With the NBA season now winding down , teams are jockeying position for the divisional as well as conference berths , with thoughts of qualifying for the postseason . The Miami Heat and the New York Knicks could very well be on a collision course for a meeting at some point during the playoffs. The fans and broadcast outlets will undoubted be hoping that these two titans and avowed foes will meet in the Eastern Conference Finals .
The Eastern Conference is turning out to be quite a competitive staging point this season , but once again it would appear that injuries have played a part in the fates of a number of teams . Stars such as Rajon Rondo , Derrick Rose , Danny Granger , Kevin Love , Dwyane Wade and Amar`e Stoudemire have at some point been sidelined for all or part of the season . And for their respective teams , it has meant them showing their resilience, because of the adversity in question. While we may well choose to overlook this factor , it should be noted that the teams in question have fared well within the conference . With the Heat’s recent twenty-seven consecutive game winning streak coming to an abrupt end , with their assault on the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ record of thirty-three consecutive wins , is at least safe for another season. The focus now , has to be now , how does the team rebound from the disappointment of not being able to equal or surpass that feat . The eyes on the prize , has to be the bigger picture of winning the NBA title . As the defending champions , the Miami Heat knew that a target had been placed on their backs. And that might well have been further exacerbated by the fact , that the franchise , has proven to be relentless in acquiring free agent talent , as evidenced by the Heat’s acquisitions . Ray Allen and Chris Anderson to complement the franchise’s ready collection of “ high-profiled stars “ and role players on the team . And it could be maintained that Allen and Anderson are being well compensated , as contributing to the team’s , and being a part of the Miami Heats’ franchise .
Head coach Erik Spoelstra and the front office led by team President Pat Riley and team owner , Micky Arison have seen the value of the franchise rise exponentially , while remaining competitive and extremely profitable. Ever since the Heat’s acquisition of three-time League MVP , Lebron James , the expectations were and have remained high , with the evidence of that paying off with a rise in the franchise’s value and profits . It is prudent to add in the fact, that the Heat have now become the biggest and best show in town , as they have seen a rise in the attendance levels for the team’s home games at the AA Arena in Miami , Florida , since the star’s acquisition by the franchise. .
The Miami Heat for their part , will now seek cement their lead (ten games ) within the Eastern Conference over the second placed New York Knicks (51-26) and within their division . Currently, that lead within the conference is now at a staggering 10.5 games , with five games left in the regular season , it will be interesting to see how things pan out for the teams seeking to be part of the NBA’s postseason foray .
Wednesday will offer the fans ten games on the day’s schedule with the marquee match-up being the game between the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets . The match-up could add more intrigue in the pecking order of the conference makeup , with both teams vying for the second third places within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference . The Nets are currently the fourth ranked team within the conference , with the Celtics seated as the seventh ranked team , above the eighth ranked Milwaukee Bucks (37-40) . Both teams have had their struggles this season , and this game should go a long way in determining how both teams maintain their composure going into the postseason.
I may well have missed something but for some unknown reason Sacramento city mayor Kevin Johnson , believes it prudent to still chase after pipe-dreams , as he seeks to retain the Sacramento Kings within the state capitol. As you may well be aware, the Kings’ Maloof family have agreed in principle to the sale of the franchise to a consortium led by Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer and venture capital billionaire , Chris Hansen . The duo seek to relocate the team to the city of Seattle and it would appear that the duos bid of $575 million , with Joe and Gavin Maloof still retaining a minority stake in the team. Pending the NBA’s hierarchy and its Board of Governors’ approval , it does appear that the Kings will be relocated .
A last-ditch attempt is being made by Kevin Johnson to have the remain in Sacramento , but his hopes now look to be dashed , as it will be derailed , after Californian real estate mogul , Ron Burkle dropped out of a rival bidding consortium , of which Johnson ,himself, is a member . However, with the departure of Burkle, the most visible and high-profiled member of this syndicate, after some internal frustrations, an d fractured relationships , which the billionaire entrepreneur refuses to address. One might still question why, Johnson would seek to retain a barely profitable enterprise , that remains one of the NBA’s least supported franchises over the last eight seasons. I was once told by a Sacramento native and patron of this site , that the Kings remain a viable franchise , but herein lies the idiocy of that individual’s statement. Yet here are the facts , the Kings remain an uncompetitive , mismanaged franchise, without any leadership on , or off the court . From a financial standpoint, there is little to be desired or to suggest that under GM Geoff Petrie . or the Maloof family, that they would have been able to turn things around , much less where the meager fans in attendance, could hold out any sort of hope that this team could be resurgent once again.
Courtesy of CBS Sports
By Royce Young, NBA Writer
On the surface, it seems like a major blow for Sacramento in its fight to keep the Kings. With 10 days to go before the NBA Board of Governors decides the future of the franchise, billionaire investor Ron Burkle is pulling out.
