Launching paper planes and making excuses

Launching paper planes and making excuses

Isn’t it amazing how soon we forget after proselytizing as to the greatness of a team , and once they have fallen from grace , we tend to start to make excuses for the prognostications and false claims . In the world of politics that has always been the norm. In the aftermath, of the New York Knicks’ exit from the postseason , all of the diagnosis has begun . And I might add, those who bore false witness are now running for the hills seeking still trying to seek some positives from what has been a monumental mess concerning the postseason . Granted , the Knicks and Mike Woodson came through the first round unscathed with a none too competitive first round series’ win over an aging and some might say clearly mismatched Boston Celtics’ team in a rousing 4-2 series` victory .

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The New York Knicks’ season was filled with highs and lows , with the team ending their sojourn with a 54-28 record , good enough to be the second seed in the Eastern Conference , finishing twelve games behind the Miami Heat (66-16) . A great deal of the Knicks’ failures during the postseason can be summed up with the fact that this team is simply not , defensive minded , lacks the competency to play it with any great authority , in spite of the claims of the supporters of the team who claim to the contrary . And a few games , to where the Knicks held the Celtics, to under eighty points in their first round does not point or indicate to the fact that the team can play defense with any presumed authority . To believe that , would be to suggest that the Knicks would be able to make it the norm , as it relates to their play. One ought to note that the Boston Celtics are an offense challenged team to begin with , where scoring is simply not a premium , in where having to place their faith in an aging Paul Piece indicates the magnitude that they had as a unit , when there was no else capable on the roster to carry that burden of scoring .

Having dispatched the Celtics , the New York Knicks were faced with having to go up against the NBA’s best defensive team during the regular and fourth best in postseason . The Indiana Pacers , coached by Frank Vogel , are well coached and play as a team , rather than as a disproportional edifice , where the play of a lone superstar dictates the play overall of that team . Much as it is in the case of the New York Knicks and their having Carmelo Anthony be the “tip of the spear “ and foil for just about everything that they do from an offensive standpoint . There is no doubt that the New York Knicks were favored to win this Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Indiana Pacers , and that is even now with the all too dubious claims of the Knicks’ supporters who would now have you believe that all they were hoping for was simply a berth in the playoffs . All well and good , but in reality , the Knicks’ front office , players and fans , had ambitions and were looking towards a potential Conference Finals’ series against LeBron James and the Miami Heat . Alas , it was not to be , and one could point to a number of reasons behind the team’s failure in the postseason. As laudable as it was , to see the franchise’s presence back amongst the NBA’s end of year showcase , in reality , we all knew that this team simply was not good enough to be even remotely considered a legitimate contender to take down their Eastern Conference rivals , much less the potential win the NBA title .

Where this now all leaves the New York Knicks and in particular the frustration for Mike Woodson and his obvious disappointment , will now be based upon how team owner , James Dolan and GM Glen Grunwald will seek to make any moves as they deem fit , in bolstering the Knicks’ roster . Old at its core , let’s be realistic , the contributions of Marcus Camby , Jason Kidd , Kenyon Martin and Steve Novak as well as Amare Stoudemire , could be best described as being anemic during the postseason . It might not be deemed so comical and idiotic , when it was suggested that Woodson was actually unsure what to expect from Chris Copeland , as a player . I can only surmise that Copeland was viewed as nothing more than a bench-warmer by the Knicks’ coaching staff . In the Knicks’ game five victory over the Pacers , Copeland came off the bench , scoring thirteen points , to be a hero in the team’s second win of the series . And JR Smith may well have won the Sixth Man of the Year Award for his regular season contributions ,but can someone please explain to me , why he was nowhere to be seen during the postseason ?

Of the sixteen participants in the postseason , the New York Knicks’ payroll was amongst the highest of the teams left at that stage of the proceedings . The team’s payroll for the season , of $80.3 million , was not of season’s past , when it exceeded $100 million , hitting the franchise hard in terms of the league mandated ” luxury tax” , which saw teams having to pay a dollar for dollar sum back to the league hierarchy for exceeding the “soft salary cap” . And it would appear that while David Stern sells the idiocy of the NBA being on a sound financial footing , the Knicks for their part will continue to spend their money capriciously on players , who in large part , simply do not pay off as a tangible return on that investment . As proof of that , Amare Stoudemire is still owed an astonishing $45 million on the two years remaining of what still in many eyes , was viewed as a ludicrous and outlandish contract, a five-year $ 100 million deal for the center / power forward . I would preface this by saying, with the idiocy witnessed within the Knicks’ front office, by former head coach and team President , Isiah Thomas , was allowed to simply throw money at players with little or no talent whatsoever . Inasmuch as Thomas’ successor Donnie Walsh tried to steady that ship, it would appear that the idiocy remained , while Jim Dolan craved the success of seeing his franchise back amongst the elite of the NBA .

A decision will have to be made on whether or not a number the Knicks’ impending free agents will be retained , as well as the long and short-term future, as it relates to Amare Stoudemire whose contract remains a yoke around the neck of the Knicks’ franchise , when one bears in mind the league’s existing $58 million soft salary cap , and that the franchise will this season will be remitting $23 million back to the league hierarchy in terms of the luxury tax .

