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InsideHoops NBA [Home] Mar. 13, 2004

Throwin' 'Bows

 


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Make it a Sixer?

Conventional wisdom says that in the West, there's a Big Five. Five teams with a chance at the ring.

Maybe it should be a Six Pack.

The Mavs loss to the Kings on Thursday put them at 40-24. 40-24 happens to be the exact same record as the Memphizzle Grizzle.

So how far can the Memphis Grizzlies go? Not far, I'm afraid. The climate of Memphis is just not conducive to the life of a Grizzly. They need plenty of fish, berries, plants and open space to survive. I just don't know if Memphis can support them. Without constant attention, they are sadly destined to die.

The basketball team, however, is in much better shape. The biggest things plaguing them are their dumb uniforms and even dumber mascot. Teal, red, and black? Come on. They look like the Florida Marlins, if they were all menstruating. Fashion faux pas aside, however, they're playing some ball in Memphis.

I'm not saying they can win the NBA title, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them bust some heads in the first round. An old team like the Lakers doesn't want to see Memphis's young and fresh legs in the playoffs. Horace Grant is having tearful nightmares about it right now.

The Grizzlies are young, deep, and can do a little bit of everything. They have eight guys who average eight or more points. They can go hard for 48 minutes, on both ends of the floor. There are multiple guys they can go to for a bucket, and there are multiple guys they can count on for a defensive stop.

The very least that they'll be in the playoffs is a tough out, and they're the reason you're going to see San Antonio striving to catch Minnesota for the 2-spot in the West.

They're All Scared of B Squared

This past week was probably one of the more satisfying weeks in the career of Bruce Bowen. If you're a guy that prides yourself on defense, hearing guys whine in the media about you being a dirty player has to feel like Christmas morning.

And consider the guys that it's coming from. Vince Carter. Ray Allen. Michael Finley. Cuttino Mobley. I've got nothing in particular against those guys, but if I was going to build An All-NBA Tough Guy Starting Five... I don't think any of those fellas are making cut.

If people are going out of their way to mention that a guy is a dirty player, then that player is in their head. Bank on that. They're whining because Bruce Bowen has frustrated, upset, hurt or angered them in some way. Advantage, Bowen.

There's an art to goading a guy into picking up a technical foul. There is skill involved. As dirty as guys like Laimbeer or Rodman were, their intent was never to injure; their intent was to get the other guy to want to injure them. When that happens, they were in their opponents' heads, they had them thinking about all the wrong things, and at the NBA level, that's a part of the game.

So is Bowen dirty or isn't he? I don't know the answer to that one. I tend to believe that he just plays tough, physical defense, does not play with any intent to injure, but isn't afraid to get in someone's grill. None of that makes him dirty. On the other hand, however, he did kinda kick Wally Szczerbiak in the face.

We could spend all day debating how dirty Bruce Bown might be, but ultimately... so what if he is? The NBA is a more interesting place when there's some real thuggery going on. People can say whatever they want about guys like Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman, but no one can say that they were uninteresting. Even if you felt like taking a ball-peen hammer to Laimbeer's unsightly face, you tuned in to watch him. Adding interest or excitement to the game is never a bad thing.

Image is Nothing

While we're on the subject of dirty players, I've been wondering about the NBA's image problem, as compared to other professional leagues like the NHL, or Major League Baseball.

Don't think the NBA has an image problem? Check out some of these quotes from a March 7th article by Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic.

"...nobody likes the players these days. They are overpaid, underachieving, self-serving, untutored, uncaring and can't shoot straight unless aiming knives at the coach's back."

I wouldn't normally take the time to mention such insulting ignorance. If this guy wants to equate hip-hop music, baggy shorts, and tattoos with qualities like underachieving, self-serving, and uncaring, his slanted cultural and racial perceptions are his problem, and I don't have to spend my time thinking about it.

But the comments are a reflection of a larger public perception that the NBA has. Fair or not, it's there, and I'm wondering why.

Major League Baseball is going through a steroid crisis that's big enough to get Congress involved. Todd Bertuzzi just attacked another hockey player from behind and broke his neck. And the NBA is the league with the image problem.

