Category Archives: NBA at Large

General articles covering the NBA, its teams, and players.

Kobe Bryant’s Kobe Beef…wait, what?

kobebeefHere at The Kobe Beef, we (I) value a sense of levity in our (my) writing. This is no more apparent than in the title of our site. The name came about in a brain storming session all the way back in 2010. It just clicked. I could go into the myriad of meanings behind the play on words but chances are no one is reading this as the site is mostly dormant these days.

Anyway, this little tidbit of visual media was pointed out to me by Rami Michail, a swell writer over at The Smoking Cuban. It seems that Kobe Bryant sent out an Instagram video featuring “Made by Kobe” items. Included in the several “Made by Kobe” products is Kobe Kobe Beef.

The Kobe Piano, The Kobe Pen, Kobe Kobe Beef, The Kobe Light Bulb #madebykobe

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

Well, we certainly know something about Kobe Beef. Heck, why weren’t we clever enough to use the Mamba logo on a steak when we branded the site? Wait, we probably would have been sued if we did. Please don’t sue us, Kobe! It’s just a pun!

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Dennis Rodman assembles team for North Korean exhibition

Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-unDennis Rodman has been on several trips to North Korea in recent years. Vice traveled with Rodman, during his last visit, and a few members of the Harlem Globetrotters to the DPRK and documented the experience. Now, Rodman, who claims to be close friends with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is back in the communist country.

This time, Rodman has a slew of former NBA players with him. Yahoo! via The Associated Press has the details:

Rodman leads a team that includes former NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker. Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles D. Smith are on the team, as well. They will play against a top North Korean Senior National team on Jan. 8, marking Kim Jong Un’s birthday.

Though Rodman calls this “basketball diplomacy,” it will likely do little to ease global tensions.

However, there is one question that is certainly swirling through everyone’s head: Did Christie’s notoriously possessive wife join him on the trip? For the sake of remaining in a tentative peace, let’s hope she kept Stateside.

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Pistons send Tony Mitchell to D-League

The Detroit Pistons have sent Tony Mitchell, a favorite of this blog, down to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Developmental League. Mitchell was selected by the Pistons in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft with the 37th overall pick out of the University of North Texas. Peyton Siva, another second round pick by Detroit, was also reassigned to the D-League with Mitchell.

Moving Mitchell to the D-League was an inevitability.  He appeared in only 10 games, totaling 37 minutes on the court. His per 36 minutes numbers of 10.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, one assist, one steal, 1.9 blocks, and 1.9 turnovers are promising. However, with Detroit’s frontcourt composed of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith, there are few minutes to be distributed to a 6’8″ rookie.

Mitchell should hone his skills in the D-League as he will see more playing time. Unfortunately, the move down could hurt his chances of appearing in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest during All Star Weekend. None of the participants have been named yet, but Mitchell’s dunking ability warrants notice and has appeared in various Vines throughout the season.

There is a dunk contest in the D-League but it doesn’t draw a large audience. The NBA’s dunk contest has been lackluster in recent years and needs revitalization. It needs Tony Mitchell.

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The Detroit Pistons: on the Cusp

Hope again (The Associated Press)

Hope again (The Associated Press)

Summer League brings with it a new sense of hope. It alleviates the summer doldrums that occur after the Finals have ended, the NBA Draft, and the start of training camps. This renewed feeling of enthusiasm is especially true for teams that have been mediocre or worse for a number of years. Perhaps the sense of renewal will never completely pan out in the long-term. However, for a time, it allows for a glimmer of what might be, new heights, and a new beginning.

The Detroit Pistons have not had a winning record since the 2007-08 season. Detroit’s fall from grace mirrored the fall of the city’s overall economic collapse, though basketball had nothing to do with the underlying issues that the city succumbed to. Nonetheless, as often is the case, sports teams are symbols of a city or region. They serve as an escape from the realities of everyday life. For Detroit, though, the Pistons are not an escape. The team and city have been through so much since the Pistons won the NBA Championship in 2004 that it is a distant memory. With Summer League in full swing now, the Pistons, and their fans, may actually have something to look forward to.

