Monthly Archives: June 2010

SOURCE: Josh Boone still playing in NBA

Breaking news this minute reports that Josh Boone is in fact still playing in the NBA.

It has been widely speculated over the last few weeks whether or not the 25-year-old forward was still playing on the professional level.  Sources had pinned him down to locations all over the nation including a YMCA court in Tulsa, OK to a cardboard box under the Jersey Turnpike.  In fact, Boone is still signed and playing with the New Jersey Nets that drafted him 23rd in the 2006 NBA Draft ahead future Hall of Famers Steve Novak and Mardy Collins. 

Last season, Boone averaged an astounding 4 points and 5 rebounds a game and has averaged a single-single over the course of his impressive career.  He was instrumental in at least one of the Nets’ 12 wins last season.

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Dear Readers,

Ain’t gonna lie, we have been a part of the problem.  Speculation, speculation followed by more speculation.  Are we really this bored?  Is this upcoming free-agency frenzy really going to be that frenzied?  Is it going to be a giant, over-hyped dud?  Was that speculation right there?

Face it, there is nothing to talk about right now as far as news in the NBA.  Phil Jackson is thinking, Byron Scott is waiting and Jeff Van Gundy is still bald.  Steve Kerr went back to TNT and that is not going to keep me up at night pondering.  Yi Jianlian is going to the Wiz which ultimately makes them a super powerhouse.  Yes, players will start announcing whether or not they are entering free agency in the next few days.  And yes, a lot of players will be doing so.  However, we are not a part of the decisions that these players will be making here in the next week and neither is Steven A. Smith (although I think he’d like to think he is). 

These are very personal decisions that will affect careers and even entire cities.  Cleveland alone is standing at a crossroads that could affect billions of dollars worth of city revenue all based on one player.  LBJ needs to decide how he will brand himself in a new city and I don’t think any of us are constantly on the phone with him discussing how he will do this. 

With that said, we all know that speculation and guessing is pointless at this point.  We talk about the Wade “summit” yet all we know is they met.  We know where LeBron will be visiting but that to doesn’t mean anything.  Some have cap space and some don’t.   Some of these teams can bring in multiple stars and some can’t.  We know the facts and we know the circumstances but we won’t know what these players are going to do until they actually do it.  As one article on the Onion states, “Speculation About Where LeBron Will Play Could End When He Signs Contract.”  In fact, this statement applies to just about every player.  We just don’t know what they are going to do.  Read ESPN and follow NBA.com if you want.  You’ll have plenty to talk about with your friends at the bar.  However, all of what you say could be completely wrong here in the next week. 

Here at the Beef, we like to keep it real and correct despite our poor predictions for the playoffs.  This is a game but it is also business.  Let’s let these guys decide and then we can discuss.  Playing the guessing game and ESPN’s daily prediction polls are fodder for your mind.  Stay tuned and we will delve into what develops in this ever-changing league.

Thanks,

The Beef

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Tru Champion

Say Queensbridge

If you have every read any of our articles over the short history of the Kobe Beef, you may have noticed that we are rather critical about most every team we write about, even those of which we are passionate fans. We have been extremely critical of one team in particular this season. That team turned out to be the eventual NBA champions. Were we wrong about what we said? Maybe, but like Sir Charles, we doubt it. Outcomes just did not go as we projected at times. Honestly, the “paper tiger” label that we gave the Lakers still holds some weight with us because of the glaring deficiencies that exist on the team. Los Angeles is addressing some of these issues this summer as they are pursuing Luke Ridnour, Steve Blake, and Earl Watson to fill the role of backup point guard. (Derek Fisher’s contract is up this summer so maybe they are preparing for his potential retirement too.) The fact that they are in the market is only further confirmation of how poor the play off the bench has been all season. Sorry, Jordan Farmar (who now wants out of Los Angeles to start somewhere) and Shannon Brown, you are junk pieces. Nonetheless, they have the rings this season. If you were counting, that makes it ring number two for Adam Morrison which should clearly bring him into the all time great players conversation. Rings elevate the status and qualify the career of every player, right? Despite our obvious detraction from the Lake Show there are always two constants which draw favorable attention from us. The first of course is the pure joy it is to watch Kobe Bryant defy human imagination with the shots he makes and the will to win which he displays on the court. We certainly feel blessed to witness every performance that he puts on. He is the greatest player of the generation. The other is this season’s newest Laker.

