Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Looking Back to Move Forward

The Association begins its 2008-2009 season tonight, with headliners such as Kobe, Lebron, and the Boston Three Party being featured in the nationally televised games.  It's Commissioner David Stern's strategic placement of his superstars along the TV schedule that inspired this piece, and it has nothing to do with basketball reality...for the most part...

If you're around my age and older, you have seen how basketball video games have evolved over the years and systems.  From Arch Rivals to Double Dribble to Bulls vs. Blazers to NBA Jam to NBA Live/2k, the evolution of hoops and the Shoot button have been remarkable.  I'd like to focus on one of my all-time video game characters, regardless of genre.  That is Roster Player.

For those of you that don't know, Roster Player is the created character on the NBA Live series that replaced His Airness once his name became bigger than virtual reality.  Due to licensing issues—in other words, due to Jordan being Jordan—SG #62 took the place of Michael Jordan on the NBA Live series until the 2002 edition, when Jordan was a member of the Wizards (at small forward).  While Jordan may have legally removed his likeness and name from the game, millions of players believed that His Airness was so great that even video games couldn't contain his godlike abilities.  To me and others I knew, Roster Player further added to Jordan's legacy; to the point that my freshman intramurals team at Pitt was called the "Roster Players."

But I have a few questions.  First, let's examine the Association's two most dominant players: Kobe and Lebron.  Even with their superhuman talents, are they so superior to the rest of the basketball world that they can remove their likenesses from basketball games?  Would Kobe and Lebron even do something like that?  Would NBA Live and NBA 2k game sales drop because the two brightest stars would instead be Lakers SG #27 and Cavaliers SF #21?

To me, I don't think there will be any player that will earn the same reverence that Jordan had to the point that he will be above video games.  For that reason, Michael Jordan will have unrivaled respect in my basketball eyes.  The way he was so far ahead of time both on and off the court was impeccable.  And while Lebron seems to have the same mentality, the fact that he isn't the first to do it will be a hinderance to him when his legacy can be justly compared to Jordan's.

So when you watch the games tonight, nod your head in respect to Michael Jordan.  And give another head nod for Roster Player.  In fact, watch this for a nostalgic remeberance of His Airness.


Monday, October 20, 2008

James Posey is Not A Basketball Savior

James Posey is going into his tenth season in the NBA, which is remarkable considering that he has been, at best, a starting role player and mostly a bench player throughout his career.   He has won two rings: one with Miami two years ago, and this past one with Boston.  This past offseason, he signed a four-year, $25 million deal with the Hornets; essentially to solidify their bench.  Good move by him and the Hornets.  Posey is a willing defender and, apparently,"the new Robert Horry."  

Timeout.  Am I missing something?  Granted, Posey did hit some timely shots in last year's Finals; but does that make him this invaluable piece without whom the Celtics wouldn't be champions?  Are bench players the basketball version of drafting a kick returner to add explosiveness to special teams?  I'm not diminishing what Posey did for the Celtics.  I just won't overhype it like a lot of media outlets seem to be doing.

Some have gone as far as to say that Posey was the reason that the Celtics won the title.  Apparently, adding Ray Allen and Defensive Player of the Year (and borderline madman) Kevin Garnett was secondary to the monumenetal signing of James Posey.  I guess Paul Pierce's new dedication to both ends of the floor didn't mean as much as Posey's contributions from the bench.

The reason why Posey isn't deserving of the comparisons to Horry is because Horry hit game-winning shots; while Posey just hit shots during vital minutes of the game.  Posey just stepped up when he received the ball.  Not saying he wasn't important; but anyone could have knocked down those shots and take Posey's place in bench player immortality.

 James Posey seized an opportunity to make a name—and large contract—for himself.  What he did proved important for the Celtics' run to a 16th title, but he wasn't the main cause like some would have you believe.  In the end, he's still a dispensable bench player; and Boston treated him as such.  Enter Bill Walker.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Mavericks as The Mavericks

I was watching the second Presidential Debate with a couple of my friends, ridiculing talking about John McCain and Sarah Palin's constant referral to themselves as mavericks when it hit me: they really are mavericks. In fact, they are the Dallas Mavericks. Meet me after the random picture for an explanation...

