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?
Let’s get something straight, I understand that the New York Knicks have not made it easy on their fans over the past 12 years but all the whining is getting old. There are two types of Knicks fans in the world, one that bleeds orange and blue while keeping faith and supporting their team all the time, and the other is a pouting little bitch that complains about any move the organization makes and pulls their vintage Starks jersey out of the closet once the team starts winning again. I understand the Knicks have been awful in recent years and they have been the comedic punching bag of the NBA for over 10 years, but unless you are blind you can’t deny the organization has been working their asses off to turn things around.
It seems that all of these bootleg Knicks fan’s minds have been permanently tainted by the horrid dark years that the moron Isiah Thomas was responsible for in the early 2000’s. The fact of the matter is that the Knicks are not far off from becoming a contender once again in the Eastern Conference. Sure in the last two season’s, the Knicks have been eliminated embarrassingly from the first round of the playoffs but there were outstanding circumstances that definitely were not in their favor. Between Stoudemire’s stupidity and an endless array of injuries, the Knicks really didn’t have a chance in either of those series.
In the Knicks most recent attempt to bring success back to the world’s most famous arena, they came to terms with Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks. The second I heard this news I knew that every Knicks “fan” that has been drinking their ‘Hater’ade on a daily basis was going to come out of their shell to criticize this signing without thinking the move over. What they see is a washed up point guard at the end of his career, what I see is one of the greatest point guards that the NBA has ever seen who is only 2 years removed from winning the NBA Championship as the starting PG. I understand Kidd is not the player he once was, but if you honestly don’t think he can help improve the Knicks than you should take your head out of your ass.
Let’s put it into perspective. The Knicks have one of the most talented scorer’s in the world in Carmelo Anthony. They have the second best defensive Center in the NBA in Tyson Chandler, who just won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year by the way. They have a highly talented and young Iman Shumpert, who definitely proved he can play with the big boys last season, and they are most likely going to retain the young phenomenon, Jeremy Lin. Now I can mention Amare as a formidable player, but he has given me no reason to do so.
With all that being said, I have a few reason’s why this Jason Kidd acquisition will work in the Knicks favor. If nothing else, Jeremy Lin will be able to play out his most impressionable years in the NBA under the tutelage of one of the smartest players to ever step foot on the hardwood. Kidd also has proven chemistry with Tyson Chandler, as they were both integral parts around Dirk Nowitzki during the Mavericks championship run just two years ago. Another positive that comes with Kidd is that he demands absolutely no offensive possessions, and in the isolation style of basketball that the Knicks play, that is very good news. Those should be enough reason’s to get some of these haters to shut up for a moment.
Now I am sure some of you will come at me with rubbish like, “well Melo and Amare can’t play together,” or “Lin was a flash in the pan and will suck now,” or even “Kidd is just going to be another Baron Davis.” All I can say to that is that you should just wait and see because nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen. I’m not an idiot, of course I would have rather had Steve Nash at the point, but once he was scooped up by the Lakers, Kidd was the next best choice and not such a bad one at that. Unless you wanted the Knicks to resign Raymond Felton, they went with the right choice. Mike Woodson will now have a complete off-season to get his team together and maybe build some chemistry that has been nonexistent for the past two years and if everyone can stay healthy the Knicks will be a team to fear. Will the Knicks be on the same level as the Miami Heat? Of course not, but no one will. So all I ask is that all of you crybaby supposed Knicks fan’s just shut up and roll with the punches because I see good things ahead.
What a ride! Whether you were happy or sad, the Knicks gave us all a lot to follow this season. In what I can only describe as the craziest season I have ever witnessed in my 28 years of being a Knicks fan, New York was the headline of many sports news stories both good and bad. It was a strike-shortened season filled with free agent signings, an array of injuries, coaching changes, upsets and disappointments all wrapped around a once unknown Asian-American Harvard graduate that sparked a worldwide phenomenon known as “Linsanity.” With their season ending Wednesday night in Miami, in yet another first round playoff disappointment, the Knicks put their fans through a whirlwind of emotions and brought a spotlight to New York that has been missing since the days of Patrick Ewing and company. Although another losing season, Knicks fans can tell you that there is a lot to look forward to for the 2012-13 season. But before we get into that let’s talk about how this season unfolded.
As the summer rolled around I was struck with heart-breaking news that there might not be an NBA season due to a lockout. The players and owners were stuck in heated contract negotiation battles that played out through October and pinned the idea of a lost season in every fans minds. Luckily towards the end of November negotiations came to an end and a strike-shortened NBA season was slated to begin on Christmas weekend. Every owner in the league scrambled frantically to sign any available free agents to help solidify their respective teams, knowing full well that there would not be any time to truly develop chemistry. Some can argue that the Knicks acquired the most coveted free agent by signing the newly crowned world champion center, Tyson Chandler.Already starting two all-stars in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks looked like they added that final piece to complete their “Big 3” that seems to be essential towards making a playoff run (i.e. Boston’s Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Miami’s James, Wade and Bosh.) Unfortunately for the Knicks, it does not come that easily. Forgetting to address the immediate need for a PG proved to be detrimental to the Knicks early season. To end last season the Knicks had a veteran point guard in Chauncy Billups but they had to release him to open enough salary cap room for the Chandler signing. The Knicks scurried to find help for their newly appointed starting PG Toney Douglas and picked up veterans Mike Bibby and Baron Davis, whom was still rehabbing his back injury from the prior season.
