Category Archives: Basketball

Is it over for Kobe?

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

The drama continues in LA but this year’s Laker story may really come to a sad ending.

Throughout this season, the Los Angeles Lakers have been in danger of not making the playoff cut, not with the early coaching challenges, their up-and-down play, the team’s chemistry issues and their long list of player injuries.  The last time the team was in such dire straights was during the 2004-2005 season, when they failed to make the NBA playoffs. This was the year after Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson left the team.

Despite all they had to go through this year, LA has put itself in a position to enter the postseason and potentially be the most dangerous 8th seed in the history of the NBA. Their chances almost went up in smoke when Kobe turned his ankle upon landing on the foot of the Atlanta Hawks’ Dahntay Jones last month on what could have been a game-tying buzzer-beater. Miraculously, Kobe returned and in his ultra-competitive Mamba mode, continued to carry the torch for the Lakers, scoring and facilitating for his teammates. Last Wednesday, against ROY top contender Damian Lilliard and his Portland Trailblazers, Kobe had 47 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks and 3 steals.  He shot 14/27 FGs, 18/18 FTs and played all 48 minutes of the hard-fought match.  This is Kobe Bryant taking over the game in his effort to force the Lakers into the playoff picture.

Now unless you have been hiding under a rock somewhere, you know that last night, in Los Angeles’ two-point win over the Golden State Warriors, Kobe left the game after rupturing his Achilles tendon. This injury ends Kobe’s 2012-2013 season. And at 34 years of age, it may also be a very unfortunate career-ending development for one of the greatest ever to play the game.

*The Lakers’ last two games are against San Antonio and Houston. Currently 9th, Utah ends their season against Minnesota and Memphis. At the time of this writing, the Lakers have a one game lead over the Jazz, but Utah owns the tiebreaker should they finish with the same win-loss record.

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Jumpers, floaters and a block — Kobe’s 47-point night (VIDEO)

Coming back from 2 hrs of bball last night with no subs, this was worth staying up late for.

ProBasketballTalk

[nbcsports_video src=http://www.youtube.com/embed/_4jLwh4vfwE?rel=0 service=youtube width=590 height=332]

Over the years the Rose Garden has been a tough place for the Lakers and for Kobe Bryant.

But Wednesday night the Lakers needed a win to keep their playoff dreams going and so Kobe exorcised those Portland demons and dropped 47 on the Trail Blazers, playing a full 48 minutes and getting his points in every possible way it seemed — deep threes, driving layups and pull-up midrange jumpers. But maybe his best play of the night was a block. Kobe played with an aggressive energy all night.

Above see his highlights from the night.

With the win, the Lakers are one game ahead of Utah for the last playoff spot in the West with three games to play. The Lakers are at home for those three and control their own destiny, but must play Golden State, San Antonio and Houston. Utah’s last three are…

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Basketball School of Medicine

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I had wanted to blog about what a “NÂN” is in Filipino Basketball. While I did find some English translations of the Pinoy term “NÂN”, surprisingly (or maybe I did not look hard enough), I was unable to find one in the context of the sport.

“NÂN” is the Tagalog (Filipino) translation of the English word “Pus” which – you got it – is “a yellow-white, more or less viscid substance produced by suppuration and found in abscesses, sores, etc., consisting of a liquid plasma in which white blood cells are suspended” (Dictionary.com).

Pus, as we all know, is painful and SENSITIVE TO THE TOUCH. Therefore, the offensive player who is called “NÂN” is someone who frequently and embarrassingly calls TOUCHFOULS.

Touchfouls are frowned upon in pick-up basketball and applicable sports. Players who deliberately or non-deliberately use these to retain ball possession quickly become unpopular. The established “NÂN” will even find it difficult at times to join a game.

The tricky part is when a “NÂN” player actually believes he is being fouled every time he goes up for a shot or has possession of the ball. Their understanding is that the slightest contact merits a foul. This is where you will hear other ballers declare “NO BLOOD, NO FOUL”.

Beat that, Dr. Oz.

A Killer Crossover

A few days ago, on a blog about Allen Iverson’s latest visit to Philadelphia (AI bobblehead night), I posted a comment about Iverson having the best crossover move in the history of the NBA. Not surprisingly, someone brought up Tim Hardaway’s two-step crossover.

