HEAT CONQUERS THE HATE (and the Thunder)

June 27, 2012

BANG! We are back!! Many apologies to our fans for our season long absence. Long story short: Stern, Goodell and Selig joined forces and claimed that BANG IN THE POST is behind many of the maladies plaguing our favorite sports today. In a cowardly attempt to deflect blame from themselves they have attempted to link us to the following: The NFL Lockout, The NBA Lockout, production and distribution of HGH, steroids and other such performance enhancing drugs, Roger Clemens misremembering, initiating and orchestrating all NFL Bounty systems, Tim Donaghy, pretty much every concussion suffered the last decade, Derrick Rose’s torn ACL, most (not all) point shaving scandals the last 30 years, and Janet Jackson exposing herself during halftime of the 2004 Superbowl. Our punishment for these reckless allegations: that is right – censoring BANGINTHE POST for one full season. BRUTAL. Our legal team is currently suing all three commissioners.

The Real King James

But now that our gag order has been lifted, we would like to begin by congratulating the 2012 NBA Champions the Miami Heat. The King finally got his ring. A lot has transpired while we were sequestered. We must admit, as the NBA finals rolled around, we found ourselves rooting for Lebron once again…(yup we hated him like the rest of ya after all the…well you know). It’s hard to pinpoint when we let our hate dissipate…and that hate was real…but at some point we were able to forgive and just sit back and appreciate the World’s greatest basketball player. How did we forgive Lebron? Well, we aren’t sure. Lots of talks with Mom, anger management, yoga, valium, meditation and, well, some pity. It all started when James melted down against the Mavs in the finals last year. We refuse to use the C word with athletes, however Lebron bleeping HOKED against Dallas last year. Gotta admit at the time, along with everyone else, we enjoyed it; seeing Jerko humbled felt good…go Dan Gilbert! But at some point when Lebron’s stock had plummeted to the depths of Barry Bonds and George W., we realized it had just become too damn fashionable to hate this dude. And now we say that this title is even that much more impressive. Lebron and the Heat had to overcome much more than the league’s best teams during this year’s playoffs.

As the Thunder dug out of a two zip hole against the Spurs to win 4 straight (mind ya, after snapping the Spurs 20 game winning streak), the Heat had dropped game 5 at home to a decrepit but proud Celtic team. Garnett had found that fountain of youth and Rondo seemed to have more heart in his 160lb frame than the whole state of Florida. Every hater was salivating…sickles were cocked…the assholes we hate to listen to (but we do anyways) on radio and TV already had buried the Heat and were predicting the trades that would break up the Big Three. Then we know what happened. After Lebron’s heroics in Game 6, everyone expected they would prevail in game 7, as they did. Let’s remember, though, the Celtics were suppose the be the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals (we swear we love Derrick Rose – we did not tear his ACL!), but that is and woulda been a whole different story.

On only two days rest before the finals begin, the Heat fly to OKC as a significant underdog for the series. And why not? The Thunder are younger, taller, faster, more rested and, in our opinion, more talented. Game 1 reflects all of this as OKC overcame a double digit first half deficit to bury the Heat in the second half to take a 1-0 lead in the series. During the last 9 minutes of the game, we watched a tired Heat team playing one-on-one basketball…reminders of their failures last year against the Mavs. BANG IN THE POST’s entire staff, watching Game 1 at a nondescript tavern in the Midwest, was shocked by all the Thunder fans. Not that many Oklahoma transplants here. (Nor did they strike us as gamblers.) It was certain, they weren’t rooting for OKC, they just all hated Lebron and the Heat. Our guess: this type of cheering was happening all over the country. The Miami Heat player’s had to overcome the knowledge that pretty much everyone outside of Miami was starving for them to fail again.

Well then came Game 2 and the beginning of the end for OKC. Sorry for the cliche, but the Heat wanted it more than the Thunder. We saw something similar just one year ago with the Heat on the losing side. The Heat, like the Mavs of 2011, capitalized on their desire, experience, superior coaching and team execution to prevail in the series. Like them or hate them, we at Bang In The Post tip our hats to the Miami Heat, a deserving champion.

See y’all after July 1 to breakdown all of the free agent signings.

P.S. We apologize to all of our fans with Cleveland roots. To all of you we would like to say LEBRON STILL SUCKS!

AND THEN THERE WAS LIGHT!!

June 14, 2011

 

BANG! There is joy in Mudville! And Cleveland. The great LeBron James struck out!! Again!!!

We apologize for our last posting of gloom and doom (Ruh Ro) predicting dark days and an imminent Heat Championship. We hate to be negative. We simply couldn’t find a logical explanation of how this Heat team could lose in what seemed like an impossible matchup for the Mavericks. Ah, but we didn’t consider the most fundamental theme in everyday life…GOOD VERSUS EVIL! Coach Rick Carlisle said it best after game six when he spoke of how his team felt “billions of people were rooting for us.” Yes, he really said billions. Barry Bonds, Brett Favre, Tiger Woods…they ain’t got nothing on LeBron and his teammates when it comes to the hate factor. There was no doubt the additional pressure the Heat felt, knowing pretty much the whole world outside of South Beach wanted them to lose, took its toll. It didn’t hurt that the refs clearly can’t stand them either.

The fact is this series was pretty much over with seven minutes left in game two. Dwayne Wade hit a ridiculous three pointer falling out of bounds to put the Heat up 15 points and minutes away from a 2-0 series lead. But thankfully for those rooting for the Good guys, Miami reverted back to their punk-like actions that have vilified them from day one. Wade does some sort of triumphant pose in front of the Mavs bench after his shot and the remaining yahoos are flying around as if they just won the championship. YIPPEE KI-YAY..WOO-BLEEPIN-HOO..the chest bumps..the confetti!! King James finally gets his ring! It was truly gross. Tyson Chandler and several teammates said Miami’s premature celebration was their motivation in their shocking comeback. Not so sure we buy that, but the Heat just checked out mentally assuming the game was over. The next thing you know Dallas goes on a 17-2 run and Dirk seals the deal at the end with a layup. The biggest fourth quarter collapse in the NBA finals since the 1992 Portland Trailblazers. Just like that the Mavs suddenly have life and BANG!..GOOD GUYS Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and team are NBA CHAMPIONS four games later.

