Memorable Bulls-Cavaliers Rivalry Picks Up Right Where It Left Off

One of the NBA‘s least talked-about rivalries is set to begin a new chapter, one perhaps bigger than any that have come before it.

The heavyweight fight between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls certainly has some entertaining rounds, even if they’re separated by some lengthy intermissions.

Starting with a seven-year battle in the late 1980s to mid-1990s, and again in the late 2000s, the Bulls and Cavs have once again risen to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Stars like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Mark Price, Scottie Pippen and Brad Daugherty have headlined 30 years of bad blood between the two franchises.

While each have had their periods of atrocious play, both Cleveland and Chicago now appear to be heading toward elite levels once again.

 

Round 1: 1980s-’90s, Jordan Bullies Cavs

Before the late ’80s, the Cavaliers had struggled through much of their nearly 20-year existence. With just four playoff appearances in 17 seasons, Cleveland was ready to support a winning basketball team.

Enter Lenny Wilkens, now a Hall of Fame coach and player, who guided the Cavs to the playoffs in just his second season on the sidelines (1987-88).

The roster was deep, talented and meshed extremely well. Six players averaged 10 points or more, led by Daugherty’s 18.7 a game.

On Chicago’s side, a 24-year-old Jordan was quickly rising to superstardom. He finished the 1987-88 season with 35 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

At that time, Pippen was just 22 and nothing more than a key contributor off the bench. Jordan was very much carrying the Bulls, then coached by Doug Collins.

The spring of ’88 was the first time the Bulls and Cavs would have a postseason battle in their rivalry. This time, like so many others, resulted in Chicago’s favor.

Despite their impressive lineup that featured Price, Daugherty, Larry Nance, Ron Harper and John “Hot Rod” Williams, the Cavs were no match for Jordan. The Bulls ended up taking the opening-round series 3-2 behind Jordan’s whopping 45.2 points a night.

What followed was a good, old-fashioned behind-kicking for the next six years.

Five total times the Bulls and Cavs met in the postseason from 1988-94. The result of those series? Chicago five, Cleveland zero.

Lee Winningham of ChiBullsZone.com gives us more on the rivalry:

The atmosphere was heightened each time they played, but the playoff battles wrote this rivalry’s history. In 1988 the Bulls and Cavs went five games in a memorable playoff series that featured Michael Jordan’s back-to-back fifty point performances in Games 1 & 2. In Game 1 on April 28, 1988, Jordan, fought off a bad cold, scared the entire city of Chicago when he landed awkwardly on his knee, and scored fifty points in a 104-93 victory at Chicago Stadium. Craig Ehlo, who had the unfortunate job of guarding Jordan during many of his scoring outbursts, handled it pretty well after Game 1 by saying, “I held him to 48 points or whatever he got. Pretty good huh?”

Now, the majority of those series were very competitive. When Jordan hit “The Shot” in Game 5 of the 1989 first round, it broke a 2-2 tie and sent the Bulls on to the next round.

Had anything gone wrong on that possession, it could have easily been the Cavs advancing well into the playoffs instead.

Harper echoed these sentiments in a 1995 Chicago Tribune article by Melissa Isaacson:

The Cavs always felt if they could just get by the Bulls, they could have gotten to the finals. And to get beat by one key guy every year really hurt.

[...]

There was always hope. And everyone thought the Cavs had the best chance of bringing a championship home. The Browns, the Indians, they just didn’t get the job done. But everyone was praying the basketball team had a chance.

Cleveland’s championship window appeared to be open for the first time in over 20 years.

Jordan and the Bulls, after years of coming out on top, shut it for another 15.

 

Round 2: James, Cavs Fight Back

James and Rose were the No. 1 overall picks of the 2003 and 2008 drafts, respectively.

Both breathed new life into their franchises, lifting the cities of Cleveland and Chicago back to the postseason yet again.

This time, it was the Cavaliers who would exact some revenge on the now Jordan-less Bulls.