With a $1 billion price tag the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are by far the most valuable franchises in the NBA . For the Knicks being just one of the baubles in the Dolan family sporting interests that makes up parent company holdings for MSG Entertainment Inc / The Madison Square Garden Entertainment Company , it easy to understand why the franchise has been always been perceived as one the bell-weather models of the professional sports’ franchise industry . With that being said , wealth and fortune are by no means a guarantee of competitive success , when there has been poor professional acumen shown by the Knicks’ organization over the past few seasons. Bear in mind also , that beyond the fans within the New York state area , you also have the print , television and radio media simply lauding the franchise at every turn over the course of the regular season . Now that they have been inauspicious dumped out of the NBA postseason play . Fans and the media , are at a juxtaposition , as to how best to explain their team’s fall from grace . Self absorbed, and conceitedness or simply an unwillingness to accept the fact that they are not as good as advertised ? I will leave it for you to be the judge of that !

In what was deemed to be a competitive Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies , who defeated the number one seeds , the Oklahoma City Thunder with surprising ease . The Spurs have nonchalantly dusted down the Grizzlies in the first two games , taking a 2-0 lead before the series resumes at the Fedex Forum in Memphis, Tennessee on Saturday 25th May , 2013 .

The Spurs’ Big Three of Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker have provided the experience and bulk of the offensive output of the franchise during the postseason . Duncan in spite of his age , is having one of his better seasons in what is sure to be undoubtedly viewed as a Hall of Fame career. Game three will be pivotal for both teams and should Lionel Hollins’ Grizzlies suffer a home defeat , then for all sense and purpose this series will be over , bar the ticker tape parade .

Zach Randolph has proven to be the Memphis’ best player during the regular and postseason , is now seeing what it is like to play with a great deal of emotion , only to have the door slam shut in his face . And while in the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder he was ably assisted by Marc Gasol , Tayshaun Prince and Mike Conley . The reality of that first round performance , was that it placed the Grizzlies’ on an emotional high and a physical plane , but now having met the San Antonio Spurs , reality has now finally set in , that their story is only half-written , and the ensuing chapters are now looking , not so bright .

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Picture gallery .

What thoughts if any , do you have concerning the points raised within this article ? Also , in light of the Knicks’ postseason demise , how would you go about addressing several of their personnel decisions that will undoubtedly have to be made ?

Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal .
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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 18: Lance Stephenson(1) of the Indiana Pacers celebrates in the game against the New York Knicks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 18, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.The Pacers won 106-99 . Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …

(2) New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson talks to Carmelo Anthony (7) during the first half of Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series against the Indiana Pacers . Getty Images /Andy Lyons …

(3) Paul George (24) of the Indiana Pacers battles for the ball against J.R. Smith (8) and Kenyon Martin (3) of the New York Knicks during game three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on May 11, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Pacers won 82-71 . Getty Images North America / Joe Robbins …..

(4) From left to right , New York Knicks’ owner James Dolan , GM Glen Grunwald and head coach Mike Woodson . In light of the team’s demise in the postseason, all three executives will face some tough decision-making concerning the makeup of the team’s roster as they enter the 2013-14 NBA season . Courtesy of NY Daily News/AP Photo / Drew Pearson ….

(5) New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire , center, is tied up by Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert , right, and forward David West during the second half of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series in Indianapolis, Saturday, May 11, 2013. AP Photo/Michael Conroy …

(6) San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan celebrates with the team as he comes down to the bench during the overtime in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals NBA basketball playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 93-89 . AP Photo/Eric Gay …

(7) Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph argues with an official during the second half in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals NBA basketball playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in San Antonio. AP Photo/Eric Gay ….

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tophatal …………….. 2013/05/24

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NBA news and archived news

NBA schedule (postseason)

Eastern Conference Finals : Miami Heat (1) vs Indiana Pacers (3)

Western Conference Finals : San Antonio Spurs (2) vs Memphis Grizzlies (5)

NB : seeds shown in brackets

NBA playoffs’ overview

New York Knicks news

NBA teams’ salaries ($58.044 million salary cap). For teams exceeding that threshold they are surcharged a dollar for dollar amount which is paid back to the NBA hierarchy at the end of the season .

NBA team values , revenues and net income

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Hot chic pic of the day Kathy Lantigua .

Do The Right Thing ……………….

Do The Right Thing ……………..

There’s a great deal to be said about the legacy of baseball , its history and the fact that Jackie Robinson played a part in integrating team sports, being the first African American to play a professional sport where its embodiment was integrated . And granted, were it not for Branch Rickey willing to take a chance on a social experiment that would have lasting ramifications that would reverberate across the landscape of the country , I seriously doubt that we’d have seen the integration of the game at the time we did. Consider this, at the time that Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers the US military still hadn’t been fully integrated wherein African American soldiers could be part of the same platoon and serve alongside their Caucasian counterparts but yet this myth continues here within this country that it’d rather gloss over this whole episode concerning African Americans within the US military. The US military wouldn’t be fully integrated until 1953 , some eight years after World War II had ended .