Ron Artest has always been a favorite here at the Beef, and he has been this writer’s favorite player in the league since his early days on the Indiana Pacers. Now he finally has his ring and we could not be happier. (If it were not for the infamous brawl in the Palace at Auburn Hills he likely would have won a ring that season. That Pacers team was one of the best teams of the decade). Artest is easily the happiest person on the planet right now. After game seven, he went out to dinner with his family, still wearing his jersey from the game. Later that night he was singing his own song, Champion (pronounced champ-ee-own) at the club and on the radio. He hit the town all night, jersey still on. At the club he had a bottle of Grey Goose poured over him because champagne is just not good enough. So will he go to Disney World? Not a chance. When asked if he was he said he was going to Compton for a barbeque. This is Ron Artest. He has been everywhere since the championship was won. Artest has been on CNN collecting contributions to help clean up the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and he has also been on TMZ, in the week following the end of the finals he appeared on twenty different television programs. During the victory parade he led a “Boston sucks” chant. This man is living life to the fullest. If you live in Los Angeles, you need to follow him on Twitter. Every night, since game seven, he has been tweeting where he and other Lakers players will be partying. He is probably the most generous celebrity in L.A. right now.

Having spoken to various Lakers “fans” during the playoffs, many things are certain about them. They do not like Artest, generally have no knowledge of players not named Kobe, expect to win, and dramatically overrate every bench player. Hopefully they will now understand how much Artest’s contribution has meant to the Lakers. No player’s career has come as full circle as Artest’s. He has gone from defensive player of the year, to the NBA’s most hated, to hardnosed veteran with baggage, to NBA champion. He deserved his shot at glory and is a key reason that the Lakers were able to repeat. He might have not filled up the box score in many of the games this post season, but his impact was very tangible. Paul Pierce was a nonfactor in the finals. Artest basically won the series against Phoenix and he shut down Kevin Durant in the first round. It can be argued that Artest was the second most important player on the Lakers’ roster this postseason behind Bryant. Yes, Pau Gasol was the second leading scorer for the team throughout the playoffs but he did absolutely nothing to shed his soft label. Artest did the intangibles. He did exactly what he was brought in to do. He was a physical pest on defense.

From the Bulls to the Pacers to the Kings to the Rockets and now to the Lakers, Artest has worn six different numbers on his jersey (15, 23, 91, 93, 96, and 37) and many have said he has just as many personalities. Now he has just one personality: Champion. While other Lakers have their own way of celebrating: going to the Los Angeles based late night talk shows, or for Lamar Odom, going to Miami to be with his reality television wife, Ron Artest will continue to be seen with the public, very accessible, because these are his people. Queensbridge may be his home but he identifies with every person in every city he plays in.  This is his extended family. However, the QB will always be his immediate family and he is having his own parade there on July 17th.

To this family in Los Angeles, he has extended the most generous of rewards: an NBA title. L.A. may be used to such accolades now but this one is different. Pundits and journalists are saying that the Lakers could have several more in their future but one look at the Western Conference and how good it is should cause much concern for the chances of a three-peat. That is the future, however. Right now, Ron Artest and the Lakers are champions. This off season we spell redemption R-O-N.

His new album, “World Wide Wariars” drops in August.

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Rough Draft

David Stern really hopes No. 1 pick John Wall isn't a card player...

Here at the Beef, we have downplayed the past few drafts and have been unexpectedly  pleasantly surprised and delighted for many reasons.  We hate Blake Griffin and that has worked out great for us.  We love Kevin Durant and he has done nothing but shine in the NBA.  You know how we feel about Hasheem Thabeet.  This year though, I really don’t know how to feel about the draft and as usual I won’t know until this time next year.  The players have to get on the NBA floor before we really know but here are a few things I took away from the multiple-hour drone fest that was the NBA draft.

-The Wizards are guard-happy.  They must be planning on Gilbert Arenas getting suspended again by going with John Wall at No. 1 and trading for Kirk Hinrich.  I know, Wall was the best on the board and you always have to go with the best that’s there.  The telecast was full of speculation as to whether he could play the two or if Gil could play the one and guard the two.  Flip Saunders explained that Agent Zero’s arms were long enough to guard the two and that it wouldn’t be a problem…?

