Tag Archives: All-Star Weekend

Stuff I Read and Enjoyed … Featuring Dreams that the 2010 Free Agent Class Forms Like Voltron and Creative Artists Agency Happen to Be the Head

voltron

1. Creative Artists Agency Stands at Head of 2010 Free-Agent Class

In the back on my mind, I’ve secretly been hoping that there is indeed a backroom pact made by LeBron, Flash and Chris Bosh to take less money and all sign with the same team to form a Super Franchise that would win the next six NBA tittles. It’s probably unlikely and no matter how much at least LeBron and Dwyane are guaranteed to make in endorsements, my cynicism can’t really allow me to expect two guys who could make close to $20 million per year to “settle” for closer to $10 million.

One thing — in addition to LeBron and Wade’s well-publicized friendship, the fact that all three played on the 2008 Redeem Team in Beijing and all three being signed to Nike — that does make a pie-in-the-sky Voltron-like reality still seem so possible, however, is Creative Artists Agency.

Here’s the background:

For 35 years, Creative Artists Agency has represented many of Hollywood’s top power brokers. Steven Spielberg. Tom Cruise. George Clooney. Will Smith. Tom Hanks. Brad Pitt. Julia Roberts. Nicole Kidman. Bruce Springsteen. The list goes on and on.

As you may have noticed, three of those names (Clooney, Pitt, Roberts) were among those who joined forces to enjoy the ensemble cast success of Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, which combined to take in more than $1 billion in box office receipts worldwide.

I think you know where this is going:

James, Wade and Bosh, of course, are the names on the tongues of every NBA executive these days. All three will be free agents this summer, the headliners of what promises to be the deepest and most heralded free-agent class in league history. That all three are represented by the same agency only adds to the drama and intrigue. It stands to reason that CAA – an agency which wasn’t doing much sports business as recently as five years ago – will now have some influence on how the NBA’s power structure shifts for the future.

The piece goes on to discuss what happened when Tim Duncan and Grant Hill were both being repped by the same guy when they were free agents in 2000. Timmy has some interesting quotes as do several others.

2. Maybe the Dunk, Not Just the Dunk Contest, Is Losing Its Luster

Good stuff from Eric Freeman at The Baseline:

The excitement around Shannon Brown’s inclusion in the dunk contest arose from his several fantastic slams on bigger players this season, and his disappointing performance on Saturday shocked many. But the dunks that made Brown’s reputation have very little to do what happens in a dunk contest. In games, his throwdowns over and on defenders are about reorienting time and space to fit his needs. A contest dunk is about defying expectations of what can be done, but it also depends on near-limitless imagination from the dunker. To put it another way, in games, the dunking Brown is thrown into an ever-shrinking box with one small opening and told to crawl out of it. On Saturday, he had to define the dimensions of the box and throw every other competitor inside it. One task is fit for a human overcoming difficult obstacles — the other is about his transformation into godhood.

A lot of this has been said before, but he says it better than most with the conclusion essentially being: Minus trampolines, we’ve seen almost everything that can be done while dunking, and we’ve now seen it sooooo many times that it’s hard to make it exciting — both in a dunk contest and in a game.

3. Omri Casspi: The King of a Nation

Noam Schiller waxes prolific on my boy — and his Israeli compatriot — Omri Casspi.

Regardless of how Casspi’s career unravels from this point forward, he will always be the first one who made it. And all words and all the articles and all the TV pieces that have aired in the American media since that night late in June – and some of them are really really good – can’t even begin to describe the impact this has had in Israel. Kings games have become a matter of national importance – except nobody cares if they win or lose. David Thorpe’s rookie rankings are monitored on a weekly basis by every major sports website in the country. Tyreke Evans is on Casspi’s team, and is having one of the most impressive rookie seasons in recent memory, and yet if you watch a Kings game on an Israeli feed, the only thing you’ll hear the commentators saying is “WHY WON’T HE PASS?!”. Kevin Martin is public enemy number one, and this is for a country surrounded by people who want to kill us. New Casspi interviews and analysis pieces are published by the hour, and nobody is sick of it, because all they want is more and more information of how their promised son is doing in the scary outside world.

Good stuff. Go read the whole thing.

4. The Trade Value List: No. 40 to No. 1

This year’s Trade Value column from Bill Simmons. Speaks for itself. His Durant facts are particularly interesting. Not sure why he needs to continually scheme up new ways to not like Kobe though. Overall, it’s what you would expect from a Simmons NBA column and this was probably my favorite line:

The Zombies could absolutely win a title some day with Durant as their No. 1 and Westbrook as No. 3. They just need a No. 2. Not to be confused with the No. 2 that Clay Bennett took on Seattle.

It’s a must read, naturally.

