And So It Begins ……….. The NBA Playoffs Are Here …….

And So It Begins ……….. The NBA Playoffs Are Here …….

The NBA postseason is almost upon us and the first round of games beginning this upcoming Saturday the 16th April . But on a side note it cannot have escaped the latest incident whereby NBA Commissioner David Stern had to impose a severe $100,000 fine on the Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant for using a derogatory homophobic term towards a referee during the Lakers’ game against the San Antonio Spurs . I’ve always felt that far too many of today’s athletes are nothing more than a bunch of entitled primadona self absorbed idiots who think themselves above the law and above the rules that govern their game ! Bryant seems to be no different and his less than contrite apology speaks volumes as to the player’s immaturity at this juncture .

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Slide show for your perusal .

The Lakers’ season has now become all the more tenuous when it was announced that their center Andrew Bynum has a recurring knee injury that could very well sideline him for initial part of the first round of these playoffs. A match-up against the New Orleand Hornets has all the semblance of a potential upset if the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t fully prepared for their task against the Chris Paul and David West led Hornets . This will be a match-up of styles and though many feel that the Lakers are the more athletic of the two teams I personally believe that the Lakers’ Achilles’ heel is that their bench lacks real depth ! The likes of Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff on paper may well look impressive but in actuality , do they actually strike fear into anyone much less you as a fan ? Admittedly , the Lakers may well this season’s potential Sixth Man of the Year in Lamar Odom but beyond that the roster in terms of its bench has nothing . The team’s greatest strength is that of their duo Pau Gasol and Bryant himself who leads the team in scoring .

Courtesy of NBA.com

NBA fines Kobe $100,000 for apparent slur toward ref

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NBA fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 on Wednesday for using a derogatory gay term in frustration over a referee’s call.

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a swift disciplinary ruling after the Los Angeles Lakers’ five-time NBA champion guard cursed and used the homophobic slur when referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul on him Tuesday night in the third quarter of a victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

“Kobe Bryant’s comment during last night’s game was offensive and inexcusable,” Stern said. “While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. … Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.”

Stern’s action drew praise from gay-rights organizations that had demanded a fuller apology from Bryant and condemnation of his words by the Lakers. Bryant, the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, issued a statement earlier Wednesday saying his words came strictly out of anger and shouldn’t be taken literally.

“We applaud Commissioner Stern and the NBA for not only fining Bryant but for recognizing that slurs and derogatory comments have no place on the basketball court or in society at large,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said. “We hope such swift and decisive action will send a strong and universal message that this kind of hateful outburst is simply inexcusable no matter what the context.”

Bryant’s words and actions were captured by TNT’s cameras during the network’s national broadcast of the Lakers’ regular-season home finale.

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A patron (JW aka Dubs) of my site had posed the question to me who amongst the teams in the Western Conference would simply be good enough to derail the hopes of the Lakers in the off-season ? My response to him ___ was , that should the Lakers and Spurs meet in the conference finals it would not be beyond the realms of possibility to see the Lakers succumb to Gregg Popovich coached Spurs . The equalizing factor may well be the two head coaches in Phil Jackson and Popovich who between them have won nine of the last fifteen NBA titles since 1996 . If that’s not accounting for the dominance of these two coaches and their respective teams , someone needs to explain to me what is.

The seedings within the Western Conference has worked itself out coming into the last week of the regular season schedule with the San Antonio Spurs sewing up the number one seed followed by the Lakers , Dallas Mavericks , Oklahoma City Thunder , Denver Nuggets , Portland Trailblazers , New Orleans Hornets and finally the Memphis Grizzlies .

The Eastern Conference played itself out with the Chicago Bulls taking the number one overall seed much to the surprise of many who may well have felt that Tom Thibodeau’s young team led by MVP candidate Derrick Rose weren’t yet ready to be viewed amongst the elite teams within the conference. Instead we had the inconsistency shown by the Celtics , Heat and Magic all thought to be potential leading candidates for the conference’s number one seed. But the inconsistency shown by those trio of teams over the course of the season opened the door for the Chicago Bulls their successful regular season.

