Category Archives: Basketball

ESPN’s Fab 5 Documentary is a Winner

Michigan's Fab 5

ESPN is known for over-hyping sporting events, but typically not for over-hyping their own shows or films. I was surprised to see how many trailers the network was showing for last night’s documentary on Michigan’s Fab 5 — the legendary Michigan men’s basketball team comprised of star freshmen recruits Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. After tuning in last night, this documentary was definitely a winner (unlike the Fab 5) — another big win for ESPN’s film team after their 30 for 30 series.

The story begins with the formation of this super recruiting class, who ultimately loses both the 1992 and 1993 NCAA national championship games in dramatic fashion. While the group was not successful in bringing an NCAA championship to Michigan, they are almost solely responsible for bringing hip-hop culture, baggy shorts, and a street style of play to mainstream college basketball. Video of these guys is just awesome to watch as well — young Chris Webber in particular was a beast. Of the 5, all but Ray Jackson would reach the NBA with Howard, Webber, and Rose going on to illustrious NBA careers. Juwan Howard is still in the league (a member of the Miami Heat) while Rose ended his career averaging 14 ppg to Webbers 20 ppg. Not too shabby.

The most intriguing aspect of this documentary to me was the Fab 5’s viewpoint of their rival Duke Blue Devils, led by Grant Hill and Christian Laettner, who they refer to as “bitches.” Hill’s privileged upbringing acted as motivation for a young Jalen Rose, who came from a much rougher background. A young cocky Rose provides classic commentary throughout the film, which couples perfectly with Howard’s “we’re going to shock the world!” clip from the 1992 NCAA tournament. This documentary single-handedly made me a Jalen Rose fan (nice bling, FYI). His trash talking is nothing short of phenomenal.

If you’ve got a couple of hours between tournament games this month, you’ve got to check this one out.

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Murphy, Pavlovic, Arroyo — The Celtics that You Don’t Know

Carlos Arroyo Celtics

The Celtic's Carlos Arroyo

By Matt Moore, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

Since the trade dead line in mid-February, the Celtics roster has been turned upside down.With 21 games left, it’s up to Doc Rivers to find a fit for all the new acquisitions, and for those players to learn the system and find a role. We’ve already had a pretty good look at what Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic can do. Krstic is fitting nicely as the starting center, and Green has found himself contributing late in games. But besides these two, the Celtics also have three other new players. Let’s take a look at each, and what they can potentially bring to the C’s for their playoff run:

Troy Murphy: Murphy is a veteran with size and good outside shooting. He looked pretty rusty in his first few outings, but it was expected after only playing in 18 games prior to arriving in Boston. Playing in Indiana last year, he posted an impressive 14 points and 10 rebounds per game, while having a decent percentage from behind the 3-point arc. Coming off the bench for the Celtics won’t give him an opportunity to match these averages, but it shows what Murphy is capable of producing. No one the Celtics brought in can match the defensive presence of the departed Perkins, but Murphy is another big body that can get rebounds, help control the paint, and also chip in offensively. You can see why the Heat wanted Murphy just as bad as the Celtics did, and thankfully Murphy chose Boston. It’s hard to say how much Murphy would play in a shortened rotation come playoff time, behind Green and Glen Davis. But if called on, Murphycan hit a big shot when needed.

Sasha Pavlovic: Pavlovic wasn’t a name that many people were talking about coming to Boston, but after being bought out the Celtics made a move on him. At 6’7”, he has good size and is a career 40% shooter from the field and 35% from behind the arc. He also comes with playoff experience, as a role player during Cleveland’s winning seasons. Doc Rivers has praised Pavlovic for his defensive abilities. One thing the Celtics lacked was a player off the bench who could shutdown, or at least contain, an opponent’s primary scorer. They had that with James Posey and then with Tony Allen; now they are hoping that Pavlovic can help along with Green. Pavlovic rounds out the roster and gives the Celtics another player that Rivers can put on the court with confidence when needed.