With the eighth pick in this summer’s Draft, the Pistons selected Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a guard out of Georgia. Caldwell-Pope’s best asset is his ability to pull up and make pump shots. With the frontcourt duo of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe clogging the middle and drawing double-teams, Caldwell-Pope’s opportunities, should he be on the court with one or the other, to get open looks should be frequent.

In the second round, Detroit selected North Texas’ Tony Mitchell. If ever there was a pure athlete, Mitchell is it. (I wrote about him in detail here.) What he brings to the table is an NBA body combined with phenomenal leaping ability. He is also adept at finishing at, but more than likely above, the rim as well as blocking shots.

The Piston’s also selected point guard Peyton Siva, from Louisville, in the second round. Silva is more of a defender than offensive threat, however he manages the pick-and-roll well. This skill will come in handy with the aforementioned frontcourt players as well as Mitchell. Of course, as with all rookies, his skills will only be in service if he sees playing time. Nonetheless, the Pistons hauled a promising young group of players in this year’s Draft.

Perhaps, though, the biggest addition to the Detroit roster is the free agent signing of Josh Smith. Smith has proven time and again that he has the capability of playing at an extremely high level and was one of the most coveted free agents this summer. The Pistons now have a star to build around and many pieces are already in place. However, Smith is not the most refined player. He is prone to taking jumpshots all to often, as shown here. Where Smith is most efficient and effective is within nine feet of the basket. Therefore, his role in Detroit is a tricky one to figure out.

With Monroe likely remaining as the starting power forward, Smith will move into the small forward spot. Drummond and Monroe do much of the heavy lifting inside. With his propensity to take so many ill-advised and low percentage jumpers, Smith could once again drift from the paint with it occupied. If this happens, it could turn out poorly for the Pistons. It will take a degree of ingenuity on the part of new Head Coach Maurice Cheeks to open up lanes and allow Smith to get his shots on the inside.

A solid model to study would be that of last year’s Denver Nuggets. That team took the vast majority of their shots, 55.74 percent, within eight feet of the basket. With so many big men, Mitchell included, who can score well inside, it would behoove Detroit to attempt something similar.

There are still a lot of uncertainties with the Pistons. It is a new new for all respects. Yet, there is reason to believe that this could be the start of Detroit’s turnaround. They had a solid draft and brought in a big-name All Star. Not only that, but a member of Detroit’s last championship team, the beloved Rasheed Wallace, has joined Cheeks’ coaching staff as an assistant. That in and of itself should be reason to take interest in this year’s team.

Summer League has a funny way of leading to the “what-ifs” of the season to come. Detroit’s team has shown promise, especially the play of Drummond. While nothing may pan out, we can all  hope for the best. Right now, that is all Detroit has but at least  the pieces are there to make things interesting until opening day. And that is the joy of Summer League.

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Meanwhile, in Another Dimension… The Heat Lost

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This image, courtesy of Deadspin, is a screen capture of the footage the local ABC affiliate in Miami was airing just after Game 7 of the NBA Finals. As you can clearly see, the graphic on the screen says that the Miami Heat lost the game. They did not. Instead they won their second consecutive NBA Championship.

Maybe, however, this was a feed from another dimension, a multiverse even. One where Christopher Bosh must battle the forces of evil. Could this explain the errant graphic on the screen?

Nah. They just gone and messed up. First the fans doubted the Heat in Game 6 as they bounced out of the AAA early and now a local television station outright says they lose. There’s a reason Miami isn’t considered a town with loyal fans. Way to prove that point once again.

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Memphis and Wiz, Slow Your Roll

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Staying put… for now.

This past year, Washington D.C. looks like the worst place to be a young athlete. Stephen Strasburg benched, Robert Griffin III sidelined with injury and John Wall missing a huge chunk of this year’s NBA season. Now that Wall is finally back, looks like the Wiz have already made an attempt to dump their Rookie of the Year candidate.

Wait, what?

Yes, after just one Washington game with both Bradley Beal and Wall in the Wizard’s backcourt, trade rumors are swirling around the young rookie out of Florida who was taken third overall in the 2012 draft. Sources are reporting this morning that Wiz GM Ernie Grunfield apparently sent an offer to Memphis for Rudy Gay.

