Add Saturday Night Live to the list! At only 23, LeBron James has pretty much done it all. Below is the opening monologue from last nights show, hosted by “The King.”
I didn’t catch the show, but I’d be interested in hearing the thoughts of anyone who caught LBJ’s entire performance.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Add Saturday Night Live to the list! At only 23, LeBron James has pretty much done it all. Below is the opening monologue from last nights show, hosted by “The King.”
Friday, September 28, 2007
He is also considering heading back to Detroit for another chance at the title with his hometown Pistons. Those are believed to be the 2 choices for C-Webb, who at 34 is at the tail end of a spectacular basketball career.
This is a great problem to have and a tough decision for C-Webb, so I decided to break it down for him:
Going to Greece
Having already been the man in high school at Detroit Country Day, in college at Michigan, in the NBA for numerous teams, why not add Greece to the resume? It would be a David Beckham type move on a MUCH smaller scale.
This would allow Webber the chance to play a key role on a professional basketball team, outside of the NBA. He’ll get paid top dollar to live a dream life overseas for two years, play for a title contender and not have to go against Kevin Garnett and Shaq on a nightly basis.
Staying in America
With his body breaking down, Chris Webber is no longer a real factor in an NBA game. His athleticism is completely gone and he gets up and down the court at a very slow pace. If he stays in America, he can join the Pistons, play 10 – 20 minutes a game, get hurt mid-way through the season and miss 25 games, score 6 points per contest and watch from the bench down the stretch.
He still gets his shot at a ring, but I’m not sold on saying you’re all of a sudden a champion, when you’re the 8th option.
What I would pay for this problem…
I was surfing through You Tube when I came across some serious moves that left defenders humiliated. Feel free to click below to get a few minutes worth of enjoyment.
A few things to note:
- Someone please tell Jacque Vaughn to move back… He is consistently getting abused and it’s embarrassing.
- The DaJuan Wagner highlight might explain how he scored 100 points in one game. That kid he’s breaking down looks like he’s 12.
- I've always felt like the Allen Iverson cross over on Michael Jordan was overrated. Mike has a hand in his face and keeps AI right in front of him. This could be that I defend everything about Mike…not sure
- Maybe putting Matt Harpring on Carmelo isn’t the best defensive match up for the Jazz… just a thought.
Which move did you think was the best?
Originally, I had the Carmelo cross of Ginobli on top, but after reviewing it a few times, I have to say the Daryl Hill move on Dwight Brewington was the nastiest.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
- The top player in the Class of 2008, Brandon Jennings will make his official visit to Arizona this weekend. Jennings, who has already committed to the Wildcats, will get a chance to stop by the McKale Center to see the arena that he will be dominating in next season. Lute Olsen will certainly have the red carpet treatment ready for Jennings the moment he arrives in Tucson.
- Lance Stephenson, the top player in the Class of 2009, has two unofficial visits planned in the coming weeks. According to Adam Zagoria, Seton Hall is up first with Lance and Lincoln HS Coach "Tiny" Morton stopping by the Hall on Saturday. On Oct. 12th Lance heads to Indiana for Midnight Madness. This will give Lance the opportunity to check out an entirely different world from what he's used to. Bloomington, IN will be a culture shock for a kid from Coney Island, Brooklyn. I'm interested to hear Lance's thoughts following his visit to Indiana.
- Sylven Landesberg who had narrowed his college choices down to Virginia, St. John's, and Georgia Tech has decided on Virginia. Landesberg is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2008. This is a major blow to Norm Roberts who invested tons of time recruiting the Queens, NY native. Many people in the NYC area were hoping that if Landesberg committed to St. John's, it could start a trend. I guess not.
Most of the players in the Class of 2008 have announced what school they will be playing college ball at next year.
