Repeat Offender or Passing of the Torch?

So now that we are through the halfway mark of the NBA season, or we technically have hit that mark, there are always the question as to who the MVP is to this point? Derrick Rose, deservedly took home last year’s award and it begs the question this year, should he retain his crown? Rose is posting 22.2 PPG, 7.7 APG, and 3.4 RPG, in other words, around the same numbers he put up last year. Rose’s influence on his team, however is what put him above and beyond his competition last year. It seems that Rose continues to carry his team this year as well, however; the team fared well in his absence of 5+ games this year. Which, to the voters, may diminish their view on Rose’s presence or absence with his team. However, Rose is clearly the leader of a team filled with a few high B-Listers, in Boozer, Deng and Noah, and an oft-injured Rip Hamilton way past his prime.

Competitors look like, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and we all know Jeremy Lin’s name will be thrown in there. Kobe is leading the league in scoring, on two bad knees with one wrist and now a broken nose and mild concussion. In other words, “Are you kidding me?” Bryant’s throwing up 28.4 PPG, 4.8 APG, 5.8 RPG, all above his career averages. Now if you look at the Lakers without Kobe, the tale is much different than that of the Bulls without Rose. Both seem to be facilitators on their teams, but Rose’s team is more meshed to play well without him, while the Lakers have their two big men that cannot lead an offense the same way Luol Deng can.

Lebron James’ numbers are ridiculous right now averaging 27.4 PPG, 6.8 APG, and 8.1 RPG, this coming from a small forward, or really a point forward. He did most of this without Batman, Dwayne Wade, who is putting up his own numbers of course. The most intriguing and jaw-dropping statistic is that Lebron is shooting 54.7% from the field and 41.3% from beyond the arc. Statistic wise Lebron should be the hands down favorite, however his voters will be swayed because of the team he plays on.

Finally, we have Mr. Lin. No he has not played a full season, but he has taken an 8-15 team and turned them around drastically while inserting energy into an entire city. Without him, the Knicks would have been looking forward to next year and the offseason where they could hope to mesh or find themselves a point guard, one most likely way past his prime. But now the Knicks have a 23 year-old franchise point guard in the making. He saved the team, possibly forfeited some blockbuster trades, and may have saved the coaches job, because of how well he meshes into that system. The argument will be made for Lin, but after all is said and done, it will be Kobe Bryant who finds himself as MVP of the shortened NBA Season in my opinion. The guy is a gamer and is tough as nails as he shows night in and night out.

Those are my two cents … cash them in if you dare!

Debate here for someone else!

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NBA All-Star Weekend Wrap-Up: Blame LeBron Edition

The NBA’s 61st installment of it’s annual all-star game has now come and gone. The weekend in the Orlando was full of its fair share of highlights for each evening. Friday night, Kevin Hart dominated the celebrity game taking home MVP honors. One of the evenings’ highlights came when Hart threw up an alley-opp to rapper J. Cole. Hart also managed to become the first ever player to be ejected from the game. See the video after the jump.

Saturday night is supposed to be the night of nights for the NBA. In a really good all-star weekend, Saturday’s festivities become defining moments that overshadow what occurs during the game Sunday. This year did not feature many Monday morning discussions of “Did you see (insert spectacular play from Saturday night).” In fact, the water cooler probably dispensed a better product than the NBA did. There is nothing wrong, nor fixable about the undercard portions of All-Star Saturday Night.

The Three-Point Shootout brought excitement with it’s tie-breakers, and with the added bonus that the competition came down to the last rack of basketballs (Hats off to Kevin Love for winning). The Skills Challenge saw Deron Williams hand Tony Parker the crown missing four 15-foot jump shots in the final round. The Shooting Stars competition saw New York’s finest in Landry Fields, Cappie Pondexter, and Allan Houston bring back the first piece of hardware that Madison Square Garden has seen since the Knicks made it to the Finals in the ’99 Lockout Season.

