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Friday, May 15th, 2009 at 4:53 pm  |  75 responses

Links: Deep Thoughts

Fri-Day! Yes!

by Lang Whitaker

OK, a bunch of things to get to today…

• We’re working on the next issue of SLAM right now, which I hope explains my absence here on The Links for most of this week. I’m around if you know where to look for me. I wrote a column for Hawks.com, have been doing a bunch of radio shows, did a season-ending podcast for Hawks.com (which you can get off of iTunes)…the best way to keep up is to follow me on twitter, if you’re on there, because I tweet whatever I’ve just done or am doing.

• Anyone else a little surprised that the Draft lottery is happening on Tuesday night? I thought we were still a few weeks away. I guess I don’t follow as closely these days now that my Hawks are out of the lottery.

• One of the things I said over and over on the radio shows I was on yesterday is that the two teams I wouldn’t want any part of right now are Denver and Cleveland. I wrote about this last week, but Denver’s like a wounded animal backed into a corner, just waiting to spring at you and rip a vein out of your neck and kill you. I’m not sure what George Karl gave these dudes, but they’re playing defense, sharing the ball…they’re a really fun team to watch. And I still think they need to wear black and silver next season.

• And if LA beats Houston (and I think they will), they’re going to have to face their worst nightmare in Denver, a team that can both out-run LA and out-physical LA. Also they can out-tattoo LA. Actually, Denver could out-tattoo the cast of Miami Ink. And I’m sure Kobe will love getting to play another series in Colorado.

• If Kobe’s the player everyone thinks he is, there’s no way he lets the Lakers lose a series to Houston or to Denver, right? Right?

• After seeing Cleveland and Atlanta play Games 3 and 4 in person, I am now prepared to make a statement some might not agree with, but that I am totally convinced is correct: Right now, LeBron is the best basketball player the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan in his prime.

That Game 3 they played in Atlanta, where Bron went for 47 points, 12 boards, 8 assists, 1 block, 1 steal and 1 turnover, might be the best all-around performance I’ve ever seen. And the way Cleveland takes advantage of LeBron’s abilities is pretty genius, too: Watch how on most offensive possessions, or at least the plays where Bron is the playmaker, the Cavs don’t even bother putting anyone in the post. Z stands out at the three point line in the corner, everyone else clears out, someone shows on a pick and Bron either gallops to the rim and dunks or he hits Z or Mo in the corner for a three. That’s pretty much all they do, and it works every time.

• After that Game 3, my main man Andre Aldridge had a pretty telling exchange with Bron in the locker room. LeBron had played 43 minutes and been the focal point of the Atlanta defense the entire night. As he sat in the corner of the locker room and started icing down, Dre said, “Are you tired?”

LeBron said, “I’m tired.”

Andre said, “You don’t look tired.”

And LeBron said, “And if I was still out there, I still wouldn’t look tired.”

• I loved this story about a bunch of former NBA players recommending the Kings hire Paul Westphal for their coaching vacancy. Sam Amick asked Kevin Johnson, who played for Westphal in Phoenix, for his thoughts on Westphal as a coach, and here’s the first two sentences KJ came up with, his initial reaction:

“He knew the game. He’s a coach who has a lot of trick plays.”

You know, we weren’t really interesting in Paul Westphal, but what’s this? You say he has a lot of trick plays? Really? Hey, now we’re on to something! Trick plays!

That reminds me of when the Sonics hired Bob Weiss to replace Nate McMillan, and one of the reasons they gave was the players liked him because he did a lot of magic tricks in the locker room. How’d that work out? Weiss went 13-17 in his first 30 games before the Sonics made him disappear.

• Strange that the Western Conference Finals could be two former coaches of the Albany Patroons (Karl vs. Phil)

• We made such a big deal about Kobe vs. Bron…but what if it turns out to be Melo vs. Bron? Would that be so terrible?

• Has anyone seen Derek Fisher? Has any player been more exposed this postseason as being on the downward slope of his career?

