Back in the day, fierce rivalries amongst the baddest big men in the game were warranted, and universally expected. Chuck could talk smack to Karl Malone about how much better he was. Shaq hated on David Robinson, and went out to turn him into a human pinball whenever they matched up. Hakeem went at the Admiral when he felt disrespected during the 1995 Western Conference Finals. And Bill Laimbeer just wanted to cheap shot everybody. It was a different era back then, and most would argue it made for more interesting basketball, more drama. Nowadays, everyone is teaming up, and with so many NBA players first meeting each other at earlier ages and then practically growing up together on the court, rivalries are scarce. As far as big men go, Andrew Bynum is probably the largest wild card, only because of the increasingly weird Andrew Bynum things he does. So we think we’re speaking for most fans when we say thank God for DeMarcus Cousins. Read More »
So Team USA has found their groove. It goes something like this: mess around for a few quarters, and then get one of their guys – preferably Carmelo, Durant or Kobe – hot and watch them drop bombs video game-style from the perimeter. It worked against their last few opponents, and they did it again yesterday in their 119-86 shellacking of Australia in the first medal round game. Team USA took an 11-0 Aussie run to the chin to start the second half, and we actually had a somewhat competitive game through three quarters. Then, the Yanks went on a 45-20 run to end the game, and it started with Kobe Bryant … Read More »
Kevin Durant only scored 13 points in Team USA’s big win yesterday over Spain. But 10 of them came during a stretch at the start of the second half when the Yanks turned a relatively close game into a 21-point lead. No one really knows how hard Spain was going during that second half, but all you need is this highlight to tell you KD was into it. He takes a pass from Chris Paul and finishes with a flush in the lane, getting up so high he rocks his forehead on the rim. Read More »
Much of Spain’s talented roster has spent significant time in the NBA. They know mind games when they see them, and more importantly, they know how to play them. Of course, none of them are as affluent in playing possum as Gregg Popovich or Phil Jackson are. But that’s beside the point. They just have to be somewhat believable, and in an event like the Olympics where so much is on the line in so little time, that can make a Boris Diaw-sized difference. The two best teams in the Olympics square off today at 4:30 ET on ESPN2, and while it’s only an exhibition, it feels like so much more. Read More »
It’s true about Kobe Bryant and any superstar of the game: Show them a soft spot in your game and they’ll attack it relentlessly. Bryant has proved it not only during NBA play, but in the Olympics, as well. According to a story in Monday’s Los Angeles Times from Mark Medina, the Lakers’ star has constantly needled Spanish centerpiece Pau Gasol about the U.S. victory over Spain to win the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I’m guessing it’s in a good natured but seriously, remember when we beat you for gold? kind of way. Gasol can’t even get in a word with a Spanish teammate without Bryant dropping the hint that you know, they lost. Read More »
Dirk used a lot of magic this spring in the NBA, but he saved a little something for Turkey. Nowitzki made four huge free throws in the final few seconds to beat Turkey by six. He had 19 for the game, but 13 of those came in the second half. You know Dirk’s one-footed fadeaways? Is there any shot ever that’s crazier? When he’s feeling it, like he was yesterday, he doesn’t even look, just turns his shoulder and chucks the ball at the hoop. The only way that works is through millions of repetitions. Read More »
Pau Gasol got revenge. Well, not really. But he did get the better of Dirk Nowitzki and Spain got the better of Germany in the EuroBasket second round, beating them 77-68 behind the two Gasol brothers (Pau: 19 second-half points and Marc: 24 points). Dirk matched the All-Star with 19 of his own, but didn’t make a shot during the last nine minutes of the game. When you’re playing a team like Spain that can bring five or six different guys who have the capability to be their team’s best player on any given night, it’s difficult. Besides Chris Kaman (15 points, 12 rebounds), Nowitzki didn’t get enough help. Read More »
We’ve followed the Spanish men’s play in the EuroBasket tournament and they, along with France and Turkey, are at the top of the heap. Each squad has faced a few rough moments but they’ve been quite formidable when everything’s clicking. Let’s not forget Spain gave the Redeem Team a close fight for 2008 gold until the U.S. pulled away in the fourth. Looking ahead, who are your top five favorites for gold at the 2012 Olympics? … Spain’s the most likely candidate to win EuroBasket as well as a top contender for gold next summer going by their track record. Adding Serge Ibaka to come off the bench doesn’t hurt. Interior presence on both ends is a rare commodity and España’s wealth in those respects has paid major dividends. Read More »
Now here’s something you won’t see in the NBA. Check out Minnesota’s new point guard, Ricky Rubio, throwing alley-oops to Dallas’ Rudy Fernandez and OKC’s Serge Ibaka. You have to think the U.S. is going to have problems with Spain in next summer’s Olympics.
If you weren’t watching Spain take on Lithuania yesterday, then chances are you missed this savage posterization of Spain’s Rudy Fernandez by Lithuania’s Jonas Mačiulis. If I’m Rudy, I quit my complaining and stay in Portland, because it appears there’s a lot more where that came from overseas.