Recapping the Top 15 prospects:
1) Brandon Jennings – 6’1, 170 lbs - Oak Hill Academy (VA)
2) Greg Monroe – 6’10, 230 lbs – Helen Cox (LA)
Finalists include: Duke, UConn, Kansas, LSU, Georgetown, USC, Texas, Baylor
3) Demar DeRozan – 6’5, 195 lbs – Compton (CA)
4) Tyreke Evans – 6’4, 195 lbs - American Christian (PA)
Finalists include: Louisville, Villanova, Seton Hall, Texas, UConn
5) BJ Mullens – 7’0, 260 lbs – Canal Winchester (OH)
College: Ohio State
6) Jrue Holiday – 6’3, 200 lbs – Campbell (CA)
7) Willie Warren – 6’3, 195 lbs – Oak Hill Academy (VA)
Finalists Include: Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, Oklahoma, Texas, Marquette
8) Samardo Samuels – 6’9, 230 lbs – St. Benedict’s (NJ)
9) Devin Ebanks – 6’8, 185 lbs – St. Thomas More (CT)
Highlights (25 secs in)
10) Scotty Hopson – 6’5, 185 lbs – University Heights (KY)
College: Mississippi St.
11) Eloy Vargas – 6’10, 210 lbs – American Heritage (FL)
Dunk of the Day
12) Delvon Roe – 6’7, 215 lbs – St. Edward (OH)
College: Michigan St.
13) Al-Farouq Aminu – 6’8, 210 lbs – Norcross (GA)
College: Wake Forrest
Dunk of the Day
14) Terrence Jennings – 6’10, 225 lbs – Notre Dame (MD)
Finalists Include: Maryland, Kentucky, Memphis, LSU, Louisville
15) Kemba Walker – 6’2, 175 lbs – Rice (NY)
*Some of the highlight reals are a little weak... I'll try to get my hands on additional footage*
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
It has been well documented that Marion is seeking a long term contract extension from the Suns. He has made it clear that if an extension is not reached, he intends to opt-out of the final year of his current deal to become a free agent next summer. Marion is also upset about having his name consistently brought up in trade discussions, most recently with the Celtics prior to the KG trade.
The Lakers are desperate to make some changes after having multiple deals fall through this summer. Odom and Bryant haven’t gelled on the court and it appears the Lakers are ready to try something new.
Overall, I really like this deal for the Lakers. Marion is a great fit to play alongside Kobe because unlike Odom, Marion doesn’t need the ball in his hands to flourish. Marion excels in transition and gets most of his buckets running the break, slashing to the hoop, or by hitting the offensive glass. He is also a terrific defensive player and is much more durable than the oft-injured Lamar Odom.
From the Suns perspective, I’m not in love with this move. Marion is the perfect compliment to Nash and Stoudamire because of his style of play. Once again, Odom would be forced to play off the ball in Phoenix which limits the benefits of having him on the court. In the off season, they already brought in Grant Hill to play a similar role to the one they expect out of Odom. The Suns would be best suited to hold off on making this move and go to battle with their current roster because it could be enough to bring the title to Phoenix.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
From the Kings perspective this move would be for one reason, and that is to get rid of a big contract. Trading Mike Bibby and bringing on Jason Williams in the final year of his contract would immediately free plenty of cap room for Sacramento, at the end of this season. Jason Williams is due $8,937,500 this season and then he would come off the books. Udonis Haslem still has 3 years left on his deal, but he also has value. He defends, hits the glass and brings Charles Oakley type toughness to the team.
Looking at it from the Heats point of view, I think they see their window of opportunity closing. The future will be bright for many years as long as Dwayne Wade is around, but in terms of the two man combo with Shaq, there really is not much time left. Therefore, bringing on a guy like Mike Bibby gives them a better chance to win right now. He is a perfect compliment to both Shaq and Wade, as a point guard who can stretch the defense with his deep range. The one negative is that he comes with a high price tag and limits the Heats spending flexibility next off season. With two years remaining on his current deal that pays him $13.5 and $14.5 million respectively, this is the dilemma for the Heat.
