Warriors win: No Bench, No Glory #nbafinals

cavs benchIn Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals we were reminded yet again, that superstars may get the glory, but its the bench that tells the story. 4-time MVP Lebron James was downright unstoppable but in spite of his herculean effort the Cleveland Cavaliers came up short.

While the Cavs bench abandoned the King, the Warrior platoon of second stringers sparked the offense by erasing a 14 point deficit and giving much needed breathers too MVP Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Although the series is far from being over, the play of each team’s bench iggy guards lebronwill ultimately determine which cities no title streak will be broken.

Although championship are often remembered by its stars, we mistakenly overlook the invaluable contributions that are made by the players coming off the bench. Without the clutch plays of Big Shot Robert Horry the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs probably do not win multiple championships. If Steve Kerr and John Paxson three pointers clang off the rim instead of going in there would be no 3-peats, no Chicago Bulls dynasty, and Charles Barkley and the Mailman Karl Malone likely win one championship.

big shot robThe play of both teams bench is invaluable and at this point the Warriors clearly have the edge. Since we know the stars will get their buckets, the only question is which bench will step up. With the status of Kyrie Irving unknown the Cavs bench will be needed now more than ever. If the Lebronettes are no shows in Game 2, a sweep maybe on the horizon because one thing is certain 44 points ain’t gonna cut. Stay tuned… I know I will.

 

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

#KobeBryant – End of an era, there will only be one Black Mamba

kobe bryant 5 championship ringsIt is rare that a player actually lives up and fulfill his potential. And it is almost unheard of when a player takes his game to another stratosphere and exceed expectations. But when the Los Angeles Lakers made the bold move and acquired a prom to pro high school phenom named Kobe Bryant, that is exactly what happened. We witnessed the Philly native in his greatest moment and we also saw Bryant reemerge and win more NBA Championships after overcoming his lowest moments.

What makes Bryant so special, is that unlike his idol Michael Jordan, his faults and flaws were no secret. Bryant’s competitiveness was Jordanesque, like his idol no one was immune from his wrath, not Shaquille O’Neal or Coach Phil Jackson. His work ethic was legendary and Bryant’s expectation each yearkobe shaq and phil was to add another Larry O’Brien to his impressive trophy case.

Bryant may not win a sixth ring in his final year, but his will to defy father time and thrive in spite of an ailing body is nothing short of amazing. For years Bryant lived in the shadows of His Airness but he now stands alone because there certainly will never be another Kobe Bryant, slam dunk giant.

When we think of Bryant’s greatest moments several come to mind – his monstrous series sealing alley-oop to O’Neal; his NBA All-Star debut going against his idol; and who can forget his 81 point game which will go down in history as one of the kobe bryat and michael jordangreatest offensive displays in the modern era. While stars of today are consumed with their image, Bryant was driven by winning and nothing else mattered.

After Jordan retired many wondered who would follow His Airness and we were blessed with a kid from Lower Marion who became the Black Mamba. And when Bryant laces up his shoes for the last and final time, the same question will re-emerge, who’s next? Stay tuned… I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

Cleveland Cavaliers New Big 3

kevin love and kyrie irvingWhen the Cleveland Cavaliers prodigal son Lebron James returned “home” many believed that the King would team up with younger stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to form a talented big three with no injury concerns. However, 82 games, 2 playoff series later a new big three has emerged. Led by JR Smith and Timofey Mozgov the Cavs appear poised to help King James reach his sixth consecutive NBA Finals.

JR and Mozgov may never be confused as All-stars but their postseason play has brought hope to a fan base and given a fatigued Lebron a much needed breather. Besides being just a big, Mozgov has done more than just take up space. Mozgov has been a terror on the boards and has surprised many with an array of offensive moves that no one thought he had. JR whose never known a shot he could not make, has finally outgrown his antics and is actually looking like a one mans trash is another mans treasurecomposed veteran. These two mid-season acquisitions were never expected to be the cornerstones of a championship team, but that is what both have become. Their dominant play has made Love an after thought and has silenced all the doubters who believed that the Cavs could not contend for a title this year.

The mid-season additions have done wonders for the Cavs. The Cavs wisely mortgaged their future for the present and thus far the gamble has paid off. Iman Shumpert has been a demon on defense and Tristian Thompson continues to own the boards on both ends of the floor. Winning a title was never expected this year but thanks largely to cavs crewplayers other teams didn’t want, title hopes have been rejuvenated.

When we think of Big 3’s, Hall of Famers often come to mind. But if the Cavs continue their winning ways history may be on the verge of being made. Will JR’s hot shooting streak continue? Will Mozgov return to being an afterthought that was collecting splinters on NBA benches. Stay tuned… I know I will. – A. Denmark (@eatdrkslpsprtz2)

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

Rondo 9-1-1

rajon rondoAfter nearly four seasons of playing meaningless basketball in Beantown Rajon Rondo has finally been rescued from the depths of obscurity also known as the Eastern Conference into immediate title contention with the Dallas Mavericks. The last time Rondo played meaningful basketball Kevin Garnett actually had some bounce in his step, Paul Pierce wasn’t coming off the bench, and Ray Allen was still in the league.

With with one championship and a few NBA Finals appearances under his belt Rondo may believe that he has seen all, but he will soon learn that life in the Western Conference is a different animal. Unlike the Eastern Conference there are no cupcakes out West, every game is grind because playoff position is always on the line because even a three game losing streak could seal your playoff fate.

Led by aging star Dirk Nowitzki the Mavs playoff window is closing and I mean fast. dirk fade awayThe next batch of NBA stars are all out West and so far the age of the Mavericks has began to show. After opening the season on fire the Mavs have come to a simmer and with younger teams poised to break through the Mavs were on the verge of settling for the eight seed for the second year in a row or missing the playoff all together.

