Killing time on a slow news day, I thought I'd pop in a dvd of Michael Jordans famous 63 against the 1986 Celtics. We're talking video gold! Not simply because Jordan broke the playoff scoring record against arguably the greatest team ever (which was VERY impressive when you see the roster disparity between the teams), but because of all the OTHER things like Stan Albeck's perm, George Gervin snorting Gatoraide, John Paxon's porn stache... like I said, video gold.
Here are a few observations after catching the first half:
-BOTH teams ran the 7 seconds or less offense. It's funny how times have changed. Literally both teams were going back-and-forth jacking up shots early in the shot clock HOWEVER the announcers were NOT making anything out of it. No "woah, these guys play fast!" remarks.
-George Gervin was on the Bulls. This is HIGH-larious because Sam Smith references Jordan's early years in the NBA and how half of the team was hopped up on cocaine (including the iceman, possibly DURING the game). NBA TV should have a "Cocaine or Not Cocaine" game using NBA clips from the 80's.
(White Lines) Vision dreams of passion... (Blowin’ through my mind) and all the while I think of you...
-John Paxson's OG porn stache... nuff said! Heinsohn talked about how the Bulls consider him being a better Kyle Macy.... I think EVERYONE'S better than Kyle Macy!
-A rookie Charles Oakley bringing the ball up... and the predictable terrible shot! Stan Albeck's perm couldn't distract us from his terrible coaching.
-And by the way, can someone please explain the whole white coach with a perm trend that ran rampant in the 80's? Stan Albeck, Doug Collins, Jimmy Rodgers (actually had a fro), Mike Fratello, Hubie Brown and Kevin Loughery all sported them FOR THE ENTIRE DECADE. Were they trying to relate to the players, was this all unfinished leftovers from the 70's, did they not have mirrors??? The best/worst part of it all was watching these guys "de-perm" their hair in the 90's. They just didn't come off as confident once they lost the perm. Admit it, today Fratello still looks a little off without the perm.
-Tommy Heinsohn during the pregame talk with Dick Stockton with a "MY Celtics are fucking good!!!!" smugness. I loved the guy during the 80's but I forgot just how much of a Celtics homer he was.
-The Bulls were an absolutely terrible team! They won 30 games and made the playoffs!!!! They played Gene Banks and Orlando Woolridge heavy minutes... these guy's shot selection rivals Ronald Flip Murray's during the Rookie Game in 2004.
-The Boston Garden was 70% full by the opening tip. Obviously the late arriving crown weren't up for a first round game against a 30-win 8 seed... yet LA always gets crap for arriving late... just sayin'.
-The Celtics went early to a whitewash with Ainge, Sichting, Bird, McHale and Walton with Scott Wedman as a whitewash 6th man. Damn that was an ugly team!
I only caught the first half, but Jordan had something like 23 and the Bulls led most of the way DESPITE their horrific shot selection. Video gold!
First off, The Association Blog is not Dead... I just decided that with my annual March Madness trip to Vegas and the playoffs right around the corner this would be a good time to take a NBA break to charge up the batteries. So expect a full-blown return to NBA-wide (read: NOT all Lakers all day) opinions and angles firing off tomorrow. Plus I'm looking to add a new/old wrinkle to the site as the season winds down, but I'll expand on that later.
Until then, I can't stress enough: GO TO VEGAS FOR THE FIRST ROUND OF THE NCAA TOURNEY!!!!
32 games in 48 hours, 4 games at a time from 9 AM to 10 PM with waitresses serving you comped bevs as you have action on every game... pure heaven. Parlays, teasers, libations, greasy fast food, table games, Screwdrivers, Coronas, Red Bull Vodkas and the occasional cigar... pure heaven. Even if you know nothing about the field of 65 just plunk down a few bucks on every game and sit back, relax (or stress as every game comes down to the opening line) and enjoy... pure heaven.
Anyway, bring on the NBA Playoffs!