Why? Because of a conflict of interest. Via the Sacramento Bee:
Facing questions over a conflict of interest, Burkle instead will focus on redeveloping other portions of Downtown Plaza. “He’s so committed to Sacramento,” the mayor said, adding that he spoke with Burkle on Monday. “There’s a host of ancillary development opportunities that Ron will participate in.”
Burkle was going to take the lead in developing the proposed $448 million arena and would have held a small ownership stake in the team. Sacramento officials had said his presence was a huge asset in part because he successfully developed a new arena three years ago for his hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Burkle is part-owner of Relativity Sports, which manages some NBA players’ careers.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson insists Burkle’s departure won’t hurt the city’s chances to keep the team, instead claiming other investors were going step in and fill the hole.
“I don’t look at this as a slow-up or a hiccup,” Johnson said, via the Bee. “We won’t miss a beat.”
With Burkle taking a step back, Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov are going to be “lead investors” of the group. The report also says the Jacobs family of San Diego, who founded Qualcomm telecommunications, would take on a more significant ownership role.
The Jacobses didn’t join the Kings effort until late March and have kept a low profile. One of the family’s members, Jeff Jacobs, issued a statement Monday saying “we are thrilled to join Vivek and Mark in their efforts to keep the Kings in California and revitalize Sacramento.”
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has announced a new investor to help fill the role vacated by billionaire Ron Burkle in the city’s bid to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle.
Johnson also said Tuesday that Sacramento developer Mark Friedman has joined the group. Friedman will help build the planned arena downtown.
Burkle still plans on having a part in solidifying the future of the Kings in Sacramento, though, as he plans to work on developing the downtown area around the new arena.
Burkle was the original investor to step up in an effort to match the Seattle group’s bid for the Kings after the Maloofs reportedly sold the team for $525 million. He also stepped up in 2011 while the Maloofs angled for a move to Anaheim and helped shut down that.
“The Maloofs do not like Burkle,” sports-law expert Michael McCann told the Bee. “By removing him from the story … it could end up helping Sacramento.”
The Sacramento Kings, is a franchise in name only , and the sole purpose, has to be placing a public face to this issue , for the residents to witness how inept and incompetent they have been . It simply makes no sense to retain a franchise within a city that itself has its own budgetary crunch , with the mayor now seeking an assist from private enterprise , as well as using public funds in seeking to retain a beleaguered NBA franchise . Yet somehow , this, has been the rallying call of Kevin Johnson . I simply wonder if the residents in the state capitol are fully cognizant of that fact ?
Well, Kobe Bryant may well have reiterated what many of us are coming to grips with , and that is , this may well be the player’s penultimate or final season in the NBA . Now a seventeen-year veteran in the NBA , having entered the league as a draftee of the then Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft as the thirteenth pick overall in the first round . How different might the fortunes of both the Los Angeles Lakers and Bobcats may well have been , had not then Lakers’ GM Jerry West pulled the trigger on a deal that brought Bryant to the Lakers in exchange for some nondescript entities superfluous to that franchise’s needs . Five NBA titles , four All Star MVP awards , two NBA Finals’ MVP awards and a League MVP award , along fourteen All Star Appearances , have pretty much cemented Bryant’s legacy in the NBA and the game’s history. Granted , the one accolade that might escape Kobe Bryant should he choose to retire at the end of this postseason , will be the chance to supplant Kareem Abdul Jabbar as the NBA’s most prolific scorer in terms of career points (38,387). Bryant currently holds the record amongst active players with 31,506 points which presently places him fourth all-time in regular season career points. He also sits third all-time in career postseason points with 5,640 in the postseason , all amassed with the Los Angeles Lakers .
This season for the Lakers , after the initial managerial upheaval , there were still frailties concerning this team , in spite of the additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash . Head coach, Mike D’Antoni has been entrusted to run this ship , while executives Jim Buss , son of the late owner , Dr. Jerry Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak have presided over the drama and subplots , that have made up the Lakers’ soap opera season . Often critical of his teammates , Bryant has had to temper his angst , in order to produce as only he can , on a roster that really does lack cohesion , in spite of what their recent record might suggest. He remains the leading scorer and the second leading provider of opportunities in terms of assists per game for the team . If the Lakers are to prevail in the postseason , in the aftermath of Bryant’s prediction and guarantee of a playoff berth , then in all honesty every player on this roster will have to raise the level of their play over the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs , itself. Anything short of that , and it will be all for nothing .