(In fact, read this on FreeDarko before/after you read this. The most ingenious thing ever created. Period.)

John McCain is Dirk Nowitzki. As the leader and best player on the Republican Party, he is the first option on offense and the current face of the franchise. For the beginning part of his career, he could rely on his jumper; also known as saying he was a prisoner or war. With a silky smooth touch, he manages to weave his way through the court, picking his spots to unleash his go-to move. With his recent nomination, McCain has been forced to expand his game, including some back-to-the-basket plays, and even having to play a little defense.

The more difficult is defining who Sarah Palin is. She could be Jason Kidd, chosen by the Republicans to shake things up in the party and create a buzz that helps the Republicans maintain the Presidential championship. The problem with that is that she has no experience, while Jason Kidd is the granddad of point guards; so maybe she doesn't fit into that role.

Palin could be Antoine Wright, a young talent that was thrust in the starting lineup to shake up things and provide a little grit (something like a pit bull/hockey mom/I'm sick of hearing that) to compliment Dirk McCain. Palin is also good at defending the crossover spinning questions; and since she has little professional experience just like Wright. I guess starting your career on the New Jersey Nets is the same as being Governor of Alaska. The flaw that comes with painting Palin as Antoine Wright is that Wright didn't have nearly the hype Palin did coming into the Association. But if Palin can choose not to stick to formats, then I can choose to personify her as two players...

Dirk and the Mavericks have had recent obstacles that have stood in their way for the past two years, perhaps depriving them of championship glory. The GOP Mavericks face a similar challenge in Barack Obama. Obama's simultaneously channeling the "We Believe" popularity or Oracle Arena in '06-'07 and the youthful swagger and spirit of Chris Paul. Despite lacking playoff experience and being unconventional in his political offensive and defensive philosophies (when he's actually mentioned them), he's ahead in the series against the GOP Mavericks. He's aligned himself with a complimentary piece that has his back like David West and Stephen Jackson (and yes, Biden's that crazy) to help shore up his deficiencies. Obama and the New Golden State Change have combined the hype of crowd atmospherer and his own immense talent to form a political machine for which the GOP Mavericks can't quite devise a gameplan. And with Dirk McCain getting up there in age and Palin not being the long-term answer for them, the GOP's Presidential window is closing.

It will be an interesting final three weeks between the GOP Mavericks and the New Golden State Change. Will Dirk McCain go the equivalent of Dirk's 2-13 fg in the deciding game debate? We'll see.


Monday, October 6, 2008

The Old Man in the Paint

It's been two weeks since I graced the pages of Fundamentally UnSound. I was searching for a story that has been overlooked. Then it hit me, and I found the story. More after the random picture...

The NBA preseason begins tomorrow (white people, time to practice your high-fives!). One of the stories that seems to be overlooked is the debut of Wise Lebron Greg Oden on Tuesday. Apparently, after ridiculing Lebron in his commercial, he saw the benefits he received and was able to successfully rehab his knee after training in the pool. Now, hopefully healthy, Oden looks to be the final piece that the upstart Portland Trail Blazers need to be a major contender in a tough Western Conference.

But I have a bigger question. It seems that Greg Oden is getting a pass for this season that this past draft's #1 pick, Derrick Rose, isn't getting. As with any high draft pick that comes with a hefty amount of fanfare, there's a general consensus that they will have their struggles and hit that infamous "Rookie Wall" as they adjust to playing with professional talent. In the case of Oden, he is receiving the media coverage that any veteran would that missed an entire year. Remember, he still hasn't played in an official game; much less, gone through the rigors of an 82-game schedule. There's still uncertainty surrounding Mr. Oden's ability to play in the Association.

I wonder why we're overlooking that this technically will be Oden's first season. Is it because he looks like he should already be retiring? Or is it because there's an understood acceptance that he'll be a force in the paint? There's no need to name the recent #1 overall picks that haven't exactly lived up to to expectations. The careers of top draft picks have fallen on both ends of the spectrum. From Lebron to Michael Olowokandi, Greg Oden's tenure in the Association will be placed somewhere between these two markers. Good luck, and stay healthy, Mr. Oden. Boom.