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In light of the above evidence a patron (chappy81) of my site and I mulled over the situation with regard to the image of the NFL and that of MLB and the fact that both sports are so image conscious . He remarked about the fact baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day and that baseball also has its Civil Rights —– games played this weekend . But that in of-itself I find to be a real misnomer as it simply means nothing in the greater landscape of things , given the fact that now we’re seeing an attack to repeal many of the advances made under the Civil Rights Act . And whereas Jackie Robinson’s number has been retired by the league I do find it somewhat asinine that the league especially now under the tenure of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has somehow refused to retire Roberto Clemente’s number in honor of the player and his accomplishments but specifically as a human rights activist and philanthropist . If Selig and the league hierarchy simply can’t view Clemente’s accomplishments other than to institute an award in his name , I think it somewhat inane that they simply believe that honor only ought to be bestowed upon Jackie Robinson , merely because he was simply the first person of an ethnic minority to have the game as part of an integrated team at the professional level ! Baseball while steeped in its traditions has become archaic and fully out of touch with the realities of the world .

Given the current problems within the league , financial instability of teams around baseball , team owners who’ve simply put greed above common sense and a hierarchy who for the most part simply show the naivete of an immature child that it’s hard to imagine that the game has made the advancement that it has over the years. Character issue asides of the players past and present I do feel that it is now time for Bud Selig do the right thing and actually retire Roberto Clemente’s number , not just simply as an act of benevolence but also to acknowledge his achievements as a philanthropist .

Now one might suggest that in allowing Clemente’s number to retired it would diminish what Jackie Robinson’s entry at the major league level meant to the game . But I say …no ………. because if anything these are two great players who by their own deeds and willingness to beat the odds has done a great deal to establish the game of baseball across a broad demographic and therein making it relevant socially as well being viewed as America’s pastime .

Well now that the conference finals appear to be set with regard to the NBA Playoffs . The Eastern Conference Finals sets up an intriguing match-up between the top two seeds within the confrence . The Chicago Bulls will host the Miami Heat at the United Center in Chicago on Sunday 15th May in a game one of this best of seven game series . For LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade they see this as a form of vindication having defeated the Boston Celtics in their conference quarter semi final series 4-1 .

So clinical was the defeat of the Celtics that it had many wondering whether or not this might the last charge of the Boston Celtics’ ‘Big Three’ of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Ray Allen . To my mind I do feel that this Celtics’ roster labored because of the fact that is in large part an aging one . And whereas Doc Rivers was able to lead the Celtics to an emphatic triumph in the 2008 NBA Finals . This might very well be a time for a changing of the guard in some part . GM Danny Ainge and senior general partner Wyc Grousbeck may very well have to overhaul this roster if the Celtics are to have any serious chance of challenging for an NBA title next season .

And while it is being widely reported that Rivers is now in the process of accepting a renewed five year $35 million deal to remain with the organization . It may well pretty much put into effect that the Big Three will likely also remain with the Celtics . Beyond that it remains to be seen what now becomes the next saga of the Boston Celtics’ history.

In going back to address this conference finals’ matchup between the Bulls and Heat it will most certainly be an intriguing one. The Bulls swept the season series between the two teams with some ease but that was in large part before the Heat had found any real consistency in their play . If the Bulls are to prove that those results during the regular season were no fluke then they will have to play with a fluidity and resolve that they’ve shown throughout the large part of the postseason . League MVP —- Derrick Rose and his teammates have to be mindful as to the knowledge that will be imparted to them by their coach Tom Thibodeau and his coaching staff if they’re to have any chance of beating the Heat in this series . And for the Heat who’ll no doubt be looked at as the presumptive favorites for coach Erik Spoelstra , he knows that it is now or never for this team which has been looked at to win it all ever since team President & Head of Basketball Operations Pat Riley engineered the moves that brought Bosh and James to the Miami Heat during the offseason.

Not since the Michael Jordan era led Bulls of the 1995-96 season has there been this much fervor over this organization for which the expectations are now extraordinarily high. Should the Bulls prevail in this series then it could be viewed as one of the biggest shocks in recent NBA history , in terms of postseason upsets .

Amazingly enough while the Dallas Mavericks awaits the winners of the series between the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder . I’ve now got to ask myself after this monumental disastrous display by the Thunder in their fourteen point loss to the Grizzlies on Friday night how is it that Scott Brooks can feel that his team can now close out this series ? On a night when league scoring champion Kevin Durant had an abysmal night shooting , that this was a game that I believe that the Thunder would rather forget ! Once again it was left the heroics of Zach Randolph as he led the team in scoring and in taking the lead as its vocal leader in erasing a 3-2 deficit to even this series with everything to play for as game seven brings the two teams back Oklahoma City to bring this conference semi finals to a fitting culmination. As to what that might be , we now all wait to see what unfolds in this exhausting and thrilling series .

