Category Archives: NBA

What is wrong with the NBA today?

Let’s all be honest, the NFL has had its fair share of problems between player misconduct and well… Mr. Goodell, but we all know that the NBA is quickly becoming the laughing stock of professional sports. With the blatant lack of defensive intensity, the ridiculous amount of flops and the amount of games missed for “rest,” the National Basketball Association’s mockery starts on the court and continues off the court (cough cough Lavar Ball, Charles Barkley, LeBron James).

So let’s talk about the days off. I can look at this in a variety of different ways, but I continue to come to the same conclusion… this generation of NBA players has become weak.

Take it from a civilian perspective, most working class Americans might get 5 days off in a calendar year. That’s 12 months of work. So obviously, you have to take into account that NBA players are doing physical labor so to speak, but they also get days off in between games throughout the season. I’d also like to mention that they get about three months off each offseason. I know that they are human beings and need time to rest and recuperate, but they get their R & R on private islands and fancy resorts.

Now, let’s take a look at it from a basketball perspective. There have been plenty of superstars over the years who have led long careers and still played every night. Combine that with the advancements in physical therapy and sports medicine, and you shouldn’t miss a single game if you are healthy.

LeBron James spoke about how Spurs head coach Gregg Poppovich has been resting players for years and it has paid off with 5 championships. That is very true, but I believe that it is on the player whether they want to play or not. James also said that not every NBA coach has the same kind of stature as Poppovich, which is also true. NBA superstars tower over most coaches in terms of power. None more than LeBron, so it is his choice if he wants to play or not. Just ask James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

Looking at it from a numbers perspective, Michael Jordan played 80 or more games in 11 of his 15 seasons. One of those 4 seasons he missed more than 2 games was due to injury, and another was when he returned from his baseball stint late in the 1995 season. Jordan actually played all 82 games nine times including his final season with the Wizards.

On the other hand, LeBron James has never played in all 82 games, and in 14 seasons, he has only reached 80 games twice. For those of you who want to say that James plays more than MJ or it’s because he makes the Finals every year, James averages 38.9 minutes per game for his career. MJ averaged 38.3 mpg. Jordan also played all 82 games in each of the last three championship seasons in Chicago.

Karl Malone played 80 or more games in 17 of his 19 seasons, including all 82 games 10 times. His teammate John Stockton played in all 82 games in an astounding 16 of his 19 seasons. Keep in mind, they also had deep playoff runs.

So I ask you… what is your excuse?

Steph Curry (8 seasons), Dwyane Wade (14 seasons) and Carmelo Anthony (14 seasons) have never played in 82 games in a season. Anthony and Curry have only reached 80 twice each, and Wade has never reached that mark. In fact, Anthony hasn’t even reached 70 games in 8 of his 14 seasons.

Nevertheless, that shouldn’t be the reason why you want to play day in and day out. It should be because 1) you get to play basketball for a living. It’s the thing you grew up dreaming of. It’s the thing you’ve given your life to. And 2) think of the children out there that idolize you. The kids that wear your jersey when they hoop. The poor father that scrapped together the money to buy tickets to a game just so his son could see you play.

What do you say to that family? To that child?

I just believe that the fans deserve to see their favorite players play when they go to the game. Home or away. It may sound selfish to treat the players like an object. Like entertainment. But to be completely honest, they are just that. And they get paid very handsomely to entertain. Some of them make even more money off the court because their fans buy shoes and jerseys and all sorts of other endorsed products. The least these players could do is their job.

Moral of the story, it’s a game. Go play it.

Paul Schaum

Sports Writer. Avid sports fan. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate. Currently living in Tempe, AZ.

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder Agree To A 3-year/$85 Million Contract Extension

It has been a tumultuous past couple of months for the Oklahoma City Thunder, to say the least. They lost a heartbreaking series against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, a series which they dominated the first 4 games only to see Golden State come back and crush their championship hopes.