• And hey, I know JJ Barea is fun to watch and everything, but you’re not winning a title with Barea as a major part of your rotation.

• Reader Brian emails…

Lang,
Can you please step in and provide a voice about Phil Jackson’s lack of coaching with the Lakers? When will someone bring this up seriously? Is there an unwritten hands off rule about critiquing him amongst the media?

The Lakers are a young team with no real experience (minus Kobe and Fisher). They made a surprise (even to themselves) Finals run last year and got ripped up by the Celtics. During that series Phil demonstrated the same lackadaisical coaching that he’s putting into practice now. He hasn’t learned and the team hasn’t learned.

In both blowout losses he refused to call an early timeout and sat back allowing a huge deficit being created. His Zen-like coaching mastery or pride in his passive techniques…or something prevented him taking coaching action to stop these game-starting runs by Houston. Leaving his team with massive uphill climbs to start the game, the team never being able to make that climb.

You know, I hear you, but I think you’re over-reacting a little. If this happened 82 games a year, I’d hear you. But…the dude’s won more titles than all the other active coaches in the NBA combined. I think he knows what he’s doing.

• Did you guys see that Brandon Roy won some award for being friendly to the media? Seriously. I’d like to say here that I had nothing to do with that award — that one’s from the Pro Basketball Writers Association, which I know nothing about and have never been asked to join. I would have voted for Stephon Marbury, anyway.

• (Kidding!)

• I don’t know if I mentioned this here or not, but the new Star Trek is totally worth seeing. I never watched the original Trek or any of the more recent series, but if you have a cursory knowledge of the original characters, the movie is totally worth seeing.

• I like Lawrence Frank — think he’s a nice guy and a good coach. But it’s a little damning seeing Antoine Wright and Brian Scalabrine making big contributions in the postseason after Jersey basically discarded them.

• Oh, and Kobe Doin’ Work, Spike Lee’s new joint, debuts on ESPN tomorrow night. I have a funny feeling that Kobe Doin’ Work is gonna equal Lang Doin’ Review.

Yee-uh.

• Antoine Wright: Wrap him up.

• Our dude Josh Childress has turned into the Twitter Riddler.

Have a great weekend everyone. Catch you all next week…

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  • http://www.hoopsvibe.com/christopher_sells-authorHV106.html chiqo

    bullet points are the greatest. you can be succinct and to the point while still saying what you would in many more words.

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    Witness.

  • http://cityofno.blogspot.com/ toney blare

    yo, i forgot about those magic tricks. that was standard Links material for like 4 months.

  • Brian

    I don’t think it is really fair to compare LeBron and Kobe now. Kobe’s played what, 1100 NBA games or so? I think a more apt comparison would be LeBron now to the Kobe that went against Sacto in the WCF.

  • http://effyou@heythere.com Allenp

    Anytime you watch Bron, Kobe or Wade go off, you come away convinced they are the best in the league.
    And I don’t mean “you” as in Lang Whitaker, I mean “you” in the sense of a basketball fan.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Those magic tricks were the best. Funny thing is I googled “Bob Weiss Magic Trick” today to see if there was any evidence of those old stories, and the first thing that came up was this:
    http://www.magicbobweiss.com/
    Apparently there is now a magician named Bob Weiss! Really strange.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Blinguo

    Those Kobe LeBron muppets NikeBasketball promos are weird, but not as weird as the J-Chill thing there. He should wear a Matthew Lesko ? mark riddler suit during those pre-season media picture days (googled it a while ago, Lesko even had all patent sneaks). Take that Gerald Wallace purple Pimp suit.

  • Delonte13

    Kobe’s overrated. Since Shaq left he has repeatedly shown that he can’t carry a team on his back. He can no longer dominate a series (as opposed to LBJ). All of his brilliance is saved for meaningless regular season games. The postseason keeps revealing the same thing: Kobe is overrated. And you can’t deny that.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    So LeBron right now is better than Shaq or Timmy EVER were? Man, I don’t know.

