Blame the Media. Those insignificant sensational story crafters who cart cameras and recorders to every game documenting our every word. Unbelievable. Miami Heat Head Coach Eric Spoelstra has dug himself in a hole and lost the shovel. In a press conference following their disastrous loss to the Chicago Bulls, Coach Spoelstra made the following statement, "There are a couple of guys crying there in the locker room". He later retracts this statement claiming there was no noise or emotion and blames the media for creating what he calls "Crygate". This is why most members of the media carry a recording device in addition to some other form of note taking tool so there is no chance of any coach or player pulling a "Spoelstra". Especially when camera crews record you making the statement, there is no way this is the media's blunder. All he did here was reveal the Miami Heat are softer mentally than first originally thought if indeed there were tears shed in Miami's locker room. As a Head Coach trying to prove his team can compete as an elite team in the NBA, this tops the long list of things you don't talk about. LeBron James is taking responsibility for what he calls letting his team down in the final minutes of Heat games. Finally, someone in that club showing some leadership arising from this mess. But don't get too excited - let's see if actions speak louder than words for the remainder of the season. A team taking this statement to heart? The Los Angeles Lakers. Let's discuss their winning streak since All-Star break, Dwight Howard's suspension and Chris Paul taken off the court on a stretcher.
See Dave? It's Science.
What were you doing one year ago today? Well, the Los Angeles Lakers were winning five of their first 10 games after the All-Star break, lost six of their final nine and hung on by a thread to make the playoffs. The Boston Celtics pulled the same prank on us wining as many games as they lost with a 27-27 record after Christmas. But who was in the NBA Final? Boston and Los Angeles.
So this year, no one need be fooled. Sure, the San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the NBA right now (51-12). But as of Tuesday morning, the Los Angeles Lakers are the only team without a loss since the All-Star break. Their win on Monday came after beating San Antonio 99-83. So the Lakers are showing they have not faded into the sunset and are ready to defend their title. Having said this, the remainder of the season won't be easy. Take a look at their upcoming road trip: Atlanta on Tuesday, Miami on Thursday and Dallas on Saturday. No walk in the park that's for sure. When they return home, they start a stretch of 7 home games beginning with the new and improved Orlando Magic. They have a long way to go to make the final dance but at least they are looking ready to face the music.
Van Gundy stands by his man
The NBA has awarded the first league suspension for excessive technical fouls. Pause for a second to think about this (if you don't know already) and say who first comes to mind. If you said Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, you would be right. If you said his Coach would subsequently read him the riot act, you would be wrong. Orlando Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy says he thinks his star center has shown restraint this season and believes his sense of control has been "amazing". Amazing or not, Dwight Howard is a candidate for MVP honours this season and a league first suspension for excessive technical fouls does not look good on a resume. Howard served his one-game suspension by sitting out Orlando's 89-85 loss to Portland Monday night. This comes after his 16th technical foul of the season against Chicago last Friday. Now, for every two technical fouls he receives for the remainder of the season, he will receive a one game suspension. Coach Van Gundy claims (according to a Elias Sports Bureau statistic) Howard has been fouled 593 times this season without any of those calls being labeled flagrant. There's an old saying I learned at a very young age, "You can't control want happens to you but you can control how you react". If the stat Coach Van Gundy is quoting is true, that would make any player upset. But does that give you a license to argue, get in the referee's face and impede the ability of your team to advance in the game at hand? No. I realize there is an inherent inconsistency in the way any infractions are called in the NBA and in any sport for that matter since you don't have the same referee calling each game. But they are all playing by the same rules which govern the league and for the most part, are on the same page. Dwight Howard is not a bad guy and is a talented player. If he has shown restraint as Van Gundy claims, that's great. It just wasn't enough against Chicago and won't be for the rest of the season if this keeps up. Good call or bad call, he is the one who opened his mouth.
Chris Paul taken off on a stretcher
In the Hornet's game against Cleveland Sunday night, Chris Paul left the floor on a stretcher after hitting his forehead on the shoulder of Cleveland guard Ramon Sessions. He was fully conscious the whole time and never lost feeling anywhere according to Hornets management. He was taken to the Cleveland Clinic for precautionary tests and later rejoined the team at the arena, leaving with them on their charter flight to Chicago. He missed Monday's 77-85 loss to Chicago and no word yet on his return. He was diagnosed with a concussion and this is where I become concerned. I realize everyone has varying recovery schedules when it comes to concussions but there needs to be a league standard and strict requirements need to be met before any player is allowed to return. It is very disconcerting to me to watch players let their mouth guards dangle out of their mouths, let alone chew on them during a stoppage in play as if it is an expendable item. This piece of equipment aids in reducing the severity of injuries but does not prevent them. What does not reduce the severity of concussions is returning to the game before you are ready. Once you have been concussed, you are susceptible to more concussions and the level of severity can increase. Right now, there is no clear cut standard across the NBA and some players are able to just walk back on the court with no real hoops to jump through, if you will. This is a real problem in my opinion and if the league is serious about preventing these types of injuries, they need to set standards now before we see players forced to leave the game for good.
Thank you for joining me today. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please keep them coming by following me on Twitter (@ddegraauw) and on Facebook (Danielle de Graauw). See you on Thursday for more NBA coverage and a look toward the playoffs in "NBAz in 7 Dayz".