This debate has gone on for some time now.
So whose Killer Crossover is indeed the ultimate “AnkleBreaker”?
Which move guarantees a path to the hoop or some space between shooter and defender?
Can this even be measured and ascertained?
Is there any other player who should contend for the mythical title?

While there are numerous guards in the history of the game who have developed their own deadly version of the mis-directing move, I think most fans will agree that the competition comes down to the two legendary NBA guards: Tim Hardaway and Allen Iverson. In their primes, both regularly resorted to their signature move, and by doing so, both were consistent in getting to the hoop, pulling up for a J or dishing an assist. Hardaway’s killer crossover allowed him to reach 5000 points second-fastest (next only to the Big O, Oscar Robertson) while Iverson’s paved the way to four league scoring titles.

Hardaway’s patented “step-to-step” (also called “Texas Two-Step” or “two-step”) crossover has allowed him to escape a great many defenders. And it is hard to think of anyone who relied on a similar move night-in and night-out. What I find most amazing about his in-between the legs dribble move is that it looks easy enough to execute by most, even duplicate, but to have used it so effectively and consistently against NBA-level guards, may be something that only he could do. Overcoming degrees of difficulty, Hardaway could also perform the move while running top-speed on the break en route to the basket.

Iverson’s original shoulder-high left-to-right crossover move was so effective, so potent, that it was deemed illegal by the NBA soon after he turned Pro. Officials ruled that the technique, greatly enhanced by Iverson’s unrivalled quickness and agility, gave the 6-foot guard too much of an advantage over his defenders. This development did not stop AI from utilizing a subtler version of his crossover that complied with NBA requirements but nevertheless equally effective. This toned-down cross is actually what we have gotten used to seeing from Iverson during his heyday. And as the prolific albeit controversial guard has proven countless times, his anklebreaker guaranteed escape and opportunity.

Originating from the playground, AI’s streetball manuever is arguably the fancier, more crowd-pleasing move. It was consistent with the term “anklebreaker” as it had defenders shifting heavily towards one direction and occasionally falling to the floor. Even top defensive players in the league had a hard time keeping up and were at times humiliated in their efforts to do so.

Tim Hardaway’s version also had most guards going the wrong way (usually Hardaway’s left) but very rarely have we seen him drop players with it. NBA players, however, have said that it is the more difficult crossover move to replicate, specially in an NBA game where the highest level of basketball defense is played.

After having watched numerous live Iverson and Hardaway games in the past, and countless more NBA videos (thank you, youtube), it is my submission that, more than the players’ technique, it is their athleticism – their speed, quickness and timing – that allows these shifty guards to squeeze past their man; that these same stars would still overcome their defenders even if they resorted to a simpler version of the crossover. Relying on their patented moves increased their rate of success (and subsequently, the game’s level of excitement).

Now the reason why I consider Iverson’s crossover to be better than Hardaway’s and the best in the history of the game? It was the more in-your-face-I-will-blow-by-you-and-you-will-look-stupid type of one-on-one move. It was a cool, entertaining and highly effective envy-in-citing weapon that guaranteed to break some poor, hapless guy’s ankles. While Hardaway could use his rendition on the break, Iverson’s was exclusively a one-on-one streetballer’s move, and used successfully on the grandest stage of them all against players like His Airness, Michael Jordan, only added to its pure awesomeness.

Geico Mutombo

Nice to see retired NBA player Dikembe Mutombo back to doing what he does best: blocking, uhm, shots (and showing his patented finger-wag).

A 4-time Defensive Player of the Year, “Mt. Mutombo” was a force to reckon with in the paint. He could block any player’s shot, change the direction of your shot, or prevent you from taking any shot at all.

One of the great centers to come out of Georgetown U (along with Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning), Mutombo speaks seven (yes, seven) languages and focuses his bball retirement on humanitarian work.

Allen Iverson talks his future, Hall of Fame, Philly love

AI Forever. #3

ProBasketballTalk

[nbcsports_video src=http://player.theplatform.com/p/C_ZQDC/OBXnIiiPouAX/embed/select/n3S0cSyZISZY?autoPlay=false&params=zone%3Dsixers service=rsn_iframe width=590 height=332]

Can you imagine the reaction back in 1998 if you’d tried to tell people how 15 years later they would line up hours before the doors opened to get an Allen Iverson bobblehead because he was such a sports icon of the city?

