Weekly Countdown (cont.)
4 Questions rescued from the spam
4. Do you think an international coach with a decent team with no superstars and good players could win in the NBA? I've been reading about some of the international coaches and how they stress team over the superstar and they win that way. Will the NBA ever go to that?
European coaches have a few big advantages over their NBA peers: Teams in the Old World are built to win rather than to make money, players are paid based on their winning records rather than on their individual stats, and players don't receive long-term, guaranteed contracts and therefore can be replaced or fired if viewed as losers or selfish. (The same principles apply to coaches in Europe as well, which is why they are fired at a much higher rate than coaches in the NBA.)
Plug a Euroleague champion like CSKA Moscow into the NBA schedule and it could finish ahead of some rebuilding teams that aren't nearly as experienced, versatile or organized. But no team can win in the NBA without stars. This is a talent-based league. As mentioned above, it's no coincidence that the Lakers' Jackson has won nine NBA championships with the world's dominant player, and if he adds to his treasure, then thanks will go to Kobe. The franchises that take a European approach are the Spurs and Pistons, whose level of teamwork is unparalleled in the NBA. But neither team would have a prayer if not for the three or four All-Stars on its roster.
3. Do you think they will ever eliminate hack-a-Shaq and make all off-the-ball fouls intentional and award two shots and the ball throughout the entire game?
I wish they would eliminate the rule, but why would they? They would be voting out a loophole that benefits most of the teams in the league in opposing Shaq, Ben Wallace and potentially Dwight Howard.
2. I'm sure that I'm not alone in being frustrated with the excessive flopping that has become the norm the past few years. While I can only bear to watch the Celtics-Cavs series in short bursts (it's just plain terrible), whenever I tune in it seems that LeBron goes to the hoop, gets hit on the arm and goes down clutching his face. When will the league crack down on this acting? I don't want to single out LeBron, but he seems to be a chief culprit. In soccer, if a referee determines that a player is overacting to draw a foul, the ref can give that player a yellow card. What would you think of a similar rule in the NBA, but perhaps with technicals?
Referees have enough to do already; to force another controversial judgment call upon them doesn't seem practical. One rule change that might respond to your concerns would provide officials with instant replay to analyze all potential flagrant fouls. This enhancement may be considered after the season, NBA executive VP of basketball operations Stu Jackson told me last week, and in those settings I can imagine that replay eventually could be used to punish the flopping actors as well as the aggressors.
1. Why is it that winners of the Coach of the Year are those who have turned teams around rather than coaches who, year in and year out, have done great things for their teams? Coaches like Jerry Sloan, Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson never seem to be considered for the Coach of the Year. Is it because some people don't see consistency as a basis for good coaching?
Excellent point there. The award usually goes to someone who turns a loser into a winner -- it's almost like a most improved award. In fact, the best performances are usually by successful coaches like Popovich, who uses the regular season to build a championship foundation, or Jackson, who integrated Pau Gasol while holding the Lakers together after their summer of malcontent. The fact that Sloan has never won the award further diminishes its credibility.
3 Things the O.J. Mayo scandal says about college basketball
3. The system is corrupted. The best college players see millions of dollars waiting for them in the NBA, while in the meantime they earn millions more for their schools and coaches -- and yet they aren't allowed to receive a penny on top of their scholarships. And then everyone gets upset that a few thousand dollars were reportedly funneled to Mayo.
Compare the thick rule books of the two biggest basketball leagues in our country. The NBA rule book, otherwise known as the collective bargaining agreement, exists as a vehicle to funnel the majority of basketball income to the players. The NCAA rule book exists to prevent money from going to the players, so that its rule makers can keep it for themselves.
Star players who take money are not criminals. Rather, the system is criminal.
2. Agents pay players? Mayo's agency, Bill Duffy Associates, insists it did not offer money to Mayo or his handlers before he turned pro. But it has long been rumored that agents do so to procure players. It would be a natural response to the hypocritical madness created by the gross financial success of the NCAA tournament.
1. The NBA won't intercede. Commissioner David Stern has been working with NCAA president Myles Brand on a plan to keep players in college for two years before they can turn pro. I asked Stern last week if he ever scolded Brand for refusing to share income with players.
"No, we never reached that, that was never part of our discussion,'' Stern said. "That's for some other body to consider. I know their argument is that the scholarship and all the other benefits are a payment of type. That's something I specifically have chosen not to involve myself in. I'm looking for things not to be involved in, and this is No. 1 on that list, OK?''