Cleveland enjoyed its most successful run in franchise history from 2005-10. Making the playoffs five straight seasons, the Cavs averaged over 54 wins and advanced to the 2007 NBA Finals.

James headlined a group of players that included Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Larry Hughes, Delonte West and Anderson Varejao.

While Cleveland had its established, successful core, the Bulls were just beginning to see theirs form around Rose.

Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons were all starting to click with Rose, leading to some low playoff seeding around the time of the Cavs‘ rise to power.

While it may not have been the same as their previous seven-year battle, Cleveland and Chicago definitely butted heads.

The two sides made no efforts to hide their disdain for one another. James and Noah were especially involved, with Noah having some harsh words for the city of Cleveland itself.

Round 2 of the rivalry culminated in a 2010 first-round playoff matchup.

James and the Cavs made quick work of Rose’s Bulls, defeating them 4-1 in the best-of-seven opening-round series.

Cleveland was dominant, as it averaged 106.2 points led by James’ 31.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game.

Chicago, still very young, just wasn’t ready for the veteran Cavaliers.

The Cavs‘ luck would change quickly, however, as James would leave two months later to join the Miami Heat, putting the rivalry at a standstill.

Until now…

 

Round 3: Present Matchup

Now with James back in Cleveland and a healthy Rose returning to Chicago, the Cavs and Bulls should easily be the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

The order, however, will have to be decided on the court.

While both squads are still led by the same superstar, the supporting casts have changed for the better.

This time around, James has two proven All-Stars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love beside him, having not yet entered their prime.

James recruited some veteran outside shooting help in Mike Miller and James Jones, while holdovers Varejao, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson round out an impressive core.

Rose may not have the star power beside him that James possesses, but it is nicely upgraded from the last time he did battle with the Cavs.

Pau Gasol (17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds) may be the best offensive frontcourt player Rose has ever teamed up with. Noah is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic bring a nice blend of defense and outside shooting as well.

Here’s how the two squads match up, side by side:

  Point Guard Shooting Guard Small Forward Power Forward Center Sixth Man
Cavs Kyrie Irving Mike Miller LeBron James Kevin Love Anderson Varejao Dion Waiters
Bulls Derrick Rose Jimmy Butler Mike Dunleavy Pau Gasol Joakim Noah Taj Gibson

Which side holds the advantage?

Right now, it’s tough to say.

Cleveland is easily the better offensive squad. James, Love and Irving were all ranked in the top 14 in points per game last season.

Chicago has the defensive edge. Noah was the top defender in the NBA a season ago, with Gibson and Butler emerging as some of the best at their positions as well.

One has to hope and wish Rose stays healthy, as the former No. 1 pick has managed just 10 total games the past two seasons.

He and James have taken home five of the past six NBA MVP awards, and they are two of the most exciting players in the league today. Both have proven to not just score, but also lead a team while making others around them better.

So who comes out on top?

According to one recent projection, the Cavaliers.

ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle simulated 100 games (subscription required) using the SCHOENE projection system, stating:

Cleveland won 61 of the 100 simulated games, which seems about right for a set of games decided by spreadsheets and random numbers. The difference in the big threes for the respective teams is just too great: James, Love and Irving are forecast for a 48 combined WAR; Rose, Noah and Jimmy Butler are at 32. Chicago wins roster spots 3 to 15, but not to the degree that comes close making up for that shortfall in star power.

Not surprisingly, the Cavs and Bulls were projected as the top offensive and defensive teams in the league.

The article goes on to say:

Given the projected efficiency of both teams, you’d expect Cleveland to score about 111.4 points per 100 possessions when playing Chicago. This figure would have easily led the league last season. Presumably, the three-headed monster of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, Cleveland would figure to be the league’s best shooting team, while finishing in the top five in turnover rate, foul drawing and offensive rebounding.

The best part about Round 3 of Cavs and Bulls? It may be another sustained run.

