It’s been a while since the last Six Pack, mostly due to my USA travels, but with a lot happening in the world of basketball both abroad and at home, I thought it was about time to crack open a few.

ONE: The state of NBL basketball continues to be in turmoil. Several people (including current players) have voiced their opinions about what is wrong with the league and how it should proceed. To get up to speed on everything, I point you towards two worthy posts: an NBL roundup over at A Stern Warning, and Links, Links & More Links at JR On Fire. Nice handball eh?

TWO: A good NBL article also popped up today at The Roar. For any Aussie’s who haven’t heard about The Roar yet, it’s a sports news/opinion site based on a mix of content from its team of writers and the fan community – that is, you. Anyone can submit an article at The Roar, and so far I’ve found the community of readers/writers to be pretty knowledgeable, and worthy of a good sports debate or two. Having followed the blogging communities and networks for the NBA and US Sports in general for a few years, the one thing that really surprises me is the lack of an Australian equivalent – aren’t we supposed to be the biggest sports-loving nation in the world? We certainly don’t have anything on the scale of SB Nation or Yardbarker or BallHype. So I was very pleased when I found The Roar. It’s refreshing to see an Aussie site trying to promote independent sports news and opinions in a very open format. It might lack a little NBA, but that might soon change.

THREE: My interest in Kobe-Lebron debates constantly varies on a sliding scale between “I don’t f**king give a shit” to “this is the most important thing in my life right now”. Yesterday, having found this at ESPN, I was somewhere near the latter. I’m very skeptical about digesting any more Kobe/Lebron waffle that crops up in the blogosphere (there is a lot of crap out there), but the TrueHoop network of bloggers has served up a worthy offering. If you’re current mood for Kobe/Lebron arousal is waning, allow me to summarize the four most important bits of this debate (coincidentally the four points I most wholeheartedly agree with):

Rob Mahoney speaks the the truth: LeBron developed a Kobe Complex. It’s hard to pin down exactly when beating Kobe became LeBron’s goal, but I’d wager it was some combination of Kobe’s MVP and their Olympic camaraderie.  All the new wrinkles in LeBron’s game: The new found aggressive defensive focus, the three-point shot clear from Akron … they have Kobe written all over them. LeBron turned the regular season into a game of upstaging the reigning MVP, and regardless if Bryant even knew he was playing, LeBron was going to make sure that he won.

Timothy Varner makes a good rule: Kobe Bryant has been to the Finals five times, winning three titles. Kobe is still on top of his game. Simply put, LeBron James needs to win something before I crown him king

Kurt Helin is not fence-sitting: If you love basketball, you can (and should) love them both. Kobe and LeBron are different players with different styles. LeBron is just a freak of nature, blessed like no other and he is just tapping into that. Kobe is more polished, someone who loves the work of perfecting his game. A gym rat (but with athleticism). Each has a few of the same qualities, but used differently each does things the other cannot.

Kevin Arnovitz says profound things: Is it fair to say that each player is more complete than the other — in entirely different ways? Which metric you value most — accessibility, range of technique, fluidity, mastery of the game the way you grew up understanding it to be played, total dominance on the court, number of rings, PER, etc. — determines, to a large extent, where you come down on this question.  In some sense, we’re not really debating the greatness of Kobe versus the greatness of LeBron. We’re debating how we measure greatness.

FOUR: It’s already been up for a week or so, but this Chauncey Billups Article by Tom Friend is one of the best pieces I’ve read this year. It’s long, but well worth the read. Really gives you an appreciation for everything this guy has achieved, and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t leave you feeling like you should be rooting for the Nuggets these playoffs – if you aren’t already. Sidenote: When I was in Detroit, in a cab on the way to my first Pistons game, I saw a guy on the side of the road wearing a Billups jersey. I made a wisecrack about how “that should be illegal nowadays” and had a chuckle to myself. The driver, who had been pretty jovial the whole trip, suddenly went dead serious. “No man, he’s a hero around here. Was a fan favorite for a long time”. Of course, I knew that, I’ve worn my Chauncey jersey more than anyone else’s the past six years. But I didn’t realise how much the fans in Detroit were struggling to let him go. After staying in Detroit for five days, I left with the impression that Chauncey might be more loved now than he was during his Pistons playing days. How often do you say that about a player that leaves town?

FIVE: Interesting piece over at Empty the Bench suggesting its time for the Mavericks to rebuild. I can’t find myself agreeing 100% with the article – I was a big Mavs proponent during the later stages of the season, and I still maintain that if not for the Game 3 Screwjob they could have pushed Denver to a Game 7 where anything happens. At varying stages the last two months Dallas was playing the best ball in the league. That doesn’t seem to suggest rebuilding is the answer, but I do concede that what the Mavs have achieved is not sustainable – they finally gelled and Jason Terry put in a stellar season, but from nowhere can they expect much improvement. They could probably squeeze out a 50-win season next year, but the whole thing would reek of impending doom – much like the Suns this year. I will be very interested to see what they do.

SIX: Bogut’s back is back! The big man has been cleared for workouts which is great news – the Bogometer was out of action far too long this season. Check out this roundup of Bucks-related links at Brew Hoop for more info. And if you didn’t already know, Andrew is on Twitter and is a quite frequent tweeterer.


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