Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ragin' Rondo

It's taken me some time to get over the Celtics early exit from the playoffs, but I feel very confident in terms of next year. Judging how the Conference Finals and NBA Finals ended, I think the Celtics have an excellent shot of getting back to the promise land next year. That was until the third Rajon Rondo trade rumor of the summer came out came out yesterday.

Was I the only one that saw this kid grow up through the season? Forget the season, what about when it counted in the post season? Take a look at the difference in his post season numbers from last year (10.6 pts, 4.1 rebs, 6.6 asts, and 1.7 stls) and this year (16.9 pts, 9.7 rebs, 9.8 asts, 2.5 stls). Granted it was a smaller sample size than the '08 playoffs, but you still have to be impressed with how he stepped up in the absence of Garnett. I know he still shoots like like a guy 15 beers deep in beer pong, but after the Bulls series I saw a star in the making.

Which is why I really don't understand the guys the Celtics were going after in these rumors. Rodney Stuckey is a pretty good player. He had a great 2008-09 season playing behind Billups, but NBA fans saw him struggle in the starting PG role. Not to say he can't improve, but why risk it when you have Rondo?

A bigger risk than that would be taking a shot on some of the guys in this year's draft, as was rumored in trades for the number 2 and number 4 picks. In these spots, the Celtics would probably be looking for Spanish stud Ricky Rubio. The kid's moves are pretty amazing for 17 and he's being compared to Pete Maravich. But you still don't know how quickly he can adapt to life in America and the NBA. Do Celtics want another 2-3 years of growing pains for a young point guard? The point is don't get greedy and go younger, unless it's one of the Bundchens.

So there seem to be only three reasons why the C's would be actively trying to move Rondo:

Reason 1: His Connection to McLovin

This photo is not doctored. That's McLovin with Rondo and his family. Apparently McLovin is a big Celtics fan (there's some other pics with him and Pierce). While it seems unlikely, maybe the Celtics were afraid Rondo would go to buy booze with him, fight a bum at a bar, and shoot guns with cops instead of playing against the Thunder.

Reason 2:Locker Room Issues with Rondo

Yesterday on Sportscenter, Chad Ford speculated that this might be the case. He said that he had issues while playing in Kentucky, and maybe he butted heads with teammates in the Celtics locker room. Other Boston websites are saying the same thing, but it seems to just be speculation, no confirmed reports. If this is the case, the Celtics need to take a page from Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson so that they can be riding Duckboats next June.

Reason 3: All Just talk

The Celtics made big draft day news 2 years ago when the acquired Ray Allen. But the last two years have left little intrigue going into the draft. So even if they don't plan on making a move, maybe they think it's just as good to be in the media spotlight in the middle of the summer. After all, what better time than when the Sox are on a road trip, and the Patriots are still a ways away from training camp?

I guess I should personally thank the Celtics management for making this move. Otherwise, I would've been a crappy blog about the Albuquerque Isotopes' newest star.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Kobe Beef

Following the game Sunday and into Monday morning, I listened to everyone in sports media slurp up Kobe Bryant. According to everyone else, the guy has done a complete 180, going from Selfish All-Star, to Selfless all time great. Am I the only person who still hates this guy?

And it's not because he's the best player in the NBA. It's not because of the ice water he has running through him at the end of games. I could care less about him running Shaq out of LA, and it certainly has nothing to do with the 2003 rape allegations. To me, it just seems that Kobe is always putting up a front.

There are two different Kobe Bryants. There's the Kobe who pats his teammates on the butt after a good play against a blow out win against the Bobcats. He's the guy posing with his Gold Medal and hugging his teammates after defeating Spain in the Beijing Olympics. He's even the guy who seems pretty endearing in that Spike Lee Joint: Kobe Doin' Work.

It seems everyone has forgotten the Kobe Bryant from last year's Finals. Remember his great news conference after the Celtics epic comeback in game 4? He sounded real grown up during that one. I also remember him trying to run Andrew Bynum out of town just a few years ago, and almost leaving the Lakers to go to play for the Clippers!

So how did Kobe become so lovable in just 12 months? Well he can thank his public relations makeover to the rise of Gasol, Odom, and Ariza during the playoffs. If Kobe would have played with my intramural team, we could still probably make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference with an under 500 record. That's a testament to how great I think Kobe is. Which is why the Lakers could coast through the regular season and playoffs until they met the Celtics last year. The Celtics were to complete a team, and would need contributions from guys other than Kobe to win the series.

But in the Finals last year, Gasol looked more like Tina from Napoleon Dynamite than an NBA starting center. But to his credit, he really turned it during these Finals. Gasol improved on his regular season numbers by averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds in the postseason. But maybe most important was doing what no one on the Cavs could do: contain Dwight Howard on defense.

More impressive than Gasol had to be the play of Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom in the Finals. Odom averaged two more points per game during the Finals than he did the entire regular season. As for Ariza, he made the play that exemplified the Lakers game four win. While the game was tied in overtime, a shot clanked of the rim and into the open court. In a sea of Magic players, Ariza grabbed the rebound, proving that this Lakers team wanted it more than the Magic did. As we know, the rest is history.

So Kobe has not changed at all; it's just the pieces around him that have. I still think that come next season, if the Lakers aren't repeating, talk will start focusing again on what a prima donna Kobe is. This championship may have elevated Kobe to immortal status with names like Jordan, Bird, Kareem, and Magic. And another loss next year and a bad attitude will put him in a class with another all time front runner: A-Rod.