-John Calipari obviously has never watched a Kentucky game before he took their head coach position last year.  He explained that it was the best day in Kentuck basketball history.  I don’t know  but I think the Wildcats won NCAA Championships in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996 and 1998 would those be considered pretty “good” days for your organization?  In addition, I don’t call losing four of your top players (Orton is NOT a player and we will get to this in a second) a great day.  Have fun rebuilding and hopefully you guys will make a ripple in the NIT next season.  John Wall was about as Kentucky as me.  The guy was there for eight months and the entire time was spent speculating about what he would do in the NBA.  He didn’t get them a banner and he is going to a team that will not be making the playoffs again next season.

-Daniel Orton is not a basketball player.  With 14 percent body fat and about as much time on the basketball court last season as the kids they get to mop the floor, Orton should fit in well on the bench in Orlando in his warm-ups.  I am speculating that he will be traded to either Minnesota or Chicago in the next few days.  The winters there are harsh and his fat ass might be needed even more to keep the seats warm for Derrick Rose or Johnny Flynn.  If he stays in Orlando, I expect his high-fives per game to be extremely high as well as his jubilant celebrations for when Dwight Howard conducts his worthless blocks (read our pick for Defensive Player of the Year).  He probably won’t need to pick a number since they usually don’t assign them to cheerleaders.  This was a sympathy pick by Orlando that is already riddled with big men that Stan Van Gundy doesn’t even play.  With Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, a record was on the line.  Stern simply called GM Otis Smith and this conversation went down:

Stern: “Otis, we need to break this record for most players drafted from a single school in the first round.  We need to do something.”

Smith: “Well, there is that worthless guy named Daniel Orton still on the board.  We could get him but what do I get in return?”

Stern: “Howard will get DPOY for the third year in a row and I’ll give you the Eastern Conference title.”

Otis: “Deal.  Dinner tonight?”

Stern: “Not tonight.  Dwayne Wade and I are getting facials at the spa.”

Seriously though, Orton averaged just 3 points in 13 minutes a game.  His rebounds are nothing to sneeze at and his free throw percentage is at 50 percent.  Orlando picked him with the hopes that they can develop him into a star center.  Analysts were saying that he would be a lottery pick in three years if he wasn’t picked up this season.  This may be true but the draft has shown us over the years that this simply can’t be predicted especially from a player with a history of injury.  Orton Missed his senior year with a bad knee.  Greg Oden and Andrew Bynum have proven that young guys with bad knees are bad news.  Good job Otis.

DeMarcus Cousins sure doesn't look like a monster.

– The Kings and GM Geoff Petrie might be in store for another ROY player on their roster.  With the selection of Tyreke Evans last season, DeMarcus Cousins isn’t a bad follow-up.  He will give the Kings some serious size in the paint and adds to the flare of this rebuilding franchise.  However, attitude and maturity issues have been brought up.  When asked about his abrasive attitude, he had this to say:

“They think I’m a monster off the floor, I’m nothing like that. I’m just a kid that likes to have fun.”

Having fun in the NBA is a little different than a night on the town for any of us reading this unless your name is Adam “Pacman” Jones.   We may be in for another basket case in the league and the Beef loves the crazy guys.  The kid doesn’t drink which makes him a little scarier since he is naturally crazy. “Boogie” will hopefully keep things interesting in Sac town both on and off the court.  However, keep in mind, a suspension is not a stat that helps any team.

– Derrick Favors will work well in New Jersey and will finally give Brook Lopez some help in that front court.  The kid was surounded by trash guards at Georgia Tech and Devin Harris will be a big improvement for the big fella.  However, we have all seen what Avery Johnson does with young players.  The Little General’s tight grip shouldn’t stray too far from the guards but a stressed out Harris could hurt the development of Favors and hamper a team that is already hurting pretty badly.

– The Memphis Grizzlies might be my favorite team right now.  By taking Greivis Vasquez at 28, the Griz have done nothing but add to their impressive draft resume.  The team did need to go with another big man but a guy like Greivis only comes around so often.  He can pass, he can shoot and he can get a stadium as rowdy as hell.  In 2009, He became the first Terp player to lead his team in points, rebounds and assists in a season, and only the sixth player to ever accomplish that task in the ACC.  During his senior season, he became the first ACC player to compile at least 2,000 points, 700 assists, and 600 rebounds.  He’s a stud and when Memphis finds a way to work him in behind Mike Conley, Vazquez will contribute immediately.

– Greg Monroe and Detroit are a is a match made in heaven. They are in desperate need of a big man and he might be the guy to fill that void.  His passing ability will work well with both Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey.  He will take a bit of the strain off of Charlie Villanueva’s game and is a good all around player.  The Hoyas never let us down with their ability to create great big men.

ummm, no.