What, no free XXXXXL white tee shirts, no halftime donkey shows, no Mariachi Band playing the "defense" song, no free admission with a ticket stub to cock fights in the IE, no "find the Virgin de Guadalupe in the pool of sweat" contest... How can the Lakers celebrate Latina Noche night and not properly honor La Raza? All we got was the Lakers wearing "Los Lakers" jerseys and a few Los Lobos songs during los timeouts (sorry too many los's). At least have the Lakers girls surgically remove their torsos... Okay maybe that was bad but where was the celebration of the Latino culture in LA without any semblance of Latino Culture? Oh wait, they did give away free tacos from El Jacko en el Boxeo after the Lakers beat Memphis 99 to 89.
At least give us hot dogs wrapped in bacon (btw - the best/worst/worst food ever, I once bought one before a game a few years ago... 30 minutes of pleasure followed by 10 days of indigestion and most likely a tape worm, yet somehow worth it). Anyway, a few other thoughts from the game from my seats in Section 316:
Memphis, the Mos Eisley of the NBA: On the Grizzlies are Darko Milicic, Darius Miles, Quentin Ross, Chris Mihm and Damon Stoudamire with Henry Bibby as a coach ... You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy... Either their front office sees something in these guys on the cheap or the Grizz are the last stop/last chance before D-League-ville. There's nothing wrong with taking a cheap feeler on a few long shots, but 1/3 of the team is too much! BTW - couldn't you just picture that "He doesn't like you, I don't like you either" exchange between Darius Miles and Marc Gasol?
Gasol vs. Gasol: People thought the Pau Gasol trade last year was the most one-sided trade in the millenium but we easily forget that Marc Gasol was a throw in. The guy can straight up play! He's just a rookie but he has great passing skills and is a capable rebounder. Give him a season or two to develop a low post game and Memphis has a true all star. You can see that he already commands respect from his teammates for his basketball IQ. Which makes me wonder: Luke Walton, Ronnie Turiaf and Marc Gasol... Mitch Kupchak really knows how to draft in the second round!
Oh and Marc Gasol outplayed his brother Pau, who was clearly frustrated all night.
First impressions on OJ Mayo: I read somewhere that Mayo has a Kobe-like work habbit and he's a star in the making. Maybe, but I didn't see it tonight. Certain players, like Kevin Durant, command attention whether being a rookie or not, yet Mayo seemed caught between facilitator and scorer. Because of the beard he does he rally looks like a 30 year old grizzled veteran.
Moment of the night: Actually there were two of them. The first involved DJ Mbenga, who got the Lakers bench all riled up with a block on defense followed with a 12-foot jumper on the next possession (Derek Fisher was laughing so hard he fell on the floor). But the true moment of the night or La Noche was Adam Sandler kissing Jack Nicholson during the kiss me cam segment. Hilarious!
Just a few thoughts from the past weekend in the NBA...
Losses by the Celtics and Lakers just add to the 1996 Bulls mystique:
Brace yourself for this "brilliant" remark... winnin' 70 ain't easy. Seriously, can we finally stop with the 70-win predictions? Every single year by Christmas the media piles on some talented team that flies out of the gate, throwing out 70-win predictions as often as Nadia Sulaman squirts out a kid and every year that team du jour loses game number 13 by March. The NBA season is too long and players are simply not motivated enough (Lamar Odom I'm speaking to you!) to drive through a six month regular season to get to 70 wins. Back in 1996 I remember the media undercutting the Bulls achievements all season long: the league was watered down, the players are not as fundamentally sound, Jordan isn't facing a Bird or Magic. All may be true, but the Bulls were driven enough to avoid too many upset losses by clearly inferior teams (unlike the Celtics against the Clippers and as the Lakers in Sunday's loss to Phoenix).
Anyway, here is my formula to winning 70:
1 - You need a visionary coach. Someone like Gregg Popovich or Phil Jackson who coaches with the entire season in mind and not game-to-game. Basically you want to avoid the 1999 Minnesota Vikings and 2006 New England Patriots syndrome of having a record-setting regular season but no title. After all, as Shaq said, it's all about the globes.