If the rumors are to believed as it is now being reported that the Los Angeles Lakers have allowed Phil Jackson’s assistant Brian Shaw to speak with both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets as to both vacant coaching positions. Strange as this may seem , unless the Lakers are extremely confident that Jackson will be returning to the organization then I feel it somewhat less than prudent of them to allow Shaw to seek out an initial interview with either organization . Shaw if anything has to be the favorite for the position as he has the respect of a number of players on the team. But it may well be that GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Dr Jerry Buss may well feel that it is indeed better bring someone anew to be Jackson’s successor. From my own perspective although I’ve heard the name of Rick Adelman being bandied about as a likely successor I do feel that it’d be step backwards for the Lakers should they hire this well respected coach. A retread is very much the last thing that this organization needs in light of their rather embarrassing 4-0 series loss to the Dallas Mavericks . The one candidate I feel who fits the bill as the successor to Jackson would be Tom Izzo of Michigan State and his given his coaching pedigree I think he’d certainly be the appropriate choice ! However , that decision is now in the hands of the general manager and owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and it may well be some time before they come to a final decision .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment and thank as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) From left to right Branch Rickey , Jackie Robinson and his wife Rachel seen are as the former player receives his plaque after his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame . AFP Archives ………

(2) Pirates’ outfielder Roberto Clemente whose tragic death is still mourned to this day . Baseball archives ….

(3) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat gets emotional after closing out the series against the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(4) Omer Asik (3) reacts with Luol Deng (9) of the Chicago Bulls after Asik drew a foul from the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C Cox / Getty Images …….

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MLB News

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MLB Results & scores 14th May 2011

Probable starting pitchers 15th May 2011

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MLB Schedule 3 days at a glance

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NBA results 15th May 2011

NBA Playoffs 2011

Playoffs ? What Playoffs ? The NBA Playoffs Dummy Get With The Program

Playoffs ? What Playoffs ? The NBA Playoffs Dummy Get With The Program

Well this much is certain the NBA Playoffs have began to set about a number of surprises and then there have been the teams that you simply know have underachieved during the first round of the playoffs . The New York Knicks were summarily swept out of the first round with consummate ease by the Boston Celtics . And for those out there saying that the Knicks are a work in progress …….. here’s my retort for you the gestation period for a female pachyderm is a work in progress the New York Knicks are unadulterated friggin’ mess ! How this team was assembled by Mike D’Antoni and GM Donnie Walsh gives me every reason to believe that this organization now, is no better off than when former team President and GM Isiah Thomas was running the show the whole god-damn show ! And God knows, we all know how fu_cking bad that team was under Thomas’ tenure .

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Throughout this series not once had this team chosen to even play a modicum of defense but yet somehow there were idiots out there joyous that the Knicks had actually made the playoffs because in their eyes it made the club relevant once again . I’m sorry but the Knicks were about as relevant within the NBA as I’d consider Muammar Ghadaffi to be a beacon of light to democracy within the Middle East and on the African continent ! Unfortunately for all of the talk of Amar’e Stoudemire being paired together with Carmelo Anthony had the makings of a dynamic duo . Let’s say had Batman and Robin been homosexual crime fighters they’d still be far more intimidating than this duo have been throughout this series . Contributions asides when a team built primarily around offense and not a lick of defense is being played, how the hell is anyone of the belief that the Knicks were actually in with a chance of even winning this series ? At no time was I even convinced that the Knicks could win the series , much less make it a competitive one. Much of the team’s malaise can laid squarely on the shoulders of D’Antoni and Walsh. I hazard a guess that with Chauncey Billups having a series he’d rather forget , I can only surmise that his career is now in its twilight years . From a Finals MVP to a non-descript passenger on a derailed passenger train is very much how I’d assess the Knicks’ foray in this postseason along with the lackluster performances of Billups .

Speaking of a team that could very well be on the cusp of being humiliated in the playoffs are the Orlando Magic . Stan Van Gundy for all of animated demeanor and being so vocal is completely adrift with a team that is simply overwhelmed by its surroundings. The moves made by the Magic at the trade deadline were meant to improve the offensive productivity and creativity of this team . Who would’ve thought that the Atlanta Hawks would have the upper hand in this series with the Hawks not only taking a decisive a 3-1 lead but also Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson are actually outplaying the entire Magic front court by showing so much creativity and the tenacity to get the job done . The only player on the Magic roster who appears to be showing any proclivity in wanting to play with any aggression, happens to be the team’s All Star center Dwight Howard . Other than Howard there has been little contribution if any from anyone on this team.

Unfortunately the Magic are now on the hook financially for the contracts of Jason Richardson , Hedo Turkoglu , Gilbert Arenas and Quentin Richardson who collectively are owed a cumulative sum of $63 million over the next three years. I somehow get the feeling that GM Otis Smith and the front office executives within the Magic organization gambled heavily and that bet hasn’t worked ! In fact this whole maneuver has been an unmitigated disaster . If anyone was of the belief that this Magic team was remotely in with a chance of winning this series much less being taken as a serious contender for this season’s NBA title clearly hasn’t been watching this team play. Inconsistency has been their mantra and the very fact that they’ve been unable able to close out a game with any effectiveness during the regular season and then expect them to do the same in the postseason would suggest that they were in with a remote chance of actually winning this series . And clearly that hasn’t been the case as they’ve been continually outplayed and outcoached throughout the entirety of the series .