After the Heat’s meltdown in game two there are dozens of reasons the Mavs took control of the series from there. First and foremost of course was the Mavs played much better and Nowitzki was awesome, particularly late in the games. Basketball purists love nothing more than seeing the ball move offensively. As the series progressed the Mavericks crisp passing and decision making was beginning to trump the Heat’s stifling defense. On the other end the Mavs team defense stymied the Heat’s one on one efforts offensively late in games. Two critical calls late in games five and six that could have been three point plays for the Heat with LeBron and then Wade went the Mavs way as Chandler and then Cardinal drew the charge calls. What are the chances a close call goes to Chandler or Cardinal over superstars James and Wade in the fourth quarter of the NBA finals? You think LeBron’s wink after duping referee Marc Davis into a terrible call on Derrick Rose in game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals got a few official peeved. Apparently so. Karma’s a bitch huh?

Officiating aside, with the exception of a Bosh jumper in game three, the Heat failed in every crucial possession in the games waning minutes after game one. Even in game four when Nowitzki was clearly hindered with a 102 degree fever, Nowitzki and the Mavs found a way to execute offensively at the end of games for good shots. The biggest failure by the Miami coaching staff was never putting LeBron on Dirk at the end of games defensively. This was the matchup we feared would be the demise for Dallas at crunch time. Thanks to coach Spoelstra, we will never know. On the other end, offensively LeBron’s disappearance in the fourth quarter of every game was one of the most inexplicable things we have ever seen in sports. James has now played in 10 NBA finals game and has yet to score 25 points in a single game. Okay, we have seen this act before where his confidence wavers in his jumper…but jiminey crickets! When you are King James, can’t you find another way to help your team out in the fourth quarter of the NBA finals?? We are not sure if James needs a shrink or just a coach to kick him in the nuts when he checks out late in games. It’s gonna be a long summer for the King and his Mama.

Enough about the bad guys. How cool was it to see two of the best players and best teammates of this generation in Nowitzki and Kidd finally get rewarded with a championship? Pretty damn cool we say! We don’t remember Dirk blaming anyone but himself after their collapse in 2006. All the man has done is work harder each summer and is a much better player at age 32 than he was in 2006. There are some eerie similarities in this series with Miami from the series in 2006. The Mavs 15 point comeback in game two was reminiscent of the Heat’s remarkable rally in game three to avoid a 3-0 deficit. In game four, it was Wade who missed the critical free throw like Dirk had in game 3 in 2006. All the close calls this year seem to favor the Mavs where in 2006 Wade single handedly beat Dallas from the free throw line. Finally the Mavs closed it out on the Heat’s home floor in game six just as the Heat had done to them five years earlier. The Mavs may be too classy to say it, but we’re not…REVENGE IS SWEET!

See ya all after the Lockout.

 

RUH-RO

May 31, 2011

Dan Gilbert, long suffering Cleveland fans, Delonte West and, well, just about anyone that roots for the good guys over the bad, we are all screwed! We have been wracking our brains for a week now desperately trying to find a way the Dallas Mavericks can defeat the Miami Heat in the NBA finals. Alas, we cannot find a way. Dark days are upon us.

First, congrats to the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma Thunder on their fantastic seasons. Both teams were expected to improve, but both showed this year that they will be legit contenders for the next several years. Although the Thunder and Bulls teams have completely different makeups, their respective demise in the last round was exactly the same. Both teams lost in the conference finals in five games, but were in a position to win every game. Both team’s had inconceivable collapses (Bulls game 5, Thunder game 4) at the end of games that ultimately closed out their seasons. These collapses were a culmination of inexperience and, simply, just some dumb basketball. No doubt the Mavs and Heat clutch players (Dirk and LeBron were awesome) at the end of every close game were spectacular and these teams are the most deserving to be meeting in the finals. But it was hard watching two first team NBA superstars being exposed both mentally and physically in those series. Anyone who likes sports wants to see guys like Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant have success, they’re just so damn nice! We can’t wait to see how they respond next year after being humbled at the end of their seasons.

Okay Mavs/Heat. The short version of how both teams advanced to the finals is their two best players were spectacular. Dirk’s play is a worldwide reminder that one can dominate a basketball game without a single fast-twitch fiber in his body. Dirk’s 48 points on 15 shot attempts in game one against the Thunder was one of the greatest offensive performances ever. Dirk and his Mavs have taken a lot of abuse since their collapse in the 2006 finals and their subsequent first round exit the next season after a 67 win regular season campaign. That was a long time ago and this Dallas team ain’t soft anymore. Thirty eight year old Jason Kidd has been great and every Mav in their deep rotation has been a contributing factor at one point during their playoff run. Coach Rick Carlisle once again has proved his wizardry in getting the most out of his team. Dirk, team defense and proving to be the most intelligent team in the playoffs is how Dallas won the west. No doubt this team of veterans is also intelligent enough to know it’s their last hurrah if they can’t find a way to win it all this year.

Oh, what a time to figure out a team rotation. Until about 14 days ago, the Miami Heat had no idea, night in and out, who would be on the court – aside from their big three. At midseason, they cut their starting point guard Carlos Arroyo. What NBA championship team cuts their starting point guard half way through the season?? (none, till now). Mike Miller had been a colossal failure and the Mike Bibby pickup had paid no dividends. Most importantly the Heat’s best player of the non-big three, Udonis Haslem, had missed almost the entire season with a foot injury. Haslem provides all the variables needed to complement the big three; defense, rebounding, toughness. Somehow, someway these non-factors became contributing members of the Miami Heat for the first time all year against Chicago. Haslem finally healthy? Miller inspired by the birth of his new child regained his shooting touch?? Bibby realizing all he needs to do is knock down wide open jumpers??? Whatever. Now LeBron gets all clutch and Bosh is shooting like Chris Mullin from the perimeter and, well, Wade has ALWAYS been a winner and suddenly this team actually becomes a team. Oh boy.

The Mavericks have been a team all year long. They established their bench and an identity with their team defense early in the season. They recovered from a season ending Caron Butler injury and Dirk missing 9 games midseason. The Mavericks team depth has allowed this veteran team to play its best basketball in the playoffs. Sadly that ain’t gonna matter when they can’t score against the Heat. The Mavs scorers all operate from the perimeter and the Heat have the best defensive team on the perimeter since the early 90’s with Pippen and Jordan making life hell for their opponents. Sorry Cleveland (go Indians!), but it’s the HEAT in Six.