Rose for his part ably abetted by Luol Deng , Joakim Noah , Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer have all played their part resurrecting the fortunes of the ball-club from those lofty days when Phil Jackson was the coach and Michael Jordan was leading the organization to their numerous triumphs . The question now being asked by the faithful Bulls’ fans who’ve attended the home games at the United Center is whether or not this team is actually capable of winning this season’s NBA title. This postseason may well go a long way in answering those questions and a great deal more not only about the Chicago Bulls also as to the aspirations of several other teams within the Eastern Conference. Undoubtedly the coaching acumen of Tom Thibodeau as coach of the Bulls has to be admired and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him being rewarded with the NBA’s Coach of the Year Award as he’d be thoroughly deserving of the award !

It goes without saying that while the Miami Heat were obviously viewed as the prohibitive favorites within the Eastern Conference merely because of the Pat Riley off-season engineered moves amongst the free agents on the market _____ many felt that the Heat would walk away with the conference. You even had the asinine notion being raised by none other than former coach Jeff Van Gundy and former Knicks’ point guard Mark Jackson that this incarnation of the Miami Heat would be able to challenge the Bulls’ single season record of 72 wins . In essence both Jackson and Van Gundy were enamored with style over substance rather than what was tangible and in front of their very eyes. And hence ,it’s one of the primary reasons why I tend not to take anything that they have to say about the NBA with any sense of intelligence. Because it’s as if duo had a man crush on LeBron James and this team rather than looking at their body of work over the course of the season . Gullible and unintelligent would simply sum up their knowledge and the asinine prognostications that they’ve made about this team and what they thought was actually possible.

Now while I believe that the Heat stands as good a chance as any of the deemed favorites within the Eastern Conference , I firmly believe that if they’re to prevail then the play of their main trio of James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will have to be at a heightened level with the role players on this roster also stepping up their game . If they’re able to do that then it’s my belief that they can prevail within the conference but given the relative postseason inexperience of the team’s coach Erik Spoelstra it could well be that in part that they will struggle along the way as the team’s postseason efforts evolve. My firm opinion is that the top four seeds within the Eastern Conference will be the conference semi finalists and that the match-ups there will go along way in suggesting who we are likely to see in the conference finals .

If there is to be a surprise to be had in the first round of this season’s playoffs I do believe that it could come at the hands if the New York Knicks pushing the Boston Celtics for all their worth. And though this Knicks’ team leaves a great deal to be desired in terms of their defensive efforts there’s no denying that offensively they can stand toe to toe with just about any high scoring team left in these playoffs. GM Donnie Walsh in acquring Amar’e Stoudemire , Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups made sure that the team was at least capable of competing but there’s little to suggest that there’s now that consistency sought to actually make that one big push in the postseason. But herein lies the caveat once the postseason comes around everything indeed appears to be on a level playing home field advantage or not , and I do believe that both Anthony and Stoudemire wish to prove the team’s doubters wrong.

The Boston Celtics with a mix of some youth and veteran experience seem to relish the postseason and in Doc Rivers they have a coach who knows how to coax the best out of his players. But as I’ve repeatedly said to a number of patrons who’ve proffered an opinion on the team , it’s my belief that GM Danny Ainge made a profound mistake trading both Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson and getting very little in return. The duo of Perkins and Robinson were two of the unsung heroes on this roster . Unfortunately, they have an aging pair of seemingly unproductive players in Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal whom I believe will offer very little beyond their experience in the league. I know Shaq has five rings to his name but in reality after his decade and a half in the NBA, he’s no longer the once potent offsensive player he once was. And to my mind Jermaine O’Neal is literally robbing the Celtics blind while offering little in return !

Now while I’m really looking forward to the postseason it goes without saying that what I truly do hope to see are some very competitive series that are adjudicated by the officials with a great deal of impartiality and sound judgment rather than the usual quantity of blown calls and rather insidious wish of theirs to place themselves in the midst of a series, as if they’re indeed part of an ensemble cast. I’ve always felt that a great game is one where you see very little of the officials and more of the players exhibiting their skills and athleticism ! More often than not once the NBA postseason comes around you tend to see little of the latter and more of the referees interjecting themselves into a game or series for all of the wrong reasons that in the end tends to create more controversy than there really needs to be.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on this upcoming postseason and what if any are you really looking forward to seeing in terms of the teams playing ? Simply chime in with a comment on your thoughts on the NBA postseason . As a bye note are you also in agreement with the fine imposed on Kobe Bryant after his display , pointed and heated comments at a referee during the Lakers’ game against the Spurs ? Once again do leave a comment concerning that incident also.

Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Sacramento Kings fan Ralph Miller IV, 9, holds a sign conveying his sentiments during the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 13, 2011. The Maloof family, majority owners of the Kings, are expected to go to New York later this week to ask the NBA permission to move the team to Anaheim. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli ………………

(2) (L-R) Tiago Splitter(22), George Hill (3) , Chris Quinn (11) , Steve Novak(23) , and Gary Neal(14) of the San Antonio Spurs look on against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California . NBAE/Getty Images/ Andrew D Bernstein ….

(3) Andrew Bynum (17) of the Los Angeles Lakers grimaces after an injury against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on April 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images / Harry How ……….

(4) 12: Kobe Bryant(24) of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots as he is defended by Tiago Splitter(22) and Richard Jefferson(24) of the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on April 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California . Getty Images/ Harry How …….

(5) CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 13: of the Chicago Bulls of the New Jersey Nets at the United Center on April 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Nets 97-92 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(6) Carlos Boozer(5) of the Chicago Bulls is called for charging as he hits Dan Gadzuric(50) of the New Jersey Nets at the United Center on April 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois . Getty Images/ Johnathan Daniels ……..

(7) ‘The Three Stooges’ Jeff Van Gundy, right, appears comfortable with his broadcast partners Mark Jackson, left, and Mike Breen. Breen says of Van Gundy, “He’s even smiling sometimes.” . I’m not so sure that the trio mightn’t be the worse on air analysts covering the NBA either on broadcast or cable network today ! What they believe they provide in , insight , is simply dulled by their ineptitude and stupidity with the belief that they’re also funny ! Courtesy of ESPN / Scott Clarke …….

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NBA News

NBA Officials …… (Referees)

NBA Hierarchy

NBA Team Statistics (Team by Team Stats)

NBA Standings Season Finale (Conference)

Standings by Division

NBA Team Statistics Defense

NBA Team Statistics Offense

NBA Playoff Matchups

Eastern Conference

(1) Chicago Bulls …. vs …. (8) Indiana Pacers

(2) Miami Heat …. vs ….. (7) Philadelphia 76ers

(3) Boston Celtics ……vs …… (6) New York Knicks

(4) Orlando Magic ….. vs ….. (5) Atlanta Hawks

Western Conference

(1) San Antonio Spurs ….. vs …… (8) Memphis Grizzlies

(2) Los Angeles Lakers ….. vs ….. (7) New Orleans Hornets

(3) Dallas Mavericks ….. vs ….. (6) Portland Trailblazers

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder ….. vs ….. (5) Denver Nuggets

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Please do take the time to participate in the following polls as listed above .

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N. W.A ………………. “Express Yourself”

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You Want An NBA Storyline …………………… ?

You Want An NBA Storyline …. ?

It’s been something of an anticlimax to the say the least as the NBA season has got off to a rather inauspicious start. The Miami Heat of late has been the storyline that everyone wants to follow as the ‘Big Three’ have become the talk of the town . LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have made the Heat relevant once again. That being said to my mind the story that has me wondering how asking what else can befall a team has been that of the Houston Rockets . It’s hard to comprehend the misfortune that has beset this team as having lost All Star center Yao Ming for the season to a recurring injury . While much of this has been happening the one constant to this all has been the play of Kevin Martin and the fact that without him the Rockets would simply just another byline to the NBA season.

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The troubling here there though has been the fact Yao hasn’t played a meaningful game in over a year and the danger is that his career now seems to be on the verge of being at end. Barring a miracle I seriously doubt that we’ll see this player back on a basketball court in a competitive NBA game. Say what you will but Yao Ming had his admirers as well as his detractors . At his peak, he was certainly one of the most admired but also one of the best centers in the game but herein lies the caveat to this all once injiries started to befall the player , you simply knew that it was only a matter of time before things would go south for both he and the organization . What now happens for the Rockets is now merely dependent upon the players and their desire play the remainder of the season with the zeal one would come to expect of a team looking for some type of redemption. If nothing else they owe it to themselves and their fans.

