Los Angeles Lakers

Athletes Take a Stand

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and what better way to start back up than talking about athletes with a cause, right?

These past couple of weeks have been filled with a lot of police-civilian tension because of two incidences where officers weren’t indicted for killing two black males, Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner of New York. Many have spoken out about it and professional athletes are no different.

It all started with a few St. Louis Rams players, who came out before a game with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture, made famous after Brown’s murder. Following that, other football players wore shirts that said, “I can’t breathe,” the now infamous words spoken by Garner, who was strangled on camera by the police.

NBA players began to do the same thing, with Derrick Rose being the first person to wear an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt. It then caught on and teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets (pictured above) wore the shirts together. Though it has drawn some controversy, and whether you agree with the decision or not, the fact that athletes are using their platforms for a cause is respectable. It isn’t unpopular to see them promoting clubs, alcoholic beverages and other products, so why not stand with and promote a cause?

This isn’t something uncommon for athletes of old to do. In 1968 during the Olympics, as they received their medals, track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and lifted their fists as a way to promote black pride. Though the two were suspended, they stood for something. Other athletes like Muhammad Ali also made their political views known without worry or care.

So often athletes are looked to as role models and even idolized for their performances on the court or field, but their behavior outside of that is less than flattering. But now, there are those who choose to make their views known by supporting a larger message. They can score all the points, get all the touchdowns and score as many home runs as they can, but being able to use their fame to promote justice and social change (or at least conversation about either two), is nothing less than admirable. That’s something to look up to.

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NBA Draft 2014

Here are the results from tonight’s NBA Draft:

Round One

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

2. Milwaukee Bucks – Jabari Parker (Duke)

3. Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid (Kansas)

4. Orlando Magic – Aaron Gordon (Arizona)

5. Utah Jazz – Dante Exum (Australia)

6. Boston Celtics – Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)

7. L.A. Lakers – Julius Randle (Kentucky)

8. Sacramento Kings – Nick Stauskas (Michigan)

9. Charlotte Hornets – Noah Vonleh (Indiana)

10. Philadelphia 76ers – Elfrid Payton (UL Lafayette); traded to Magic

11. Denver Nuggets – Doug McDermott (Creighton); traded to Chicago Bulls

12. Orlando Magic – Dario Saric (Croatia); traded to 76ers

13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Zach LaVine (UCLA)

14. Phoenix Suns – TJ Warren (NC State)

15. Atlanta Hawks – Adreian Payne (Michigan State)

Honorary mention for Isaiah Austin

16. Chicago Bulls- Jusuf Nurkic (Bosnia-Herzegovina); traded to Denver Nuggets

17. Boston Celtics – James Young (Kentucky)

18. Phoenix Suns – Tyler Ennis (Syracuse)

19. Chicago Bulls – Gary Harris (Michigan State); traded to Denver Nuggets

20. Toronto Raptors – Bruno Caboclo (Brazil)

21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Mitch McGary (Michigan)

22. Memphis Grizzlies – Jordan Adams (UCLA)

23. Utah Jazz – Rodney Hood (Duke)

24. Charlotte Hornets – Shabazz Napier (UConn); traded to Miami Heat

25. Houston Rockets – Clint Capela (Switzerland)

26. Miami Heat – PJ Hairston (North Carolina, D-League); traded to Charlotte Hornets

27. Phoenix Suns – Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia)

28. L.A. Clippers – CJ Wilcox (Washington)

29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Josh Huestis (Stanford)

