Early Monday morning, the basketball world found out that the struggling Lakers decided to sign Mike D’Antoni as their new head coach. Let me start by saying that the Lakers interim head coach, Bernie Bickerstaff, is 2-0 since the firing of Mike Brown and I think Bernie deserves a couple of more games to prove whether or not he can manage this juggernaut team. That being said, D’Antoni has been chosen as the Lakers front office’s first pick to fill the coaching void and now there is some questions and controversy surrounding their decision. Once Brown was fired, everyone in the world thought that the Zen Master himself would retake the helm and lead this team to his twelfth Championship ring. Well, Phil Jackson is still jobless and Mike D’Antoni is about to lead an ideal lineup for any coach in the league, but is this decision the right choice?
Obviously, as a Knicks fan I have my extreme skepticism’s about D’Antoni’s coaching ability. This is a guy who has made it abundantly clear over his two decades as an NBA coach, that he has no regard whatsoever for the defensive end of a basketball game. Sure, Mike won Coach of the Year for his 2004-2005 season managing the Phoenix Suns to their first year of relevancy since the days of Charles Barkley, but he did so by leading the league in scoring and he also had a PG named Steve Nash, in his prime might I add, on his way to his first of two NBA MVP’s. Don’t get me wrong, I think that D’Antoni is one of the smartest offensive basketball minds to ever grace the hardwood, but if you are a true NBA fan, you know that Championships are not won on the offensive end.
When there became a vacancy in the Lakers head coaching position, everyone’s first thought was that Phil was going to come back to help Kobe match the six rings he helped put on Michael’s hands. Even Kobe addressed the media saying how he thought “he never truly gave Phil a quality farewell season”. The Staples Center roared with chants of “We Want Phil! We Want Phil!” The only problem with that thought was no one thought Phil was going to want to come back to the NBA so soon; only 1 year removed from retirement. The Lakers front office, The Buss family and Mitch Kupchak, visited Phil early Saturday morning and after some short talks, Phil was under the impression that he would have until today to work out the kinks and make his decision. Well Phil, you snooze you lose!
Having found out about D’Antoni’s hiring yesterday, Phil told the media, “No contractual terms were discussed and we concluded with a hand shake and an understanding that I would have until Monday to come back to them with my decision. I did convey to the that I did have the confidence that I could do the job. I was awakened on Sunday by a phone call from Mitch Kupchak. He told me that the Lakers had signed Mike D’Antoni to a 3-year agreement and that they felt he was the best coach for the team.”
First off Phil, there is no way that the Lakers thought Mike was “the best coach” for the job. The way I see it is that Phil, in the final seasons of his coaching career, was very high maintenance with his restrictive traveling schedule and constant health issues. Mike, on the other hand, will be the perfect puppet for Jerry Buss to bounce on his knee and do whatever it is he wants done with his team. D’Antoni doesn’t have the type of pull that Jackson would demand and that is a lot more comforting for Kupchak and the Buss family. The truth of the matter is that D’Antoni and Phil can not even be mentioned in the same sentence when referring to their coaching abilities. Phil is arguably the greatest coach there ever was and Mike D’Antoni is just eh. D’Antoni has had a couple of successful regular seasons under his belt and he has proven that he can match anyone’s offense output, but the Lakers always make the playoffs so the regular season is not their problem. They need to win once in the postseason and Mike has proven time and again that he can not coach in the playoffs.
I do understand the signing of Mike though. He obviously has a report with Nash and when Kobe was growing up in Italy, D’antoni was his favorite player to watch. Add that to the fact that Mike coached both Dwight and Kobe on multiple Olympics teams and you have a coach who has pretty good chemistry with his core players. Kobe even went on to post on his Facebook page, “It’s been a wild week to say the least. I’m happy to have closure and can’t wait to get to work with Coach D’Antoni.. spacing, ball movement. And despite the chatter, I believe we will be phenomenal defensively. I’m looking forward to getting started with him and his staff this week. Mamba out.” Phenomenal defensively? I doubt it.
I honestly feel that anyone with the slightest bit of basketball knowledge can coach this Lakers team to the NBA Finals because of how talented their roster is. There was so much fuss over their 1-4 start, but lets not forget that the Miami Heat started with a 9-8 record when they first joined Lebron-Wade-Bosh. Chemistry takes time and I can assure all of the doubters out there that the Lakers will be a force to recon with for the rest of the season. As to whether or not Mike was the right choice to lead them to their successes, well that’s just something we will have to wait and see.