Bottom Line: The time is now in Miami. If you have the opportunity to bring on a guy like Mike Bibby to go with Shaq and Wade, it’s a no brainer. Add on the continued growth of Dorell Wright and Miami could be right back on top as the Beast of the East.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Many were there to see the game, and I'm sure most have seen the highlights at least once. But to me, these highlights never get old.
Back when LeBron James was the #1 Junior and Carmelo was the #1 Senior in the country, they squared off. LeBron playing for St Vincent-St. Mary's against Carmelo's Oak Hill squad which consisted of all D1 players.
Looking back Oak Hill Coach Steve Smith was quoted as saying, ''"I had never seen the crowd stand in unison at the end of the game and just start clapping in appreciation of what they just saw."
LeBron James: 36 points on 12 of 27 shooting, eight rebounds, five assists, and six steals.
Carmelo Anthony: 34 points on 14 of 25 shooting, 11 rebounds, and two assists in the 72-66 Oak Hill win.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Minnesota made Hudson the odd man out and came to terms to sever ties with the veteran. Minnesota agreed to pay him over $10 million for the next two seasons, which is 80% of his current contract.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Hudson has agreed to a 1 year, $1.22 million dollar contract with Golden State to back up Baron Davis.
My take: At 31, this is certainly not a bad situation. Hudson gets to work on his next rap album, play 8 minutes a game, and collect $7 million. His game is shot at this point in his career and he's just lucky to be on a roster. He gets to be paid by 2 teams, plus he has very little stress because Baron Davis is the man in Golden State anyway. This works!
Friday, September 21, 2007
I have a couple of thoughts on this:
I’m torn a little bit on what I think the best situation is for AK47. The Jazz style of play is exactly the right fit for Kirilenko. He is a scrappy slasher, who gets easy buckets moving without the ball. He has a great point guard, Deron Williams, who can push the tempo and let Kirilenko use his athletic ability in transition. He is also a terrific helpside defender, which is a role that he’s flourished in for the past 6 seasons in Utah.
I completely understand that he has hurt feelings after being benched in the playoffs last season. Frankly, as an all-star and one of the Jazz core players, I don’t blame him.
The Bottom Line: Kirilenko is set to make $13.71 million dollars this upcoming season. He has a max-contract that is set to pay him $63 million during the remainder of his Jazz contract, which runs through 2010-2011. If that is not reason enough to be at the start of training camp on Oct. 1, well then I must be missing something.
One other note: Should Kirilenko choose to stay in Russia; an arrangement would have to be made with the Jazz and a Russian professional team before he could start playing. Good luck with that one!
I was pretty tough on the Heat’s decision to offer Charlie Bell a long term $18 million dollar contract. It made no sense and would’ve just added to the miserable off-season acquisitions that they’ve already made, specifically Smush Parker and Penny Hardaway. Luckily for the Heat, the Bucks bailed them out. The Bucks decided to match the Heat’s offer and Charlie Bell will return to Milwaukee despite his pleas to move on.
One positive note to this whole story is that you have to feel good for Bell. Just 3 weeks after indicating his intention to play in Europe next season, he has finally received the financial stability that we all pray for.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
To be perfectly honest, I’m having a tough time with this one. I really am. How could a player with zero strengths get a long term 18 million dollar offer? He isn’t a great shooter, he doesn’t penetrate, and he certainly can’t lead the fast break.
The more I think about the Heat, the less I see what he brings to the table. They just signed Smush Parker to come on board and run the team (also didn’t agree with) and now Charlie Bell. Already having Jason Williams on the roster, the Heat are doing a great job of stockpiling mediocre point guard talent.
What the Heat really need out of the point guard position is three things. One, a shooter that could stretch the defense when Wade penetrates into the lane or Shaq draws the double team. Two, a point guard who can push the tempo and get Wade the rock in transition for easy buckets. Lastly and most important is a lock down defender. Last season, Gary Payton and Jason Williams were abused by opposing point guards who were able to get into the paint at will.
