Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

International Men of Mystery; Part Deux

Monday, June 9th, 2014

As evidenced by the seven International players on the Spurs, it is clearly a good idea to look outside of the good ole’ USA to find basketball talent. In part 2 of the “International Men of Mystery” we will check out a couple teenagers whose birth certificates require verification, and a player whom the Cavs clearly like in Damjan Rudez (who is reportedly meeting with the Cavs, today).

Related news: The Cavs are looking at David Blatt for the head coaching job. The American born coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv would bring an understanding of the International game to Cleveland. He coached the Russian National Team to a Bronze medal in 2012. It would be an intriguing hire.

As always, I have a set of scouting questions that help to discern whether a player’s skill-set will translate well to the NBA’s basketball culture.

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The Point Four-Ward: NBA Finals Edition

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

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Four things I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…

1.) Over the years, the NBA Finals have produced only a handful of memorable player v. player rivalries. The playoffs have had their share, but try to name the real iconic head-to-head match-ups in the Finals. Can’t think of many, can you? Magic and Bird, obviously. Wilt and Bill Russell. What else? Michael Jordan and Bryon Russell? No, maybe not.

Generally, the feuding and chippiness that makes us love the playoffs is more often reserved for the Conference rounds, where teams (like Miami and Indiana recently) can meet repeatedly over several years fielding similar rosters and let Player X draw a big red circle around Player Y and go after him with each player’s legacy firmly at stake.

But there is just such a match-up in this year’s Finals, as Tim Duncan and LeBron James will be facing each other in the Finals for the third time in their careers.

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Choose Your Own Adventure: You Are David Griffin!

Friday, May 30th, 2014

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In elementary school, my favorite books were the “choose your own adventure” ones.  I enjoyed being able to exercise limited creativity by picking the end of my Goosebumps book.  Just going through the door on the right could land you in a locked room with some creepy dolls moving slowly towards you to hold your hand.  Ringing the doorbell to the door on your left could lead you to tea with an older woman that needs friendship.  I’m not sure what’s worse.

Getting the top pick has set up the Cavs with a wonderful “choose your own adventure” situation.  The team has the opportunity to take the Jabari Parker path, the Joel Embiid path, or the Andrew Wiggins path.  Each one leads to a new room: some rooms are dark and dreary filled with first round playoff exits, others are bright from the shining gold of Larry O’Brien trophies.

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The Point Four-ward: Four Things I’m Thinking About the Cleveland Cavaliers

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

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1.) An interesting name popped up amidst the New York Knicks current coaching search: Luke Walton. Walton, the former Laker and Cavalier, has never been more than tangentially connected to the top spot on the Knicks’ bench and his name was floated mostly in the same way that anyone who has a previous working relationship with Phil Jackson has been linked to the job at some point post-Steve Kerr pursuit (and, yes, it is too bad that Shaquille O’Neal is part owner of the Kings now taking that tasty morsel off the rumor rotisserie). But Luke Walton as a head coach is not as crazy as it might sound.

Anyone who watched Walton and Shaun Livingston run a fluid, efficient second unit offense for the Cavaliers in 2012-13 could tell just how much the game is in his bones. Walton has had the benefit of growing up around the pro game and then learning under two of the better coaches around: Lute Olson at the University of Arizona and Phil Jackson in Los Angeles (sorry, Byron Scott… we’re leaving you off this particular list). During the NBA lockout of 2011-12, Walton spent his extra dose of free time by joining former AU assistant coach Josh Pastner’s staff at the University of Memphis. Then following the conclusion of his playing career, Walton was named player development coach for the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

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One Sport, Two Continents, and the International Men of Mystery

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Editors Note: Please welcome new Staff Writer, and CtB European correspondent, Ben Werth.

I yell out “Check up top.” General dillydallying continues, and I yell again.  “BALL UP TOP.”  Okay, maybe something is lost in translation.  I try a different tactic.  “Der Ball ganz oben, bitte?”  That combined with the well known International Sign of “putting my hands out to receive a pass” have the desired effect.  I’m pretty sure my whack literal translation was not what yielded the ball.

“What do you guys usually play?  12 win by two, or 21 straight?  All ones?”  I generally detest playing with ones and twos in pickup ball.  The NBA short corner three is ridiculously inefficient compared to that two for one advantage.  Good thing most normal people can’t shoot.

“Okay!” says one lithe baller.

“Okay, what?  Bis zwölf, oder was?”  Have I been talking to myself?

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#WellActually You’re Wrong to be Outraged about the Lottery

Friday, May 23rd, 2014
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I promise to pen only one rant-post a season.