It’s about fucking time that we can all stop talking about where Dwight Howard will end up. Late yesterday, a massive 4-team trade was accepted and the NBA’s hottest and most played out story line came to a conclusion with Dwight ending up with the Lakers. A lot of you might be surprised that the Lakers got Howard, but if you are a true Sports Debaters fan then you probably read my article back on 7-18-2012 “https://sports-debaters.com/2012/07/18/the-lakers-dont-want-howard-they-need-him/” where I clearly stated the necessity for Howard if the Lakers wanted to dethrone Miami. Nearly a month later my prediction rang true and now we are looking at possibly the best team I have ever seen on paper.
In a masterfully manipulative way, the Lakers were able to obtain Howard without giving up much by involving a fourth team in the trade. The Lakers received Howard, the Denver Nuggets got Andre Iguodala, the Philadelphia 76ers got Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, and the Magic received Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and one protected future first-round pick from each of the three teams. That means that LA literally only lost a young and talented Andrew Bynum and a future first round draft pick (protected by the way) for arguably the best Center in over a decade.
As a Knicks fan, I’m not to disappointed with this trade’s outcome because it moved the best defensive player in the league to the West coast. What I am disappointed about is that with Dwight wearing the purple and gold everyone and their mother’s can predict who will be facing off in the NBA Finals for at least the next couple of seasons. Since Shaq had left Miami, the Lakers/Heat rivalry has kind of fizzled out but with Superman coming to town you can expect the Miami vs Los Angeles game to be the hottest ticket in town once again. It’s funny because we missed the first two month’s of last season due to a bargaining agreement where the league was looking for a solution so teams couldn’t stack all of the raw talent in one location…guess that shit failed, didn’t it?
This is what happens people, big market teams get big market players. Unfortunately for fans of other teams around the league, there really isn’t any reason for you watch this season because the outcome is already set. If you look at the Lakers roster right now I honestly don’t think there is a team in history with a starting 5 as overall talented as LA has now. Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta Worldpeace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard with Antwan Jamison coming off the bench…are you serious?. That team in itself would win the Olympic gold guaranteed.
When Steve Nash was acquired by the Lakers, there were a lot of haters out there saying how his lack of defense would affect them in a negative way. Well Steve, you can let your marked men run past you all day now because you will have one of the greatest defenders of all time standing in the middle waiting to block whatever comes his way. Dwight is a 3-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and although he has had many media related faux pas’, the man is an absolute beast on the court and there is no way he will have a negative impact on the team.
Rumor has it that while in London at the Olympics, Kobe heard the news of the Dwight trade and went directly to the local jeweler to get fitted for ring number 6. That’s not actually true but I’m sure the thought went through his mind. I know Miami is coming off a successful championship season and that Lebron finally got the monkey off of his back, but with Dwight joining Kobe and Nash my pick is for the Lakers to be champions once again. Try and debate me, I dare you!
Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest player’s in the history of the NBA, but there is no denying that his career is on the down swing. Already with 5 NBA Championship trophies as well as an NBA MVP award, Kobe has proven that he is a glorified winner. Bryant turns 34 in August and unless you are the New York Knicks organization, you think that is getting too old for the NBA. In my estimation, Kobe has two great years ahead of him and then possibly 2-3 average years, but his window for winning his coveted sixth Championship is closing fast. The 14 time NBA all-star knows this and is all for his management putting together a Championship team for this season.
Jerry Buss and crew started their off-season magic with the best Free Agent signing of the year in Steve Nash. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they were more than just a quality PG short of winning the Championship last year. After acquiring Nash, Buss continued to look for the pieces that helped his team win 5 Championship’s since 2000. With some rumors flying, it seems as if the Lakers are about to sign Free Agent Antwan Jamison which will give them more great veteran leadership and a chameleon SF who pulls off the PF roll as well as anyone. While the former UNC Champion Jamison will bring a quality perimeter shot to the Lakers and add 7-9 rebounds a game depending on his minutes, his lack of defense will be a cause of huge concern for a team that prides itself on tenacious defending.