 

And Then There Were Four…

May 17, 2011

Heat vs. Bulls

So we thought LeBron James was hurt. Really hurt. It was just after the Heat had rallied late in the fourth quarter to eliminate the Celtics in game five of the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Cameras found James lying motionless, face down on the court. Oh no! Pulled hammy was our guess. Bummer, what a damper this will put on the Eastern conference finals. But wait…LeBron is getting up on his own power. Now he is running towards D. Wade and hugs him. Oh my god he is hugging everybody! Oh the joy!! LeBron and the Heat did it, he finally did it!!! Hold on. What just happened here? For those of you who missed LeBron’s Gandhi like moment face down on the court followed by a Jim Valvano like sprint seeking out friendly faces to hug…well, ya would have thought he had finally won his first NBA Championship. Geez Louise!

Okay, we are done mocking LeBron, his talents and South Beach. At least for now. So congratulations to Pat Riley, the Big 3 and the Heat organization for slaying some demons in defeating the Boston Celtics and advancing to the conference finals. Also kudos to the Chicago Bulls for taking care of business and reaching the conference finals for the first time since the Jordan era. There is no doubt these were the two best teams in the East and, in our opinion, the two best defensive teams in the NBA. Now the question is…who prevails?

The Heat have certainly seemed to have come a long way since our post “Cry, Cry , Cry” during their five game losing streak. Center Joel Anthony becoming a fixture in their lineup has fortified their team defense and rebounding. James Jones has emerged to become the three point threat they expected Mike Miller to be. Most importantly LeBron James’ three pointer to break a tie game with the Celtics in game five could just be the confidence catalyst he and this team need. Inexplicably, it was James’ first heroics in crunch time since joining the Heat. LeBron went on to score the last ten points to close out the game and the Celtics. Wade was great throughout the entire series against Boston. It looks as though the two are finally ready to become the NBA’S most lethal tandem since Kobe and Shaq were causing mayhem in the early 2000’s.

Vegas must be really impressed with the James/Wade tandem. The Heat enter the series as two to one favorites to defeat a Chicago team that posted the NBA’s best regular season record. Chicago had been less than impressive in struggling to defeat a 37 win Indiana team and then being tested by Atlanta. We agreed with the critics saying Derrick Rose was trying to do too much. The Bulls’ defense seemed vulnerable in round two when backup point guard Jeff Teague seemed to be scoring with ease throughout most of the series. Ah, but then came game six at Atlanta. Perhaps the Bulls felt some urgency watching the Heat wrap up their series in five. For the first time in the playoffs, we saw the suffocating Chicago defense that propelled them to those 62 wins. Atlanta has plenty of talented one-on-one guys, but the Bulls team oriented D made all of their efforts look silly. Game six was a reminder to everyone that Carlos Boozer has plenty offensive game left (you may want to stop booing him Chicagoans!). The Chicago Bulls were the NBA’s best team not just because of MVP Derrick Rose. The Bulls won the most games because their rotation was often 11 men deep and they all played with the same tenacity. We will take 11 over 3 all day long.

Bulls in seven.

 

Thunder vs. Mavs

Oh, how meekly they went out. Everyone saw the chinks in the LA Laker’s armor even while winning back to back titles. But it’s one thing to know how to defeat a championship team; it’s another thing to make it happen. Congrats to Mark Cuban, Rick Carlisle, Dirk and the Mavs for pulling a Magua on Kobe and his Lakers. (Magua of course was the villain in the Last of the Mohicans. Magua would rip a man’s heart out of his chest before killing him. Nice huh?) Dirk’s clutch play following another mistake by the listless Pau Gasol gave the Mavs a 1-0 lead in the series. Who knew Dirk’s winning free throws in game one would begin the unraveling of this Laker mini-dynasty and write the final chapter to Phil Jackson’s amazing career.

This series was about the Dallas Mavericks’ triumph, not the failure of the Lakers. The Mavs played great and Carlisle outcoached the Zen Master. The Mavs showed their guile down eight points late in game three to come back and win that game. Carlisle showed his own guile by playing Peja Stojakovic important minutes throughout the series. Peja hadn’t been a factor in the NBA in over three years. At this point all he can do is catch and shoot. Defensively he struggles and often was matched up against the Lakers versatile Lamar Odom. But, Carlisle knew Peja gave them that additional shooter needed to space the court and make it impossible for the long but lumbering Lakers to defend the 3pt line. The Mavs shot lights out, particularly in games 3 and 4, and just like that…bye, bye LA Lakers.

A massive HI-FIVE as well to Scott Brooks and his Oklahoma Thunder. The Thunder survived in seven games against an excellent Memphis team. The series changed in the Thunder’s favor when Brooks started playing Nick Collison significant minutes in game four to slow down Zach Randolph. Collison’s defense in game four’s triple overtime win in Memphis was the difference in the series. It’s amazing how far and fast this Thunder team has come. Only two seasons ago the team started 3-29 and were on pace to have the worst season in NBA history. No organization has executed their plan better than the Thunder with GM Sam Presti calling the shots. Sure there was some luck landing Durant when Portland Sam Bowied themselves again by drafting Greg Oden. But Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka were all Thunder first round picks. Another first round pick Jeff Green was used to acquire Kendrick Perkins to bolster a thin front line and more importantly give them some NASTY! Even backups Eric Maynard and Nazr Mohammed played crucial roles against the Grizzlies. With the Thunder’s talent, depth and youth expect them to be contending for a title the next 5 to 10 years.

Now the bad news, Thunder fans: this team ain’t ready yet. Kevin Durant is a scoring machine, great kid, teammate and awesome if he is on your fantasy basketball team. We even like the dorky backpack he has been wearing for postgame interviews. Unfortunately we think he is the NBA’s most overrated player right now. Between poor shot selection (go to the rack more my brother!), propensity for turnovers and lack of passion on D we find him to be a thinner version of Amar’e and Carmela right now as opposed to a studly superstar. In many ways we prefer the suddenly oft-criticized Westbrook as an overall 48 minute difference maker night in and out. Yes, we know, blasphemy! Well, just doing our job folks. The good news for the Oklahomans is that both Durant and Westbrook still have a ridiculous upside. But in this series, the smarter and more experienced team moves on to the NBA finals.