However what might be even more surprising is the mere fact that during last season’s playoffs the Orlando Magic actually swept the Hawks in a 4-0 series drubbing that is considered to be the most lopsided series’ victory that has been seen in the NBA in quite a while . Unfortunately game five to be played at the Amway Center in Orlando this Tuesday can be viewed as a series decider as the Magic are fighting for their very survival . A loss for the Magic and Larry Drew’s team makes their way into the Eastern Conference semi finals where they’ll meet the Chicago Bulls the number one seed in the Eastern Conference . That should be a which could very well prove to be thoroughly entertaining and at the same time somewhat suspenseful.

Another series which seems to be heading towards an unlikely outcome should things remain as they are . The San Antonio Spurs face a daunting task in trying to erase a 2-1 deficit against the Memphis Grizzlies . Coming into the series as the number one seed in the Western Conference . And the Spurs’ performances during this series if anything cannot be described as that of the best team in the conference or NBA record wise . It has been the Grizzlies led by Zach Randolph who have been playing like a team that on appearance has been playing like a number one seed . The Spurs have been playing below par and if anything they’ve been complacent in taking the Grizzlies far too lightly . Game four to be played tonight in Memphis will certainly let us know whether or not the Spurs are capable of erasing this deficit or whether or not the Memphis Grizzlies can push the number one seeds to the brink of elimination by winning what could very well be a very scintillating game .

San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff will most certainly have to prove that these series’ results are no mere fluke . But if anything credit has to be given to the Grizzlies who in essence have shown us that they’re quite capable of knocking off a top seed . It has been pretty incredible to see this Spurs’ team labor throughout this series . Tony Parker has been inconsistent and while Manu Ginobli has struggled with injuries the Spurs’ bench has contributed little if anything to this series overall. The veteran presence of Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess has made little difference as the Grizzlies have simply outran , out-thought and completely outplayed the San Antonio Spurs . Should they bow out of this series at this juncture it would be the earliest exit by the team in over five years.

As an ardent fan of the Spurs I must admit that I’ve been surprised by the lackluster effort that put forth by the team . If anything I expected a competitive series between the two teams . Excuses are the last thing I’m about to make for the Spurs should their be a monumental collapse because I do believe that teams that encounter adversity can learn something from it . And should it prove to be the case for the Spurs then hopefully Popovich and his coaching staff and in particular the Spurs’ players can learn something from this all.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

These series so far have been intriguing so far but there’s still a great deal to come . So if anything go ahead and enjoy what is left of the NBA postseason , so make of it what you will .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 24: (L-R) Amar’e Stoudemire(1) , Carmelo Anthony(7) and Shawne Williams (3) of the New York Knicks celebrate a play against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Celtics won 101-89 . Nick Laham / Getty Images …..

(2) Carmelo Anthony(notes) #7 of the New York Knicks gets set to receive an inbounds pass as director Spike Lee yells at referee Derrick Collins #11 against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Nick Laham / Getty Images ……

(3) Paul Pierce(34) of the Boston Celtics looks to go up for a shot against Amar’e Stoudemire(1), Ronny Turiaf(14) and Landry Fields (6) of the New York Knicks in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City . Getty Images/ Nick Laham …..

(4) New York Knicks owner (C) Jim Dolan , General Manager Donnie Walsh and Head Coach Mike D’Antoni introduce new players Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups at a press conference at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2011 in New York City. Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America ……

(5) Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, left, defends San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis , Tenn. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP Photo/Lance Murphey …….

(6) Not looking good at all . San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, left, and guard Tony Parker, right, of France, watch the final minutes of Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP Photo/Lance Murphey ….

(7) Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic converses with his offense in the final minutes against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 24, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images …….

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. NB Game four was won decisively by the Memphis Grizzlies 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the best of seven game series with a semi finals’ conference berth awaiting the winner .

When The Rubber Hits The Road It’s Time To Step Up ……

When The Rubber Hits The Road It’s Time To Step Up ……

When the rubber meets the road it’s time to step up and it appears that the San Antonio Spurs have hit the road with a flat tire. The Memphis Grizzlies have given the Spurs all they can handle a great deal more. A 91-88 victory by the Grizzlies with Zach Randolph leading the charge in his team’s victory . When it’s all said and done a question needs to be asked ….. have Gregg Popovich’s  —- players become complacent or are the Grizzlies simply too good ? ===========================================================================

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A 2-1 series lead and it appears with their next victory this series could be the Grizzlies for the taking . At this point Popovich has to get these players playing with a great deal more zeal as the Memphis Grizzlies simply have the Spurs on their heels. It’s seems strange to see the number one seed within the Western Conference simply being outplayed not only on their home court but also in large throughout much of this series as it has unfolded . Throughout much of the season this Spurs’ team played at a high caliber  with players such as Manu Ginobli , Gary Neal , Dejuan Blair , Tony Parker and Matt Bonner stepping up to the plate. However the zeal with which we saw during the regular season has been missing as this series has taken on a life of its own as it seems to be now slipping away from the grasp of the San Antonio Spurs. . If the Spurs are to be in with a chance of reasserting themselves and regaining some sort of momentum in this series then we’re going to have to see more from the likes of Ginobli , Parker and their seasoned veteran Tim Duncan . Granted , Duncan has seen limited time throughout much of the regular season .