Apparently, Pat Riley feels Charlie Bell is that guy. Good luck!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
At the beginning of every summer, a few high school basketball players are hyped as the future, or the next great! After dominating their high school season the buzz begins and people start flying up the high school rankings. Eventually players from all over the country convene at AAU tournaments, ABCD and Nike All-American Camps so that questions can get answered. By the conclusion of the summer, we see many players fizzle out, while others begin to emerge.
Looking back over the past 15 years, there have been so many great players flourish and take the thrown as king of the class. Epic battles have taken place, like in 1995, when Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and Ron Mercer all dominated their respective parts of the country.
After breaking down all the players that have come through the high school rankings in the past 15 years, 10 stood out above the rest. In some instances, high school was the highlight of their career as college and the pro’s never amounted to anything. Others used high school as a stepping stone to become one of the greats.
Without further adieu:
6'10 forward Farragut Academy, Chicago
Kevin began high school as a 6’6, pencil thin 9th grader immediately earning the starting nod for the Maudlin High School Mavericks. His game was beginning to take off and Kevin was starting to build a name for himself, when everything took a turn. In the summer going into Kevin’s Sr. year of high school, Kevin and 5 friends were charged with second-degree lynching (charges were later dropped). This prompted the move to Chicago where Kevin would flourish.
When he arrived in Chicago, Kevin was a player possessed. He absolutely dominated averaging 25.2 points, 17.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 6.5 blocks per game as a senior leading Farragut Academy to a 28-2 record and the city championship. He owned the summer circuit, took home MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game and established himself as the prize recruit in the star studded 1995 class.
After failing to qualify academically, Kevin decided to do something that had not been done in the 20 years prior. Kevin declared himself eligible for the NBA draft. This move would eventually open the flood gates for players like Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and LeBron James to go straight from High School to the pros.
Minnesota selected Kevin with the 5th pick and I think that it’s safe to say, the gamble paid off. An MVP in 2003 – 2004, 10 all star teams, 8 All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive Teams later, the “Big Ticket” has become one of the all-time greats.
6'7 Forward St. Vincent-St. Mary's Akron, OH, 2003
"Your prayers were answered"
Sophomore year was more dominance as LeBron captured another state championship. That summer was when things escalated, as LeBron went from the man in Akron, to the best high school player in the nation. Lenny Cooke entered ABCD Camp with all the hype, but left known as the player abused by LeBron James. His stock took quite a hit as LeBron outscored the #1 player in the Sr. class, 23 – 9. LeBron had left his mark for the entire country to take notice.
Junior and Senior seasons were more of the same for “The King” on the court, but the buzz off the court was getting out of control. St Vincent-St Mary’s was broadcasting home games on pay-per-view for $7.95, season-ticket packages for the Fighting Irish soared to $125, and the Fighting Irish made on appearance on ESPN.
All was well, until the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSSA) started to investigate how the son of a poor mother was suddenly rolling in a Hummer and rocking expensive retro-jerseys. LeBron was eventually suspended, but the decision was ultimately overturned and LeBron was able to return in time to lead the Fighting Irish back to the state championship, their 3rd in 4 years.
At this point, the high school all-American games were a joke for LeBron as nobody was even close to his level. LeBron went on to become the #1 pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers and receive an unheard of $90 million to sign with Nike. I think we all know the rest of the story…
"100 pts in a 32 minute game - that's nuts"
As a freshman, DaJuan absolutely burst onto the scene leading Camden to a South Jersey Group 3 championship. Being dubbed “The Messiah,” DaJuan had gone from legend in South Jersey to the consensus #1 player in his class. As a senior, Dajuan earned national recognition, after he dropped 100 pts in a 32 minute game. Despite the low level of competition, anytime you are able to shoot 42 of 61 and hit 10 from 3-point range, the future looks very bright.