Nash has also been known for splotchy defense throughout his career and while Kobe has been named to numerous amounts of NBA all-defensive teams and Metta World Peace is literally willing to elbow someone in the face to stop them, the Lakers need more defense to win it all. Andrew Bynum might be one of the best up and coming Centers that the league has seen in a while, but his skill set still can not match up with Superman Dwight Howard’s. To win a Championship, you need big men defenders and while all the haters out there will say that Miami just won it all without a big man defender I will say that Lebron defends as well as anyone ever has…he is a freak and a player like him only comes around once every 20 years. I mean there hasn’t even been a PG Defensive Player of the Year since Gary “The Glove” Payton won it in 1996.
There is no better defender in the league than Dwight Howard and he will fit in perfectly with Mike Brown’s Lakers. Although Howard has stated multiple times that he only wants to sign an extension with the Brooklyn Nets, maybe he would be comforted knowing that signing with Kobe and the Lakers would pretty much guarantee him a trip to the NBA Championship. The loss of Bynum would be tough, but if Howard were to sign for at least 4 years than I’m pretty sure the Yellow and Purple will be able to cope with it. Howard can defend not only the opponents Center but he would also be able to shut down the players that coast past Nash and Jamison on a regular basis. Anyone that tries to say that Bynum has more potential than what Howard has to offer is a buffoon.
If Kobe combines forces with Nash, Gasol, Jamison and Howard, than there will be absolutely no one that has a starting 5 who can match up with them. If this team does form this superhero alliance than they will be ancient in 3 years, yet still younger than the Knicks current roster. The Lakers had to be planning on restructuring their entire team once Kobe’s career comes to an end anyway, so why not go out with a bang and win a couple of more Championships. For the NBA’s sake I hope this happens because I would like to see someone capable of putting out the Heat’s fire. If this move doesn’t happen than you can expect no more than a second round exit from the playoffs for the Lakers once again.
When you think of the USA Men’s Basketball Olympic Team, you immediately remember the 1992 “Dream Team.” The 1992 team was the first American team to feature active NBA players and is considered the greatest team ever put together in any sport. Let me break it down for you. The Dream Team consisted of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, David Robinson, Christian Laettner, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, and Chris Mullin. Unless you live in a shell or have never heard anything about professional basketball you should have heard of majority of these players. The USA coasted through the Olympics embarrassing country after country and letting the world know that this is America’s sport and no one will change that. Even though the USA is ranked the #1 in the FIBA world rankings, they have found it difficult to portray the same dominance that they showed in the 90’s.
In 2004, the USA finished with an embarrassing bronze medal and received criticism from a country that does not accept anything but gold in this competition. If we lose a gymnastics competition or two who cares, but the basketball team must bring home the gold. The 2008 team redeemed the 2004 team’s failure by winning it all and restoring balance to the basketball world. This afternoon the 2012 squad was announced and I have to say that as an American I am very proud of the team we are sending to the London Olympics. Led by veteran’s Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony, the USA will look to sweep through these Olympics with what I feel is the best team since 1992. Besides the three I have already mentioned, the USA will have the talents of Russel Westbrook, Chris Paul, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler.
A lot of people look at this team as undersized and inexperienced, but what I see is a team that is built for the modern-day game. If you read the names of the 2012 team you will find only one true Center in Tyson Chandler and then no other dominant big men. Don’t try to come at me with Blake Griffin and Kevin Love because neither of them represent the typical big man that NBA fans are used to. They are both great players in their own rights, but players like Ewing, Robinson, Barkley and Malone are true big men. Some people will look at this like a negative, but with the way that international basketball is played now, the big man is a formality and no longer a necessity.
This is Carmelo, Kobe and Lebron’s third Olympics that they are playing together so the veteran leadership is present and accounted for. For some reason there are some skeptics out there that feel this year’s squad can’t match up to the 2008 team.
“They are just like us, they also have players with a lot of talent,” the Oklahoma City power forward said Saturday in his first full day of training with the Spanish team. “They are a different team to 2008, but their players are still very good.” I hope that the USA team doesn’t take condescending comments like this lightly. Sure Spain finished with the silver medal back in 2008, but there is no way they think they can actually match up with all of the best scorers in the NBA. The NBA scoring champion 7 out of the last 8 year’s is currently on the USA team. I honestly feel that the roster that we have going into the Olympics could have competed with the Dream Team. Now I am not saying they would have beaten the Dream Team, but any game between them would have definitely been competitive.