Iverson returned to Philadelphia Saturday night for Iverson bobblehead night and was greeted with a lot of love. He spoke with CSNPhilly.com’s Dei Lynam and reflected on his career a little, talked about his future (yes, he’d still love a shot in the NBA) and how important it would be to him to be inducted some day into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Which is going to happen. He earned it on the court, and he earned it with how he led a change in the culture of the sport to a new generation.

Below, you can see him introduced to the…

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Ladies and Gentlemen…Trey Burke.

Ladies and Gentlemen...Trey Burke.

For an avid basketball fan such as myself, it is very embarrassing to admit that I have not followed NCAA basketball as religiously as I did in the past. These days, I start watching most televised games just before the Sweet 16.

The contenders are your usual suspects, the year-in, year-out competitive schools with excellent bball programs: Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas and a few others. I then catch up on the “who’s been doing what” and end up following players from different schools and not teams. (I found out about Jimmer Fredette very late into their tournament and that was something I truly regretted.)

This year, my Jimmer is the starting point guard for the Michigan Wolverines, Trey Burke. I have been hearing about the talent of the sophomore and how he could potentially be the next No. 1 draft pick in the NBA. I watched a few of his games (and video highlights) and I was very impressed with the outside shooting, the ball handling, the “getting-to-where-he-wants-to-go” and the overall court generalship and maturity. “This kid is good”, I thought to myself.

Well, if you have been following the Wolverines this season OR saw the game last night against No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks, you would know what I am talking about.

Michigan beat Kansas 87-85 in overtime after being down by as many as 14 points and trailing by double-digits multiple times in the game. The Jayhawks dominated the match for 35 minutes before Burke’s Wolverines turned up the heat. Burke had 23 points, all in the 2nd half. He made the game-tying 25-footer with 5 seconds left to send it to OT. Most amazing is how he was able to score on long-range shots almost on every Michigan posession down the stretch. He also scored the Wolverines’ first 5 points in the extra period.

With his scoring, playmaking and mental toughness, Burke carried his team when the game seemed a foregone conclusion.

Next up is No. 3 Florida Gators in the Elite 8 and I look forward to seeing how Trey Burke will perform next.

We Got Zoned

We Got Zoned

We were hit by a surprise 1-2-2 Zone D two nights ago (Wednesday Night Bball) and we failed to make the necessary adjustments on offense. Though we lost most of the games by only 1 or 2 points (kept it competitive), it was disappointing that we were unable to make corrections within the game and in-between games. On and Off-court communication is key to a successful offense (and defense).

The other team deserves the credit. They employed an unexpected but very aggressive trapping Zone D the moment they stepped on the court when WE, typical of North American pick-up bball, play the man-to-man. These guys had serious plans of winning that night.

I expect them to re-apply the same defensive policy the next time they show up, and our team will be more prepared in dealing with the situation by (1) finding gaps in their zone, (2) posting up guys with good jumpers in key spots and (3) having a good baseline guy run from corner to corner waiting for the drop-off pass. We should also do a better job (4) dribble-penetrating the painted area though this will be challenging given their height advantage.

Chris Paul does Nightcrawler. Bamf!

One of the NBA’s latest “BIG” commercials stars CP3, Magic Johnson and Steve Nash. Titled “The Disappearing Act”, this video was directed by Spike Lee.

Love the idea. Cool effects. Even cooler to see the three HOF Los Angeles PGs in one room. But…shouldn’t have Mike Conley (Paul’s defender) stopped “defending” after his man vanished in smoke? (twice)

Bamf!

Sweet-shooting Carmelo

Saw the Knicks-Raptors game last night at the ACC. Better yet, saw Carmelo Anthony rack up 37 points on outside shooting and guarded turnaround fadeaways. The guy just has such smooth mechanism on his jumper. At times it looks as if he is releasing the ball still on his way up rather than at the height of his jump. This makes it more difficult for defenders’ to challenge his shot (timing).

Here is a nice drill between Melo and Magic from a couple of years ago. Love the sound of the ball scraping the rim.

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