As the NBA Playoffs begin I reflect on the excitement of the regular season. Miami gets Lebron James, Shaq’s battle with father-time, The looming lock-out, the Sacramento Kings heading for Anaheim, the Lakers manic play, Kevin Love setting the NBA consecutive double-double record, the best dunk contest in a decade, Derrick Rose’s climb to the MVP,  the ridiculous fine David Stern unjustly levied on Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin’s High Fly better than Lebron’s Rookie-Non-Rookie season and oh yeah, the trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. Carmelo Anthony’s summer wedding to television personality La La Vazquez, is where Charlotte Hornet guard Chris Paul toasted that he and Anthony should get together in New York, for their version of a dream team, since then everyone knew that Carmelo Anthony would be traded. Why?  Mostly because Anthony refused to sign a three-year 65 million dollar extension with the Denver Nuggets. Denver offered Anthony the extension only to over inflate Anthony’s value so they could dupe Mikhail Prokhorov the New Jersey Nets new Russian Billionaire owner into giving away the farm to get Carmelo. The trade talks swirled out of control with rumors that the Nets were sending as many as five first round draft picks as well as players to the Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony. The rumors stayed absurd until January when the Nets owner arrived in the states and showed the NBA exactly how he made his Billions. He shut down the season long trade negotiations, which shifted pressure on New York to get a deal for Anthony done.

Every fan and sandbox sports prognosticator, analyst and commentator said “Get Carmelo Anthony at any cost”, “Talent like Carmelo Anthony don’t come by often”, “Get him now and sort out the details later.” They asked questions like “could Anthony and Stoudamire co-exist” , “would there be enough basketballs to go around” and “could Anthony handle the spotlight”. As the trade deadline loomed the deal for Anthony formed. Denver received Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, the Knicks 2014 first-round draft pick, the Warriors’ 2012 second-round pick, the Warriors’ 2013 second-round pick and $3 million in cash. New York received Carmel Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman and Corey Brewer.  New York wanted Chanuncy Billups included in the deal to make sure that ‘Melo’ was comfortable in his transition. The Nuggets received a host of young energy players with potential, New York waived Corey Brewer. Since the trade the Nuggets have played with good offense and passion, and the Knick have played with a lack of defense, motivation and chemistry. All of New York’s issues I am sure that columnist and commentators from around the nation will find a way to blame Isiah Thomas for.

In the off-season Amare Stoudamire left the Phoenix Suns and signed a 100 million dollar contract with New York. He led a resurgence of a failed franchise. He had the commentators talking about the Knicks, but more importantly he had the fans believing. The Knicks were winning with Stoudamire leading the way. Amare wasn’t happy in Phoenix, always in Steve Nash’s shadow never getting the credit he deserved. He went to New York and was proving that his gripe was legitimate. Amare led the Knick to some stunning and amazing victories and he was the leading candidate for MVP, until the NBA trade deadline came near. The nearer the deadline, the more the newly resurgent Knicks began to falter. Never mind that trading away half of your team mid-season for a player who never defended is not a good idea. Never mind that the team could have waited and signed Anthony to a reasonable contract at season’s end, save for a lock-out.

No. The pressure was get Carmelo now, Do the deal now and What are the Knicks waiting for. Was it the media’s pressure? Was it owner James Dolan’s myopic focus on Denver that he allowed the a deal for Utah’s star point guard Deron Williams slip through his fingers? New York could have had Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams and still kept a player or two. In fact many in the media were surprised when Utah traded Deron Williams. Williams was abruptly traded to the New Jersey Nets and the Billionaire’s clinic was complete. Had any of these commentators actually seen Carmelo play? 22 million per year for Carmello when Lebron James and Dwyane Wade are earning 16 million per year. As a point guard Chauncy Billups is no slouch, but he isn’t two players either. Since the trade the New York has played a 14 -14 record and the Denver Nuggets have surged with a record of 18-6, Denver has also moved up two playoff positions, and it didn’t take a year to gel together like, Carmelo has said it may take in New York. The new Nugget players have played hard, fast and together. They run ten deep, share the ball and play defense. The real story of this blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade isn’t the season long drama, it isn’t that the commentators were wrong or that New York win or lose may have to make a few more moves to get things right in the Big Apple. No the real tragedy here is how the Carmelo Anthony trade cost Amare Stoudamire this years MVP award. Now, Mr. Stoudamire wont suffer with his 100 million dollar contract, but if he never wins an MVP award he can look to the player standing next to him, to the owner and to the media.