Memphis has put it out there that they are shopping the starting forward in his seventh season out of UConn and already fallen out of a possible trade with Toronto. Problem with that trade: the Griz were asking for too much. The deal would have potentially sent Jose Calderon, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross to the city of Graceland.

In return, Toronto would have gotten an average perimeter scorer who has yet to live up to his larger-than-life ability that people saw him achieving. Not to mention Gay’s contract that has another $37 million attached to it after this season. The biggest knock on Gay coming out of college was his lack of a voice and leadership. It’s looking like he’s never going to develop those traits.

Washington is definitely looking for more scoring. Right now, the Wiz are last in the league in scoring with a mere 89.4 points a game. Additionally, their frontcourt is less than stellar. Emeka Okafor is having the worst season of his career with less minutes and Nene hasn’t been healthy. It’s going to take a lot more than Martell Webster to take a team to the postseason especially on a team that is currently experiencing its only winning streak of the season with two.

By putting Beal on the block, the Wizards are showing a complete disregard for their future. We have seen the two-guard combo work on several other teams if not to bolster their roster at the time but to build a tradeable player later down the road (Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis with Ellis being sent to Milwaukee and Golden State sitting pretty well right now with that 5th seed in the West). Right now, a third overall pick for an underwhelming forward doesn’t just doesn’t seem fair.

The same could be said for Memphis. Frankly, the frontcourt with Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Gay is working out. They took the Clippers to seven games last season in the first round and the year before they upset the No. 1 seeded Spurs; however, Gay missed that series with a shoulder injury. The trade would also completely disregard their breaking up of the O.J. Mayo/Mike Conley backcourt. Mayo is now in Dallas and would load their backcourt back up. Although that deal was done to save money in the long run, Memphis is winning with defense and bringing in a young guard would not contribute to that formula.

It’s conclusive that this trade really didn’t need to happen. Both Memphis and Washington need to step back and look at what they really need. Frankly, the Wiz’s season is already over. With only six wins, it’s apparent that they need to build that frontcourt with the draft since there really is nothing to save with their 2012-13 season.

In Memphis, it’s always been about saving money for an organization that needs to step up and spend some cash. Yes, they do have four max contracts with Connely, Randolph, Gasol and Gay but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you have a chance to win now. This team just learned how to make the playoffs so it would be best to see how that plays out.

Put the brakes on guys. This trade did not need to happen since it would have been premature on just about every level.

 

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The Cowbell Tolls for Thee: Kings to Seattle?

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Welp…

Doyle Rader: Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! reported earlier today that the Maloof family, who own the Sacramento Kings, are finalizing a deal that would sell the team to an investment group in Seattle headed by Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen. The Maloofs have been looking to either relocate or sell the Kings for some time as their casino and hotel investments have steadily hemorrhaged money over the past several years. Before this season began, there was talk that the team could be relocated to Anaheim as there were investors, namely Henry Samueli, willing to take on some of the Maloofs’ debt in order to relocate the team to the Honda Center. Those plans were stopped when the NBA’s Board of Governors voted against relocation.

While the Maloofs were weighing their relocation options, Louisville, Kentucky and Virginia Beach were also possible destinations at one time, the city of Sacramento was scrambling to do everything in its power to retain the Kings. These efforts were spearheaded by mayor Kevin Johnson, himself a former NBA player. After much planning, a deal was struck that would ensure the Kings stay while building an entirely new arena with surrounding developments. Then the Maloofs abruptly rejected the deal saying that they never agreed to it and the whole situation returned to square one, or square -1,589,247 if you prefer.

That is how we arrive at today’s news and it was met with much hostility on the Internet, especially Twitter. Basketball Twitter is replete with many excellent Kings bloggers and the team has a loyal following. Honestly, it is not surprising that they would be upset (an understatement if there ever was one) today. I, however, am detached from the situation. It certainly isn’t an ideal one but it was simply inevitable that the Kings’ time in Sacramento was dwindling.

Travis Huse: No, the news wasn’t shocking, from any perspective. While I truly feel for the Kings’ fanbase, the move makes perfect sense. David Stern was quoted earlier this year saying that losing the Supersonics franchise was one of the biggest regrets of his tenure as NBA commissioner; with Stern on his way out, this is a way for him to try to shape the NBA in one final way.