Carlos Arroyo: The most recent addition is Arroyo, who was let go by Miami after they signed Mike Bibby. There was some talk of Bibby coming to Boston, but in my mind that would not have been a great fit. Besides his past issues with Boston’s fans, Bibby isn’t the productive player he used to be. Arroyo is a welcome surprise to the Celtics, and a better pick up than Bibby. Primarily a back up his entire career, Arroyo puts up decent numbers for a reserve point guard. He can distribute the ball and shoots at a high percentage. Adding another experienced point guard was a key following Delonte West’s most recent injury. Avery Bradley can’t be expected to back up Rondo if West ever went down during a playoff series. The Celtics now have a little more insurance at the point guard spot.

Time will tell how these players work within the Celtics system and with the core players already in place. Expectations for these three aren’t as high as Green and Krstic, since the Celtics didn’t give anything up to acquire them. Nobody is claiming that these three are the final pieces that will guarantee the Celtics an 18th banner. But looking at the roster, you have to like it a little better than when it featured Semih Erden and Luke Harrangody. Any contribution they can make will be welcomed. How many healthy players we have and how deep of a rotation Doc wants will determine their playing time in the playoffs. But if it comes down to it, I have confidence that these three, especially Murphy, can make a difference in a few games.

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Shaq Celebrates his 39th Birthday with Boston’s Best Blogger (howiGit)

Yea, you could say it — Shaq and I are pretty tight. Both howiGit’s blog and Shaq arrived in Boston around the same time, to epic fan fare, so it seems only natural.

The big man turned 39 years old today, and celebrated by sharing a few high-fives and multiple pieces of birthday cake with yours truly. See the guy who first high-fives Shaq in the video above — in the blue and white striped polo shirt — yes, that’s me. We’re just keeping it positive here people. This is example A of why Shaq is the man and Nomar Garciapara is an asshole.

As for Shaq, the knee looks great and he definitely looks slimmed down. His lady, Hoopz, looks pretty good herself although she’s about two feet shorter than the big fella. Watch out Pau Gasol — he’s coming for you.

Shaq and howiGit

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Stat of the NBA Season — Thus Far

The Miami Heat are 14-16 against teams over .500 — if I was Chris Bosh I’d be crying too.

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Celtics Sneak Past the Jazz 107-102

Nick Green

A Celtics victory over the Jazz is nothing to write home about — Boston typically yawns its way through any game not against the likes of the Lakers or the Heat. That said, I watched all of last night’s Celtics game in an effort to get my first glimpse of this new look Celtics squad. It was a hell of a game, with a few notable happenings worth sharing.

1) Ray Allen scored 20 of his 25 points in the last 7 minutes of the game, including 3-3 shooting on ridiculously off-balance 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter. He iced the Jazz and ultimately won the Celtics the game.

2) Newcomer Nenad Krstic had 11 points and 8 boards, while new arrival Jeff Green made an unbelievable block with the game on the line. A solid start for the new guys.

3) Kevin Garnett, who has been receiving quite a bit of flack on this blog for his dirty play of late, was up to his tricks once again — except this time they all worked out perfectly. This included a scuffle with Al Jefferson at the far end of the court, leading to a frustrated Jefferson charging Garnett in a desperate effort to score on the ensuing possession. Garnett forced Jefferson into traveling, getting the ball back for the Celtics at a key moment. Even better yet was when Garnett decided he had to stall the game and fix the padding around the edge of the backboard in an effort to give a winded Paul Pierce an additional moment to catch his breath before shooting a free throw. The look Garnett received from the ref was priceless, but Pierce made the shot.

4) The Jazz’s Derrick Favors, the 3rd overall pick in the 2010 draft class, is a beast. I’d look for him to be a good player for a long time to come.

The Celts have a really easy stretch of games coming up, starting with the Suns of Wednesday night.

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Kendrick Perkins Traded by Celtics — Why?

