Ballin' Hard on a Budget!!!

Who’s going to run this town? Knicks-Nets rivalry set to be the main event 2013-14

There are a number of different ways to cross the East River to get between Manhattan and Brooklyn.  You have the iconic bridges, the Midtown tunnel, and pretty much every subway line runs between the two boroughs.  When the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets square off next season, rest assured that every single one of these travel options will be jam packed with anxious basketball fans ready for action, as if they were the ones lacing up the sneakers for 48 minutes on the hardwood.

When the topic of an NYK/BKN rivalry came up last season, the rebuttal was always that there wasn’t enough “history” between the two clubs.  But with all the change brought about by this year’s free agency and trades, that can change really soon.  After July 10th, the Brooklyn Nets will be welcoming some powerhouse talent to add to their roster, and players that have plenty of history with the Knicks.  Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry all have war stories of their battles in Madison Square Garden and whenever the Knicks came to town.  Looking back to this past season and the first round of the playoffs, these three are itching to get to their new team and pick up where last season left off.  The toughness that Brooklyn lacked is more than made up for now.  And when it comes to trash talking and getting under the opponents skin, these guys are up there with the best of them.  Expect the new trio to instill a culture of smack talking, cheap shots, yo’ mama jokes, and some good old fashioned bad blood for the cross town rivals.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way calling them dirty players, in fact it’s the complete opposite.   When it’s game time, they WANT to win and they KNOW HOW to win.   You don’t win an NBA title by being the nice guy so expect the rest of the Nets to fall in line and follow the lead, Brooklyn style. We’re not even going to speak on the new coach Jason Kidd who just happened to be suited up for the Knicks mere weeks before nabbing his first head coaching job, coincidentally in the same city.

Across the East River, the Knicks are taking note, and don’t think Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and crew to lay down and concede either.   There is decades of pride running through the rafters at the Mecca of basketball and the Knicks don’t plan on letting the new guys take over after one season.  The Knicks split the season series with the Nets last year in a series that brought us plenty of exciting moments.  With the summer to ponder what went wrong after elbow-gate, and a few tweaks to the roster, the Knicks still feel they have what it takes to win a ring. JR Smith is back in the fold, Iman Shumpert is beginning to really hit his stride and Raymond Felton will be looking to redeem himself for disappearing in the playoffs.  And don’t forget Amar’e Stoudamire.  You heard it here first (and I’m going out on a limb), STAT will be a front running candidate for “Comeback Player of the Year” next season.  We lost some key players (good luck @optimuscope), and made a few questioned trades (jury is still deliberating on that), so all eyes will be on how Coach Woodson and the Knicks respond to the ever mounting pressures of winning in one of the toughest markets anywhere.

This is a big city that at times can really seem small.  For years the Knicks have been the main attraction and don’t want to take a back seat to the newbies.  The Nets are new to Brooklyn, but moved to a borough that won’t play second fiddle to anybody. With the changes made and the history amongst players, this crosstown matchup will escalate to an all out rivalry by the first preseason game, believe it!  Regardless how big, this city may not be big enough for both teams, and what ever isn’t settled on the basketball court just may have to be finished in the parking lot.


Is Brooklyn in the House? New additions will feel right at home with the Nets

Let’s get one thing clear: in this game, money talks.  Mikhail Dmitrievitch Prokhorov lives by that mantra and nothing shows that more than what he’s willing to spend to bring his dreams of an NBA title to reality.  After making a trade with the Boston Celtics, The Russian tycoon is digging into the Camelskin cushions in the backseat of his Rolls Royce Phantom to pay the luxury tax penalty for bringing Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry from Beantown to Brooklyn.  Some say risky, but as a Knicks fan I say, F***!

I live in Brooklyn, so I love the borough, no doubt, but I been with the Knicks and that’s my squad, what’s up Spike!  With that said, I’m also a realist and the reality is that with these three HOF candidates (2 Guaranteed) coming down to Atlantic Avenue to play in the Barclay’s Center, it’s shaking the Eastern Conference BIG TIME, and sending a message to the rest of the league.    

The Brooklyn Nets had talent, that wasn’t the question.  They have the All Stars, they have the bench players, but something was missing, and that something was critical in a city where you need it to survive.  That something was toughness.  A certain soon to be former Brooklyn Net was heard saying he was afraid of Brooklyn.  Well that’s not an ingredient for a healthy career here.  And to his defense, Brooklyn could be a scary place and it’s easy to be afraid of it, but don’t tell anybody you’re scared because that’s when it gets scarier (Give me your lunch money). 

