Tag Archives: NBA PLayoffs

Lovable Losers: A New Series of Installments

18 Aug

I’ve been a basketball fan since I was about 12. I grew up in Dallas during the Mavericks worst years when they were owned by a guy who ran car dealerships and bowling alleys. The mavericks sucked and though I rooted for Popeye Jones, Tim Leger, and George McCloud to be successful, the brand of basketball they played was not in the least bit entertaining.

This forced me to open my eyes up to the national scene to find out what good basketball was elsewhere. 1992 was a pivotal year for me and sports: The Ticket radio station became Dallas’ first all sports station. The Cowboys won their first Super Bowl since I’d been born. My mom got me a subscription to Sports Illustrated. I had a Sega Genesis to geek out with Madden, Hardball III, NHL, and Bulls vs. Blazers. My obsession with sports began and here I am today, blogging about my favorite teams that did not win a championship (on a Saturday night no less).

There is only one team a year that can win a championship. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, especially when a team is thoroughly fun and the brand of ball is oh so entertaining. But entertaining doesn’t always win championships and doesn’t always bring accolades. So this is my way of honoring those teams that didn’t quite have what it took to win it all, but nevertheless won my heart (Yea I know–shit’s corny but it’s true. I guess I’m becoming sentimental in my old age). This will be a series of installments of teams ranging from NFL, to MLB, to the NBA to NCAA.

To kick this bad boy off let’s reflect on the 1992-93 Phoenix Suns.

Phoe

Head Coach: Paul Westphal

Key Starters- Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle

Key bench playersDanny Ainge, Richard Dumas, Tom Chambers

This was the first team I watched thoroughly during their playoff run in which they finally lost to Jordan’s (3-peat) Bulls. They were a lot of fun to watch. Dan Majerle and Danny Ainge with their long range threes. Richard Dumas and Cedric Ceballos were athletic slashers who could get to the rim. Charles Barkley of course was just traded to them and made them immediate championship contenders. The America West arena was a raucous place to watch a game with fans that went ape shit every time the Suns dialed one up from long distance.

I can remember the cover of SI that year and the feature story about Barkley (my favorite player in the world not named Chris Webber–the only pair of Nike’s I ever owned were Barkleys) finally having a legit chance to compete for an NBA title. He was at the peak of his game then and looking back its crazy to think that year was as good as he was going to get. That Finals was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Every game was competitive and entertaining. Though many point to that game 6 with the John Paxson shot that sealed the deal, I remember the equally competitive game 4.

Jordan took over at the end of that game (he had 55 pts that night and Barkley fouled Jordan on a layup attempt and couldn’t keep him from making the bucket and getting the And 1. The game was over after that and Phoenix had to eek out a 3 OT thriller just to force game 6. But they were in every game and could have easily won that series had it not been for timely mishaps and missteps which the savvy Bulls took advantage of (but I guess that is what separates great teams from championship teams isn’t it?)

If you go back and look at this roster, its easy to see why they didn’t have the horses to win. The Chicago Bulls had a better bench than they did and the Suns sucked at the center position. It was a 4 on 5 game pretty much the whole time Mark West and Oliver Miller were on the court. I have tried playing with this classic team on Xbox when me and my homey match-up and its a tough one to manage.

Usually I would play small ball with Tom Chambers playing center, Charles Barkley at the 4, Dan Majerle at small forward, Kevin Johnson running point and Danny Ainge at shooting guard. On offense this spread out the floor and opened up the court a bit (its actually pretty fun because there are so many 3 point opportunities). The problem was that defensively this lineup sucked and nobody could protect the rim and fatigue usually forced me to put in West, or Miller. They only went 8 deep and only 5 of those guys were legit offensive threats. So imagine trying to coach this team in real life instead of a video game. Paul Westphal had to get creative with that lineup.

I was incredibly annoyed to see Jordan rip their hearts out, but now with a little bit of hoops knowledge I understand why it didn’t happen for them. They were facing Jordan and Pippen and Phil Jackson, and they just weren’t balanced enough to win. Ce la Vie. I still remember the stunned feeling when this happened.

Bang! Season over that fast.

That would be the closest Barkley, KJ and company would ever get to sniffing a championship with that group. Dumas would never match the stats he put up that year (15.8 pts and 4.6 rebounds per game) and would end up finishing his career in Greece. Ceballos went on to create the “Lake Show” up in Los Angeles with Eddie Jones and Sedale Threatt. Chambers never did much after season and the core players left never seemed to get over the hump.
The Suns would bring in Danny Manning, and Waymon Tisdale to try and bring Phoenix a title, but it never happened. Mario Elie slammed Phoenix’s championship window shut with a 3 pointer in 1995. The Suns had commanding 3-1 series leads over Houston two years in a row and let them slip away twice.

In 1997 Barkley would try to team up with Drexler and Olajuwan in Houston, and that team almost made it to the Finals but someone let Stockton take a wide open 3. Once again Sir Charles was sent home to go fishing.