MG Has Spoken on Twitta

In the 2012 NBA season, even with the addition of Tyson Chandler, have been having a horrible season and have been outplayed by those cast out to get Carmelo, particularly Danilo Gallinari. The Knicks traded everything to get Carmelo, but yet they are still losing. “Expectations are still high. Things will still be great,” he said. “I’m not down, I’m not regretting anything. I’m not regretting the trade.” Carmelo Anthony. With Jeremy Lin playing like not other guard before will Carmelo seed the helm of the Knicks to him…I don’t think so. Big dogs don’t like little dogs even if it is to their benefit.

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There have been many discussions about who the top players are and who the best NBA players ever were. There is always the question of how does one compose a list, do you list them by emotion, stats, position, championships, impact or all of the categories. I am going to list my Starting 5. This list  should put the Top All-Time Players in perspective. (In their prime, all things being equal and with a minimum of  10 years in the league)

My Starting Five

Center-

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Wilt Chamberlain  7’1″ 280 lbs

I know people would like to go with Bill Russell, or Shaq here, but honestly Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain was the original “Freak of Nature”.  Yes he scored 100 points in a game, but Wilt, the player, forced the NBA to change so many rules its absurd and he also caused the NBA to widen the lane. Aside from his numerous records and awards he is the only player in NBA history to average more than 40 and 50 points in a season. In case you didn’t know Wilt Chamberlain played for the Harlem Globetrotters and he was the 1st athlete of note to bring volleyball out of the gymnasiums and onto the sand. He may not get the credit, but it was Wilt who gave birth to beach volleyball, it was he who made it popular. He also led the NBA in rebounds for 11 seasons and average of 23 rebounds per game and had 227 consecutive double-doubles.

Power Forward-

Dennis Rodman 6’7″  230 Lbs

I know, most people would have selected Tim Duncan, or Charles Barkley. Rodman at 6’7″ with a wingspan of 7’7″  led the league in rebounds for 7 straight years, including 19 rebounds per game during the 1991-1992 season. What he may lack in height he more than makes up for in pure tenacity. Rodman was  known as a rebounding machine, but even more so for his defensive toughness. Unpredictable, hardworking and unselfish that is what a great teammates are made of . Rodman’s defensive play was the stuff of legend. He made Scottie Pippen cry during the playoff no less. He took his counterparts completely out of the game, he did the dirty work, something that is beneath a lot of players these days. 1989-90, 1990-91 Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Small Forward-

Elgin Baylor 6’6″  225 Lbs

Most of the time I see Larry Bird in this spot, which is mostly due to the 80’s Celtics/Lakers champions games. Elgin was every bit a pure shooter as Bird was, but the key here is that Baylor could actually defend. You don’t get a career average of 28 points and 14 rebounds for nothing. Baylor a gifted shooter, strong rebounder, known for his acrobatic maneuvers on the court. The No. 1 draft pick in 1958, NBA Rookie of the Year in 1959, and an 11-time NBA All-Star.

Shooting Guard

Michael Jordan 6’6″ 220 Lbs.

Often referred to as the best NBA player that has ever lived, but that distinction goes to Wilt Chamberlain. Also known as MJ, or just Jordan. He has five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team selections, nine All-Defensive First Team selections, fourteen NBA All-Star game appearances, three All-Star Game MVP awards, ten scoring titles, three steal titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award to top it all off. Jordan holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN. His tenacity on both end of the court was unmatched, his selection is a no brainer.

Point Guard

Magic Johnson 6’9″  250 Lbs

At 6′ 9″ the man redefined the point guard position. Magic earned twelve All-Star appearances, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA’s all-time leader in assists per game, with an average of 11.2. He is a member of the 700 club,  assists, rebounds, and points in the same season. Three NBA, MVP Awards, nine time NBA Finals appearances.  Johnson was a member of the “Dream Ream”, which is a nickname for the U.S. basketball team that won the Olympic gold in 1992.

 

Bench (13 man  playoff roster)

 

Allen Iverson 6′ 0″ 170 Lbs  (Guard)

Kareem Abdul Jabbar 7′ 1″  250 Lbs. (Center)

 

Kobe Bryant 6′ 7″  210 Lbs. (Shooting Guard)

Tim Duncan 6′ 11″ 260 Lbs (Power Forward)

Shaquille O’Neal 7′ 2″ 325 Lbs. (Center)

Ray Allen 6′ 6″  210 Lbs. (Shooting Guard)

Larry Bird 6′ 9″  220 Lbs. (Small Forward)

 

Oscar Robinson 6′ 5″  220 Lbs (Point Guard)

 

Can your Starting 5 take mine?   

