Friday, January 5, 2007

A Tree Falling In the Forest.

Intros are always difficult since they require a naive confidence to believe that anyone is actually reading. Nevertheless, I continue. If you have no interest in the NBA, you shouldn't. Continue, that is. I love the game in it's current state, and all previous incarnations. While it would be an exaggeration to proclaim this a new golden age, the league is certainly in good hands.

Good time for a top ten list. Best player?

10. Allen Iverson- He's stubborn and unpredictable. But that's half of what's made him the best player, six feet or under, in NBA history. Playing in a weak ass Eastern Conference for almost a decade is the other. I heard something about him being 'indestructible', or 'moving at the speed of thought' too. Something like that. Although it might have been "quick little monkey". Yeah, that was it. Such eloquence.

9. Jason Kidd- He'll turn 34 in March and currently leads his team in rebounds. If it weren't for his suspect shooting, he'd be a top 5 player. If I thought about it long enough, I'd move him up two spots for his wife alone.

8. Yao Ming- He can shoot from outside and from the line. He's an excellent passer and a naturally intelligent player. No, that is not an Chinese stereotype, saying he can quickly calculate statistics or that he knows karate would be an Chinese stereotype. Plus he's massive. If he would assert himself more on the block, no one could move him off his spot on either end of the floor. 25, 15 & 5 are within his reach. Time will tell. (This song is spectacularly awful. John Tesh is somewhere writhing on the floor with something sharp sticking out of his ear...)

7. Kevin Garnett- Sally Struthers should give up on feeding third world orphans, they're so trendy these days. Hook up with Stern and build a "Feed the Children" type campaign to get KG out of Minnesota. Put together commercials of Laettner, Sczerbiak, JR Rider, Olowokandi, Trenton Hassell, Marko Jaric, and Mark Madsen-take a deep breath-and realize that outside of three people (Steph, Spree & Cassell) those are the best teammates this man has had in his entire career. That should break anyone. Oh, and scroll McHale's phone number at the bottom of the screen. So no, he's never won anything. Only came close once. But a guaranteed 20, 10 & 5 along with his quickness, ballhandling skills, outside shot and defensive presence? Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeet......

6. Tim Duncan- If David Robinson hadn't been injured when he was, Tim Duncan would have been a Celtic and all of this would be moot. If the voters weren't sheep and Kenyon Martin could shoot, Jason Kidd would have one more MVP and Championship and TD would have one less. If Rasheed Wallace had rotated properly, we would still be talking about TD's massive choke job during the Finals instead of a Spurs title. If KG had TD's teammates, coaching staff and front office, he'd have been just as productive-if not more. All that being said, Tim Duncan is still a fucking beast. His footwork and decision making are impeccable, his defense and competitiveness are underrated and he's still got five good years left in him.

5. Steve Nash-Putting him any lower is disrespectful, but any higher would be naive. He's among the league's most accurate shooters and only Jenna Jameson is a better ballhandler. For 47 feet, he's one of the top 5 point guards of all time. But on the other end of the court he's a goddamn sieve and a liability. I honestly don't understand how a man could be in the midst of a campaign for his third straight MVP and his team still isn't the favorite in his own conference. He's like the bizarro KG, he's put in a situation where he can't help but succeed and when he does he receives more credit that he deserves. He's a humble and interesting guy who's fun to watch, but John Stockton did the same things offensively AND was one of the best defenders to ever play his position. He didn't win one MVP. Tell me the difference.

4. Dirk Nowitzki- Anyone still talking that "Dirk isn't a crunchtime player" mess is an idiot. Yes, he missed a big free throw in Game 3, but he also nailed two big fadeaways over Shaq & Alonzo during the final minutes of Game 5. He's as effective outside as Duncan is on the block. He's just as good a ballhandler as KG, and a better shooter. His defense and rebounding are steadily improving. In three years, anyone still talking that "Larry Bird" mess just might be right.

3. Dwayne Wade - Simply put, I don't respect that championship. Big fucking asterisk. Chris Wallace B.I.G. 97 free throws in six games is just ridiculous. Even Michael Jordan was somewhere laughing at that one. He travels all the time on that spin move. He carries the ball more than anyone too. He's turned flopping into an ad campaign. His perimeter game doesn't exist outside of 18 feet. International play exposed all of this. Twice. And I still can't put him any lower than this. He's as quick as they come, makes great decisions in traffic and the open court and could be All Defense First Team if he were more consistent. Cemented among league leaders in scoring, assists and steals. No one can guard him one on one. He still hasn't won a title though.

(The secret to Flash's superpowers?...)

2. LeBron James- If you put Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley in a blender you'd get LBJ. But a few ingredients are still missing. He's like a flying rhino going to the basket, but he can't make his free throws. He can get his shot off over anyone, but he's a streaky shooter. His court vision is amazing, but he lacks a killer instinct. If the refs called travelling, Brendan Haywood could effectively use a baseline defensively and Agent Zero could make his free throws, Bron may have gone home in the first round. Regardless, he's still figuring things out, and we all trust his judgment. But he's just not there yet. *I'm not lying when I tell you that this is one of the ten best highlight videos you will EVER see on YouTube. Watch it.

1. Kobe Bryant- There have been alot of "if's", "buts", "couldas", "shouldas" & "wouldas" on this list, but that's a big part of critiquing a player. Pulling at strings and seeing what holds together.
In fact, every player on this list has been one bounce of the lottery ball, one bad call, or asshole General Manager away from a completely different legacy. They are all either the beneficiaries or victims of circumstance, and this is more true for Kobe than anyone. "If he didn't have Shaq." "If he didn't snitch on Shaq. " Well he did. And he did. Kobe is still as good an overall post & perimeter player on both sides of floor as there has ever been between two shoes. His imagination and pure will on the court know no boundaries.

Now stop, take a deep breath, and acknowledge that he's probably going to get better.