But the outrage on twitter has been less about the Kings, and more about Seattle. The Seattle fanbase is being accused of stealing a team, much in the way that they accused Oklahoma City of stealing the Sonics. This is not an appropriate analogy, though, for a few reasons. Primarily, the Kings were going to move. The Maloofs made poor business choices, and in turn, keeping an insolvent NBA franchise was weighing down their financial future. That’s no way to operate a business.

The Maloofs were also terrible owners. They have proven themselves to be incapable of maintaining a winning franchise, nor could they manage to invoke discussion with the city or Kings fans. The Maloofs were never truly invested in the Sacramento area, anyway, so they shouldn’t have ever been expected to take such large financial losses. This has always been a league centered around the dichotomy between large and small-market teams, and in order to stay afloat, teams like the Kings have to ensure one of two things. Smaller-market teams need to either be consistently good, or they have to have a community-centered owner who is willing to ride through tough times for the sake of the franchise. The Maloofs were never anything close to altruists, and the Kings have been bad for a long time now.

DR: I still hold some animosity towards the Kings for all the frustration they caused me in the early 2000s. That doesn’t mean I dislike the team though, but I’m not going to toss around vitriol towards the Maloofs. They are bad owners, plain and simple. They probably think that selling the team to a group in Seattle is the most noble move they can make in the face of NBA fans. However, this has not sit well with Kings fans and others.

I don’t want to be crass about the situation but this is exactly the deal the Maloofs have been looking for. They will be selling the team for $500 million, a mark that is far overvalued. Why wouldn’t they make this deal? With this money they can definitely invest in a new tower for the Palms in Las Vegas where they can start losing money while appearing in fast food commercials.

At least Seattle is getting a team again. It is disappointing that they are doing so in relatively the same manner in which they lost theirs, but that city has been on a mission since Clay Bennett relocated the Supersonics to Oklahoma City. Both Sacramento and Seattle have worked tirelessly to retain or revive their NBA franchise. Yet, as you stated, the Maloofs have never shown loyalty to the city of Sacramento like the fans of the Kings have.

TH: Exactly. This is a dream deal for the Maloofs, they would been foolish to leave it on the table. The writing has been on the wall for the Kings for a long time, anyway. To put this into perspective, the Maloofs were seriously considering moving the team to Virginia Beach, Anaheim, and Las Vegas. Virginia Beach has not shown the ability to hold an NBA franchise, and is situated in an area that has always been known to focus on collegiate sports. A move to Anaheim, while theoretically viable, would trisect the Los Angeles basketball market. Stern is always trying to keep the media happy, so obviously that wouldn’t work. And Las Vegas? The most significant event in Sacramento Kings history was game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, a game and a series defined by the link to the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal. That scandal was a blight on the league, and is another one of Stern’s failings as commissioner. While I don’t mind a team in Vegas, the wound is still too fresh for the NBA to maintain an image of parity.

So, if the Kings were doomed to leave Sacramento, is there a better place for the team? Seattle has always been an NBA city, with a new arena, a set of owners who care more about basketball than their bottom line, and a hunger for the sport it is the most best option. While you never like to see teams move, there is no place better for them. We are only two seasons away from discussions of contracting insolvent franchises, so if shuffling a team or two makes basketball better and the NBA more viable? Absolutely worth it.

What I find interesting is the league’s willingness to put its neck on the line for a franchise such as the New Orleans Hornets, which the league bought to ensure the franchise’s future in the region. Sacramento has a metro population of 2.6 million, and the Kings are the only professional sports franchise in town. In comparison, New Orleans only has a metro population of a little more than a million, and the Saints gobble up the lion’s share of the television market. Why? It seems apparent to me that not only have the Maloofs found the franchise to be failing, but the league itself. If the NBA felt that a local buyer would be able to keep the team in Sacramento, they would have.

But some blame still falls on the city for risking losing the Kings. They gambled by refusing to fund a new arena. Sometimes, when you gamble, you lose.

