Lin-who? Lin-what? Lin-plz?: New York Knicks, a contender to remember? #nyknicks

148 days and $25 million dollars ago fans of the New York Knicks was unsure of what the future held for their promising franchise. The anxiety felt by the Madison Garden faithful was understandable due to the many questionable off-season moves the Knicks front office had made in the past. With those memories still fresh in the minds of many, the Knicks front office decision to part ways with Jeremy Lin a break star who had become a global icon and over-night sensation. But eighteen games into this season the decision to pass on Lin-sanityfelt so good looks like a brilliant move that has not only saved the franchise millions but also gave them the flexibility to sign point guard Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd at bargain prices and also retain their two 3-pt marksmen, JR Smith and Steve ‘discount-double-check’ Novak.

After two convincing wins over the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat the Knicks are entering themelo defense jokes unchartered territory of expectation. Projected to finish no better than fifth in the Eastern Conference the New York Knicks currently sit in first place. What makes the Knicks ascension so impressive is that the Knicks have yet to play a game with their full arsenal of players ( Shumpert out with knee & Stoudamire out with knee). Coach Mike Woodson has done a remarkable job of instilling a tough defensive mentality in players who used to be only concerned with scoring. Although Carmelo my never contend for defensive MVP the effort that he has begun to exert on the defense has set a tone of unselfishness and sacrifice required of a star if he wants to contend for a NBA title.

jr smithOnce only known for scoring it appears that Carmelo has finally came into his own as the leader of this franchise. His growth as player may largely be attributed to future Hall-of-Fame point guard Jason Kidd who became a Knick this off-season. With Melo out due to a laceration on his shooting hand Coach Woodson continues to build depth and solidify a solid second unit that will become an asset during the playoffs.

At this point it appears that the entire Knicks franchise has bought into the Woodson philosophy but everyone will hold their breath to see if Amare Stoudamire and Imam Shumpert follow suit. As the season progresses the expectations for the New York Knicks will continue to mount. It has been nba titlenearly four years since Madison Garden was home to an NBA Champion. They have the star in Carmelo, the defensive stalwart in Tyson, the bench and defensive minded coach to contend for a title. As the season continues NY loyalist will prepare to be disappointed but hope to be proven wrong. Stay tuned… I know I will. –  A. Denmark

New York Knicks: Empire State of Mind – Fast start but how will they finish? #knicks

Despite the New York Knicks being in the largest media market in the world they began the season completely under the radar. Many assumed that all was lost when the Knicks parted ways with Jeremy Lin and signed 37-year-old  point guard Jason Kidd who made headlines this summer for his drunken rendition of dance fever in the Hamptons.

After an early exit in the playoffs at the hand of the eventual NBA champions the Knicks entered the off-season with a lot of questions. Carmelo’s return to his hometown had yet to meet the expectations of Madison Garden’s faithful who presumed that his paring with Amare Stoudemire and defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler would yield more than just a first round exit.

Several of the Knicks battled nagging injuries last season but they wisely used the off-season to rest and get stronger. The same Knicks front office that is known more for its blunders than its successes struck gold yet again in signing point guard Raymond Felton whose on his second tour with the Knicks and adding power forwards Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace who will add much-needed veteran leadership to the franchise. The Knicks also were fortunate enough to resign three-point shooting ace Steve ‘discount-double check’ Novak who had the best season of his career leading the entire in NBA in 3-point percentage.

Regretfully the same injury bug that has nagged the New York Knicks struck quickly when starting power forward Amare Stoudemire went down with another knee injury. Since signing with Knicks this talented young man has been a shadow of himself whose fashion cents have garnered more attention that his play on the court. Although his return to the court has yet to be determined The team adjusted almost seamlessly by moving Carmelo to power forward which has been a match-up nightmare for opposing teams.

At 7-1 it finally seems that the entire team has bought into the concept of playing defense led by former Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler. Although the season is still young the Knicks have already collected impressive wins over the NBA’s elite – the Heat and Spurs.

However, only 8 games into an 82-game season the NBA landscape can change quickly. The chemistry on the team appears to be solid but how will things change once Amare Stoudemire returns from injury?  It may be in the teams best interest to bring him off the bench but will the perennial All-Star accept a diminished role. Due to his 5-year $100 million dollar contract and his well documented injury history Amare has zero trade value so if he fails to accept his new role he may be asked to stay home ‘a la Marbury’s $22 million dollar bench role in 2008.

Another development to keep a close eye on throughout the season is the health of the veterans on the Knicks roster, currently they have four of oldest players in the league (Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas, and Jason Kidd). However, the Knicks will add much-needed depth when guard Iman Shumpert returns after the All-Star break from a torn ACL that he suffered in last year’s playoffs.