5. The NBA in 3-D: Coming Soon to a Living Room Near You

The headline of this Brett Pollakoff piece pretty much explains itself. And more than likely, this stuff is probably already further along than you think.

The NBA has been recording events like the All-Star game and the Finals in 3-D since 2007, but until now, has only been able to showcase them in a movie theater setting. As with most new technologies, the obstacles to getting them to market are based in price, as well as the ability to get televisions capable of handling the broadcasts to market. Additionally, the glasses required to view the 3-D programming are expensive — currently estimated to cost around $100 per pair to produce.

Brett was able to watch a preview and was pretty impressed:

There was a demonstration of the 3-D technology at this event, where highlights from the 2009 All-Star weekend were shown on what looked like your standard HD screen of about 42 inches in size. If watching sports in HD is the equivalent of feeling like you’re viewing the proceedings through the window of a luxury suite in the arena, then seeing things in 3-D is like having a courtside seat.

They really did this just right: the 3-D isn’t at all gimmicky like what we’ve come to expect from movies, where everything possible is done to overuse the 3-D effect by having things needlessly appear to be flying out of the screen right into your face. Instead, the front of the screen is used as the beginning point for the action, and everything appears to go deeper into the television, with the depth of the experience being accented like never before. If they had players or the ball flying out at you it would detract from the actual game itself; the way they have seemed to decide to do things makes the technology the ultimate enhancement.

Let’s hope I don’t die before this happens.

lebron MVP 3D glasses

Talking About Practice: Episode 6

Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm, NBA FanHouse and ProBasketballTalk stops by to talk about his time in Dallas for All-Star Weekend, debate the Jazz as contenders, break down the Mavs trade and answer the dreaded Ten Questions.

We ran long on this one so I didn’t bother with any major intro to explain the long lay-off since Episode 5. Apologies. Tech difficulties and other projects. But we’re back now and you can expect a new episode roughly once a week. Maybe I’ll even bang out a bunch over the next few weeks out of guilt. We’ll see how ambitious I get.

And as always, be sure to subscribe to Talking About Practice on iTunes, where ratings and reviews are encouraged.

Talking About Practice: Episode 6 Get Adobe Flash player

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America’s Team and Team of America-Hater to Host All-Star Game, Not American Airlines

Dallas has won the rights to the 2010 All-Star Weekend, but the actual game will take place in the currently-being-built, future home of the Dallas Cowboys and not the Mavs home court. (via FanHouse)

American Airlines must be thrilled that the arena they sponsor was passed over for the main event. If you’re scoring at home that’s a victory for America’s Team and the team featuring probable America-hater/terrorist/communist/puppy-drowner Josh Howard, but a loss for American Airlines.

At least the airline industry is flourishing though. Oh wait.

A dunk contest will take place here, but not an All-Star Game.

Best Blogger Alive: Vol. III

More NBA perspectives this week for your reading pleasure from the Weeziest one of them all, who despite just watching his first son Dwayne Carter III be born last week is still pumping out blog entries like a seasoned pro.

He talks more about his boy CP3 here and focuses on how the League isn’t nearly as competitive as it was in the 80s and 90s. He uses the All Star Game as an example.

In the NBA All-Star Game they never get serious, they just try to throw the ball off the backboard for 48 minutes. I don’t want to sound like an old guy, but I remember NBA All-Star Games games with Jordan, Olajuwon, Ewing that were real games. They’re out there f—ing with teammates, you hear about locker room fights, and this is the All-Star Game. That’s what I love, but those years are long gone.

He also talks about how you can tell the guys aren’t as cut-throat anymore because of things like guys coming over to Chris Paul’s house for dinner and even sleeping at the dude’s crib when they’re in town.

Back in the day that was unheard of. If your mom was gonna cook for another team’s player, she’s gonna be in that kitchen poisoning the food. These days we don’t know how to handle rivals as well. If I were a player right now and I was on a good team and we were playoff contenders visiting New Orleans, I would tell my boy Chris that I am not having dinner with him. I would see him on the court, and he’d be my dinner.

Cats betta grab an umbrella.

Change your style up, Bron. Switch to southpaw.

He Got Game

Well, that was quite the All Star Weekend.

New Orleans set the stage perfectly, prompting everyone to be slightly more engaged than normal. Having CP3, DWest and Byron Scott all representing the most exciting team in the League in its own building certainly helped, too.

Of course, we all loved Birthday Cake, Kapono’s record-setting title defense and the Boobie Gibson show. And, hot damn, there really can’t be enough said about Dwight’s performance. That tip dunk was borderline extra terrestrial and the phone booth costume change theatrics leading to that Superman throw down was the perfect blend of showmanship and freakshow athleticism.