Tuesday night , Mike D’Antoni’s players “downed “ the New Orleans Hornets 104-96 in something of an uncompetitive game during its latter stages , without their being a genuine effort on the part of the away team ,in seeking to derail their more renowned Southern Californian rivals. Next up for the Lakers will be an away game against the Portland Trailblazers (33-44) , led by leading Rookie of the Year Candidate , Damian Lillard who will be ably assisted by teammates , LaMarcus Aldridge , Nicolas Batum , Jared Jeffries , Luke Babbitt , Wesley Matthews and J J Hickson . Blazers’ head coach Terry Stotts , will be looking for a spirited late run from his players , knowing that they have missed out on a playoff berth , with some missteps along the way during their season . With a central core built around Aldridge and Lillard , I believe that the Blazers’ front office , can acquire the players needed to place this franchise amongst the elite within the conference , with a view of making a genuine run of winning an NBA title. GM Neil Olshey certainly has the credentials to make this reality .
Having injured during the 2012 NBA playoffs , the Chicago Bulls’ , Derrick Rose , it was felt would take enough time to recuperate from what was thought at the time to be a serious injury , but not a career threatening catastrophe . Now at almost at the culmination of the Bulls’ regular season schedule , and the point guard and 2011 League MVP , has yet to suit up in a Bulls’ uniform for a game this season . With the player sidelined and unable to give a definitive time or any expectation , as to his return , head coach Tom Thibodeau is now left with the unenviable task of having to choose whether not to include Rose as part of the Bulls’ postseason roster. Rose has stated that his practices have been almost “near perfect” , with his body back to almost being in game shape. However, Derrick Rose’s issues now , might not be physical , but more psychological , as there seems to be a fear of re-injury , as it relates to his torn ACL and MCL. It would be something of a shock , were the young point guard’s career come to an abrupt end , having never fully reached the undoubted that many believe Rose has. From my own perspective , if the player is unable to play , then the coaching staff and front office need not take the risk of having him be a part of the roster as they enter into to the postseason ! That may sound somewhat cynical , but I feel given the investment made in Derrick Rose , he is seen as the heir apparent to Michael Jordan and the face of the franchise’s future . It is prudent if the player returns under his own time-frame , even if the fans and public alike , would like to see his quick return.
The Chicago Bulls were formidable enough to show the fans what they were capable of , when they derailed the Miami Heat’s quest in surpassing the Lakers’ consecutive games’ win streak , when they defeated LeBron James and his teammates’ quest for basketball immortality . A Bulls’ team showing that type of resolve and resilience is quite capable of derailing the hopes of some the Eastern Conference’s more prominent teams . A first round match-up based on the current conference standings, would pit the fifth seeded Bulls, against the fourth seed , Brooklyn Nets . It should come as no surprise that the Chicago Bulls leads the Brooklyn Nets 3-1 in their season series , in their meetings during the 2012-13 season . The Bulls also lead their potential postseason counterparts by an almost similar margin when it comes to their match-ups. Dating back to their first to their first meeting in 1998 at that stage of the NBA calendar , the franchise holds a 3-0 mark over the Brooklyn Nets.
In recent seasons the Minnesota Timberwolves’ — Kevin Love has evolved into one of the best Power forwards / centers in the NBA . Love’s evolution from an awkward angular player into on an offensive and rebounding giant has made him a superstar in the NBA , as well as an Olympian and member of Team USA’s gold medal winning team in London. And Love is handsomely paid for his prowess by the Timberwolves , and he is amongst the highest paid players at his position in the NBA .
Kevin Love has been sidelined with a fractured right hand which has prolonged his stay on the sidelines this season for the Timberwolves . With his being on the bench , although he has suited up for a mere eighteen games , it has been left to Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko , to lead this team from an offensive and defensive standpoint . With Timberwolves’ head coach Rick Adelman and his staff being entrusted to guide this team , it will be interesting to see how the franchise manages to steer their way through the remainder of the season , while looking forward to next season and the presumed imminent return of Kevin Love. Adelman recently became the eighth coach in NBA history to have won 1,000 games over the course his coaching career . The all-time NBA leader is Don Nelson with the figure of 1,335 wins over the course of thirty-three year coaching career in the league . With that in mind consider the fact that amongst active coaches of which Adelman is now the current active wins’ leader . The next coach expected to pass that milestone will be the San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich (904 wins). That feat is likely to be accomplished with the franchise at some point during the during the 2014-15 NBA season .
The San Antonio Spurs may not be viewed as one of the glamor teams within the NBA , and while all of the hullabaloo tends to be about the Heat and the Knicks . Consider the fact, that , this will be the fourteenth consecutive season that the franchise has made it to the postseason , while averaging .. 50 wins per season . And yet the hype has been about the New York Knicks and their recent unbeaten run . Let’s get real for once , until this Knicks’ team has achieved something of relevance , simply don’t go overboard , because in reality the franchise has languished for four decades hoping for the “winds of change “ . And no amount regaling by the fans about past and current feats , can hide the years of inconsistency and gross mismanagement . The fans and prognosticators alike , tend to show their apathy , rather addressing both the positives and negatives concerning the Knicks’ franchise .