MAVS in 6

 

We will be back for the NBA FINALS!

WELCOME TO ROUND II

May 1, 2011

 

 

Happy May NBA fans! Time for our conference semi-finals predictions.

 

 

HAWKS VS. BULLS

We really wish we could extend a genuine congratulatory hand in the direction of Larry Drew and his Atlanta Hawks team for their surprising upset of the Magic in round one…but we just can’t do it! Every game of the series was like re-watching the UConn-Butler game. Nobody appreciates great defense more than BangInThePost, (we miss those old Heat/Knicks battles. Riley vs. Van Gundy…over/under 166 1/2…give us the under!) but round one of Hawks/Magic was simply offensive impodence for six games by both squads. The Hawks stole game one and then held serve at home throughout…yippee!

The Bulls struggled themselves against a feisty Pacer team. They seemed to finally click in game 5 where they were able to win convincingly. The Hawks eliminating the Magic should make for an easier round two for the Bulls, especially if Kirk Hinrich is out for the series. Hinrich is the team’s only true point guard and he seemingly has regained his shooting touch against the Magic (we had not seen Kirk knock down jumpers consistently since he was a Jayhawk). Hinrich’s perimeter defense is solid and his familiarity with Derrick Rose’s game would have been helpful. But even when Hinrich ran the Hawks show offensively they lacked ball movement and continually launched poor shots. Hinrich’s absence means one less game played in the series. BULLS IN FIVE.

 

CELTICS VS. HEAT

 

All the hoopla and here we finally are, although it’s a round earlier than most predicted. We have chronicled both of these teams flaws in previous posts (CRY, CRY, CRY and BEANTOWN BLUNDER). Some reports out there claimed Ainge made the very controversial Kendrick Perkins trade to get more athletic to compete with the Heat. Well Danny Boy, this is your chance to prove us wrong! The Celtics, the worst rebounding team in the NBA, will now face their second straight playoff team where the opponents’ rebounding is almost as inept. More good news for Boston is Jermaine O’Neil looked five years younger in round one against the Knicks. There are murmurs as well that Shaq is ready to return early in the series. If by some miracle they can get 25/30 good minutes collectively between the O’Neil twins then the Heat and every other team should be afraid…very afraid. Not likely says BangInThePost.

The Heat have their own problems. The big three were productive as usual against the Sixers, but with the exception of Joel Anthony they are still getting little help elsewhere. Spoelstra still seems to be tinkering with his lineup even changing starters again in their last game. Mario Chalmers and Anthony should be getting more minutes this series. Chalmers is particularly critical because Mike Bibby on Rondo is just begging for quadruple doubles by the Celts point guard. The bottom line is Wade and James are terrific defenders when motivated and they will be able to contain Pierce and Allen. Two great defensive teams will lead to some ugly offensive play on both sides (hello under!), in the end the Heat prevail. HEAT IN SIX.

 

MAVERICKS VS. LAKERS

 

Both the Mavs and Lakers were challenged more than we expected in round one. Chris Paul pretty much single handedly beat the Lakers twice while Brandon Roy’s heroics in game four led to one of the greatest comebacks in playoff history. But when all was said in done, the two better teams advanced in six games. The Mavs have won 50 or more games an amazing eleven years in a row and of course the Lakers have been the most dominant team the last decade (the Lakers have played in the finals 7 times since 2000). Somehow, someway these two franchises have never met in the playoffs in the last eleven years. We expect a great series here with both teams upping their play from round one.

The Mavericks should not be bothered offensively by the size of the Lakers as much as most teams because their scorers often rely on jumpshots. Barrea is the only scorer in the Mavs rotation that tries to finish at the rim on his drives (odd, huh, in that he is all of 5’9″). Defensively for the Mavs to win, Tyson Chandler must be a monster and stay out of foul trouble. There is too big of a drop off offensively for the Mavs if backup center Brendan Haywood has to play significant minutes. The biggest key though for the Mavs to pull the upset is Jason Kidd. Yes, we know he is old (38 to be exact) but he has become way too passive offensively. Kidd needs to do more than shoot wide open three pointers. Dallas often is playing 4 on 5 with teams daring him to shoot or drive the open lanes. When Kidd does take the open lane EVERYONE knows he is only looking to pass. Somewhere in those old tired legs Kidd’s gotta find different ways to get his own points and push the ball every opportunity to get his team points before the Lakers half court D gets set.

The best news for Lakers fans is that not only did Andrew Bynum’s knee look strong in round one, he was the team’s best player in the series. The Lakers won the title last year with Bynum essentially playing on one leg. If Bynum keeps up his solid play they will wear down the Mavs and Chandler on the offensive boards. The Mavs are a good road team and we expect them to steal one in LA. But then we expect the Lakers to return the favor in Dallas and home court is the difference in game seven. LAKERS IN SEVEN.

 

GRIZZLIES VS. THUNDER

 

Is the Lionel Hollins blunder at the end of game five still haunting the Grizz? Perhaps. With the Grizz up three and only 2.2 seconds to play Hollins failed to instruct his team to intentionally foul the Spurs, allowing George Neal a gaming tying three pointer (wide open) to force overtime. The Spurs went on to win, forcing a game six. As we know the Grizz then took care of business at home. However with the Lebron/Celts tilt being the network’s preference for the afternoon game Sunday, the Grizz are forced to open their series in Oklahoma 36 hours after the final buzzer against the Spurs. The Thunder are a completely different animal and those two extra days of preparation would really have been helpful.

Speaking of different animals, Kevin Durant meet Tony Allen. Kevin if you thought Artest gave you headaches last spring, you have a quicker, hungrier version of him guarding you now. Most of the Thunder faithful probably are happy to be facing the Grizz with home court as opposed to the Spurs. Be careful what ya wish fer Oklahomians. The Grizz are the exact opposite of the Denver Nuggets in most every way. Serge Ibaka will have his hands full with Zach Randolph and won’t be able to fly around blocking every shot in the paint like he did against the Nuggets. Perkins will need to stay out of foul trouble as they will need him on the court to wrestle with Marc Gasol.

