At this time of year while the entire nation is gambling on the wholesome sport of college basketball, here are a few of the complaints I hear from fans about the NBA in relation to March Madness. I can't tell you how many times I've heard fans who love the NCAA tournament launch into complaints about pro basketball. In some cases their criticism is spot on, but a lot of the arguments are missing the larger point.
If I may paraphrase, Rivers is saying that the defense is far more sophisticated and demanding in the NBA. I asked Heat rookie point guard
How many defenses are schemed by the Heat? "I don't know,'' said Chalmers, who called across the locker room to Miami assistant coach
Rothstein wasn't quite sure how to answer. "We defend for the pick-and-roll,'' he said, "for isolation, for the catch-and-shoot, for the single screen, for the double screen, for the side pick-and-roll ...'' He went on and on.
"You're talking about more than a dozen defenses,'' Chalmers said.
Said Rothstein: "The NBA is about defensive situations. You have a way you operate, and then you go from there. Depending on the team you're playing, you make changes.''
The NCAA makes about $545 million per year from CBS for the rights to televise March Madness. And it's not about the money?
The anecdotal evidence is staggering that under-the-table money is used to recruit players to many schools, and it goes without saying that many players with NBA potential will be viewing the NCAA tournament as a launching pad for their pro careers. They will have people outside the college program counseling them after every game. Should they be criticized for this? Of course not, because they've gone to college to develop their careers.
The unpredictability and spirit of the tournament are without peer. I love it. But let's not pretend that it's pure of the influence of money. Big money.
If the complaint is ultimately about the lack of fundamentals in the NBA, then what does that say about college basketball -- which delivers most of the talent to the NBA?
"The game has evolved,'' Bill Russell said. "You say they [NBA players] don't have good fundamentals. They don't have the fundamentals of the game that was played in the '40s, but, hey, they have the fundamentals of the game that is played today.''
In another sense, NBA players have never cared more about their careers. Because there is so much money at stake, they train year-round and practice more often than players of previous generations.
I can tell you that it drives college coaches crazy when their players leave the program to undertake a 24/7 workout and diet regimen in preparation for the NBA draft.
The power wielded by players makes coaching in the NBA an inordinately difficult job. It also makes coaching a highly important job. If you don't have a coach who commands respect -- it's hard to find leaders like
I appreciate the thoughts, and I do think LeBron will be MVP this year. The comment citing him as the "second-best player'' came from a league personnel executive, and there are a lot of people in basketball who agree. Last summer, when the final of the Beijing Olympics was tight and the gold medal was in doubt, it was Kobe who carried that team with big plays down the stretch. The other stars looked to him for leadership, and to me that defined his place in the game today.
So I see nothing wrong with giving Kobe his due. He has made big plays to win championships and he led a young team into the Finals last year. LeBron isn't even halfway through his career, and there will be plenty of time later to say who was the better player. LeBron has everything a player could want to be better than Kobe or
For weeks I've been viewing this crisis as an opportunity for the NBA to resolve its issues by negotiating a new agreement that will enable teams in small markets to compete with the bigger cities. The only way to make this happen is for all sides -- big franchises vs. small, owners vs. players -- to realize that to continue in the current system will mean disaster for everyone. The players will realize the impact this summer when many of them can't find owners to supply the typical long-term contracts.
Let's be realistic about it. We aren't going to see the players go from maximum six-year deals to contracts that are not guaranteed. The contracts will probably be shortened and the raises will be diminished.
The problem with having a hard salary cap is that a few teams will walk away with huge operating profits while spending the same money as Oklahoma City or New Orleans. If the owners want a true partnership with the players moving forward, then some of the income generated by the Knicks and Lakers must circulate throughout the league. That's why some kind of a new approach to revenue sharing must be developed, so that everyone is involved in a system that benefits all parties. The alternative is a painful lockout and perhaps a season sacrificed to no greater good.
I see where you're coming from, and for the most part I see all kinds of reasons why he would stay in Cleveland. It's near his hometown, the Cavs emphasize championship defense, their owner is ambitious and they're a lot closer to winning titles than the Knicks.
But here's the one thing that gives New York hope. Would
The question becomes whether he can win those championships with the Knicks. They have a lot of work to do before LeBron can be sold on that one.
Thank you, Kyle. I agree the hypocrisy is striking. The league stands on principle only when it can afford to do so. I'm sure a lot of people will argue the other side, but I don't view liquor advertising as a big deal. Sports at all levels are already drowning in beer commercials and sponsorships. But maybe you're right and this kind of promotion will turn out to be more damaging than I envision at the moment.
I'm not saying he should beat out LeBron or Kobe, but if Wade is to become the first MVP in 27 years to win fewer than 50 games (dating to
(Note that James has Cleveland on pace for a 21-win improvement over last season, and even Bryant's Lakers are winning at a rate that projects to an eight-game improvement.)
(However, James ranks No. 1 in "efficiency,'' a league-generated stat that accounts for points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
Before the start of the NCAA tournament, I asked a trusted NBA scout to identify two big names who need to improve their stock.
"I have him rated [as a draft pick] in the 20s, where earlier this year I had him going nine to 14."
(Holiday had 13 points and six assists and made 5-of-12 from the field in the Bruins' 65-64 victory against VCU in the first round Thursday night.)
(Daye finished with 10 points, five rebounds and four blocks in Thursday night's 77-64 victory against Akron.)