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Clearly at this point of the playoffs the contenders ………….. ‘ the real contenders’ step up and separate themselves the pretenders’ . As an ardent Spurs’ fan I get the feeling that the Spurs rather than looking like a contender they’re now beginning to look and play like a pretender ! The four time  NBA champions are no nearer to adding a fifth title than there’s a chance of Donald Trump winning the 2012 Presidential elections based on their play in this series and in particular game three which saw them being completely outplayed by their Western Conference opponents . The credit where it’s due belongs to the Memphis Grizzlies and their belief that they’d nothing to fear in taking the game to the Spurs and forcing them to change their whole way of playing and the fact it has been this Grizzlies’ team in the driver’s seat. At some point we have to acknowledge that the league is now changing and that the so called  teams we believe to be dominant are no longer really that.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers  , Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will have their work cut out for them during these playoffs . Albeit that the Heat and Celtics have series leads as the playoffs progress these teams will face a much sterner test in the second round (conference semi finals) of the NBA Playoffs . As the playoffs unfold we’ll get to see what these teams are actually made of and how each faces adversity when stares at them from across the court . The Spurs are now in a position where they can ill afford to go down 3-1 in this series knowing full well that even on their home court they will be hard pressed to put the Memphis Grizzlies back on their heels. If anything it has been the Grizzles who have placed the Spurs back on their heels looking to stave off a series defeat and if anything what would be the shock of this season’s playoffs series so far. Zach Randolph has put this team on his back and played like a man possessed with something to prove to the doubters and naysayers who felt he’d nothing to offer . And as troubled as his career is said to have been Randolph now seems to have found a home where his talents have flourished and where the Grizzlies’ fans have no doubt shown their appreciation for all that they have witnessed from the player’s contributions on the court and within the local community . If it’s a given that the Spurs bow out of this series then I am willing to admit that I underestimated the Grizzlies but even more so I know that the the Spurs this while while their regular season was impressive if anything it created an illusion and an air of complacency that the lulled and lured their fans into thinking that this team was once again ready to contend and perhaps actually playing with a sense of purpose in marching towards the goal of winning another title .

A series loss would raise a great many questions as to this team and the direction that it is heading in. The triumvirate of Ginobli , Parker and Duncan is an aging one but the thought was that with a young nucleus of players looking to make their mark , instead it looks as if they have regressed lost in situation that in some respect is one of their own making. I certainly do believe that Gregg Popovich and GM R C Buford will have to reassess the qualities they seek in terms of the Spurs’ roster and how best to address the deficiencies that we now know that the San Antonio Spurs have. Now as the postseason plays itself out it will be very interesting to see what happens with each of the series in question . In the case of the Spurs and where a number one seed has previously faced a situation where they could be down 3-1 in the first round of a playoff series, that seed has gone on to win that fourth series game and to win that series four out of the six occasions since the playoff format came into being and where it changed from a best of five series to a best of seven game series . That if anything should be an added incentive to the team . But in reality the Spurs simply don’t need that as an incentive , what they actually need to do is to come out and play a meaningful game and series as if their very lives depended on it .

The 2011 NBA Playoffs have brought us a great deal of thrills and spills , and I must say that while I’d expected some controversy in terms of the officiating it has to be said the surprises if any, have come from the fact that certain teams we’re thought to have favored haven’t played anywhere near their true potential . And that has either been due to them either playing inconsistently or more to the fact that the lesser seeded teams in these playoffs have played well above their potential . It now remains to be seen how things will actually pan out for the teams and their loyal fans who have become engrossed in the NBA’s showcase event _ the playoffs as a precursor to the NBA Finals itself .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What series if anything in the first round of the playoffs has been of interest to you ? And how do you see the series between Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs ultimately ending ? Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts on this piece and the NBA postseason as you now see it.

* NB Is there an NBA team in the state of Texas that actually has a backbone ? The Spurs are in turmoil in their series . The Dallas Mavericks in allowing the Portland Trailblazers to erase a twenty three  point deficit in game four of their series shows us why this Mavericks’ team is simply softer than a roll of Charmin tissue paper ! Mark Cuban you’ve been Punk’d bitch !

As for the heroics of Brandon Roy , it was truly exemplary ! The Houston Rockets having chosen not to seek the return of Rick Adelman  next season are now without an NBA coach . As to who Adelman’s successor will be it remains to be seen but team GM Daryl Morey will be seeking a quality oriented coach who knows how to get the best out of a young team and its players .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….. Picture and slide show details below . ——————————————————————————————————

(1) MEMPHIS, TN – APRIL 23: Zach Randolph (50) of the Memphis Grizzlies celebrates with a little dance after defeating the San Antonio Spurs in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2011 at FedExForum  in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE /Getty Images …..