2 - You need SEVERAL driven players. This is why the Lakers aren't winning 70, because Kobe's competitive drive alone isn't enough to pull the Lakers through the entire season. Michael Jordan comes to mind as the only person capable, but it also helped that he had an almost equally driven teammate in Scottie Pippen. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom (fresh off turtle-ing against KG and Kendrick Perkins in the Finals) aren't these type of guys. In fact, right after winning NBA Player of the Week, Gasol was talking about being fatigued and resting during games... which was obvious in the past two Lakers losses. You never heard that from Jordan or Pippen.
3 - You need some luck. Injuries are a part of the game and KG and Andrew Bynum going down all but ended any chance at 70. Outside of Dennis Rodman's suspension for head-butting a referee, much of the Bulls key players were healthy the entire season.
4 - The team needs a sense of history. This excludes the 1986 Celtics, who quite possibly could have gone for 70 wins except that it wasn't considered an achievement back then. The NBA in the 1980's was all about getting 50-wins and preparing for the playoffs. The 1986 Celtics were, in my mind, were the only team in the past 35-years with the best shot at 70, but it didn't matter.
5 - Talent. OBVIOUSLY!!! You can't even smell 70 without at least 2 or 3 All-Stars on your team (legit ones that command defensive double-teams and not political All-Star selections like David West because the NBA is keen on promoting Chris Paul).
With all that in mind, people really need to truly understand and appreciate the 1996 Bulls achievement of 72-10 (and 69-13 the following season for that matter).
BTW - Let me add that I too underestimated the challenge of 70-wins. I took a look at this Lakers team and emailed anyone who would listen (which wasn't really anyone, but alas) that they are 70-win capable. As always, I am an idiot!
Back to the rest of MMPG:
Lamar Odom... buyer beware: Remember Lamar Odom plowing through Boston and Cleveland with dominant double-doubles? Remember Lamar Odom with 74 rebounds in 4 games? Well you also need to know 6, 5 and 4... those were his rebounds, assists and points before he fouled out in the Lakers loss to Phoenix on Sunday. Odom is a free agent this summer and will command interest from several teams. So fare thee be warned, this is his 10th season in the NBA, so one of my favorite phrases applies here: you are what you are. And with Odom, he's always been "that guy" with tremendous potential, yet VERY inconsistent.
Starbury to the Celtics: God I hate this deal! As a Lakers fan, this does not bode well. Instead of matching the Celtics and grabbing up a much-needed big until Bynum returns, the Lakers traded to dump salary. Meanwhile, the Celtics improved a non-existent bench by grabbing Steph and Mikki Moore. Neither guy is going to lock down LeBron and at first I was like "big deal, they still won't pass Cleveland." But the more I think about it, Steph and Mikki are more about getting the top seed in the east and avoiding BOTH Cleveland and Orlando in the post-season. I see them both injecting confidence and pushing the C's to the top record in the NBA.
Here's my question to Celtics fans: does having the league's biggest cancer on your team take anything away from the title or is it "just win baby?"
Utah... For Real: Racked by injuries all season and barely holding on to the 8th spot, the Jazz are finally healthy and have run off 8-straight wins (including two impressive W's against Boston and LA). The Jazz have the talent, the depth and the coaching to put a real scare come playoff time. Plus they have that extra emotional motivation with the recent passing of owner Larry Miller. This team has the potential to put together the same type of run as in 2007 when they lost to San Antonio in Western Conference Finals. They sit 1.5 games out of 4th place in the west with 23 games left. Only 9 of those 23 are home, so the Jazz need to fix their road woes to make a move... and I think they will.
Houston... NOT for Real: The Rockets are putting together a similar run as Utah but I really don't see them as a threat out West (despite Jeff Van Gundy's continued beliefs). First off, aren't we due for the annual Yao Ming injury? He's one game away from playing the most games since 2004-05. Unlike T-Mac, Yao actually gives a crap about his team and winning... it's just that his body can't keep up. Also, with T-Mac gone, who's going to shoulder the offensive load on the perimeter? Ron Artest's perimiter game is inconsistent and they depend on a rookie (a very talented rookie, but a rookie none the less) at the point guard spot. As always, I see Houston not getting past the first round in the playoffs.