The NBA Western Conference has now become awash of the unexpected and as the plot thickens the idiocy surrounds the sudden lull in the play of the Los Angeles Lakers . Don’t be fooled by anything you’ve heard or read at this point of the season teams will have their ups and downs and it’s how they respond that will define them. The Lakers have rebounded back and Kobe Bryant and his teammates seem to now back in the driver’s seat and their resolve will be to play the games as they come and then in the postseason show the NBA world why it is they’re the reigning NBA champions . If nothing else you simply have to respect that pedigree and until they’re toppled off the pile then due respect has to be given .

The Lakers’ neighbors within the Staples Center the Los Angeles Clippers and their sudden recognition around the league. No one person is more responsible for this other than Blake Griffin and his play through much of the season so far . In the same way that Dominique Wilkins came to be known as the “Human Highlight Reel” , Griffin has single handedly made that nom-de-plume his very own this season with his spectacular dunks. Unfortunately for the Clippers and their fans this hasn’t resulted in that many wins and at the same the Clippers still remain the same old Clippers. I’ve often maintained that when an organization simply lacks the will and ambition to win then whatever befalls that team is simply one of its own making. Is there now a more despised owner in professional sports than the Clippers’ Donald Sterling ? OK, so we could add the Redskins’ Daniel Snyder , Pittsburgh Pirates Bob Nutting and last but not least Jerry Jones of the Cowboys.

I understand that the business of sports is primarily about making money and any bye product sought is to win championships but what can be said as to morass that continually extends and surrounds the Los Angeles Clippers ? Someone needs to explain to me at what point will their fans simply say enough is enough ………? It’s apparent that NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league hierarchy isn’t overly concerned as to the mediocre plight of the Clippers under the tenure of Donald Sterling. But then again simply but as long as the league is reaping the vast rewards of the billions of dollars that unyieldingly comes into its coffers he’s not going to be concerned. For Stern the storyline here is that of the attention gained by the likes of the Heat , Boston Celtics and Lakers . If they’re being repeatedly on by the press then Sterling’s concerns aren’t that great but then again this is the same individual who last season issued the statement that the $250 million paid to a number of teams should not be viewed as a bailout because of those teams’ financial plight due to the economic climate. Kind of makes you wonder what perception the commissioner is trying to create with that rather asinine statement ?

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Clueless in Phoenix as that appears to be the situation with the Phoenix Suns at present under Alvin Gentry as the Suns’ coach. Ever since their most recent trades with the team acquiring Vince Carter and a number of other players which in turn sent Jason Richardson to the Orlando Magic . This team can’t find a win much less play a lick of defense and statistically they rank in the bottom half of the league with that rather dubious distinction. And now with rumors circling that the franchise may well be willing to offload Steve Nash with a view as building for the future , the question being asked is where they go from here ?

With the competitiveness of the Western Conference where week in week out it’s something of a dog fight one could say that last season’s Western Conference finalist’s this season appears to be something of a regression back to the ways of old. In all likelihood if Gentry is unable to have the Suns playing with any semblance of a will to win then team owner Robert Sarver will look to bring in a coach who can take the team back to the heights and expectations that he feels befits the organization .

There’s reason at present for noted film director Spike Lee and avowed basketball fan to be happy as his New York Knicks are once again relevant . Coach Mike D’Antoni and his coaching staff has the team playing with a great deal of resolve within the NBA. Amar’e Stoudemire , Raymond Felton , Landry Fields and Wilson Chandler have been playing at a pace that not many may well have expected. And those in attendance at Madison Square Gardens for the Knicks’ home games have to be more than pleasantly surprised but also extremely excited.

With what we’re now seeing within the Eastern Conference there’s no reason to believe that the Knicks cannot play themselves into contention within the conference and garner their first playoff berth in almost a decade. At their current pace the Knicks are on target to win 47 games, albeit that a sub .500 record or slightly above can garner a playoff spot within the conference. If that’s not enough of an indictment as to how bad the conference can be, then simply look over the past seasons and the records of the teams that have prevailed within the conference in garnering a postseason berth ? It hasn’t been uncommon for the teams ranked four through eight to have a record barely above .500 (41-41). It remains to be seen if this season we can see a vast improvement of the teams in the lower half of the seedings within the conference and how they may well fare. If nothing else the remainder of this season will be proof of that and what we ought to expect from some of those teams within the conference.