Many questions remain for this talented squad but the success of their season will ultimately be determined not by Carmelo’s scoring but by his ability to contribute on both ends of the floor. Although Melo may be the face of the franchise the Knicks will go as far as their leader defensive minded Tyson Chandler takes them. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark



Age ain’t nothing but a number: Spurs, Lakers, and Celtics gear up for one last title run #nbatitle

The stars who I grew up rooting for and against like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are literally on their last legs and knees. Although the Miami Heat and the OKC Thunder are the prohibitive favorites to contend for an NBA title I truly believe that the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics are being foolishly overlooked. This season promises to be a  farewell tour of sort for many of these soon-to-be first ballot Hall-of-Famers but despite their age I assure you that they will not go quietly into the night.

The Lakers garnered most of the attention when they won the coupe of the summer by signing both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. These additions along made the Lakers an immediate favorite to challenge for the NBA title but the play of their bench will be the true deciding factor. Although he did not get a press conference holding up his Laker Jersey or a team photo with the more popular acquisitions, Antawn Jamison will be relied on heavily to provide invaluable minutes off the bench. Laker nation are already envisioning a return of the showtime Lakers but when the two of the three stars are nearly 40 and their stars having a laundry list of injuries (ankle,knees, back, fingers) the need for significant contributions from their bench will be crucial.

Although the Boston Celtics are down one amigo with Ray Allen signing with the Heat their off-season acquisitions via the draft and free agency gave them more depth on the front court and quality defenders at both guard positions. To replace the NBA’s All-Time 3-pt leader the Celtics signed Courtney Lee and Jason Terry who are great defenders and serviceable three-point marksmen in their own right. Jared Sullinger has already earned the respect of veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce,  and based of of his play in the preseason he will certainly be an invaluable contributor on the Celtics bench.

As usual the San Antonio Spurs registered little media attention as expected. After registering the best record in the NBA for two straight seasons the Spurs signed Tim Duncan to an extension and retained its core from the past two seasons turning a blind eye to free agency all together. Coach Popovich has done a masterful job of managing the minutes of his veterans (Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker) while also developing the talent of his younger stars (Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and T-I-A-G-O Splitter)

These three teams certainly have the talent and the experience to not only contend for an NBA title, but also to win it as well. How their coaches manage the minutes of their veterans will play a huge factor in ensuring that they enter postseason play healthy and injury free. Although the young thoroughbreds in OKC and Miami may get off to a fast start, do not be surprised if you see these more veteran laden squads concede home court and in efforts to gear up for the REAL 16 GAME SEASON, known as the playoffs.

Will the Spurs register more  DNPs for their star players again this season? Will chemistry be an issue in Boston and Los Angeles? Will any of these three teams road to retirement include an NBA Championship in 2013? Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark

Operation Stop the Flop: Will the new Anti-Flop Rule Stop Bad Acting in the NBA? #nbaflopping

During 66 NBA seasons several players have attempted to try to see if their immense talents on the basketball court would translate to the big screen. Poor showings by prominent stars and future Hall of Famers have discouraged many athletes from taking the leap to the big screen out of fear of embarrassment or risking being the next ongoing punchline i.e.. ‘Shazam with Shaquille O’Neal or the recently released Thunderstruck starring Kevin Durant.

Unable to get reputable acting gigs on television or the big screen several players have garnered premiere acting roles in the NBA, Oscar worthy. Past winners for NBA’s most prestigious award, Actor of the Year aka ‘flopper of the year’ has gone to Manu Ginobili, Derek Fisher, and Jame Harden has recently garnered acclaim for this prestigious award along with several other prominent NBA veterans.

However, the NBA has recently passed a new rule that will completely do away with NBA’s Actor of the Year award all together. Yesterday the NBA’s Board of Governors and the Competition Committee  have agreed to enforce an anti-flopping rule. Fed up with player’s exaggerated falls to the floor in efforts to trick fans and referees into calling fouls the NBA will now issue fines and enforce suspensions for players found guilty of this act.

Players will get a warning the first time, then be fined $5,000 for a second violation. The fines increase to $10,000 for a third offense, $15,000 for a fourth and $30,000 for the fifth. Six or more could lead to a suspension.

The amount of flopping has become so excessive the NBA Commissioner voiced his disgust stating that flopping was ruining the NBA brand and it had no place in the game of basketball. Flopping has not only decided the outcomes of games but also has impacted the NBA playoff picture and also determined which team hoisted NBA Finals Trophy at season’s end.

Just in last year’s playoffs we witnessed 6 ft 9 280 lb two-time MVP, Lebron James make a plumb fool of himself in the playoffs with his flops against player he outweighed by nearly a 100 lbs and who can forget his fake eye poking incident which led to the Heat ending a Bulls run and ultimately winning their first round playoff series.

The NBA certainly deserve kudos for trying to improve the quality of basketball that NBA fans around the world pay to see. The NBA Players Association has already filed an appeal to the new anti-flopping penalty calling the rule an unfair labor practice.