Though the Suns never won it all on the basketball court, some of the key players found success off the hardwood. KJ is the mayor of Sacramento and much to the chagrin of Supersonics fans was able to help keep the Kings in “Sad” Sac-town. Majerle is the head coach at Grand Canyon University according to Wikipedia. Danny Ainge helped rebuild the Celtics franchise and get them a title in ’08 as the GM (he is in the middle of another rebuilding job as we speak). And of course Barkley is ubiquitous. You see him on commercials, you see him on TNT. He is on every talk show being entertaining. So there you go, as Jalen Rose likes to say, “There is the score on the scoreboard and there is the score in the game of life.”

62 regular season wins and a thoroughly enjoyable playoff run, culminating in one of the greatest NBA Finals I have ever seen; I wouldn’t necessarily call them losers.

Jordan would soon wipe that smile off Barkley's face.

Jordan would soon wipe that smile off Barkley’s face.

We Went There: Goosebumps in Oakland

18 May

Right up there with the Randy Johnson perfect game (2004) and the A’s-Giants inter-league game (2006) as coolest sporting events I ever attended.
There was this:

and this at the very end:

A very special special special thing to be apart of. Best NBA fans in the league by far. If KD decides to defect to Golden State when his contract is up, I may be moving back to Oakland.

The Grindhouse was rocking last night!!!

14 May

I would not be surprised if they gave Miami a run for its money in the Finals.

I only heard the crowd reaction but I knew something dope had happened

11 May

Geeking out……….on the playoffs

4 May

Just learned how to play this today when I was re-watching the Memphis vs. Los Angeles game from last night…..pretty easy actually C to E to A then F to E to A to C….

speaking of the Playoffs…Memphis looks nasty. If they go into the next round versus the Spurs healthy, I think they should be the favorites in that match-up. I think they will dispose of the Thunder in 5 games at the most. Durant will get his, but I don’t see anyone stepping up consistently to help KD out.

I think the Grizz could even make the Heat work for it in the finals if they can find a way to get the ball up the court.
For the Champion being a foregone conclusion (barring major injury to Lebron), it has still been an entertaining playoffs. I may have to see if I can figure out how to attend a game at the Oracle…..to be continued……..

We got next

26 Jun

Things I took away from this NBA Finals experience:

  • My boys had a great season. They got better. Two years ago it was first round defeat, last year was the conference finals, this year the NBA Finals. Jimmy Johnson used to say,”If you’re not getting better, you’ve gotten worst.”

 

  • Oklahoma City have the best fans in the NBA.Going to those games have been collectively my favorite live NBA experiences. I’m almost tempted to buy season tickets next year and take the train down for games.
  • Lebron is clearly the best.  If you’re in a conversation with someone and they say otherwise walk away from them immediately, just talking with them will make you dumber.
  • KD is the best scorer in the NBA, but in order to become an all around superstar he will have to get better at rebounding and defense, cut down on the turnovers.
  • “FREE RUSSELL WESTBROOK!!!” The experiment is over. Move him over to the 2-guard where he can thrive and not have as much pressure to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. He is clearly a superstar and clearly we need him, but not as a point guard. He’s a scorer, he’s a lock down defender, he’s a great rebounder. But he is not a point guard. Get a real point guard who can pass and defend, they wouldn’t have to score, just create opportunities for the other players.
  • And while Sam Presti is at it, get a big who can come off the bench and score in the paint. If he can run well off the pick and roll, even better. One of those Ron Milsap, Karl Landry type guys would be nasty.One that thing they could have used this year was a guy they could dump it down to in the paint for an easy bucket or two. It would do wonders for the sqaud to be able to get some points inside without going to Isolation, and pick and roll plays.

 

  • Getting their  ass kicked the way they did in the final game might be the best thing to happen to them. They were clearly talented than everyone else but were too inconsistent and frankly, there were really only a couple of games this post-season where they played a complete 48 minutes. But they kept winning and that reinforced bad habits and caused people to think they were better than they were.

    The best thing that could have happened was them getting exposed against the Heat

    (It’s like when a person becomes romantically involved with someone and they embark on an intense relationship. It s an opportunity to grow from the experience and see what flaws the individual needs to work on–seeing the good the bad and especially the ugly).

 

 

 

  •  Lockout years are different than normal regular seasons so I knew that the Thunder’s best chance to make it with this particular set-up was this year (If you look up fluke in the dictionary you will find a picture of the 1999 Knicks team).If they want to win a championship some minor changes will have to be made, and I’m sure Sam Presti will make them. I don’t think they are satisfied with just making it to the Finals. I think this year was just a little taste of what’s to come.

    I’m very proud of our boys and I can’t wait to see what moves are made in the off-season to bolster that lineup and see who’s gonna step up, and who’s gonna step out.If the Thunder can fix those small holes (and even if they don’t) they should be back in the Finals, in what will probably be a rematch against the Heat. Hopefully they will use the experience to better themselves.

 

 

  • Lastly, I wanna see them make a public service announcement video much like this one. “Stop Flopping!” Fo’real! This flopping has got to stop. Dwayne Wade, Lebron James. You guys are top 5 NBA players. Why do you need the refs to bail you out?If you guys are so good you wouldn’t have to whine to the officials. Fo’real. Play basketball.  I’m just hoping the officiating isn’t as big of a story for next years playoffs.

There will need to be more team play next year for OKC to bring the title down to the Sooner state.

 

Aight. I’m out. Trying to peep these free agents SON!!!!