Post All-Star weekend hangover. News will be petering out over the next few days. The two main topics of course will be 1) Where Carmelo Anthony will be playing; and 2) what the fallout was from any CBA meetings. From our perspective, here is what is most important - the Lakers are withing spitting distance. At least in the aftermath our boys who participated in the weekend are receiving a lot of love.
Well, we've learned that LeBron is still head and shoulders over everyone else, KIA somehow shared the same court as guys who tend to prefer to roll in Maybachs, Craig Sager can out-fashion Bieber, and Rihanna hates pants.
Mayberry takes a look at a few of the defining moments that put the rest of the All-Stars on notice. Westbrook and Durant are here to stay.
Here is another round-up of the most-standout performers. Russell Westbrook receives some accolade, having netted 12 points in only 14 minutes. Going in, we knew that Gregg Popovich would probably only give him about a quarter's worth of play. We've seen lots of youngsters totally blow that kind of opportunity, because they're never sure whether to attack or to compliment. Well, Westbrook attacked. Hard. Most important, he finished the plays.
All in all, these grades are about what you'd expect - Kobe played an aggressive game in front of his home crowd, Chris Paul worked hard to set up guys, big guys just tried to rebound, and 'Melo looked like he was MIA.
Here's my one sticking point - the inclusion of Tim Duncan. He was a coach's selection, and once again, Tim played like he really didn't care. You see it on his face - he really doesn't care about the festivities. And that's fine; he's a serious guy who plays in a serious way, and the All-Star game is the opposite of both. Knowing this though, it bothers me why the coaches took him over Steve Nash, whose defining attribute is that he makes it fun for other guys to play with him. That's the kind of guy you want in this game every single year.
I love everything about this story. I can tell that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is enjoying it too. Check out this quote:
"It was a fantastic meeting, trust me," Prokhorov said, smiling. "No words, live music, excellent atmosphere. We looked into each other's eyes. Just real man talk."
More links after the jump.
A few interesting comparisons between some Thunder guys and their potential counterpoints. Durant is compared to George Gervin, Jeff Green is compared to David West (an upside like West's would be delightful), and surprisingly, James Harden is compared to Paul Pierce. I think that is an interesting choice, but I can see the similarities. They both have kind of a quirky off-the-dribble game with an ability to get to the free throw line. What Pierce does have that Harden hasn't acquired yet is a better ability to actually make shots and also a middle-range game that really separates the few players that possess it from the rest of the jump-shooting field. I would really hate to see Harden relegated to simple spot-shooting duty. His game is so much more of an offering than that.
Westbrook gives his assessment as to where he thinks he is personally, as well as where the team is headed. He's going to own the world if he stays focused and really works hard to polish his game.
I like that they asked Dirk Nowitzki about his impression of Durant. It is appropriate because Durant is really the next iteration of what Dirk has been for the past 10 years. Durant is a little bit quicker, more athletic, and doing equivalent things at a younger age. What Dirk has now that Durant needs to gain is continued rebounding expertise, better half-court awareness, and the ability to get good shots at the ends of games.
This a great look on an aspect of Durant's life that doesn't get a lot of notice - the stability that his family (and his father) brings. It is obvious that his dad lives by principles, not by circumstance. To loosely paraphrase Rick Reilly, Durant's dad gives him something everything a kid needs - a dad that he doesn't want to disappoint.
Durant's pre-draft workout shortcomings will likely go down in the annals of NBA mythology. He'll eventually put on the muscle he needs to take the nightly beating. Until then, he'll be more Ray Allen than Kobe Bryant.
Here, Westbrook gets his own story told. Like Durant, he too had a father who was fully committed to seeing Junior become a basketball player and a man.
I'm actually surprised these days to read a story that comes out in favor of Commissioner Stern's position where he wants to raise the age limit requirement of draftees. This story is decent, but still seems to confuse the college game as something that is Stern's business.