Kendrick Perkins Traded

Kendrick Perkins was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday, in a move that leaves nearly every Bostonian I’ve talked to scratching their heads. Shortly before yesterday’s 3:00pm trade deadline Celtic’s GM Danny Ainge apparently decided his team’s Eastern Conference leading 41-15 record wasn’t quite good enough, retooling the Celtic’s roster by sending 4 Celtic’s packing. Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson traded to  Oklahoma, backup center Semih Erden and Marquis Daniels sent elsewhere in exchange for draft picks. Now I know the Celtics are old, but are we really going to begin rebuilding in the midst of a season where we’ve got as good of a title shot as anybody?

While the Celtics acquired Jeff Green and his 15.2 ppg from Oklahoma, offense is simply not what the Celtics need. To draw an Alanis Morissette parallel, the Celtics roster is now “like 10,000 spoons (scorers) when all you need is a knife (defenders).”  This was never more evident than in the playoffs last year, when Perkins’ defense was a major key to containing the likes of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Last offseason’s battle cry was “we need more depth at center,” and in Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal it looked as though Danny Ainge had complied. Then he goes out and trades his starting center and a backup center who had shown major potential? While Jeff Green is undoubtedly a much better player than Perk, this is simply a circumstance where the Celtics got worse by adding a better player. It appears as though Ainge has something of a love affair with Green, who he originally selected as the 5th overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft before trading him to acquire Ray Allen.

Also acquired in the trade was Nenad Krstic, a 7-footer cited for a lack of defense and rebounding ability (is that possible at 7 feet?). That’s exactly what we don’t need — another clumsy big body for Pau and Dwight to light up — it just doesn’t make sense. The good news is this seems to suggest that Ainge has indications that the O’Neal twins will be returning to the Celtics’ line-up soon — or that he’s got some other trick up his sleeve.

The only reason that I can see for this trade is that Danny Ainge has loved the spotlight being on the Celtics for the past few seasons. He’s looking towards the future, trying to keep the Celtics relevant, all the while hurting our title chances this season, not to mention greatly shaking up one of the best team chemistry’s in the NBA. Note to Danny — 2 or 3 years from now even if you can hang on to Rondo we’ve got no chance anyways. Those will be the years of the Heat, the Knicks, the Bulls — Jeff Green is not going to make an impact against Lebron or Carmelo.

So really, what the hell were you thinking Danny?

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5 SportsCenter Storylines That Need To Go Away

Sportscenter

By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

I’ve probably brought this on myself – I should really change the channel, read a book, or download some new music – but instead, I watch a lot of SportsCenter. I watch it at the gym, if my roommate isn’t home for dinner; sometimes I just leave it on for background noise when I’m alone in my apartment. This is a regrettable thing to admit but, I can’t tell you anything about the Obama administration at the moment, but I can tell you what Kobe said after the NBA All-Star game, that Manny Ramirez worked out with a new trainer this off-season, and that the NFL Players Association and the NFL owners have been able to meet for five days in a row now. Make of this what you will. Like I said, I know I should really change the channel, maybe flip over to NBC once in a while, but as of right now I’m stuck on Channel 15 so naturally I have started to hear the same stories over, and over, and over again. howiGit’s blog has a long-standing tradition of lists and I thought, as the new kid, it’s time I threw one down. So here it is: The Five SportsCenter Storylines that I Hope I’ll Never Hear Again But Will Probably Hear Tomorrow. In no order of importance:

1) Duke — The Duke University Blue Devils are back in the top spot of the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. Big surprise. If SportsCenter wants to get off on Duke that’s fine with me, but I say call me back when you’re in the Big East Conference and we’ll talk. North Carolina and Florida State are competitors, but Boston College? Great at hockey, mediocre at basketball. The 12 – 1 record loses a little of it’s clout when your schedule includes such stellar teams as the Elon Phoenix – the only reason I know that Elon exists is because my best friend goes to school there. You see my point?

