Archive for February 2013

Happy Birthday MJ

No Comments »

Today, Michael Jordan turns 50 years old.

Say what you want about Michael Jordan as a person, but it's truly an experience just looking back and watching how he used to dominate the game.

So in honour of his 50th, here are the top 50 plays of MJ's illustrious career. What a treat.

Bringing back the dunk

No Comments »

It's been awesome having hockey back, but I'll be honest - today I have basketball on my mind. Why? Well, we are just eight days away from one of my favourite parts about every NBA season - the Slam Dunk Competition.

Listen, I know. I know that it hasn't been good in a while. I know that the actual dunking has been replaced by stupid interviews, over-the-top gimmicks, and car commercials. But for whatever reason - maybe it's nostalgia - I'm always excited about the competition. But this year, it's so much more than the nostalgia, as the six man lineup that the NBA has announced has the potential to put on one of the best shows we've seen since Vince Carter in 2000.

The problem is, when it comes to star power, there is definitely not a Vince Carter in 2000 participating in this competition. So, I figure it would be in everyone's best interest to get to know this years competitors, because although they might not be all-stars (yet...although if Gerald Green, James White, or Jeremy Evans make an all-star game, I officially don't know anything about basketball), they can sure dunk the basketball.

So here are this years competitors, in order of who I think has the best chance to win.

Gerald Green

This picture alone tells you enough about how good Gerald Green can dunk. This is Green's tournament to lose.

Jeremy Evans

Jeremy Evans' claim to fame is being last year's winner of the dunk competition. You won't know him for anything else, because he plays just over five minutes a game for the Utah Jazz. He looked to shake off his nerves half way through the competition last year, and I think he'll come in ready to blow the roof off the place this year.

James "Flight" White

They call him "flight." He can do this:

Enough said.

Kenneth Faried

Faried only functions in one speed - and that is "all out." Not only does he throw it down with ridiculous authority, and every game he throws down at least one crazy alley-oop, but he also has awesome hair, and that's worth at least three extra points per dunk as flowing locks make every dunk look better than it actually is. They also call him the Manimal. So that's fun. Unlike the three above participants, Faried is a very good basketball player, and if you don't know him yet, you'll know him soon. His only knock is that big guys usually get the shaft in these competitions (unless you're Dwight Howard).

Terrance Ross

Terrance Ross might win this competition. He jumps so high, and every dunk he throws down is a highlight. I want him to win over anyone else. But, Ross is young and inexperienced, and that tends to play a factor in these competitions as he might come out shy or shaky, and not make it into the next round. He's also on the Raptors, and a Toronto player winning the dunk comp isn't good for business. I sure hope I'm wrong though.

Eric Bledsoe

Bledsoe's perhaps the best basketball player in this competition. He may just be a backup point guard, but he's got Chris Paul in front of him, so you can't really blame him for that one. He's super fast, super talented, can obviously jump, is a great in-game dunker - but for some reason I don't see him being a great competition dunker. But like all of these competitors, he's definitely got a shot, and considering he's only 6"1, he might get the "woah, he's not very tall and he's still pulling that off!?" vote.

Saying Goodbye to Raptorland

No Comments »

Being a Raptors fan isn't the most exciting thing in the world. When you go into a season, you expect a lot of the same old same old. The season narrative begins with This will be the year Bargnani makes the big leap, and ends with Bargnani needs to go, Bryan Colangelo's job will be "on the line," the team's going to lose more games than they win, and ultimately the Raptors miss the playoffs.

Another one of those "sure things" in a typical Toronto Raptors season is that Jose Calderon works his tail off all season long, and remains a beloved figure in the city of Toronto.

When we look at the 2012-2013 season, Bargnani is still awful, people have been calling for BC's head since the DeRozen extension, and the Raptors are 16-30, good enough for the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference. But on Wednesday evening, Raptors fans lost the only real positive constant that we can count on from season to season, as Jose Calderon was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies (and eventually the Detroit Pisons) along with the up-and-coming sophomore power forward, Ed Davis (who stayed with the Grizzlies) for 26-year-old Rudy Gay, a fringe superstar who either hasn't quite made the leap as one of the marquee players in this league, or perhaps never truly will. That will remain to be seen as new markets and new surroundings have proven to either stunt a players growth, or allow them to really flourish, but ultimately the Raptors got the best player in the trade.

I need to start off by mentioning that I really like this trade. The Toronto Raptors will never be a good enough basketball team with DeMar DeRozen and Kyle Lowry as their best players, and as serviceable as Jose Calderon and Ed Davis can be, you make this trade 10/10 times on Gay's potential alone.

That being said, at the end of it all I don't know if I have ever been as bummed out about a trade as I was on Wednesday night. Since coming up from Spain in 2005, the Raptors have been the only North American team Jose Calderon ever known. Every night, Jose Calderon has left it all out on the floor in Toronto, despite management bringing in other point guards to take his position on numerous occasions  and never really trusting him with the keys to the car as the starting point guard of the Raptors.

Despite managements lack of confidence, the media bashing his abilities, and his team missing the playoffs year after year, Jose Calderon has been a rock for the Toronto Raptors, and seeing him leave is a difficult thing to be excited about. Is he a solid starting point guard in this league? It's debatable, and I don't believe he is, but the point is that he never complained, he just went out on the court and kept working harder - because that's what good teammates do. And Jose Calderon was the definition of a good teammate.

As for Ed Davis, well, he's just a kid. It's his second year in the league, and he's really starting to come into his own as a solid 10 points 10 rebounds kind of player. He's not going to be a superstar in this league, and probably not even an all-star, but when you hear reports about Davis being visibly crushed leaving the court after hearing about the trade, that's just not going to feel good either.

What I'm trying to express here is that you forget sometimes that the NBA isn't just a bunch of guys playing basketball - it's a business. This trade? Good business. But as fans, most of us don't see these players as assets - we see them as people. This is a good trade, but Jose and Ed Davis are good people - and we're going to miss them.