I’m in the Philippines at the moment for work, and I woke up this morning to find a photo of Robert Horry and Vlade Divac on the front page of the newspaper. A little weird, yes, but as I said last year (exactly one year ago) this country loves their basketball. I took it as a sign that I should update this blog. Yeah, about freaking time.
ONE: If you haven’t already seen Michael Jordan’s HOF induction speech, it’s worth a look. Was it gracious? Was it shocking? Was it downright arrogant? Make up your own mind, but there’s a few pieces floating around the Interweb to get you thinking. Fanhouse say Michael went from “classy to clown”, Kelly Dwyer takes a moment to say thanks, while Matt Moore at Hardwood Paroxysm says pretty much exactly what I’m thinking. Michael Jordan never was, and never pretended to be, the perfect role model. The fact he can be so flawed as an individual while holding the mantle of the Greatest Ever only adds to the intrigue of Michael Jordan. The fact he can deliver a Hall of Fame induction speech, taking pot shots and making small jabs at his peers, all the while everyone in the room still gazing on with respect and admiration, just goes to prove one thing: he is the GOAT. Not because of his persona or his character. But because on the hardwood when he was wearing that Bulls jersey, he kicked everyone’s butt. And most of the people in that room experienced that first hand.
TWO: For some Aussie news, head over to Brew Hoop for an update on Bogut’s rehab, including a link to a great Bogut interview at HoopsHype. Meanwhile Blazers Edge has a video interview with Patty Mills, which is almost a month old now, but its good to hear some positive news from Patty about the foot injury. In more recent Patty news, OregonLive ran this piece about Patty’s prospects for the upcoming season. Here’s hoping he lands that 15th roster spot. With the kid’s work ethic and natural talent, I’m sure he’ll get his opportunities, as long as he can get his foot in the door (no pun intended).
THREE: In what has quickly been relegated to second (or third) page news, Iverson has signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. I know this move seems like an absolute clusteruf**k, but it will serve its purpose. It will NOT be good for Conley, Gay and Mayo (as Barkley’s Mouth so eloquently states). But it will be good for the Memphis Grizzlies. Not the players, or the coaching staff. But the franchise. The fans, the ticket sales, the Sportscenter highlights. Likewise, it will serve a purpose for Iverson himself. This is the last stop on his career, make no mistake about that. And luckily for AI, its a stop where his actions, no matter how volatile, cannot threaten to make the situation worse. This is not Detroit contending for a title, needing a hungry veteran to take them over the edge. This is not a famed franchise with banners hanging in the ceiling and expectations of playing through May each and every season. This is the Memphis Grizzlies. A young and exciting team on the rise, yes, but nothing more. A franchise without an identity. This season, with one of the most iconic players of the last twenty years now on board, they just might find it.
The more tragic story, is of course the fact the last chapter of Iverson’s career is essentially meaningless. We’re talking about one of the most unique players of all time. A four-time scoring champ, an MVP, probably the greatest player ever under six-feet. Iverson’s career won’t end with a drive for a ring, or the adoration of a franchise who have cheered him on for years. Instead, it will end with Iverson trying to prove a point: that he can fit in. Which has been his story all along, really.
FOUR: A couple of weeks back it was Kobe’s 31st birthday, and the official Lakers site ran this nice retrospective piece on Kobe’s Top 31 career moments. When I saw this piece I was reminded of something Kobe said a couple of years back during a TV interview. I think he was 29 at the time. He was asked what it felt like to be a veteran, and whether he felt “old”. His response was something along the lines of him believing he had plenty of good years left. And then, without remembering the exact quote, he said “I don’t think I’m old… when I’m 32 I’ll be old” and he laughed. That is only one year away, and while Kobe will undoubtedly be one of the league’s seasoned veterans by that time, you’d hardly think of him as “old”.
A lot of people in Lakers circles say that Kobe has a good 4-5 years left in him, that Kobe will change his game subtly to squeeze out the very most from his worn body. People forget that Michael Jordan was 32 when he came back to the Bulls, and went on to win three more rings. Michael was a completely different player during that second run. His two year hiatus from the game conveniently distanced the Old MJ from the New MJ in our minds – one moment he was dropping 50 in the Finals and dunking on every one, the next he was mastering the turnaround jump shot and outwitting his opponents. For Kobe, that transition is going to play out before our eyes in the next year or two. Old Kobe might become New Kobe before you even realise.
FIVE: Ball Don’t Lie decided to name ‘The 10 best dunkers of the last decade‘. I love the fact Maxiell gets a mention (N4S has plenty of good evidence here). For me, there are two dunkers missing here. One is Kobe, which is a horrendous omission – dunks over Yao, Dwight, Duncan, KG, Sprewell and that dude in Denver where he went 360 and behind his back, come to mind. The other is Desmond Mason, who could flat out fly. This is still probably my favorite Slam Dunk comp dunk of all time. Through-the-legs, taking off with TWO feet (most through-the-legs dunkers will jump off one). Not to mention with the left hand. Degree of difficulty off the charts. Vince at #1 is impossible to argue with.
SIX: Chucko the Frustrated Suns Fan could barely contain his excitement when Bruce Bowen announced his retirement, and immediately requested I run a tribute piece on him. He even provided all my material. Thanks for the memories Bruce, you will be sorely missed. You douche.