2) Mel Kiper Jr. — There is truly no rest for the college football weary. It was straight from the Cam Newton, sorry, BCS National Championship to the NFL Draft. Whose stock is rising? Whose stock is falling? How many different mock drafts can one make?! Maybe I find this uninteresting because I attend a school with no football team, but Mel Kiper Jr. sure isn’t helping the situation. First, his head just freaks me out. Second, all the yelling and pointing – not effective. If I must hear about the draft I prefer to hear it from calm and composed Todd McShay. Seriously, I’m surprised I have yet to have a nightmare involving Mel Kiper Jr.’s disembodied head.

3) Blake Griffin — This is by no means a dig at Griffin’s ability on the court. This guy has more basketball talent in his left pinkie fingernail than I do in my entire body; I think he’s a player with talent and athleticism. But lately Blake has become that song that gets overplayed on the radio. For the first couple of weeks you’re all about it, you blast it in the car with the windows down, but then it starts to get old, then annoying, then you just want to turn it off all together. Blake Griffin has been overplayed by ESPN; he’s the Sex on Fire of sports right now.

4) Anything Involving the Word “Union” — The talks between the NFL Owners and the Players Union is important stuff, I get it. But walking out of meetings? C’mon guys let’s be mature about this. Strikes are supposed to be about fighting real horrendous working conditions; I’m talking mines, railroads, and sweatshops. The head trauma thing is serious and more and more medical research points to the fact that concussions are permanently life altering, but let’s get some perspective and hammer this deal out. What I want is some football in 2011. What I don’t want is to see another tweet, article, or story involving the names Peter King and Roger Goodell.

5) Carmelo Anthony — Finally. Finally. You chose. I don’t care, you’re still that kid who took forever in the lunch line deliberating between chocolate and strawberry milk. Now, instead of the rumors, it’s going to be two weeks worth of content on Carmelo’s version of “the decision.” Bring on the Chris Broussard!

I’m going to go read now. Oh wait, no I’m not. Where’s the remote?

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Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks — Easy Does it NYC

Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks

Ok, Ok, Carmelo Anthony is finally going to the New York Knicks. Your prayers have been answered Knicks fans. Your savior is here.

I’d like to start by saying, “good for you.” If I was a Knicks fan, I’d be psyched. Carmelo is a top 5 player in the NBA, and having him join up with Amare Stoudemaire is undeniably a potent combination offensively. This trade was widely cited by critics as the Knicks giving up too much — most of the players responsible for the Knicks’ “resurgence”,  $3 million in cash, and all of your upcoming major draft picks. I agree that the Knicks gave up too much to get Melo, but my thinking is “so what?” This is what the Knicks had to do to get him, and sometimes you’ve got to take a step backwards in order to go forwards. I have no doubt that the Knicks will be able to recruit other scrubs who are pretty good and simply want to play in NYC with Melo and Amare, just as the Heat did with players like Eddie House and Mike Miller. In other words, this was the right move.

Now, I’m going to play devil’s advocate — hear me out on a few major issues in regard to this trade.

1) Chauncey Billups was included in this trade, which is huge — he’s a great veteran player and already has some chemistry with Carmelo. That said, he’s old and he doesn’t want to play in New York. Denver is his home, and he was thrilled to head back there following his time with the Pistons. While Billups isn’t pleased, he’s a player in the twilight of his career. I’d expect him to suck it up, and make the best of this final opportunity for him to win a Finals and play on the big stage. This isn’t a huge concern for me.

2) While this trade is not about this year, I wouldn’t expect much from the Knicks this year. They haven’t had time to play together and have a completely new roster. They’ll have growing pains, a la the Heat. But in the future, two stars is not equal to three. The Celtics have four, the Heat have three. While Melo and Amare are more than enough firepower, this brings injuries into the game in a major way. If Melo or Amare is injured in the upcoming seasons, or simply in the playoffs, this team will not have enough depth to win. Period. That’s something to be seriously concerned about as you fix your eyes on NBA titles.