– Gordon Hayward got a bad break in the tournament and shared a minivan with his twin sister throughout college.  This does not mean that I have to like him.  Gordon, you came from a team in the Horizon League.  I didn’t even know that league existed until Butler made the Finals and lost to Duke.  Have fun in Utah where you will be a one-trick pony.  Your three is not enough to seal you a career in the NBA and in three years I expect to hear that you are coaching a high school basketball team in Indiana.

–  Larry Sanders to the Bucks.  Jay Bilas says his athleticism will hopefully turn into basketball ability.  From what I do know, he is pretty raw and hasn’t played organized basketball for very long.  Milwaukee needs a post guy to work alongside Andrew Bogut and supposedly they think Sanders can fill that role.

– Evan Turner will hopefully work out nicely for the Sixers.  The organization is in shambles and has way too much money invested in Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala.  Turner will take a lot of the scoring burden off of Igoudala’s shoulders but this team is by no means making a run for the Eastern Conference title.  They won’t have cap room for another two years so free agency will pass them by like a kid stuck inside with a cold on the 4th of July.  Jrue Holiday and Turner will work out well in the back court despite their lack of big men to work with.  Safe pick but don’t expect this organization that has had five coaches in the last five years to turn around immediately.

– Ed Davis isn’t afraid to get involved in Toronto.  This former Tar Heel knows how to play on a big stage and knows that if Chris Bosh leaves he will be able to step into an immediate role on the team.  Davis understands the tempo that the Raptors play with and seems to play smart as well.  He doesn’t settle for jump shots with less than one a game and has the ability to finish at the rim and even get to the line.  With Toronto in a free agent limbo, Davis is a smart pick if he can stay healthy and protect that wrist that nagged him last year

– David Stern must must have been retreating to a private office in between announcing draft picks where Dwayne Wade would tickle his feet.  He repeatedly approached the podium giggling and shaking his head.  He, the drunk fans and the players getting picked were probably the only people enjoying the evening.  Even Stuart Scott looked like he was ready to go as he pulled out a World Cup joke that the rest of the broadcast crew seemed to either ignore or not hear for what could be one of many reasons:

a.  They were ready to go home and catch highlights of the day’s Wimbledon matches.

b.  They, like me, believe that a World Cup joke has no place in ANY sort of NBA broadcast.

c.  Stern had removed their brains somewhere between draft picks 11 and 13.

d.  They were too busy wondering why Orlando had selected Daniel Orton in the first round.

e.  They were fixated on Jeff Van Gundy’s bald spot that seemed to grow and pulsate over the course of the draft.

f.  They were still trying to figure out if Avery Johnson was serious when he offered them assistant coach positions in New Jersey on the air.

– Luke Babbit.  When you were in college, no one knew who you were and that’s alright.  Now that you are in the NBA, people will still not know who you are and that’s embarrassing.  This pick just adds to the hilarity that has become Minnesota’s draft history.  Babbit excelled in the WAC conference and was consistently matched up against smaller, weaker defenders.  He looked good in workouts and can sink jump shots all day.  However, his defense is terrible and he lacks any sort of mobility.

– Lastly, Someone needs to let Cole Aldrich know that comparing Sharron Collins and Chris Paul is NOT okay.  Maybe that’s why New Orleans traded him to OKC immediately after he said that for more draft picks and to let go of Morris Petterson.  He will give the Thunder some much needed size and maybe he knows where Oklahoma is on a map.  Hint: it’s below Kansas.

Not everything was covered but if you missed it, this is about all you need to know about a draft that will ultimately be overshadowed in the next few weeks.  Outside of the top five picks, a lot of movement will be made by several teams trying to free up space and make a run for free agents.  This is simply the beginning of the biggest off season in NBA history.  If we have learned anything from recent drafts, it’s that it doesn’t determine anything but what team these young men will play for.  Over the past few years, we have seen several top picks go down in flames (Kwame Brown).  Their careers are simply beginning and the real proof will come out on the NBA courts around the nation.

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Start Your Whistles: Game 7 Refs

Joey Crawford

The league announced this morning the crew that will referee tonight’s game seven at the Staples Center. Danny Crawford, Joey Crawford, and Scott Foster will be the ones making the calls. If the league and David Stern want the get the specter of Tim Donaghy off their backs and convince fans that the referees are not biased and the league is not outright rigged they sure have a funny way of going about it.

