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6 posts from March 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fire away!

Pat Riley finally fired back at The Big Prick-ly Cactus on Thursday, which has probably been a long time coming given how the relationship has soured since last season.
I don't know if I've used this quote from one of my favorite cartoon characters, Philip J. Frye, before, but now seems as good a time as any to drop an "I'm literally angry with rage!"
I'm guessing that's how Riles felt after he had heard jab after jab from Shaq. Steve Kerr's probably not thrilled that Riles passed along the conversation they had to the media, but what's Kerr going to do, really? He's not that tough. Besides, it's just a matter of time before Shaq hates everyone in the Suns organization. So Kerr just happens to be first in line now that he told Riley he was embarassed by Shaq's mouth.
To me, though, this doesn't taint anything about the championship the team won with Shaq. I mean, are the L.A. folks complaining about their Shaq-driven titles after he trashed the organization? No. And Heat fans should be less inclined to think in those terms because Shaq didn't even do most of the heavy lifting in the Heat's championship run.
On top of that, I still want to see the Suns do well with Shaq because I still think Shaq has something left in the tank and it would be a shame for it to go to waste. It's just sad that his attitude is what it is. Because it'll leave a visible stain on what has been one of the top 10 careers of all time.

BTW, here is my best guess as to what Zo does next year. He won't be ready to start practicing again until the season starts, so I figure he'll work his way back into prime shape, see how the Heat is doing without him, then pull a P.J. Brown and decide to come back around January or early February. If the Heat is anything close to a playoff contender, he'll be back in a Heat uniform. You gotta love the Brett Favre of the NBA.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Can't stop laughing...

...both about Shaq ripping on Chris Quinn (I mean, come on... pick on someone your own size) and about this comment from Sarah's post: "You've got to be kidding? Retire his jersey? Where's Israel?"

Well, here I am, and here's my take on Shaq's comments: It's Shaq! What else do you expect?
Ricky Davis (notice I'm not defending him, just Quinny) said it shows Shaq's true colors. Anyone who has been paying attention since, say, 1996, knows that Shaq has always been about Shaq and nothing else. If the Suns hadn't turned things around and started winning of late, he'd be complaining there just like he was here.
I happen to be in Phoenix and plan on talking to Shaq for a story before I leave, and, if he'll speak to me, I plan on asking him why he has to be such a hater after he has already exited. Hopefully he'll give up some good stuff. I know I'm no Jackie MacMullan, but I'm sure he has more messages to get across.

To me, it's a credit to Dwyane Wade that he was able to maintain a good relationship with Shaq. I'm sure he had to work real hard to turn a deaf ear to some of the stuff Shaq said. Then again, now that Shaq's gone, I'd like to see Dwyane be more assertive in his leadership role and not worry about his teammates liking him, necessarily. Don't know how much Steve Kerr liked Jordan after MJ punched him in the face, but it got the message across (Quinny should be careful if Dwyane goes that route).

I know one thing for sure, if Riles comes back next year, he'll have a lot easier time coaching this group now that Shaq's gone. Stan Van Gundy couldn't deal with him, Riley had trouble dealing with him, and pretty soon Mike D'Antoni will find him impossible. Like Terrell Owens said: It's just a matter of time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fallout from Shaq ripping the Heat?

0325shaqautosized258By now you've probably heard about Shaq's verbal attack of the Heat, which in recent days has included critical comments about Pat Riley, Chris Quinn, Ricky Davis and the medical staff in articles published in Sports Illustrated and the Boston Globe.

1. If you were the Heat, would you retire Shaq's jersey?

2. How do you view his legacy with the Heat now?

-Sarah Rothschild

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Playing Riley

So you're probably watching the NCAA Tournament with a scout's eye this year, wondering who would be the best fit for Miami, which will pick anywhere between one and four.
Here's what I've seen so far...

Michael Beasley: He's an amazing scorer. And everyone who has seen him up close says he's a legit 6-9. What worries me, though, is his athleticism. Either he holds back or he's just not that athletic. And if that's the case, is he really a power forward in the league or a small forward? If he's a power forward who's not that athletic, then he's more like Antoine Walker than I would like. If he's a small forward, then he's more of a Carmelo Anthony, which I'm totally fine with.

