Weekly Countdown (cont.)
4 Questions rescued from the spam
4. The Sonics were not an unpopular team in Seattle, as you wrote in your column about Kevin Durant. Rather the ownership group blackmailed the city and ended up getting what it wanted all along. We Washingtonians still love our Sonics, but you would never know that when wearing your David Stern-provided blinders. You are but another reason the NBA is a broken business model.
"The unpopular Sonics"? Look, I'm from Michigan and even I know the Sonics were hugely popular in Seattle. Go look it up sometime. Don't throw things that have no basis in fact into your articles just to add a bit of drama. You just come off sounding ridiculous.
I was making the point that Durant is playing in front of near capacity crowds averaging 18,567 this season in Oklahoma City, which was far different from the reception in Seattle, where last season the Sonics reported average attendance of 13,355. (That number refers to ticket sales; the audiences that showed up were far smaller.) From Durant's perspective, he played for a team that was unpopular last season in Seattle and is now popular this year in Oklahoma City.
Shane and all of the other loyal fans in Seattle were treated horribly by the NBA. If I were you, I would be in no mood to welcome the league back to my city. This has been my view ever since the Sonics began threatening to leave.
3. What kind of chances do the Thunder have of signing Kevin Durant to another contract once his rookie deal is up? Won't other teams be throwing tons of cash at him to get him into a bigger market?
The timing here is interesting. The owners will seek a new collective bargaining agreement with the players in 2011. Under the current terms, Durant will be, at most, a restricted free agent, enabling the Thunder to match any offer he receives.
Unless he has an unexpected falling-out with team management, he won't be going anywhere. It could be in his best interests to sign an extension with Oklahoma City under the terms of the current agreement, because the new CBA (to be negotiated in 2011-12) is expected to be less accommodating to the players, who are likely to face shorter contracts with smaller annual raises.
2. Given the Celtics' lack of big bodies inside, don't you think they should have picked better in the draft? They needed at least one big man to replace P.J. Brown and they picked wing players (J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker) who haven't proved themselves so far.
There was no big man available at that stage of the draft who would have been capable of helping a contender like the Celtics, who need veterans who know how to play in the late rounds of the playoffs. That's one reason why Boston essentially put its first-round pick up for sale to rival teams on the eve of the draft. But there were no takers.
1. Why does it seem that all the sportswriters (yourself included) are already giving the MVP to LeBron James? Dwight Howard is leading the league in rebounding and blocks and is just as integral to his team's success as LeBron is to his. Shouldn't we at least let him be part of the conversation?
As well as Howard is playing, and as important as he is already to Orlando, he is still improving. Imagine when he develops a go-to mid-range jump shot, as well as a couple of fully developed moves in the post in combination with his emerging ability to pass. That day is coming, and the rest of the league isn't looking forward to it.
3 Old questions rescued from the spam
Because it's been a while since I answered the mail, I'm digging up some of the comments I received after my controversial column on the referees' Dec. 30 decision enabling the Trail Blazers to score a basket with six men on the court against the Celtics.
3. Wow. If you have no idea how the rule is written or how it should be enforced, maybe you should find it out before going on a national Web site and ripping the refs. I am not a Celtics or Blazers fan; I just thought the story was interesting and as I was reading it I assumed the refs had majorly screwed up, but maybe they didn't. I don't know, but more important, YOU don't know. If they followed the rule correctly, no matter how ridiculous you think it is, they did their job. Your beef is with the rule book and not with the refs.
Maybe the referees aren't the only ones who are frazzled? You admit that you don't know the applicable rule, and then claim that in any event the rule is "irrelevant." Reminds me of the old joke about a guy who complains that "our main problems are ignorance and apathy." His friend responds, "Well, I don't know about that, and I don't care, either."
I deserve every bit of this criticism. The NBA came out the next day and said the rule was not "correctable'' and that its referees had obliged the rule as written by allowing Portland's basket to stand.
The point I was making was that, in this case, the rule was irrelevant. Doesn't there come a time when the referees come together and correct a blatant unfairness? In another era, I believe this would have happened.
You can agree or disagree with my take, but I should have been able to quote the rule. I hate getting it wrong, and I was wrong on that one.