30. San Antonio Spurs – Kyle Anderson (UCLA)

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Round Two

31. Milwaukee Bucks – Damien Inglis (France)

32. Philadelphia 76ers – KJ McDaniels (Clemson)

33. Cleveland Cavaliers – Joe Harris (Virginia)

34. New York Knicks – Cleanthony Early (Wichita State)

35. Utah Jazz – Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee); traded to Memphis Grizzlies

36. Milwaukee Bucks – Johnny O’Bryant (LSU)

37. Toronto Raptors – DeAndre Daniels (UConn)

38. Detroit Pistons – Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado)

39. Philadelphia 76ers – Jerami Grant (Syracuse)

40. Minnesota Timberwolves – Glenn Robinson III (Michigan)

41. Denver Nuggets – Nikola Jokic (Serbia)

42. Houston Rockets – Nick Johnson (Arizona)

43. Atlanta Hawks – Walter Tavares (Cape Verde)

44. Minnesota Timberwolves (now Brooklyn Nets) – Markel Brown (Oklahoma State)

45. Charlotte Hornets – Dwight Powell (Stanford)

46. Washington Wizards – Jordan Clarkson (Missouri)

47. Philadelphia 76ers – Russ Smith (Louisville); traded to New Orleans Pelicans

48. Milwaukee Bucks – Lamar Patterson (Pittsburgh)

49. Chicago Bulls – Cameron Bairstow (New Mexico)

50. Phoenix Suns – Alec Brown (Green Bay)

51. New York Knicks – Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Greece; D-League)

52. Philadelphia 76ers – Vasilije Micic (Serbia)

53. Minnesota Timberwolves – Alessandro Gentile (Italy)

54. Philadelphia 76ers – Nemanja Dangubic (Serbia)

55. Miami Heat – Semaj Christon (Xavier)

56. Denver Nuggets – Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa)

57. Indiana Pacers – Louis Laberiye (France)

58. San Antonio Spurs – Jordan McRae (Tennessee)

59. Toronto Raptors – Xavier Thames (San Diego State)

60. San Antonio Spurs – Cory Jefferson (Baylor); traded to Brooklyn Nets

Categories: basketball, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, NCAA, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, Sports, Washington Wizards | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Return of Rondo

If you didn’t believe the reports last week about Rajon Rondo coming back, the Celtics guard hinted about it via a tweet Monday night. The tweet simply said, “29,233,380 secs.” According to NBC Sports, this equates to the amount of time between his last game (Feb. 13, 2013) and when he is projected to return (Friday, January 17, 2014). Despite my lack of skills with math, I’d say that sounds about right.

Rondo’s first game will be against the Los Angeles Lakers at home Friday and I’m sure the Bostonians will give him a warm welcome back. Additionally, his return is huge for the Celtics team, which currently is ranked fourth in the Atlantic Division with a 13-26 record.

 

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Christmas Match-up Predictions

       Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, but not for the reasons that some may think. Other than spending time with family and 24 hours of “A Christmas Story,” there are back-to-back basketball games on all day, starting at 9 a.m. PT with the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets. Here are my picks for each game:

  • Bulls vs. Nets – Bulls. The Nets are having a hard time this season with all of the new adjustments and are 5-8 at home. They are also having a hard time putting the pieces together to win and have yet to get over .500. With the absence of Derrick Rose, the Bulls have also struggled in the season. However, they have key players like Joakim Noah who have stepped up to help. Noah averages 10.6 points and leads the team with 9.9 rebounds per game. Another reason why I think the Bulls will win is because they are more familiar and have better chemistry with each other than the Nets do, especially with all of the drama surrounding the team, most recently including Kevin Garnett’s recent remarks.
  • Thunder vs. Knicks – Thunder. I think this one is self-explanatory, but I’ll explain anyway. The Thunder are one of the best teams in the league right now, while the Knicks are one of the worst. It also doesn’t help that Carmelo Anthony is a game-time decision after rolling his left ankle against the Orlando Magic Monday night. With both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook healthy and ready to play, I don’t think a Knicks blowout  is anything less than realistic.
  • Heat vs. Lakers – Heat. The Heat are on a five-game winning streak and coming off of an overtime win against the Atlanta Hawks. LeBron James is only improving and leads the team in points, rebounds and assists per game. The team has all the weapons it needs to beat a restructuring Lakers team. Not only are they still rebuilding, the Lakers are an inconsistent team. Some nights Nick Young can shoot the lights out in the Staples Center, while other times, it looks like the lights are out while he’s shooting. It’s also important to mention that Kobe Bryant will be out, so they have no real dominant force on the court. They may put up a good fight being that they’ll be at home, but I don’t see the Lakers beating the fiery Miami Heat.
  • Rockets vs. Spurs – Spurs. Both teams are doing well, as Dwight Howard seems to be adjusting better to Houston than he did to LA. It should be a good game, but I think the Spurs will be able to get the win over the Rockets. As the best team in Texas, the San Antonio Spurs have the experience and skill to defeat the young team. They also have the home court advantage, only losing three at home so far this season.
  • Clippers vs. Warriors – Clippers. This will probably be the most competitive game. Although Steph Curry has been a dynamic shooter for the Bay Area team, the Clippers have several clutch shooters and are improving defensively. The Clippers are also first in the Pacific Division, while Golden State is third. The two teams are tied for most points allowed with 99.1, but the Clippers average more points per game. After the Clippers’ outstanding comeback overtime win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, there’s no telling how far this team can go (NBA Finals maybe?).

