STOP “The What If Kendrick Perkins Didn’t Get Hurt”

Have You Heard of Andrew Bynum?

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on April 24th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

For the last year I have had to listen and read about how the Boston Celtics would have won the 2010 NBA Championship if Kendrick Perkins did not get hurt in game seven of last year’s finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

It has been stated so much it has become accepted wisdom. Today’s column by Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News* is the last draw. Enough!

This is a perfect example of the media relaying selective facts to further their opinion or point of view. Yes, Kendrick Perkins got injured in game six of the finals last year and didn’t play in game seven.

However, Andrew Bynum played the entire series injured and basically on one leg. His minutes and productivity clearly down. It can be equally if not argued more accurately that if Bynum was not playing so injured the Lakers would have won the series before it got to a game seven. But in all of the sports shows and media articles I have read about the loss of Perkins in game seven I have never heard or read that counterpoint. (Apologies to anyone out there who stated it.)

Let’s take it one step further as Doc Rivers himself has added to the legend of this story by lamenting many times that his starting five of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon, Rondo and Kendrick Perkins never lost a playoff series when healthy. When the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 2008 finals, Andrew Bynum was injured not just for one game but the entire series, as was Trevor Ariza. These were two key members of the Lakers 2009 championship.

So instead of talking about the Celtics beating the Lakers had Perkins not missed one game in 2010, isn’t time we discuss how the Lakers would have beat the Celtics if Bynum and Ariza played in 2008? How bout we let both situations go and accept that the Celtics were the worthy champion in 2008 and the Lakers the worthy champion in 2010 and put the kibosh on what I will refer to as the “Perkins asterisk”.

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*The main point of Lupica’s article today was to pine for Doc Rivers to be the Knicks next coach. Because as we know, even with Chauncey Billups hurt, Amare Stoudemire hurt and the nucleus of the team being together less then half a season Doc would have the Knicks sweeping teams on their way to a championship this year.

Look, I liked Doc Rivers as a player and even more as an announcer. Further, he is doing a great job coaching in Boston now, but he is not the messiah because he coached three hall of famers and four all-stars to one NBA title.

Let’s not forget that Doc was fired from Orlando in 2003 after his team got off to a 1 -10 start and overall he finished his tenure with the Magic two games above five hundred.

Let’s not forget that his Celtics struggled against lesser teams on their way to that one championship.  And in the season prior to the major influx of talent his Celtics were 24 -58. I believe it was the logo himself, Jerry West, who recently reminded us that talent wins.

As I’ve written in previous blogs, Mike D’Antoni deserves more time. If it doesn’t work out in the near future and a coaching vacancy arises, Doc would certainly be a very worthy candidate, especially if the Knicks are a team of stars needing to get the next level. No offense to Doc, I’m happy for his success in Boston but I’m rooting for Mike D. to do the same in New York.

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

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Shaquille O’Neal Is Wrong About Dwight Howard

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Shaquille O’Neal has an affinity for nicknames, “The Big Aristotle”, “The Big Shamrock”, etc… Here is another one:  “The Big Can’t Get Over It”.  Okay it is not as eloquent as the ones he gives himself, but it is long past time he got past his issues with Dwight Howard. 

shaqhowardApparently, Howard’s big offenses to Shaq were:  taking the nickname “Superman”.   (Like Shaq was the first to ever use that one.)  And the media comparing Howard to Shaq, or calling him the next great center. 

For these two offenses Shaq rarely misses an opportunity to put Howard down.  My words to Shaq are:  You are an all-time great stop being so insecure.  If Michael Jordan reacted every time a player was called the next MJ, he’d be hating all the time.  Michael is apparently a lot more secure in himself and his place in history than you are.

Shaq’s most recent salvo is that Howard signed with the Houston Rockets because he couldn’t handle the lights of Los Angeles.  Ridiculous.  Here are valid reasons for leaving that have nothing to do with location:

  • L.A. has a coach in Mike D’Antoni, that Howard believes, doesn’t maximize his game.
  • He signed with a team, Houston, that has a coach, Kevin McHale, and hall of fame mentor, Hakeen Olajuwon, he feels better suits him.
  • Chemistry issues with the Lakers star player, and professed, “man”, Kobe Bryant.  (Shaq can you relate to issues with Kobe?)
  • Houston is also a much younger team and bettered suited to make a run at championships for years to come.
  • The Lakers are an aging, cash strapped, over the salary cap, team.

