minoroots

about the 2009 NBA All-Star selections

Posted in Hoops, Opinion by minoroots on 01/23/2009

All-Star starters were announced today. They are:

Vote Again to Win

Chris
Paul
New Orleans
Kobe
Bryant
Los Angeles
Tim
Duncan
San Antonio
Amar’e
Stoudemire
Phoenix
Yao
Ming
Houston

Allen
Iverson
Detroit
Dwyane
Wade
Miami
LeBron
James
Cleveland
Kevin
Garnett
Boston
Dwight
Howard
Orlando

Now, because the starters are always based on fan voting, there’s naturally a bias toward big-name stars and toward any player from China since there’s a billion countrymen voting for Yao and Yi Jianlian (and I bet several wrote in for Sun Yue). Yi was actually close to making it on the East team (3rd in WCF forwards, just behind KG)… which doesn’t really make sense, considering he’s the 3rd option (at best) on a weak New Jersey team.

Although Yi didn’t make the lineup, there are questionable selections and glaring omissions from this starting 10, probably summing up the votes of casual fans that don’t really follow the game on a day-to-day basis. Or, of people who are super-biased toward their favorite team or player. Though this is OK, because the whole point of the All-Star game is that fans get to watch their favorite players play against each other… but I guess I’m a bit of a purist and I’d rather see players who are playing the best ball of their lives this year, as opposed to a fan-favorite who currently may not be playing at the highest level that the NBA has to offer.

Anyway, after taking a quick glance at the lineups, the first thing that pops out to me is the selection of Allen Iverson as the East’s starting guard. By this season’s standards, I think it’s an obvious blunder by the fans that voted him in. AI is having by far one of the worst seasons of his career, both in terms of individual production (17.8 ppg, 5.3 apg, 1.6 spg, all below his career averages of 27.3 ppg, 6.3 apg, and 2.2 spg) and his net effect on his new team, the Detroit Pistons. What I see is a perennially solid Detroit team (24-17, 5th in the East) struggling to keep up with the elite East teams (8.5 games behind Boston, Cleveland, Orlando), while the man he was traded for (Chauncey Billups) is leading a so-so Denver team to new heights–something Iverson was not able to do during his tenure there.

So who would I take in place of Iverson? My first instinct would be to expand the forward slot and slide in Danny Granger (who is having a phoenomenal year, averaging 25.4 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.6 3pt, 1.3 bpg, and hitting a fair share of game-winners for Indiana)… but if we must adhere to the 2-guard lineup, my choice would be Joe Johnson. He’s the leader on a surprising Atlanta team, currently sitting at #4 in the East, and they have played well in close losses to the big-name teams this year. He’s averaging 22.0 ppg, 6.0 apg, 4.5 rpg, 1.0 spg–and while his numbers are impressive, his value to the team is even greater. When JJ plays poorly, the Hawks almost always lose. He leads the league in minutes played at 40.0 mpg. That’s just 8 minutes per game that he rests.

[UPDATE: How could I forget? yancanwrite reminded me of other Eastern All-Star caliber guards like Jameer Nelson & Devin Harris (though currently injured and production dropping… but I think he deserves MIP at the end of the year if he keeps up his play). Also Ray Allen, who in my opinion, has been the best player for the Celtics thus far–moreso than All-Star starter KG.]

I wrote at length about the Iverson selection because that was the one selection that stood out to me (negatively) the most, but here’s a quick summary of how I feel about the other picks:

West:

  • CP3 – Best PG in the game.
  • Kobe – Stats are down, but he’s leading the best team in the NBA playing a different style of ball the better suits the team. Plus, his talent is unquestioned and he’s still playing in his prime. He belongs here.
  • Duncan – Kept a TP and Manu-less Spurs afloat for the first 20 games (can you imagine Boston without Ray Allen and Paul Pierce? They’d be worse than the T’Wolves). He’s as solid as they come.
  • Amare – I don’t really like this pick, but he gets in with some viral marketing and because the All-Star game’s in Phoenix… For a guy nicknamed STAT, he’s not really having a good season statistically (20.6 ppg, down from 26.7 ppg last year) and his team struggled in the first half of the season. Dirk Nowitzki is definitely having a better season (26.0 ppg, up from 23.6 ppg last year) and although Dallas is struggling just as much as the suns, I think he’s worthy of this spot–at least moreso than Amare.
  • Yao – 1 billion strong. However, his play also justifies him as the best C in the West. GSW’s Biedrins (rebound monster), Denver’s Nene (great season this year), and Sota’s Al Jefferson (scoring machine) all warrant consideration, but I still think Yao comes out on top. He’s leading a team of scrubs (without injured McGrady and Artest) to a respectable standing in the brutal West race.

East:

  • AI – see above.
  • Wade – Miami was supposed to be a lottery team this year. D-Wade is playing out of his mind and the Heat are sitting comfortably at 6th in the East.
  • LeBron – are you kidding me? He’s a lock for the next 8 years.
  • KG – debatable. I guess having at least one player from one of the best teams in the league make the starting roster is inevitable, but some guys (like the aforementioned Granger) are playing better ball right now, in my opinion. Chris Bosh also comes to mind as well. But all things considered… I think the same argument used for Kobe applies here, and KG is still the right pick.
  • Superman –3 million + votes? Most in All-Star history? There’s no C in the world that can compare to Dwight right now.