DR: Actually, the city did put a plan forward in which they would construct a new arena. As I wrote above, it was a plan that the Maloofs agreed to at first before claiming that they never accepted the terms of the arrangement. Seattle is actually the city that voted against funding a new arena as most of the funding would come from tax dollars. The city had already invested public funds in Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field, where the Mariners and Seahawks play originally. The public was simply not behind funding yet another sports stadium at the behest of a billionaire owner.

Because of this, David Stern came down hard on the city because he was one of the key advocates for a new arena as he felt KeyArena did not represent his product as well as some of the newer arenas in the NBA. This, essentially, was the catalyst that brought us to the events of today.

I think you’re right in thinking that the league has found that, under the Maloofs in recent years, basketball has been a poor product in Sacramento. This is due to the ownership and front office. Yet, Stern, because of the flack he took after the Sonics debacle, has been in support of many of the proposed plans to keep the Kings in Sacramento. He certainly doesn’t want his tenure to be marred yet again by another relocation. He already has two lockouts under his belt.

But for Seattle to gain a team again it will have to be through relocation. There is seriously no chance that the league is willing to absorb two new franchises, which they would have to do to balance the league if a new team was created in Seattle. This is especially true with all the talk of contraction that you mentioned.

Also, there were local buyers in Sacramento, Ron Burkle being the one who has garnered the most attention. However, when he came forward the Maloofs were unwilling to sell. They were looking for theirs. They always have been.

It is admirable that the Kings fans have stuck with this organization through everything that has transpired over recent years. Even today they continued their Here We Stay campaign creating a petition to keep the team in Sacramento. One cannot fault them for their persistence and effort. Yet, the final decision is out of their hands.

That being said, rumors have been circulating that the Maloofs may back out of the deal from Ballmer and Hansen, despite how lucrative it is. Selling a team is always profitable for the owners and this deal would take the cake. Of course, this cannot be confirmed but it leads me to believe that this chapter isn’t quite over yet.

TH: But Burkle could never offer what the Seattle group has. The Maloofs, who bought the Kings solely as a business venture, are wholly unable to understand basketball beyond the business side. This is also why they fail. 

 It is more important to me to have basketball in Seattle than it is in Sacramento. I only really have this to offer as explanation: The Supersonics have always been fun, exciting, memorable. I think more about the Sonics than I do about the Kings at any given moment, yet the team that currently exists is a floundering team. A dull, very bad basketball team. Simply by BEING the Seattle Supersonics, their marketability skyrockets. 

 The Thunder took a good franchise away from an NBA city and the culture surrounding it. The Kings will be restoring that culture, and most likely saving the team. Would it be any better if they had moved to Virginia Beach or folded? Seattle ensures team viability, with a good owner in place. The Kings have steadily gotten worse, due to ownership. 

 DR: Well, I don’t think anyone will fault you for trashing the Maloofs, but you’re luck no one ever reads The Kobe Beef after that diss of the Kings. But, I understand where you are coming from. The Kings have only been in Sacramento since the mid ’80s and were only relevant during the turn of the millennium. Adelman had a monster team and if it wasn’t for Robert Horry they could have reached the Finals. And who can forget Doug Christie’s wife?

 Seattle does have the provenance, though. That is why I feel that if the Kings do relocate they might as well go there. I hate to see a fanbase lose a team but the sad truth is it is all too common in sports. Fans should remain bitter if they lose a team. Baltimore did when the Colts left, Cleveland did when the Browns moved (Cleveland is always bitter, though), and Seattle continued to beat the war drum when the Sonics were snatched away.

 I also don’t think that the Maloofs bought the Kings just as a business venture. They grew up in the NBA. Their father owned the Houston Rockets and it can be argued that they fell in love with the NBA during that time. Tom Ziller does an excellent job of explaining it and how the family was torn, just last month, about selling the team.

 If there is an upside to all of this, though, it is the outpouring of support and the mobilization of the fans. I’m not sure there has ever been a time in which the fans’ voice was so loud. Twitter erupted today, for better or worse, and Kings fans’ emotions were rampant. This was the case with Sonics fans too. The level of outreach, though social media and other platforms, that the fan now has at their disposal has definitely influenced the league.

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