According to his specifications, Kobe's shoes have been designed with a special alloy band inside the arch to cut, he believes, hundredths of a second off his reaction time. For the same reason, he's asked Nike to design a sock-and-shoe system, maybe something like pro soccer players have. That fraction of a second he loses when his foot slides inside the shoe is the time it takes him to blow by a defender(!!), he says.
Like a lot people, probably most people, when I initially heard about the impending Shaquille O'Neal for Shawn Mariontrade on Wednesday I was deeply skeptical. I have always loved Shawn Marion's game and have a lot of respect for his athletic ability, originality and defensive prowess. Its a rare player indeed who can guard all five positions. And yeah his shot is really weird but it usually goes in. But as the day wore on and I became involved in some intense discussions with some of my colleagues over this matter, and I began to read about Marion's unhappiness at being the 12th highest player in the league while still being on one of the most consistently competitive, incredibly exciting teams in the league while still getting to play with Steve Nash; and especially as I began to read about all the doubt (71% of Americans surveyed thought it was a "bad idea" apparently) and often outright animosity that existed out there for this deal then well, my opinions began to change. So that by the time the thing was actually made - I was all for it. So we here at GHN are now giving this deal our whole hearted endorsement. So stop the presses!
Yes, a lot waits to be seen, and everything of course depends on the big Aristotle's health. But for now all we can say is:
Now we could go in depth as to all the reasons why this deal could potentially be that thing which the Suns have be waiting for to finally get them over the playoff hump and into the realm of NBA champions, but none would be as well-reasoned as the arguments laid out in this Scoop Jacksonespn.com column - Guess What? The Suns just made a fantastic trade.
Shaq doesn't fit into their style of play. Even if he's in the best shape of his life, he can't get up and down the floor with the Suns. He'll be worthless on offense, and he's going to destroy their flow. He's lazy. He's not going to work hard. He's injury-prone. He's not worth the money. They still won't win a championship with him there.
In Miami (and in L.A. and Orlando before) Shaq was Option 1 or 2, and over the past two seasons that became a problem. In Phoenix, he'll be Option 4, maybe 5. Mike D'Antoni should have no plans to depend on Shaq for any offense -- heavy emphasis on "depend." Not in the conventional way that everyone is thinking. The pressure on him to score 20 and grab 10 is finally over. Now he'll be the Big Decoy. And because he won't be double-teamed (remember he's still one of the best-passing post players in the game, and the Suns are one of the best outside-shooting teams in the League, hitting 38.7 percent on 3-pointers along with four players capable of dropping 20 to 30 every night), Big stands a chance of being more valuable by doing less in Phoenix.
The beauty is -- again, if the Suns play this right -- Shaq doesn't need to be a part of their transition game, he just needs to ignite it.
Rebound, turn, outlet! Rebound, turn, outlet! Precision. Execution. Buckets. Only six seconds off the shot clock. Back on D. Repeat. So unfair.
I suggest you read the whole thing.
And if that isn't enough to convince you that the Phoenix Suns - as exciting as they were and could be - were doomed to another non-Championship playoff exit because they lacked a classic big man like Shaq down in the block than perhaps you should consider this dazzling bit of number crunching by some guy calling himself Gold Star for Robot Boy over at this
Matthew Yglesius post thread :
"Everyone acts like the Suns were this close to winning a title, but I'm not seeing it.
Lemme throw some out some numbers:
PHX vs. East: 20-2, and yet to play both BOS and DET.
PHX vs. Western non-playoff contenders: 8-4.
PHX vs. the other nine Western teams in postseason contention: 6-9
In short, the Suns fattened up on the bad teams yet struggled against the good ones. That's a title contender?"
Only to return later:
"While everyone raves about Marion's defense (and rightly so), why do critics of the trade fail to mention Stoudemire's struggles against good big men?
The Lakers' Andrew Bynum: 14 points and 13 rebounds in the disaster that was Phoenix's home opener, followed by 28 and 12 on Christmas.
Orlando's Dwight Howard: 33 and 18, and he could've scored more if not for nine missed free throws.
Minnesota's Al Jefferson: 32-14 and 39-15, as the NBA's second-worst team upset Phoenix twice.
Toronto's Chris Bosh: A career-high 42 points.
New Orleans' Tyson Chandler: 14-18 and 19-11, both losses for the Suns against their closest pursuer for the conference lead.
Marion's stellar D doesn't mean anything if a playing-out-of-position Amare gives the points right back."
Still not convinced?