Danny Crawford

Both Danny and Joey Crawford, no relation, are nothing short of completely polarizing figures in the ranks of NBA referees. Danny Crawford is well-known for his biases in the playoffs, most notably against the Dallas Mavericks. When Danny Crawford has refereed a playoff game the Mavericks were in their record is 1-16. It is unlikely that any other team has such a wide disparity of wins to losses when one referee calls the game. As for Joey Crawford, he might be one of the most hated referee the league has. He is notorious for his vindictive demeanor and quick technical foul calls. He ejected Tim Duncan for laughing to himself while sitting on the bench. It is also widely known that he likes to dictate every aspect of the game when he is on the court.  If the NBA had let Dick Bavetta ref any of the games during the finals (they seem to be encouraging him to retire) he would surely be on this crew in place of Scott Foster. However, Foster is not short of controversy himself, having been allegedly tied to the Donaghy scandal as  a ref that could be counted on to effect the point spread of a game regularly.

Scott Foster

Maybe the NBA just wants to jazz up a series that has been marred with sporadic and inconsistent play from every player not named Kobe Bryant. These referees will certainly do the trick. Yet, with calls becoming more and more of the focal point of these finals, something the NBA and its players do not want happening, it comes as an odd decision to have such controversial referees call the last game of the season. No matter the outcome of tonight’s game (whoever wins will do so in a blowout, it is just how this series has played out) the referees will be in the spotlight and calls for the NBA to reform the refereeing system will continue to abound.

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Future in Doubt

How much longer can the Lake Show remain on top?

The recent history of the Los Angeles Lakers has been nothing short of spectacular in terms of a sports franchise. This season marks the third straight year that the team has advanced to the NBA Finals and they are the defending champions. By achieving such heights the bar for the team has been elevated astronomically. However, this success has also had the effect of allowing fans and the media to ignore the problems, both present and future, that the Lakers face. There is no doubt that the Lakers have successfully dodged most, if not all, questions pertaining to the future (…the future, Conan?) of the franchise, its players, and its head coach. Instead the organization has chosen to blindside the media and fans by overachieving their way into the NBA Finals. (Their path there was nothing short of lackluster.) Here they can hide behind the historical ramifications of the series that the NBA and David Stern play up. Just around the corner, though, questions must be answered.

Whether the Lakers win or lose the NBA Championship is of no concern. If they win it will, for a time, be yet another distraction. As for now the Lakers are locked up, tied at two games with the Boston Celtics. As early as next week, answers may begin to be forthcoming about the future make up of the organization. Phil Jackson, who is in the last year of his contract as head coach of the team, has stated that he will make his decision at that time on whether he plans to remain with the team. It is a well known fact that Los Angeles is well over the salary cap and playing quite a bit in luxury taxes. In fact the Lakers will be paying the most out of every team when it comes to the luxury tax. They will pay $21.42 million next year. Perpetual tax payers, the Dallas Mavericks, will not even be paying as much as the Lakers. (Dallas will pay $17.79 million in taxes next season.) For Jackson to remain in L.A. he would have to take a sizable pay cut. There are those who feel that, if the Lakers do win the series with Boston, there is little chance of him leaving the Lakers and a shot of a fourth three-peat. However, Jackson is a smart man, a Zen man if you will (pun fully intended), he likely sees the paint chips forming on the gilded Lakers. He has said that he would not “buy into anything for three or four years…I don’t think that’s in the cards at all.” So what would he be buying into for the next three years if he remained with the Lakers? He would be buying into the aging and injured core group who are Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, and Ron Artest. His statement is far from a resounding declaration of confidence in this group of players if it is to be the Lakers’ core from here forward. There are two things that Jackson has shown to be partial to over his career: young superstars and money. Both are out there this summer. He has laid out the groundwork for a potential one year contract, in some of his statements, with the Lakers but after that it is up in the air. For Jackson to declare his intentions with in the week following the finals can only lead to speculation that he has already made up his mind. Pay cuts are not his style and less money is never Zen.