DaJuan ended up taking his game to Memphis, where he would meet up with his newly hired father, Milt Wagner. Yes, he was that good that John Calipari, not only hired his father, but also gave best friend Arthur Barclay a scholarship, to ensure DaJuan would bring his game to Memphis. It turned into a short pit stop as DaJuan declared for the NBA after a productive freshman season.
After being selected 6th and having a solid rookie campaign, DaJuan was hit with serious health issues including severe colitis which led to the removal of his colon. He hasn’t spent much time in the NBA since. Last summer, the Golden State Warriors gave him a chance, but DaJuan appeared in just one regular season game before they decided to part ways. At only 24, it appears his NBA career is over for now, but he’ll forever be a hero in South Jersey.
6’5 guard Rice HS, New York, NY, 1994
"Not many magazine covers followed"
When you’re put on the cover of Sports Illustrated without having played a college or professional basketball game, you must have dominated in high school and that’s exactly what Felipe Lopez did.
Felipe came to the US when he was just 13 years old, from his native Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. From the moment he stepped foot in the US, he began tearing up the NYC courts. By his senior year he was heralded as the #1 player in the nation, and led Rice High School to the city championship. When put against the best high school competition, Felipe was the star among stars. Felipe earned MVP of both the McDonald’s High School All-American game after scoring 24 points, and the Magic Roundball Classic pouring in 25 pts, 11 assists and 4 steals.
Expectations were so out of control for Felipe that it would have been nearly impossible to live up to them. After deciding to stay close to home and attend St. John’s, people thought Felipe was the savior for a program that was on a steadfast decline. His college career was solid (No. 3 on St. John's career scoring list), but certainly not what people envisioned.
Stephon’s high school career got off to a brilliant start. As a freshman, he was not only living up to expectations, but exceeding them, as Lincoln coasted through their schedule. Sophomore and Junior years were more of the same. By his Senior year, Stephon had achieved everything on the court except for the NYC Championship. He was not to be denied. As the final buzzer went off in Madison Square Garden, Stephon cried uncontrollably as he finally lead Lincoln to the title. He finished his high high-school career, averaging more than 28 points per game and 9 assists, and was involved in one of the biggest recruiting battles of all time.
He would eventually choose Georgia Tech, but that was a one year stop on his way to the league. Depending on which way you look at it, you can argue whether Stephon has had a successful pro career. His numbers are unbelievable. Stephon is one of only 2 players to average 20ppg and 8assists (Oscar Robertson) throughout his career. Off the court, he got paid. Growing up in the Brooklyn projects and coming from nothing, to driving Bentley’s and getting contracts worth over $20 million per season is quite a feat.
The flip side is Stephon is a career loser who nobody wants to play with. He is yet to make it past the first round of the playoffs and teams have had instant success the moment Stephon has been traded away.
One thing is for sure, he’ll always have the high school championship that no other Marbury brother was able to bring home.
6’6 Guard Lower Merion HS, Ardmore, PA, 1996
6’10 Forward Paterson Catholic, Paterson, NJ 1996
6’11 Center Southwest Atlanta Christian, Atlanta, GA, 2004
Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
Al Harrington 6'8 Elizabeth (St. Patrick) NJ
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Greg Oden’s rookie season has just taken a dramatic turn. Earlier in the summer, while on vacation, Oden felt a sharp pain in his knee after getting off the couch. That pain he felt will likely end his 2007-2008 season because doctors found cartilage damage that will require arthroscopic surgery.
After receiving a text message this afternoon informing me of this news, I’ve had a couple of thoughts run through my head:
1) Greg Oden just seems like such a great guy; someone you want to root for and hate to see anything negative happen to. Since being drafted #1, I’ve heard many stories about Oden’s character and how the newfound money and fame hasn’t affected him. He was still rocking his mom’s Taurus, until his teammates forced him to upgrade his ride. To me, that says a lot about his priorities.