In the much unanticipated dunk competition, there were some pleasant surprises. Chase Budinger channelling his inner Woody Harrelson definitely kicked off a night of originality. Eventual champion, Utah’s last minute entry, Jeremy Evans was cleared for takeoff when he skied over teammate Gordon Hayward, while managing to jam home two basketballs in one swift motion. It is up for debate, but one can argue that Indiana’s Paul George had the dunk of the evening when he was able to successfully execute a 360-degree windmill dunk…in the dark!

Overall, while this year’s dunk contest did bring theatrics and originality, it lacked star power. And in a case like this, there is only person to blame…LeBron James! Reggie Miller said it best at the end of Saturday’s dunk contested when he stated, “All the greats at one time in their career participated in the dunk contest.” Fans have been asking for LeBron to participate in the dunk contest ever since 2009 when he said that he would do it the following All-Star Weekend in Dallas, Texas. Expectedly, he backed out of his unofficial agreement.

In case it’s not already known to the casual NBA fan, superstars only do these competitions when there is significant monetary incentive. So let’s just gather a large purse for this event then. Surely, the NBA can arrange to put up the necessary amount to make the dunk contest a truly star-studded event as it was in the early 2000’s. The perfect foursome for next year’s contest in Houston should be Andre Igoudala, LeBron James, Blake Griffin, and Jeremy Evans. It’s only fair to give the previous years’ champion the ability to defend his crown. If you pay them, they will participate. That’s the motto. LeBron needs to finally deliver and give the people what they want.

Fast forward to the waning minutes of Sunday night’s All-Star Game, and LeBron can be blamed for the East losing. At least that is what the realm of social media would lead a person to believe. LeBron made an ill-advised pass down the stretch but he is one of the two reasons that the East made a late rally to begin with; Deron WIlliams was the other East member responsible. But LeBron did what he does best, and that is carry a team back into a game single-handedly. Had his great pass to Dywane Wade not been dropped, he would not have been labeled as the scapegoat for this game.

All in all, it was a great weekend for the NBA to showcase its best and brightest superstars. Thankfully, the weekend was not overshadowed entirely by the latest rumors of the Dwightmare.

Jimmy Lips

To Lin-Finity and Beyond!

A Lin is a Lin is a Lin! … or something along those lines. It’s a lot of what Knicks’ fans have been able to say as their team has stormed back to a .500 winning percentage by winning 8 of their last 10 games. Even non-Knick fans have been singing a similar tune, due to one player, and he of course is Jeremy Lin.

Jeremy Lin is the newest lin-sation of the NBA, his image has overshadowed all over the past few weeks, including Miami’s Big Three, Lob City in LA, those other purple and gold guys from LA, and whoever else you can think of. Lin was cut by two teams this year, the Rockets and the Warriors, and almost the Knickerbockers. Carmelo Anthony, looked at Coach Mike D’Antoni during the Knicks game against the New Jersey Nets on February 4th and told him to give the kid a shot. Needless to say the “kid” erupted for 25 points, 7 assists to and 5 rebounds, much to the chagrin of Deron Williams.

Lin has thrived since averaging, 23.9 points and 9.2 assists. His turnover’s have been an issue, as he is averaging over 5 per game through his run as the newest Knick starting point guard. Most in New York overlook this factor, but his nay-sayers pinpoint on that statistic. The turnovers must come down, and have started to with the return of Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo knows that the entire city is behind this kid now after he was for a brief moment during the Nets game. Melo must mold back in as they seem they might be able to, and a good test will be the game against the Miami Heat. But, back to Lin here.

Lin is humble and plays his heart out every game. He has been averaging over 35 minutes per game, and that number has been dragged down because of the beating the Knicks put on the Kings, when the starters were able to rest most of the second half. Lin has no regards for his own health or body, as he constantly drives to the basket toward bigger defenders. This is what New York needs, it is after all a basketball town, and will only become a bigger one when the Nets move into Brooklyn. Lin has put life into the Garden and into the prices of tickets as they have skyrocketed over the past few weeks. Lin is great for the NBA, because after a debacle of an off-season and stand-offs between owners and players that resulted in a shortened season, where good ankles are a hot commodity, he has provided a spike in publicity and excitement. Not only that, but the Asian population is clearly paying more attention now than ever before, even when Yao-Ming was peaking during his career.