(2) Darrell Arthur of the Memphis Grizzlies against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2011 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. The Grizzlies defeated the Spurs 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the best of seven series . Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images………

(3) Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) drives against San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9), of France, during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. Conley led the Grizzlies with 15 points and Parker led the Spurs with 23 points. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP Photo/Lance Murphey  …………

(4) Memphis Grizzlies forward Leon Powe  (7) grabs a rebound in front of San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blair (45) and Daniel Green (4) during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. Behind Powe are San Antonio Spurs forward Steve Novak (23) and Memphis Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi (15), of Iran. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …..

(5) Trying to instill confidence ? Maybe . San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, center, talks with his teammates during the second half of Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey …….

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NBA News

Sunday’s playoff schedule

Monday’s playoff schedule

San Antonio Spurs news

Memphis Grizzlies news

NBA Playoffs 2011 .

All the series latest news and results NBA Postseason Stats at a glance NBA Stats Year 2010-11

(a) NBA Standings (Conference) (b) NBA Standings ( Division) NBA Statistics

Offense —— Defense

Player stats …… Regular season Scoring

Double doubles

Assists

Rebounds

Free Throws

They Say You Can Never Go Back Home …… Well AI Is Back Where It All Started

Well, for the NBA’s, Allen Iverson, there seems to be ‘no place like home’. Much like with Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, Iverson is making his own personal journey in the form of his return to the Philadelphia 76ers. As to what this bodes for the rest of the season for the franchise and the player. One can only speculate. But it’s clear to see that this was a last ditch effort by the player to find a place to play out what may very well be his last days in the NBA.

Well, for the NBA’s, Allen Iverson, there seems to be ‘no place like home’. Much like with Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, Iverson is making his own personal journey in the form of his return to the Philadelphia 76ers. As to what this bodes for the rest of the season for the franchise and the player. One can only speculate. But it’s clear to see that this was a last ditch effort by the player to find a place to play out what may very well be his last days in the NBA.

Iverson makes his views known on ‘practice’ ? Yes we’s talkin’ ’bout practice !

The ‘prodigal son’ has returned and it appears that all might well have been forgiven. The player’s woes of late have been well chronicled , from his inability to play as a teammate with the Denver Nuggets. An experiment that I might add, was doomed before it even started ! His brief tenure with the Detroit Pistons and the very fact that he and the organization could not see ‘eye to eye’. And then there was the sideshow there in Memphis, with the Memphis Grizzlies. One minute he’s being viewed as perhaps the franchise’s savior , the next he makes himself feel about as welcomed as a child molester would be on the first day of his incarceration in prison. Suffice to say, that the Grizzlies’ front office were at a loss with regard to Iverson’s demeanor. The team’s coach, Lionel Hollins, the general manager,Chris Wallace, and the team owner, Michael Heisley , went out of their way to welcome him with opens arms , when they signed him as a free agent. In the blink of an eye , Iverson ‘wanted out’ of Memphis and just about anything to do with the team.

Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports

Final Answer: Iverson back with 76ers

By Dan Gelston, AP Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Allen Iverson’s first stint with the Philadelphia 76ers ended with the team yanking his nameplate off his locker and editing him out of video highlights before he was even traded.

The Sixers might want to find him a new locker and cue up some clips. Philly fans, pull out that No. 3 jersey from the closet. A.I. is a Sixer again.

In a move that appeared farfetched after their acrimonious split in 2006, the 76ers reunited with the briefly retired Iverson on Wednesday in a move designed to spike sagging attendance and fill in for the injured Lou Williams.

Coach Eddie Jordan said Iverson will likely start and stay the entire season.

“I told him I would like for him to start, and that’s where it sort of ended,” Jordan said. “And he was really like a kid at Christmas.”

Iverson will make his debut Monday night at home against Denver—one of three teams he’s called home since leaving Philly. The 10-time All-Star-turned-journeyman is determined to prove he still has something to offer in that No. 3 jersey.

He antagonized his coaches and opponents his first time around. Perhaps humbled, he signed after being reduced to a bench player in Denver and Memphis and forced to accept the veteran’s minimum salary to return to his NBA roots.

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For the time being , it’s hard trying to figure out what to make of this all. But with the apparent injury to the team’s point guard, Lou Williams and his impending loss for an indeterminate period of time. Coach,Eddie Jordan and the front office staff felt it an urgency, to bring the player in and gauge his interest in rejoining the team. Ed Stefanski, as the team President , General Manager and owner of the franchise, felt it to be a good idea. Albeit , that he indeed had some reservations as to how the fans may well have felt about the player returning to the franchise. But the advantages he felt far outweighed the negative aspect of it all.

In this April 12, 2006, file photo Philadelphia 76ers' Allen Iverson reacts during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball against the New Jersey Nets, in East Rutherford, N.J.  Philadelphia 76ers president Ed Stefanski announced Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, on the team's Web site that Iverson will rejoining the 76ers. picture appears courtesy  of  AP/Photo/Bill Kostroun  ......
In this April 12, 2006, file photo Philadelphia 76ers' Allen Iverson reacts during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball against the New Jersey Nets, in East Rutherford, N.J. Philadelphia 76ers president Ed Stefanski announced Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, on the team's Web site that Iverson will rejoining the 76ers. picture appears courtesy of AP/Photo/Bill Kostroun ......

