don't think for one second that they weren't just as important to the greatness of Michael Jordan as the switch of hands, the shots on Craig Ehlo and Bryon Russell, the cradle dunks and all of the other Jordan plays that you see all the time.

Although Carmelo Anthony, Monta Ellis and Amar'e Stoudemire receive all of the criticism, there are many more players in the NBA who to one degree or another need to step up their games defensively.

And Michael Jordan is here to show everyone how to do it.

Notice how spectacular he is at so many different aspects of defense: ball denial, being physical, staying in front of his man and stopping dribble penetration, helping his teammates out, hustling and never giving up plays, reading and anticipating plays and taking the ball away from the other team.


Jordan was kind enough to tell exactly how he was able to pull most of these things off.

It started with his mental approach to the game and knowing the strengths and weakness of his opponents and trying to force them to do things they weren't comfortable doing.

Techniques like off-ball defense and keeping his eyes on his man and the ball at the same time helped him as well.

This is how it looks in game situations.

His defensive stance and the placement of his hands to block the passing lane with one and swat at the ball with the other helped him contain his man and get steals.

And eating right, staying in shape and getting plenty of rest gave him the energy to go all out and be a force on both ends of the floor.

There it is.

Michael Jordan, who is a great teacher, has laid a solid foundation for defensive improvement; so don't blame him if guys aren't better on defense.

And don't blame Scottie Pippen.

Between the two of them, those in the NBA have all of the examples they need to dominate the defensive end of the floor.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Just A Dream: Vince Carter And Nelly

Do you remember Vince Carter?

I mean do you really remember Vince Carter? Or did you think it was all just a dream?

This is Carter to Nelly's song "Just a Dream."

Let's travel back down that road.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Never Too Late: Allen Iverson Mix

Allen Iverson was recently quoted saying he wants to finish his career in the NBA.

Three Days Grace wants him to know that it's "Never Too Late."

That's the song from the band used on this Iverson reel.

And here is some more Allen Iverson for those who want an extended version.

They're right. It's never too late.

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