Durant always gets his points, but it is how he does so that makes the Thunder great or just good. We expect Durant needing a lot more attempts (like 30!) if he is to score over 30 points with Allen and Shane Battier tag teaming him. The games will be close, so execution by these two young teams at the end of games will be the difference. In round one the Grizz were the more composed team against the Spurs than what we saw of the Thunder late against the Nuggets. That being said, the great teams improve as the playoffs progress and we expect more from the Thunder in this round. In the end Russell Westbrook is the difference maker. The Thunder in seven.

GRIZZ!!!!!!!!!!….Why not now??

May 1, 2011

Oh you just know Big Country has gotta be smiling somewhere right now. A big congratulations from BangInThePost to the Memphis Grizzlies and their owner Michael Heisley. Not only did the Grizzlies win their first playoff series in franchise history, they did it in style by putting a whooping on four time NBA champion Tim Duncan and his San Antonio Spurs. It was only the fourth time in NBA history an eighth seed defeated a one seed, but it was the first time an eight seed manhandled a one seed! For those who watched this series, there was no doubt early on who the better team was. It’s been a long journey for this franchise, literally!

The now Memphis Grizzlies inception began in Vancouver in 1995. Bryant “Big Country” Reeves was the franchise’s first ever draft back. After six seasons of futility and mostly empty seats the team moved to Memphis. Although the team showed some improvement as their young star Pau Gasol developed, the team’s seasons always ended in disappointment. Three consecutive seasons of making the playoffs only to get swept each time (the Grizz were 0-12 in franchise playoff history going into these playoffs) added to their misery. Things only got worse during the 2007-2008 season. The team seemed to be regressing, Pau Gasol was lollygagging, local interest was waning and the team was losing money. Heisley was fed up and was trying to sell the team. In the interim he was looking to shed payroll and their highest paid player was Gasol. Now this is where things got weird. Heisley was so anxious to unload Gasol he offered him straight up to the Chicago Bulls for PJ Brown and his expiring contract! What is really hard to fathom is the Bulls said no! (Jerry wasn’t going over the salary cap with a team not good enough to win it all was the story from our sources). Don’t be too miffed Bulls fans, with Gasol you never would have fallen into the lottery and that lucky ping pong that got you Derrick Rose. Eventually, as we all know, Gasol was dealt to the Lakers for Kwame Brown (expiring contract) and two other throw-ins for salary purposes…it was deemed one of the most one-sided trades in NBA history and has resulted in the mini-dynasty of this current Laker team. To this day BangInthePost is convinced then Memphis GM Jerry West (West orchestrated this trade with his old prodigy Laker GM Mitch Kupchak) was a double agent still employed by the Lakers. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was so annoyed by the trade he suggested the NBA should get involved and have it voided. Guess this is what they mean by Karma, huh Pop? Of course, the forgotten part of the Gasol/Kwame trade was that the rights to Pau’s little bro Marc were dealt as well to the Grizzlies. During the Spurs/Grizz series Marc pretty much made future first ballot Hall-of-Famer Duncan look…well, old. Now Pau is still the better player, but there are more than a handful of teams today that would not swap Marc for Pau straight up (including the Grizz!).

Ah, but how fast things can change in the NBA. The attempted sale of the Grizzlies to a group led by former Duke stars Thomas Hill and Christian Laettner never came to fruition. Now the organization turned their focus to rebuilding without Gasol. The biggest move came in what truly was a lopsided trade. Zach Randolph to the Grizz for forward Quentin Richardson. Yup, that was all the Clips got…and then they cut him! Now Zach did have an NBA rap sheet (all misdemeanors) a mile long, but low post scorers that give you 20/10 every year don’t just fall out of the sky. Meanwhile, former lottery picks Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, OJ Mayo were all turning into quality NBA starters. More importantly, Marc Gasol was making Grizz fans forget about Pau. Marc is a burlier version of Pau and his selfless play and high basketball IQ was becoming the perfect complement to Randolph’s game. The team was really seeming to gel this season after an erratic start when Rudy Gay went down for the season with a shoulder injury. Hey, we at BangInThePost thought “That’s too bad, maybe they can hang on to a playoff spot” – but just to get swept again?? Well, clearly the brain trust in Memphis saw something we didn’t and weren’t cashing in the season. By no means! At the trade deadline they brought back fan favorite small forward Shane Battier to takeover Gay’s starting position. They also found the Rockets willing to take their one mistake, Thabeet, off their hands and threw in a future number one draft pick ta-boot. Even the failed trade of OJ Mayo to the Pacers (minutes passed the deadline) has worked out for the Grizz. Hey, long term, the team is better with Gay on the floor, but in his absence, this team found their identity and actually got better. With Tony Allen getting more minutes and Battier starting, this team suddenly became a beast defensively. By season’s end they led the NBA in steals and forced turnovers. With Gay out of the picture, the offense ran through Zach Randolph and Memphis closed the season with the most points scored in the paint in the league (this is a REALLY good thing come playoff time, folks). Randolph’s play is no fluke. Zach is as talented in the post as any player in the world and unlike many other of our NBA “stars” this dude is CLUTCH!

The playoffs introduce us to team’s role players. A lot of the playoff teams have strong benches with guys with specific skills. The Grizzlies bench is unique because their guys are all complete players. OJ Mayo, after a brutal regular season (beat up by Tony Allen, suspended for consumption of a banned substance, almost traded to the Pacers and just general shitty play) has his confidence back and brings instant offense off the bench. Darnell Arthur looks like he could start on most teams… he has a post-up game, mid-range jump shot, blocks shots, and runs the floor. Rookie point guard Greivis Vasquez looked like he had been in the league 10 years playing huge first quarter minutes in game six when Conley was on the bench with two fouls (not too shabby for the 28th overall pick in last year’s draft). Sam Young mysteriously dropped to the second round in the 2009 draft. Young has hit threes, taken charges and blocked shots during the first round…guys off the bench usually give a team one of those things – not all three!

When we started this post, our angle was going to be look out for the Grizz next year (and by the way anything less than 55 wins next year will be a disappointment. Sorry – with our accolades come PRESSURE), but then it dawned on us: why does this team have to wait at all?? Besides Ginobili missing game one, that Spurs team was the same team that won 61 games this year. If you win 60 games in the regular season, you have a REALLY REALLY good team. Once again, the Grizz WHOOPED the Spurs. Nobody in these NBA playoffs has played better than the Memphis Grizzlies thus far. Please tell us what the Grizz are missing?? Experience you say. Well, we say see the 2006 Miami Heat or 2008 Boston Celtics as teams that won a championship their first year with a new core of players. The Grizz have the talent, the defense and most importantly a swagger now. In our opinion every team left in the playoffs has a shot to win it all this year, (okay, not the Hawks) but if the Grizz play as well as they did in round one – look out everybody else!

