From the East Coast to the West Coast, pro sports are full of teams that double as experts in theatrics. Some situations, like with any New York team, are results of the environment, while others seem to find plenty of drama on their own accord.
With a fierce superstorm bearing down on the East Coast, Suffolk Downs in Boston and Yonkers Raceway in New York have called off horse racing.
After a six-point preseason loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, the Atlanta Hawks traveled to the gym at Butler University in Indianapolis on Monday morning, eager to correct some mistakes and continue preparing for the regular season. But before the clock struck noon on the East Coast, according to the team’s Twitter feed (and, subsequently, Hawks teammates Mike Scott , Al Horford , James Anderson and Anthony Tolliver , as well as Hawks player development instructor Nick Van Exel ), practice was called on account of extreme violence against plexiglas. Behold:
The perpetrator of this glass-shattering (which we’d have to imagine the folks at Butler aren’t super thrilled about)? None other than Ivan Johnson, Atlanta’s diamond-grill-rockin’ , non-NBA-watchin’ , rough-and-tumble-shot-destroyin’ , Celtics-fan-bird-flippin’ power forward, who appeared pretty much out of nowhere last season and became an Internet fan favorite due in large part to his combination of physicality and plain-spoken awesomeness.
After the shattered backboard gave us the physicality, it was time for the plain-spoken awesomeness. Ivan, naturally, did not disappoint:
“Ehh, it’s just the way I work out. I work out hard,” a totally nonplussed Johnson said when asked what happened. “In everything we do.”
The Sixers acquired Bynum from the Lakers on Friday in a blockbuster four-team deal that also sent Dwight Howard to L.A. and Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets. The only downside for Philly is the fact that Bynum’s current contract expires at the end of the 2012-13 season, and he has offered zero guarantees that he’ll sign an extension rather than test the free-agent market next summer.
But still, the Sixers brass is confident about its chances of convincing him to stick around. On Friday, Thorn told CSN Philly’s Dei Lynam:
Our feeling is that we will have a very good chance to sign Bynum for several reasons. Andrew was very happy about being traded to us. He thinks we have a good team. Secondly, he is from New Jersey and he is more of an East Coast guy than a West Coast type of guy and we think he will be very happy here. You never know until it happens, but I feel he’ll like it here and want to continue his career here.
In signing an extension with the Sixers, Bynum would be turning down the opportunity to explore a free-agent market that would be very, very kind to him next summer. Especially if Howard ends up signing an extension with L.A., Bynum would be the marquee free agent on the market.
Even if Howard doesn’t sign and also hits free agency, there is such a dearth of dominant centers in the NBA that both of them will likely receive huge contracts.
Would Bynum really give up the opportunity to have his pick of teams? Would he really give up the opportunity to see just how much the league thinks he’s worth—knowing that there are so few players out there who are capable of doing what he does?
Bynum is no Howard, and a big part of the reason the Lakers were willing to part ways with him is because he’s often perceived as apathetic and injury-prone, but the 2011-12 season was something of an awakening for him. After six seasons of showing off his potential but never fully living up to it, Bynum came alive in 2011-12, tallying 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.
If he can keep up that kind of production in his one (guaranteed) year with Philly, Bynum would be crazy to commit himself long-term before testing his worth on the free-agent market. He could be costing himself millions of dollars. He could be costing himself an opportunity to play for the team he really, really wants to play for, whatever team that is.
There’s also the issue of whether or not the Sixers are truly going to be able to compete over the long-term. Bynum isn’t going to commit himself to a franchise that isn’t definitively trending upward, and the Sixers have yet to prove that they’re capable of competing with the Celtics, the Knicks, the Nets and the abundance of teams in their division who have also made significant improvements this offseason.
We all know it takes more than one player to create a championship contender, and Bynum can’t save the Sixers all by himself.
This situation would be different if Bynum wasn’t a center. As it stands, though, he’s one of two centers in this league who are going to be worth the huge money and huge contracts they’re likely to receive next July. In the NBA, Howard and Bynum are the centers who can make or break a season or a playoff run.
Even if he does end up testing the market only to stay put exactly where he is—a la Deron Williams this summer—Bynum is going to at least see what else is out there.
He’d be crazy not to.
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It should come as no surprise to New York Knick fans that the Los Angeles Lakers, NBA royalty, outdistanced its East Coast competitors for the services of future Hall-of-Fame point guard Steve Nash.