Don't let yourself think for a second that the NBA's ties to hip-hop culture or its melanin content don't have something to do with that.

Oh Ricky... Not So Fine

The dunk is much a part of the NBA as is the free throw, the shot clock, or the sky hook. Two points are two points, yes... but it doesn't hurt to make those two points a little prettier. It doesn't hurt if they come with a little more authority. It doesn't hurt if your opponent is playing the game while being worried about appearing next to you in a poster featuring you throwing down on his head.

It does hurt, however... if you miss the damn thing.

In the first half against the Lakers, Ricky Davis was 6-for-6 for 15 points. He was feeling it. He was contributing. He was making the Celtics better.

And as soon as the second half started, he became Ricky Davis again. He found himself on a breakaway. And like so many NBA greats before him, something clicked in his head and told him that the ball had to go between his legs before dunking it.

There are maybe a handful of guys in the world who can go out right now and pull of a ball-between-the-legs dunk. Even the best dunkers in the world will blow that one with regularity. And Ricky's got to for it in a game against the Lakers.

I don't know what's worse, blowing a dunk on a breakaway, or the fact that none of the Lakers followed him down the court anticipating such a thing. After the first dunk clanged off the back iron, Ricky had time to go and get the ball, and dunk it again. Naturally, he couldn't attempt dunk #2 without throwing in a windmill. Textbook NBA maneuver. All the greats teach it.

So why weren't the Lakers anticipating a miss? The scouting report on Ricky Davis should read something like this:

"Extremely athletic. Can leap, and can dunk with the best of them. Can create his own shot. Not the most reliable shooter in the world, but he can get hot. Don't know if he's a good passer because we've never seen him attempt a pass. And truth be told, he's also kind of a moron. If he has a breakaway dunk, he's the kind of dude who might blow it because he thinks that when his team is in the middle of a game against a very good team, and is also in a tight playoff race, that's also the perfect time to stage his own private dunk contest for his own amusement."

The Mighty 10:

1. Indiana. Man, do they get slept on. I'm guilty of it myself. They're 48-16. Same as Sactown. They deserve a turn at #1 as much as anybody else.

2. Sacramento. They can certainly make a case for the 1 spot, and it's hard to argue against them. But we take turns here at Throwin' Bows. We believe that sharing... is caring.

3. Minnesota. Sacramento's opened up a 3 and a half game lead in the West. The Wolves have won only 5 of their last 10, and they better be checking their rearview for...

4. San Antonio. Played shockingly well without Duncan, and the experience they gained during those games will pay off in the playoffs.

5. Detroit. Winners of four in a row, and eight of their last 10. Larry Brown and Rasheed Wallace could turn into one a perfect match.

6. LA Lakers. They need Kobe. That's just all there is to it. They aren't the same without him, offensively or defensively. And is it just me, or does the offense run smoother when Derek Fisher is running the point?

7. Memphis. They're hot. Damn hot. They're so hot, I saw one of the little guys in the orange robes burst into flames. Sorry. I just watched Good Morning, Vietnam.

8. Dallas. If Eduardo Najera doesn't see major minutes during the playoffs, Don Nelson has been drinking heavily. Actually, that may be true, no matter how many minutes Eddie gets.

9. New Jersey. In the four games Kidd missed, Kenyon Martin only went over 20 points once. He had games of 9 and 11 points. That's a concern.

10. Utah. Maybe they aren't actually the 10th best team in the league, but... I admire their heart. They can ball. They get the 10-spot based on this quote from Jerry Sloan. "We got the ball, started hanging out, going one-on-one, doing alley oops. If they accept the game that way, then we aren't going to be able to win games -- and that's the sad part about it. I was very disappointed. We never told him [Andrei Kirilenko] to stand out there and stand and try to embarrass the guy that's got the ball so he [Kirilenko] can get it back. That's selfishness, in my opinion. And that's a bad habit you end up creating. Quite frankly, I'm not gonna be embarrassed by players in this league without them being aware of the fact that I'm not gonna put up with that kind of stuff." And oh, by the way, they're a half game out of a playoff spot.