Lin has not slowed down as many expected throughout his run, and we shall all see and witness how can he run D’Antoni’s offense for the rest of the year as both superstars are finally healthy, and the Knicks have added more pieces in J.R. Smith, Baron Davis, and Steve Novak. Landry Fields, only seems to be playing better with Lin, and Tyson Chandler has benefited from great passing as he is shooting an astounding 70% from the field. Rookie, Iman Shumpert, a somewhat of a combo-guard has some of the quickest hands in the NBA and is perfecting his on ball defense. The Knicks, if all things click, could be a force in the East hoping to contend with the likes of Chicago and Miami.

Those are my two cents … cash em in if you wish!

T-Catz

Dwight Night at the Rock

Similar to Monday night’s game against the Knicks, it’s safe to assume Deron Williams and company have had tonight’s game circled on their calendar all season. Soon to be free agent center Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic are coming to the Prudential Center tonight. It is sure to be a very unusually festive and welcoming environment for the visiting Howard. Superman may very well get the vibe that it’s an extra home game for him.

Brook Lopez will also be making his second start of the season since returning from his foot injury that kept him out one game short of half the season. Lopez said over the weekend that facing Howard would be a good test for him to measure where he is at in terms of returning to his normal play. The underlining story here is that in a little over three weeks, this matchup of the leagues top center’s will take place with the possibility of Howard and Lopez wearing opposite jerseys.

It is no secret that the Nets want Howard, and according to his representatives, the potential partnership has mutual feelings. On December 9th, Josh Robbins, of the Orlando Sentinel, broke the news of Howard requesting a trade to the New Jersey Nets.

Since then, Nets fans have been ecstatic with the sheer thought of being able to have both Deron Williams and Dwight Howard on the same team headed for Brooklyn.

Nets brass has used subtle hints to suggest their strong interest in adding Howard to their franchise. Back in January, the team placed billboards throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn which read, “Believe The Hype” and “Welcome to Brooklyn ’12.”

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As tonight's game drew closer, the Nets even reduced the cost of tickets for their Loud and Proud section to $12.

These aren't coincidences. They are subtle hints to show the basketball world that the Nets are serious in their pursuit of the Magic center. Sources say the Nets feel very optimistic, if not borderline confident they will get their man whether through a trade before the March 15th deadline, or in July when free agency starts. And they have every right to be.

They will be moving into a brand new state-of-the-art arena in downtown Brooklyn next season, cap space to sign both Dwight and Deron to max contracts, and the richest owner in sports. Howard and Williams would have New York City in the palm of their hands creating a much anticipated rivalry with Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.

But they wouldn't be the New Jersey Nets if there wasn't a potential obstacle or two standing in the way. This comes in the form of the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Over the last few weeks, the Lakers have begun to fall out of the conversation for Howard due to a lack of cohesion in the front office. Reports from HoopsWorld writer Alex Kennedy have stated that during a conversation between Kobe Bryant and Howard, Kobe told him he would not be the first or second scoring option on the Lakers.

In addition to this, it is said Bryant went over how it would not be Dwight's team if he came to Los Angeles. Howard was reportedly turned off by those notions. The emergence of a healthy first-time All-Star in Andrew Bynum certainly makes the Lakers organization reluctant to part ways with him in favor of Howard.

This leaves the Dallas Mavericks as the only true threat to the Nets superstar foundation. Mavs owner Mark Cuban has gone out of his way to slowly position his franchise to sign both Deron Williams and Dwight Howard this offseason. The Mavs let 3 of their championship pieces in Tyson Chandler, Jose Juan Barea, and DeShawn Stevenson go to other teams during the abbreviated free agency period to clear cap space for next season.

The next moves get tricky. Dallas must amnesty Brendan Haywood, waive both Vince Carter and Lamar Odom, allow Jason Kidd and Jason Terry to leave the team as free agents, and then after all of that is done trade Shawn Marion in exchange of another small, expiring contract. If there is anyone in the NBA that can pull this off, it’s certainly Mark Cuban.