The NBA Finals schedule has been released and in typical David Stern fashion, he once again showed how very little he and the NBA cares about the fans that have supported the league for decades.
The schedule is as follows (via ProBasketballTalk) and follows the usual 2-3-2 format as the Finals always does. In addition, all games are on ABC and all times are Eastern.
Game 1 – Tuesday at Oklahoma City 9:00 PM
Game 2 – Thursday at Oklahoma City 9:00 PM
Game 3 – Sunday at Miami 8:00 PM
Game 4 – June 19 at Miami 9:00 PM
Game 5 – June 21 at Miami 9:00 PM
Game 6 – June 24 at Oklahoma City 8:00 PM
Game 7 – June 26 at Oklahoma City 9:00 PM
The times of the games are horrible, especially for the East Coast fans. Many of these fans who live in the east won’t be able to watch the games due to the ridiculous tip-off times.
What do you expect from Stern though as he’s proven time and time again that the fans, which ultimately keep his league going, are the least of his concerns.
Starting with the games to be held in Oklahoma City, is there any reason at all that they can’t be played at 8:00 PM instead of 9:00 PM? It doesn’t really effect the fan attending the game as starting the game at 7:00 PM local time would lead to an 8:00 PM tip-off on the East Coast.
Yet while he can’t do that in order to appease all of the NBA fans across the country, the genius that Stern is has Game 6 starting at 8:00 PM EST, so why not all of the other ones?
Then there’s the games in Miami.
Why in the world would he start a game in Miami at 9:00? Yet Games 4 and 5 start then while Game 3, also in Miami, starts at 8:00 PM.
Only Stern would make East Coast games start later during most peoples’ work weeks.
It just shows a sheer lack of respect for his fan base. The NBA can show normal playoff games at 7 or 8:00, but they feel the need to bump a the finals to 9:00.
You would think that with LeBron James and Kevin Durant squaring off against each other that Stern would want to make sure everyone could see these games, but that’s not the case because he has never cared what the fans think.
I for one won’t miss a second of the action, but that likely can’t be said for many people of the East coast, even though there’s an east coast team playing.
For them to see much of the action it will be on SportsCenter or on their DVR’s. He’s taken the casual fan out of this series because it is very doubtful they stay awake that late to watch.
Shame on Stern for that, but some things never change.
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The Portland Trail Blazers may have missed the playoffs for the first time in four years, but they are set up to fix things in a hurry.
The Trail Blazers own two lottery picks in the 2012 draft (6 and 11). They were awarded the New Jersey Nets sixth overall pick in a trade that sent Gerald Wallace to the East Coast and they “earned” the 11th pick after quitting on coach Nate McMillan halfway through the season.
They picked a great year to have two picks in the lottery, and have the potential to land players that will be immediate impact starters.
At No. 6, landing a player like Harrison Barnes would shore up the offense of a team that ranked in the lower half of the league in points scored (97.2 ppg).
Barnes has the potential to lead the league in scoring down the road with his versatile game and athletic ability. He could instantly provide some relief to LaMarcus Aldridge, who currently shoulders far too much responsibility on the offensive end of the floor.
Drafting a scorer? Check.
With the 11th pick, the perfect scenario would be landing point guard Kendall Marshall.
Marshall is the best pure point in the draft because of his vision and speed. North Carolina’s offense fell off a cliff after he broke his wrist for a reason. He has the intangibles and intelligences to be a starter in this league for the next decade.
Not only would Barnes and Marshall be united after spending two years together at North Carolina, but the Blazers would instantly be fixing the worst issue with the team.
Raymond Felton was a clear bust, and if fans think Jonny Flynn is the answer they are off their rocker. Somebody needs to do a better job of getting Aldridge the ball in a position where he can score, while creating shots for guys like Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum as well.
Marshall can push the pace and help a team that finished last season ranked 24th in fastbreak points (10.9 ppg) become tougher to guard.
The Trail Blazers aren’t very far from being a competitive team in the Western Conference, and having two lottery picks in a year where the talent level is so deep is just what the doctor ordered.
Much like the Utah Jazz of last year, the rebuilding process is going to be extremely quick at the Rose Garden.
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Amar’e Stoudemire has gone from being the pride of New York to a disgrace.
He was the big free-agent signing who was supposed to lift the Knicks from the doldrums, catapulting them through the playoffs and to their first championship since 1973.
But even before he lacerated his left hand punching a fire extinguisher case after Monday’s 104-94 loss to the Miami Heat, Stoudemire had taken a back seat to Carmelo Anthony in New York. He also took a back seat to Jeremy Lin earlier in the season.
