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Surprise Picks Make for Exciting NBA Draft

This is what makes drafts so exciting. All last week when talking about the NBA draft that was Thursday night, the two top choices came down to Alex Len and Nerlens Noel. But when it was time for David Stern to step up and announce who the Cleveland Cavaliers had chosen for the top pick, no one expected what he was going to say. The Cavs had chosen Anthony Bennett from UNLV, the first Canadian to be chosen to go first overall in the NBA.

The choice wasn’t surprising because Bennett isn’t a good player. On the contrary, he’s an extremely powerful forward who had a 37.5 percentage from the three-point range last season. His shooting percentage overall is 52.6 per cent, and his innate ability to predict and make rebounds is also one of his biggest strengths. In addition to that, his sheer size at 6’7″ and 239 pounds will also be a bone of contention for any defense trying to overtake him.

It wasn’t just the top spot that ended up as a surprise pick. The Orlando Magic, who held the second spot also didn’t choose Len or Noel, but Victor Oladipo from Indiana instead. That may not have been so surprising in itself, but it does add fuel to fire of the rumors that Orlando is looking to trade Arron Afflalo to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe.

Len waited until the number five pick, when he was chosen by the Phoenix Suns; and Noel went to the New Orleans Pelicans soon after that at number six.


Will the Heat or the Pacers Face the Spurs in NBA Finals?

It was almost a week ago that the San Antonio Spurs ousted the Memphis Grizzlies from the NBA championship, and since that time they’ve been waiting to see who they’ll play — along with the rest of the country.

The Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers will team up against each other tonight in a very decisive, and most likely very intense Game 7 to see who will go on to face the Spurs in the Finals. The Heat were the biggest favorites to win it all since before the playoffs even started this year but now faced with elimination if they can’t pull it together, the NBA Finals could look very different this year than from what people expected.

The Heat are still favored to win, and they haven’t lost back to back games in nearly five months. One of the times they did before that however, it was to the Indiana Pacers on January 8. The Heat will also be playing on home court, which they always seem to take full advantage of. Miami will need to rely on that, as well as the sheer size and power they have against the Pacers.

The Pacers haven’t counted themselves out yet though, and they shouldn’t. Where Miami has size, Indiana has speed and pace; and they know how to use that to their benefit, too. In the end, this game seven is going to come down to who can keep their wits about them, when the opponent is bringing all they’ve got.

In other words, it’s going to be a classic playoff game.


Kansas City Has Top Seeds, Traditional Matchups and Upset Potential

The NCAA tournament is coming to Kansas City at the Sprint Center on Friday and Sunday, and there’s going to be a little bit of everything for college basketball fans.

That includes a local favorite as the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks take on 16th-seeded Western Kentucky. Kansas should cruise to the second round against a 15-loss Hilltoppers squad that is lucky to find itself in the tournament, but there could be a tough matchup waiting.

Eighth-seeded North Carolina takes on ninth-seeded Villanova, and if the Tar Heels prevail, there will be plenty of familiarity between North Carolina and Kansas. That’s because Roy Williams spent 15 years coaching the Jayhawks before bolting to the Tar Heels. If those two meet up, there may be little love lost between Jayhawks fans and Williams.

Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Wisconsin takes on 12th-seeded Mississippi in the seed pairing most infamous for producing upsets. Ole Miss could be a good candidate, coming in off an SEC tournament title after knocking off Florida. The winner of that game will advance to play the winner of Kansas State against either Boise State or La Salle in a four seed versus 13-seed matchup. The Broncos and Explorers meet in a play-in game to determine the final matchup in Kansas City.

The atmosphere should be electric for both sessions, as there are sure to be plenty of Kansas and Kansas State fans in attendance. That will make for a home court atmosphere, but also a louder-than-usual venue for some early NCAA tournament sites.

It’s the rare pod of games that could give spectators a look at a national title contender in top-seeded Kansas, a likely to be hotly contested eight versus nine matchup in Villanova against North Carolina and potentially a strong storyline if the Tar Heels and Jayhawks meet up.

Once you factor in the upset-rich seedings in the other matchups, there’s a bit of everything in Kansas City.

Don’t miss out on the chance to take part in all of the March Madness. Make sure to get your tickets today, before it’s too late.


Who will Win the NBA Finals this Year?

While the Miami Thrice have had people talking about the Miami Heat all season, they may not even end up being a contender for the title. Although they’re sure to make it into the playoffs (not officially, but we are still talking about the Heat,) there are teams that are better and some that even though they aren’t, may just pack a surprise punch or two.

The smart money for the team that will take it all is on the Chicago Bulls. With only 11 losses this entire season, and 40 wins, they have proven that even without one of their best players they’re still an unstoppable team. Derrick Rose may be back for the playoffs, but with so many injuries this season, the Bulls can remain confident even if he’s taken out early.