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Picture gallery . By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in its original formatted size.

Should the Knicks make the playoffs there’s a distinct possibility that Mike D’Antoni could very well be in with a chance of winning the NBA’s Coach of The Year Award . Given what he’s been able to achieve in assessing and building this team with the help of President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh this has been a season of redemption for the Knicks and their long suffering fans . One can only hope that barring injuries they can remain on course of achieving their goals .

Chime in with your comments as to your thoughts on the NBA season and any of the topics raised within this piece .

NB: NBA Conference Standings ..

Latest NBA news …..

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NBA Divisional Standings ….

NBA Statistics ….

NBA win streaks by conference and division

Alan aka tophatal ……………………….

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Faran W

Eye candy ……………. Faren Williams

More of Faren….. as you know doubt like it ?

Faren

That’s a body worth watching from any view ! Faren’s that is !

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Lupe Fiasco feat’g …… Matthew Santos …….. ” Superstar”

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Preach, Preacher , Preach …….. The NBA Hits Its Stride And Not Much Has Really Changed !

Preach, Preacher, Preach …….. The NBA Hits Its Stride And Not Much Has Really Changed !

As an ex-pat Brit who has now been residing is the US for now what will be 18 years on 10th August, this year. I’d like to think that I’ve now become acclimatized to the country, its nuances and a great many of its customs , up to a point. I love the passion for the sports but being that as a kid from elementary school on up , I’ve always loved sports. This particular aspect of life wasn’t really anything new to me. Though being being primarily raised by a single mother with two younger siblings. My mom always ingrained into us that it was ‘education first’, last and always above everything else. Somehow, that failed to have sunk in with my sister. As for myself and my brother , we took it upon ourselves not to disappoint our mother. That asides, I’d link to think that each of us have done well for ourselves along the way !

East Rutherford March 3rd 2010. LeBron James (#23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers controls the ball against the New Jersey Nets at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. photo appears  courtesy  of  Getty Images / Jim  McIsaacs ........
East Rutherford March 3rd 2010. LeBron James (#23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers controls the ball against the New Jersey Nets at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. photo appears courtesy of Getty Images / Jim McIsaacs ........

The NBA is now rounding that last corner in the regular season, as the ‘top contenders’ jockey themselves for the positional seedings in the Eastern and Western Conferences of the NBA. Leading the charge in the East are the Cleveland Cavaliers (48-14) . And record wise they have a 6 game advantage over their closest rival within the conference . The Orlando Magic (42-20) of the Southeast Division lead the third placed Atlanta Hawks (39-21) by 2 games within the division and conference standings. That asides , it gives you something of an overall indication that of the eight teams from each conference that garners a berth for postseason play. Within the Eastern Conference at present seven of the eight teams have an above 0.500 record. And of those 7, two of them are barely over that 0.500 mark. What this says about the state of play within the conference, I’ll leave that up to you, to decide ! But it is clear, that when measured against their Western counterparts , the state and quality of play isn’t on par.

In the Western Conference it’s all about who has the presence to chase down the Los Angeles Lakers (46-15) for the ‘top seed’ in the conference ? Sitting pretty atop of the heap and with a handy 5 1/2 game lead over their closest rivals, the Dallas Mavericks (41-21) . And as good as this Phil Jackson coached team has been playing. I think that everyone feels that there’s still some room for improvement by them overall. I’d mentioned to one of my colleagues within this domain and over at his site , that as good on paper and performance as the Mavericks might appear to be at present. I fully expect them to resort back to their customary selves and just essentially , ‘swoon in June’ ! chappy 81 can you hear me baby ? I repeat again, the Mavs will swoon in June ! Teams that can play in the postseason have to be first and foremost , mentally and physically tough ! And nowhere have I heard any so called supporter of this team actually emphasize that ! Instead all they seem to come up with is the regular season record that has been posted by the Mavericks thus far. And let’s not get into the fact of their lone appearance in an NBA Finals ! They were completely over-matched and outplayed by the Miami Heat duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Dywane Wade in a 4-2 NBA Finals’ series romp. It wasn’t even that close to begin with ! And I’m to expect that four years later , that they’ve improved enough to even usurp the Lakers and then go on to defeat whoever comes out of the Eastern Conference ? There’s more chance of Sarah Palin winning the Republican Party nomination for the Presidential candidate in 2012 , than seeing the Mavericks entertain the idea of making an appearance in the NBA Finals once again ! Finals’ MVP Wade showed why it was, he was so highly sought after by then Heat coach, Pat Riley out of Marquette.