The most pressing question that has confronted the Lakers is the condition of Andrew Bynum’s right knee. He played only twelve minutes, just two in the second half, in game four against the Celtics because of major issues and discomfort (to say the least) with the knee. Bynum said that the knee had swelled to the size of basketball. Now it is medically unlikely that any appendage or joint should swell to such a size but that statement should give some indication of how bothersome his knee has become. Bynum had an MRI and also had he knee drained again on Friday. The MRI revealed no new damage to the tear in his meniscus. As of right now, his status for game five is still very questionable despite Bynum’s intention to play (he has said that he is 100 percent sure he will play in game five), after all this is a decision for doctors, coaches, and trainers to make, not players. This is just the latest injury on Bynum’s growing medical history form. His career has been marred by injury to the point where he has simply become an afterthought on the Lakers’ roster because of all the time he has missed; he is becoming Greg Oden-esque. However, he has shown glimpses of improvement and competency on the court. Despite his protracted growth, everything he has accomplished is far from being labeled as consistent. His erratic play and health have hindered the Lakers since they drafted him. There comes a point in which all investments must be cut loose if their returns do not yield profitable dividends. Bynum has proven to be a subprime mortgage. Los Angeles should begin to actively seek a serviceable replacement at the center position, if they do not then it is likely that they will default and there will be no bailout.

Bynum is not the only injury concern the Lakers have to worry about on their roster. Since the summer of 2007, Kobe Bryant has been Mr. Basketball. During that time he has played for the United States basketball team and the Lakers. With these two organizations he has played 237 regular season NBA games, 64 playoff games (including the current finals), and 28 games with Team USA. In total, he has played in 329 games in a three year span. To say that this accomplishment is insane would take top honors at the understatement awards. With the finals series against the Celtics currently tied at two games apiece, he will have to play in at least two more games, possibly even three so the end number could be as high as 332 games when all is said and done. Simply incredible. This number does not even include practices and hours spent in the gym. Kobe is the one piece of the Lakers that is not necessarily a question going into the future because he signed a three year extension with the team this season but the wear and tear on his body certainly is cause for concern. It would take a fool to question his motivation and his drive to win and this season has been a perfect example of just that. Bryant has been battling injuries all season, some disclosed, others not. Most notably he has dealt with a broken finger, a swollen knee, ankle, and back injuries. What toll has this taken on his body? He is sitting out of the FIBA World Championships in Turkey this year not because he hates America and only plays for money but because he needs a summer off to nurse his injuries. He is banged up. It has been some time since a face of an organization, if not the league, has begun to slow in their career. Bryant has hit his pinnacle and is on the way down, though his play on the court certainly speaks to the contrary on given nights, and the Lakers have not prepared for this sea change at all. (No, Shannon Brown is not the solution. It is befuddling how he has so much hype surrounding him.) He may have a few more years left in him; he will at least will himself to play better than he is capable of. That is what the great ones do. For the Lakers, though, their shortsightedness has hurt them. In three years Bryant will likely retire and Los Angeles will have the unenviable task of filling the biggest roster vacancy since Michael Jordan left the Bulls.

Success has also adversely affected the Lakers. This may seem counterintuitive but when it comes to draft picks it is far from it. Los Angeles has guaranteed itself late first round picks for the foreseeable future. They also dealt several picks to the Grizzlies in the Gasol steal…err, deal. Marc Gasol became one of these picks. The Lakers took a gamble on the untested seventeen year old Andrew Bynum in 2005. He has already been discussed in this article. Since they drafted Bynum tenth in 2005 they have had only one pick in the top 20, Javaris Crittenton. He was drafted nineteenth in 2007. (In 2010 he pulled a gun on Gilbert Arenas.) Of course poor draft position means that a team is winning and that is the goal of every team no matter what sport so the Lakers should not be held in fault for their poor draft history this past decade, but the end result of that poor history is the appalling state of their bench players.

It may seem as though we here at the Beef are beating a dead horse complaining about the Lakers bench ad nauseam but we seem to be the only people who have taken notice until very recently. Los Angeles has a terrible farm system, to make a baseball comparison. They drafted Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic, and Jordan Farmar and therefore these are the players that they must build around for the future. To this list they added Shannon Brown, Josh Powell (who could see more minutes in game five), and D.J. Mbenga. Mbenga may be a great humanitarian and leader in Congo but on the floor he is still the raw player he was when he was on the Mavericks. (We at the Beef love this guy, seriously.) Each of these players has played an average of four seasons yet none have been able to work themselves into a starting rotation that was rather fluid until this season. Nor have they been able to establish themselves as reliable roll players. Phil Jackson has come to terms with the limits of their skills and no longer plays any of them for any significant amount of time and especially not together. When he is forced to rest a starter he will only put one of these players on the court at a time. It would be a rare sight to see Farmar and Brown in the backcourt again during the finals. If the Lakers are ever forced to hand the reins over to Farmar it will be their Ides of March. He was good at UCLA but his skills as a guard have yet to develop into NBA caliber. The best hope for the mediocrity on the bench would be to package them in various trade deals in hopes of acquiring more talented pieces to build upon.