I will be deeply intrigued to see how this new penalty be enforced, will there be a board of referees who will use instant replay to determine the validity of the foul? What will the appeals process look like? Who will be the first player to be fined for flopping? Flopping has been a reoccurring problem since the days of Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman of the Detroit ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons, and who can forget the Emperor of Flop ‘ Vlade Divac of the Sacramento Kings. How will this anti-flopping rule affect the game? Stay tuned… I know I will. – A Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Eatdrnkslpsprtz All-Time Flop Team

PG. Derek Fisher  SG. Reggie Miller  SF. Manu Ginobili  PF. Dennis Rodman  C. Bill Laimbeer

Jeremy Lin and New York Knicks No Match Made in Heaven: Lin signs with Rockets

Like a shooting star Jeremy Lin landed into the laps of the New York Knicks bringing excitement back to Madison Square Garden. The Lin-sanity phenomenon took the entire country by storm and everyone from the avid sports fan to the unaware stay at home mom knew the story of the Harvard graduate who slept on his brother’s couch in the day and hit  game winners against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at night.

However, just like a shooting star the Lin-sanity phenomenon quietly faded into the abyss, due to an injury to his knee Jeremy Lin sat out the rest of the season and missed the playoffs entirely. Despite his game winners and jaw dropping performances that can be viewed on no New York Knicks fan will forget his decision not to suit up in the first round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat, after publicly admitting being at 85%. Although Lin’s decision to not play was a good business decision, I believe it was one of the main reasons why the New York Knicks declined to match the Houston Rockets $25 Million Offer Sheet.

Several pundits will say that the Knicks did not match the offer sheet because of the money, but when your billionaire owner, Jim Dolan gives you a blank check its then necessary to consider another reason. In order to play in the NBA it requires a certain amount of toughness, to play through pain, ignore injuries, and ultimately sacrifice your body for the sake of your team.

As the NBA regular season comes to a close there are no players at 100% but despite their ailments they continued to press onward, delaying surgery and recovery dates until their season has ended either in the regular season or after the playoffs. For example, Dwayne Wade was clearly operating at less than capacity but never reported the obvious choosing to wait until after he won his second NBA Championship with the Miami Heat.

In order to have SUSTAINED success in the NBA toughness is required, and Lin’s decision to not play during the playoffs clearly did not sit well with his former Knicks teammates who initially rallied around the Lin. Carmelo Anthony called Lin’s $25 million offer sheet ridiculous and JR Smith said that Lin’s contract would cause division in the locker room. These do not appear to be ringing endorsements but appear to the voices of angry and frustrated teammates, who played through their own ailments and injuries without excuse, unlike Lin who chose to wear a suit when his teammates could have used him on the floor.

At the end of the day the New York Knicks honored Jeremy Lin’s business decision with a decision of their own. Although a promising future as the Houston Rockets premier player awaits him I believe the Knicks got him Lin at his peak.With his tendencies now known and his toughness questioned everyone will be intrigued to see if Lin-sanity returns in Houston or disappears like a fading star into the dark night. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark (@eatdrnkslpsprtz)

Lin-sanity vs. Lebrick James

Well, ladies and gentleman, Thursday night Lin-sanity hits South Beach and the entire country will be tuned in. Despite the Knicks losing to the Nets on Monday the mania surrounding this upcoming come matchup will certainly have a playoff atmosphere.

The Miami Heat are going into this game with a 9-game winning streak and a lot of momentum. In addition, Lebron James is playing at a MVP level and the Big Three all seem to be on the same page. However, their momentum will all unravel and criticism would certainly ensue if the Miami Heat lose to the Knicks on Thursday.

Despite their impressive victory over the Kings last night there is cause for concern, the Heat allowed one of the worst teams in the NBA to score 108 points and despite putting up impressive offensive numbers their defensive effort in the game was unimpressive.

A similar defensive effort against the Knicks could be a cause for concern due the Knicks offensive power with Melo, Amare, and yes Lin. Wednesday night both teams get a primer before the big showdown on Thursday.

 Thursday night all the pressure will be on the Miami Heat because   they have the momentum and are expected my many to win this game convincingly. The Knicks enter the game with very little pressure, with the addition of their new pieces they have not had much time to play together, and Melo is clearly not in-game shape.The excuses for the Knicks are endless, but there is very little excuse for the Heat.

Will Lebron become a victim of Lin-sanity, like his peer Kobe? Will Jeremy Lin continue to put up impressive numbers or will it be turnover city? Will Melo play within the offensive or call isolation plays for himself? What the over under on alley ops from Wade and Lebron?

All these questions and more will be answered, Feb 23rd Thursday Night at 7pm in South Beach I am sure everyone from stepford wives to the residence at Saint Luke Hospital (Jeremy) will all be tuned in, I know I will be.

– Eatdrnkslpsprtz Writer: A. Denmark (follow me @eatdrnkslpsprtz)