Jonny Flynn (#10) of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives the baseline against Dirk Nowitzki (#41) of the Dallas Mavericks during a game at the American Airlines Center on March 3, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. photo appears  courtesy of  NBAE/ Getty Images/ Danny  Bollinger  ..........
Jonny Flynn (#10) of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives the baseline against Dirk Nowitzki (#41) of the Dallas Mavericks during a game at the American Airlines Center on March 3, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Danny Bollinger ..........

Now the rigors of an arduous NBA season should tell us that the game and season is just as exacting mentally as it is physically. And for the teams who possess the might to win, first and foremost they have to have the frame and mindset to undertake such a task. If you’re found wanting, then that will be your downfall ! .

In the conference standings all eight teams in the West are above 0.500 . And even the ninth placed team , the Memphis Grizzlies (31-30) though some 4 1/2 games behind the Portland Trailblazers (37-27) shows us the sort of disparity there is in the level of play and competitiveness that there is in comparison between the conferences of the NBA. Though one could allude to the fact that in the Eastern Conference there’s a preponderance to play more defense ? That’s not to say that the same isn’t being done in the Western Conference. What we may well have, is a higher standard of play and far more competitive teams. Never-mind the fact that the quality coaching and coaches may well be a hell of a lot better in the Western Conference than it is in the East !

At present there have proven to be two teams , one in either conference that has surprised me in terms of their play. In the West it has been the charge of the Oklahoma City Thunder led by the charge of their ‘formidable duo’ of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook . Coached by Scott Brooks , the sixth placed seeds in the Western Conference currently have a 36-24 record within the Northwest Division of the Western Conference. They currently sit in third place within the division behind the division leading Denver Nuggets (40-21) . This young team may well remind everyone last year’s Trailblazers , in terms of their zeal and play throughout much of the season. And were it not for the play at present of Carmelo Anthony , Kobe Bryant and LeBron James , I’d dare say that most people would not be at all surprised if Durant ended up being the regular season league MVP. He has proven to be that much of an integral part of the Thunder’s success this season. That were it not for him, then quite possibly the team wouldn’t be in the position that they’re in at the moment. Quite literally, they’re on the cusp of obtaining a playoff berth and making their first appearance in the postseason. And it’s something that their fans and ownership are no doubt quite appreciative of and excited about. As to what this will preclude to for the remainder of the season, we’ll just have to wait and see.

<strong> Kevin Durant</strong> (#35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes to the basket against Chris Andersen (#11) of the Denver Nuggets  on March 3, 2010 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.  photo appears  courtesy of  NBAE/ Getty Images/ Garrett W Ellwood .............
Kevin Durant (#35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes to the basket against Chris Andersen (#11) of the Denver Nuggets on March 3, 2010 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Garrett W Ellwood .............

In the Eastern Conference the belief was the top contenders would be the Cleveland Cavaliers , Boston Celtics (38-21) and Orlando Magic. Well as always, someone forget to send the script to someone who wasn’t suppose to gate crash the party. In this case the recipients have been the Atlanta Hawks. They’ve played themselves into contention and are no doubt proving to be something of a worrying factor in an equation that wasn’t considered by Mike Brown , Doc Rivers or Stan Van Gundy . And for Hawks’ coach Mike Woodson , this may well be the best coaching performance of his career. He has guided this team with a great deal of verve and they’ve all bought into his chain of thought as to what it takes to attain success. And it has become something that has resonated with the Hawks’ fans at the Philips’ Arena in Atlanta , the team’s home venue.

Joe Johnson (#2) of the Atlanta Hawks puts up a shot against the Philadelphia 76ers on February 28, 2010 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.  photo appears courtesy of  NBAE/ Getty Images/  Scott Cunningham  ..............
Joe Johnson (#2) of the Atlanta Hawks puts up a shot against the Philadelphia 76ers on February 28, 2010 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Scott Cunningham ..............

