Thursday, January 07, 2010

Friday's Best Games (on January 8, 2010)

Die hard NBA fans as well as the general public has figured out that the NBA is star driven league. Whether advertising the likes of Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony; we all know that stars sell tickets. However, considering the amount of teams we have in the NBA, it’s not always a given that you will be able to watch a game every night with stars on opposite teams. In that sense, the NBA regular season is like hitting the clubs: some nights you get to see the crowd pleasers, and some nights you get to see the crowd teasers (the people that look good in the dark after a few beers). However, when you get the chance to catch a game with multiple stars, that’s when you tune in ladies and gentlemen. On Friday night, the NBA will serve us with a treat; as we will have the chance to watch two games involving some of the leagues best.

Miami Heat (17-16) @ Phoenix Suns (23-13)
The Miami Heat currently reside in the fifth spot of the Eastern Conference standings. Quite frankly, at this juncture in the season, the Heat should view this as a disappointment. Let me get Katt Williams to break it down for you.
 Katt Williams : “I only hook up with people that keep doing things better and better and better. If you did a surprise birthday party last year, I’m not doing it again this year cuz  that was last year’s thing. I try to keep things pushing around here. All I’m saying is if you been selling weed since 1999 and you ain’t moved on to coke, I don’t know what you’re doing.”
Thank you for dropping some science Katt. My point is that Miami was the fifth seed in the East last year, they need to upgrade their spot this year. The reason? Dwyane Wade is in the hunt for a championship; and if the team isn’t going to build a championship contender around him, I guarantee you that Wade is going to find a team willing to make that commitment. As a result, Pat Riley should be spending his days on the phone trying to convince, coerce or blackmail rival general managers into making a lopsided trade with him. Let’s be real, in order to get an All-Star caliber player, the only recourse the Heat has is to trade some expiring contracts (which they have) to a team who’s season is going no where. Here is the list of All-Star type players trapped on bad teams:
-Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers
-Devin Harris, New Jersey Nets
-Caron Butler, Washington Wizards
-Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards (currently suspended)
-Antawn Jamison, Washington Wizards
-Baron Davis, Los Angeles Clippers
-Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers
-Montae Ellis, Golden State Warriors
-Al Jefferson, Minnesota Timberwolves

That’s a pretty substantial list and quite frankly I expect Miami to be in the thick of things at the trade deadline because standing pat is not an option currently. If the expiring contracts are not enough as bait, then Riley will have to hire some *ahem* model ladies to hang out with some of the general managers and then take compromising pictures of them that he would threaten to release on the internet if they failed to comply with their trade demands (you know, sort of like what happened with the Pau Gasol trade….I kid, I kid). Until Miami is able to make some sort of change in their player personnel, they will have Dwyane Wade carry the load and look practically invincible while his teammates falter as the team continues to play .500 ball. Although Wade will probably have a monster game in the desert, expect the Suns to run them out of the building. Pick: Suns win 115-110.

Cleveland Cavaliers (28-9) @ Denver Nuggets (22-13)
Back in June 2003, the three biggest prizes in the NBA Draft were widely assumed to be (in this specific order):
1. LeBron James
2. Darko Milicic (admit it, you forgot about the great Darko huh?)
3. Carmelo Anthony

With all due respect to Paul Pierce, the marquee small forwards in the NBA right now are none other than LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Ironically enough, if their teams become legitimately good enough at the same time, these guys might give us the best rivalry since Bird and Magic. You just shook your head and said to yourself: “this dude needs to lay off the crack and cough syrup”.  But hear me out; what made Bird and Magic memorable was the fact that they were phenomenal basketball players on phenomenal teams that consistently battled one another for the NBA title. What was the one thing that could have thrown the best rivalry in sports to another level? Think about this one….Cat got your tongue? Good thing I’m here. The one thing that could have pushed the Bird-Magic rivalry to an orgasmic level (yes I just used the word orgasmic in an NBA article) would have been if Bird and Magic both played the same position. Not only would we see a champion crowned, but we would also get a definitive answer on which player was better.

Think about it, Carmelo Anthony was the guy as a freshman for a Syracuse team that won a national championship. He then declared for the NBA Draft and watched a high school player be taken number one overall (a high school player named LeBron James) while he slipped to the number three spot. If that wasn’t enough, Carmelo Anthony led his Denver Nuggets to the playoffs in his first season and yet watched the NBA declare LeBron James the Rookie of the Year. LeBron has since won two NBA All-Star Game MVP trophies and one NBA League MVP trophy. In addition, King James has had a trip to the NBA Finals whereas up until last year, Melo had been unable to make it out of the first round. If the equivalent of this had been happening in the music industry with Beyonce and Britney Spears, all the tabloids would have written stories about how Britney was jealous of all the attention that Beyonce was getting. And yet, Melo and LeBron don't seem to garner any attention at all in the media. As much as people think that Kobe Bryant has a worthy rival in LeBron James; the guys just don't have the history together. Mind you, Anthony and James have played against one another in high school, they have played together in the Rookie-Sophomore game and they have played together on Team USA. All that we need now is for these guys to play each other at some point in the NBA Finals. If we're lucky enough for this to happen, that's when all of these stories will reach the national spotlight. But until then, people will continue to like Carmelo Anthony, but the masses will keep on loving LeBron James. You better bet your bottom dollar that Melo hates it and can’t wait for fans to focus all their attention on him. For one night, he’ll get his wish. Pick: Nuggets win 102-99.
Quick note: Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups are both listed as questionable for the game against the Cavaliers, but I pretty much expect players to suit up.

Photos by: Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images
Found on: ESPN