Derrick Rose: The best part about watching him play is that he's so willing to give up the ball and let his talented teammates do the scoring until he's absolutely needed. And when he does call his own number, he's virtually unstoppable in a one-on-one situation. In the league, he becomes that much more unstoppable because the defensive rules are so much more strict, and he'll have more space to work with because of the more distant three-point line, and the floor is generally more spread in the NBA. The more I see him, the more I feel like he is the Heat's best option regardless of where they pick.

D.J. Augustin, Jerryd Bayless: They're kind of similar in that they are scoring point guards, with Augustin being slightly more of a pure point guard. Bayless continued to strengthen that Chauncey Billups comparison with his play in the postseason, while Augustin worries me a little bit because of his size (6-0). If I were picking either of them at three or four, I'd stick with Bayless.

Brook Lopez: I'm starting to change my opinion on him. I thought he would be a stiff as of a month ago, but the more I watch him, the more I feel like his size and fundamentals make him a poor man's Tim Duncan. Not that poor, either. He doesn't have all of Tim's shots in the post, and his shooting percentage on the season is a little lower than it should be for a guy his size (47 percent). But I still see more potential there than I used to see. If the Heat gets hosed and stuck with the No. 4 pick, this guy will be in the conversation.

O.J. Mayo: I was impressed that he didn't try to take over the game against Kansas State and took what came to him. But at the same time, I kind of wish he had the ball-handling ability and quickness to take over the game. What I like about him is he seems to be from the Kobe Bryant school of studying and perfecting the game. He could be one of those guys that works on his game so much that he improves every year. Already his shot has gotten so much better. If he works on his ball-handling, he might be able to play part-time point guard in the league, which he might have to anyway at 6-4.

Erick Gordon: Needs to stay in school. Got worse as the season progressed.

DeAndre Jordan: Doesn't have the type of impact on a game you would expect for a guy with his size and athleticism. Makes you wonder if he has enough skill.

Kevin Love: Ha! Just kidding.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wade's smart choice

Dwyane's out for the season -- finally -- which could make this next month, officially, the longest waste of time ever.
It's smart, given that he plans on playing in the Olympics. I have no problem with him playing in Beijing, as long as he's honest with himself and doesn't play hurt just for the sake of playing. If he's healthy, the Olympics would be helpful for Dwyane, if only for the benefit of regaining that competitive edge and realizing what it feels like to play for something again.
It only makes sense, too, that Wade would decide to shut it down soon after Riles basically decided he would shut it down as well.
Finally, just wondering why Riles wouldn't turn the team over to Erik Spoelstra rather than Ron Rothstein. Spoelstra is supposed to be the heir apparent, so why not have him handle this group and see how things work?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Wade's "decline"

Thought Lebatard brought up an interesting question today with his column on Wade ever getting back to his form of a couple of years ago.
I know his injuries and his teammates are the first things people will point to, and I think it's fair to say that has plenty to do with it. But I have something of a theory on that as well.
I honestly believe Shaq's effect on Wade wasn't all positive. As far as his mentality, I think Shaq was a bad influence on Dwyane. Shaq's relaxed approach may have been a bit too contagious, and Wade lost a sense of urgency once he discovered the ultimate success. It sounds like a little like what Tim Legler said in Lebby's column today, but I don't think it's as vague. It's no secret that Shaq is hardly the hardest working guy in the league, and he normally passes blame on to lesser teammates for the team's struggles (not directly, but he'll say things like, 'If I'm getting doubled, that guy should get 40,' indirectly putting pressure on, say, Udonis Haslem to put up big numbers.). That's not to say Dwyane does the same thing, but his attitude has seemed to change over the three-plus years that Shaq was here. I'm not going to say he has gone big-time, but that chip that was on his shoulder his rookie and second year has seemed to diminish entirely. Maybe an embarassing season like this one will return him to his old ways, when winning wasn't easy and he had to be extremely efficient for his team to win on a regular basis.
It probably will, and his teammates will probably improve, and he'll probably be much healthier next season, so all those factors will probably make this season seem like an anomaly and all these theories like mine will be shot down entirely.
But I've thought this about Shaq's influence since he got here. It's only now that he's gone that I've actually had the nerve to say it in print (even if it is a blog, which technically doesn't count).



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