 

These are factors that would have a lot stars seeking greener pastures.

Shaq, you say everybody wants to be in L.A., but Howard never really professed that.  When he was in Orlando, he preferred a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.  Not exactly dim lights in New York.  On being traded, Howard always stated he would play out his year and see what happens in free agency, regardless of the team he was traded to.

Ironically, if the Lakers did what most thought they should, and hired the same coach that carried you to three championships, Phil Jackson, Howard likely would have stayed.

Bottom line Shaq, logic doesn’t support your conclusions.  I’m a fan of yours.  And as a fan, as big as you are, I can tell you, your attacks on Howard make you look small.  And  they’re getting old and tired.   Give it rest.  It should be beneath you.

 

Correcting ESPN’s Colin Cowherd Again

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It this week’s edition of correcting ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, the subject is Los Angeles Laker coach Mike D’Antoni.  On his radio show simulcast on ESPNU, this past Monday, the Herd wanted to make the case that going forward D’Antoni was the wrong coach for Lakers.  And more specifically he’s wrong for Laker center and now free agent Dwight Howard.

This is a fair and debatable topic that I have no problem with.  I can understand both points of view.  In fact I recently wrote a blog that the Lakers, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder might be haunted by not hiring Phil Jackson.

durantanthonyI would also take Kevin Durant over Carmelo Anthony.  Doesn’t mean Anthony isn’t a great basketball player.

Where the Herd went wrong is when he went all “shock jock” and started talking out of his rear-end slamming D’Antoni.  His over the top rant was that D’Antoni always under performed as a head coach in the playoffs.

This is absurd.  Two minutes of fact checking disproves this.  There is no reason for The Herd not to know this.

So let’s look at the facts.  Mike D’Antoni inherited a terrible team, mid-season, when he was the coach of the Phoenix Suns.  He was 20-41 in 2003/04.  He went on to coach for four full seasons.  How did the Suns do in the playoffs in those years?

  • 2004-5:   They lose in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs. (Who beat the defending champion Detroit Pistons.)
  • 2005-6: They lose in the Western Conference Finals to the higher seeded Dallas Mavericks.
  • 2006-7: They lose in the Western Conference Semi-Finals to the eventual NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.   This is the year where Robert Horry gave Steve Nash a cheap shot in front of Phoenix’s bench that led to some suspensions of player’s like Amar’e Stoudemire.  The Spurs also won a game in this series thanks to a Tim Duncan three-point shot sending the game into O.T.  Not exactly a failure of strategy.
  • 2007-8:  Lost in the first round to the higher seeded San Antonio Spurs.
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Robert Horry hip checks Steve Nash in the closing seconds of a playoff game where the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Saying D’Antoni always under performed because he primarily couldn’t get by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs dynasty is like saying Pat Riley under performed as head coach of the Knicks because NY couldn’t get past Phil Jackson and the Bulls.

Which series, specifically, did D’Antoni under perform Herd?  Hhmm??

Yes Colin, D’Antoni did have two-time MVP Steve Nash.  But not many would make the argument he was the best player in the game.  In fact many made the argument that Shaquille O’Neal deserved the MVP  one of those years.  But no doubt Nash was great.  You know who else is great Herd?  Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

In New York, D’Antoni inherited a team that was in massive salary cap dump mode to clear room to try to lure Lebron James as a free agent.  Between roster turnover, injury, and the lockout, it is hard to slam D’Antoni for his one first round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics while in NY.

In L.A… He is hired after the start of the season.  So no training camp.  Pau Gasol misses significant time due to injury.  Steve Nash misses time due to injury including some playoff games.  Kobe Bryant misses the playoffs.  Dwight Howard isn’t fully recovered from back surgery, and tears a labrum in his shoulder.  Metta-World-Peace has knee surgery during the season.

This is just part of the Laker’s laundry list of things that went wrong this season.  And as a seventh seed they lose to D’Antoni’s old nemesis the San Antonio Spurs.  Is this a clear example of under performing?

Whether it is Phil Jackson or anyone else Herd, if you want to make a case for a different coach make it.  But don’t slander a coach and misrepresent the record.  You might be able to make a point about a D’Antoni team under performing in a season or two but always? Not even close.