  • JB

    In regards to Lebron v MJ….

    I can see where your basis is coming from, and hell, you surely catch a lot of games live, etc. However, putting your biases toward ATL aside, can you honestly say that ATL was a good enough team defensively to warrant such a comparison? I mean Lebron did make it look rather easy, but is that much more of Lebron’s ability or how poorly the Hawks played collectively.

    I don’t mean that as a put down toward ATL, either, I surely was rooting for them and as a Warrior fan, I can only hope we get to the same place the Hawks are (at least in the next 5 years).

  • http://hoops4life.com overtime

    Like the Melo/Lebron thing…hasn’t been mentioned yet…lets recover the rivalry of 04!

  • JB

    Oh and I see you Lang, on DFish, but safe to say its quite clear that Kidd is on that same slope.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @Russ: Yeah, I think so. It’s a tough call but…
    @JB: LeBron actually averaged something like 3 ppg less against Atlanta this year than he did against the rest of the League. ATL has a lot of players to use against him and they’re not a terrible defensive team. But I get what you’re saying — let’s see what Bron does in the next round.

  • Michael

    I still say that Kobe of the 01 playoffs is as good as I’ve seen since MJ retired. He destroyed the two supposed best teams in the league (Kings, SPurs) in back to back series. Everyone forgets how good Kobe was during that run. The rest of the league was scared out of their minds saying stupid s**t like the Lakers were going to win ten titles in a row.

  • Esco

    For the JChill riddle. She took a picture of her husband.

  • jogabonito

    Funny how all of a sudden it was a “surprise run to the finals” when they were supposed to win it all (and were number 1 in the west).

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    Lang…Phil also always had 2 main guys with strong personalities to guide his teams on the floor. This Laker team has one and he can’t always be on the floor and i think being he’s the only one out there with that personality frustrates him to the point where he stops trying to guide them. Phil needs to realize this and call those timeouts. It’s bad enough he doesnt stand up during the games until “oh shit we may actually lose” pops into his head with 5 mins left in the 4th and a 15 pt deficit.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    Lang…Phil also always had 2 main guys with strong personalities to guide his teams on the floor.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    This Laker team has one and he can’t always be on the floor and i think being he’s the only one out there with that personality frustrates him to the point where he stops trying to guide them.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    Phil needs to realize this and call those timeouts. It’s bad enough he doesnt stand up during the games until “oh sht we may actually lose” pops into his head with 5 mins left in the 4th and a 15 pt deficit.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    Phil needs to realize this and call those timeouts.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    its bad enough he doesnt stand up until he realizes they may actually lose with 3 mins left in the game..

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    and i hate this comments box.

  • rand33p

    this is funny… wrong.. but funny

  • http://nicekicks.com MeloMan13

    Bron Vs Melo would be a dream come true. just thinking about Melo holding up old Larry gives me chills

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    Lang, i posted a quick link to a clip of JVG taking part in human bowling prior to game, could you moderate it? Or i guess y’all could post it int he media section if you want, it’s short but his reaction is funny

  • slamfan4life

    Melo vs Bron wouldnt be as good, Billups is the REAL man of the Nuggets (Melo hit a few shots, so what) id rather see Kobe and Bronbron

    actually id rather see Rose vs kobe but oh well….

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    Russ Bengtson Posted: May.15 at 5:41 pm
    So LeBron right now is better than Shaq or Timmy EVER were?……….cosign!!!

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    and i expected something else, based on the “deep thoughts” title.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. “Oh, no,” I said. “Disneyland burned down.” He cried and cried, but I think that deep down, he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history, in every culture, is the story of Popeye.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    If you go parachuting, and your parachute doesn’t open, and you friends are all watching you fall, I think a funny gag would be to pretend you were swimming.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there’s no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.”