2) He is such an amazing talent, and at only 19, I was excited to see how far his abilities would take him. It’s so rare to see his combination of size, and athletic ability. He is still so raw that I was intrigued to see what would happen after working with the Blazers’ coaching staff. Could you imagine Greg Oden with a few offensive moves?
Now I don’t mean to sound like his career is over, or that he can’t become the player we envisioned, I just hate to see an injury at such an early age. I don’t want anything to inhibit such a special future.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
USC ventured to the Pacific Coast of Mexico during the Labor Day weekend to take on professional and college teams from across the border. Due to the aftermath of a hurricane, only one game was played and from the looks of things, the Trojans couldn't get out of their soon enough. Freshman sensations OJ Mayo and Davon Jefferson each dropped 29pts. ESPN has the coverage:
I have to also share quite possibly the funniest quote of all time. In a recent edition of the LA Times, OJ Mayo is quoted as saying, "Right now, I’m focusing on my education, and I’m hoping next year if I do return – which I plan on – I’d like to go into business management and real estate investments.”
Come on OJ!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Position: Point Guard / Shooting Guard
Ht: 6-4, Wt: 195
Hometown: Aston, PA
Class: HS Senior at American Christian School
AAU: Team Final
Age: September 19th, 1989
- Possesses incredible ball handling skills… Great cross over dribble which he’s equally comfortable going left or right with.
- Has the ability to freeze his defender with a hard dribble, that he uses to get space for a pull up jumper (if the D sags back) or blow past the defense (if they tighten up).
- Demonstrates good body control when he gets into the lane.
- Plays with an attacking style, consistently penetrating to the basket and putting pressure on the opposition.
- He’s able to use his strong build (deceptive) to fend off contact when attacking the hoop.
- Has a scorer’s mentality, always looking to keep pouring it on. He’s capable of going off for big scoring numbers.
- Lacks the athletic ability to get above the rim, or elevate on his jump shot. Tyreke does not have the leaping ability which he’ll need as his game looks to advance to higher levels.
- Needs to repair his shooting form. It’s ugly, inconsistent and he has a slow release. Tyreke also tends to drift back rather than rising straight up on his jumper.
- Has to improve playing off the ball. Tyreke is at his best when he is isolated one-on-one, but he really struggles moving without the ball and finding other ways to score.
- Lacks point guard skills to run a team… Main focus is getting himself going.
- Needs to get better defensively. He has to get more committed on the defensive side of the ball and improve his foot speed and work on keeping his man in front of him.
Tyreke is blessed with a ton of skills. He is very advanced with the ball in his hands and he can break down just about any defender off the dribble. His style of play is a treat to watch, because very few players have the ability to consistently penetrate to the basket, with a wide array of moves like Tyreke. He has a scorer’s mentality and can put up huge numbers any time he steps foot on the court.
His mind set is similar to that of another Phili product, DaJuan Wagner in their scorer’s mentality. In order for Tyreke’s career to go down a different path, it is essential that he improves his point guard skills. At 6’4, he has great size for a pg, but he really needs to focus on learning how to run a team. He also needs to work on moving without the ball, finding creases in the defense and not just being effective with the ball in his hands. (Doesn’t have “live legs”)
Because he is not very athletic, Tyreke will need to hone his skills for a few years in college, before he even thinks about entering the league.
Tyreke Evans Highlights
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Position: Shooting Guard / Small Forward
Ht: 6-5, Wt: 200
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Class: HS Junior at Lincoln
AAU: Juice All Stars
Age: September 5th, 1990
- At 6’5, 200lbs, Lance has great size and a toned physique for someone only entering his Jr. year of high school.
- Extremely versatile on both ends of the court. Lance posses the handle which allows him to play the point forward, and the strength to bang inside. Also, he’s flexible enough to guard the 1 – 3 depending on match ups.
- Has the NYC swagger with confidence written all over his face.