The team most likely to give the Bulls a run for their money are the Oklahoma City Thunder, who only have one more loss and two fewer wins than the Bulls. That streak alone combined with the sheer talent of Derek Fisher, Kevin Durant, and Reggie Jackson are enough that the Bulls should be at least somewhat worried.

The Miami Heat come in just behind these two teams, which definitely puts them up as one of the best teams in the league, but they’ve still got competition on the road ahead. And with being just 3 points behind Chicago, the battle between these three might just come down to who’s the most exhausted from the shortened schedule, and who can handle the playoff pressure the best.

It’s not all about the East though. The Western Conference is going to have some teams that might just be up to the challenge of taking on some of the best. The Lakers will have a shot simply because they still boast Bryant as their best player; and the Dallas Mavericks are not only a good team this year, but are still coming off the high of winning the title last year. And who knows? In the NBA Finals anything can happen, and the Mavs may just emerge once again as the dark horse of the competition.


Rubio and Irving, the Two Best Rookies in the NBA

If you’re wondering what players you can expect to see at the NBA All Star Rookie Challenge on February 24, 2012, you can bet on at least two – Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers. These two young guys are undoubtedly the best rookies in the NBA today, and are making the very most of their first season.

Ricky Rubio has put up some amazing numbers for any rookie in the league, working the backcourt along with Luke Ridnour. Rubio is in second place for the rookie to have the most total number of steals in the league and is the first rookie overall in total assists on the board. Along with those stats, Rubio has also had 108 assists in 13 games, and let’s not forget that those games are the only ones he’s ever played in the NBA. And if that’s not enough for you, only five players overall have ever had more than that in the league, showing that Ricky Rubio has tremendous talent and a great deal of promise for the Timberwolves.

Meanwhile over in Cleveland, Kyrie Irving is doing big things for the Cavaliers. Irving’s stats all the way across the board continue to climb up, up, and up — but it’s his shooting percentages that are particularly impressive. During his last five games, Irving has made over 50% of his shots, and he only has two games behind him where his percentage was less than 42%. Those are good numbers for any point guard, but for a rookie? Nearly unheard of. Just compare where the Cavaliers were this time last year (5-8) and where they are now (6-7,) and you can see the difference Irving has made to this team.


Merry Christmas, from the NBA!

When Commissioner David Stern spoke out on Saturday and said that although not yet ratified and finalized, it looked as though the NBA Players Association and the NBA had come to a deal. Pending that finalization, ball would be back in play on December 25, Christmas Day. And while that deal hasn’t yet been finalized, fans are already feeling the holiday spirit and stuffing their stockings with season tickets and their favorite jerseys.

The outlook is good. Players, including free agents, will be able to enter all 30 gyms and NBA facilities as of tomorrow, Thursday, December 1. Along with them, one media relations official per team is allowed in the facilities (so fans can still get all the behind-the-scenes stories.) And while trainers and strength coaches are allowed in, they are not permitted to instruct in any way, being there to strictly assist.

Coaches, general managers, and NBA executives are not allowed to enter any building until the deal is ratified and finalized; and although agents of players can speak to different teams, no contracts can be signed or entered into until December 9, when the free agency period begins.

But with no deal finalized, is it too soon to hope for the return of the NBA? In the words of Kevin Love, forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves, “It’ll be good to see the organization from top to bottom when it’s all said and done, helping us prepare for the upcoming season. Soon after the doors open up on Thursday, I’m hoping to see guys back to work.”


The Latest News on the NBA Lockout – Jordan Inserts Foot in Mouth

Just a few months removed from a great championship game that saw the Dallas Mavericks make history, we are facing the very real possibility of an NBA lockout. You might think that such a time would require great restraint, and exceptional prudence, as no one wants to raise a ruckus and inadvertently cost us an NBA season next year. For the most part, players have been keeping their mouths, even though they continue to remind their bosses that they have options in Europe.

Then there’s Michael Jordan. Maybe he’s so used to being the big elephant in the room that he’s become accustomed to telling it like it is, but the NBA wasn’t amused at some of the comments he made to the press. Jordan told The Herald Sun that he believed revenue sharing was necessary and also dropped a player’s name; Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut. The NBA has currently banned public mention of the lockout as well as mentioning players by name.

The NBA meant business and fined Jordan, the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, $100,000. Jordan’s ideas are not necessarily ill-advised; after all, the revenue-sharing plan already has precedent in the NFL and the MLB. Nevertheless, the NBA side of the lockout claims that the sport actually lost $300 million last season and that losing more money due to profit sharing is not feasible.