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On draft night, OKC traded big man Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for guard Victor Oladipo and the No. 12 pick, which they used to draft Domantis Sobonis. Then, in the beginning of July, superstar Kevin Durant hit free agency and joined the very team that ended the Thunder’s playoff dreams weeks earlier. As if that didn’t cut deep into the die hard, blue-blooded veins of the OKC faithful, reports surfaced in the following days that Russell Westbrook wouldn’t sign a contract extension “under any circumstances.”

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Fast forward a few weeks later, and now Thunder fans can breathe a lot easier. Despite all of these earlier reports that Westbrook was all but gone, Russell and the Thunder agreed on a 3-year, $85 million contract extension, with a player option for the 2018-2019 season. Given the short length of the contract, it appears that Westbrook will be looking to cash in after the next salary cap jump next summer, while giving GM Sam Presti a couple of years to lure another star to OKC to play alongside Westbrook.

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While losing a player of Kevin Durant’s caliber is a huge blow, the Thunder will still be a very good team next season. While they most likely won’t score as much as they did, they will be a very physical, defensive team. This, I believe, will be their calling card next season.  With Westbrook and backcourt mate Victor Oladipo, they may very well be the best defensive backcourt in the NBA. They will be able to give fits to any backcourt that opposes them. And in today’s guard-heavy league, this will be greatly beneficial to OKC. Andre Roberson is a solid defender in his own right. Down low, OKC has two brick houses that will bring toughness inside in Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. Adams is the better defender/rebounder, while Kanter will be able provide some reliable low-post scoring. With the departure of Ibaka, 3rd-year man Mitch McGary projects to see a solid increase in minutes at the 4, with Ersan Ilyasova and the always reliable Nick Collison to relieve him.

With two guards that love to drive the lane, having guys that can hit shots from the outside is a plus, and OKC has them. Anthony Morrow, Ersan Ilyasova, Kyle Singler, Cameron Payne, and Alex Abrines are all guys who could thrive off of getting open looks from OKC’s backcourt driving the lane and causing the defense to collapse.

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Given the pieces that they have, and an extra motivated Westbrook that will be on a mission to destroy everything in his path next season, I expect the Thunder to be in the thick of the playoff race in the West. My projection is a 6 seed.

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    Kyle Miller

Huge Bucks, Packer, Brewer, Predator and Badger fan. But above all, just a lover of sports in general. Can’t wait to bring you some sports articles from a serious, yet humorous, perspective.

Why the super team is the NBA’s new best friend

With the signing of Kevin Durant to the Warriors, the idea of super teams is making a lot of people nervous. Fans are worried about their teams not competing, players are worried about never getting that ever-elusive ring, and even commissioner Adam Silver does “not think it is ideal” to have super teams. I’m here to tell everyone to relax and enjoy the ride. When you look past the immediate threat to your favorite team and start to look at the big picture, it becomes clear that WE ARE WATCHING HISTORY!

NBA Board of Governors Press Conference

Basketball history is separated by the greatness and dynasties from so called “super teams.” Those teams are how we define the era. Bill Russell’s Celtics in the 60’s, the Showtime Lakers in the 80’s, MJ and the 90’s Bulls, and the Lakers of the early 2000’s were all super teams of their respective eras, and as a result, they are the teams we remember. We remember being amazed at Michael coming back and winning 3 more titles or the slick passing of the Showtime Lakers, but what we don’t remember are the average teams that win a title in a down year. Super teams provide a storyline that keep people talking about the NBA just a little bit longer, which is what it needs at a time when the NFL is quickly becoming a 12-month sport. The season, the playoffs, the draft, free agency, the Olympics or FIBA World Championships… these are all elements that keep us talking about the NBA year round. Kevin Durant and the Warriors have single-handedly taken over water cooler talk at work… at least this year. Without these storylines, professional basketball will fade into the background, like baseball. The MLB’s best players even admit that their sport lacks star power. The NBA doesn’t, and what better way to amplify that star power than to have them join forces and make history.