The Meek 5:

25. Atlanta. I've been giving them props lately, and I stand by everything I've said, but... it's still fair to say that they suck.

26. Golden State. Lost 7 in a row... against some pretty good teams, but still... it's 7 in a row.

27. Washington. Giving up 62 to McGrady... it's not excusable, but if McGrady gets hot, it's fairly impossible to stop him. Losing to the Magic, however... I just couldn't forgive.

28. Orlando. Very impressive 62 points. Against a terrible team. When they've been out of the playoff picture for months. Very impressive. I guess.

29. Chicago. Kendall Gill lit up Eddy Curry because his cell phone kept going off before a recent game. The best part? It was Eddie Robinson, calling him from the other side of the room. I might've thought that was funny when I was 9.

The Mailbag

Do you think the raptors will make the playoffs and if so why or why not? - Jas, Canada

You wrote in last week and asked who I thought was making the playoffs from the East. I had the Raptors going in, counting on them turning it around, and maybe it's time to rethink that, but you know what? You asked basically the same question two weeks in a row, and I think you just like seeing your name here. You know what? That's cool with me. You're a loyal reader, and a loyal writer, so I'll indulge you. Here you go, man.

JAS IN CANADA! JAS IN CANADA! YOU LIKE THAT, BABY? IT'S JAS IN CANADA TIME, WOOOOHOO!!

Enjoy.

I was wondering about the possibility of the Magic singing a good free agent over the summer. I'm aware that their cap situation isn't ideal like the Hawks, but I know they have one of the lower cap numbers in the leauge also. - Brendan, Orl

The Magic probably aren't going to have a lot of cap room. Sadly, all of their cap room is stuffed into the gauze around Grant Hill's ankle. They're right at the cap right now, and they don't have any significant contracts coming off the books. Their best bet is to see if they can get something for Juwan Howard in trade, maybe take the room they save from his contract, combine it with the mid-level exception, and see if they can sign someone decent for about $8 or $9 mil.

The other question, however... is who would want to play for the Magic? One of their stars can (and if I had to guess, will) opt out after next year, and the other has an ankle that's about as sturdy as a bendy straw. Things are fairly bleak in Orlando. I think their best bet is to forget about trying to bring in another star, and add some veteran guys who know how to win and can lead the team. Someone like, oh I dunno, say... Darrell Armstrong?

Just wanted to commend you on your piece regarding Corrie Blount. I heard about it last week and told my boys who were like (fornicate) Corrie Blount. As Semi-old heads we've seen the Bulls in their hey-day and also have seen how lame Corrie Blount is. Still, I told them he's a hard worker, a decent defender and can hit the mid-range J. And, if I were a veteran squad headed to the playoffs, I'd take him over E. Curry, Chandler and Paul Shirley (?). But more over, it's just lame of the Bulls to let him go and not allow him a chance to sign with another squad. That's just (male sexual organ) blocking and it's wrong. Stupid Paxson and dumb-ass Reinsdork. Thats why the Bulls ain't (excrement) and will never be (excrement) (also cuz they let go of Brand, Ron "Russel Crowe" Artest and B-Zilla). Oh yeah, I always read your articles...keep up the funny work. - Cheffie Chef, Chicago

Thanks for writing, my man. I don't have a response, but... I thought you should be heard.

Isiah Thomas basically moved out all of the white players on his team. Considering comments he's made in the past (about Larry Bird), do you think Thomas is a racist? - Billy, Syracuse, UT

I don't think it's really fair to call a guy racist because he got rid of Keith Van Horn and Michael Doleac. It's not like those guys haven't ever switched teams before. As far as the comments about Bird that he made in the past, I think Isiah would say now that he made those comments in the heat of the moment, and didn't really mean it. Isiah wasn't above saying something just to get under a guy's skin. And if Isiah couldn't recognize that Larry was a special player, he'd never have made it to a GM post in the NBA.

Got a question, comment, problem, tirade, hate mail, love note? Send it along here.

M.J. Darnell runs www.themightymjd.com







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