For now the world can completely ignore the problems that the Lakers will face moving forward. Why should anyone be forced to care about the future? If the Lakers wind up losing to the Celtics, a multitude of questions about their future will rush (like Kareem Rush) to the forefront. Jerry and Jeannie Buss have a ship that is growing increasingly unseaworthy on their hands, it has yet to take on water but rust, corrosion, and barnacles are all becoming serious problems to its structural integrity. The captain is on the verge of jumping ship and each of the crew members has questions surrounding them and their performance. If nothing is done soon, the post Kobe years (a concept and time period that is rarely discussed) will be quite barren. In the world of sports, three years is almost an eternity. Three years is all Kobe is signed on for. The rest of the cast do not matter as much as him. He is the heart of the team and, with all respect to Magic Johnson, Bryant is the Lakers. Kobe and the Lakers have proven doubters wrong on countless occasions but one cannot help be notice that the end is drawing near. Los Angeles has three years, maybe less, to find some answers.

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Harlem Renaissance

A future together?

Every now and then a public relations stunt should be taken seriously, especially when looked at closely. When examined what may have at first been laughable can become plausible. In this summer’s circus there will be offers thrown around like chairs on Jerry Springer, but not before July 1st, of course. Most will have the same legitimacy as Drake’s street cred. It would be wise for the max free agents to some of the more farfetched proposals because they could hold the keys to future success and a revitalized career and image. This summer is a circus and should be treated as such. Nothing is real, except for the money (unfortunately), and it is all for show to make us forget, for an instant, the world around us. Taking this summer’s free agent bonanza seriously will take years off your life.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade may have been forbidden by Emperor David Stern from holding the summit they longed to have but that should not stop them in their efforts to shape the future of the NBA completely. It was reported yesterday by Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via his Twitter) that King James and Flash have been given an offer that they should not refuse. This offer, much to the delight of the citizens of New York City will have the two based in the Big Apple. Wow, so the Knickerbockers pulled out all the stops to recruit them before the July 1st deadline?! That would be tampering. No, it was not the Knicks. It was a team that has represented the pure enjoyment of the sport of basketball for decades. It was a team that does not adhere to Stern’s policy of profit over product.

The Harlem Globetrotters offered James and Wade part ownership of the team, something that no NBA team can offer, to go along with 51 percent of the revenue from merchandise sales with no limit. Best of all, this offer gives James and Wade a chance to do what they always say is most important to them: win. The Globetrotters have not lost since 1971, well before either of these two superstars was born.

Obviously, this is literally a win-win situation for the two. It will greatly improve their image, which has been tainted of late with all the media attention, because the Globetrotters are the respected ambassadors of basketball to the world. It would also fulfill their only desire which is to win. They would never lose. Plus, all that money that they would get from owning the team would be a nice benefit too. Plus they would never have to discuss it, unless they lost it all. It would be completely unlike any other contract they may sign this summer in which the media, fans, and press would scrutinize every detail and the pass a million judgments based on their play compared to their pay. With the Globetrotters it would be a nonissue.

It would also give the two players an opportunity to start fresh. Going to another NBA team with cap room could be disastrous because they dealt all their talent to free up money. Wins may not come as easy. Going to the Globetrotters allows LeBron to shake his growing and unfounded image of a player who cannot win when it matters and of one that chokes. For Wade, it would be the first time he could legitimately escape the demons of his tainted jewelry from 2006. Winning erases all doubts and the Globetrotters only know how to win.

Already on sale

Wade and James had better move fast on this offer, it is by far the best they will see all summer. They are already missing out on merchandising money. That is unless And 1 has a counter offer. Come to think of it, Grayson Boucher AKA “The Professor” may just be the point guard that these two players have been looking for their entire careers. C’mon LeBron…and Wade, do it. Splash a bucket of confetti on David Stern, or better yet, make it the one full of water. Think of your careers and your business interests. Think of Harlem, think of its history. If it’s good enough for Bill Clinton it is good enough for you.

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