Let me start by saying I currently have two enormous pet peeves frequently generated by journalists/pundits.  The first is the use of the word “nuance” or “nuanced” which is code for “I am enlightened and/or reasonable enough to understand that the world isn’t black and white, there are “shades of gray” and therefore my “nuanced” discussion or analysis is superior to your opinions, which are essentially Neanderthal grunting”.

This thinly-veiled hubris is insufferable, and the phrase du jour has permeated every sector and level of journalism.  It’s one thing when the almond-milk drinkers at The Atlantic are using it; it’s another when sportswriters writing about…well sports, revert to it over and over and over.  Can we go back to talking like characters from “da Bears” sketches already?  It’s just as intelligent, only without the overwhelming smugness.

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Congratulations! You Won the Lottery. Now Don’t Screw it Up.

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Urban mythology is filled with the tales: people who won the lottery, and woke up three years later at the bottom of an empty swimming pool clutching a bottle of Jack next to a passed out former XFL cheerleader and a Tibetan Mastiff named Chodak, while the sounds of the flatbed truck cranking up the winch to repossess the Bentley echoed in the distance. “That guy had everything, and pissed it all away,” the documentary always says…

The Cavs don’t want to be the NBA version of that story. After winning their pick of the NBA prospects in the greatest draft since 2003, we Cavs fans, and I’m sure the front office, are euphoric. With this pick, two picks next year, and $40 million to spend, the Cavs have sooo many options. I don’t know about yours, but my head has been spinning for the last 24 hours — dazzled by the overwhelming number of possibilities. David Griffin has acknowledged all these possibilities, too.  And to his credit, he’s been setting off smoke screens since the minute the pick was announced.  I’ve heard that Parker, Embiid, and Wiggins are all at “the top of the Cavs list.” I’ve heard that the Cavs will look at more than just those players. I’ve heard that Griffin’s phone has been ringing with trade offers since the moment they got the pick, and that the Cavs “will be open minded.” But like someone who just won the Powerball, Cleveland needs to disconnect the phone for a day or two and figure out what’s really important.

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Mike Brown’s Unfair Firing

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Yesterday, the Cavs officially changed directions. The attempt to recapture the magic of the first LeBron era is over. A couple hours after I predicted that the Cavs would let Mike Brown twist in the wind until after the finals, they did the merciful thing and cut Brown loose (again). But let’s not mince words. David Griffin got rewarded and Brown got screwed. Mike will get a lot of money to go away quietly, but this situation was completely unfair from the start. I’ve been a Brown detractor many times over the years, but after a night’s worth of contemplation, I doubt any coach could have made the playoffs with this team.

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The Crawl to Judgment

Monday, May 12th, 2014

It seems Dan Gilbert took my advice. This spring Mr. Gilbert did not give us his best Sonny Corleone impersonation, he gave us his best Michael. Instead of impulsively firing the coach and hiring his replacement a few days later after one dinner interview, Dan waited…got the lay of the land, reportedly interviewed “four or five serious candidates,” and decided to offer the GM position to David Griffin. According to Jason Lloyd, “David Morway, Bryan Colangelo, Donnie Walsh and Joe Dumars” have been linked to this front office search. I don’t know about any of you, but I never heard those names linked by any other method than my own wild speculations. I wonder if this is Lloyd’s way of saying, “I can’t tell you who they interviewed, but this is who they interviewed.” First, kudos to the Cavs for keeping it all under wraps. But, if that’s really the case, then only Morway and Walsh seem like legitimate candidates. Still, I like this new slow and deliberate Dan Gilbert over the impulsive one. If he thinks, after a couple weeks, that David Griffin is the best man to run the Cavs, all I can ask is that Gilbert empowers Griffin to do the job. Now, what do they do about Mike Brown?

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The 2014 Playoffs — What does the First Round Mean for the Cavs? Part II

Monday, May 5th, 2014

As evidenced by last night’s scores, the playoffs are still bananas. Did anyone predict Indiana and OKC getting blown out at home? Speaking of playoffs, Yesterday, Kevin covered the Eastern Conference, in his series of glass half full/glass half empty first round breakdowns. Today I continue the series by tackling the Western Conference. We’ll pretend that Dallas and Memphis wouldn’t be top four teams in the East. Thankfully, (Glass Half Full) the Cavs play in the lesser conference.  Frighteningly, (Glass Half Empty)  if the NBA ever re-seeds the playoffs to ignore conferences, Cleveland could be hosed.

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