 

P.S. Mr. Heisley, we believe it goes without saying that season’s success comes to a screeching halt next season if you fail to re-sign Gasol. (Beware! If the new collective bargaining agreement allows the Knicks to be a player, they will throw whatever money they can at Gasol this summer). We understand OJ is moving on and probably Battier, but sign Gasol and then make sure you reward the brain-trust behind your personnel decisions for a job well done!

 

 

Poof Goes the Magic?

April 24, 2011

 

Has Superman left the building? Not yet, but we fear for Mickey and all of Disney that Dwight Howard will be leaving the state soon! Orlando trails the Atlanta Hawks 3 games to 1 and barring some miraculous turnaround, BanginthePost predicts a Lebron-esque aftermath in Orlando upon Dwight Howard’s departure for free agency at the end the 2012 season.

We know July 2012 is a long ways away…premature predictions, overly dramatic?? Afraid not, Magic lovers. We’re not saying the Magic need to win it all this year to ensure their superstar will re-sign with the organization, we are just saying Howard has to believe his team has a chance. A team with championship aspirations losing in the first round is a major setback. But losing in the first round to the same team you annihilated the year before is downright depressing! There is always that cruel slippery slope in the NBA when a team gets so close to the pinnacle and the next thing you know that same team is rapidly descending back to mediocrity.

It’s only been two years since Orlando’s surprising run to the NBA finals. Superman is a meager 25 years of age and all of the other key players on the team are under thirty. The problem is Orlando’s GM Otis Smith went “all in” on his team’s future with the early season trade bringing over Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu. Arenas and Turkoglu, both proving to be way overpaid, still have three years remaining on their contracts after this season. Smith failed to land another big man after shipping out back-up center Marcin Gortat in the trade with Phoenix. As great as Howard has been in the playoffs, he is still prone to foul problems. With not another big man on the roster, this Magic team is simply helpless when he is on the bench. Every other player on the roster is perimeter oriented so this team lives and dies with its three-point shooting. Well the Magic’s three-point shooting has been atrocious thus far in the series. 18 straight misses on threes in game 4 was the biggest reason the Magic lost the game 88-85 and is now facing elimination.

Now if there is anyone who can rally a team from a 3-1 deficit it’s our good friend Stan “The Man” Van Gundy. Hey, everyone knows the Hawks have a ton of talent…but they’re still a STUPID basketball team and there ain’t no cure for that! Maybe those jump shots start falling and a big win back at home for the Magic is the momentum starter they need to win three straight. If not, we fear it’s our friend Stan the Man (along with Otis Smith) who will be sliding down their own slippery slopes.

P.S. NYET! Mikhail don’t be getting too excited by about this post…Superman ain’t coming to Jersey, Brooklyn, Russia or anywhere your team may be in the future.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BOOOZE

April 18, 2011

Wow! Quite the first two days of the NBA playoffs. Every “underdog” or lower seeded team was in position with less than two minutes to play to win game one on the opposing team’s floor. Atlanta, New Orleans, and Memphis (congrats to the Grizz on their first franchise playoff win!) sealed the deal at the end and stole home court advantage. Surprising first two days?? For sure. Shocking?? We say no. Nothing comes easy in the playoffs anymore, not even in the first round. It’s easy to forget that a 37 win Atlanta Hawks team forced seven games against the eventual champion Celtics in 2008. Last year’s championship Lakers team was one rebound away from facing game seven against the eighth seeded Oklahoma Thunder in the first round last year. Those crazy dominant Laker/Celtic teams of the eighties are long gone friends! People worry about all the superstar players uniting on a few teams like the Heat pulled off this summer (won’t happen by the way).  Back in the day, it wasn’t because of any player collusion.  But every time LA and Boston met, we usually had 7 future Hall of Famers on the floor at crunch time. Can you think of any NBA finals matchup this year that could possibly provide the same amount of star power? Nope. The P word (parity) is used way too often these days in sports, but by round two of these playoffs we say anything goes! We like the Bulls and Lakers to reach the NBA finals, but we think any of the top four seeds in either conference are capable of winning it all this year.

Certainly one of the bigger surprises this weekend was how close the Pacers were to winning game one against the Bulls. The Bulls were not at their best, but let’s give credit where credit is due. For forty five minutes the Pacers were the better team. Hansbrough and Granger were lights out from the perimeter. Collison, at least initially, matched Rose’s offense with long jumpers and crafty drives to the basket. The Pacers were not intimidated and their solid play and scrappiness had them up 10 with 3:29 left in the game. Now we have to give credit to the Bulls for their response. The Pacers did not give away this game – Rose and his teammates took it from them at the end as great players and great teams do. Was this a wakeup call for Chicago? Maybe. Or maybe this was just a reminder of the small margin between one team’s “greatness” and one team’s “mediocrity.”

We loved last year’s NBA finals between two evenly matched teams in the LA Lakers and Boston Celtics. Predictably, this great series was decided in the final minutes of the final game. While two of the greatest shooters in NBA history, Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant, were doing their best John Starks imitation, it was Ron Artest hitting clutch shots at the end to clinch the title for the Lakers. Whoda thunk it? Nobody. In these days with the best teams being so close in talent, the difference between winning and losing is certain to be an unlikely player filling an unlikely role. We believe if the Chicago Bulls are going to win it all, they need power forward Carlos Boozer to do things he has never done before. Probably not who you were thinking as the x-factor for the Bulls, but hear us out.