Even then, the Mavs would not be able to offer both Williams and Howard max contracts since Dirk Nowitzki's current contract pays him $20 million dollars per season. But whose to say they wouldn't take a pay cut to play with one of the best power forwards ever? That alone is a significant threat the Nets have to worry about should they not be able to trade for Howard before the deadline.

Jimmy Lips

(picture courtesy of http://www.brooklynfans.com)

Another Jeremy Lin Story

Where does one begin to describe the overnight success story that is Jeremy Lin? He’s Lincredile, all he does is Lin (8 out of 9 games), and even Grammy winner Adele says that Jeremy has Knicks fans RolLINg in the Deep right now.

His story is amazing and no one can deny that. He graduated Harvard University, went undrafted, then went on to be cut by two NBA teams, the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.

The Warriors organization, including point guard Steph Curry have said they don’t regret the move. In an ESPN interview which aired during the recent Warriors/Blazers game, Curry went so far as to state that Lin would have never seen time on the court with Golden State. Who is Curry kidding? Even if Lin stopped playing at this high level today, chances are slim that the back-up guards in Golden State are going to go on a Lin-esque run and contribute this immensely anytime soon. Also, Lin contributes more to the Knicks than Nate Robinson presently does for the Warriors. In fact, most intellectual basketball minds would probably choose Lin over Robinson.

Head coach Mark Jackson said he did not have any regrets cutting the 6’3″ point guard. In Coach Jackson’s eyes, they are set at the point guard position for years with a backcourt presence starring Steph Curry and Monta Ellis, both of whom can run an offense. Jackson is not the general manager so he cannot lament over not having a particular player on his roster. This is where the Warriors management comes into the picture.

Lin was cut to make room for the potential signing of restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan. The Warriors successfully accomplished two things this off-season: They drove up the price for the Los Angeles Clippers to re-sign him and managed to give away February’s likely choice as the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for nothing.

The Rockets organization did not hide their feelings towards releasing Lin. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was upset over the decision. On Twitter, Morey told the world how he felt when he tweeted, “We should have kept [Jeremy Lin]. Did not know he was this good.” Should he have anything to regret?

The Rockets are very deep at the point guard position with Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Johnny Flynn, and Terrence Williams who showed glimpses of being able to run the point during his tenure with the Nets. With those guys, Lin wasn’t going to see much, if any time at all, and the Rockets need for a big by the name of Samuel Dalembert superseded any reason to keep Lin on the roster.

Even the Knickerbockers should be counting their blessings. Jeremy Lin was on the verge of being cut by the Knicks too. The Knicks came into the game versus New Jersey on the culmination of a back-to-back-to-back. Their starters were tired and showing signs of fatigue. D’Antoni was left with no choice but to give Lin playing time. And the rest, is LINstory.

Jimmy Lips

Here we go again!

It’s a rematch. It’s the best thing that could happen to a league coming off a lockout, in which many believed that so much more would be lost, but the only thing lost was one of the Super Bowl quarterback’s brother, some guy named Peyton Manning. So here we come to a rematch of one of the greatest Superbowl’s ever … That’s right I said that.

18-0 Patriots, an offensive juggernaut with a defense that did it’s job … of keeping the other team from scoring more points than its own offense, against the 13-6 Road Warrior New York Football Giants. Patriots looking to go down in history as only the second team ever to not lose a game all year and the Giants trying to make the 1972 Dolphins remain alone atop of THAT mountain a little bit longer. We all know how this went … 18-1 is all you have to say to upset people in New England.

So here we are staring at a 6:30 February 5th, 2012 redo for both teams. Just like four years ago, they’ve already played this year and it came down to the final moments of the game. It’ll just add to the Boston vs. New York rivalry, although these two teams aren’t truly rivals, it doesn’t mean bad blood doesn’t exist. Two of the most clutch Quarterbacks in history will stare each other down from sideline to sideline on Sunday and one’s hand will get a little heavier with some more hardware on it Sunday night. So here’s to the rematch and the craziness that will ensue this week leading up to the game … the football boxes, the media conferences, the interviews, the ESPN coverage and obsession, the food and beverages, the hundreds of props in Vegas, and finally here’s to the game itself and the luster of it all.