3) Melo just made himself Lebron #2, at least to some extent, no? I’m sure you New York fans won’t agree. Whether you like it or not, that’s partially because you are bitter that Lebron snubbed you. But let’s face the facts — while Melo did not hold a ridiculous press conference and refer to himself in the third person a la Lebron, his departure was a bit ugly. Like Lebron, he left a larger contract on the table to go elsewhere after several seasons in Denver. Like Lebron, he made some bad comments like saying “I’ll be playing in Denver for the game on Tuesday at least,” during the course of all-star weekend. This move, like Lebron’s, also seems to suggest that he couldn’t get it done on his own. Sure, James joined D-Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Carmelo is joining the second leading scorer in the NBA in New York, which is something even Lebron can’t say. So this whole thing is a little hypocritical, no? If you’re saying Lebron can never be looked at in the same light because he joined forces with Dwayne Wade, then Carmelo can’t be seen in the same light either because he’s joining forces with Amare. Sorry, NYC, but I’m not sure how you can argue that.

I think those are some very valid points, and some legitimate concerns. That said, it is a big day for Knicks’ fans, I understand that and applaud this move. I’d still take the Celtics or the Heat in a series though, sorry guys.

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NCAA Basketball — If College Never Ended

Rajon Rondo Kentucky

By Jimmy Cunningham, howiGit New York Writer, Manhattan, NY

There were no real meaningful games going on between the lines this weekend, so with nothing to argue about I took a look at which college would put together the best NBA team of current pro players. I tried to keep the players in the positions they are currently playing but that was not always possible — I also only considered teams that had enough depth to field a decent bench.

UCLA

PG- Russell Westbrook; SG- Arron Afflalo; SF Trevor Ariza; PF- Kevin Love; Center- Dan Gadzuric

Bench- Darren Collison, Baron Davis, Jrue Holliday, and Matt Barnes. UCLA has the deepest team at point guard, but they generally lack size. With Kevin Love’s rebounding and outlet passes this team should be able to run.

Florida

PG- Jason Williams; SG- Corey Brewer; SF- Mike Miller; PF- Joakim Noah; C-  Al Horford

Bench- David Lee, Udonis Haslem, Matt Bonner. This is another very deep team, but they are deep only on the front line. When Lee and Haslem are your bigs coming off the bench you know this team will be able to rebound and score in the paint.

UCONN

PG- Ben Gordon; SG- Ray Allen; SF- Caron Butler; PF- Rudy Gay; C- Emeka Okafor

Bench- Rip Hamilton, Haseem Thabeet, Charlie Villanueva, and AJ Price. This team would score a lot of points. They do lack a “true” point guard but have some great shooters that will spread the court.

Kentucky

PG- Rajon Rondo; SG- John Wall; SF- Tayshaun Prince; PF- DeMarcus Cousins; C- Nazr Mohammad

Bench- Patrick Patterson, Jodie Meeks, Keith Bogan, and Eric Bledsoe. This team is lightning quick in the front court with Wall and Rondo. They both play point but with the speed these two bring it would be hard to resist playing them at the same time.

Duke

PG- Chris Duhon; SG- J.J. Redick; SF- Shane Battier; PF- Carlos Boozer; C-Elton Brand

Bench- Corey Maggette, Grant Hill, Loul Deng, Sheldon Williams. One of college’s most successful programs would put together a very well-rounded team. They may be lacking some offense but would be able to fundamental themselves to a few wins.

Texas

PG- DJ Augustine; SG- Daniel Gibson; SF- Kevin Durant; PF- Damion James; C- LaMarcus Aldridge

Bench- TJ Ford, Dexter Pittman, Royal Ivery, and Avery Bradley. This is another team that will be able to score. They also have the best player in this hypothetical league which makes them a top team.

UNC

PG- Raymond Felton; SG- Vince Carter; SF- Marvin Williams; PF Antwan Jamison; C- Brendan Heywood

Bench- Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, and Ed Davis. This will be a fun team to watch with some good athletes coming off the bench. Big men may be a problem for this team, although running will not.