Although adding an often injured guard who can’t shoot whose known to clash with teammates and coaches does not guarantee a top seed and a ticket to the finals. By adding Rondo, the Mavs now have five players mavs struggleswho have won NBA Championships which an invaluable trait that could certainly yield dividends in the clutch. Both the Mavs and Rondo are at a crossroad: Mark Cuban‘s ego is on the line and Rondo poised to ball out since a max contract is on the line. Before Rondo basketball in Boston was a joke but after him there was a championship and conference titles galore. Will Rondo be able to do the same for Mavs out west? Stay tuned…I know I will.

 

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

NBA vs Donald Sterling

Sterling GateTypically sports provides us an opportunity to take a timeout from the stresses of life, however the deplorable comments said my Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has made the NBA Playoffs completely unwatchable. Now I know that Sterling may not speak for the other twenty nine owners in the NBA and it may be unfair to judged them all based off the actions of one man.

But if players, coaches, and owners all admit that they were not surprised by Sterling’s recent comments then why did it take thirty-one years to respond? Were his most recent actions any more deplorable than refusing housing to minorities? Sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace? Or his many other unethical business practices?Los Angeles Clippers v CSKA Moscow

Retired NBA Commissioner David Stern simply ignored these unconscionable acts, never issued a fine or a uttered word of condemnation. Stern, the NBA, and the owners did not feel compelled to respond then, why now? His latest actions although distasteful hurt no one, no one was displaced from their homes, and no one lost their job or sense of livelihood. Did Sterling finally cross the line by offending NBA Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson? And declaring that even Los Angeles Dodgers owner whose worth $800 million dollars was not good enough.

Clippers silent protestNo matter what current commissioner Adam Silver decides, the time to act has long passed. With great power comes even greater responsibility, and a certain level of conduct should be expected. So while the NBA attempts to distance itself from the disgraced Clippers owner to the NBA I say is shame on you NBA, shame on you. Until the members of the billionaire boys club are held to the same level of scrutiny and conduct as their employee and players this will happen again. Will the owner of your favorite team be next?

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

 

 

 

 

Chicago Bulls good is not good enough. But, is help on the way?

Bulls lose to WizardsThe Chicago Bulls are on the verge of elimination and although no one likes to lose, the Bulls should not hang their heads. When Derrick Rose was lost for the year for the second time everyone thought all was lost. Despite the loss of the face of the franchise the effort and tenacity of the Bulls never wavered. And just when fans thought things could not get any worst the Bulls traded their other All-Star in Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers. While we all looked bewildered and confused many wondered if Bulls General Manager Gar Forman had threw in the towel on this season preferring NBA lottery balls instead.

Despite the injuries and trades the Bulls weathered the storm of obscurity winning back the affection of fans by taking no nights off and battling for each ball like it was their last. Regretfully, defense and effort plays can only take you so far. Down 0-2 to the Washington Wizards theBulls unimpressive 5 offensive woes have become impossible to ignore. The dismal 4 points scored in the third quarter of Game 2 served as a resounding reality check that the end of the regular season is near. Because defense may still win championships but you gotta at least score more than four points in a quarter to give yourself a serious shot at winning, impossible is nothing but mustering only four points in a quarter making winning close to impossible.

Bulls Big 3At this point elimination from the NBA Playoffs is imminent , but as soon as the regular season comes to an end, the sooner the Bulls can kickoff an off season full of speculation and wonder that will deal with centered around three figures: Thibs, Melo, and Rose. Will Coach Thibodeau get an extension? How healthy is Rose? And last but not least, will Carmelo Anthony take less money and sign with the Bulls making them a legitimate title contender? Is help on the way? In time the answers to these questions and more will be made known, maybe the best yet to come but then again maybe not? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

 

NBA Playoffs Primer: The San Antonio Spurs, then and now

spurs big 3 In customary fashion the San Antonio Spurs wrapped up the top seed in the Western Conference and secured home court throughout the NBA Playoffs. But there is no need for confetti, t-shirts, or celebrations because winning division titles and securing the best record in the NBA for the 1,000th time means absolutely nothing to Coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. Securing home court throughout the NBA Playoffs may be considered a crowning achievement for some franchise, but for the Spurs its literally championship or bust, screw the banners, and those shiny regular season awards mean absolutely nothing to they guys.

Last year the Spurs pursuit for titles appeared to be only seconds away until Jesus (Ray Allen) intervened and the Miami Heat won their second NBA title. But how will things be different a season later? The Spurs did not make a splash in free agency and return the Spurs restingsame starting five which includes same ol’ often injured big three of Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan. Tiago Splitter is still an offensive liability and calling Danny Green inconsistent would be an understatement.

But despite these glaring deficiencies and a unimpressive showing against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers this year may finally be the year. Talented forward Kawhi Leonard is healthy and is a year wiser after his impressive showing in the NBA Finals last year. The continued development of point guard Patty Mills will give Parker a much needed breather with very little drop off. And the most important reason why things will be different in 2014 for the Spurs is Marco Belinelli. Belinelli showcased his versatility last Patty Mills and Marco Belinelliyear as a member of the Chicago Bulls and his ability to both space the floor and get into the lane give the Spurs an invaluable asset that they did not have last year.

Although the fate of the Spurs will continue to be determined by their Big Three, their much improved bench will give breathers to the vets and ensure that their stars are not winded when they are needed most. Will this formula finally lead to the Spurs winning their fifth NBA Title? Only time will tell and I can not wait. Stay tuned…I know I will