And as I have stated when talking about your assaults on Michael Jordan when deifying Lebron James, you have three hours, five days a week, so you do have time to get stories right.

The reasons he doesn’t?   The choices are:

  • He and his production team are incompetent.
  • They’re negligent.
  • He has a vendetta against D’Antoni.
  • He is a shock jock for ratings and doesn’t care whose career or reputation he might hurt.

You’re good enough without this Colin.  You should clean it up.

The Curse Of The Zen Master

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If you had an NFL running back who rushed for a 1,000 yards but could get one who repeatedly rushed for 1,500, and you wouldn’t have to give up any other player, would you?  How about letting go a MLB 25 home run guy for a 40 plus guy?  If money wasn’t an issue, these are pretty easy calls right?

Yet after the 2012 NBA season a few franchises seemingly had no problem bypassing arguably the greatest coach in its sports history, Phil Jackson.  Let’s look at three teams that coulda shoulda  went Zen.

The Los Angeles Lakers – I have been a fan of current Laker Coach Mike D’Antoni.  Loved him in Phoenix  with the Suns, and thought he got a raw deal in New York with the Knicks.  If not for a cheap shot by San Antonio Spur Robert Horry against Steve Nash, that instigated Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw  to come off the bench and get suspended, I think Phoenix beat he Spurs in that 2007 playoff series.  They’re then the favorite to win the championship.  That win would have put to rest whether D’Antoni’s style of play can win it all.

PhiljacksonKoThat aside, his style was clearly not the best match for this Laker team.  Not with their bigs, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.  And not with their star player, Kobe Bryant, being so comfortable with Phil Jackson and his triangle offense.  Which oh by the way is better suited to star center Dwight Howard who they hope to retain as a free agent.

True the Lakers were hit hard by injury, but they clearly under performed this season and had chemistry issues. This forced Bryant to play far to many minutes down the stretch just in the hope of nabbing one of the last playoff spots.  Bryant wound up rupturing his Achilles tendon, an injury that Laker personal says you can’t attribute to the excessive minutes thrust upon the 34-year-old star.  However, according to WebMD, the causes for an this tear include overuse and stepping up activity too quickly.  Um, playing 45 to 48 minutes a game qualifies as overuse and stepping up ones activity.  This seems to agree with common sense.

Had Jim Buss been able to set his ego aside and hire Jackson, the Lakers would have been in a better position and likely would not have had to push Bryant.  This may not have eliminated, but certainly would have reduced his risk for this injury.

True Jackson would have cost more money then D’Antoni, but Kobe is going to cost Buss 30 mil next year that he will not be getting a good return on.  And who knows, with a fourth or fifth seed maybe these Lakers could have pulled off the offset and won it all.  Then all of the Jackson haters could have said yeah but look at all of the talent Jackson has.

PhiljacksonKnThe New York Knicks – As soon as Mike D’Antoni resigned in mid-season from the Knicks, it didn’t take long for the rumors to start about Phil Jackson returning to the team he was drafted by and had won a championship with as a player.  Assistant coach Mike Woodson was promoted to interim coach and certainly did more than enough to earn the job full-time.

But I go back to my opening analogy, if you have a 30-homerun guy and 40-homerun guy who do you take?  The additional money Jackson would cost amounts to pennies for Knick Owner James Dolan.  The Knicks have had an up and down year but do appear to be rising heading into the playoffs.  They do have the talent to upset Miami and win it all.  Will they?  Anything short of that should leave questions with respect to what they would have done with Jackson.

For as good job as he has done, Woodson has placated the supremely talented but ball stopping Carmelo Anthony.  The chemistry between he and a healthy Amar’e Stoudemire is still not there and Melo still shoots too much.

phil-jacksonmjKPhil Jackson and his gravitas may have been the best thing to ever happen to Melo.  If Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were able to accept and thrive in the ball moving triangle offense, you know Melo would have had to try to make it work as well.  I also think Jackson would have gotten Melo to play better and more consistent defense.  The book is still open but anything short of a championship this season or within the next two and you have to wonder.