Chris Paul thinks that this team is much better than the ’08 squad. “When I think about ’08, we were really good then. But like me, LeBron and D-Will, all of us talk about, you’ve got to think about how much better all of us are now than we were in ’08,” Paul said. “All of us as players, we shoot the ball better. Guys are more athletic, guys are more confident. One through 12, no question we’re deeper than we were in ’08.”
If you didn’t notice, OKC will have their big 3 on the roster and James Harden couldn’t be more proud. “Great characters, workaholics, just humble guys, humble guys and blessed to be in this position,” Harden said of himself, Durant and Westbrook. (Guys) who work hard and just set ourselves up for greatness and to achieve, and just to be on the same team with these guys means a lot.”
Spirits are up and the gold medal is America’s to lose. Will all of these high expectations be too much for America to handle? I think not. I expect to see the USA dominate throughout the Olympics and bring home the gold. If that doesn’t happen it will be considered on of the biggest tragedies in American basketball history. How do you feel this USA team will finish the 2012 Olympics?
There is nothing in this world more enjoyable than sports, and there is no better way to enjoy sports than with your father. For the Sports Debaters, we can give all the credit for our love and interest in sports to our fathers Bruce and Peter. So first off, Happy Father’s Day! Memories from your first catch in the back yard, to the first sports team you ever tried out for, to the first trophy you ever won will stay with you forever and we just want to thank our father’s for pushing us and always being there for us for these momentous occasions. You may have seen either Bruce or Peter commenting on our articles trying to keep us on our toes and we couldn’t appreciate it more. This article is dedicated to them!
The baseball great Harmon Killebrew once said, “My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say”, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” my dad would reply, “we’re raising boys.” This is the sort of thing our fathers would have said, followed with a quick apology of course, so that is why this article is being written for them. Below is a handful of the greatest father-son athletes in their respective sports. The list is nearly endless so we chose one combination from 5 different sports and we would love it if you added to the comments page with famous duo’s that you think deserved to be on this list.
FOOTBALL: Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning
Three unbelievable quarterbacks with a combined 15 Pro-Bowl selections and 3 Superbowl victories, the Manning’s are without question the greatest father-son’s trio of all time. I know this article is for duo’s but how can you leave this family off of it. Archie had the unfortunate disadvantage of playing for a terrible team his entire career. Even though he had a losing record for his career, he was still respected as a very good quarterback. As for Peyton and Eli, if you don’t know about them then you are probably on the wrong website. Peyton is set to begin the second part of his career with his new team the Denver Broncos and Eli is coming of winning his second Superbowl. Both Eli and Peyton have proved to be not only great athletes on the field, but they both showed their surprisingly funny comedy chops in numerous commercials as well as both hosting Saturday Night Live.
BASEBALL: Ken Griffey Sr and Jr
These two amazing athletes not only mastered the same sport, but they actually played on the same team for a short period of time. Ken Griffey Sr. started his career with the Cincinnati Reds where he went on to make 3 all-star teams and won back-to-back World Series (1975-76). After traveling through the Yankees, Braves and back to the Reds, KG Sr went on to finish his storied career with the Seattle Mariners. His final move to Seattle was historic because it paired him with his son Ken Griffey Jr. I am sure that even Senior would admit that his son definitely had one up on him. Junior, or “The Kid”, was one of the best all-around baseball players of all time. 6th on the list for most home runs ever and 10 Gold Gloves playing Center Field make Junior a shoe-in for Cooperstown. After his retirement, the Associated Press went on to say, “In his prime, Ken Griffey Jr. was unanimously considered the best player in baseball.”
BASKETBALL: Joe and Kobe Bryant
Joe “Jellybean” Bryant was the greatest NBA player to ever wear the #23…just kidding, but he did go on to have an above average career both playing and coaching. Drafted out of La Salle University by the Golden State Warriors, Jellybean went on to play for 3 different NBA teams and 5 different teams overseas between Italy and France. He has most recently found himself as a coach in the WNBA for the Los Angeles Sparks during the 2011-12 season. Now I don’t know if you have ever heard of his son, Kobe Bryant, but he is pretty good. Kobe has won 5 NBA Championships and continues to be one of the best players in the NBA year after year. He has made 14 all-star games and went on to win the NBA MVP back in 2008. Kobe will go down as not only one of the best players in Lakers history, but NBA history as well.