We liked Michael Jordan, although he gambled, fought other players, cheated on his wife, and was at times classless. We liked Shaq, although at times the big fella was just too sensitive. And despite all of Magic’s faults we still like him. We like Lebron, even though he jilted Cleveland.  We Like Dwayne Wade and we like a whole lot of other players, but why don’t people like Kobe? Even though he takes the team on his back and saves the game, still a majority of  league players  say that they don’t want to play with him. The guy has six rings for goodness sake, but when your own teammates say that you should opt-out at the end of the season,  it’s time that we examine why people don’t like Kobe. This list is in no particular order.

1. He was very selfish when he came in the league and he still is.- go to the tape
2. When Magic suggested that he spend some time with his teammates his response was “For What?” – go to the tape
3. He slapped Samaki Walker in the back of the head on the team bus. Samaki got up and started to choke Kobe. When Kobe asked for assistance… His teammates kept looking out the window.- I just threw this in because it is mildly humorous.
4. He originally said that growing up he never paid Michael Jordan much attention.-That is the biggest lie I’ve ever heard!
5. He cussed out Tex Winter. -Tex is like 7,000 years old, I mean really.

6. He called Karl Malone old, and then told him “I don’t need yo pick”.
7. He also ruined the last year of The Mailman’s playing career. -This you can debate.
8. If there is a Man Code he became the top violator when he ratted out Shaq.- Some things you just don’t do.
9. In game seven of the crucial 2006 playoffs Vs. Phoenix, Kobe let it be known that he quit on the team, by standing 6 feet above the three point line watching and waving to his teammates for much of the second half. You saw him do it, you just didn’t know what he was doing, so Charles Barkley called him out on air by saying “Kobe quit that night, plain and simple”.- go to the tape.
10. He’s a whiner- go to the tape(s).


11. He forced L.A.’s mayor to get off the parade bus. That day Kobe could be heard saying “I’m being infringed upon”. – Personally I might have done the same thing, but the mayor was crucial in helping the Lakers have a Parade in the first place.
12. He is Defensively Overrated. Back in the day Shaq was frowning on everybody that got past Kobe… and they did get past him. Now he has three seven footer behind him.

13. He made Filmmaker Spike Lee stand at his private gated community for an hour and still didn’t buzz him in, or come out to talk with him. -I would say watch “Kobe Doing Work”, but do so at your own risk not because I suggested it.
14. His feud with Phil Jackson.- The Zen Master
15. His Trade *explicative* Bynum, or I’ll be in Chicago Talk.
16. One minute before Lebron James was the Cleveland Cavaliers Number One Overall draft pick. Kobe chose to announced that we was opting out of his Lakers’ contract, effectively stealing Lebron’s spotlight.

17. In 1999 he was the only NBA player that voted to continue The Strike!
18. Lebron is fast approaching, but Kobe is the most Ref-Aided NBA Player in the game. Traveling and charging are supposed to be illegal.
19. Kobe didn’t change his jersey from eight to twenty-four for money, as Adrian Wojnaroswki has suggested, he did so that everybody would forget that he was charged with bending a young girl over a chair in Denver.

20. Kobe has a noted penchant for being sensitive, rhat’s when he won’t pass to his teammates even when they are open. See trust issues.

21. In game 5 of 2010 Western Conference Final, Kobe ruined his, Jordan to Paxon, Jordan to Kerr, Jordan to Wennington moment. Against the Phoenix  Suns in the 4th quarter with the game tied and 8 seconds left on the game clock Kobe dribbled into the right corner, double teamed.  Kobe elevated and shot an air-ball, which Ron Artest quickly grabbed  and banked in for the win.  For those that don’t know if you are double teamed that means that one of your teammates is wide open.

22. He has to be reminded every single season that he has Teammates. He usually has to be called out by team players and media.

23. An hour after Kobe and Shaq agreed with Lakers management to stop all the media bad blood between each other. Kobe called sportscaster Jim Gray to hold a private interview where he proceeded to call Shaq fat, out of shape and milking his toe injury for extra time off. Bad form Kobe, bad form.