With Iverson, having been formally signed by the team, they expect to make him to make his first appearance in the Sixers’ uniform on Monday. Then the team will formally reintroduce him as player back on their roster. And with the team’s record now at (5-13) within the Atlantic Division. The team now is looking up at the likes of the Boston Celtics (14-4), Toronto Raptors (7-12), beneath them the New York Knicks (4-14) and the woefully inept New Jersey Nets (0-17). The division itself , though not devoid of talent , might just be one of the weakest in all of the NBA, in terms of a real top flight team. Other than the Celtics and the somewhat inconsistent Raptors, there’s nothing there, that one would say is an entirely competitive team to watch. The Knicks remain an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum , even with Mike D’Antoni in tow as their coach. The Nets are proving that their problems are way beyond solving ,as of now. Much like the Middle East ‘peace process’ is at present, now. There’s no road map there to guide them. And by all accounts even with the aid of a compass and a map, Nets’ interim coach, Kiki Vanderweghe, will be hard pressed to lift this team off the scrap heap. Such are the vagaries of what we’re now seeing within the division.

If Iverson is to come and assist this team in being or providing some semblance of being competitive. Then , he’ll have to show that as the elder statesman on the roster, he’s prepared to show leadership skills and a great deal more maturity than he’s been showing as of late. Despite his fourteen years in the NBA, there’s still that ‘thug mentality’ and immaturity that’s still being shown by the player. The ‘baggage’ that he still continues to carry with him , despite his undoubted talents as a player will continue either drag him down, or that of an organization.

There’s no denying that Allen Iverson has the ‘heart of a lion’ and his willingness to compete is unlike any other. But what may well detract from his a player is his unwillingness to admit that he cannot do it all by himself and being prepared to put his trust in others and in particular those around him in the guise of his teammates. He’ll defer to others but only after he , himself feels that they’ll be prepared to reciprocate in a similar manner. And for the team at present , one has to look at the likes of Samuel Dalembert, Elton Brand, Marcus Speights,Andre Iguodala , Rodney Carney, Jason Kapono and Thaddeus Young, can get along with a player of Iverson’s demeanor. Far be it for me to suggest otherwise but at the first hint of dissent from Iverson. The last thing that the Sixers’ organization could withstand , would be to follow suit in that of their erstwhile predecessors, who had to deal with Iverson at his worst. No one man can be an island but Iverson gives you the very best impression of being Robinson Crusoe at times without his ‘man Friday’. If it’s not about him than mightn’t be about anyone else to begin with.

Who can fail to forget his classic rant about practice ? If that’s not an indication as to what Iverson has been about over a large part of his career. Then, the world of the NBA may well have been asleep when he was on his very best behavior. It’s always good to have someone back in your home because they made you feel at peace, and it was gladly reciprocated by that individual. For Allen Iverson, it’s not so much thought of ‘returning home’ but the fact he felt the need to be loved and wanted by someone. No matter who they may well have been. Luckily enough for the player, the entity who’s now showing him ‘the love’ , is in fact the first port of call at the start of his professional career. The organization may well feel that they owe Iverson, something. But in reality , it really is the other way around. Allen Iverson owes the Philadelphia 76ers ‘a debt of gratitude’ for taking him at the start of his career and now for welcoming back with open arms , as his career now winds down formally to its inevitable close.

NB: Philadelphia 76ers roster

NUM PLAYER POS HT WT DOB FROM YRS
42 Elton Brand F 6-9 254 03/11/1979 Duke 10
7 Primoz Brezec C 7-1 255 10/02/1979 Postojna, Slovenia 7
25 Rodney Carney G-F 6-7 205 04/05/1984 Memphis 3
1 Samuel Dalembert C 6-11 250 05/10/1981 Seton Hall 7
33 Willie Green G 6-3 201 07/28/1981 Detroit Mercy 6
11 Jrue Holiday G 6-4 180 06/12/1990 UCLA R
9 Andre Iguodala G-F 6-6 207 01/28/1984 Arizona 5
12 Royal Ivey G 6-4 215 12/20/1981 Texas 5
72 Jason Kapono F 6-8 215 02/04/1981 UCLA 6
14 Jason Smith F-C 7-0 240 03/02/1986 Colorado State 1
16 Marreese Speights F-C 6-10 245 08/04/1987 Florida 1
23 Louis Williams G 6-1 175 10/27/1986 South Gwinnett HS (Snellville, GA) 4
21 Thaddeus Young F 6-8 220 06/21/1988 Georgia Tech 2

HEAD COACH
Eddie Jordan (College – Rutgers)

ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH
Mike O’Koren (College – North Carolina)

ASSISTANT COACHES
Randy Ayers (College – Miami (OH))
Jim Lynam (College – Saint Joseph’s)
Aaron McKie (College – Temple)

ATHLETIC TRAINER
Kevin N. Johnson (College – Indiana State)

ASSISTANT TRAINER
Scott Faust (College – Alabama-Huntsville)