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| Jan. 25, 2007

The Game, its Players and other ISH

andrew bangs Steve Blake is dope. Clearly, Denver traded Earl Boykins (aka The Double Didget Midget) because Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke checked the team’s ledger sheet and made the gas face. While the eyes of the basketball world will surely be fixated on Denver the rest of the season to witness the emerging Iverson/Anthony super duo, don't overlook Steve Blake. The former Terrapin and NCAA champ can mesh with Iverson as well as any of AI's other recent backcourt partners (this means you, Kevin Ollie). He’s quick with it, makes clever passes, has a nifty little jumper and is a vastly underrated defender. He might not go for 25 every night out, but he’ll easily stack 7-8 dimes per with Carmelo and the aforementioned Answer on the wings.

Ollie/Trejo: American Badasses. Speaking of Kevin Ollie, he’s always reminded me of gnarly actor and vato loco Danny Trejo.

Spanish Cocoa. One of the minor pleasures of late night LeaguePass perusal is watching Portland’s Sergio Rodriguez. Kid doesn’t get enough tick-tock in Nate “Sarge” McMillan’s rotation, but he’s niiiiiiiice. Much like his moniker, Spanish Chocolate, kid has some spice in his game, throwing laser-like passes and soft-arcing alley-oops with equal aplomb. He gets a little ahead of himself sometimes, but then again, maybe he doesn’t quite have the horses to run with, you know? Give him two more years of percolating and he’ll be doing big things. I like Jarrett Jack a lot, but Sergio has entertainment value and YouTubability.

Portland. Speaking of the Trail Blazers, they’re kinda fun to watch. Yes, they’re headed for Lottery land, but young, dumb, erratic teams can often be more compelling than old, smart, efficient teams. Reasons to watch Portland (besides Sergio’s passes, above):

1. Brandon Roy’s step-back jumper. Already one of the best step-backs around (Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant are one-two in this category), this move perfectly captures the difference between professional and non-professional basketball players. It’s subtle, smooth and performed with a total economy of movement. Hard dribble left, feet re-set, rise, release. How nice is this kid’s game?

2. Martell Webster’s jump shot. If you closely examine photos or slo-mo video of his form and release, you’ll find that it’s utter perfection. Straight spine, eyes on the prize, nice round arc, I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter touch. Forget everything else lacking (or developing, depending on your perspective) about Martell’s game and just enjoy that jumper. Textbook! He’s hitting a decent ratio of threeballs (39.6%), but we’d like to see him focus on the 16-19 foot shot. With a little toughening, he could be Ricky Pierce Part Two.

3. Jarrett Jack’s maturity and savvy. It’s painful how unselfish this guy is… He already plays like a 8-year vet; nothing spectacular, just smart, controlled, cool.

4. LaMarcus Aldridge’s potential. He’ll never be on the level of a Garnett or Duncan, two to whom he’s often (unimaginatively) compared. But he’s clearly gonna be a very good ballplayer. He and Channing Frye are the nicest-shooting-but-soft-young-big-guys around. No rush, though. Let him develop piecemeal, like big men should.

Kapono in Kobes. When Jason Kapono was given a contract by Pat Riley, I was like “Wha…?”. I never liked him at UCLA, his shooting was overrated and his self-aggrandizing style was annoying. But, wow: have you seen the way he’s scoring the past month!?!? Dude is automatic/systematic/remote control right now. Perhaps it has something to do with his adidas Crazy8s (a re-issue of Kobe’s signature adidas model circa 2001). This photo beautifully captures the entire adidas/Kobe/Nike/Kapono lifecycle. Do you think adidas renamed this model “Crazy” as a stab at Bryant, who left the trefoil for the swoosh? Would a multinational company manufacture and distribute a product just to piss off a former endorser? Regardless, Nike should re-issue the Garnetts and Reebok should re-issue the Shaqnosis.

David Stern: Fasion Scenester. How random is this? A photo of the Commish (center row, 5 down) on hipster party photo website The Cobrasnake?! The photos were from a Y-3 Fashion show last year (that’s Yohji Yamamoto’s adidas line, i.e. $350 sneakers…). Clearly the adidas/NBA connection runs deep. Supposedly D.Stern is also a regular at the Misshapes and hangs out in Williamsburg on weekends.

Andrew Bangs is a writer and editor living in Queens, NY. His favorite snack food is Kettle Brand Cheddar Beer flavor potato chips, which he likes to eat while watching HBO's The Wire.



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