James (29), Love (25) and Irving (22) are all in, or yet to enter, the prime of their careers. Irving is signed on for the next six seasons, with James and Love expecting to ink their own extensions next summer.

Rose, Noah, Butler and Gibson are all still in their 20s and are signed through at least 2016.

Cleveland and Chicago are very much rivals again, with the winner likely representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.

With all that’s at play, Round 3 could very well turn out to be the best one yet.

 

-GS

All stats provided by Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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San Antonio Spurs Have Nothing Left to Prove, and That Makes Them Dangerous

Toting the burden of proof is one such bother the San Antonio Spurs do not share with 29 other NBA teams.

Another banner season to their name, their core still intact, the Spurs are in possession of pressure-free power. There is nothing left to prove, no expectations left to meet, no feats or follies left to chase or avoid that will define them as something other than what they already are.

Next year’s Spurs are picture-perfect stability incarnate, more so than last season, when the stench of NBA Finals defeat lingered and championship business was left unfinished. 

No such sense of incompleteness follows them into 2014-15. These Spurs are, unequivocally, masters of their own fate, at the mercy of nothing and no one besides themselves and the path they’ve chosen to pave.

 

Returning on Their Own Terms

Last year’s title run could have been the end.

Sensing their collective mortality, the Spurs could have disbanded, willingly accepting and facilitating the conclusion to 17 years of preeminent relevance. 

Tim Duncan, like David Robinson before him, could have retired on top, five championship rings in hand, a stainless legacy to his name.

Manu Ginobili could have done the same, walking away with four titles, two All-Star appearances and, most importantly, no regrets.

Gregg Popovich could have called it quits as well, taking his surly disposition and title-stamped resume with him.

Not even Tony Parker needed to stick around, in the loosest sense of the phrase. Retirement remains a ways off at only 32 years old, but a multiyear commitment wasn’t necessary. Anticipating the end to San Antonio’s illustrious reign, he could have kept his options open.

None of them left or even came close to leaving. They all elected to stay and play even further beyond their shelf life. Not out of necessity, either. Rather, they stayed, they’re back, out of sheer want.

Contracts didn’t keep the Spurs together. Convenience isn’t at the heart of their return. Neither desperation nor obligation can be cited. Their continued existence is about themselves and their decision to play on.

No other team enjoyed the luxury of absolute, fallout-free choice. Only the Spurs, who remain in a league all their own because the easier it became for things to change, the more this group stayed the same.

 

Nothing Left to Prove

Satisfaction can be the enemy of success. It breeds complacency and lethargy, diminished drive, eradicated urgency. And with nothing left to fight for, how do teams actually fight?

The Spurs, to their credit, are different. They always have been.

When other teams rushed for change, they remained the same. When free agency and trades became foundations for rebuilds and instant turnarounds, they continued developing and improving from within. 

Different rules apply in San Antonio. The same things that damage aims elsewhere—like a lack of change—don’t play in River City. 

Continuity has been their friend. The same coach, guiding the same core, playing (mostly) the same way has won the Spurs numerous titles and yielded 17 consecutive playoff berths.

And it’s not like the Spurs don’t have anything to play for. They know their day in the sun is drawing to a close. They know what a sixth championship would mean for Duncan’s already sturdy legacy. They know this is a chance for them to erase doubt as to whether they’re a dynasty by winning back-to-back championships for the first time.

“Those consecutive championships may or may not be a requisite condition for the ‘dynasty’ label,” Bleacher Report’s Stephen Babb writes, “but it’s a distinction that would certainly help San Antonio’s case.”

Help. Not define or shape, but help. 

If the Spurs win another title—or come close to hoisting another Larry O’Brien Trophy—it only enhances their championship charm. If they fail to win, they won’t have actually failed at all.

Everything they do from here is either extra or inconsequential. The good becomes great, and the not-so-good doesn’t matter.

