Spurs Defeated By Detroit

January 12, 2006 Detroit 83 over San Antonio 68

The Spurs were defeated by the Pistons for the second time this season, last night. This time the Pistons did it at San Antonio and showed the Spurs their weaknesses. The weak link being of course Tony Parker’s lack of defense against a dynamic back court. Detroit did shut down Parker in the paint, leaving him to settle for outside shots which Parker seemed hesitant to take. The Spurs bench who is usually very impressive against weak defensive teams, was ineffective and could not change the pace of the game. However, Manu Ginobli still played impressively and proved why he is the most important player on the Spurs team after their big man Duncon. Without Manu, the Spurs are static and boring.

On the other end, the Pistons executed very well, by setting up Rasheed Wallace, their most valuable player in my opinion. Rasheed posted on Tim Duncon with ease and then later settled for three pointers (which make Rasheed almost unstoppable). Billups did not take over the game last night, instead Prince and Hamilton were the offensive threats (after Rasheed). This was great because in the previous game Chauncey had hogged the ball too much and did not let the rest of the team get into the game. Last night though, Chauncey gave up the ball throughout the game and let his teammates score. This gave the Spurs trouble on the defensive end, as they could not stop Rasheed or Prince, and when it came to Hamilton, I am not sure why they put Parker on him in the second half. Parker is a terrible defender. Bowen is much more effective and he even scored last night (and not off three pointers)! The bench played equally well for Detroit, as Saunders chose to mix up the starters and bench so that most everyone got some minutes in. From the way the Pistons played, it was obvious that their bench was comfortable and knew exactly how they needed to execute.

Last night’s game prove why the Pistons are the number one team this season (on both ends of the court) and just how weak the Spurs are.

Where’s The Center Game?

The Houston Rockets are most likely set to make the playoffs this year, but they have so far failed to tap the potential of their center big man: Yao Ming.

It has been a very frustrating season for Yao and fans, as they watch game after game in which the rest of the Rockets, (with the exception of Tracy McGrady at times), fail to properly pass Yao the ball. Most often Yao’s teammates pass the ball below the waist to a center who is more than seven feet tall! How exactly is Yao going to bend down, pick up a ball and rotate to get position, and let alone get a good shot in? This is one reason why Yao is having so much trouble scoring and then there are the occasional fouls that he picks up trying to maintain possession with such bad passes.

Critics end up blaming Yao for not being aggressive enough or for committing a stupid foul, but they miss the most obvious problem with the NBA game, namely that guards don’t know how to properly pass to a tall center. One can’t help but wonder if the Suns success this year is due in part, to Nash being one of the few guards who actually does feed his center the right passes, and who does create actual plays for Amare to have an open lane to the basket. Think about how crowded the lane is when Yao actually gets the ball, is that really the time for Yao to shoot? I don’t think so. The Rockets would do better to spread the game out and aim the passes at his chest or higher when he has room. This is not impossible, it just means the Rockets need to commit to this and make Yao practice his moves. By comparison, take Kevin Garnet and Tim Duncan, part of their success is getting the ball passed up high and practicing their pump fakes and shots. Yao is already a good mid range shooter, he just needs a little more practice with his fakes and foot work. But he will need his teammates to make the proper passes. So far this has not been happening, instead Yao is expected to be Shaq-like and dominate his man each and every time. This would make the game harder for any center except Shaq, but then again, in last year’s finals, the passes never came for him either! And that could be why the Lakers lost so easily to the Pistons.

The NBA Age Limit Controversy

Originally written on April 15th, 2005.

This week, I watched Jermaine O’Neal on ESPN talk about his argument against the NBA instituting an age limit. Part of me knows exactly what O’Neal is talking about and I definitely agree it is totally unfair to deny talented kids their chance at competing at the ultimate level and getting paid well for doing it, but as a college educated individual, I also wonder what a Jermaine O’Neal would be like if he would have gone to college. This all boils down to two questions for me:

Does Intellect matter on the court? And do fans want to wait for young players to develop on the court, while they are paying top dollar for the game?

On the question of intellect, it does matter. Michael Jordan proved that for my generation already, and maybe Dwayne Wade will do that for this generation. As for the fans, it seems that the older fans do seem to have a problem with it and they are complaining about it.  For all the great skills of the young players, they do have a lot to learn and it will take time for them to get to the level where they are not only good athletes, but also smart players. I’ll leave this to each fan to decide for themselves.

The intellectual debate intrigues me more personally. I’d be lying if I said that college can make you great, that is not what college is. Education is suppose to offer you the opportunity to expand yourself in different directions, and it certainly did that for me, but I’ve also seen it where some people just were not right for it. And to those people, I say, no problem, it’s not for you. However, as an a kid growing up on the south side of Chicago, I basically knew nothing of the world, and the decision to go to college was perhaps a decision that I was not smart enough to make myself. This is what worries me when I hear about kids going into the NBA and skipping college. Are they going to make money, but are they going to be worse off for it in the end?

Every time I read about Jermaine O’Neal, I totally understand what he is trying to say, I get it… but I also think O’Neal might have made his points better if he had gone to college. I have no doubt that O’Neal is a smart guy, because I use to talk just like him and I use to ponder the same things, but college taught me the skills to take my argument to a higher level. I’m not so sure O’Neal would be a better basketball player, but I do think the man would be taken more seriously if his argument sounded better.

In the end, I agree with Jermaine. It is unconstitutional and not right to have an age limit.

I feel the same way about the age limit for alcohol being 21, when it should be 18. Lets face it most age limits are not right to begin with, they are put there because we do not trust young people to make their own decisions. In most cases it is unfair and unrealistic of us to impose such limits on young people simply because we have a lack of trust, that speaks volume about the society we are and want to be.