Breaking the golden rule was Jordan’s mistake, and can only be interpreted as zesty rebellion or startling ignorance, since the league made this rule clear as early as July 1, 2011. Nevertheless, it’s understandable why this could happen, since players and owners are being stressed out over the ramifications of a no-show season.

We’re glad to know that the NBA players are still taking the sport seriously and keeping in practice. In fact, Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns and 70 or so other players are meeting in Las Vegas in the month of September to work with the Impact Competitive Basketball League. This is a smart strategy, as it is definitely possible that the two sides could come to an agreement. And if and when that happens, the players don’t want to be lacking–not if they succeeded in getting the raises they requested. Time will tell what happens with the lockout, but it’s good to know that our favorites are just itching to play!


Kobe Bryant Isn’t Welcome Just Anywhere

He might be the biggest name in the NBA. And he’s definitely on the list of the most important players the league. But that doesn’t mean that Kobe Bryant is untouchable, or that he can just play ball wherever he chooses. At least, not according to Brandon Jennings, who hails from Compton and is currently the point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. He’s not happy that Bryant is currently playing in the Drew League alongside Jennings and Jennings says, he’s not from LA so, he just doesn’t belong there.

The Drew League is a special league made up of LA players who were born and raised in the area. And, after finding himself with some free time during the lockout, Bryant looked to the league as a way to continue playing ball until a deal in his own league was worked out. But this willy-nilly attitude about joining the league doesn’t sit with Jennings because Bryant isn’t from LA, and so it goes directly against what the league stands for.

But, Jennings may want to think twice about kicking one of the world’s greatest players out of the league. Many feel that even if Bryant isn’t from LA, he should be given a pass on this one, and maybe even a ‘thank you.’ It’s thought that with Bryant’s phenomenal reputation and global stature, the publicity he will bring to the league will do it far more benefit than any harm would ever be incurred from allowing a non-local to join.

But Jennings doesn’t see it that way, even going so far as to demand to see a birth certificate, an outcry that the public is getting a little tired of hearing. Likely, the entire thing will be dropped and if Jennings pushes it, it could be bad news for Drew and attract the wrong kind of attention to the league. Even though Jennings has a legitimate argument in the fact that the Drew League is a pure representation of LA basketball, most people will just see banning certain players as an exclusion. And that doesn’t usually bode well for those doing the excluding, especially when it’s Kobe you’re talking about shunning.


Michael Jordan will be Fined for Breaking Lockout Rules

When the NBA is in the middle of a lockout, players and team executives are not allowed to discuss anything about the game — not even if your name is Michael Jordan. And it seems you have to watch what you say not only about trades, negotiations, and things that actually matter from a contractual point of view — you’re not allowed to say anything, not even if it’s only to commend a player who plays for another team.

Maybe M.J. would have been okay if he had stuck to keeping his comments to players already under contract on his own team, the Charlotte Bobcats. But the superstar was recently in Australia and it was then that he touched on the taboo subject of Andrew Bogut, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. Jordan was quoted as saying to the Sydney Herald Sun,

“We have stars like Bogut who are entitled to certain type of demands. But for us to be profitable in small markets, we have to be able to win ballgames and build a better basketball team.”
[...]
“Bogut is a good piece to build around for Milwaukee,” Jordan said.
“I love Bogut’s game. He’s made a very good start and he’s definitely gonna be a star. His big problem is that he’s been dealing with that elbow injury. But he is a star to be reckoned with (and) will be a star for some time.”

Mentioning any player is against NBA rules, even if it’s Michael Jordan and even if he was in Australia when he said it. Just what fines exactly Jordan will face are unknown, but the NBA is definitely making a statement: nobody, but nobody, is allowed to break the lockout rules. Even if you are the best player that has ever graced the league.


Kobe Bryant Could be in Trouble with the Law Again

You might not initially think of Kobe Bryant (NBA Star) as a private man. But try to take a picture of him when he’s in his house of worship, and you’ll likely end up hurt.

That’s just what a man found out this past Sunday when Bryant visited the Carmel Valley church. Bryant thought the man was trying to take pictures of Bryant and his wife while they were in prayer. A confrontation soon ensued at the back of the church, wherein Bryant grabbed the man’s wrist and took his phone away. After flipping through for several minutes and seeing no pictures of him or his family, Bryant gave the phone back to the man. He left the church with his wife just moments later.

The man, whose name has not yet been identified, was taken to the hospital and treated for a sprained wrist. Detective Gary Hassen, spokesmen for the police department, made a statement saying that the unidentified man would not be able to speak to police until August 24. However, they do want to speak to someone before then and they’re currently hoping to get in touch with Kobe Bryant to review the situation. Bryant’s attorney, Mark Campbell, released his own statement saying that they were aware of the allegations and that they were prepared to fight against them in whatever way needed.

We doubt this will affect Kobe’s season, so be sure to get your NBA tickets to see him in action!