And with that success in terms of the team’s form there has been the recognition for some of the unsung heroes on this team. All Star , Joe Johnson , teammates Josh Smith , Jamal Crawford , Mike Bibby and Al Horford have all played a part in the team’s success this season. And you’d be hard pressed to think that they won’t press ahead under the misapprehension that they’re there just to make up the numbers. They’re out to shock the supposed contenders who presumably everyone felt would be sitting atop of the pile. And nothing spells upset more, than seeing one of the ‘big-wigs’ taken down by one of the presumed lesser lights within the conference. And there’s a great deal to suggest that the Hawks are the team that will not only quite possibly surprise the likes of the Cavs , Celtics and Magic . But who’s to say that they’re not capable beating ‘either’ of the three in a playoff series ? Stranger things have happened over the course of a postseason series and will continue to do so in the NBA. That’s what makes the NBA postseason all the more intriguing.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………

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DMX of Ruff Ryders’ fame gives you ….. ‘Slippin’. Pity he couldn’t keep himself level headed , instead the wheels fell of his particular bike ! This can also be a pointer to the teams on the outside looking in as to what needs to be done if they aspire to claim a playoff berth.

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More from DMX …..’Ruff Ryders’ Anthem’

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I’m Not Stylin’ I’m Just Wild About My Team ………………

 
 
 

I’m Not  Stylin’  I’m Just Wild   About  My  Team  …..

 

 

 

Is  it  appropriate that  an  owner   ought to be   calling  his  team  out in   public ? Even  if  they’re  playing well  or  not  ?   I  was  always  under  the  impression   that    sort  of  things   is  best  left  to  the  coaching  staff. Or  if anything   the  right  course of action  to  be  taken  is for  the   owner  to  speak   with  the  coach   and  his  staff  and   relate  to   them   his concerns.

 

 

Dirk  Nowitzki  of  the  Dallas  Mavericks drives to the  basket  whilst   trying  to  evade the defensive play  of the Hornets'  David West .
Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the basket whilst trying to evade the defensive play of the Hornets' David West. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Layne Murdoch ............

 

  

My  reasons   for  asking  the   questions   pertain  to  the  actions  of  Dallas  Mavericks’ owner Mark  Cuban.   In   doing   so   once   again   he   embarrasses   himself   and  the  organization.   OK  so they   lost   a    game  where  their    performance  was  less  than  adequate.   And   he  may  well   have  a  right   to  be  perturbed.   As  too  have  the   fans  but   in  all  honesty   denigrating    his   players   whilst    not  apportioning  any of  the  blame   on  the   coaching  staff    does    rather  smack   of   stupidity  and  a   great   deal  of  immaturity  as  well.  One   statement   that  can  be  attributed  to   Cuban   directly    was  that    if  the   team   continued  to   play  in   such  a  similar   vein   then  he’d  go  ahead  and  gut the  whole   roster  rather   than  have the  fans   endure  anymore  of  the  same”.

 

 

82991457LM000_MAVS_HORNETS
David West of the New Orleans Hornet grabs the defensive rebound and deprives the Mavericks' Jose Barea of the offensive play. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/Layne Murdoch ..........

 

 

The  lingering   doubt   that   has   always   concerned  the  Dallas  Mavericks   is  their  lack  of    heart.   They’re   often    viewed  as   one   of  the more  softer  teams  within  the  NBA.   And  it  certainly   hasn’t   been   lost   on  many   who’ve   witnessed  their   play  over  the  years.   They’re  gifted   in  the    fact that    they  may well  possess  two  of  the  more marquee   players   within   the  NBA  in    Dirk  Nowitzki  and    Jason  Kidd.   However   the  team  as  a  whole    though    not   physically   imposing  can   play   with a   great deal  of aplomb  when  they  set    their    minds  to  it.   However  the  fact of  the  matter  is that   much  of  the  time   they’re  all   too   inconsistent   in their   play.   And  it  certainly   hasn’t  helped   their  cause as   of  late  that  they’ve    seen  a  resurgent   San  Antonio Spurs  and     a  New  Orleans  Hornets  teams   that   has   rediscovered  its   desire.   And   within  the  Southwest  Conference  standing   this   hasn’t  exactly   bode  well   for  the  Mavericks  at this   juncture.   They  sit behind   the  Spurs , Hornets and  the  Houston  Rockets at  present. 