- Very good finisher around the room. When Lance gets to the basket he can use his left, right, or throw it down.
- Fierce Competitor... Lance is at his best when he's playing against other elite players.
- When his body is squared to the basket, he displays a sweet shooting jumper. Has the range to hit from deep 3, but also the mid range game to hit from foul line and in.
- Solid athlete... Not an extremely high riser, but can definitely hold his own athletically.
- Needs to get more committed on the defensive end. Tends to leak out to half-court looking start the break.
- When things aren’t going well his immaturity shows as he pouts and point fingers.
- Has a tendincy to overdribble when he wants to break down his man and play to the crowd.
It’s never easy when you are the next great superstar from NYC and dubbed “Born Ready” at the Rucker Park at such a young age. Lance has all the tools to become an elite NBA prospect very soon. He’s already sculpted like a pro veteran and he has the cross-over, versatility, and athletic ability which make you believe that the sky is the limit. Lance has to stay focused, keep practicing and not get complacent beating up on inferior competition. He also needs to grow up on the court and act like he’s mature enough to handle being a superstar. Lance would be best suited to play college ball far away from the distractions in NYC, to get ready for what has the potential to be a long pro career.
Player Comparison: Tracy McGrady
Lance Stephenson Highlights
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
The tip times aren’t exactly conducive to allowing most people from the East Coast the opportunity to watch the FIBA 2007 Qualifying tournament. For those of us that were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to watch these games, it sure was a treat.
There really is nothing better than pure domination, and that’s exactly what the USA did. Cruising to the championship, the USA did not play one competitive game, including a 118 – 81 trumping of Argentina in the finals. On the road to earning back some of the respect once held throughout the world, regarding USA basketball, this was surely a nice first step.
To be fair, most countries that participated were without their full arsenal of players, such as Argentina who beat the USA back in the 2004 Olympics. Andres Nocioni, Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto, and Walter Hermann all chose to stay home this time around, but I doubt it would’ve mattered.
The USA was focused and the truth is there is no reason they should lose, especially when you add players like Jason Kidd and Kobe Bryant. J-Kidd is a magician with the ball, always pushing the tempo the moment the rock is in his hands. He leads the break as well as anyone, and was the ideal point guard to guide this team. Kobe is Kobe. Even though he appeared to have lost a step of his quickness out there, a level of comfort exists when Kobe’s on the squad. You just feel like there is no way the USA is going to lose with him on the team.
Carmelo seemed to lead the way every night consistently coming out of the gates strong, and finished with a team leading 19.4 ppg. There was not a player out there that could guard him man to man; frankly there might not be anyone that exists.
Michael Redd added a shooting component that has been missing in previous international games. Redd averaged 14.4 ppg and stretched the D allowing Kobe, Carmelo and LeBron to penetrate. Dwight Howard was a beast inside leading the team in rebounding and did all the dirty work in the paint. It’s real scary to think how good he is going to become.
Even though I didn’t think it was possible to amaze me anymore then he already has, the player that stood out the most during this entire two weeks of hoops was LeBron James. The first few games he came out playing so unselfishly, getting most of his buckets on the fast break, and just seemed to play a role. Then came the game against Uruguay, when I thought he was going to make me cry. With Jay-Z and Beyonce sitting front row, it was almost as if LeBron felt obligated to put on a show for his homeboy. He threw down ferocious dunks and was raining from deep. He played 14 minutes, all in the first half, scored 26 points and made a statement. This was followed up with a 31 point final including 8 3’s, 4 rebs, and 3 assists. His jumper looked pure all tournament. Nothing mechanically different, he just exuded more confidence every time he stroked from the outside. If this was a sign of things to come this season, I have one thing to say, it’s a wrap.
It’s now official, the US has qualified for the Olympics. It might have only been the FIBA Americas Tournament, but it was dominated the way it should be. Beijing is right around the corner and I’m sure all the players feel the same way. Next year can not come soon enough.