The Jump: Iverson round 2
Allen Iverson will be joining the Philadelphia 76ers for a second stint. The two sides – which will always be intertwined – split ways in an ugly divorce during the 2006 season.
The reunion was a logical move because Iverson was desperate for a place to resurrect his career and Philly desperately needed to sell tickets. On a lesser note 76ers point guard Louis Williams is out with a broken jaw and Allen can take his minutes.
“The Answer” joins a list of players and coaches who have had two runs with a team during his career; Jason Kidd (Mavericks 94-97 and 07-current), Steve Nash (Suns 96-98 and 04-current), Alonzo Mourning (Heat 95-02 and 05-08), Ben Wallace (Pistons 00-06 and current), Brian Hill (Magic Coach 93-96 and 05-06), Phil Jackson (Lakers Coach 00-03 and 05-current), Don Nelson (Warriors Coach 88-94 and 06-current), and I am sure there are a lot more, but that is all I could come up with off the top of my head.
The storyline of AI returning to Philly to finish up his career where he began is heartwarming, but a snooooooozzzzeeeeee compared to the other possibilities out there. Here is a look at what could have been more exciting options:
1. New York Knicks – Iverson running up and down Madison Square Garden as clearly the best player on the team, chucking up 30 shots a game as he attempted to bring life to the moribund Knickerbockers. The best part would have been watching Mike D’Antoni on the bench. Here is how I saw a typical Knicks game with Iverson in the fold.
Coach D stops scratches his head and thinks to himself “would I rather have Iverson
take a 20 foot jump shot falling away from the hoop or any of the other four players
on the court attempt a lay up?” Then the former Suns coach would proceed back to
the bench without saying anything, put his head in his hands, and wish he took the
Chicago Bulls job.
2. Miami Heat – An Allen Iverson-Dwayne Wade backcourt had excitement written all over it. The best part of this marriage, Miami Heat trailing by one with 15 seconds left. Head coach Erik Spoelstra draws up a play where Iverson brings the ball down the court and is supposed to run a play for Dwayne Wade. AI ignores the play and attempts the shot himself, misses and costs the Heat the win. In the locker room after the game Spoelstra needs to be restrained by the entire team so he does not pull a Latrell Sprewell on Iverson.
3. Portland Trailblazers – I put this one in here because my friend Dan from back in New York has been screaming and yelling for Iverson to come off the bench for Portland to help their second unit which has really struggled to score. See above excerpt with Brandon Roy replacing Dwayne Wade and Nate McMillan replacing Erik Spoelstra.
4. Boston Celtics – This storyline would have been the most interesting of them all. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Allen Iverson all on the same team. That is four future Hall of Famers who were franchise players for separate teams in the late 90s early 2000s all together. Could KG, Pierce, and Ray have turned AI into a team player to help the Celtics win a second championship in three years? An interesting question that will never get answered.
5. Houston Rockets – An Iverson/Aaron Brooks backcourt easily the most fun point guard/shooting guard combo in the league.
6. Charlotte Bobcats – Larry Brown and Iverson reunited. This one gets put in there just for the potential of another “practice” press conference.
I have to start this section with Ron Artest talking about drinking Hennessy at halftime of NBA games early in his career. The full interview will be in The Sporting News later this month. Comments like this are why Artest is in my top five people from the NBA I would want to interview. The rest are Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Nuggets center Chris Anderson, Thunder small forward Kevin Durant, and Isiah Thomas (officially he is still employed by the New York Knicks).
I almost put Commissioner David Stern on the list instead of Isiah Thomas, but if I wanted to have a conversation with someone and them to call me stupid in subtle ways the whole time I can call my Dad whenever I want.
Ron Artest drinking at halftime of an NBA game is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. I have drank and played basketball on a few occasions and it never ended well. One time someone ended up with a broken arm in multiple places and me having two groups of friends that could not go near each other because a brawl was bound to take place at any moment. Another instance I played pretty well, but ended up puking everywhere, and the last occasion I could barely hit the rim. Bottom line, drinking and playing basketball is not a good idea especially if it is an NBA game. Ron Artest does deserve credit for one thing, he has never thought before he spoke and he never will. Consistency is always key.
The New Jersey Nets have started the season 0-18 (Yup, I picked them to be the 8th seed in the East – that was smooth). When I think of the ultimate losing streaks the one that always comes to my head is from baseball. Former New York Mets reliever Anthony Young in the early 1990s lost 27 straight decisions. That is my barometer for losing and the Nets have nine more to go.
Wednesday night I took in the second half of the Indiana Pacers-Sacramento Kings game (more evidence that I have no life and I desperately need a girlfriend). At one point during the contest each team had three white guys on the court which made me take a look at both team’s rosters. What I discovered was ground breaking stuff, the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings could legitimately play a basketball game with 10 white guys on the court and each team could have a 6th man. This would be the equivalent of 10 black guys on the ice at the same time in the NHL. Here are the lineups:
|C – Jeff Foster||C – Spencer Hawes|
|PF – Troy Murphy||PF – Jon Brockman|
|SF – Tyler Hansbrough||SF – Omri Casspi|
|SG – Mike Dunleavy||SG – Andre Nocioni|
|PG – Travis Diener||PG – Beno Udrih|
|6th man – Josh McRoberts||6th man – Sergio Rodriguez|
This would be the first time that happened since the 1950s when the NBA was made up of mostly Jewish guys.
