HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Can Pro Sports Fans Handle The Truth?
By Travis Heath
“You can’t handle the truth!”
These five words have become five of the most famous in recent cinematic history from the movie A Few Good Men. Perhaps one reason why this phrase has resonated so much for over two decades in our culture is largely due to the fact that so many of us really can’t handle the truth.
We have created insulation from reality in so many instances in our lives because reality is too painful. Some ways in which we do this are explicit and obvious. Others, however, are much more covert. And it’s the more covert ways that scare me the most since we are not even aware of what we are doing.
If you consume professional sports media you are intimately familiar with the well-oiled PR machine it has become over the years. Athletes flash a big smile for the camera and talk in clichés. If the athlete is really savvy he might throw in the interviewers name a time or two. It has gotten to the point that watching most televised interviews is an exercise in identifying just how much empty language can be used in the span of 30-60 seconds.
It makes sense that professional sports organizations would want be aware of what their athletes are saying as they have more money invested in players than at any other point in history. Problem is, the spin has reached a point where it insults the collective intelligence of sports fans.
The Next Trade Chip To Fall?
By Bill Ingram
February is upon us and while the most anticipated sporting event of the month is the NFL’s Super Bowl, right behind it is the NBA’s trade deadline. The Baltimore Ravens took care of that first bit of business last night, so all eyes will now be on the NBA as teams look to make their last moves of the 2013-13 season.
One of the players expected to be moved before the February 21 deadline is Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat. He was originally thought to be a part of the Suns’ much-needed defensive infusion, but with the team rebuilding and a new coaching staff now in place, Gortat appears to be on his way out.
“It’s really not easy,” Gorat tells HOOPSWORLD of all the upheaval around him. “For me it’s a first time situation in my basketball career. There’s a lot of things going on that we have to try to block and just focus on basketball. There’s a lot of new changes around the team, including the new coaching staff and new philosophy. We just have to stay focused and work hard to try and get over the hump and just bring it. Guys have to bring it every game, be ready for every game, every practice. Situations like that is where we are right now, so it’s very hard. We got to be extra motivated and extra focused on everything we do.”
The NBA’s Most Anonymous All-Star
By Derek Page
One of the more unexpected developments in the NBA this season (to most of us that is) as we near the All-Star break, the young Portland Trail Blazers find themselves right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the West. Despite featuring five key contributors and a paper-thin reserve core, the Blazers have exceeded expectations with a 25-24 record – good for ninth in the Western Conference, just a game back of eighth place.
Leading the way for Portland, and making his second All-Star appearance later this month in Houston, LaMarcus Aldridge continues to play elite-level basketball while carrying this Blazers franchise. Even though Aldridge is widely regarded around the NBA as one of the best power forwards in the game, the 27-year-old still doesn’t get the type of media or fan attention that status likely deserves.
In speaking with players and coaches around the Blazers organization, no one is quite sure why Aldridge doesn’t get much play in the national media.
NBA Coach of the Year Watch
By Joel Brigham
While Coach of the Year isn’t the sexiest postseason award given out by the NBA, there’s no denying the fact that a truly exceptional coach can mean the difference between a good team and a bad team and, perhaps more importantly, a good team and a great one. It’s why Jerry Sloan’s teams always made the postseason, why Phil Jackson has more championship rings than fingers and why Gregg Popovich is the longest-tenured head coach currently employed not only in the NBA, but all four major professional American sports leagues.
Here are the current favorites for Coach of the Year:
#1: Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls
It took awhile for the Bulls to find a rhythm this season, especially with what basically amounted to an entirely new bench rotation and a starting lineup that did not feature Derrick Rose. But now in the first week of February, Chicago has the third-best record in the Eastern Conference, only two games back of the first-place Miami HEAT.
NBA Trade Watch – Eastern Conference
By Tommy Beer
Earlier this week, HOOPSWORLD examined the Western conference trade market. Today we take a look at all 15 squads in the Eastern Conference, attempting to determine what each team might be looking for, and which players they may consider putting on the block…
Miami HEAT (32-14 / #1 seed)
Player(s) Most Likely to be Moved: Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem
Despite possessing the best record in the conference, the HEAT have been far from dominant as they have been more-or-less coasting through the first half of the 2012-13 campaign. Considering that they are coming off their first title together, a mild “championship hangover” was to be expected.
NBA Trade Watch – West
By Eric Pincus
As the NBA’s trade deadline nears (Feb. 21), action around the league should heat up. It’s been relatively quiet this season on the trade front, except for the Memphis Grizzlies who recently completed a pair of deals.
Of the 15 teams in the Western Conference, some are happy where they stand – others are itching to make a deal:
San Antonio Spurs (38-11, 1st seed)
The Spurs have the best record in the Western Conference. They’re under the tax by a small margin and have 15 guaranteed players. There’s no compelling reason for the Spurs to make a trade.