In some ways, asking Stoudemire to win a championship was unfair. He hardly played any defense in Phoenix, and he’s never been a good rebounder for his size, so why would that change in New York? He was never the superstar we tabbed him to be.
But when Stoudemire lost it in the locker room on Monday night, everything changed. Stoudemire wasn’t just a disappointment on the court. He was a disappointment off it, as well. And that frankly makes you useless to an organization.
Stoudemire went to Twitter to apologize to the Knicks and his fans after the game.
I am so mad at myself right now, I want to apologize to the fans and my team, not proud of my actions, headed home for a new start
— Amar’e Stoudemire (@Amareisreal) May 1, 2012
Four hours later, Stoudemire was still thinking about what he had done.
We all have done thing out of anger that we regret.That makes us human. Bad timing on my part. Sorry guys. This to shall pass.
— Amar’e Stoudemire (@Amareisreal) May 1, 2012
It was past 3 a.m. on the East Coast.
Perhaps Stoudemire was preparing for what happened today and what is bound to happen the entire offseason. He had to know that the New York media would eat him up, that he would go from superhero to scapegoat, even if he wasn’t the only one disappointing in New York.
But what’s done is done. Stoudemire is being called a selfish player now after he took himself out of the series.
While the Knicks realistically never had a chance against the Heat, the fact of the matter is, they still had a chance mathematically. The Heat still have to win two more games to knock them out of the playoffs.
And taking yourself out of the series basically inspires the same reaction as if you quit—people blow up.
I would say that Stoudemire being traded would be a possibility in the offseason after this, but come to think of it, who wants this guy now?
It’s not just in New York—his actions may have far-reaching consequences. He has a huge contract, and nobody wants to pay for a huge contract if he’s liable of going bonkers in the postseason (off the court).
What you could have is Stoudemire playing out the rest of his contract in New York and constantly being seen as a disappointment, constantly being trashed by the New York media and the Knicks fan base. It has disaster written all over it.
Because when you are seen as the savior of the franchise, and you extinguish such hope and promise, you will undoubtedly fall from your pedestal, and fall hard.
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An awful lot of sports fans — especially those on the East Coast, exhausted after 7.75 NBA playoff games in less than two days — probably went to sleep somewhere around the end of the third quarter of Sunday’s Game 1 between the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers. After 36 minutes of mostly lights-out basketball on both ends of the floor, Memphis held a 21-point advantage over the Clippers heading into the fourth quarter, and they looked well on their way to a convincing blowout win to open their Western Conference playoff series.
And then, this happened:
From Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press :
Chris Paul begged coach Vinny Del Negro to put him back into the game for the fourth quarter and not give up despite being down 21 points.
The result was another Clippers comeback — one of the greatest in NBA playoff history.
Paul hit a pair of free throws with 23.7 seconds left, and the Clippers rallied from a deficit that had been as much as 27 to stun the Memphis Grizzlies 99-98 Sunday night in the opening game of their Western Conference series.
The key, Paul said, is to keep believing.
”Unfortunately, that’s how we play,” he said. ”We get killed in the first three quarters and in the fourth quarter we like to try to stand up for ourselves, and we found a way to win tonight.”
There are crazy things going on over in the Western Conference these days, folks, and for all my Midwestern and East Coast cohorts who don’t have the time or the desire to sleep a mere five hours a night, it has been getting difficult to keep up with storyline after storyline.
The San Antonio Spurs are doing their best to make everyone who called them too old dumb as they are eviscerating the conference, both LA teams are up-and-down so much that they might as well be doing jumping jacks, and the bottom of the playoff picture is so close that the 10th place team could end up with the sixth seed in the playoffs.
However, the real team to watch, the real story of all stories has to be the Memphis Grizzlies rumbling toward the playoffs. They’ve won 10 of their last 13 games and look as if they could make a run for the three-spot in the playoffs.
There’s been something special about the way this team has been playing, and when you watch them play, it’s impossible to not get sucked in unless you have a rooting interest in their opponent.
In their most recent run, they’ve beaten the Lakers, Bucks, Mavericks, Heat, Thunder, Clippers, Jazz and Suns. That’s eight of their 10 wins coming against teams that are either playoff locks or fighting for playoff spots.
But the fact that they’re playing well isn’t what makes this team so enthralling; there are so many more subtle nuances about this team that you pick up on by watching and following the career arcs of their enigmatic players.