Well then consider the fact that Shaquille O'Neal is Amare Stoudemire's idol and Shaq has known and mentored him since he was 13. With Shaq in the the line up Stoudemire will not only get to play beside his idol but will now be able to return to his natural position of power forward and thus get a much better chance to stay out of the foul trouble that is the real plague of his game now that he won't have to guard the opposing team's big men all the time. This trade, among other things, is a gift aimed directly at the constant under-achieving but immensely talented Amare Stoudemire.
Remember how good a passer Shaq can be out of the low post and remember how good an outside shooting team Phoenix is. Remember that Phoenix despite being the highest scoring team in the league is also one of the worst rebounding teams, known for allowing other teams multiple offensive rebounds.
And if you're still not convinced - remember that Shaw Marion for whatever reason was apparently actually unhappy playing for the Phoenix Suns. Though he was due to be paid over seventeen million dollars nest year and he was playing on a team with one of the best point guards of all time in a system that was tailor made for his style of play apparently he had actually asked for a trade over the summer. And if you think that that wasn't creating problems with the Suns' team chemistry than I defy you to watch the below videos of Steve Nash's press conference following the trade, as well as interviews with the other Sun players and then ask yourself: Don't these seem like guys who are happy and excited to have Shaq for Marion?
I mean really.
To me, the relief and anticipation is pretty obvious.
I really hope Shaq gets and stays healthy enough to be the factor he can be. Because he comes to set them free. And that could be a lot of fun for everybody.
First, dear readers I feel compelled by the subject (or is that the object) of this post to make a confession. I hate to add to the current swamp wave litany of ethical woes (ethical or otherwise) currently plaguing the sports world, an emotional burden hitting us all quite hard at the moment I know, but if up until now your most cherished memory of basektball dunking prowess and display was that now, wicked, legendary, infamous warm-up by the City All-Stars (Mountain sucks) that took place before the 1985 (I, think) Hamilton High School All-Star game - I feel I have to tell you (nay, I feel compelled by my conscience to tell you as I know there are just so many hard core believers out there, as you write me your fan mail all the time), but
I'm afraid ... that the fix was in.
I know. At first its a hard thing to take. A very difficult thing to actually believe. So first just, let the shock just ... sink in, before proceeding further. This will be good for all of us, for as Bob Guccione Jr. once wrote "Disillusionment can actually be a good thing as it liberates you from what you previously thought.".
But I'm afraid I have it from a very high authority that some (probably, most) of the players on the City team were in the hallway outside their dressing room before the game actually spraying Stickum on their hands and then passing the can around. That's right. It appears to be true. And they probably all did it. (If they didn't actually partake then neither did they do anything to stop it and so thus they are just as complicit).
Yes, I'm sorry, but I'm afraid all those guys had Stickum on their hands.
That's why it looked like they could all palm the ball. Which sure as shit increases the odds that you might actually thrown one down - on the big Mac floor, in front of a lot of people - especially if you have a difficult time actually doing such things, you know, in life. On a regular basis. Or ever even. It will certainly help your little high school dunk attempts look a whole lot cooler, which was probably the point.
So there it is. Another scandal. Its almost too much.
But at least the truth is out now, so we can finally let the healing begin.
For those not familiar with Jamario Moon his story is truly inspiring. After a couple of years in Community College, he bounced around the CBA for several years playing for various teams and even played a couple of years with the Harlem Globetrotters before showing up at this year's Toronto Raptors rookie camp in the fall all of 27 years old.
Here’s a young guy who at the age of 27-years-old has had his share of hope in terms of trying to get to the NBA but it hasn’t worked out for him. He’s been CBA, D-League, I think he’s even been with the Harlem Globetrotters briefly, and couldn’t seem to stick anywhere, didn’t seem to have focus. The knock was that he had great talent, but he just didn’t have a great feel for the game. Early on, he got some bad advice and that advice was to enter the NBA Draft as an underage candidate. He basically listened to that advice, and I think he’ll tell you this story if you talk to him, that it was a mistake. He was overlooked. He was not selected in the draft (2001).
Which is good news. Because other than the actual dunks themselves watching the NBA Slam Dunk Contest is certainly an acquired taste. If you're not down with the playful banter of Kenny and Sir Charles, the shockingly inconsistent subjectiveness of the celebrity judges, nor the over-the-top courtside histrionics of the other NBA players, then the actual experience of sitting through the whole thing probably isn't for you and you're better off watching the highlights. For it can be a tedious show, I'll admit. Especially recently. A few years back I remember they had this ridiculous gimmick whereby each of the contestants would have to watch some video of a 'classic NBA Dunk' from the past, usually the seventies, and then said contestant would then have to go out and actually imitate that very dunk. It wasn't fair and it killed their creativity and spontaneity. The kind of thing some stupid producer dreams up.