Tuesday, March 25

Shaq Parts the White Sea

Why is it that people always love the big-jolly-goof-balls? Sure we might dislike them for a bit, but we can't just stay mad at them. Once the clock makes its rounds, we'll be standing back up and applauding them.

You know who I'm talking about: None other than Big Daddy Shaq.

The big dude is back. The Suns are putting together a string of wins. Steve Kerr is slowly looking like Tom Cruise. And where the hell are those people who were claiming that Shaq couldn't run with Steve Nash even if his life depended on it?

And even though his Superman sign has been ripped from his large arm and onto the chest of the new Superman, Dwight Howard; Shaq still stomps in with the same seismic waves that he always makes. And I'm just sorry that I had to post this video later than everybody else.

I guess it's true that Shaq was the MVP of the Miami Heat.

Wednesday, July 11

Chauncey Billups: A Conflict of Interests

What's on your mind, Chauncey?

Everybody and anybody keeping track of the free agency pool this year has got to be already heads up with Chauncey Billups resigning with the Detroit Pistons. Now, it seems that Chauncey Billups will indeed be the face of the Pistons franchise of 2000; will he be one of the most beloved players the franchise has ever had, enough to have his jersey recognized and lifted up into the rafters a decade from now? Only time can spell that answer.

However, it is definitely mind-bending to try and understand the hidden agendas that the general managers and the players themselves try to impose on, no matter how unhidden they are. The resigning of Chauncey Billups follows two brilliant theories, which are also two theories that very well contradict each other. One theory is the 'Make More Money Theory', which was brought to light by none other than Agent Zero (Gilbert Arenas) himself; while the other theory, 'Joe Dumars is a Mad Genius', is generated by both Chris McCosky of The Detroit News and Tom Ziller of The Fanhouse. Both of which seem very brilliant, realistic, and feasible; which is the problem because if that is so: then Chauncey Billups will become a very unhappy fellow.

Dwelling on Gilbert Arenas' contractual lingering, here are some of the highlights of his rant:
What is hard for anybody else to understand besides people in the NBA industry to understand that, on my contract, it’s basically the same thing that Ben Wallace did but without the trade and the same thing that Chauncey is doing.

Now, if you don’t make the max money but you become a max player during the time frame of your original contract, you have to opt out to get the max money.

This has nothing to do with me leaving or trying to look for other teams. I have to do it:

1. To get more years and
2. To increase my pay.

It’s the same thing Chauncey was doing. Chauncey was getting paid four to five million dollars in his contract, and if he extends he’s only going to make 12.5 percent on that amount, which will put him at six million or so. But, if he opts out of that contract, he could possibly start at 10.

In simpler terms: Gilbert Arenas wants to opt out of the last year of his contract to make more money. If he gets a contract extension, he will only receive a 12.5% increase on his salary; on the flip note, if he opts out of his contract and then gets resigned instead, he could start with a much higher increase on his salary. Brilliant? Could be. Arenas claims that Chauncey Billups is doing the same thing this year, as Chauncey suggested "testing the market" regarding his contract option, but that's not where the story ends.

Coming over to the side of Joe Dumars' tactics, here's what the Fanhouse, with the help of McCosky, had to say about the situation of Billups:
Just two weeks ago, people were using Amir's name and the full midlevel in the same sentence. But no one has made Johnson an offer (as far as the known world knows, at least). Why? McCosky explains:
Joe Dumars has made it clear across the league that he was matching any offer for Johnson, so teams have pretty much stayed away.
Sound familiar? This is exactly what happened with Chauncey Billups, and Dumars locked him up with the most reasonable contract imaginable. So Dumars -- by using the media to insist he won't let his free agents get away at any cost -- gets his free agents at reduced costs.
Amir Johnson is close to being locked up by the Detroit Pistons. Despite his tremendous play in the summer leagues and undying potential for the future, no team has yet to offer Johnson a contract save for Joe Dumars. McCoscy explains that it's because Dumars has scared away all suitors by putting his foot down on the signing issue. Tom Ziller of The Fanhouse claims that this is the same strategy that Dumars used on resigning Chauncey Billups. Joe Dumars is going to match any offer that opposing teams make on Chauncey, so why bother right? Thus, the Pistons resign Chauncey at a much cheaper cost as opposed to trying to match offers with other suitors.

Here's where the story twists: If what Gilbert Arenas said is true and Chauncey DOES want more money by opting out, and if the strategy of Joe Dumars in reacquiring free agents is also true; then where does that leave Chauncey Billups? Chauncey Billups wants more money, but Joe Dumars blueprinted a way to lock up multi-million star Chauncey Billups for a price much lower than what Billups could have gotten from other teams given his intangibles and skills as a player. Do we have an unhappy Chauncey Billups?

