The NBA season has started off at its usual pace and a number of the teams are either beginning to separate themselves from amongst the pack or those with aspirations of making a name for themselves are surprising their fans , plaudits and pundits alike. That being said ‘controversy’ rears it ugly head with the actions of Washington Wizards’ players Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton . All that you need to know is that the Wizards’ front office as well as that of commissioner’s office have failed to act appropriately with regard to the actions of both players. Little needs to be said other than the fact that David Stern ‘no longer’ has any credibility whatsoever as the commissioner of the NBA. The same can be said of his ‘main enforcer’, Stu Jackson. As to the Wizards’ front office, their inaction only speaks to the ineptitude shown by the organization over the years.
Courtesy of NBA.com
By David Aldridge
So, you want to hear about how Tim Duncan’s back on track this season?
Didn’t think so.
The Big Fundamental’s renaissance, like a lot of other interesting developments in the league this week (from the latest on Tracy McGrady, to Kobe’s latest incredible game-winner, to KG’s knee) has taken a back seat to a ridiculous problem for the Wizards, all Gilbert Arenas’ doing — and one that will surely cost him money and games when either the Washington, D.C. and/or federal authorities, and/or David J. Stern are done with him.
On Saturday, in front of assembled reporters following the Wizards’ loss to San Antonio, Arenas said he used “bad judgment” in the Dec. 21 incident with Javaris Crittenton in which, according to sources, both players had their hands on guns in Washington’s locker room — though it is not clear that they pointed them at one another, as the New York Post has reported.
Former Wizards beat writer Mike Jones, on his blog, and the Washington Post’s Michael Lee both reported that a frustrated Crittenton threw one of Arenas’ guns across the locker room after Arenas had laid out three guns near Crittenton’s locker and taunted him to pick one up. It was an extension of an argument that began between the two on the team’s plane from Phoenix Dec. 19, when a source told me that Arenas failed to pay a $25,000 debt to Crittenton. (Jones says the amount wasn’t $25,000, and was owed not to Crittenton, but to another teammate: Javale McGee.)
No one disputes that Arenas brought three guns, which were unloaded, to the locker room from his Virginia home. He said he brought them to work because he no longer wanted them in his home with three children around. But it nonetheless was a violation of the NBA’s constitution, which specifically prohibits bringing weapons to team facilities. In addition, Arenas had not registered the guns in the District of Columbia, where Verizon Center is located.
“I take responsibility,” Arenas said. “If I have to deal with the police, the investigation, the DAs, that’s what I have to deal with. I have to deal with that on Monday. I’ve got to put it in their hands, tell the story, and then see what they say.”
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While no real light needs to be shed on the action of both players, other than to suggest that the image that the game strives to exude isn’t helped by the stupidity shown by Arenas and Crittenton by this incident. The ramifications of which could’ve been far more serious had either of them discharged their weapons. But then again we should be thankful that they didn’t self a wound upon their person, or should we ? Think Plaxico Burress and his ‘idiotic antics’. A lesson well served as to the reason why guns shouldn’t be placed in the hands of individuals who have no use for them , other than in the case of Arenas, Burress and Crittenton to make themselves look like complete morons.
In the Eastern Conference the usual suspects are striving for supremacy. And there isn’t a great deal to choose from the triumvirate of the Boston Celtics (24-8), Cleveland Cavaliers (27-9) , Orlando Magic (24-9) and certainly new to the bunch, the rather surprising Atlanta Hawks (21-12). And if you think that the Hawks’ fans aren’t surprised just think as to what this must be doing to the mindset of TNT tv on air analyst, Charles Barkley ? What sound bytes will he be looking to use, to describe the play of the Atlanta Hawks ? Cause as we know ‘Sir Charles’ has never been one to hold things back.
Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard look to contest a loose ball during the game played at the United Center , Chicago, Illinois. picture appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Randy Belice ….
The triumvirate mentioned all lead their divisions with some room to spare. But once again it looks like the Celtics may well be without their most pivotal player in, Kevin Garnett. Age and recurring injuries seem to be catching up fast, with the seasoned veteran. And without him at the helm it appears that they’re not the threat many would believe them to be. Albeit that point guard, Rajon Rondo seems to have raised the level of his play and all-round game. So much so , that this is no longer about the ‘Big Three’ of Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. But you could perhaps now add Rondo into the mix. Never mind the fact that Rasheed Wallace has now been added to this deeply talented Celtics’ roster. And for Celtics’ coach Doc River he must feel like he’s been blessed with an abundance of talent. But I guess it can’t be done without their veteran leader to guide them and guide as they embark on returning to the NBA Finals. But that’d be predicated upon them overcoming the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic.
The Cleveland Cavaliers for their part, in addition to LeBron James have added 15 time NBA All Star center, Shaquille O’Neal to their roster. And this is being done in the hopes that the combination of James and O’Neil can clear the obstacle of making to another NBA Finals and raising the Larry O’Brien trophy to signify them as world champions. Last season’s bittersweet loss to the Magic in the Eastern Conference semi finals was a sour note for the franchise. And for their coach Mike Brown it was a tremendous disappointment. Nevertheless , the team is expected to contend for postseason honors come what may. And if anything O’Neal has something to prove , while LeBron finally wants to show NBA world that he can land the ‘Big One’.
