Best, worst bangs for the buck (cont.)
All-Star voters. Tracy McGrady was averaging 7.7 minutes before the Rockets decided to part ways over the holidays with the league's highest-paid player. Allen Iverson has averaged 14.5 points and shot 43 percent for a Sixers team that has gone 4-6 with him in the lineup. Why, exactly, are these two in line to start next month's All-Star Game?
Michael Beasley. A few days after getting into a heated exchange with Heat teammate Quentin Richardson over defensive assignments in a loss to the Hornets, Beasley found himself the target of Dwyane Wade, who told the Miami Herald that the second-year forward is often benched late in games because "he's still learning the NBA defensive thing down the stretch." Said Beasley: "I told [the Heat veterans], 'I'm all for suggestions and I'm for guys trying to help.' But when everybody is telling me different things, that's when things kind of get mixed up."
The Spurs' resurgence. With spotty performances from Manu Ginobili and a modest slip in their usual ironclad defense, the Spurs had some observers worried about their long-term prospects. Those concerns abated a bit with an 11-3 mark over their last 14 games -- but we're not sold yet. San Antonio played only three teams in that stretch that currently have winning records and lost to two of them. A January schedule that includes games with Dallas, the Lakers, Houston, Atlanta and Denver, as well as the surprising Thunder and Grizzlies (twice), will be a lot more telling.
They said it
"i wake up this morning and seen i was the new JOHN WAYNE."
"He's too little, man. He's not going to stop me from getting that damn ball. That wasn't going to happen."
"Don't get me wrong, it's the home team and I enjoy playing there and I enjoy when the fans do come out. But by no stretch of the imagination have we got one of the best home crowds. We don't. I can't really even say it's getting there."
New York Times: What's it like to be the preseason Rookie of the Year favorite only to watch others play their way to the award while you wait to make your debut? Ask Blake Griffin.
Sacramento Bee: Not every entourage is bad news; at least that's what Kings fans can hope with Tyreke Evans' carefully selected, and focused, crew.
Basketball Prospectus: How have the Knicks risen from embarrassment to borderline Eastern playoff contender? By doing something very un-D'Antoni-like: slowing down.
1. Perhaps the most unfortunate subplot of the Gilbert Arenas situation is the brush it again hands critics to paint the NBA as an outlaw league run by "thugs." And while Arenas' alleged actions shouldn't be taken lightly, is his mistake any more of a black eye than Plaxico Burress' gun incident and conviction was for the NFL? Is it any more damaging to a sport than the steady rain of steroid allegations are to the integrity of baseball's record book? In this corner's opinion, no. Young people with lots of money and lots of disposable time often are going to follow their worst instincts, no matter if they are professional athletes, actors, trust-fund babies, you name it. Let's not make Arenas' mistake a referendum on a league that is far too accustomed to the preaching of those who only appreciate the sport when the Knicks win.
2. So GM Ed Stefanski isn't pleased with the performance of his 76ers. Might we suggest he start by looking in the mirror? It is there he will find the man who agreed to pay Elton Brand $82.2 million only to hire a coach the next season whose motion system doesn't fit an aging Brand, who is recovering from almost two seasons on the shelf with injuries. It is there he will find a man willing to threaten the development of his young squad by bringing in an ego-starved Allen Iverson for a few quick ticket sales. And it is there he will find a man who traded away sharpshooter Kyle Korver, whose contract expires after this season, only to add a thus-far disappointing Jason Kapono, whose more expensive deal lasts a year longer.
3. The NFL's decision to schedule the Cowboys-Eagles playoff game Saturday night at the same time the Mavericks play the Jazz didn't sit with Mark Cuban. (Shocking.) Sure, the NFL treats other sports like "pissants." But it can, and it will as long as it draws the biggest ratings and earns in the most money among pro leagues. If Cuban really wants to change the current sports hierarchy, he'd be wise to at least get his fellow NBA owners to join his campaign.
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