They already have the highest winning percentage (70.6) of any team since 1997, and it’s not even close. They rank fifth in offensive efficiency and first in defensive efficiency during that time, too, per Basketball-Reference.com. The longevity of their success is peerless in that it’s reached the point where no one event—triumph or foible—makes a noticeable dent.

Their marble-etched reputation was in full force even before they won their most recent title. It’s what allowed CBS Sports’ Matt Moore to declare the Spurs’ current Big Three—Duncan, Ginobili, Parker—the best ever weeks before they unseated the Miami Heat:

I’m willing to go ahead and say it. I think this team, this Spurs core that has been together since 2002, when you factor its entire 12 year-and-counting run, is the greatest NBA team of all time. The Chicago Bulls had better players, and much better individual seasons in the 90′s. The Lakers and Celtics captured our imaginations the way that this team never has. But going back to when Duncan was drafted, that this team has been so dominant for so long? That this core for 12 years has been this good?

It’s fine if you believe it’s Russell’s Celtics, or Jordan’s Bulls, or Magic‘s Lakers or Bird’s Celtics or, if you want to get really inventive, Kobe’s Lakers. But that’s where I’m at. I’ve never seen anything like what this Spurs team has done over such a long time.

That, again, was in May. Winning another title only strengthened that mystique. And it’s the same story next season, only more so. 

No matter what happens—good or bad, beautiful or ugly—the Spurs will still be the same Spurs of the last 17 years. 

 

Danger Alert

Put in the simplest of terms, the Spurs are still insanely dangerous because they’re still the Spurs. But equally important, it’s never been a better time for the Spurs to be the Spurs.

The offseason has done nothing to hurt San Antonio’s chances next season. The starkest improvements came within the Eastern Conference. 

LeBron James and Chris Bosh didn’t journey west. Kevin Love went east. Pau Gasol went east. 

More valuable still, the Western Conference’s top contenders did little to improve overall.

The Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t any different. The Los Angeles Clippers (Spencer Hawes) and Golden State Warriors (Shaun Livingston) made marginal improvements. So, too, did the Memphis Grizzlies (Vince Carter) and Portland Trail Blazers (Chris Kaman). The Houston Rockets whiffed hard in free agency.

No outside-the-bubble team improved drastically, either. Omer Asik won’t vault the New Orleans Pelicans into contention. The Denver Nuggets‘ greatest weapon is the hope that maybe, quite possibly, they’ll be healthy. The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t work free-agency miracles.

Although the absence of power-shifting moves doesn’t promise anything, it does, as Pounding The Rock’s J. Gomez details, leave San Antonio on the offensive:

Now, all of this doesn’t mean the Spurs are guaranteed to repeat as champions or even come out of the West. Far from it. The Spurs have their own flaws they didn’t address and they are still very fragile when it comes to health. But the status-quo was maintained and that always benefits the people on top. Last season, with virtually the same roster they will have this upcoming year, the Spurs were undoubtedly the best team in the league. And it seems like none of the teams that could be a real threat to unseat them has improved that much over the off-season.

The path to a repeat won’t be easy. But the way things transpired in free agency at least signal that, at least on paper, the title is the Spurs’ to lose.

Defending champions are usually dangerous. The Spurs are no different, but they’re also something more.

Age is still an obstacle. They must hope Patty Mills gets healthy and stays healthy. They need to pray Boris Diaw’s new contract doesn’t color him lazy. They need Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard to keep making leaps. 

They need things to remain unchanged.

Freak accidents notwithstanding, there’s no reason to believe they won’t. Remaining the same has been their forte for more than a decade. That’s all they have to do now, sans the burden of proof, the same one that creates pressure and the possibility for failure.

“I’m honored to be on this team right now because he’s going to be great for years to come,” Duncan would say of Leonard after beating the Heat, per USA Today‘s Sam Amick. “And I’m going to hold on as long as I can.”

That Duncan and the Spurs continue to hold on makes them dangerous, because with nothing to lose and everything to gain, they are holding on to an immediate future that cannot include failure.