Merry Christmas, everyone, and let the games begin!

Categories: basketball, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, National Basketball Association, NBA, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Current State of the NBA

After a long hiatus from writing (school obligations), I figured it was time for me to get back on my sports writing horse. I wasn’t sure what to write about at first, as both NCAA and professional basketball have been going on for about two months now. Then, noticed a topic that has been talked about frequently in the last few weeks and decided to look into it for myself.

That topic? The latest NBA standings. In case you haven’t seen it, click here.

It looks fine if you focus on the Western Conference. However, when you take a look at the Eastern Conference, there’s a clear dividing line between the better Eastern teams and the… not-so-great. On the East, only two teams are above .500 and one team is right at it. All other teams have a record of .440 or below.

For a while, I thought about why the standings have turned out this way. The answer lies in looking at the teams in the conferences:

Eastern Conference – The only teams above .500 are the Indiana Pacers (.870) and the Miami Heat (.739). This comes as no surprise, considering these two teams faced off in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Pacers-Heat series was arguably the most physical and challenging series of the playoffs.

After the Heat, the Atlanta Hawks are right at .500, followed by the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons who are both currently 11-14. When looking at these teams, an important thing to remember is that many are in the rebuilding stages. There are new coaches and players that the returning players must get adjusted to.  During the off-season, many trades took place that were for rebuilding purposes. This includes trades to the Celtics, Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls. True, trades do happen, but there wasn’t as much stability after the trades occurred.

The teams are also teams that have stand-out players, instead of being stand-out teams. The Cleveland Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving, the New York Knicks have Carmello Anthony (and arguably JR Smith) and the Chicago Bulls have Derrick Rose (when he’s healthy). However, when it comes to playing as a team to win games, they’ve often come up short. Certain players may feel the need to be the team’s “savior” and want to be the one to lead them to a win. Sometimes it works, while other times it doesn’t, especially when your opponent is a good TEAM (not just a team with good players).

Now, to the West –

One of the biggest surprises is  that the Portland Trail Blazers have the best record in their conference. But after watching Damian Lilliard hit a 14-foot fadeaway in overtime, leaving one-tenth of a second on the clock, it’s not hard to believe. Right behind the Trail Blazers at .826 are the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. Next, are the LA Clippers with a 16-9 record.

These teams are all very competitive, play well as a team and, for the most part, have been unaffected by trading. The most recent trade occurred within the Western Conference, sending Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to the Sacramento Kings from the Toronto Raptors. The only major player in this trade was Gay, who was the gold nugget in the Kings’ win against the Rockets Sunday night.

Western Conference teams also have working parts and stand-out players that make up the team, as a whole. While they don’t generate much public attention, the Spurs, for one, have a key player at every position. They play well together and have exceptional bench depth.

Because this is the NBA and the season has just started, each team’s record may change and Eastern Conference teams have a chance to improve.

The question is: Will they do it?

In my opinion, probably not. Based on their upcoming schedules, it doesn’t look likely, unless they put it in high gear and can will themselves to win the majority of their next 5-10 games.

 

Categories: basketball, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, National Basketball Association, NBA, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, Sports, Uncategorized, Washington Wizards | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kobe Bryant may not play season opener

After a successful surgery and surpassing the time it takes to recovery from an Achilles injury, Lakers star Kobe Bryant is still unsure that he will be able to play in the first game of the season on Oct. 29.

On April 12, the Black Mamba sustained an injury to his Achilles’ tendon and had to undergo surgery. This procedure would take six to nine months to recover, however, Bryant did not need that much time.

“The normal timetable for recovery from an Achilles, we’ve shattered that,” Bryant said while in Shenzhen, China, according to NBA.com. “Three-and-a-half months [and] I can already walk just fine. …So we don’t know what the timetable is going to be. It’s kind of new territory for us all.”

Although he seems to want to expedite the process, both Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss are more interested in Bryant’s recovery.