 

 

Hornets'  point  guard  Chris Paul who once again led his  team  to a win and who  had  an  exhilerating   night  terms  of  his  play and  productivity.   picture appears  courtesy of  nbae/getty images/ Layne  Murdoch .........
Hornets' point guard Chris Paul who once again led his team to win and whose own performance on the night in the team's victory over the Mavericks was exhilerating. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Layne Murdoch ............

 

 

 

Though   now  seated  as  the  eighth   seed   in   the  Western  Conference  standings.  Were  the  playoffs to  start  today    their   fortunes  as it is  would  lay  in their  own  hands.  But  having   to  take   on the   presumptive   favorites  within  the   conference     in  the  Los  Angeles  Lakers   would  undoubtedly   prove   to  be  an   ominous   task. As  well as  they’re  thought  to  be  playing    Cuban   has  felt   that    they’ve  just   not   been    playing  well  enough.  If anything   he   should  be questioning   the    approach  of  the  coaching   staff and  their    failure   to   communicate    with   the  players. \

 In  Rick  Carlisle   he    possesses   one   of  the  better   but   yet   one   of  the  more   understated   coaches   within  the NBA.   His  pedigree  is  one  where   he’s  coached   in Indiana   and  in Detroit .  And   as  a former   player   in  the  NBA  he   does  know  what  it   takes  to  play  at  the  highest  level   within  the  game.  They   say  that  a  team  does   tend  to   take  on the  persona  of  its   coach.  So  if that  is   indeed the   case  then  Cuban’s  tirade   if  anything    ought  to  be  directed  at  his  coach.   Albeit  that   it  is the   players   who  are  on the  court   playing   the   game.  It’s   from the   coach   that the  players   indeed   get their   instructions  and  the  strategy  that’s entailed  for   a game.  And   even  if  the  players aren’t   always   held   accountable    for the  results .  All  too   often   in the  end   it’s  the coach   that  often   ends    up  baring  the   brunt   of  the  blame. 

 

 

 

Jason  Terry of  the Mavericks  attempts to  drive  past  the Hornets' Devin Brown .........
Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks attempts to drive past the Hornets' Devin Brown. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Layne Murdoch ..............

 

 

 

Mark   Cuban   has often     been   known   to  direct     his  animus   at   the   officials   and  at times    directly  at the  game’s  hierarchy.  And   the  fines   borne   by  him  over the years  have  been   enough   to  build  several  large    family  homes.   And   to  a  billionaire   like  Cuban   money   is   afterall   no   option.  When  you’re  said  to  be  worth   in  excess  of   $2.6bn   and   ranked   at   #161  of  Forbes’  400 Richest  Americans.  A  paltry  fine  of   a  couple  of  hundred  thousand   is  minimal  when  it’s  all   said  and  done.  And  as  his  tirade   isn’t  directed at  anyone  within  the   game’s   hierarchy   this  time   around   he  hasn’t    really   anything   to  worry  about  .  Other  than   that  of  his   own   gigantic   ego  and   how  he’s   viewed  as  a  whole   by  the   fans  and   public  at  large.  But  in  reality   Mark  Cuban   has  never   really   been  all  that  worried   what  anyone   thinks about  him.   His   concerns    are  directed  at   the  things that  he  can   control  and  the  empire   he  purveys.  And  if  nothing   else   in Cuban’s   fiefdom   his  word  is  final   mo  matter  whether or  not   he’s   right   or  wrong.  The  narcissist   in  him  wouldn’t   have  it  any  other  way.

 

 

Hornets'  point guard  Chris Paul  drives  past   both  Jason Kidd  and Dirk  Nowitzki   of  the  Mavericks  as  he  makes  his  way  to the  basket  with  the  layup . The   Hornets  would  go  on to  win the  game  decisively  104-88  in the  game  played  in the New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana .  picture  appears  courtesy  of nbae/getty images/ Layne  Murdoch .............
Hornets' point guard drives past both Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks as he makes his way to the basket for the layup. The Hornets would go on to win the game decisively 104-88 . The game itself was played in the New Orleans Arena , New Orleans, Louisiana . picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/Layne Murdoch ..............

 

 

 

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