 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

San Antonio Spurs Have Nothing Left to Prove, Which Makes Them Dangerous

Toting the burden of proof is one such bother the San Antonio Spurs do not share with 29 other NBA teams.

Another banner season to their name, their core still intact, the Spurs are in possession of pressure-free power. There is nothing left to prove, no expectations left to meet, no feats or follies left to chase or avoid that will define them as something other than what they already are.

Next year’s Spurs are picture-perfect stability incarnate, more so than last season, when the stench of NBA Finals defeat lingered and championship business was left unfinished. 

No such sense of incompleteness follows them into 2014-15. These Spurs are, unequivocally, masters of their own fate, at the mercy of nothing and no one besides themselves and the path they’ve chosen to pave.

 

Returning on Their Own Terms

Last year’s title run could have been the end.

Sensing their collective mortality, the Spurs could have disbanded, willingly accepting and facilitating the conclusion to 17 years of preeminent relevance. 

Tim Duncan, like David Robinson before him, could have retired on top, five championship rings in hand, a stainless legacy to his name.

Manu Ginobili could have done the same, walking away with four titles, two All-Star appearances and, most importantly, no regrets.

Gregg Popovich could have called it quits as well, taking his surly disposition and title-stamped resume with him.

Not even Tony Parker needed to stick around, in the loosest sense of the phrase. Retirement remains a ways off at only 32 years old, but a multiyear commitment wasn’t necessary. Anticipating the end to San Antonio’s illustrious reign, he could have kept his options open.

None of them left or even came close to leaving. They all elected to stay and play even further beyond their shelf life. Not out of necessity, either. Rather, they stayed, they’re back, out of sheer want.

Contracts didn’t keep the Spurs together. Convenience isn’t at the heart of their return. Neither desperation nor obligation can be cited. Their continued existence is about themselves and their decision to play on.

No other team enjoyed the luxury of absolute, fallout-free choice. Only the Spurs, who remain in a league all their own because the easier it became for things to change, the more this group stayed the same.

 

Nothing Left to Prove

Satisfaction can be the enemy of success. It breeds complacency and lethargy, diminished drive, eradicated urgency. And with nothing left to fight for, how do teams actually fight?

The Spurs, to their credit, are different. They always have been.

When other teams rushed for change, they remained the same. When free agency and trades became foundations for rebuilds and instant turnarounds, they continued developing and improving from within. 

Different rules apply in San Antonio. The same things that damage aims elsewhere—like a lack of change—don’t play in River City. 

Continuity has been their friend. The same coach, guiding the same core, playing (mostly) the same way has won the Spurs numerous titles and yielded 17 consecutive playoff berths.

And it’s not like the Spurs don’t have anything to play for. They know their day in the sun is drawing to a close. They know what a sixth championship would mean for Duncan’s already sturdy legacy. They know this is a chance for them to erase doubt as to whether they’re a dynasty by winning back-to-back championships for the first time.

“Those consecutive championships may or may not be a requisite condition for the ‘dynasty’ label,” Bleacher Report’s Stephen Babb writes, “but it’s a distinction that would certainly help San Antonio’s case.”

Help. Not define or shape, but help. 

If the Spurs win another title—or come close to hoisting another Larry O’Brien Trophy—it only enhances their championship charm. If they fail to win, they won’t have actually failed at all.

Everything they do from here is either extra or inconsequential. The good becomes great, and the not-so-good doesn’t matter.

They already have the highest winning percentage (70.6) of any team since 1997, and it’s not even close. They rank fifth in offensive efficiency and first in defensive efficiency during that time, too, per Basketball-Reference.com. The longevity of their success is peerless in that it’s reached the point where no one event—triumph or foible—makes a noticeable dent.

