True Hoops

True Hoops

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Random Thoughts from the All-Star game

I realize now that we are in the midst of STAR WARS between New York and New Jersey.
I realize now that Carmelo has played his first game as a knick
But I started writing this post before the Carmelo and Deron Williams trades went down.

So let me get this one out of the way before it becomes entirely irrelevant, as some of my points are already starting to be adjusted (I have written some additional comments made after the trades in parenthesis).

Here is what I took away from the All-Star game......

Kobe is still the certain situations
When he is rested. When he is healthy. When he takes good shots. When he lets the game come to him. When he lets his skills take over.

Sometimes he tries too hard in real games, but when the moment is big Kobe is great. Certainly in an all-star venue, when the game becomes a show and he becomes an entertainer, Kobe has fun and we have fun watching him.

Did anyone really doubt he was taking home the trophy at the end of the night? 37 and 14, light.
And the bounce he had in his game was amazing, ask D. Rose and LeBron.

Interestingly enough, when the game got serious down the stretch, and the intensity on both sides picked up. Kobe wasn't as dominate. Which means that at this stage in his career, some people may actually be able to check him, for at least some possessions.

Which means the rise or even realization of the new best player is already here......

LeBron is the every other situation
This guy is amazing. In the 3rd he got dunked on by Kobe and had several turnovers that helped push the west's lead. Well, someone forgot to tell him this was an All-Star game and to take it easy. He went into full attack mode in the 4th and almost single handedly brought the east back to win. That's how nice he is; he can mess around for three quarters and still finish with a triple double - against the league's best. It was only the second in all star history (29, 12 and 10 assists).

And he did it not with skill, but just being a straight up bully by grabbing rebounds and running down the court while daring someone to jump with him.

Still, for all his dominance in the 4th, There was a telling possession late in the game. Down by four with around a minute to go LeBron had a chance to cut the lead to one with an open three. Instead he passed the ball to Chris Bosh to take the shot, who missed.

Come on buddy, YOU have to take that shot......

Kevin Durant will take the big shot
With the east cutting the lead to two, it was Durant who pushed back with a jumper to get it back to 4 and then a three to push it to 7. Kobe finished with 37, but really should thank Durant, who finished with 34, for securing his hometown victory and MVP trophy.

Some say Durant is better than LeBron. I am NOT one of those people. Some say he will be better than LeBron. I am NOT one of those people. Some say he is more willing to take and make the big shots than LeBron. I......
"Excuse me."

Amar'e Stoudemire is big time
Thought he was slowing down after his MVP caliber start? He tied LeBron for the east lead in scoring with 29. What if LeBron did team up with him in NY? He used to be a Blake Griffin type all-star - only catching highlight dunks. But this time he did it with skill, knocking down multiple jump shots including a three late in the game to cut the lead back down to 4. Not to mention his lob pass to Dwight Howard for a dunk in the 1st quarter. What if Howard teams up with Amar'e in NY?

The game came down to Kobe and KD vs. LeBron and Amar'e. While the west won, I'm glad the knicks had someone representing them as the best of the best (Now with Carmelo, we have two!)......

Blake Griffin is a force to be reckoned with......but not yet
Leave it to coach Poppovich to put the rookie in his place by keeping it old school and not playing him too much. It just goes to show you how many levels there are in the NBA. Griffin has taken the game by storm just by harnessing his raw power and athleticism. But to have real success in the NBA, you have to combine that with extraordinary skills, both mental and physical.

In a game of this caliber he is just there to catch ally-oops and put on a show. Although as with Amar'e, Griffin will get there, and soon......

A taste of things to come 
Russel westbrook is a problem.

My brother likes to remind me, he knew Russel Westbrook was nice a long time ago. I on the other hand didn't jump on the band wagon until I saw him play live in their first ever playoff game at OKC against the Lakers. It was the game he dunked on Lamar Odom.

While he didn't kill in the All-star game, you saw flashes of what he can do. His fastbreak dunk in the 2nd quarter made me flinch and text my brother. And the move he put on D. Wade in the 2nd quarter made my brother text me.
Take a good look at that move, he crossed up one of the top 3 players in the world...and made the jump shot......

A taste of things to come
Watching that Westbrook vs. Wade possession was amazing. As it will be in during the 2012 finals.

After I saw OKC play the lakers, last spring, I walked out of the arena thinking they could win a championship in three years. After Miami got LeBron and Bosh, I thought they could win four championships in the next six years.

Somethings got to give.

At the beginning of the year I told a friend of mine that OKC and Miami were the teams of the not too distant future, assuming their rosters don't change too much. He laughed when I told him OKC would match up well:
Durant vs. LeBron
Westbrook vs. Wade
Green (or Ibaka) vs. Bosh
He said to me "Westbrook is not in the same league as Wade."
I beg to differ. I'm not saying he is better, but he can compete at that level.

This would be an epic battle.

(Although, things have already changed in the last two days. If the Knicks add Chris Paul to Melo and Amar'e - even though I would prefer Williams - they would give the Heat a run for their money. Not to mention if the Nets add Dwight Howard to Williams in Brooklyn)......

Game recognize game
"We are going to kill in the second half."
NBA players and coaches seem to really respect what Carmelo anthony can do.
Last year in Dallas he took the last shot of the game to try to win it for the west - even though Dirk was the home favorite. He missed.

This year,  other than his  interview with Craig Sager (and Kobe, and Chris Paul) , Carmelo didn't have an impact on the game. Still he was on the court at the end of the game when it mattered most.

It seems that everyone knows how dangerous of a player he is and has the ability to  pretty much score at will.

When asked about (at that time) a potential trade for Melo, Kobe responded: "Melo is a bad boy."

Game recognize game
What I love about the All-star game is that you get to see so many differnt permutations of basketball players together that you otherwise would never see. Both on the same team and competing against one another.

Additionally, it is the one time in which it is okay for rival players to appreciate and complement - both literally and figuratively - one another.

Take a look after Kobe's reverse baseline dunk. I just smiled seeing Dirk Nowitzki's reaction, and then sharing his thoughts with Russel Westbrook and Blake Griffin next to him.

Sometimes it's okay to be a fan of your peers......

"Quick, take a picture!"

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