You know who’s not afraid of Brooklyn: PP, KG and JT.  I can all but guarantee these three professional warriors will feel right at home with the People, the Food, the Culture, and the Rhythm of this wonderful Borough, and it’s going to give a boost to their production next season, as it does to everyone who lives here.  Some say that they may be too past their prime to take it all the way, but I say, their not there to do the heavy lifting anymore, so they don’t have to be in their prime.  With Brook “I ain’t shook” Lopez holding down the center position, Kevin Garnett will be able to move back to his natural Power Forward spot.  On offense, he and Lopez can both shoot the 17/18 footer so defenses won’t be able to double team either one of them.  It’s going to cause matchup problems because KG can still dominate any defender one on one when his game is clicking.  With Joe Johnson on the wing beside him, Paul Pierce now, won’t be the focal point of the defense.  Now he will have space to operate off the ball to get free and get easy open looks.  Johnson, though he’s shown he can hit crunch time buckets, will have Pierce to look to for guidance when the pressure is on.  This is even more fun for Deron Williams.  He knows he had an off season by his standards.  Looking at the numbers, they weren’t that bad, but when you’re once looked at as one of the three top point guards in the league one year, and then looked FOR, as in “where did you go”, then you had an off season.  That leaves Jason Terry to do what he’s always done as the sixth man, and that’s to give a scoring punch off the bench.  He’ll be looked at as a mentor of sorts to MarShon Brooks, who I see as having his breakout season this coming year.  With Reggie “MonsterBoards” Evans, Andray Blatche and others, the Nets have a solid second unit that should compete well on a nightly basis.

That leaves that happiest guy of them all, new head coach, Jason Kidd.  Congratulations are in order for the new job and it’s well deserved.  Some say he should take some time, but I say the game is fresh in his mind from the players side and it will help him connect.  Jason Kidd was coaching for the Knicks this past season as one of Mike Woodson’s assistants,  It just so happened that we needed a backup to Raymond Felton, so he was given a uniform.  He has a great relationship with his point guard, much better then past two coaches, and I feel his demeanor and basketball knowledge will be positives.  From the looks of it, he’s surrounding himself with HIGH quality assistants, and we know that his bosses are going to spend whatever is necessary to give him the best opportunities at success.   His actual “coaching” experience is supplemented by time he’s already spent running NBA teams to title contention and championships.  That will translate very well to the head of the bench.  He’s savvy, he’s calm and collected, and no one’s ever questioned his toughness, a that’s a good look for Brooklyn.

Don’t mistake me for a bandwagon fan.  I’m still standing by my team.  I’m going to root for the Knicks all the way (Let’s go STAT!!), but I’ll give respect where respect is due.  Also, it’s going to make for even more excitement in the Atlantic Division next season.  Now, though nothing is official until after July 10th, Brooklyn is definitely buzzing, from Brighton Beach to Bed-Stuy, and for good reason.  This trade is going to bring out some real Brooklyn Fans, and home games will be a whole lot more difficult for opposing teams.  The Brooklyn Nets just got the toughness to match the Borough they represent, and you’ll know what to say the next time someone asks: “Is Brooklyn in the House?  Without a doubt.

History in the making – The most anticipated game 7 EVER!!!

Woah, woah, woah!!! With the Spurs up four with 28 seconds left in game 6 of the NBA finals, last night in Miami, this series was over. The NBA believed that. They began to wheel out the Larry O’Brian trophy, preparing for a fifth San Antonio Spurs championship celebration. The Miami Heat fans believed it. You could hear the Bronx cheers beginning to creep up and people were heading for the doors. I know everyone in San Antonio started throwing more meat on the grill, and popping another cold one, because it was going to be a long night of partying.

Not so fast. This is the NBA. Rudy Tomjonovich told you all never underestimate the heart of a champion. Lebron James, hearing whispers of his previous choked opportunities, and how he doesn’t have the clutch gene that is intertwined in the DNA of past legends, is still a champion. He lifted the city on his back like he’s done since his high school days, to get them back in the game. And then Sugar Ray Allen showed why he’s still the most dangerous deep threat in history, take notes Danny Green. Now, after a long, long, FULL season (what a difference those twenty games make) it fittingly comes down to this. We all get the esteemed pleasure of witnessing one more game in this oh so epic series.

Game 7 is already a classic and they haven’t even tipped off yet. The Spurs prove they deserve to be here. They have given the Miami Heat everything they can handle. In my opinion Greg Popovich will be intermingled in the discussion of the greatest coaching minds of all time. Tim Duncan, the vintage warrior, is drawing everything he’s got left in the tank and literally owning the paint. Tony Parker is playing like an MVP, no doubt about it. Don’t forget Danny Green with the surgically implanted rocket launcher in his right arm. So it should come as no surprise that we find ourselves here, one more game, 48 (or more) minutes for all the marbles.

