HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
The End For Amar’e Stoudemire?
By Lang Greene
As we enter the final stretch of the regular season, the New York Knicks have surpassed most expectations and find themselves at the top of the Atlantic Division standings. Through 60 games, the team is on pace to post its best regular season (.633), in terms of win percentage, since the 1997 campaign (.695) when Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing was still roaming the middle. It has been a long road back to the ranks of the elite for the storied franchise and the future seems bright.
But the team’s hopes of an extended playoff run this season may have taken a huge hit with Saturday’s announcement that former All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire would miss the remainder of the regular season to undergo surgery on his right knee. Doctors will be performing a debridement procedure on the troublesome knee which in essence will attempt to remove the damaged tissue impacting the area in order to spark the long term healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue.
Let Derrick Rose Be Derrick Rose
By Steve Kyler
The message from the Chicago Bulls from the day Derrick Rose tore his left anterior cruciate ligament some 317 days ago was that Rose would return when he was ready. The Bulls have resisted picking days or talking about timetables because they knew first-hand how the media and the fan base would react if Rose missed some pre-defined window.
There is no topic commented on in Chicago more than Rose’s status and there is no more scrutiny of a player’s actions than the way Rose is being treated.
Rose missed practice this week for a dentist appointment, yet the headlines and the tweets read “Rose Misses Practice For Unknown Reasons” implying some level of disconnect between Rose and his team.
Despite being unwavering in their public message about Rose playing when he is ready, there still seems to be this belief that somehow the Bulls and Rose are not working from the same script or that they are not in constant communication about where he is at in his recovery.
The Best NBA Team Ever?
By Bill Ingram
The world of a professional sports is a strange one, to be sure. On the one hand, we love to talk about the great players and the great teams of old, but on the other hand we are quick to completely forget that our favorite sport has ever been played before the current season. What’s happening right now is always the most amazing thing ever, regardless of those amazing feats of the past.
Retired NBA player-turned announcer Bill Walton made a career out of this phenomenon, using constant hyperbole to take it to extremes. He once, for example, observed that Los Angeles Clippers center Keith Closs was “clearly the next Hakeem Olajuwon,” though Closs (with career averages of 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds) couldn’t even spell Hakeem Olajuwon.
It’s hard to watch much NBA these days without hearing people talk about how amazing the Miami HEAT are right now; I’ve even heard them compared to the Chicago Bulls team that won 72 games in 1995-96, which seems absolutely absurd. Michael Jordan’s 72-win squad ran off winning streaks as a matter of course, but regular-season winning streaks are not that uncommon. The Houston Rockets put 22 wins in a row under Rick Adelman a couple of years ago, but that team never got close to winning a championship. It’s important to keep in mind that in today’s watered down NBA, a contending team can go weeks without facing another contender. Indeed, the HEAT have seen just one during their current streak – the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Is Landry Fields Toronto’s Missing Piece?
By Stephen Brotherston
At the start of this season, the Toronto Raptors had penciled in Landry Fields as their starting small forward. The free agent wing acquired from New York had been an effective starter for the Knicks over his first two seasons in the league. In his rookie year, Fields had sunk 39.3 percent of his 219 three-point field goal attempts. As Raptors head coach Dwane Casey constantly explains, he needs three-point shooters to spread the floor for his offense to work.
“We dearly need it,” Casey said. “We are 22, 23, 24 in the NBA in three-point shooting. To open up the floor for DeMar [DeRozan] and Rudy [Gay], we need to develop that shot, any three-point shot, to stretch the floor. Whether it is from Andrea [Bargnani] or from our point guard or from whoever it is, we need consistent three-point shooting. If not, the paint is just going to get tighter and tighter and tighter.”
Fields, however, lost his three-point shot during his second season in New York. The problem was often blamed on a lack of chemistry with All-Star Carmelo Anthony. Fields boasted his shot was back after joining the Raptors in the summer, but instead his shooting got worse after the season started and conductive nerve testing on his right arm confirmed problems with his ulnar nerve that required surgery to correct. Toronto’s expensive free agent acquisition missed the next 22 games recovering from the operation. The when and how of Fields’ injury was never identified and the surgery was but the first step in regaining Fields’ jump shooting prowess.
A Major Misstep for Carmelo Anthony?
By Tommy Beer
NBA players are an extremely prideful bunch. New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is no exception. Part of what has made him a superstar and superlative scorer is that overabundance of pride.
Thus, it is not surprising that Anthony was extremely motivated to return to Denver, the city where he has spent the first seven years of his NBA career, despite the knee pain he was experiencing.
However, did he put himself before the team in making the decision to play against the Nuggets?
The Knicks got blown out Wednesday night in Denver, their second straight humiliating defeat, with three more road games left on this daunting West Coast road trip. Worse, Anthony is flying back to New York in order to get his knee drained, which means he will miss at least one game – against the Blazers on Thursday night.
Will he be back in time for the Knicks afternoon tilt in Los Angeles to take on the Clippers? Did he damage the knee more by playing through pain last night? These questions remain unanswered. This much we do know: It never should have gotten to this point.
The End is Near for Kobe Bryant
By Alex Kennedy
The notion of Kobe Bryant sitting out for the Los Angeles Lakers’ final stretch was laughable. Even after Bryant was diagnosed with a severely sprained ankle and ruled out indefinitely by the team’s medical staff, nobody thought he would be sidelined for a significant period of time as the Lakers fight for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. That’s because Bryant has developed a reputation as one of the toughest players in the NBA. Regardless of injury or illness, he doesn’t miss games. He’s the epitome of durable and reliable. History has shown that if Bryant can function, he’ll likely take the court.
However, there will come a time in the near future when Bryant won’t be playing, even though he’ll be more than capable of doing so. The 34-year-old has made it clear that he’s going to retire in the next few years, even though he’s still one of the best players in the NBA.
While some athletes stick around until they are a shell of themselves and no longer wanted, Bryant won’t go out like that. He doesn’t want to tarnish his legacy by becoming a bench player or signing for the veteran’s minimum. That kind of retirement, Bryant says, “is not pretty.” His exit will be the kind that leaves fans wondering why he walked away so soon and wishing he’d return
How Indiana Beats Miami
By Joel Brigham
People keep asking, “Can anybody top the Miami HEAT in the Eastern Conference?” And the easy answer is usually just someone laughing derisively. Yes, the HEAT have won 21 games in a row and look like an unstoppable train of basketball perfection right now, but there is still at least a little bit of hope for the East in the form of the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana has beaten Miami in two out of three matchups this year, but the home team has won every time. Despite that fact, Pacers All-Star Paul George says they’re already circling the HEAT for an eventual postseason re-match which could occur later this spring.
“Anybody that’s in the playoffs, that’s got to be on everybody’s list, to knock off Miami,” George said. “They’re the defending champions, but we feel good about that match-up. They took care of things at home, but so did we earlier in the year. They’re on our list of teams that’s going to be a contender for us.”
But how can any organization keep up with a team as good as Miami? George really only had one idea.