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(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Even the actual All Star game was worth the hype. Predictably, with Kobe out, the two usual suspects showed up at winning time: Bron and Wade. But the most impressive display was the shooting pyrotechnics of Ray Allen. Indeed, Jesus Shuttlesworth turned water into twine down the stretch, drilling Tom Emanski-esque, back-to-back-to-back dagger threes in the waning minutes. LeBron and Wade closed it out for the East with two impressive drives to the cup, but it’s hard to believe they win without Ray Ray, who would have been MVP had the voting not gone all American Idol for the first-time ever.

Either way, watching the best shooting display in an All Star Game since Glen Rice got me thinking: Is it possible that Ray Allen is the best shooter of all time?

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(40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks)

I’ve always thought Peja is the best I’ve seen, with Bird, Dale Ellis, Allan Houston, Ray, Reggie, Dell Curry, Hornacek, Hersey Hawkins and Drazen all coming up just a whisker hair shy of Mr. Permanent Five O’Clock shadow himself.

Honestly, it’s a question that I don’t think gets asked that much. All these guys are listed as “one of the best shooters ever” but I’ve hardly ever seen any rankings. Obviously it’s tough given that the difference at the top is so minute and full of subjectivity, but with Ray Ray soon to become the all-time leader in career threes made, this question is bound to come up more often (Reggie is #1 now but is only up by about 500, which is a little more than two typical seasons for Allen).

So in a quest to get some sort of answer here, we’re gonna take an extended look at this subject at Both Teams Played Hard in an attempt to get something close to a ranking of the Top 20 shooters of modern NBA history.

(Note: As always, I’m not going back before 1980 in these history debates because (A) I think the game changed after Bird/Magic, and (B) I wasn’t alive before that.)

After some quick research, here are the early contenders:

  • Ray
  • Peja
  • Bird
  • Houston
  • Reggie
  • Hornacek
  • Dale Ellis
  • Dell Curry
  • Drazen
  • Calvin Murphy
  • Hersey Hawkins
  • Mark Price
  • Rip
  • Chuck Person
  • Wesley Person
  • Chris Mullin
  • Glen Rice
  • Michael Redd
  • Mitch Richmond
  • John Stockton
  • Dirk
  • George Gervin
  • Dennis Scott
  • Rashard Lewis
  • Freddie Brown
  • Brent Barry
  • Steve Nash
  • Detlef
  • Joe Dumars
  • Rickey Pierce
  • Terry Porter
  • Sean Elliot
  • Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
  • Mike Miller
  • Chauncey Billups
  • Dan Marjerle
  • Danny Ainge
  • Alex English
  • Ginobli
  • Jason Terry
  • Hedo
  • Wally Szczerbiak
  • Dana Barros
  • Scott Skiles
  • Kiki Vandeweghe
  • Kyle Korver
  • Rolando Blackman
  • Sam Perkins
  • Mike Finley
  • Jim Paxson
  • Bernard King
  • Adrian Dantley
  • Kobe
  • Vince Carter
  • Terrell Brandon
  • Voshon Leonard
  • Craig Ehlo
  • Steve Smith
  • Tom Chambers
  • Danny Ferry
  • Ben Gordon
  • Tracy Murray
  • Bob McAdoo
  • Sheed

(Another note: I’m not including any of the Kerr/Legler/Hodges/Hoiberg types. They never played a significant enough role to count. Yes, they were all incredible and possibly better pure shooters than anyone on this list…but they weren’t really legit 4th Quarter NBA-caliber players. I’m looking for the best shooters who are real players, not specialists.)

Okay, that’s the loooong list of 60ish guys who either my memory and the percentages consider to be somewhat legit contenders. I’m sure I missed several. And a few of these guys probably don’t even belong.

Also…there are various others that don’t match up with the stats or my memory. For instance, Shane Battier has a career 3PT percentage of 39.1%, which is good for 40th all time. But I have to believe that’s more circumstantial than anything else. I mean, he’s a good shooter and all, but he doesn’t strike fear into opponents. Similarly, Raja Bell is somehow 17th best of all time, which to me is more D’Antoni/Nash than his pure ability. Neither is making the list.

On the other side of things is Dan Majerle, who I’ve always considered one of the most dangerous shooters of all time. But for all his Playoff heroics and propensity to drill daggers, he never once shot over 40% from three in a season. Danny Ainge, too, has lower numbers than I expected. But since I remember these guys being dead-eye, I’m keeping them on the list for now. Why? Cause it’s my list.

Unfortunately, that’s all for now, folks.

But this will be an on-going project and we’ll revisit it soon in the coming weeks. And for all those out there reading (Hi Mom!) please let me know about the deserving guys I’ve certainly overlooked, especially those early 80s guys that I’m not going to remember as well.

‘Til later…