24.  Kobe (Mr. Clutch) makes a little less than one of every three shots when The Lakers are down two points, one point, tied, or on the final ball possession, this stats actually which makes him one of the worst performers among players with at least 30 attempts in those situations.

25. After making 300 Million dollars during his career, with the NBA lock out in full swing, Kobe feels neglected. He saw how the media fawned over Lebron and his “Decision”. He chaffed at the way the media followed Carmelo’ Drama so he floated the idea of playing in the Italian league with Virtus Bologna for $300,000 to $1,000,000 per game. Great way to show solidarity and maintain the players leverage. He knew the NBA owners not only profit from not paying the players during the lockout, but they also want the players to play overseas to help grow the brand for future European expansion. Just enjoy the time off, try going back to school.

26. While in church Kobe thought that a man was taking photos of he and his wife. Kobe grabbed the man’s wrist and took his cellphone. Kobe returned the man’s cellphone after going through it to make sure that no photos of his family were on it.

27. In 2011 and 2012, The saga with center Dwight Howard played out longer than it should have for the Orlando Magic and the rest of the League, why? Because when Howard called Kobe to see what his thoughts would be on the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe said “It would be great to have you in L.A. now I don’t have to worry about defense…” Dwight Howard didn’t being told he’d be forgotten on offense, or not passed to and he began waffling back and forth on whether to stay with the Magic. To facilitate this stalemate, the L.A. Lakers when out and signed soon to be NBA Hall of famer Steve Nash to take the ball and decision making out of Kobe’s hands. After the Steve Nash signing Howard was more agreeable and was traded to the Lakers in a deal that included often-maligned, often unreliable center Andrew Bynum. (This may, or should turn out to be a great thing for the

28. While in training camp for the 2012-2013 season Kobe made a disturbing media comment. When asked whose team it was by a reportes Kobes said, “I don’t want to get into the…well we share… No, it’s my team.”

29. “In 2005, I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team! Smush Parker was is the worst. He shouldn’t have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. So we let him walk on.”-  Kobe Bryant 10-11-2012 “You can’t knock the man’s legacy…What I don’t like about him is the man that he is. His personality. How he treats people. I don’t like that side of Kobe. Half way through the season I tried to talk to Kobe…He tells me I can’t talk to him. He tells me I need more accolades under my belt before I come talk to him. He was dead serious.”- Smush Parker

30. “In 2006, I was shooting 45 times a game. What am I supposed to do? Pass it to Chris Mihm or Kwame Brown?”-Kobe Bryant 10-11-2012 So much for trying around the Kobster.

31. New York Yankees benched Alex Rodriguez and were, down 3-0 to the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. Kobe had this to say about A-Rod, “I think that sometimes he forgets about how great he is, I don’t.” (mildly humorous)

32. In the famous 2011 Pau Gasol shooting slump, it was discovered that Gasol’s fiance broke up with him. This left Gasol an emotional wreck and rather useless in the playoff.  What does this have to do with Kobe? Apparently Kobe told his wife, Vanessa, about Gasol’s philandering.

Vanessa then became friends with Gasol’s finance, just so she could spill the beans to her. When Pau confronted Kobe about this an argument ensued and the two stopped speaking to each other. Gasol became the scapegoat for the team’s early playoff exit. –Kobe violates the man code again.

32.  His song K.O.B.E.

33. He gained the nickname Black Mamba not because he is deadly as a player. He gained his moniker because he refused to speak to his teammates on the court, instead he would make a hissing sound when he wanted the ball given to him. Naturally his teammates started called him the Black Mamba.

34. “I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team,”

35. During his Kobe and the Kids time with the Lakers, Kobe on the court the Lakers were -13.2, and +7.1 with him on the bench.

36. His refusal to say when he will actually retire, which held up the already lengthy Laker rebuilding process. Kobe and the kids lingered on for years.

37. After a story int he newspaper reported that he had tanked a game to spite Shaq. Kobe went up to each teammate with newspaper in-hand and asked, “Did you say this Motherf&^%er?… Did you say this Motherf&^%er?”

38. He once tried to beat up Tyronne Lue for blocking his shot during practice.

I could continue to list things,  but after that K.O.B.E. song I really need to stop.

Reasons Why People Like Kobe
I made this list for those that don’t care, now remember that these are in no particular order:

1. He’s Got One Hell of a Game, and he’s had One Hell of a Career and for most that is all that matters.

The Black Mamba

MG Hardie