The stage is set. The lights are on, so grab your popcorn, your drinks, your snacks, and get comfortable because you’re in for a treat. The Spurs are kicking themselves because they let that one slip away. They missed crucial free throws down the stretch that would have sealed the victory. They also gave up two crucial offensive rebounds, both leading to HUGE three pointers, so they are going to come out even more focused and ready to redeem themselves.

Miami escaped game six by the skin of their teeth, so they aren’t taking anything for granted. The Miami heat crowd will be rocking as usual. Expect American Airlines arena to be super loud, from the time Julia Dale wows us with her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, to the final buzzer, because this one is going to the wire.

This is one for the ages. The old guard is making way for the new. This is one more step for Lebron James in his climb to the top of Mount Olympus, to take his place among the other gods. Tim Duncan knows his days are numbered, but like the other legends before him, pride keeps him going. He wants this one more than the four previous conquests, and it shows on his usually emotionless face. Hollywood couldn’t write a better storyline. You couldn’t make this up of you tried. Buckle up, it’s going to be one helluva ride!

Lost Hero – The rise and fall of Amare Stoudamire

Lost Hero – The Rise and Fall of Amare Stoudamire

Rewind. Early June 2010, New York City is buzzing.  We’re back!  New York Knicks basketball is finally crawling out of the dregs of the NBA basement.  After years, and years, and years of heartbreak, let downs, and flat out embarrassment brought to fans by our beloved Knicks, there is finally light at the end of this tunnel.  It wasn’t the King Mr. Lebron James who came to town but Amare Stoudamire brought a buzz all his own.   He was a confidence boost to a fan base who saw their prodigal son, one Stephon Marbury, eat Vaseline via webcam and then fly off to China to resurrect his life, let alone his career all while leading us to one playoff series (which ended in a sweep at the hands of the New Jersey Nets). Stoudamire was the adrenaline to our veins.  He was the coffee to our hangover.  He was a breath of life back into the Mecca of basketball and he didn’t disappoint.  25pts 8rebs 2 blocks, all star caliber numbers and New York City loved him strong!

Fast forward, two years and two knee debribement procedures later and Amare Stoudamire is now a pariah.  Ever since introducing his fist to that fire extinguisher after game two against the Miami Heat in 2011 – 2012, he has been in the fore front of all conversations concerning what is wrong with our beloved Knicks.  Have we forgotten his nine consecutive 30 point games?   Did we forget that he took a chance on us by coming here?  Does he not deserve the opportunity to get fully healthy and once again prove he deserved the pomp and circumstance that showered him when he first arrived? New York is the greatest city in the world.  We have the greatest fans.  On the flip side, they are unforgiving and adhere to the age old adage, what have you done for me lately?  In Stoudamire’s case, not much.  Granted, he showed glimpses of his former all star swag for a brief stretch when he returned from injury earlier this season but that was short lived.  A second surgery on his oh so suspect knees knocked him out for the rest of the season (I don’t count those worthless minutes in the  Indiana Pacer series).  A season when he vowed to return to his dominant ways (he used the word dominant, dominate, and other denominations of the word in many, if not all of his press conferences).  I believe it.  Call it Knick naïveté or whatever but I believed.  This was our year.  Carmelo Anthony and Stat can’t co-exist, bologna!  Mixed with Tyson Chandler (my apparent doppelgänger) meant that we were going to make a run, a real run, a REAL REAL run!  Then come the knee “procedures”.  Supposedly simple but needing six weeks to recover, doesn’t sound too simple.  We know the rest of this years story. We squeeze by the Celtics in 6, thanks to an “inadvertent” elbow by JR Smith, but lost focus and fell victim to Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacer defense. And now we’ve gone fishing.

Let’s look at the reality. This is Melo’s team.  Game on the line Melo has proven he is going to bring it.   Chandler is the toughness.  Even though Roy Hibbert wiped his ass with my man Tyson, he had the injured neck and the injured back (my neck and my back).  He won a title with the Dallas Mavericks, and Defensive Player of the Year, so he gets a do over.  Stoudamire is out of do overs.  His contract is so diesel that no one wants to lift it.  Amnesty is out of the question.  His only hope is himself.  It may be unjust and due to injury but this summer Amare Carsares Stoudamire needs to soul search.  Once labeled the Man Child, now just an overpaid burnout.  Is that who you are Carsares?  Are you washed up? Should we hand you the proverbial towel to throw in? I’m still a believer, Stat.  You brought my faith back.  Not a title yet but at least I don’t have to hide my Knicks gear anymore.  You’re the reason why we walk proud again.  Melo and Tyson and the gang and here to help you.  You came to us when others ran to warmer climates and I won’t forget that.  But this summer will tell.  Next season is all you have left.  Rise again young Man Child.