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    If you’re a young Mafia gangster out on your first date, I bet it’s real embarrassing if someone tries to kill you.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    If you ever catch on fire, try to avoid looking in a mirror, because I bet that will really throw you into a panic.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    Just because swans mate for life, I don’t think its that big a deal. First of all, if you’re a swan, you’re probably not going to find a swan that looks much better than the one you’ve got, so why not mate for life?

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    I can’t stand cheap people. It makes me real mad when someone says something like, “Hey, when are you going to pay me that $100 you owe me?” or “Do you have that $50 you borrowed?” Man, quit being so cheap!

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    If you’re in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it’ll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ Moose

    I second the Star Trek comment. And the funny thing is, I don’t know any of the old stuff either–It was already old before I was born!

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ Moose

    And thanks for your insight, Tarzan.

  • http://www.basketbrasil.com.br Rubens Borges

    I’m not watching “Star Trek: Harold & Sylar’s Fantastic Voyage” until the DVD drops. I say that as a Star Wars fan… God, I’m a geek. i blame following Lang and Russ @ twitter…

  • http://www.basketbrasil.com.br Rubens Borges

    Deep Thought by Jack Handey, er I mean, Tarzan Cooper

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Lang, Trek was WORTH it. Solid story, well placed comedy, great effects (hey was that the cloverfield monster dipped in red in that snow sequence? Shame on ya JJ) and Sylarrrrrr! Widh Omar had done a review. One movie to miss though? Wolverine. Had one of the most gorgeous women i’ve seen on screen in it, but thats about it. Campy and overdone.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    damn, Tarzan needed to share, bigtime. Lots of funny lines though. You da man, Coop.

  • Kas

    i didn’t bother reading the article, but the picture (lebron & mike) is blaspehmy. no way in hell will lebron ever be half the player mike was

  • http://www.twitter.com/mansonovic Mansonovic

    Re. Josh Childress – The woman took a picture and developed it herself. Booyah.

  • http://www.grupoquark.com Miguel Garcia (Mexico)

    Lang:
    What is up with you not even mentioning the Magic-Celtics series? you rather discuss the Kings and other teams out of the playoffs?

  • Matt

    lebron = jordan? wow. youre absolutely ridiculous.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Blinguo

    My post didn’t go through due to some auto-modded word that I wouldn’t even know what it was because I didn’t swear or cover up a swear at all, but Tarzan’s boxing joke combo, all half dozen of them with half as many punchlines did?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Blinguo

    Lang doin review of Kobe Work = 100 TV spots of that weird NikeBasketball Kobe & Bron as muppets advert. Weirder than Josh’s photo-developing room joke.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Blinguo

    Tell Childress to wear a Matthew Lesko ? mark suit in Riddler colors to media-photo day upon his re-arrival to the NBA, whenever that is. Take that Gerald Wallace Sacto Purple P!mp suit. (I censored P-imp since I wrote it last time and that might have been the word that = delete) He can even wear patent sneaks like the Matt Lesko dude does. Google him and see.

  • http://yahoo.com LMD

    LeBrick is overrated ,…..JORDAN AND KOBE are the two best to ever play the game of basketball
    ….if LeBrick wasnt so big and strong he would be garbage just another bench player!!

  • bitmatt

    And if Kobe wasn’t so coordinated he’d be just another car salesman in Scranton. I’m sure he’d be the best one ever though, right? Dude can move some Kia’s.

  • AlbertBarr

    LMD…but he is big and strong so what is your point?

  • http://nicekicks.com MeloMan13

    @ Slamfan: ur seriously gonna down play what melo has done this postseason? some people just arnt meant to be basketball fans

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Right now, LeBron is the best basketball player the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan in his prime. ARE YOU SERIOUS, he played against the ATL Hawks. You put Lebron against the Jazz or Rockets, he would not have looked that good. This article lost all creditablitiy with the dumb statement off of him playing the hawks.