Those are my two cents … cash them in if you wish!

Go G-MEN!

SB XLVI: It’s more than a Game

The biggest game of the year is now 2 days away, and with each passing minute the anticipation grows stronger. From a casual perspective, this game may see like just another Super Bowl between teams you may have zero interest in because you do not live in the northeastern region of the U.S. However, true fans of the sport will tell you that this game is going to define careers and shake up the NFL for years to come.

Should Brady and Belichick pull out another Super Bowl win, it would be the duo’s 4th ring in 5 tries. This would undoubtedly grant Brady and Belichick keys to a higher penthouse suite than ones they were already living in. Brady would be leaving a room that he shared with Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, and moving in with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana. A win on Sunday would elevate Brady from not just one of the greatest quarterbacks of the 21st Century, but to one of the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.).

As for the mastermind that is Bill Belichick, he would receive an upgrade from bunking with the legendary Joe Gibbs, to being roommates with Pittsburgh Hall of Fame head coach Chuck Noll, the only man to win 4 Super Bowls in NFL History. Similar to Brady, this would establish Belichick as the G.O.A.T. as well.

Big Blue’s leading men, Coughlin and (Eli) Manning stand much to gain if they can once again pull off the upset versus the New England Patriots. Manning’s 2nd Super Bowl victory, in his 8th year as a starter, would certainly back up his claim from the beginning of the season when he stated he felt he was in the same Elite class as Tom Brady. Manning would leave a very crowded room of one and done Super Bowl champions such as Brad Johnson, Brett Favre, big brother Peyton and Trent Dilfer, for much preferred company with Hall of Famers Roger Staubach, Bart Starr, and John Elway. Doesn’t sound like bad company at all considering he would be 1 behind good ole Tom.

Sports experts say that a 2nd consecutive win versus Brady and Belichick would put Manning and Coughlin on the fast track to Canton, Ohio. While the Manning Hall of Fame bid is certainly up for debate, Coughlin’s certainly is unquestionable. With a win Sunday, he would be tied with Lombardi, and 1 behind his best friend Bill (Belichick). Also worth noting is that he would have coached a team to 2 Super Bowl victories having only played 1 home game in the process. Impressive is an understatement.

Whether you are a die-hard fan of these 2 teams, or someone who will only be watching for the commercials, this will be a game that you will forever remember as an outcome that changed the NFL all-time rankings lists going forward.

Jimmy Lips

The Tiger Prince-ss

Here we go again ladies and gentlemen … Another superstar leaving for the green. This guy came out in the middle of a playoff series and basically waived the white flag on his own team and said his goodbyes as they were trying to make a postseason push to the promised land. Prince-ss Fielder didn’t know where the next chapter was going to be in his own book, but he was well aware where it wouldn’t be and it was with his brothers-in-arms as he spoke out about his upcoming free agency. This is what I hate about sports, why don’t you close your mouth and go out there and play the game. Can you imagine you spending every day with someone for 9 straight months and then suddenly the guy’s coming out saying yeah I’m leaving?

But, we’re not even done yet? He didn’t care. All Princess could see were the dollar signs and a huge contract, with what he was hoping would be a long tenure for someone whose knees are sure not to be able to hold up … just ask his father and the former Met Mo Vaughn. I only say former Met because of course the Metropolitans know best about what factor a player’s weight can play into his health. Now I know I am saying this and I have never been offered a $214 million dollar contract to play a sport. But I do know that I would never insult my comrades in such a fashion as Princess did. It was classless, cowardly, and down right unprofessional, in other words … it was WRONG. But hey, the guy just cashed in for over two hundred million and he’ll continue to produce as long as he stays healthy … it’ll never make that approach and that attitude to the game right in any sense.

Those are my two cents … cash em in if you must!