The Knicks opening day starting lineup was Douglas and Fields in the back court and Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler filling out what was considered the best front court coming into the NBA season. The Knicks came out of their Christmas Day opener with a victory over their division rival Boston Celtics, but after that, all seemed to go haywire. In the opener, the Knicks saw huge potential in their rookie Iman Shumpert, but he was the first to be bitten by the injury bug that seemed to set up camp in the Knicks locker room this season. Having to fill the voids left by injury and incompetency, Knicks management brought in a couple of guys who had been waived by their teams to open the season. Steve Novak and Jeremy Lin were supposed to be bench fillers as they were relatively unknown among NBA fans. But on the day Novak was signed, New York’s former coach as well as Novak’s coach in Houston for a season, Jeff Van Gundy claimed that the Knicks just signed the best shooter in the NBA. It was a bold statement about someone who was now playing for his fifth team in as many years, but Van Gundy is a smart man and you will hear why as you read on.
This season was considered Mike D’Antoni’s last chance to have a successful season if he wanted to remain the Knicks head coach. It turns out that he was willing to try and do anything to find camaraderie among his team that would prove to be successful.
After an 8-15 start, D’Antoni’s “hot-seat” was scorching so he looked to the end of his bench for some answers.Enter “Linsanity!” He was a day away from being cut by his third team of the season and he had absolutely nothing to lose. He took advantage of that mentality by completely abusing the former New Jersey Nets by putting up a then career high 25 points. From that day on, Jeremy Lin became a household name and he took the NBA by storm. Jeremy and the Knicks assembled a 7 game winning streak a quickly became relevant once again. For the time being, D’Anotni’s job seemed secure and the Knicks looked to make a playoff push with their newly found PG.
Off his extremely auspicious season across seas in China, J.R Smith came to the Knicks with the hope to solidify their bench. As “Linsanity” grew to be the topic among every sports medium, the Knicks quickly compiled a new popular look on their bench that became known as “Mobb Deep.” With 3-point specialist Steve Novak, the entertaining but often erratic Smith, the defensive stud Jared Jeffries, the high energy Iman Shumpert, and the newly healthy veteran Baron Davis, the Knicks bench looked better than a lot of NBA team starting lineups. After injuries to Anthony and Stoudemire during this new and exciting stretch, some of Mobb Deep had to step up and fill in voids in the starting lineup. Everything seemed to be working just fine until the two superstars returned. Bill Nye would have been furious with the lack of chemistry from there because nothing seemed to work no matter what D’Antoni tried. They dropped 6 games in a row and D’Antoni couldn’t take it any more, so he handed in his resignation forms and said adios to the Knicks.
The Knicks had a back up plan and his name was Mike Woodson. The once noteworthy coach of the Atlanta Hawks, Woodson was brought in at the beginning of the season to help improve the Knicks defense. He did that and more. Once he took over the reigns of a slowly dissipating Knicks team, a new found effort seemed to be shown between the players. They went on a quick 6-game winning streak becoming a .500 team once again and they didn’t stop there. During this hot streak for the Knicks, Jeremy Lin suffered a devastating knee injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Once again the roll players were called upon to salvage their roller-coaster season.
The Knicks defense went from being a much improved defense from a year ago to the best defense in the NBA from the point that Woodson took over. Chandler showed why he was the most coveted free agent by completely shutting down the middle and making everyone around him play better. His tenacious defense led Chandler to become the first New York Knicks player to ever win Defensive Player of the Year. Chandler also finished the season with the best field goal percentage, not only in the NBA for the season but the third best of all time behind Wilt Chamberlain two separate times. Steve Novak was the other Knicks stand out roll player. Novak finished the regular season with an NBA best 47% from 3-point range. Steve Novak added a bolt of electricity through the Madison Square Garden faithful every time he touched the ball. It was really exciting to watch him perform his best “discount-double check” when he hit the big 3’s.
With these two star performers and Carmelo Anthony playing his best basketball ever as a member of the Knicks, all seemed to be looking alright.
With the team fighting off a late season injury to Amare Stoudemire they slowly prepared themselves for the playoffs. Late in the regular season, the Knicks were in a heated push to the playoffs with only two seeds left and three teams battling. The Knicks showed their heart and tenacity under Woodson by finishing the season with an 18-6 record and a 7th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Regrettably, that put them face-to-face with their long time rival and NBA hated, Miami Heat.
This was the first time that long time friends and former High School opponents Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony ever faced each other in the postseason. To make a long story short, the Knicks got their asses handed to them in game 1, where they not only lost their rookie phenom Iman Shumpert to injury, but they lost any hope of winning the series. Game 2 followed with the same frustrations and then Amare thought it would be wise to use glass as a punching bag. Game 3 came and went with no change in the outcome. As the fourth game approached, the Knicks grew some cojones and won a tight match-up which only delayed the inevitable and possibly ended Baron Davis’ career with a devastating knee injury. Does anyone see a common theme throughout this article? After losing game five, the Knicks were eliminated and left to think about their future.
A Future with many questions. Who will be the coach next season? Did Woodson do enough to keep his job, or will the Knicks recruit Phil Jackson? Will Jeremy Lin be the starting PG next year or will the Knicks try to bring in Steve Nash? All I know is that New York has all off-season to get healthy and regroup. Address the issues that require addressing and focus on becoming the Knicks team they should be. My emotions as a Knicks fan were played with all season but I never gave up hope.
There’s always next year!