Their marble-etched reputation was in full force even before they won their most recent title. It’s what allowed CBS Sports’ Matt Moore to declare the Spurs’ current Big Three—Duncan, Ginobili, Parker—the best ever weeks before they unseated the Miami Heat:

I’m willing to go ahead and say it. I think this team, this Spurs core that has been together since 2002, when you factor its entire 12 year-and-counting run, is the greatest NBA team of all time. The Chicago Bulls had better players, and much better individual seasons in the 90′s. The Lakers and Celtics captured our imaginations the way that this team never has. But going back to when Duncan was drafted, that this team has been so dominant for so long? That this core for 12 years has been this good?

It’s fine if you believe it’s Russell’s Celtics, or Jordan’s Bulls, or Magic‘s Lakers or Bird’s Celtics or, if you want to get really inventive, Kobe’s Lakers. But that’s where I’m at. I’ve never seen anything like what this Spurs team has done over such a long time.

That, again, was in May. Winning another title only strengthened that mystique. And it’s the same story next season, only more so. 

No matter what happens—good or bad, beautiful or ugly—the Spurs will still be the same Spurs of the last 17 years. 

 

Danger Alert

Put in the simplest of terms, the Spurs are still insanely dangerous because they’re still the Spurs. But equally important, it’s never been a better time for the Spurs to be the Spurs.

The offseason has done nothing to hurt San Antonio’s chances next season. The starkest improvements came within the Eastern Conference. 

LeBron James and Chris Bosh didn’t journey west. Kevin Love went east. Pau Gasol went east. 

More valuable still, the Western Conference’s top contenders did little to improve overall.

The Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t any different. The Los Angeles Clippers (Spencer Hawes) and Golden State Warriors (Shaun Livingston) made marginal improvements. So, too, did the Memphis Grizzlies (Vince Carter) and Portland Trail Blazers (Chris Kaman). The Houston Rockets whiffed hard in free agency.

No outside-the-bubble team improved drastically, either. Omer Asik won’t vault the New Orleans Pelicans into contention. The Denver Nuggets‘ greatest weapon is the hope that maybe, quite possibly, they’ll be healthy. The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t work free-agency miracles.

Although the absence of power-shifting moves doesn’t promise anything, it does, as Pounding The Rock’s J. Gomez details, leave San Antonio on the offensive:

Now, all of this doesn’t mean the Spurs are guaranteed to repeat as champions or even come out of the West. Far from it. The Spurs have their own flaws they didn’t address and they are still very fragile when it comes to health. But the status-quo was maintained and that always benefits the people on top. Last season, with virtually the same roster they will have this upcoming year, the Spurs were undoubtedly the best team in the league. And it seems like none of the teams that could be a real threat to unseat them has improved that much over the off-season.

The path to a repeat won’t be easy. But the way things transpired in free agency at least signal that, at least on paper, the title is the Spurs’ to lose.

Defending champions are usually dangerous. The Spurs are no different, but they’re also something more.

Age is still an obstacle. They must hope Patty Mills gets healthy and stays healthy. They need to pray Boris Diaw’s new contract doesn’t color him lazy. They need Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard to keep making leaps. 

They need things to remain unchanged.

Freak accidents notwithstanding, there’s no reason to believe they won’t. Remaining the same has been their forte for more than a decade. That’s all they have to do now, sans the burden of proof, the same one that creates pressure and the possibility for failure.

“I’m honored to be on this team right now because he’s going to be great for years to come,” Duncan would say of Leonard after beating the Heat, per USA Today‘s Sam Amick. “And I’m going to hold on as long as I can.”

That Duncan and the Spurs continue to hold on makes them dangerous, because with nothing to lose and everything to gain, they are holding on to an immediate future that cannot include failure.

 

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Leonard left Larry O’Brien trophy at home to work out

Kawhi Leonard in a nutshell.