Who is Carlos Boozer?  Olympic gold medalist, NCAA champion, 2 time NBA All Star, and a 20/10 guy when healthy…blah, blah ,blah. Yeah we know that, but to us he is a lollygagger. That’s right…LOLLYGAGGER!!  We recognize the man’s skills. Besides Rose, he is undoubtedly the most talented cat on the roster. Boozer has always been an exceptional rebounder, effective jump shooter up to 20 feet, solid passer, and can finish at the rim effortlessly with either hand. Dude is still a LOLLYGAGGER! Boozer’s motor always runs on one speed (6.5/10 on the effort level). He is just so damn good, nobody ever busted his ass about it. Boozer is like a bird, migrating with the flock, right in the middle. If the flock is all good…so is he. If the flock is in trouble, so is Carlos. Boozer ain’t the bird swooping down to save the flock when it has just been pelted by a hail storm is what we are saying here. Boozer is the one Bull that has yet to drink the Coach Thibodeau Kool-Aid. His lack of intensity (we particularly hate his fake annoying primal screams after a pertinent play), failure to rotate defensively and reluctance to take a charge often undermines the Bulls team defensively.

The good news for Boozer and Bulls fans is apparently there is a cure out there for lollygag-ism. Two other lollygaggers figured it out and were rewarded with back to back championship rings. The supremely talented Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom were publicly exposed of their lollygagging during the 2008 NBA finals. The Lakers entered nearly a 2-1 Vegas favorite in ‘08, but were overwhelmed by a more ferocious, hungrier Celtic team. The boys learned their lesson:  they know to be a champion in the NBA it takes a different type of effort.  Bulls’ fans, we suggest keeping an eye on Boozer as your team advances to the conference finals. If you see the man take a charge, or perhaps dive on the floor for a loose ball, feel free to start making plans to catch that parade on Michigan Avenue!

P.S.  Big Hi-Five to Chris Paul and his Hornets! We humbly apologize for your premature playoff burial. More importantly, it was great to see the old Chris Paul! It was a weird year for one of our favorite NBA players to suddenly drop dramatically in scoring (as his team REALLY needed it most nights).  In fact, he was shut completely in a regular season game two weeks ago. Welcome back Chris and hope you got a few more games like the one we saw Sunday.

PLAYOFF PROGNOSTICATIONS

April 16, 2011

BANG! Happy NBA Playoffs! Without further adieu, our Playoff Picks:
EASTERN CONFERENCE


Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers
Folks, can someone help us out here please? We are wondering how in the last 3-4 years seemingly all the NBA stars have matriculated to the Eastern Conference (Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, etc.) and yet somehow the Western Conference is still superior to the Eastern Conference. Hence, the introduction to our 8th seed, the 37-win Indiana Pacers. We would like to have something nice to say about the Pacers going into the playoffs, but they would have been the 13th seed in the West, so we got nothin’ here.
On the flipside, of course, congrats to the Chicago Bulls clinching the best overall record in the NBA at 62-20. Quite the accomplishment with so many new players, a new coaching staff and injuries incurred by their starters. We’ve showered enough accolades on them already (see BanginthePost’s THE BELIEVABULLS). Only because we love the movie Hoosiers, we’re throwing the Pacers a game. Bulls in 5.

Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers
A job well done by Doug Collins, rallying his team after a 3-13 start to a playoff appearance. As far as the Heat, we admit we’ve been a little harsh on them this year. We are seeking help to sort out our anger towards LeBron. In our previous post, CRY, CRY, CRY, we have pointed out the Heat’s flaws. All that being said, 58 wins ain’t bad no matter how you look at it. The loss of power forward Udonis Haslem was a killer for this team. There are murmurs that Haslem may be ready later in the playoffs if the Heat can advance – and if they do, look out. In the meantime, the Heat have feasted on mediocre to bad teams all year long. We don’t see anything changing in Round 1. The Heat in 4.

New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics
We predict the New York Knicks will win their first playoff game since the Jeff van Gundy era – yikes, that was a long time ago. Apparently, all the NBA experts read our blog BEANTOWN BLUNDER and have jumped on the Celtics-are-screwed-because-Kendrick-is-no-longer-there bandwagon. The good news for the Celtics is they are playing against the Carmela-led Knicks. In short, both of these teams are suffering from identity crises after mid-season trades. We give the Celtics the edge, winning in 6 games.

Orlando Magic vs. Atlanta Hawks
Talk about two more teams in the East with identity issues. At least the Magic have an excuse – they are still trying to find themselves after their many midseason acquisitions. They’ve also missed reliable shooting guard J.J. Reddick who was out for the last 17 regular season games. The Hawks truly are a mystery as this talented core has been together for 5 years now and has somehow regressed from last season. Despite having 9 less wins this year, we expect a much better post-season showing than Orlando’s evisceration of them last spring. Nonetheless, the ultimate difference in this series is that Dwight Howard is finally dominating on the offensive end. His hard work in the off-season will finally be on public display, showing he has become a force at both ends of the court. The Atlanta Hawks will finally succumb, losing in a close Game 7 in Orlando.

WESTERN CONFERENCE


San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies
We want to be the first to congratulate the Memphis Grizzlies on their first playoff win ever! BANG! We want to be the first to congratulate the Memphis Grizzlies on their second playoff win ever! And now we want to console the Grizzlies on a respectable first round loss to the San Antonio Spurs. We hope their solid year and the scare they put into the Spurs stays fresh in ownership’s mind when it comes time to re-sign Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph this off-season. As for the Spurs, they are undoubtedly the least feared 61-win team in the history of the NBA. Early on in the season when they were on pace to win 70 games, nobody believed in them and clearly Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins doesn’t fear them now. Entering the last game of the NBA season, the Grizzlies rested their best players ensuring they would be the 8th seed – bring on the Spurs! But, when all is said and done, the Spurs depth proves to be too much for the Grizz. Spurs in 6.