HOCKEY: Bobby and Brett Hull
Bobby Hull is considered the greatest left winger to ever play the game and arguably the best player period. Bobby was famous for his blonde hair, blinding skating speed, and having the hardest shot, which is how he earned the nickname “The Golden Jet.” He won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Black Hawks back in 1961 and went on to lead the league in goal scoring a remarkable 7 times in the sixties. Bobby was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. Bobby’s son Brett wasn’t too shabby himself. Brett has the third most goals in NHL history (741), with one of them being the game winning goal on Dominik Hasek to win the 1999 Stanley Cup, which was the first one in the Dallas Stars history. Brett went on to win the Cup with the Red Wings in 2002 and was appropriately nicknamed after his father as “The Golden Brett.” Brett joined his father in the Hall of Fame in 2009.
NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Sr and Jr
Dale Earnhardt Sr is without question one of the greatest race car drivers of all time. During the course of his career, Earnhardt won a total of 76 races, including the Daytona 500 in 1998. He earned seven championships, which is tied for the most all time with NASCAR great, Richard Petty. His aggressive driving style earned him the nickname “The Intimidator,” as well as leading to his tragic death after a horrific crash while racing in the 2001 Daytona 500. His son continued the family legacy by building a respectable career of his own. With an estimated net worth of $300 million, Junior has gone on to win the “Most Popular Driver Award,” a record 9 times. Junior won the Daytona 500 in 2004 and has done his best to honor his father in everything that he does.
We hope you enjoyed reading all of these great father-son duos in sports and we encourage you to call your fathers on a daily basis and remind them that it is them who have helped form who you are today. We also want to give a shout out to our grandfathers Herbert Simon and Eugene Riback, for they have been fathering way longer than our dads. Feel free to let us know about any other duos that you feel were unjustly left off this list and we just want to wish every father out there a Happy Father’s Day!
They might not be the teams you support and they might not be the teams you want to watch, but there is no denying how exciting the two NBA playoff games were last night. Basketball fundamentals are what won the games last night with foul shots and defense playing major roles. First, there were the Boston Celtics proving that age does matter against the much younger and faster 76ers. That was followed with Kobe being Kobe and completely taking over the fourth quarter of an intense and important game against the Thunder. Both home teams ended up winning close games in the waning minutes with support from their emotional fans.
In the opening minutes of the game, the Celtics came out firing on all cylinders while Philadelphia struggled to hit a shot. Rajon Rondo was getting his teammates the ball with the same efficiency he did in the regular season that led to him leading the NBA in APG. It didn’t look like Philly stood a chance when the game reached halftime and they were trailing 46-31. Well, whatever coach Collins said to his team at halftime seemed to work. Boston quickly extended their lead to 18 and looked like they were going to pull away with a 3-1 series advantage when something seemed to click in the minds of all the Philadelphia players. Shots started to fall and Philly quickly shrank the deficit and tied the game late in the fourth quarter. That’s when they turned to their most inconsistent offensive player, but team captain, Andre Iguodala. With less then 90 seconds left and the game tied at 83, Iguodala pulled back and drained a jumper over Ray Allen. After a defensive stop, Lou Williams drove down the court and found a wide open Iguodala at the 3-point line and…swish!
“That’s not the first time he found me in that same exact spot,” Iguodala said. “Just not as big a platform as it was tonight. But it worked out for us.”
It worked out and more. The comeback victory was the biggest blown lead in the Boston Celtics playoff history. Now the series is tied 2-2 going back to Boston and it seems like the momentum is on the side of the 8th seeded 76ers.
If there was still a question as to who is the most clutch player in the game is it was answered last night. Kobe Bryant proved why he will be a first ballot hall of fame inductee and why he will go down as one of the greatest players of all time. The Lakers shot a collective 41 of 42 from the foul line, which is the second best free throw shooting performance with at least 30 attempts in playoff history, behind the Mavericks shooting 49 of 50 back in 2003 against the Spurs. Two nights prior, the Lakers blew a 7 point lead in the final 2 minutes in Oklahoma to fall behind the Thunder 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. In this game, the Lakers trailed by 5 with 3 minutes left and depended on clutch play from Kobe to finish out the game with a win. Bryant finished the game 18-18 from the line and 36 points total while leading his team to a 99-96 victory. The two teams meet again tonight in the Lakers first back-to-back playoff games since the last strike-shortened season back in 1999-00.Lets hope that every playoff game from here on out are just as exciting as these two were.