      
 

 

View full post on USATODAY – NBA Top Stories

Detroit Pistons Might Now Be Left With No Other Good Option But To Trade Greg Monroe

Some Detroit Pistons’ fans would take Tuesday’s report—that Greg Monroe would consider signing a one-year qualifying offer deal with the team—as positive news. The reality as it relates to Detroit’s future, however, is that it is not.
With the announcement, leaked early Tuesday from Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News, it becomes clearer that Monroe does not want to play in Detroit long term. From that standpoint, the Pistons would be smartest to act as soon as possible to get value for their disgruntled forward. It’s been an embarrassing offseason to say the least with Monroe, full of trade rumors and confusion on what the next move might be for both parties. It seems each side has dared the other to blink first. As Goodwill admits, the clock is now ticking louder.
The Greg Monroe watch is entering its seventh week, with another seven weeks remaining before there’s a guarantee that his restricted free agency will be resolved, one way or another.
That date is October 1. Even though Monroe migh

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Kobe: There are very few great coaches left

In case you didn’t know already, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup and while taking some time to relax, he was interviewed about some current Lakers topics. One of those topics happened to be about the current Lakers coaching search and Mr. Bryant provided an interesting answer by stating that they’re very few great coaches for the Los Angeles Lakers to target: We will see who the Lakers will hire in the coming weeks and months. *** Kobe says his knee is 100% [BSO] Bryant image courtesy of Getty Images

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Phil Jackson left blowout loss early to walk his dog

Phil Jackson made an appearance at his old stomping grounds to watch his New York Knicks face his old team, the Los Angeles Lakers, on the hardwood at Staples Center. The new Knicks president in all likelihood is regretting that decision as it probably would have been far less painful to stay away. The Knicks […] The post Phil Jackson calls Knicks’ blowout loss to Lakers ‘awful,’ leaves early to walk dog appeared first on Sportress of Blogitude.

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Kansas freshmen left to decide on NBA futures (Yahoo Sports)

Kansas players walk off the court following their loss in a third-round game against Stanford at the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 23, 2014, in St. Louis. Stanford won the game 60-57. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Andrew Wiggins slumped in his seat. Wayne Selden stared into space. Joel Embiid was sure he would have been able to play if Kansas had only made it another week. The Jayhawks didn’t, and now all three talented freshmen are left to ponder whether the NBA awaits, or whether they’ll return to school and attempt to wipe away the disheartening memory of a loss to Stanford in the third round of the NCAA tournament.


View full post on Yahoo Sports – NCAA Men’s Hoops News

NBA Power Rankings: Where the Chips Fall with 1 Month Left

The NCAA tournament is here! You know what that means?

No, not that workers across America will be much less productive for the next few weeks, though $1.2 billion worth of labor is a lot to lose.

Rather, I’m referring to the stretch run of the NBA’s regular season. We’re just a month away from the Association’s version of March Madness, albeit one that lasts more than twice as long across April, May and June.

The exciting experience of watching college kids fight for their teams’ survival should serve as a solid primer for the 2014 edition of the NBA’s “Hunger Games,” to say the least. It can be easy to lose sight of how intense pro basketball can be around this time of year, with so many teams tanking toward the bottom of the standings while those at the top rest their stars for long playoff runs.

That split can and often does shake up our power rankings. It certainly did last week. Read on to see if the same holds true this week.

Begin Slideshow

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Michigan State Basketball: Keys to Spartans Win in Each Regular-Season Game Left

Michigan State has dropped half of its last 10 games and look more discombobulated than it has at any point in the season. But this time, injuries aren’t its main issue.

These Spartans have missed defensive assignments, been out-rebounded by smaller teams and lacked the heart that Tom Izzo-coached teams customarily personify on a year-to-year basis. This string of issues has most likely cost them the Big Ten title.

As they look ahead, the Spartans have three games remaining: home against Illinois and Iowa, then away at Ohio State. All three games are winnable, but State’s trending inconsistency is certainly worrisome.

If they do prevail in the aforementioned games, State would end with a 14-4 conference campaign. Big Ten championship or not, that is an impressive resume considering the adversity this team has had to overcome.

Here are the keys to Michigan State winning its final three games in Big Ten play.

Begin Slideshow

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