“Kobe is a big question mark,” Kupchak told Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio Thursday. “We’re very optimistic. He’s getting treatment every day. He’s in the facility right now, but he hasn’t been on a basketball court.”

Buss doesn’t mind how long it takes Bryant to heal and wants him to be a Laker for the rest of his career.

“I want Kobe to take the time that he needs to get healthy,” she said last week in an interview with ESPNLA 710. “[He] is part of the Laker family and will always be. There’s not many players who play 18-19 years with the same franchise, and it’s important to us that he has a chance to play his entire career with the Lakers.”

Only time (and Bryant’s body) will tell when he will be able to return. On Thursday night, Bryant sat with Jimmy Kimmel during an event called “Kobe Up Close,” a fundraiser for the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Foundation, which aims at reducing homelessness.

During that interview, Bryant expressed his faith in his team. He hopes that the new additions of Nick Young and Wesley Johnson will “[ease] the load” for him.

Despite his uncertain return, one thing is certain for Bryant and he made it very clear to Kimmel and all those who were listening.

“I want that jewelry,” he said. “People just don’t understand how obsessed I am with winning.”

 

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D’Antoni speaks on Dwight leaving

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles head coach Mike D’Antoni spoke with a Los Angeles-based radio station, expressing his sentiments on Dwight “D12” Howard leaving the Lakers for the Houston Rockets.

“It’s hard for me to sit here and criticize or to even understand why he left a place like LA,” D’Antoni said. “That’s kind of mind-boggling a little bit, but that’s in his DNA and what he wants to do.”

Others like Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, however, could tell what was coming.

“It wasn’t a surprise,” he said. “I had a feeling that Houston was a frontrunner, and whenever a player is an unrestricted free agent, anything can happen.”

As a fan of basketball and an avid viewer (when school and studying permits), I thought it was obvious that Howard was not only going to leave, but that he never should have come to Los Angeles in the first place.

The first problem was the presence of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. Howard had just come from the Orlando Magic, where he was the franchise player and the star of the show. You think Orlando, you think D12. After a while, you get used to that kind of attention, which he did.

Upon coming to Los Angeles, Howard acknowledged publicly that this is still “Kobe’s team” and he would take a backseat to and learn from Bryant in hopes that the team would one day become his. However, I am not totally convinced he held to this belief. Once you’ve been a star, it is hard to relinquish that title, especially with a personality like Howard’s.

He was not used to sharing the spotlight and could not speak against it because he was the “new kid on the block.” Instead, he acted out and did not give his all during games. His father even got involved in the matter, making comments that could have added fuel to the fire.

Another problem was that D12 was not a good fit for D’Antoni’s system. If Howard would have really looked at how D’Antoni does things and seriously spoke with him about his style of play, he may not have been a “bad fit.”

More than anything, I believe that Howard was blinded by the flashing lights and celebrity status of a city like Los Angeles, not to mention their numerous championships. He truly believed that he could come in and win a championship.

Ultimately, there were too many egos involved and somebody had to go. Since Bryant is (and will be until he leaves) the star and franchise player of the Lakers, it had to be D12.

Although many people did not like Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal’s comments about Howard leaving, it is true. Houston is a safer choice than LA and there isn’t as much pressure to be a superstar. When you think Lakers, you think about people like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaq, Magic Johnson, people that are considered some of the best players to play the game; you think about legacies and championships.

The Rockets don’t have that kind of perception, although they have won two championships and had Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon on their roster.

The question now is how Howard will perform in Houston. The pressure is off and he can now be the new face of the Rockets. Will his presence be enough to win them a championship? Only time will tell.

 

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Where in the World will Metta go?

On Wednesday, July 10, the Los Angeles Lakers amnestied small forward Metta World Peace after picking up former Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard Nick Young.

World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, took to Twitter to respond, but did so in an unconventional way.

Following a series of unusual tweets, he then tweeted more, saying that he wanted to leave the NBA and go play either basketball in China with Yao Ming, hockey, arena football or even become a developmental coach.

More recently, World Peace will be meeting with his hometown team, the New York Knicks, within the next few days to discuss the option of joining the team. The contract would be worth $1.6 million for the 2013-2014 season.

World Peace has also expressed interest in joining the Los Angeles Clippers.

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni went on record saying that the decision to amnesty World Peace was strictly financial, but whether this was a good decision or not is debatable.

 

 

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