Oklahoma City ThunderScott Brooks has done a great job with the Thunder.  They made the NBA finals last year and got a little jobbed by the officials on their way to losing to the Miami Heat in five games.  Brooks’ contract expired and he was a coaching free agent.  For a minute, it looked like he might not reach agreement.  There was a slight murmur of Phil Jackson to OKC, but not any serious exploration.  This was a mistake.

durantwest_editedThey may say all of the right things off the court but clearly there are on court chemistry issues between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.  The Zen Master, has a little experience in this department with two stars, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, who didn’t like each other.  Durant and Westbrook appear to like to each other and do want to win.

With the departure of James Harden to Houston, I think Jackson would have made an even bigger difference heading into this year’s playoffs, especially in confidence and fourth quarter execution.  In fact I will go ahead and say it: With Phil Jackson, OKC would have won it all this year.  Now we will see.

Unlike LA or NY, money could have been a real issue with OKC, but I think it was foolish of ownership not to explore further.  Maybe Jackson takes less for this opportunity?

Like Woodson in NY, Brooks earned his place.  But this isn’t about that.  Sports is a win now business.  When the window is open, you never know how long it will stay open.  And when the game’s best is available for the job and can take you that next level, you seize it.  Or at least explore all avenues to see if you can make it work before making your choice.

I think all three franchises struck out here.  We will see if and how it haunts them.  We will see if and when they raise their next or first championship banner.  And if they don’t win, we will wonder if they would have done better  if they went Zen.

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Skip Bayless and Chris Broussard outdo themselves

So last night the number six seed N.Y. Knicks went down 0-2 to the number three seed Boston Celtics having lost two games on the road in Boston.   This morning on ESPN’s First and Ten Chris Broussard said coaching wise, “D’Antoni is getting undressed by Doc Rivers (Celtic coach)” both Skip Bayless and Broussard questioned whether D’Antoni was the right coach for the Knicks and whether or not he would be back next season.

So the Knicks lose two games on the road, by two and three points to the defending eastern conference champions that Skip predicted would be there again.  They lose to a team that just about everybody predicted would beat the Knicks and you guys are using this an example of why D’Antoni isn’t a fit to be the coach?  Can we at least wait till the Knicks get a home game in the series?   If you guys were on a jury you would probably convict after the prosecutor’s opening statements!

Speaking of defense.  The big rip on D’Antoni is his teams give up way to many points.  So Boston must have scored as much or more than the 105.7 points per game the Knicks gave up during the regular season right?  Wrong.  Boston won scoring 87 points in game one and 96 in game two.  Not bad.

Next it gets crazy.  When the focus of the conversation shifts to the Celtics, Skippy and Chrissy start deriding the Celtics play, pointing out that they won game one at least in part because Knick point guard and clutch performer Chauncey Billups got hurt and left the game in the last minute.  Further, they point to the two bad calls that went against the Knicks in the last minute.  First the offensive foul call that went against Carmelo Anthony and then the non-call for an offensive foul against Kevin Garnett that freed up Ray Allen for the game winner.  As for game two, they remind us that Chauncey was out for the whole game, all-star Amare Stoudemire plays eighteen minutes and has to leave due to injury and Jared Jeffries turns over a great pass from Melo that could have put the Knicks ahead with under ten seconds to play!  Do you guys listen to yourself when you talk?

Lets reverse this.  If Rajon Rondo missed the game due to injury and Paul Pierce played eighteen minutes and Billups and Stoudemire played at full health and the Knicks won by three points (at home) would we be singing D’Antoni’s praises and trashing Doc Rivers?

Just to remind you guys in case you forgot, the Knicks gutted their team midseason and we have seen how long it has taken the Miami Heat with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to make the chemistry work.   The Knicks have been together as constructed for less than half a season and towards the end of the season before they had to rest Stoudemire due to an ankle injury they won seven in a row.  And now they play two winnable relatively low scoring games against the heart of a champion Boston Celtics and if not for bad calls and key injuries could be up 2-0 or at least 1-1.   I would say the Knicks are trending in the right direction.  You wouldn’t?

D’Antoni is an accomplished coach who has won a coach of the year, with a .650 winning percentage in Phoenix and took them to the conference finals. Give him some respect and at least one full season with this new nucleus to work with before you bury him.

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In the same episode of First and Ten Chris and Skip are talking about Lebron James and in defense of James,  LeChris (as Skip calls Chris) states that Lebron never had a perimeter all-star player as a teammate in Cleveland.  I’m sure what Chris meant to say was aside from Mo Williams Lebron never had a perimeter all-star as a teammate in Cleveland.