Update: Check out this great column by Henry Abbot at Truehoop regarding thoughts behind All-Star selections.

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Career night for Bynum

Posted in Lakers by minoroots on 01/22/2009
Andrew Bynum led the Lakers with a career-high 42 points and 15 rebounds in a 108-97 victory over the Clippers. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

"Andrew Bynum led the Lakers with a career-high 42 points and 15 rebounds in a 108-97 victory over the Clippers." (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Albeit against a horribly crippled Clippers team without its main big men (Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman, Zach Randolph–all out with injuries), Andrew Bynum dropped a career-best 42 points, eclipsing his previous high by 14 points. It wasn’t really about the point total, but the way in which he established himself in the post and scored mostly on dunks that impressed me. By the way, this is the first 40-plus point game by a Laker other than Kobe since Shaquille left, back in ’04.

  • Great play at the opening tip. The way Bynum slapped the ballĀ  ‘down’ to Pau, and with Luke making the cut immediately following the tip, I definitely think that was a designed play by the coaching staff. Nice assist by Pau.
  • Odom went dunk-happy in the 4th quarter. I think that’s the most fun I’ve had watching LO play this year.
  • Clips were trying hard. Just over matched in the talent department by A LOT. It’s like a D-League/JV team out there. Poor guys
  • Sasha is a surprisingly good passer
  • There were reports that Jordan Farmar’s recovery from knee surgery was going well, and he seems ahead of schedule (Update: he’s WAY ahead of schedule). That’s good, because Fish really needs a break (he’s been looking/playing like it as of late)
  • In the end, the game went as expected–Lakers taking a lead early, getting bored and letting the Clips creep back, only to slam the door shut on them and close out the game in the final minutes.
  • The fan ratio at staples has got to be like 60/40 in favor of the Lakers. And this is an ‘away’ game
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First Aid Kit, Feist + Ben Gibbard

Posted in Music, Video by minoroots on 01/21/2009

via recommendation from my friend Thomas, who is the king of finding great music from all over the place. This young duo is from Sweden. The sisters are singing a cover of a song by Fleet Foxes. Their interpretation of the song + harmonization skills are something else to behold. Who knew that forests provide such good acoustics? I guess it makes sense since it echos when you call out to the wilderness…

Another good find: a great collaboration by Feist and Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie). They compliment each other’s voices so well. This one’s audio only.

John Legend – Everybody Knows (video)

Posted in Music, Video by minoroots on 01/21/2009

Vodpod videos no longer available.

My favorite track from “EVOLVER” just released its music video.

A little bit of thanks

Posted in General, Thoughts by minoroots on 01/19/2009
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday.

For all that I do not know,

For all the suffering that I did not experience,

For all that was not taken away from me,

For all of my civil rights,

For all of the education that I was able to receive,

For all the wonderful interracial and intercultural experiences I’ve had in my years growing up,

For all the people who have come before you and after you in support of the cause,

For all that my parents have been able to accomplish in this country,

For everything I’ve been able to have in my 24 years of life,

To some degree, as little or as large as it may be,

I have you to thank.

Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

…and Happy Birthday.

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10 years ago today

Posted in Hoops, Tribute by minoroots on 01/13/2009

J.A. Adande, from ESPN:

…Jan. 13, 1999, was the final moment of the basketball player as icon, a business perfected by Jordan in a way that never will be seen again.There were more than 800 reporters in the United Center that day. I was part of a two-man team from the Los Angeles Times. Can you imagine more than 800 reporters from around the country converging to cover a retirement news conference today, with a bank of 25 cameras focused on one individual and a fleet of satellite trucks parked outside to beam his words to the world?

Michael Jordan Press Pass

J.A. Adande: This is the press pass from MJ's retirement conference.

[…]There’ll never be another Jordan the way there’ll never be another Johnny Carson or another Walter Cronkite. Individuals don’t hold our interest that regularly and that long anymore.

You can read the rest here.

I posted this because even after 10 years, I still remember this day. Crazy, isn’t it?

I was in 8th grade, in Mrs. Sanchez’s history class–1st period, I think. We had a sort of a laid back day in class. We had a TV in the classroom, and several of my classmates were young hoop heads. I particularly remember Westley Watkins vouching for the TV to be turned on, so that we can tune into MJ’s retirement news conference. Taking his lead, we egged our teacher on until she conceded and turned on the TV for us. ESPN had been running something like a 3-day marathon of MJ highlights–all the way from his early years, Laney High, North Carolina, Dunk Contests, the first 3-peat, 1st retirement, baseball, “I’m Back,” #45, and to his second 3-peat. It was like watching the legend of a cultural phenomena unfold.

That one person can attract and command so much attention and admiration is mind-boggling. And even after a decade, as evidenced by Adande’s article, the influence he still holds in basketball and the sports world at large is immeasurable. Simply put, legendary.

‘Course, Jordan would come back for one last hurrah with the Wizards, but that didn’t really count. THE Michael Jordan as we wish to know him went into retirement 10 years ago today. And I thank him for the 14 seasons prior to his retirement, for exciting sports fans and intruducing basketball to the world with undeniable force. If it weren’t for MJ and the likes of Magic/Bird, maybe I never fall in love with the sport.

10 years later, the feeling still resonates.