Ever since Stephen Jackson was traded by the Golden State Warriors to the Charlotte Bobcats in mid-November GSW point guard Monta Ellis has been playing like a man possessed. Ellis has played over 40 minutes or more in six out of the eight games including back to back 48 minute games. He had a three-game streak where he scored 34, 37, and 42 points. Two games after his 42 point performance Monta dropped 45 points against the Indiana Pacers and he fouled out with about 6 minutes and 30 seconds left in the 4th quarter. I was watching the game and it was a terrible call. Plus, the game was no longer competitive with the Warriors up by double digits; don’t take away the one reason to watch the game!!!!!!
Wednesday night the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies played a tight contest that the Grizz pulled out 97-95. Even in a losing effort T’Wolves first year head coach Kurt Rambis (David Stern should make a rule that he was to wear the goggles he sported while he played) did a solid job and this was exemplified in the last 40 seconds of the game. Down by one point with 39 seconds left rookie point guard Jonny Flynn aggressively takes the ball to the basket quickly, he misses and the Grizzlies get the rebound.
Two good things here; opening night against the New Jersey Nets Flynn settles for a 12-foot jump shot instead of going to the basket on the final possession, this means Flynn is improving as a player. Second, the T’Wolves went quickly allowing them to play defense instead of starting the fouling contest earlier than they had to. On the defensive end Minnesota does a good job closing out on the three-point shot (a three-point attempt or a plus one is the only way the T’Wolves would not have the opportunity to tie the game on the other end of the court) and get a stop. Unfortunately for Minnesota they can’t get the defensive rebound as OJ Mayo comes away with the ball. There is less than 24 seconds left on the shot clock and the Timberwolves knew to foul immediately. That is Rambis doing a great job of having his young team prepared for all situations; they didn’t have to wait for him to scream foul from the sideline, you could tell the game situation had been addressed at some point during a practice or in the previous timeout huddle. Mayo hits one of two and the Timberwolves now trail by two with less than 10 seconds left. Rambis takes a timeout and draws up a great play in the huddle. A lot of coaches would just throw the ball in an isolated their best player. The T’Wolves inbound the ball to a big (forget which one at the moment), Ramon Sessions curls off a down screen, attacks the basket, and draws a foul. Sessions misses a free throw and Minnesota loses the game, but Kurt Rambis did everything right in those last 40 seconds. Even though it was a small sample size, you can see that “Goggles” has a good feel for the game and won’t cost his team with head scratching decisions.
The Phoenix Suns have hit their first crisis of the season with back-to-back blowouts at the hands of the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers. Neither game was competitive and the Suns trailed wire to wire in both games. Across the marathon that is an NBA season a head coach has to come up with creative tactics throughout the year to keep his team motivated. Following the loss to the Knicks the Suns had a sluggish start to the Cavs game. I thought Suns head coach Alvin Gentry needed to stir the pot up a little bit. He did replace Louis Amundson in the rotation with Earl Clark, but I was looking for something a little bit more dramatic. This was the perfect opportunity to find any little excuse to blow up at the refs, get himself two technicals, and a long walk to the locker room. Would it have made a difference in the game? Probably not, but Gentry would have shown some fire and let it be known that the team’s performance was unacceptable.
Amare Stoudemire is falling back into bad habits. It was just a couple weeks ago that Alvin Gentry was on the 620 SportsLine praising STAT for becoming a team leader. At the beginning of the season he hustled on defense, took charges, and blocked shots from the weak side. Not anymore. Amare has gone back to standing around and watching on the defensive end. This type of play can not be tolerated and if Gentry won’t say anything to him Steve Nash or Grant Hill better. It is not a coincidence that when Stoudemire brings less energy the rest of the team follows.
1. Los Angeles Lakers 14-3: Won seven games in a row. The Andrew Bynum/Pau Gasol frontcourt is plain scary.
2. Boston Celtics 14-4: Won five games in a row after a sluggish stretch. KG starting to look like his old self.
3. Dallas Mavericks 14-5: Jason Kidd is starting to find his game.
4. Orlando Magic 15-4: Since Rashard Lewis returned from his suspension the Magic are 8-1.
5. Denver Nuggets 13-5: Would be higher, but they had a terrible loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
6. Atlanta Hawks 13-5: Falling into old habits on the road. Bad loss to the Pistons.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers: 13-5: I still don’t know how I feel about Shaq on this team.
8. Phoenix Suns 14-5: Biggest drop from the last power rankings after getting smoked by the Knicks and Cavs.
9. San Antonio Spurs 9-6: Have won five straight games. Starting to get healthy and beginning to look like the Spurs of old.
10. Portland Trailblazers 12-8: Still have not figured out their offense. Andre Miller has not fit in well.