Kryptonite they say is the only thing that makes Superman susceptible and not impervious to defeat. In the case of the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard, it is his arrogance and lack of maturity, despite his years in the league. This time around there’s nowhere for Howard to hide should the Magic fail in their quest to return to the Finals and redeem themselves from their lopsided series’ loss to the Los Angeles Lakers (4-1). The team performed nowhere near as expected and that was despite their thrilling series’ wins against the Cavaliers and Celtics on their way to last season’s NBA Finals. Stan Van Gundy as their coach , squealed ,squawked , cajoled and with the all of the usual animation you’d come to expect of a cartoon character could not get this Magic team to raise the level of their play as and when needed to stem the tide or play of the Lakers, or for that matter, Kobe Bryant, the Finals’ MVP.
The Western Conference it seems is replete with talent as well teams on a mission. The defending champions , the Los Angeles Lakers are off to a fast start and they possess the best record in the NBA ,with a 27-6 mark. And it’s safe to say that Kobe Bryant alongside his teammates are eager to successfully defend their NBA title. At the same time it gives Lakers’ coach, Phil Jackson a further chance to distance himself record’s wise, from the achievements of Red Auerbach. And one seriously doubts that we’ll ever see another coach replicate Jackson’s feats as an NBA coach.
With the loss of Trevor Ariza to free agency, the Lakers would acquire Ron Artest. Curiously enough, as Artest would join the Lakers , Ariza did likewise by joining the Houston Rockets</a, Artest's former team. And it’d appear that the Lakers have yet to miss a beat. With Artest in tow to provided some stout defense as well as being the third or fourth scoring option for the team. One would find it hard not to resist placing a wager on the Los Angeles Lakers. With Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum all having that confidence about them. The Lakers are deemed the team to beat in the Western Conference. That’s not to say this is a one man show within the conference. The Denver Nuggets (21-13), Portland Trailblazers (22-14), Oklahoma City Thunder (19-15), aPhoenix Suns (21-13), Dallas Mavericks (23-11) and the San Antonio Spurs (20-12). Each of these teams are looking to take down the Lakers a notch or two. As to whether or not they are capable of it remains to be seen. But so contentious is the Western Conference that it has become a conference wherein the bloodletting once it starts just doesn’t seem to stop. Russell Crowe’s character, Maximus from the movie ‘Gladiator’ would feel at home with the barbarity that ensues within the conference. The bloodletting itself seems to have the fans of the teams in awe. As to the bragging rights. Well, let’s just say ’til you knock the champion of his pedestal, the bragging rights still belong to him.
To my mind the most surprising team in the Western Conference at present may well be the Oklahoma City Thunder. And night in, night out , Kevin Durant never ceases to amaze us all with his play , nor his phenomenal offensive prowess. Here’s a guy who looks less than 120 lbs ringing wet but plays with the heart of a lion and has the ‘killer instinct’ of a cold hearted assassin. Need one say, that he’s now beginning to make people think less and less about how god-damn awful the Seattle Supersonics use to be- the Thunder’s previous guise as an NBA franchise. Needless to say that when you’ve a team of complementary parts then things that come to fruition tend to be really good. And in Scott Brooks, the Thunder may well have one of the most unassuming coaches in the entire NBA. If there’s a more unassuming coach in the NBA that you know then let me know about him.
The usual cacophony of teams who all want to be a part of the postseason drama within the conference are as always many of the better managed teams. And with ‘Mr Fundamental’ back to his usual best , the thought is that Tim Duncan and his Spurs’ teammates are ready to assume the mantel as the Lakers most dangerous opponents. Now that’s not to say that the likes of the Nuggets, Suns , Mavericks, Thunder and Trailblazers won’t be a reliable source of drama throughout the regular and postseason. Suffice to say that with all of the bloods and guts that’ll be spilled. Whatever’s left from the carnage more likely than not will have to be viewed as the prohibitive favorites to win the NBA title. I know that there’ll be some derision those who are fans of the Eastern Conference of the NBA. But if the lack of real effort shown by last season’s conference representative is anything to go by. Then whomever comes out of the conference to face the Western representative is liable to get more of the same. How much more is dependent upon the resistance that team is able to put up.
So as of now, the clock is ticking on the NBA season and how things will pan out as the season unfolds. We all know smart a mouse can be as he’s being chased by the cat. But we also know how the guile of a cat can be and the dangers that lie within when the cat has his prey trapped. So which is it to be for the Los Angeles Lakers this season ? Are they going to be the mouse who evades capture from the chasing cat , as in the rest of the NBA ? Or will they be the mouse who gets caught by its erstwhile predator the cat, who’ll no doubt devour its prey ? What are your thoughts on it all ?
A classic ‘Tom & Jerry’ cartoon and the usual staple of classic mayhem ensues that the characters were always known for. Much like what we’ll no doubt see throughout much of the NBA regular season and also in the playoffs.