LA Lakers vs. New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets were one of the more unpredictable teams this season, starting out 11-1 as first year coach Monty Williams was being hailed as a genius. But reality set in and their record evened out. Then adversity set in when power forward David West tore his ACL and was lost for the season. Now sadness will set in as this ownerless team, likely to lose their superstar point guard Chris Paul after next season, gets swept by the Lakers. If the Lakers are able to three-peat sending the Zen master off with the perfect goodbye, those in the know will reflect back with gratitude to Game 82 against the Sacramento Kings. The Kings had them on the ropes with seconds to play when Kobe forced overtime with a three-pointer leading to a Lakers win. Had this not occurred, the Lakers would have faced a much tougher Portland team in the first round, possibly advancing to meet the Mavericks on the road in the second round. With an injured starting center in Andrew Bynum, a chickenpox-ed Steve Blake, still dinged up Matt Barnes, and a still apologizing for his homophobic slur Kobe, this scenario may have been the end of the Lakers dynasty. The Hornets are just the break the Lakers need to regroup in Round 1. Lakers in 4.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trailblazers
He’s not our coach of the year, but he’s our most resilient coach of the year – Nate McMillan. We’re not sure if it’s the curse of Sam Bowie, but there is a dark cloud hovering over the Rose Garden seemingly every season as this team annually is beset with devastating injuries. Somehow, someway, McMillan wheedled 48 wins out of this team. Now they’re everyone’s upset darlings to knock out the Mavericks in the first round. Warning to everyone – you’re wrong again. Although the Mavericks sputtered at the end of the season (blowing a chance for home court at least to the conference finals), they clearly are the deeper and more talented team. The always feisty Blazers will keep the games close, but look for the Mavericks to prevail in 5 games.

Oklahoma Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets
BanginthePost has not been too kind to Coach George Karl in the past, but first and foremost – congrats on kicking cancer’s ass for a second time. Secondly, congratulations to Coach Karl, the Nuggets organization and the whole state of Colorado for bamboozling James Dolan & the Knicks and coming out victorious after the laborious Carmela drama. Nothing was more satisfying for us purists than witnessing the improvement of the Nuggets after ridding themselves of Carmelo Anthony. Many expect the Nuggets to cause some hay during this year’s playoffs. Unfortunately, their first round draw, the Oklahoma thunder are simply too talented. With the Thunder’s acquisition of Kendrick Perkins, they have become a championship contender. The Nuggets teamwork and depth will not be enough. Thunder in 5.

A quick look beyond Round 1 (details to follow):
EAST
Bulls beat Orlando in 6; Miami over Boston in 5
Bulls beat the Heat in 7
WEST
Thunder over Spurs in 5; Lakers over Mavericks in 7
Lakers over Thunder in 7
NBA CHAMPIONSHIP
Big Chief Triangle Zen Master Phil Jackson comes full circle, ending his career losing game 7 to his former team, where it all began. We can’t wait to read Phil’s next book explaining how it was all meant to be. Bulls over Lakers in 7 for the Championship.

NYET NYET NYET

April 15, 2011

So folks, how does that saying go? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure? We know your average NBA fan gets disinterested in the last two weeks of the NBA season. Understandably so. A lot of sandbagging going on. However, we at BanginthePost love the end of the NBA season. Good teams, bad teams – it doesn’t matter to us. For instance, this year only two teams were going full throttle the last two weeks seeking home court advantage. Those teams were the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers. The Bulls clearly succeeded as they now have the #1 overall seed. Even though San Antonio was able to hold on to the #1 seed in the west, we feel the Lakers #2 seed bodes better for them considering the matchups. We’re pretty sure certain coaches (see Rick Carlyle) are kicking themselves for premature sandbagging. Stay tuned for more in our upcoming Playoff Prognostications Post.

On the flipside, we also enjoy watching the bottom feeders at the end of the season. Teams out of the playoff picture are typically playing younger players and looking toward the future. To the layman, these games seem meaningless. But to us, it’s a look into that particular team’s crystal ball. Even the most hapless of teams usually have a player or draft pick forthcoming to keep their fans hopeful for next year. Take the Timberwolves. Worst record in the NBA. But perhaps they’ve discovered a cornerstone to build around in Kevin Love. The Kings clearly have two young studs under the age of 21 in Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. And most likely a new town and arena will generate great enthusiasm for next year. The Clippers, after decades of disarray, now have a true superstar to draw fans and build around in the future. Even the Cavaliers made progress with the Baron Davis deal ensuring two lottery picks in the 2011 draft. We’ve always been able to find a glimmer of hope for any franchise at the end of the season. Until now. We got nothin’ but gloom and doom for the folks of New Jersey.

One man’s ruble is another man’s rubble! Yo Jay-Z – word of advice from BanginthePost – get out while you can. There was tremendous hype last year when Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov officially became the New Jersey Nets majority owner. Shortly after arriving in Jersey, Prokhorov promised Nets fans an NBA championship within 5 years. Hey, why not aim for the stars, we thought. Way to go, Mikhail! There were two nice pieces in point guard Devin Harris and center Brook Lopez, lottery draft picks forthcoming, tons of cap space, the greatest free agent pool in NBA history, and excitement about the team’s plans to relocate to Brooklyn. Holy crap – how things can change in 10 months!

How did things go wrong so fast, you ask? Let’s do a quick recap of our friend Mikhail’s first 10 months with the franchise:

Mistake #1: Hiring Avery Johnson as the new head coach. Oh, gosh, how can we say this without being rude? Avery Johnson is a shitty NBA coach. And he’s annoying. And short. Unqualified to be head coach of the extremely talented Dallas Mavericks, he lost the 2006 championship to the inferior Miami Heat. The following year, his team goes into the playoffs with 67 regular season wins and ends up losing to the 8th seed Golden State Warriors. People said it was a bad matchup for the Mavericks. Yeah, it was. Avery Johnson versus former mentor Don Nelson.

Mistake #2: Wasting money on D level players like Jordan Farmar and Travis Outlaw when he could have saved his cap space for future top tier free agents. In desperation, after failing to land a LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Boozer, they went from Plan A to Plan F.

Mistake #3: The grotesque three month courtship of Carmelo Anthony. Prokhorov’s obsession to bring in a “star” put him on every other team’s dope radar. Who would trade 2 starters and 4 future #1 draft picks for 1 selfish ball hog? Just when NJ fans thought they were saved by the Knicks’ acquisition of Carmela, the Jazz pounced on Prokhorov’s penchant for big name players and stole Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and 2 #1 draft picks for Deron Williams (who, by the way, will end up in Dallas after the 2012 season).

Sometime around January 2012 when the NBA resumes after the lockout, New Jersey fans and ownership will realize they have one decent player in center Brook Lopez, a star whose departure is imminent in Deron Williams and no upcoming early round draft picks. Prokhorov’s 5 year plan for an NBA championship is now an impossibility. His billion dollars would have been more useful in baseball where a Dwight Howard or a Deron Williams could be bought. But, in the meantime, he has set this franchise back about 10 years in his 10 months. So, Jay-Z, time to cash out those rubles.


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