  • bp

    Interesting today how JVG made a comment during the telecast about Phil no longer tweaking opposing teams and coaches with his psychological warefare like he used to do. I say this adds some more credo to my comments to Lang about Phil losing his desire to actively coach anymore (thanks for addressing my email Lang). Say what you will about not having 2 coaches on the floor…but I wonder if it has more to do with him just getting bored. There’s no real drama going on (like Shaq-Kobe, Rodman, Pipp-MJ-Kukoc, etc…) and he’s just stuck having to search for something to meditate about.

    BP (“reader Brian”)

  • ABIMATOR

    Thanx Tarzan 4 d jokes, I like the sheap people 1…
    I’m so sad my C’s got kicked 2 the beaches before summertime

  • mj23

    At this point in his career, i’m afraid that Lebron has surpassed MJ. Just look at their numbers, and let’s not forget Lebron is only 24. At 24 Lebron has already made the finals, MJ didn’t reach that milestone until he was 28, and Lebron may have a 2nd appearance in the finals in just his 6th season.

  • http://yahoo.com derrick

    i would like to lebron in the post more he is a 6’8 260pound pf who plays sf unstoppable down there easily 30+ a game

  • http://yahoo.com derek

    i would like to lebron in the post more he is a 6’8 260pound pf who plays sf unstoppable down there easily 30+ a game

  • Harlem_World

    Lang, we had this very same ‘debate’ on Sunday at the park. As far as I’m concerned, the Kobe/Lebron talk is tired and misplaced. Kobe IS NOT that guy. Yes, he’s very, very good, but he’s not on that Mike level. Lebron is on course. If he gets 5 rings before he retires, as the alpha dawg, he will go down as the best ever. You can’t argue he’s the best 24 year old in NBA history, to this point. No, I’m not saying he’s better than Mike, yet. But people need to not be so closed minded that it can’t happen. There is no bigger Jordan appreciation society than me, but, facts are facts. Lebron James IS that guy. The statement about best since Mike in his prime is debatable with Shaq at his beast-mode best and Timmy in his completely unstoppable best. But if he keeps this up, I think the arguments will slip away…

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    LeBron surpasses Kobe as the top player: Jerry West

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    Who’s Blogging
    » Links to this article
    By Steve Ginsburg
    Reuters
    Monday, May 18, 2009; 4:07 PM

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, surpassing veteran Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, 14-times All-Star guard Jerry West said Monday.

    West, a shrewd judge of talent who brought Bryant to the Lakers when he was their general manager, said the Cleveland forward could become the league’s next Michael Jordan.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    LeBron isn’t as good as Jordan, until he wins more in the playoffs. He DID, however, almost singlehandedly bring Cleveland to the finals that one year… That was impressive.
    Now let’s see with a little help from Mo, whether or not he can bring home a chip.
    Also, I’d like to note that Jordan didn’t always play his best ball against defensive teams like New York, either. Sure, he got hot, but in game 6 of the ’93 ECF, he shot like 30 something percent against the Knicks. They still won because Scottie Pippen got hot after the defense focused too much on Jordan.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    For the record, Kobe is still better than LeBron. You can disagree all you want, but its true.
    Give LeBron a little more time and he’ll be better, as Kobe gets older. Careerwise, LeBron will never be the scorer Jordan or Kobe are/were.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Also, the only reason Phil Jackson has beaten Rick Adelman multiple times, is because he’s had MICHAEL JORDAN, SHAQUILLE O’NEAL, AND KOBE BRYANT AT HIS SIDE.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Not to mention SCOTTIE PIPPEN AND DENNIS RODMAN.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    How many of those titles do you think were won mostly because of the coach, Phil Jackson, as opposed to some of the NBA’S GREATEST PLAYERS?

  • http://www.myspace.com/mabyadigg M.A. Baron

    LeBron is nothing Like Mike! Mike never airballed a free-throw (4 times too!)

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    I find it midly amusing when people say that LeBron will never be the scorer that Kobe is even though his career avg is 3 points higher and he’s been the better scorer for the last 2 years.

  • chintao

    Teddy’s singing my song. Fphil sucks. He’s just lucky that he will be going against an even bigger bonehead in Karl.

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