Arizona

PG- Gilbert Arenas; SG- Andre Iguodala; SF- Richard Jefferson; PF- Jordan Hill; C- Channing Frye

Bench- Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Luke Walton, Jerrod Bayless.Yet another team that would have no problem filling the hoop. They lack some serious inside presence and passing may be an issue with this starting 5. Having Bibby come off the bench to distribute the ball around is valuable.

Kansas

PG- Mario Chalmers; SG- Kirk Hinrich; SF- Paul Pierce, PF- Nick Collison, C- Cole Aldrich

Bench- Drew Gooden, Xavier Henry, Darrell Arthur, Sharron Collins. One of the slowest teams on this list may struggle against some of the speed shown by others, however I do like the make up of this team and think everyone in the starting 5 would fit well into their roles.

Wake Forest

PG- Chris Paul; SG- Josh Howard; SG- Al-Forque Aminu; PF- Darius Songala, C- Tim Duncan

Bench- Ish Smith and Jeff Teague. This team is not very deep but watching Chris Paul and Tim Duncan play together would be a treat.

Now which team is the best? I think the two best would be UCLA and Florida. UCLA has the best quality depth in the back court and Florida has the best quality depth in the front court. Florida looks to be the best team from top to bottom. I really like the make up of the UCONN team who would score in bunches. The only team that may be more fun to watch would be Kentucky with all the speed they have in the back court.

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Glen Davis — Midseason 6th Man of the Year?

Glen Davis Celtics

By Matt Moore, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA

With the NBA approaching its All-Star break, now is a time where a lot of experts and fans alike start to hand out midseason awards. Blake Griffin is the clear-cut choice for Rookie of the Year, the MVP race seems to coming down to LeBron, Derrick Rose, and Dwight Howard, and Garnett is making a strong case to recapture the title of Defensive Player of the Year from Howard. But what is probably the most surprising is the strong case one could make for Glen Davis as Sixth Man of the Year.

Davis is in his fourth and most productive season since being drafted by Boston in 2007. Through 53 games, he has career highs in minutes per game (29.5), free throw percentage (.756), rebounds (5.2), assists (1.4), and points (11.8). The numbers back up the fact that Davis is playing as good as anyone has seen him play in Boston, but where his real value comes is better stated in terms of when he is contributing. The first big man off the bench, Davis backed up Shaq for the first few months of the season, and now does the same for Perkins. With O’Neal often in foul trouble and fatigued late in games, Davis was part of the closing unit along side the other four starters. His role remains the same, as Perkins’ minutes are limited. Davis gives the Celtics a player that can score, play tough defense, and rebound late in games. He works well protecting the paint with Garnett, and has drawn an astounding number of charges. He is doing this all while being an undersized 6’9. Despite the apparent lack of height, Davis is active around the rim, scoring inside and collecting offensive rebounds. His ability to get shots up around taller defenders by using the rim and body position is impressive. You can also see an improvement in his post moves and jump shot. With the injuries the Celtics have had, especially to the front court, Davis has only started nine games, all when Garnett went down earlier in the season. He is by far the most important player off the Celtics bench right now, and is the foundation for the second unit.

So who is his competition for the Sixth Man Award? I think right now the popular choice, and deservedly so, is the Maverick’s Jason Terry. He’s averaging 16 points a game for Dallas and is a big reason why they are second in the West. Terry gives them instant offense off the bench,and is often on the floor with Kidd and Nowitzki. He can shoot threes and takes big shots at big moments. We saw it first hand earlier this month when Terry had 17 points in a 101-97 Dallas win in Boston.

There are a few other bench players in the league that have better numbers than Davis, but that shouldn’t be the only factor in deciding the award. Davis’s value to the Celtics can’t be measured completely by statistics. It’s also interesting to note that Davis is having his best season heading into free agency this summer. But for now, the Celtics are happy to have him wearing green, and making big contributions towards their goal of another NBA title.

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