Love and passion for the game and the team should always come first over money and contracts in moral terms, and maybe that's the real reason why Billups resigned with the Pistons; but why did he have to test the market other than the reason for acquiring a large contract? A possible reason would be the search for a championship contender better than the wailing Detroit Pistons; but with Dumars' antics, didn't that also stifle possible offers from championship contenders such as the Dallas Mavericks? Do we have an unhappier Chauncey Billups?

A major conflict of interests? Indeed, a big one. Once Billups inks the deal, it all becomes official. Only then will the world be certain regarding the outcome of the decision of Chauncey Billups as his years begin to unfold.

Thursday, July 5

Defibrillating The Career of Steve Francis

Poor guy...

Balloons were popped and champaign was poured. It was a night when dreams were made and hearts were broken. It was a day which saw a handful of youngsters hoping to be given the opportunity to embark on a journey towards basketball supremacy, and some for even more. As the doors closed and the telephones fell silent, one man felt a sudden resurgence in his basketball career that he had not felt in a very long time. Through all the draft picks and draft day trades, this man was given a second chance; a second shot to revive his career out of the slums of mediocrity. This man is "Steve-O". No, not the dude from Jackass, but he can be considered one as well. It is a shame to see careers that lift off and go the distance in a vertical horizon only to suddenly plummet to the ground in one swift instance. Welcome to the career of Steve Francis.

Steve Francis was a walking condition-bomb; wherein he had to be kept under a certain condition to prevent him from going off. Everyone knew it, but there was little to be done and so many willing to take the risk and hone this potential superstar. He was selected as the 2nd overall pick in the 1999 draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies, and blatantly detested playing in Canada. Seriously, why does everyone hate Canada? He then swore to make the Chicago Bulls regret selecting Elton Brand ahead of him in the 1st overall pick. Without a choice, the Grizzlies traded Francis to the Houston Rockets where Francis made an ass, err.. a career out of himself and earned the name Steve Franchise. The catalyst to containing the potentially-mercurial point guard? Cuttino Mobley. Francis and Mobley not only created an explosive back court, but a lasting friendship as well; even as they were traded together to the Orlando Magic.

A strand of hair was holding the composure of Steve Francis, and that strand of hair was suddenly blown by a gust of wind; and before anyone knew it, Steve Francis broke down. The Orlando Magic traded away the best friend of Steve Francis, and he slowly deteriorated until he was never the same again. Francis fell into a deep slump in the following season which had everyone scratching their heads wondering what went wrong with the league's best point guard. He had lost the love and passion for the game. When it finally came down to it, Steve Francis got himself thrown off the team. He was shipped off to the New York Knicks in hopes of creating one of the most feared back courts in the league at the side of Stephon Marbury; which never materialized as his entire tenure with the New York Knicks was hobbled by recurring injuries. Now, nobody really knows of Steve Francis anymore and he'll only be referred to as "Oh yeah! Him!" when his name is mentioned. One of the best point guards of his time has become an unknown shadow with a single Wink (pun intended). The Chicago Bulls won't be regretting selecting Elton Brand over Steve Francis anymore, so it seems.

The resurrection: On June 28, draft day, The New York Knicks sent Steve Francis packing to the Portland Trailblazers. This is where the resurrection of Steve Francis' career begins. After his sudden plummet from the sky, Steve Francis has finally received the ultimate opportunity to start anew. His career is on the orange zone leaving him with only a few years left if he does indeed remain healthy, but it's a new start nonetheless to try and salvage a few remaining squeezes out of his supposed-superstar career. He has a great opportunity to start and lead his new team with the draft-of-the-decade's ultimate prize at his disposal at the post, and a new back court partner to try and rekindle the burned out flames in his heart after it was broken by the Orlando Magic separation. The only question remaining, other than the health of Steve Francis, is if he still believes that he has an opportunity: Does the man that possesses the killer crossovers and the lethal ankle breakers along with the thunderous slam dunks still exist, or is he now a dead log sitting alone beside the swamp without even the company of the frogs or the flies? He has the support of the world behind his back, especially the ones who used to idolize and look up to the great point guard that he was, but when it all comes down to it, it will be his decision and his will to revive his career. It takes a lifetime to build a career but a few wrong turns can send it tumbling down quickly with much regards to Steve Francis, but that's not the hard part; is he going to have the confidence to climb back up or waste away like Isaiah Rider did?

Pull yourself together Steve, you're not out of it yet.