Basketball Today…

Neither of Saturday night’s Tournament semi-final games even resembled a “nail-biter”. The fact that the outcomes were not in doubt for a significant portion of the second half allowed for watching for some of the smaller aspects of the games. For example:

    As I wrote in an earlier rant, I would be very concerned as an NBA scout about Buddy Hield’s ability to “get his own shot”.

    Syracuse guard, Malachi Richardson, had no need to inform his bench that “they can’t guard me” as he did in the game against Virginia. The UNC defenders were on him like a sleeping bag.

    Jim Boeheim has grown calm in his advanced years. Twenty years ago, he would have pitched a fit on the sidelines if his Final Four team played the way they did Saturday night. This year, he just took in what was happening in front of him as “reality”.

The spread for tonight’s final game is UNC – 2.5 points with an OVER/UNDER of 149.5. I think tonight’s game will be more competitive than either of Saturday’s games but if I had to make a pick, I would take the game to go OVER.

Moving up a notch on the basketball ladder, the Hall of Fame inductees for 2016 were announced over the weekend. Heading the class in my mind are – in alphabetical order:

    Zelmo Beaty
    Darryl Garretson
    Allen Iverson
    Tom Izzo
    Shaquille O’Neal

There are other inductees about whom I have no significant reaction one way of the other. And then there is Yao Ming…

I understand that Yao Ming is a semi-deity in China and that the NBA is all in to cultivate the “China market”. Now if that is the basis for Yao Ming’s placement in the Hall of Fame, I have no difficulty whatsoever; after all, they are also inducting Jerry Reisndorf as the Chicago Bulls owner and I have no idea what makes him a significantly greater owner than another dozen owners except that he signed Michael Jordan and watched MJ go out and win 6 NBA championships.

What would bother me a lot is for Yao Ming to be in the Hall of Fame for his on-the-court accomplishments in the NBA because the fact is that those accomplishments were sparse indeed. Granted, he had several very productive seasons and it was a series of injuries that limited the length of his career. Nevertheless, as a player, I do not think of him as “one of the all-time greats”.

I suspect that someone may look at my list of 5 people with whom I have no problem getting into the Hall of Fame and wonder how I can have Zelmo Beaty on that list after my Yao Ming comments. My first response would be to say that Zelmo Beaty had the great misfortune to be born at a time that made him play in the NBA at the same time as Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Nate Thurmond and Walt Bellamy. Back then, the NBA only had 12 teams meaning that Beaty took the court against an outstanding opponent about 30% of the time. Oh, and back then, the NBA played man-to-man defense exclusively.

Let me stay with basketball today and suggest that the suits in the NBA exec suites have to breathe a sigh of relief when they look at the standings in the Western Conference and see that the LA Clippers are going to be in the playoffs. Were that not the case, the NBA would face a set of playoffs where all four of their teams in the two largest TV markets (NYC and LA) would be sitting home waiting for the draft lottery to happen. The other three teams in those huge TV markets have been a hot mess this year.

The Lakers created their own “relevance” this year despite being a team with a record of 16-60 as of this morning. The Lakers have been on a barnstorming tour with the “Kobe Bryant Farewell Ceremonies” as their calling card. As that got old and tired, the team then gave us the Deangelo Russell/Swaggy P prank video operetta. At least the Lakers provided drama – and they could still have a very high draft pick in June unless they get pushed out of the top 3 teams whereby their pick would go to the Sixers.

The two teams in NYC are a different story. Those teams stink and there is just about nothing you can point to that might lead you to believe that they are going to do anything other than stink for at least next year and probably several years to come. Both the Knicks and the Nets will end the season with losing records; in fact, the Nets will have to win four of their last 5 games just to get to the 25-win mark for the season. But it gets even worse for the Knicks and Nets…

    As a result of previous trades, neither the Knicks nor the Nets will have a first round draft pick this year. Even worse, those first round picks belong to Eastern Conference rivals (Raptors and Celtics) who are ahead of the Knicks and Nets in the standings and ahead of the NY teams in the building process.

    Let me put that into stark terms here:

      Help is NOT on the way.

Knicks’ and Nets’ fans have reason to be disconsolate these days. However, I want to offer them something to cling to as they go through the agonizing steps on the way back to basketball relevance for their favorite teams.

    Only 90 miles to the south, the fans in Philly are in an even worse state as they try to discern even modest improvements in the Sixers.

    Things may look bleak for NBA fans in NYC – but imagine how dark and bleak things are in Philadelphia.

Finally, here is an item from Bob Molinaro in a column last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot. He nailed this comment:

“Duh: A new research paper about big-time football and men’s basketball finds little correlation between a coach’s career advancement and the academic success of his players. Now that’s what I call a scoop.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………