So I picked up a pro basketball publication (one of many I read) and two pages in, I see a full page ad with Karl Malone, formerly with the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers in his NBA playing days. At a first quick glance, you see a head and shoulders shot of Malone, a rifle to the left and "I'm the NRA" in bold text. Now, if he was a current player in the NBA, you wouldn't see this kind of advertisement and you shouldn't. So clearly, Lindy Sports Pro Basketball 2010 and the National Rifle Association of America are pimping out the image and legacy of Karl Malone to promote the NRA. I know, I know. Karl Malone signed a contract and got some serious cash to go along with it for appearing in an ad with a rifle next to his face. I can also appreciate his playing days are done and thus, the NBA cannot tell Karl Malone what to do anymore. I have an issue with hunting considered a sport just like basketball and with Malone's face attached to an ad like this, the magazine is endorsing this kind of classification. Shooting a basket and shooting a deer for fun are two different things and should not be considered in the same category. Further down in the ad, you see an older gentleman with a child looking over a rifle. I would much rather see Karl Malone promoting basketball to our young ones that putting a riffle in their hand. You know, I've heard some people say LeBron James tainted his legacy by how he moved to Miami. For me, Karl Malone just did it with this ad. Until someone convinces me otherwise, this is my stance. Ok, now with that out of the way, let's get down to NBA business.
NBA heeds possible terrorist attack warnings in Europe
So the Los Angeles Lakers, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New York Knicks are in Europe for some pre-season games against each other and against some European teams. According to Minnesota Head Coach Kurt Rambis, the players who go out sight-seeing or attend fan-meet-and-greets are being given extra security detail because of the travel alert issued by the US government urging Americans to be "vigilant in public places, tourist spots and transportation hubs". Some television news outlets are reporting this travel alert was issued based on some intelligence the US government has gathered and they felt this intelligence was serious enough to issue the travel alert. Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni is saying his players are just following procedure and not receiving any lists of 'do's and don'ts'. The travel alert doesn't seem to be affecting any of the players, either. Amare Stoudemire of the Knicks is vowing to enjoy Paris and have fun, while Pau Gasol says he has no plans to sit in a hotel room, saying "it would be a crime to stay at the hotel". I'm glad players have not been told to change their habits or sightseeing plans, but taking extra care never hurt anyone, travel alert or not. These are guys that are highly visible and in another country, so anything can happen. You can't live everyday in fear someone's out to get you - that's no way to live. Plus, whoever "they" are wins. Still, this is one distraction they don't need. Good thing it is only the pre-season.
Kobe Bryant is putting on a good show
Are the Los Angeles Lakers really falling apart at the seams? Well, let's look at the evidence. Head Coach Phil Jackson says this is his last year. Disappointing but not so bad and understandable. The Lakers are without back-up forward Luke Walton for a few games because of a pulled hamstring. But the real injury of choice seems to make some players 'weak in the knees' so-to-speak. Starting center Andrew Bynum had knee surgery this summer and will be evaluated daily but don't expect him back anytime soon. Now throw in Kobe Bryant and his right knee. Kobe Bryant is saying he wants to put on a good show and take care of his knee at the same time. Really? I know they are in Europe and the fans over there are flocking to Laker games, for the most part, to see Kobe play. But is it really worth risking injury in a pre-season game when you are the common thread which holds your team together? Tough call. Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson says he "thinks" Kobe will play and is still taking it game by game. He also is saying his regular starters will get about 8 minutes of playing time to start these pre-season games and then the second half depends on how the game goes. Fair. But they can't afford anymore injuries.
Yao Ming - the next Shaquille O'Neal? Yeah Right.
If you haven't seen this story already, you are seriously going to laugh. So a Chinese journalist has been heard saying (on and off the record) that most Chinese basketball fans have given up on Yao Ming being the next Shaq. But wait, it gets better. The Chinese media have an explanation to Yao Ming's inability to reach SHAQdom. They are apparently blaming the ..wait for it..NBA's schedule for Yao Ming's plethora of injuries and is pleading with the NBA to shorten it's schedule. Seriously? I'm sorry guys, but this is what you get when you put all your hopes, dreams and expectations into one player to carry the sport for an entire country. Some in the Chinese media even have the nerve to say the NBA game has worn pour Yao out and he's taken quite a beating due to the long season and high level of play. Really? So what is the NBA supposed to do? Lower their level of play so Yao Ming can keep up with the big boys? Puleeze. We all know Yao Ming trains with the Chinese national team in the off-season, so the real crux for the Chinese Media is this. Decide where you want him to be - is it representing China in the NBA or on the Chinese National Team? Then when you know what side of the fence you are sitting on, let the boy play basketball, get over it and move on.
Basketball Beyond the Floor
Remember to join me here on the DNB this Thursday for a 'youthful' "Basketball Beyond the Floor". We will be looking at two how-to basketball books for the young player: Basketball: Learn to be a star player and The Young Basketball Player: A Young Enthusiast's guide to Basketball. I'll even have some youthful opinions on these two books to see if they are on the money with their target audience. Until then, happy reading.