3/23/10

"Jiggly Bits" - Danielle de Graauw

It is definitely madness in the world of basketball right now. Whether you are talking NCAA hoops or impending free agency and play offs in the NBA, the month of March boggles the mind. We're going to talk about all of this including Michael Jordan getting the official nod to be the big boss man in Charlotte, recapping last night's Raptors game and the raging debate over NBA ball versus NCAA madness. I'll wait here while you go get a snack since we might be here a while.

Raptors now tied for seventh in the East

I am glad the Raptors won last night but I am not too excited about it. I think it just bought them a little more time to tinker with what has been going wrong lately. They walked away with a 106-100 score over the Timberwolves but it was the 13 straight loss for Minnesota. So really, in the grand scheme of things, it was not a huge deal. Chris Bosh had 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Andrea Bargnani racked up 19 points and 7 rebounds. Not bad but even Jay Triano was pressed for positives after last night's game saying the Raptors are not playing great basketball but they are starting to share the ball better. This sounded more to me like a description of playtime in Junior Kindergarten. I know Jay's job is to be positive since Raptors wins and losses make or break his job but its crunch time now and these guys are getting paid mega bucks to get past the crunch. If they don't, I am not so sure Chris Bosh will be willing to stay and defend this team anymore.

Free Angency Free-for-All

Picture this: Chris Bosh, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Amare Stoudemire are sipping Pina Colodas by the pool. It's the summer and they have every reason to kick back and relax because as free agents, they have no worries on the employment front. Every team in the NBA are trying to get on the guest list and only the select few will get the chance to clink glasses with these guys. Amare Stoudemire must be feeling good since he seems to be back to 100% after season-ending eye surgery to repair an injury over a year ago. When you are off that long, the pressure is on to step it up a little more than your teammates since you don't want to be seen as damaged goods. But he isn't and he's in top shape which means he has the upper hand. Also, he's hinted at opting out of the final season of his Suns contract to become a free agent. Nothing has been made official yet but when you throw out a public tease like that, it only means one thing: he's fishing to see who wants a piece of the Amare action, so-to-speak.

This is a crazy month, too since this is the time when NBA franchises are asking season ticket holders to sign on for another season. How can some clubs honestly do this when they don't know if their stars will be back in the line-up next season? If you are a Raptors season ticket holder, would you willingly plop down a couple thousand for the chance to sorta-kinda-maybe enjoy the CB4 show? I don't think so. This is why it would be catastrophically bad if Chris Bosh left the Raptors. The fans, players and front office staff would become really disconnected and in order for a franchise to succeed, even when the team isn't doing well, you need a committed fan base because they are they ones buying tickets, they are the ones buying merchandise and much to the surprise of some club presidents, the fans are running the show. No fans means no revenue and no money to keep the franchise competitive and sustainable. Every franchise needs fans like my brother-in-law. He's a 'Box-J-Boy' and you'll see him at every Ti-cat game, rain or shine. Mind you this is football but the revenue game is the same. I just hope the Raptors have a few "Joes" in the stands if Chris Bosh decides to leave. It would be the glue holding this team together.

MJ stopping to smell the roses

I am really and truly impressed by Michael Jordan. If any of you watched the same press conference I did a few days ago, you might feel the same way. As you know, I am a little leary when it comes to players moving beyond their athletic prowess on the court, but I am really thinking about sharing my NBA allegiance this year (shhh...don't tell Kobe). This is the kind of excitement MJ is cooking up in Charlotte. So he gets his 275 million dollar purchase of the bobcats officially approved and he's really proving himself to be on top of his game now as an owner. We all know he knows how to market himself and play the money game, but now he is presenting himself as approachable and passionate about the game and is trying to make you forget that he was once one of the greatest NBA players of all time. Sorry, but I don't think anyone can forget that. This is where I think he is setting himself apart from other owners. He has said publicly the free agency hype as of late is just that - hype. He wants to give the town of Charlotte and the Bobcats time to gel and figure things out. Remember, the 2009-2010 Bobcats haven't been together for over a year yet. They have made 7 trades involving 21 players since the start of last season and I don't think anyone is expecting much post-season action. Would Chris Bosh move to Charlotte? Who knows, not even MJ has set up shop there yet due to family commitments in Chicago currently. The Bobcats could sure use a marque player but not all NBA Championship winning teams have a star player on their roster. Look at Detroit. The true NBA fan knows there is no clear cut ingredient to win a championship. However, with MJ baking the proverbial pie, everyone will want a slice.

NCAA vs. NBA - Two very different playgrounds

O.K. - I didn't think I would have bring my boxing gloves to work but now it is a must. With all the madness in March, debate is swirling over NBA ball versus the NCAA. Arguments on both sides attack style of play saying NCAA players waste the shot clock and NBA players are not consistent. There are no grey areas out there and most are taking a side. From the outside looking in, there are two very different games being played here. Sometimes people get too caught up in the process and rules of the game and don't look at the true story - the athletes themselves. NBA players and NCAA players have completely separate motivations when on the court. It's do or die when trying to make it to the Final Four in the NCAA and with this comes a certain pressure and attitude toward the game. Especially, when you consider some of those kids will never play basketball at that level ever again. On the other hand, the NBA may not have that kind of pressure; however, playing for your job, family and livelihood brings another set of considerations. I know many of us will never know what it is like to make millions and have the media documenting our every move, but when you take time to see the forest through the trees, basketball is all about the people involved in the game. Take the time between now and April 4th to make the same analogies and you will see what I mean.

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