Pat Riley and Magic Johnson Game Portrait

Kevin Durant to the Warriors has provided us with the narrative that will define the rest of this decade. The Warriors, newly retooled, are the largest roadblock to Lebron’s quest to end his career as the greatest player ever. Because of Kevin Durant and his decision, the 2010’s are shaping up to become one of the most important decades in NBA history, and we should all be grateful. If Golden State wins it all, they could be one of the greatest teams ever assembled. If they lose, it could be one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Free agency moves like LeBron’s in 2010 and KD’s this year are what leaves an imprint in the minds of basketball fans for years to come.

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NBA fans better get used to the idea of super teams… because it has existed for decades, and it won’t be changing anytime soon.

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  Alex Richter

Avid sports fan specializing in NFL and NCAA football. University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate. Living in Madison, WI. Go Badgers!

Twitter: @richterat13

What to watch: Summer League Championship (Chicago Bulls vs. Minnesota Timberwolves)

Tonight is the NBA Las Vegas Summer League Championship on ESPN2, and we are in for a treat. I know what most people are thinking… does summer league even matter?

Well my answer to that is… kind of. As we saw this summer, the No. 1 pick Ben Simmons sat a number of games for rest, which took away from the excitement and importance of the process. However, the NBA, although a team sport, is the most individualistic team sport of the Big 4, meaning that one player can win you a game. With that being said, we get to watch two 2016 All-Americans and the 2015 Final Four Most Outstanding Player tonight.

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More than just the fact that it is a title game of sorts, the two teams playing provide us with some interesting headlines. One, the Bulls were in negotiations to possibly trade Jimmy Butler to the Wolves, which would have landed them the No. 5 pick, Kris Dunn. Two, former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is now Minnesota’s new head coach. And three, we get to see the 2016 LV Summer League MVP Tyus Jones continue to make life difficult for the Minnesota coaching staff.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: Tyus Jones #1 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 13, 2016 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Timberwolves have four solid point guards heading into the 2016-17 season (Jones, Dunn, Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine). The age old saying about NFL quarterbacks is if you have two good QB’s, you have no good QB’s. To a lesser extent, that can be true for NBA point guards, as they are the leaders on the court. Now, the league has experienced a bit of a shift when it comes to guards, especially point guards. Small guards have been playing together the last few seasons. For example, Damien Lilliard and CJ McCollum in Portland or any combination of Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and now Tyler Ulis in Phoenix. So, maybe they go small in the backcourt, considering the front line of Wiggins, Towns and Pekovic is solid.

As for the Bulls, many critics were bashing them for the moves they made this summer. It has been well documented that Rondo, Wade and Butler are not three point threats, leaving Chicago with a hole in that department. However, the young Bulls are now 6-0 in summer league. Second year man Bobby Portis was voted onto the summer league first team, and rookie Denzel Valentine has impressed thus far. Felicio has been a beast in the paint as well. On top of the recent success, the Bulls have young stars like Jerian Grant, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic to add to the veteran backcourt.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 12: Bobby Portis #5 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2016 NBA Las Vegas Summer League game on July 12, 2016 at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Wolves are on the come-up, and the Bulls were said to be entering a rebuilding mode… but I think that both of these teams may be misrepresented by these assumptions. Minnesota has solid young talent, but let’s not forget that they play in the West, which still has 3 or 4 powerhouses. On the other hand, the Bulls play in the East, where aside from the Cavs, there are no real top tier teams.

Ultimately, the winner of this game may be irrelevant, especially without a headline like last year (Becky Hammon won the title as Spurs HC). However, these will be two of the more unpredictable and interesting teams this season… making this a game to watch.

And let’s face it… it’s July. You can only watch so much baseball.

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 Paul Schaum

Sports Writer. Avid sports fan. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate. Currently living in Tempe, AZ.