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The NBA Through Travis Colored Glasses
- Sure Kobe can score 81 points in one game, but could he write 81 NBA
notes in one column?
- So everyone is of course talking about Kobe and his 81 points. A number
of people have asked for my take. Well, here goes: It was certainly a
spectacle watching one person score that many points, and I was one of the
people who actually watched the game while it transpired wire-to-wire. I
couldn't take my eyes off the television screen. If someone would have told
me that a player today could score that many points in one outing, I would
have told them that they were certifiably crazy. It was an amazing
- That said, I think it will be bad for the Lakers in the long term, and
it's not just because Kobe was the one who dropped 81. I don't care who
scores 81, LeBron, Iverson, Nowitzki, McGrady, etc. it's bad for their
respective teams. And despite what Laker lovers may tell you, other guys
still aren't going to want to play with Kobe. Instead, they are going to
want to go head-to-head with the guy and outplay him. When this season is
finished and we all look back, I think Kobe's 81 will be looked at as the
beginning of the end for this Laker club. I know this is not the dominant
view being spewed throughout the popular media where everyone is instead
touting Kobe as the next you know who, but if you wanted to read a dominant
perspective you probably wouldn't be reading this little column, anyway.
- The Philadelphia 76ers have been up and down this year, and this past
week there was a little bit of friction in the locker room between coach Mo
Cheeks and forward Chris Webber. It remains to be seen whether or not this
team can regain their stride and finish off the season strong. However, if
you're wondering what the formula for success for this club has been, I
think I've figured it out. When the Sixers have more rebounds than their
opponents this season, they are 17-2. So if Webber, Samuel Dalembert and
company can control the glass in the second half of the season, this team
could be dangerous.
- Things are sure going downhill in Golden State. It's starting to look
like coach Mike Montgomery is losing control of the team. There are
rumblings that Baron Davis is doing whatever he wants on offense and
frequently disregards Montgomery's play calls. If they don't get it
together soon, their playoff drought just might continue.
- Speaking of the Warriors . . . Talk around the NBA is that GM Chris
Mullin is considering a blockbuster trade before the deadline. Forward Troy
Murphy's name has come up in trade talks a number of times previously, and
he seems to believe he's on the way out. He was so sure he was going to
Indiana for Ron Artest that he reportedly didn't renew his membership to a
local gym he frequents.
- The Los Angeles Clippers are playing great basketball. I know I said in
this very space awhile back that I don't believe Elton Brand is a superstar.
Well in my humble opinion, he's playing his way towards such status this
season. So do I believe he's a superstar right now? Nope, not yet. But if
the Clippers hold on and make the playoffs and play well in the postseason,
I'll give him the nod. He is, however, an NBA All Star this season, and if
the coaches don't vote him in, they shouldn't bother having the game.
- Another Clipper observation: Shaun Livingston has tons of potential.
I like his size and his knack for passing the basketball. One area where
he needs to improve though is his ball handling. Opponents have been
trapping the youngster more and more when he's running the point, and he's
turned the ball over a little too frequently for my taste. However, the
Clippers have been able to circumvent this by playing both Sam Cassell and
Livingston simultaneously with Cassell logging the bulk of the ball-handling
- A lot of folks have been weighing in lately with regard to who came out
on top in the recent Minny-Boston trade. I'm of the opinion that this was a
fairly solid trade for both sides. That said, I think Boston did a little
bit better for themselves. While Ricky Davis is an explosive scorer and was
a solid citizen in Boston, he tends to be a little bit erratic - and that's
the last thing the Timberwolves need. The team also took on the albatross
contract of Mark Blout (although I do think that his scoring ability in the
pivot could help the Wolves). The Celtics on the other hand, acquired the
expiring contract of Michael Olowokandi and the outside shooting touch of
Wally Szczerbiak. While I will concede that Szczerbiak is overpaid, I think
he compliments Paul Pierce better than Ricky Davis did. That is if the
Celtics don't trade Pierce in the next month.
- And I would of course be remiss not to touch on the Ron Artest fiasco,
which finally came to a conclusion last week. Believe it or not, I think
Indiana did extremely well in this deal. Most clubs that have a player
holding them hostage like Artest was, don't get anywhere close to equal
value for that player. In this case, I think the Pacers got equal value and
then some. Everyone is aware of the fact that Peja Stojakovic has been
struggling this season and most of last season as well. However, if he
returns to his old form, I believe that the Pacers will be a much-improved
team. Besides, you don't acquire a player like Stojackovic when he's going
well, because at a time like that, he's virtually untradeable. It's the old
buy low sell high philosophy. All I know is that when Jermaine O'Neal comes
back healthy, he'll probably be double teamed more cautiously with a player
like Peja on the perimeter. I believe that Artest will help the Kings in
the short-term, but Stojackovic has a chance to help the Pacers in the
- Onto some e-mail:
Why do the pistons keep getting ignored? They have the best record in the
NBA, and their franchise history. Have beaten the Spurs twice. They are
playing the best defensive game in the league and bar Saunders being Eastern
All-Star coach by default have still not been honored by the NBA. Their
games receive much less hype than the Lakers or Cav's or even Heat games,
fair enough I realise there are no superstars (holding my breath for
Billups) but i get tired of 81points by one player. The pistons are the
least selfish team in the league with assists (or maybe the raptors who are
self-less enough to include their opponents). I love watching them, i love
how flip coaches them, fine if other people don't wanna watch but do you
know why they are so overlooked?
Yours with her head on the side in wonder, Lia. N.Z
Hello Lia. I couldn't agree with you more. The Pistons are playing amazing
basketball, and they aren't getting the attention they deserve. Heck, I am
as guilty as anyone. Look who I started out this column talking about. Mr.
81 points himself. I think one reason why they are so overlooked is they
don't play a really flashy style of basketball. Instead, they are a
blue-collar team that just methodically wins games. For whatever reason,
people in the media really haven't started talking about this club until it
became apparent that they could actually surpass the Bulls' all time mark of
72-10. I too hope that Chauncey Billups finally gets the recognition that
he deserves this season.
Bravo, my good man, on the Dirk-Nowitzki-as-a-viable-MVP-candidate
statement. So many people are failing to see that Dirk's improvements aren't
stat-visible. But, don't you think stats (i.e. Kobe's, Lebron's, Kevin *gag*
Garnett's) are the primary criteria for MVP? I feel like Dirk's at that
level, but his improvements are more about leadership and his ability to
create [my criteria] (not to mention he's the only All-Star who still dives
for loose balls) than statistically represented. I'd love your take on this.
Hello Jared. I like the term "stat-visible" you used. It seems like
statistics do play a large role in determining who wins the MVP. That said,
the trend in recent years seems to be that a player must have impressive
stats, but also play on a winning club. Hopefully that will continue this
season. For example, if Chauncey Billups were to win the MVP this season, I
would be very excited. That would show that team success now trumps
individual performance. However, if Kobe's Lakers stayed right around .500
like they are now, and he were to win the MVP, that would a major step
backwards in my opinion. Bottom-line, if Dirk's Mavs ends up winning the
Southwest Division, he should be among the top three in MVP voting.
- That's all for this week friends. Thanks for reading, and I look forward
to talking NBA basketball with you again soon.
Have a take on what you just read? Contact Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Travis Heath is a doctoral candidate in psychology, and a freelance writer.
Travis currently resides outside of Denver, Colorado, but he has spent time
in Washington, Nebraska, and both Northern and Southern California. He is
also a self-admitted sports addict, with his primary vice being the NBA.
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