While the Eastern Conference has been granted with the presence, privilege and confidence of knowing that they have the reigning NBA champions within their midst . It must be said that this season, the occupants within the rival conference , the West , will try to do their damnedest to make sure that their Finals’ representative will be the best that the Western Conference has to offer . With the conference now locked with a two-way tie atop with the Oklahoma City Thunder (57-21) and San Antonio Spurs now sharing the best record in the conference, as well as within the NBA as a whole . It certainly will be interesting, to see how things play out, over the four games remaining over the course of the NBA schedule. Though the brackets have yet to be locked into place, as to who the first round match-ups will be , the prevailing thought appears to be, the way things are situated at present , will be as such, be representative of the first round series we are likely to see . With the Thunder holding the tie-break in their series this season against the Spurs , the chance for San Antonio to end up with the best record within the conference will mean the team having close out their schedule with at least three wins , with the hope that Kevin Durant and the Thunder drop at least one of their four remaining games on their schedule .
By clicking on an individual frame you can that picture in a newly formatted size .
Picture gallery .
As the regular season winds down what if anything to your mind has been the most memorable moment or team this season by way of expected or unexpected success ? And to your mind which player or players have impressed you the most , with regard to their attitude, and overall play ? Chime in, with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade , left, sits on the bench with forward LeBron James during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Tuesday, April 9, 2013 in Miami. Wade was ruled out of Tuesday’s home game against the Bucks, the fifth straight contest that the All-Star guard will miss while tending to a sprained ankle and bruised knee. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee …
(2) WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 10: Shane Battier (31) of the Miami Heat and Ray Allen (34) of the Miami Heat celebrate a victory over the Washington Wizards on April 10, 2013 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images …
(3) Boston Celtics power forward Brandon Bass (30) dunks over Brooklyn Nets’ center Brook Lopez (11) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …
(4) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 3: Rajon Rondo (9) of the Boston Celtics practices shooting prior to a game against the Detroit Pistons on April 3, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Rondo, who is out for the remainder of the season, underwent ACL surgery in February. The point out with a torn ACL , now looks to recuperate during the off-season , with the hope of making a comeback for the 2013-14 season . Back up point guard , Jason Terry will be asked assume the role successfully filled by Rondo for much of his career with the Celtics . However , also on the roster , Celtics’ head coach Doc Rivers does also have the privilege of the use of using Avery Bradley , Jordan Crawford , Courtney Lee and Terrence Williams . Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images …..
(5) City of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson , center , is seen here speaking to the convened , press after a hastily arranged meeting, to explain the last-minute withdrawal of billionaire real estate mogul , Ron Burkle . The billionaire investor, an avid sports’ fan is happens to be the nemesis of the Maloof Family , owners of the Sacramento Kings, the franchise which Johnson hopes to retain within the California state capitol. However, it is also being rumored that Ron Burkle also has a conflict of interest in such a proposal , as he is also involved in a consortium seeking to develop the downtown Los Angeles city area , with a view to building $3.5 billion commercial and retail project that will also house a football stadium , with a view to either luring a relocated and existing NFL franchise or with the hope adding a new Los Angelean NFL team to the NFL’s thirty existing teams . AP Photo / Keith Marshall ………….
(6) Famed real estate mogul , entrepreneur and political Democratic power broker Ron Burkle . The businessman for what are said to be , personal and professional reasons, has dropped out of a consortium that sought to lodge a rival bid , in pursuant of the proposed bid made by rival suitors Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer , who as a duo have agreed in principle to buy and relocate the Sacramento Kings and move that franchise to Seattle , Washington , state . In what will undoubtedly be seen as a last-ditch effort by the Sacramento city mayor , Hansen and Ballmer’s bid , now only seeks the NBA hierarchy and Board of Governors’ final seal of approval. NBA Commissioner , David Stern has not commented publicly on the efforts of Kevin Johnson and his attempt to retain the Kings’ franchise in Sacramento . AP Photo / Tim Marshall …
(7) Timberwolves’ head coach Rick Adelman , is seen on the sidelines talking to his star center and forward, Kevin Love . The two have a very respectful relationship , that has seen Love’s career blossom over the past few seasons . However , with the player being lost to the team for much of this season , the Minnesota Timberwolves have labored after a promising start to the year . It is hoped that Love will make a fully recovery from his wrist injury to be a part of the franchise’s off-season workouts . Getty Images North America / Christian Hernandez ……….
(8) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant , left, drives on Portland Trail Blazers guard Will Barton during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Bryant scored a season high 47 points , leading all scorers in the game against the Trailblazers . AP Photo/Don Ryan ….
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